HUD / Cockpit considerations

#1

As you know, we have been iterating on the HUD constantly in the past months / years, but only with relatively small steps every time.

As we get closer to our Early access launch, we need to spend more time uncluttering / fixing the HUD.

There are a few changes that we are considering:

Cockpit view position

Likelihood: average

Moving the head position in the cockpit a little further back would allow the two physical MFDs ( console screens at the bottom of the view ) to be visible at all times.

This would allow us to go from “MFDs are just for decoration / immersion” to “MFDs are useful for gameplay”.

The cockpit would also feel more immersive that way ( I tested it ) since more of the cockpit would be in view.

On the negative sides well… there is more of the cockpit into view :wink: So it hides more of the gameplay “area”. Although the left / right side views are more clear now.

The other big negative issue / to figure out is the spherical radar: it is currently displayed on top of the two MFDs. One easy way to address that would be to move this radar to one of the MFDs, but the MFD screen size is a bit smaller, therefore the spherical radar would be a bit less readable.

The bomber only has one MFD at the bottom screen center; but three is an additional one on the right side, which could probably be moved a bit to come into view. The corvette only has one huge MFD at the screen bottom at the moment, but it’s not square ; it would probably be possible to split it into two equal squared screens.

Virtual MFDs

Likelihood: set in stone

Most of the HUD elements / information will be moved into virtual MFDs ( basically square areas on the HUD, mostly in the corners ). Each MFD will have multiple modes which can be cycled. We’ll probably use F3 / F4 to cycle through the virtual MFDs and F5 / F6 to cycle through the physical MFDs in cockpit ( if they get implemented ). (Note: F3 / F4 are currently used for HUD mode and control scheme, these will be moved to the settings menu ).

MFD modes would include:

  • Weapons status ( what we currently have at the top-left corner of the HUD )
  • Ship status ( an holographic representation of your ship, especially useful later on when we implement localized damage ). In the first implementation it’d simply show a top-down view of your own ship, with dots representing weapons states ( green dot = weapon ready to fire, orange = weapon aiming, red = weapon out of ammo, black = weapon dead, or something like that ). It’s easy to imagine circular bars around the ship hologram, representing shields status.
  • Target status ( similar information, but for the selected target )
  • Front / back radar
  • Non-critical notifications / alerts
  • Squad status / team information ?

Exploration vs Combat mode

Likelihood: set in stone

There is currently an “automatic” mode which switches between exploration and combat modes; we find it confusing for players, so we’ll get ride of the automatic mode. Instead, the modes will be selected manually contextually.

If you have a target selected, you’ll be in combat mode, period. If you have no target selected, you’ll be in exploration mode.

We will filter out a lot of target indicators in combat mode. The main idea is that combat mode will only display: the target, the nearest ally, and the Nth nearest threats ( we’re thinking of using N = 5 ). Some threats will be active ( an enemy that is close and has targetted you ), others will be passive ( an enemy that is close but has not specifically targetted you, like a capital ship firing at you with its auto-turrets ).

Weapons and reticles

Likelihood: high

Weapons selection will become exclusive, and we’ll only show the lead reticle for the currently selected weapon. There will be a key to cycle through weapons ( or set the current weapon with 1-9 ). This will also allow us to filter out other HUD information that is not pertaining to the currently selected weapon.

That behavior could potentially be customizable for more experienced players.

Radial menus

Likelihood: high

This is lower priority than the rest, so it could miss the EA launch. The idea is to clean the radial menus. Add icons, tooltips about what each element is doing.

An alternative selection mode will be used, as we found some players to be confused; you will be able to either hold the radial menu key, select an element and release the key ( current behavior ) OR press the key once, which will open the radial menu ( no need to hold the key ), select one or many elements, then press the key again to close the menu.

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#2

Please consider having a checkbox somewhere that allows us to always stay in exploration mode.
I personally hate combat mode and the limited information that is shown.

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#3

The looks of that cockpit view are quite good, i especially like how the perspective change hides those metal top panels. The problem is that there’s a huge amount of central-screen real estate being taken up right next to the reticle, probably the worst place for anything to be obstructed, that RWSL pillar is especially obstructive, the bobblehead would need to find a new home too or be made much smaller. Basically, there is a danger zone for obstruction that matters the most and ends up feeling the most claustrophobic:

Maybe the same perspective but with the camera shifted forward might be a good option? It would hide half of the two mfds maybe, but maybe the upper half is all you need for displaying gameplay information in the future, especially if the view is zoomed in. It would also shift the two glass struts out of the center-view a bit and hopefully shift the pillar out of the view. For those MFD’s to actually be gameplay usable probably requires a bit of remodelling, its likely not worth framing the whole mfd with buttons if it’s supposed to display gameplay info.

