In contrast to my suggestion
for the Research window, my ideas for improving the Production window are more in-depth because I believe it needs more work. As far as I can tell, there is no specific written plan to improve the current production window, at least in the roadmap. There are a few good ideas in the Programming Work wiki page
, but I think we need a long-term plan for Production UI improvement.Problems
There are a few things that are inconvenient, clumsy, or unintuitive in the current screen layout. I realize that the auto-generated condition descriptions are only temporary, but I believe other improving changes in design can be made as well. Here are a few that jump out at me:
• The production options are put in a very long list, which always scrolls back to the top, making it hard to find an option even if you know what you are looking for.
• Apart from reading each cryptic description for every item or memorizing the construction items and their effects, there is no way to find the kind of building or effect you are looking for. This problem will get worse as more options are added.
• Since there is only one orbital at this point, I assume more will be added later or changed from buildings such as the shipyard. However, lumping buildings, ships and orbitals all in the same place adds unnecessary complexity and blurs the line between these separate construction types.
Yes, there are a lot of problems with the production window (I think the research window is on average much more mature). Perhaps one of the only positive things that can be said about the current production layout is that "it works", albeit crudely. Alright, if that is the case, surely we can find a much better model.Solution?
To be fair, production is quite a complicated subject in this game, undoubtedly more complex than research. This is because there are many different groups of conditions, outputs and effects:
• As I said before, buildings, orbitals and ships are different classes of production and should be separated more strongly.
• Building effects should be separated too.
• Indication should be made if a building will have any effect if created on the selected planet.Buildings
Effects of buildings can be separated into three different categories:
• There are the resources that the planet produces that can be used globally: Food, Minerals, Industry, Research, Trade.
• Construction infrastructure is a bit tricky: it affects calculations of the global resources, but it is only usable locally. I put it in its own category, but perhaps this is not the best idea.
• Recently added are the space combat and ship resources: Supply, Stealth, Discovery, Shield, Defense.
How can the effect of a building be determined if it affects, say, Mining, Health, and Farming? What if it is beneficial for some and detrimental for others? Well, consider that all resources are beneficial if they are increased for you. Conversely, if you reduce your opponent's resources, it is also good for your empire. A building could either specify an effect that gives you a comparative advantage and use that to group the building. Or, multiple focuses could be used for a building, putting it into all of the primary categories that it affects.
Other, minor effects, could be called side-effects and not affect the overall category of the building.
How about a case study of how a new system could work:
Suppose you wanted to build something that increased mineral output that is applicable to your planet. First, select Buildings, then Global Resources, then Minerals, then Applicable (to hide buildings that will do nothing for this planet). The player can quickly narrow down the choices to find the building of choice.Orbitals
Not much to say about orbitals, they are pretty much differentiated from buildings only in battle, if I understand correctly. They also produce resources from the three categories that I outlined in the buildings section.Ships
Ships are different from buildings and orbitals in that they are meant to travel between and among star systems. Also, unlike buildings, you are going to build a lot of them. With this in mind, I propose the ability to queue many ships easily, perhaps even the ability for repeating queues.
Hopefully I expressed this idea a bit better than a stream of consciousness. This is obviously not the only way possible to get a better Production UI, it's just some ideas that I thought would help. If anyone has better ideas, please share them.