Locked on UI functionality seems unnecessarily badly designed?

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by Phazaar, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Phazaar

    Okay, so those of you not flying or not paying attention may not have noticed some changes to what happens in cockpit when you're locked on. We'll go through a chronology, as some parts are good and some bad.

    Step 1

    A guy points a lock on launcher at you. When flashing 'Lock' in your face (albeit in a stupid colour that is NOWHERE NEAR as visible as it should be...) it now says 'Lock (G)' or 'Lock (A)' depending on whether you're being locked from the ground or the air. This is great. High-five for SOE finally pulling their finger out.

    Step 2

    Once they've achieved a lock and fired a missile, the lock on warning leaves. This is ******** in the extreme. I understand the intention may have been so you can tell if further missiles are locking you, but there's no reason not to come up with a 'Locked' or 'Incoming' label separately to the 'Lock (G/A)' for this purpose.

    The absence of a lock on warning is replaced by an incredibly quiet beeping (a small firefight below is -far- louder, as is any background noise on VOIP, or in my experience, my housemate's music next door...). Once again, stupid. It's most definitely the most important sound to you at this point, and any military engineer would ensure it's audible in a combat scenario.

    The beeping gets louder as the missile approaches (as far as I can tell - this could be psychosomatic) - not enough to make it truly audible until immediately before impact, by which time it's far too late to do anything about it because...

    Step 3

    The missiles now display on the minimap. This is fantastic. Unfortunately, it highlights two huge problems with game design. First, when getting in an ESF, you're left with a radar that was designed for infantry combat and is in no where near scalable enough for this functionality to be useful. At the very least, an arrow needs to appear on the minimap for a missile until it gets within your ~150m radar range (which will take the missile 1.5 seconds to cover).

    But the bigger gripe, and if there were ANY functionality in the minimap display, this removes it entirely, is JUST how clientside the recognition of this missile is. For those of you not feeling a sense of relief that I've finally got to the really important issue, let's explain. It's the same as getting shot around corners. On the shooter's client, the missile is dozens of meters further towards the target than it is on the target's client. This means that when you watch the missile coming towards you on the minimap (with full zoom), a hit isn't scored when the missile reaches you, it's scored when the missile has crossed around 25% of your map (i.e. is in the middle HALF).

    So what we've got, is a 75m (0.75 seconds missile travel time) window where you can see the position of a missile with almost no visible/audible warning. Essentially, this renders the new mechanics nigh-worthless; sure they're clever, and it's the start of SOE showing they're capable of interesting mechanics... But the execution utterly fails, and I'd readily swap it for simply continuing to have the 'Lock' thing flash at me whilst the missile heads towards me. Given that speed is still the only reliable way to evade missiles, knowing their position for the last 0.75 seconds before impact is hardly a good trade for actually being aware they're approaching for what could be 4 seconds of travel time.


    Firstly, make the missile approaching sound MUCH louder. MUCH MUCH louder. I should be able to hear it over my own guns firing; at the very least, over everyone else's guns firing.

    Secondly, add a visual cue that a missile is incoming (PREFERABLY IN A COLOUR THAT SHOWS UP ON YOUR HUD - red on red in a Mossie is hardly a helpful UI...).

    Those two are vital. These two would be lovely, albeit perhaps more challenging:

    Firstly, make the minimap zoom out to 400m radius for vehicles. If not, make the minimap display the position of out-of-minimap incoming missiles with an arrow, or make them anchor to edge of screen like engagement radar.

    Secondly, find someway to improve missile tracking, such that missiles do not 'teleport' the last 75m; whether this is by hypothesising missile positions, or communicating their position in some kind of 'priority' channel, or some other clever whizzbangery you're capable of is irrelevant. Anything would be better than the nonsense we currently have.

    TL;DR The changes to lock-on warnings and tracking were a good idea, but sloppily executed. Don't just think as to 'what would be clever' when patching things; thing about what an actual interface designer in a military engineering firm would do. If one of your biggest threats is an incoming missile, make the warning that said missile is incoming BIG too. Solutions are above, but in general can be summed up as 'keep the new features but add back a bit of the old ones, and keep working on making the game better.' ;)
    • Up x 3
  2. Phazaar

    I'm guessing the title wasn't inflammatory enough? :p
  3. deggy

    Here, I'll help your thread get going.