Hmm, the automatic is confusing for players so automatic mode will be the only option? Exploration mode is way better for combat right now since it shows all the ships in the combat area (not just immediate short range), any combat mode should be doing that. forcibly hiding information in combat is going to drastically impact player perception and target selection. From a visuals/atmospheric aspect it will also make the battles feel much smaller and empty. Maybe it would help brand new players in gameplay but such a severe hamstringing of information as N=5 obviously removes a lot of the possibility to manage targets for anyone else.

I would just make current exploration mode default and remove the automatic switching, then perhaps change the iconography so that the hud doesnt get so cluttered with many targets. I’ve suggested before that maybe displaying distant targets as smaller faded point dots (without having ship info) or small spokes (spoke count indicating ship size) might be enough, then transparancy defined by distance. Having a hundred triangles squares and hexagons is definitely too cluttered but knowing the shape of a huge battle is fun and useful in combat.

Exclusive weapons is a good idea, there are other games that have done similar and it’s worked out pretty well, it creates room for more depth in decision making and weapon choice moment to moment in battles rather than just fire everything. having to fire at multiple pips at the same time kind of negates some aim skill to and extent too since it can promote spamming between them. Looking forward to that and the virtual MFDs quite a bit.

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#4

Regarding the Combat vs. Exploration mode:

I too use exploration mode for the above stated reasons. If I’m in an interceptor I need to see all smaller ships as they are potential threats / targets, the corvettes for repair / re-arm, every mine / torpedo I could intercept, the position of the defense platforms, etc.

The only thing missing for me personally is that the targeted ship should really…

STAND OUT

…from the rest of the icons.

DreamKeys

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#5

I never really used the MFD. Too many targets were right in front of my ship. To be transparent; I’ve only played two days.

If symbology in the MFD was more helpful I might look at it more since I like to shoot torpedos at carriers.

I do like the indicator on the side of the HUD that indicates where you need to angle your direction of travel to find it again.

The color of the non-selected (non-active) weapon was a little too dark; i.e. I never saw the torpedo in the bomber until I saw it in the radial menu.

My experience with the exploration mode was is that it signaled the clearing of the area. i.e. last enemy killed, exploration mode kicked in.

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#6

Thanks for sharing this.
Quite a bit of simplification in there. Which is alright if the game stays deep.
Here’s how I feel about this.

Cockpit view position

On first sight it does look quite interesting. I can remember the big discussion about the centre bar though and how much influence things in the centre region had.
Here’s the thread I am pointing at: To bar or not to bar - that is the question

For now I did dig up my old score thingy and compare the two:

Current

400 Points - 0 * 4 [R1] - 7 * 3 [R2] - 10 * 1 [R3] - 20 * 1 [R4] =

349 Points

Proposed

400 Points - 136 [Center] (Debatable) - 13 * 4 [R1] - 15 * 3 [R2] - 12 * 1 [R3] - 19 * 1 [R4] =

136 Points (With Center Deducted) / 272 Points (Without Center Deducted)

I feel it is not worth it. Have the virtual MFDs do the work. Add the real MFDs for fun. Have a reason to look down. I would use them for weapon status and use mouselook to look down and use them. I really would.
The proposal looks quite cool though I have to say. It’s intriguing. How did it play as you have tested it?
(By the way, I love how the interceptor turned out without the Bar … that curve … it’s super unique)

Virtual MFDs

Sounds great. Being able to switch ingame with the default being alright for new players will work out great. Fighter pilots have the same issue with tons of information having to be displayed and limited screen-space … MFDs are the solution they use with the pilot being able to control what is displayed depending what he needs.

Exploration vs Combat mode

I really like the Idea of Combat mode being depended on what the player does instead of the surroundings. Combinging it with “target selected” and having the “clear target” function return to it might work.
New player experience is important here. I don’t think new players will ever clear their target though.

As for veterans like us … it hurts to fly while wearing blinds. That’s why I always prefer the Exploration mode. Faded Icons was the biggest achievement when it comes to icon clutter. It seems that wasn’t enough for new players.

Weapons and reticles

This probably will work. Does this also include guns and blasters?
if this gets implemented. Please two events for next and previous weapon in case people want to bind the mousewheel (I probably will, with a modifier key).
To note here is that this is quite a significant change.
There’s a lot of difference between going in the direction of weapon groups with that allow for different weapons and types or going more the FPS route where there is only ever one weapon delectable.
Currently using MK6 and 7s Together already is doable but mostly any other combination doesn’t make much sense. I feel it is good if the ship load out makes sense.
If I have to frantically switch between groups to be competitive because else I am not using the maximum DPS the ship can output … then that’s not desirable.

