Tag Archives: Game Impressions

Shogun 2s User Interface, Top Right

The Top Right UI Element in Shogun 2s Sengoku Jidai Campaign Map consists of three primary elements.

Top Right UI Element
Top Right UI Element

Map & Global Effects

The first element is a Map of Japan. Known clans territories are marked with a representative color (e.g Purple), and clicking the elements of the map takes you to that element on the 3-D map.

In addition selecting the Map Tabs results in icons appearing on the map e.g Navy, and Army symbols which when pressed take you to the unit. Certain symbols are given different styles depending on whether they are ‘active’ or not. An example of an inactive symbol is the trading post (Yellow), an example for active is the symbol used for the city of Kyoto which has been captured in this Campaign (Green).

shogun_2_interface_top_right_map

  • Blue – Expand Button.
  • Green – Active Icon Style.
  • Purple – Multiple Clan Colors.
  • Red – Minimize Button.
  • Yellow – Inactive Icon Style.

The Map can be expanded and minimized with the button in the top right corner (Red) of the Map (placement follow a standard for window closing making it more intuitive), and expand (Blue) is located in the bottom left corner which makes sense given it expands in that direction.

Map Resizing: Expanded(Top)/Default(Middle)/Minimized(Bottom)
Map Resizing: Expanded(Top)/Default(Middle)/Minimized(Bottom)

The space difference when resizing can be somewhat judged by the above diagram. When expanded the Map takes up approximately a quarter of the screen, when minimized it disappears completely leaving only the Map Tabs and Global-Effects.

Global Effects
Global Effects

The second element is a list of Global Effects located at the top left corner of Map. This area displays an icon for each Global effect e.g. Master Builders which reduces construction costs. Perhaps leveraging perceptions of color, positive effects are displayed with a green background.

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Shogun 2s User Interface, Top Left

Top Left UI Element
Top Left UI Element

The Top Left User Interface (UI) element of Shogun 2s Sengoku Jidai Campaign Map consists of three equally sized icons. Pressing these icons open up the Game Menu, Total War Encyclopedia, and Game Menu UI elements.

  • Blue – Adviser Toggle.
  • Green – Encyclopedia.
  • Red – Game Menu.

The Top Left UI Element is never hidden, and when large elements appear in the interface from the area underneath this UI element, this element often overlays the larger element which was likely done given that this UI element has a higher priority function.

Adviser Toggle (Blue)

The Icon for the Adviser Toggle button (Blue) was likely chosen because one adviser looks similar. The functionality of the Adviser pane can be changed to either appear when using a feature in the Campaign for the first time or, considering more experienced players, can be set to not appear at all.

Pressing the icon from the UI element at the top left of the screen opens the following pane.

Adviser Pane
Adviser Pane
  • Blue – Advice Toggle.
  • Green – Advice Subject.
  • Orange – Advice Details.
  • Red – Character Image.

The character image (Red) serves a thematic purpose, the arrows (Blue) are for cycling through Advice, and are grouped with the character image to avoid getting in the way of the Advice description space.

The Advice Title (Green), and Text (Orange) are positioned in a standard way for reading. The Advice description takes the most space of all the elements, and can expand if necessary in case of text overflows. The cancel button (Purple) is placed in a commonly expected place for exiting which is the top right.

Encyclopedia Icon (Green)

The Encyclopedia Icon seems to be a Japanese style lamp with a question mark on it. I interpret this to be a symbol for a lamp that illuminates the unknown represented by the red question mark. It also leverages the commonly known iconography for help by using a question mark.

Encyclopedia Title
Encyclopedia Title

To reinforce that this is actually the Total War Encyclopedia, the icon is prominently displayed on the start page of the game, and is constantly visible in the game Encyclopedia with a clearly visible label.

Start Page Encyclopedia Icon
Start Page Encyclopedia Icon

Options Icon (Red)

Start Page Options Icon
Start Page Options Icon

I’m not exactly sure what the Game Menu Icon (Red) is. I’d hazard a guess, and say it looked like a face that was wearing glasses, and had a Japanese castle like hat?

In the Start Page of the game for displaying the Options Icon they used an image of a sword rack with multiple blades. That icon made more sense to me as I interpreted it to mean an option of swords to choose.

Perhaps they could have used the same image for consistency? Perhaps it was an issue of space?

Shogun 2s User Interface, A Study

The purpose of this project is to further my understanding of good UI design by studying various elements of Shogun 2s User Interface (UI) used in its Sengoku Jidai Campaign Map.

This post will serve to discuss the Campaign Maps UI layout, and be an index post in a multi-post project of non comprehensive personal observations of Shogun 2s User Interface.

Disclaimer: The User Interface (UI) is not quite in its Vanilla form due to having the Steam mod by Radious installed at the time of the study.

Shogun 2s User Interface Screenshot
Shogun 2 Campaign UI

The focus of this piece will be mostly on the 2-D elements of the interface such as menus, tabs, pop-up, and icons NOT the ‘3-D’ campaign map itself. So lets start with the general layout of the the Campaign User Interface.