    [Engages Internet Argument Mode]

    But in all actuality, these are all valid points, and I notice them even though I don't fly much aside from my Galaxy.
    • Up x 3
  4. Kitakami

    Hey, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well, I guess.

    That said, I don't think they physically can improve missile tracking on the minimap (not without world-wide investment in fibre optic to your door).
  5. Phazaar



    Hahaha perhaps I'm in an overly critical place right now? :p

    What I imagine might be worth doing is using some kind of hypothesizing algorithm... I'm told it's how missile tracking IRL works too... So we know the missile will continue on its current trajectory, plus or minus a few degrees, closing the gap towards its target. All the game needs to do is a quick ping of the client to know approximately how many ms behind that client is and then add that many metres (divided by 10, for current missile speed) to the current trajectory.

    I think we'd all prefer a warning system that supposes that a missile has hit you before it actually has than one that thinks you haven't been hit yet when you actually have, surely? The only downside this would have is that you might be unaware you've lost the missile until a few split seconds after the event - not at all unrealistic/unimmersive, and hardly as much of a hindrance as getting told a missile is 75m away when in fact it's already hit you...
  6. ajma

    You can use 'H' to enlarge the map and then zoom out.
  7. Phazaar

    Firstly, opacity is so high that it's a significant blow to have to lose 20% of your screen retail when there's no reason not to allow the same zoom levels in the regular minimap. Secondly, if this really is the intended functionality, once again thinking like an engineer, if that 'H' hit is actually really useful, I'd make it an automatic procedure the moment there's a missile coming in - wouldn't you?
  8. deggy

    The lock-on HUD indicator (that flashing square) should appear around the missile as it flies at you and lock to the edge of your HUD like Squad and Platoon waypoints do.
  9. Ronin Oni

    You do realize you can expand the size of the minimap ('H' by default I believe) as well as zoom in and out on the scale (left and right brackets '[' and ']' ) combining them can give you a HUGE 300m radius minimap.

    Rebind the key to something more convenient so YOU can toggle it larger as a reaction then... and it's not that much space really. I always expand my minimap when flying (I also have it rebound to 'X' and flares/utility to a mouse button)
  10. Jonesing25

    Yeah zoom ina nd out of your minimap using the "[ and ]" keys. Press H to make is even bigger.
  11. RogueVindicare

    As long as the "loud missile incoming" sound only plays for the person the missile is targeting, I'm A-Ok with this.
    (Plz no more Raven missile sound spam)

    As far as the directional arrow on radar thing; sounds very useful and reasonable.
    • Up x 1
  12. Prudentia

    i can enlarge my minimap in my Galaxy up to 1km so the problem becomes that you can't see how far the missile actually is and not where it is
  13. Phazaar

    A little bit of testing suggests the lockon mechanic already uses this 'hypothetical algorithm'; when watching a rocket follow you, it's very obvious it's being computed how it's following you by your client, not just a latent follow script from the firer's client. With that in mind, why not just give the hypothetical missile position a ping-based acceleration factor at launch such that it's more appropriate?

    Also, yes, as has been pointed out, I'm completely aware that you can enlarge the radar and you can zoom it out further when enlarged. I'm not sure why that's being taken as a counter to this, or why any counter is even necessary, given that it has nothing to do with any point I've made aside from the appropriacy of the current radar UI... A point which this fails to counter given that the counter involves altering the UI manually; it's very clear throughout my post (and within my point about radar UI) that these alterations should be automatic, and also not feature the current arbitrary nonsense we have. With all that said, this is the least important point out of everything I've said.

    I can only assume that no one disagrees with the rest ;)
  14. Kitakami

    No, I don't think you're being overly critical. I agree; ideally the missile tracking would be much more accurate.

    Alas, internet lag is only increasing as more households come online, with multiple devices, often at the same time, running multiple streaming services, etc. So I don't hold out much hope, tbh, given it's a relatively small issue for PS2 as a whole.