I feel like switches would be called for when ranges change and when target type changes.

Weapons and reticles

Cool. About the alternate selection mode. I think both could be run in parallel without much usage problem if implemented well.
At first when I read it I though having “primary function (left mouse)” and “secondary function (right mouse)” also close the menu. Being able to toggle or select multiple things makes sense though.


Looking forward to this. :slight_smile:

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#7

I’m willing to try, but I fear you are going to end up going down a rabbit hole of needing to physically redesign the cockpit. Physically splitting the MFDs up and placing them forward, to the sides, and a little bit down is what I think will end up needing to happen to make this truly work.

For combat mode, I would like to suggest that instead of filtering things not on the list completely out of the hud, have their icon reduced to an approximately 20 pixel size dot. While that might not seem like enough to bother with, couple it with it’s local relative movement and you should be able to distinguish it from something like a background star fairly easily.

I think there will still be a high desirability to have an alternate weapon fire option within any given weapons group. Though given previous changes where you can’t fire both at the same time, this is certainly a logical change. Recommend flexibility on this as it really only became a problem with capital ships and multiple different weapons with different projectile velocities.

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#8

I want to hava a functional cockpit with working MFDs.
At ALL costs!

I am serious here.

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#9

Some HUD/cockpit thoughts from me (sorry if this repeats what others have said, I haven’t really read much of this thread):

Head position

  • I wouldn’t mind having the view position further back. Yes, it would place a little more cockpit in your view, but it’s not like the HUD is limited to just the glass.
  • Allowing in-cockpit MFDs sounds like a good idea.

MFDs

  • Defaults I would like to use: Right MFD = target info. Left MFD = Spherical radar (if it’s necessary).
  • I’ve said this before, I don’t find the spherical radar at all helpful, and it can even get in the way sometimes. However, I know others do use it. I don’t think it would be harmed too much by shrinking it to be ‘projected’ by an MFD. Continue to allow the spherical radar to be expanded to a large version with a key.

Front/rear radars

  • These are essential for me during gameplay, helping me orientate really easily. I would keep them up top but bring them in a little closer to the centre, and shrink them slightly. E:D proved one of these radars can be tiny and still functional.
  • I like how it currently displays things. Perhaps when something is targeted, other icons could fade (in addition to the target being highlighted) so it’s really easy to track your target. (Does this happen already? I forget,)

Ammo information

  • Having it tucked away in that top corner isn’t a bad thing. It’s not something I ever really look at, except when checking missiles, torps and flares.
  • I think gun ammunition doesn’t actually need to be displayed until it is nearly empty, then it can bring up a low ammo warning and ammo count in that region of the HUD, for that weapon.
  • If it was reduced to only showing those things, it could easily be moved to an in-cockpit MFD. I personally would have this in place of the spherical radar.

Central HUD

  • This is prime real estate and is in a fairly good state but could use some tweaks.
  • Speed display is fine. I wouldn’t change this.
  • Energy and heat displays are not visible enough to be useful to me. I am often firing, then overheating a weapon and not realising because it’s just outside my peripheral vision when I’m concentrating on the targeting reticules. I would say energy does not need to be displayed at all when full and fades in when used.
  • Idea for moving energy and heat: have them as straight vertical bars just inside the speed display text (same thickness as the other bars, but straight). It would bring them a little more inside your vision during combat, but they can fade away when energy is full/heat is none. Have the energy bar slowly get more opaque as energy drops.
  • The shield and hull bars are functional, but almost impossible to distinguish between unless you know which is which. I would prefer a slight colour or shading difference between them, and separating them a little more.
  • All meters should fade to from blue through to orange as they get low. Low shields/energy/hull = strong orange, similar to heat bar. This colour differentiation draws attention to important information. This can also be used on the target information.

Exploration vs combat HUD

  • Exploration seems to be working okay, but we desperately need a better way of selecting from far-away blobs, as discussed elsewhere. Pointing at a blob and holding T to bring up an expanded list seems like a good option. Or holding T pushes the blobbed target icons apart on your HUD and you move your mouse towards one to select it. They go back when you release T.
  • Combat HUD. I find it works fairly well for me at the moment, as I can see targets close to me, threats such as missiles and mines and my target. However, we definitely need a way of prioritising what targets you want to see.
  • Small ships (inty, bmb, cvt) should see a lot more of other small ships highlighted automatically. Forget highlighting capital ships, because they’re visible anyway thanks to their size (and can of course be targeted).
  • Capital ships should prioritise having other capital ships and bombers highlighted, plus any small threats nearby. They have more time to analyse targets, so the increased number of highlighted ships shouldn’t be a problem.
  • When targeting a ship in combat mode, fade out the other icons (except threats - missiles/ships hitting you etc) to a semi-transparent state.
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0.5.3.0 Feedback Thread
#10

I’ve been thinking for a while about the bars not showing up when full ( not just energy by the way, but also shields / hp etc… ). The real problem is that you no longer have a way to tell if a bar is full, or empty.

