Revisiting Supreme Commander

By on August 3, 2015 9:33:58 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Of the games made in the past decade, Supreme Commander is probably the most similar to what we’re doing with Ashes of the Singularity.  Its creator, Chris Taylor and I have been friends for years (I picked up his backyard chicken hobby and he picked up my beekeeping hobby).   Chris also made my favorite game of all time, Total Annihilation.

A few years ago, Stardock worked with Gas Powered Games to make Demigod. Demigod started out as Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and evolved into the final game. If you haven’t played Demigod, I recommend it. It is excellent.  Demigod never took off like we hoped.  Timing wasn’t on its side.  It was the first stand-alone commercial MOBA.  It was also the last non-free to play MOBA (it was $39.99 when released) and League of Legends quickly overtook it.

Setting up Supreme Commander

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Game setup

When the player sets up a game of Supreme Commander, you get to pick amongst various types of AIs.   AI is something we’re very passionate about here.  As I type this from Stardock East, we have the AI developers of Civilization III, IV, V and GalCiv I/II here.    From a replayability stand point. giving players lots setup options makes the single player part of the game more compelling.

Elegant main game UI

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Like a 4X, Supreme Commander gives you and readout of how the other players are doing

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Very clear, pretty paths.

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Strategic Zoom

 

There are a lot of very good features in the Supreme Commander UI that I think should be standard in RTSs:

  1. It displays a power rating for each player.  We do this in our other games as well but RTS almost never do this.  The reason this is important is because a lot of interesting game options can be created around it.  In Ashes of the Singularity, we will have maps available that are bigger than anything that’s been made before (thanks 64bit).    We want to avoid scenarios where the player has t o spend an hour mopping up if they don’t want to.
  2. Intuitive clear paths for the player to take along with an ETA on how long it will take to get there.
  3. Some method of gaining situational awareness of the entire war (in SupCom that was done through strategic zoom)

Please post in the comments section the UI elements of Supreme Commander you think are key.

 

Gameplay

Gameplay is unique to each game.  Supreme Commander, like Total Annihilation, has a lot of gameplay elements we really love which include:

  • Infinite resources (your resources never run out)
  • Wrecks (destroyed units stick around and can be recovered for some of their resources)
  • Lots of units
  • Construction units can aid in the construction of other things
  • You pay for things as you are building them

This is just scratching the surface but these 5 things help define what is essentially a sub-genre of RTSs.

 

Strategic Zoom

There’s been a lot of debate on the forums on strategic zoom.  This is because we are trying to avoid the kind of strategic zoom in Supreme Commander. Specifically, we don’t want to zoom out to a sea of icons where players end up playing most of the game from there. 

Why the resistance?

Because in the long-term we expect (as the hardware gets better) to have maps far beyond even where ships in 1.0.  We want to use 1.0 as the time to come up with another way to zoom out and get an abstracted view of the battle field.  Turning individual units into icons won’t work because we’ll be dealing with thousands, possibly tens of thousands of units. 

We will have a zoom out mode (or secondary monitor support) for a war room where the entire war can be abstracted.  But

 

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Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

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Ashes of the Singularity: Pre-Beta

 

How to make it a war, not a battle?

One of our biggest struggles is that we don’t want the game to be purely about  cranking out tons of units and throwing them at each other.  Unit composition, resource access, positioning should all be crucial factors.

What do you think?

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August 3, 2015 11:07:24 AM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

I finally figured out how to solve this. But

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August 3, 2015 12:13:46 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

 

The elegant and intelligent structured on supreeme commander fills like a glove the space in AOTS, even not the same ideas but if you guys think in something like that ,its already a fantastic touch.

 

We really need something bether then only have units fight because thats easy to do (i think ).

So what we need is complex strategy ,Supreeme commander its the only game that have that

(Air Warfare,Land Warfare,Naval Warfare,Faction-Specific Strategies,Kill Strategies,T1 T2 T3 T4,artilhary to all kinds ,nukes to all kinds, teleporters,telelasers, hives, so many options  i cant tell ,but you now what im say)


This is wy all players will forever remenber Total anhilation and SCFA and we are always talk about this its a fact.

 

Its on hands of your staff work on this important points.

 

Work .

 -Elegant main game UI

-Bether economic system 

-Find a bether way to alowed players make bether use and understand the energy builds 

-I think if we have ways to make mass extractors wy not be able to make ower power building it ?

 ( personally do not like the way we get energy right now, takes out the tactical effect  on the game,( remenber that eco simcyty its a way of thinking in a variety of  tactics like in  Supreeme commander) .