General Layout

We can abstract Shogun 2s User Interface into an approximate layout with the following areas:

Shogun 2s User Interface General Layout
Interface Layout – Not to Scale
  • Dark Blue – Help and Options.
  • Green – Screen Center.
  • Light Blue – Map Lists.
  • Orange – ‘Selection’ Dial.
  • Pink – Description Popup area.
  • Purple – ‘Selection’ Banner.
  • Red – Map and Global effects.
  • Yellow – Management Dial.

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Supreme Commander 2 – An Overview

I recently completed the single player mode of Supreme Commander 2, and here are some brief notes on it.

supreme_commander_2

Good

  • Good in-game visuals. Top notch in-game animations in particular unit explosions.
  • Improved micro-management. Appreciated the removal of engineer and factory tiers from the first Supreme Commander, as well as being able to repeat build orders on factories allows one to focus on the fun part; commanding armies.
  • Game ran smoothly on my dated computer. I played the game on my fairly old laptop on the Medium graphics setting and it ran smoothly as well as looked good.

Bad

  • Pre-rendered cut scenes didn’t look good. To be fair though the game was released half a decade ago.
  • Single player mode was short. Supreme Commander one feature three seperate campaigns Supreme Commander 2 felt like it hacked together three half campaigns.
  • A weak story. The primary flaws with story are its underdeveloped characters, and a loosely strung together plot. It tries to have its ‘moments’ but unfortunately they fall flat given the lack of story depth.

Both

  • Smaller scale. Though the maps are smaller in scale, in some ways this is a benefit as you don’t have units travelling for ages to get to a battle, thus there is less time between ‘action’. Yet the point still stands that the overall scale of the battles have been shrunk, and with it the feeling of being the Supreme Commander.

Conclusion

Overall I enjoyed the experience. Supreme Commander 2 definitely has some improvements from the first game, though I get this feeling that the game is less that perhaps it intended to be. Perhaps due to time/budget constraints?

Nevertheless if  you enjoyed the first Supreme Commander the second is certainly worth checking out.

League of Legends

League of Legends is described by some as the equivalent of electronic basket ball, by others like AngryJoe as “crack”. I agree. This Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), where team work is essential to success has players take control of a single unit in a multi-player match up, with the goal of destroying the opposing teams ‘Nexus’.

Nexus
The Nexus

A Short History

League of Legends or LOL (though well executed) is not an original idea. In fact it was originally conceived as Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). Based on a mission from Starcraft, DOTA was a custom game created by Eul on the popular Real Time Strategy game Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Unfortunately Eul did not update his map, and so others created spin-offs; it was Steve ‘Guinsoo’ Freak who got it right.

Guinsoo created a variant of DOTA calling it DOTA: Allstars. He then put in an enormous amount of work in to adding new champions, items and game features. He later handed it over to Abdul ‘Icefrog’ Ismail who continued his work. At present IceFrog has gone onto become a lead designer at Valve working on the sequel DOTA 2.

DOTA: Allstars

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Reus

reus

In the beginning there is only an empty planet…

Using its last remaining power, the planet summoned four elemental giants in an attempt to restore life to it’s dead surface. These giants were charged with cultivating a suitable environment for life.

reus-four-giants

Welcome to Reus, a 2D god game by Abbey Games where under your control are these four giants; Forest, Rock, Ocean and Swamp.

Each giant has the ability to create a unique biome by terra-forming the planet. They can then place different types of resources within these biomes, and grant aspects which can augment their own, or other giants resources.

Multiple resources work together to create a ‘symbiosis’ that offers additional benefits to the surrounding area. These resources then attract nomads who settle in the cradles of life that you create, building villages that soon require more resources to grow.

The task that forms the lions share of the games complexity is a balancing act, between finding the combinations of resources that provide what a village needs, and keeping the villages ‘greed’ in check.

Simply put, greed is a mechanic where by bestowing a village with too much too quickly, they become greedy and destructive, to the point where it can result in a village destroying the very utopia you forged and even turning on you. If necessary you may have to destroy the offending village, its your choice.

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No One Has To Die

No One Has to Die’s comments on Newgrounds read “4 people are trapped in a building fire and need your help to escape”, now I’ve finished playing it, looking back it’s the tip of the iceberg… an awesome iceburg.

no-one-has-to-die-logo

An hour or so in length, this indie game manages to pack quite the punch. It isn’t particularly difficult and it’s not designed to be. The simplicity of its gameplay and mechanics, peel back to reveal the complexity one feels in considering the consequences of those simple choices, which in turn furthers the narrative in a ‘player-driven’ manner.

no-one-has-to-die

It’s art style is simple, functional, colorful and doesn’t detract from the game. The music is top notch, working well to build up an atmosphere in tune with what’s happening in-game. The writing of characters is good and given the length of game it’s enough to start to get a ‘feel’ for them.

No-One-Has-To-Die

All in all No One Has to Die is a thought provoking puzzle over life and death. Its great moments and emotional highs and lows leaves one with a joyously sweet aftertaste. This is one indie gem, is well worth your time.

So what are you waiting for! Play it!