#11

Indeed, and that is why I would limit it to only the energy and heat bars. The others are useful to see all the time, but those two - which are related to their respective weapons - only need to be active when firing and therefore you are consuming energy/building heat.

Players will quickly pick up what is going on. But you’re right, if hull/shield did the same, it could be confusing. Plus I like having something to kind of bookend the two sides of the HUD.

#12

Keep in mind though that asymentry can look quite ugly and if most of the time the HUD is ‘left heavy’ because

Also
Why wouldn’t empty be visible? Isn’t the black shadow currently shown when emptying. I think there should be a way to tell the difference between arbitrary empty and full at all times.
Then if the whole thing is faded out you see that the reference 'for instance black shaddow is missing.

As for icon blobs. As I mentioned a lot of times now. They shouldn’t exist. Ever. They are not useful in any way if there are 30 icons on top of each other. No point really. It’s ugly.
If there is functionality to select between those ‘blobs’ then at the same time those blobs shouldn’t look like blobs. Else it’s hard to tell when you can use that functionality.

#13

The idea to have combat/exploration mode bound to [if you have an enemy targeted] is a no go.

There are tons of reasons to target different enemies and tons of reasons why i might not have a hostile target in a combat area. None of it has to do with my desire to use a certain mode. Those modes are too important to trust any automatic. There must remain a manual option to chose what you want.

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#14

Tough choices!

For me, the cockpit is the eye of the craft, and modern fighters are completely designed around the pilot’s head position. I can understand if you don’t want a bubble canopy, due to (I’m guessing) the vacuum of space and wanting to convey a reinforced structure type feel to the player sitting at the controls.

But looking at it, it feels like the pilot’s head is in the wrong spot, or the canopy itself needs re-shaping. I would ditch the clunky MFD, it looks nice, but it’s not really helping the situation. You have this nice big flat front facing window that is completely under-utilised. Tuck it (MFD) away so you can only see it when you pan the view around. Embrace the HUD displays. That’s how I imagine a space ship would function, anyway. It’s all about giving maximum vantage to the pilot. Sit the pilot a bit lower, thus rasing the support beams out of the peripheral. Open up the front facing window. Move the head closer to that window so it’s more open. My 2c

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#15

Personally I want an almost completely physical cockpit where only a little bit of information is projected on a HUD.

I think this fits to the type of science fiction Infinity Battlescape apparently belongs to (tech like in the movie “Alien” instead of tech like in “Minority Report”).

A cluttered and overused HUD is not very immersive imo, because it is so separate from the actual game world.

This separation between HUD and game is already a bit too much right now imo.
Sometimes its too easy and expedient to focus only on the information displayed on the HUD instead of the “reality” outside of the ship.
This also happens because many times the enemy ships are so small/dark that they aren’t really visible anyway, so all you have left to look at is a rectangle. This is also the reason why I like to get fast and close into the battle because otherwise its visually not very exciting (also a good reason to keep weapon ranges low).

So I would prefer ship-system-information to be integrated into physical MFDs (heath, weapon info, etc.) and that only information is shown in the HUD that is not feasible otherwise (ship markers, crosshairs etc).

I think the game would benefit from that in terms of immersiveness and visual quality. I also think every pixel obscured by a 2d HUD element is kind of a shame considering the visual quality of the game world and its structures.

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#16

It is funny, i find myself on the other end of the Physical Cockpit vs. virtual HUD spectrum than TARS.

I prefere a maximum of functionality in the HUD and as little cockpit in sight as possible, allowing to look outside without “head turning”, something i just do not do outside VR and with no headtracking setup. If i want a full view around, i switch to third person camera. And right now, a lot of important information is missing in 3rd person, that a virtual HUD could still display no problem.

Full physical cockpit has the difficulty of having a whole new job to do for each ship, and i also think it would not work for capitals at all. I can see the appeal, but i doubt Battlescape will ever go to a flight simulator - like cockpit solution.

Imho, just like most games, there will be a compromise. We could think about what to move to the physical displays. But that is still tough…

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#17

Why not have the possibility to turn on/off various Mfd’s by pressing a key.
This way people can decide themselves which Mfd’s are more useful or not for them.
Just an idea.

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