 

This have to be in AOTS along with lobby/ ranking system 1v1 and  Global/ Vault to maps, mods, patches/ Streaming (Twitch,Youtube,Hitbox) / replays/ Avatars/ Tutorials/ Tournments/ 

  • Infinite resources (your resources never run out)
  • Wrecks (destroyed units stick around and can be recovered for some of their resources)
  • Lots of units
  • Construction units can aid in the construction of other things
  • You pay for things as you are building them
  •  

Just the fact you guys are think in this or will think if its possible with ower bit help ,make me think i buy the right game.

 

Here some picture on what you like most on this rts styles, for me   Supreeme commander and Anno 2055 without think just to give the feedbck has a gamer what i buy..

RTS Style

 

 

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August 3, 2015 12:43:54 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

very nice and interesting. I am looking forward to seeing how the 'positioning' as you call it will make it different. Perhaps like Sins separate battles spread out over a system map? Though for Ashes, perhaps it will be something akin to 'regions' instead of systems, but the same idea behind it, some areas will be bottle-necked and have difficult access to resources and the foes, or to allies as the case may be. While other areas will have small scouting vessels perusing the 'front' to get placement intel on rivals. Or get shot down. Or have rival 'jammers' give 'false info' to the scouts to deliver back to our side, in effect leading us to believe something is either safe when it isn't, or hazardous and deadly, when we are simply being mis-directed to somewhere where there is nothing at all. Delaying our troop re-inforcements to the correct place at the correct time? This is all conjecture of course, but you make it sound interesting enough for me to sort of make up what I think it 'might' be.  Looking forward to seeing the game, best of luck on it.

Sincerely,

Teal_Blue

 

 

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August 4, 2015 12:08:47 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Frogboy,



Setting up Supreme Commander:

 

1)  I also think that single player is a great addition to strategy games, but to date, the only game I know where the AI is capable of actually outwitting you is Ultimate General: Gettysburg. Even the AI in FAF is only functional because of massive cheating on the AI's part.

Fingers crossed that AoTS doesn't go the way of Rome 2 Total War!

Elegant main game UI:

 

2)  One item that stands out heavily to me is how "apparent" events are on the UI.  For example, the mass and energy bars on FAF are very bright and bold.  If you stall either of these, the numbers will flash and turn red, quickly attracting your eyes to the bars because your peripheral vision will pick up on the flashing.

Currently I feel that AoTS lacks this.  The resource bars blend so well with the entire UI's color.

I hope this example is clear.  Another example is unit icons.  In FAF, I feel that every unit you might want to build is pretty obvious when looking at it's picture in the factory build que.  A tank looks like a tank.  In AoTS I feel that the icons for units in factories are fairly similar to each other, and not as blatantly obvious as to what is what.

3)  I like the hot key lay out right now, in that you press "Q" to select economy buildings, and then press the subset keys once again to select which resource building you want.  Really frees up the keyboard.  The problem I see with this is that I can't quickly que up several resource buildings, then a factory, and then a SMARTY system with just hotkeys.  Since you 1st press "Q" to select resource buildings, you can no longer press hot keys to select the other building tier types, as other keys are now hot keyed to the various economy buildings.  Hope this makes sense.

I hope we will be able to individually map units and builds to keys in the future

4)  I find the way a meta group displays what is it comprised of rather confusing with the "star mechanic".  Right now I think a Sins of the Solar Empire approach, where the actual unit number is displayed, would be more intuitive.  Maybe make a zoomed out meta unit an icon and have it function like the fleet bar on the side of a planet.

5)  Is there a limit to how many units a t2 and t3 unit can command?  Because whenever I have had multiple t3 units paired with many t1 and t2 units, I could never make 1 big meta group.  The game always made me 3 meta units, one for each t3 unit.

 Gameplay:



6)  I agree with all points

7)  Please allow us to build buildings and units even when we are stalling metal.  This kind of cuts into the flow of things right now.

8)  Please consider some form of reclaim mechanic.  This is such a unique game play feature as it perpetually creates critical regions all over the map.  This allows for more interesting game play in the long run because even if you play a map hundreds of times, you can still have a unique game because somehow some usually forgotten part of the map acquired a lot of reclaim and became a critical battleground.  I always thought of it as "mobile capture points", or making strategic map points organically.

9)  Right now I feel that it is a tad bit to easy to begin cranking out T2 and T3 units.  I would like to see a longer transitional period.

10) Games are over much to quickly by capturing points.  I have won games without ever actually engaging the AI.  And many times I have had a brief skirmish somewhere and that was it.

11)  Air is rather underwhelming, and due to lack of icons, rather hard to find sometimes, even with the empire tier on the left

 Strategic Zoom:

 

12)  I am eager to see your solutions to this without icons!  Personally I wouldn't mind icons on meta units.  I don't mind icons at all as a general in actually would essentially be dealing with icons anyway.  Just blocks or what not representing brigades, divisions, armies etc.

 

Cheers!

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August 4, 2015 3:42:15 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

To make the game feel more like a war and less like an ever-escalating battle, you need to entice players, force them really, to play the game like they are conducting a war. I recommend watching "WWII From Space" on Netflix, a documentary that does a great job of giving a high-level war-scale picture of WWII once the U.S. got involved.

1. Strategic objectives. This isn't just about gaining access to more resources so you can build more units. Defensive outposts to control choke points. Central and advanced command posts to initiate quick strikes or large pushes. These are largely factors of map design. If you liberate a local force they can provide you with some resources or intelligence (think "quest reward"). The North Africa campaign in WWII was partially to help battle-harden allied troops (veterancy).

2. Multiple campaigns. A ground campaign allows you to occupy important strategic locations. Most of the game right now is centered around that. But there is also an air/artillery campaign to soften targets, destroy resources and capabilities, reduce morale, and disperse the enemy. There is an intelligence campaign, such as observational intelligence (RADAR, drones, satellites to track troop location, size, and movement), human intelligence (location of key strategic leaders, knowledge of tactics, strategies, and technology, active espionage). Information warfare offers new ways to gain intelligence, disrupt capabilities, and conduct espionage. There is also a political/diplomatic campaign to conduct allied wars by sharing resources, troops, equipment, intelligence, and technology, and also counter-diplomacy to disrupt enemy alliances. You coordinate with your ally to hold position A while you push to position B so you don't lose your supply line.

3. Multiple fronts. I don't mean fighting two enemies at once, though I'm sure that may be part of it. Forces are deployed and utilized according to certain strategic objectives and the forces' capabilities. A slow but sturdy force can be used to halt enemy advance, meanwhile a small mobile force takes out supply lines. A third, mobile offensive force strikes the enemy at their flank. While these combined are tactics in a larger battle, it increases the scale of the battle far beyond two every-growing blobs circling each other to figure out which is stronger.

It actually may be worth considering hiring a military consultant or historian to get an idea of just how complex war gets on a large scale. If you are focusing the game on a single primary objective, namely head to head combat of ground units, it's going to feel more like a series of escalating battles.

 

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August 5, 2015 12:16:17 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Great post Frogboy! 


I do have a statement I must emit about this : it's a little unfair to show 2007's supcom when community associative developers (yes developers) have been working tirelessly on it for 9 years.

today FA's lobby looks like this 



 

 

 

you mention many things about the ui. People in the FAF community have decided to perceive FA's ui not as a finite thing but as a mentality. It many never truely be whole but we do seek to bring it as close as possible to the state that expresses this mentality the most. As such gaming entirely with the keyboard was rendered possible. Enqueuing was added to commander and support commander upgrades. Click-&-drag queue reorder were added to the build queue. saving and loading build queue templates were added as well as structure template rotation. one of the most recent and prominent additions to the UI is the possibility to consult map reclaim value : 

 

the benefits to the FA ui are countless. I've been playing this game for 8 years straight and once in awhile I unearth a vanilla one that I didn't know about yet. Just recently I found out about spit attack move.

a couple of funny vanilla ones : you can reorder the taskbar in the game just as you would window's you can send it to align vertically on the left or right of your screen or horizontally at the bottom but either have orders on the right and build queue on left or vice versa. you can also switch between the four faction themes to your liking even though it will start out with the faction you are playing.

this is the on-map intel options, a true joy to work with :

this is the map options a must mess-around with :

 

this is the idle engineers and factories bar which also contains the Commander and his HP at all times : 

the Economy overlay ;

which does this :  

there's also the split screen option and dual screen support  :

these are some of the vanilla FAF additions, SCU auto buttons :

this is total reclaimed count and current reclaim input :

and also now you can have on-map ETA and percentage for major upgrades which are seen by the whole team on the commander icon. 


and here is the fabled enqueued com upgrade in action :

these are only the things I could remember of the top of my head, there are plenty more. 

 

plus it should be taken into account that many many mods have been made vanilla on FAF allowing for a truly upgraded graphical experience, much like what has been done with skyrim :

lastly I and some other modders/devs are working on removing FA lobby entirely from the experience so as to provide a seamless match creator within FAF where everything already is (replays, automatch, galactic war, Campaign Co-OP, mod and map download and choice, ect...)

this will get around the current issue of lack of screen real-estate use and constant alt-tabbing for those who have only one screen, as well as bringing support for such things as URLs 

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August 5, 2015 1:02:58 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting ,
 We want to use 1.0 as the time to come up with another way to zoom out and get an abstracted view of the battle field.  Turning individual units into icons won’t work because we’ll be dealing with thousands, possibly tens of thousands of units.  

while by now, I respect this and wish to join my efforts to yours for finding a solution to this (and I do not have a candidate idea suitable enough for presenting, but I am brainstorming it) I just want to remain exact and correct this : Supreme Commander on FAF manages this fine and you say "POSSIBLY tens of thousands of units" as if it changes icon's viability but the current unit cap for ranked gameplay on FAF is 18000 units, ergo: tens of thousands and this limit can be easily attained and in these situations icons shine (there is a prioritization of which icon comes out on top and the algorithm is beautifully written because it gives the impression nothing is overlapping and also you're never unable to select something E.G. commander icon is always on top of everything that's the N°1 rule), but I digress. 

Quoting ,
How to make it a war, not a battle?
One of our biggest struggles is that we don’t want the game to be purely about  cranking out tons of units and throwing them at each other.  Unit composition, resource access, positioning should all be crucial factors.
What do you think?

I think that's a fantastic standpoint and really a breath of fresh air to see you adorn. 

For starters to accomplish this one would have to vary a unit's interaction to the terrain by varying unit types instead of confining oneself to solely hovers as debated thoroughly throughout this forum :

http://forums.ashesofthesingularity.com/469855/page/1
http://forums.ashesofthesingularity.com/462351/page/2
http://forums.ashesofthesingularity.com/462351/get;3534935

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August 9, 2015 10:02:18 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums


Because in the long-term we expect (as the hardware gets better) to have maps far beyond even where ships in 1.0.  We want to use 1.0 as the time to come up with another way to zoom out and get an abstracted view of the battle field.  Turning individual units into icons won’t work because we’ll be dealing with thousands, possibly tens of thousands of units. 

We will have a zoom out mode (or secondary monitor support) for a war room where the entire war can be abstracted.  But

Give a specific icon for group size or meta unit size and a specific icon for engineer and tier 3 units that are not in a group/meta unit.

Every unit under tier 3 that is single or in a group that is below a specific size, don't show. Have a ping ability to be able to locate these units when necessary. Although it seems unlikely that you would be using small groups or single units very much. 

How to make it a war, not a battle?

One of our biggest struggles is that we don’t want the game to be purely about  cranking out tons of units and throwing them at each other.  Unit composition, resource access, positioning should all be crucial factors.

What do you think?

This is what makes any war game, rts or otherwise, worth playing. this is the fusion of strategy and tactics. But few games have done this well. World in Conflict, was one of the first games that I played that started dealing with this. However I believe it is the War Game series that did it the best. And I think the only game, where the attacker was at a major disadvantage to the defender all things considered.

By the way, I love how you guys use vision in this game!!! Reminds me of the above mentioned games.

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August 10, 2015 8:43:19 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

A quick question about AOTS: when the units get destroyed will we see Wrecks (destroyed units stick around) it will be cool i hope so

And another question for tatsujb: the last 2 pictures that you added about SC updated graphics, witch mod is it?

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August 11, 2015 12:01:50 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

We do plan to have wrecks but not until later during the beta.

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August 11, 2015 10:17:43 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Very good post tatsujb.

Right now the FAF best RTS service , so many options in this game  that make it almost perfect.

I wonder if we ever will again look something like this.

At this time the only game or service that exceeds FAF is Springlobby NOTE with the new release of version 100 is undoubtedly better than faf in game options, which have way bether  options in the gameplay more units and positioning of the units is unique because we  do the trajectory of the units something that had never seen before wonderful.

But in the Lobby really faf still is the best.

 

 

Now we will just have to wait to the new commander on RTS AOTS

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August 15, 2015 9:09:56 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

I like What I'm seeing so far, and my only real concern atm is what yous are going to do with the "strategic zoom" or your version of it, My suggestion would be make it just like the sup com strategic zoom except as you zoom out large clumps of units would turn into single icons that represened where your army's are, I will draw up an example of my idea soon.

I believe the Camera is one of the most important parts of a large scale RTS and it must be done right, if you do put a cap on the normal cam zoom distance it should be fare enough out to see an entire battle, or your entire base and its surroundings.

I think restricting the camera so people are not zooming in and out all the time would be a big mistake, let people do what they want, restrictions are not always a good thing, if you beside that there must be a cap on the cam for players that are new or uninterested in zooming out, at least give us an option somewhere in options have a button "hard core UI mode" that removes all the restrictions.

 

What the cam is like will make or brake the game for me...

 

P.S. Good work so far and I look forward to seeing this game develop.

 

Cheers Avitus12

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August 20, 2015 10:00:35 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Hi Devs,

Please make sure Aces has build templates like SC/FA had being able to make templates was a nice feature in SC/FA.

 

Thanks OverRated

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August 20, 2015 12:14:32 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

OverRated I won't speak for the devs, but based upon Alpha gameplay, I think build templates don't actually make that much sense. I loved that about SC/FA, but I don't see it necessarily being a good fit for this game.

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August 23, 2015 3:42:54 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

 

No. That's why I said "I think" and "I don't see". L2read

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August 24, 2015 4:10:09 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

I can see why eviator doesn't think build templates are a good fit (well at the moment at least) but they won't hurt the game if they are in. I only ever really used build templates in FA for mass extractors + mass storage but I did use that template ALL of the time!

I've only had a few AI skirmishes so far in AOTS but the game looks very promising indeed and looks FAR more promising than PA did at the same stage of development.

I've had one CTD do far, other than that the game has worked pretty well.

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August 24, 2015 10:17:31 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting Avitus12,

I like What I'm seeing so far, and my only real concern atm is what yous are going to do with the "strategic zoom" or your version of it, My suggestion would be make it just like the sup com strategic zoom except as you zoom out large clumps of units would turn into single icons that represened where your army's are, I will draw up an example of my idea soon.

Totally agreed.  Strategic zoom is key to making  SupCom the game it is.  I want to be able to zoom out and view the whole map.  In many cases I do it as an easy way to get an overview of the war but also to be able to easily move to a specific region based on mouse pointer.  So, I use the scroll wheel to zoom out, view the theater, move the mouse pointer to the area I need to pay attention to and use the scroll wheel to zoom back in on that location.

Using zoomed out icons don't bother me a bit.  I understand why AOTS wants a change but don't lose the strategic zoom.  It's one of the key differences between SC/FA and every other RTS.  That "view from space" type of feel is key.

AOTS is the first game since FA that I have real hope for as a true successor to FA.  FA is, what 8 years old now and it's still the only RTS of its kind and in my mind it has yet to be surpassed by any other.  AOTS could well be it.  I am really looking forward to it.

 

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August 24, 2015 10:29:39 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting InfiniteImprobability,

I want to be able to zoom out and view the whole map.  In many cases I do it as an easy way to get an overview of the war but also to be able to easily move to a specific region based on mouse pointer.  So, I use the scroll wheel to zoom out, view the theater, move the mouse pointer to the area I need to pay attention to and use the scroll wheel to zoom back in on that location.

 

Early in the alpha, my opinion was "let's see what the devs come up with". Now, after playing on a fairly large map and getting lost, not knowing where my units were in relation to distant objectives, my bases, and my other units, I think a full map view is necessary. I literally do not care how units are represented, I just need to know where my units are.

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August 26, 2015 11:01:43 AM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

As far getting your units lost I think one great little ui button should be added and that's the idle engineers ui button, I know there one on the top left on the unit side but when there's a lot going on at once,its handy just to click a button and cycle through your engineers

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August 26, 2015 9:35:22 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

The limited zoom really needs to go.... When I can only fit 5% of the map in the camera, it is not a good thing! It feels like starcraft

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August 26, 2015 11:27:35 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting BRNKoINSANITY,

The limited zoom really needs to go.... When I can only fit 5% of the map in the camera, it is not a good thing! It feels like starcraft

 

Ditto.

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August 27, 2015 1:35:23 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

We are working on an abstract map view mode (full map zoom out).

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August 27, 2015 5:32:43 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

thank you!

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August 27, 2015 5:38:21 PM from Ashes of the Singularity Forums Ashes of the Singularity Forums

Quoting eviator,




No. That's why I said "I think" and "I don't see". L2read

bottom line the current gameplay isn't final ergo not representative ergo can't base your judgments off of that. templates can only ever be practical. why not have this convenient UI tool you can hide it somewhere in the engine if it's not all that used.

 

this begs the question : what it the dev's standpoint on adjacency?

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