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Grant

Remaster Update - First look at the Sidebar

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@EA_Jimtern released the update just moments ago on the C&C Subbredit.

Official announcement

ifwaq9rtok231.jpg

Quote

 

Fellow Command & Conquer fans,

We have concluded our Pre-production phase and are now formally into Production. The art team at Lemon Sky is in full swing creating 4k content, and Petroglyph is continuing to stand up more features every week. Multiplayer is now playable for Tiberian Dawn, and we even had a chance to show the software to the Community Council a few weeks ago. Overall this transition into Production is a big milestone for any project, and we’ve been humbled by all the support thus far.

For this post, we wanted to share our approach to the in-game UI, and provide a sneak peek to our current in-progress version. Back when we announced the game in November, the UI was one of the key areas many of you in the community had passionate discussions about. As such, we listened to your videos, read comments from across the sites, and brainstormed with the Community Council. The trend we heard is that you still wanted the classic C&C Sidebar UI, but would welcome updates to the legacy UI to help the usability experience.

So with that in mind, one of the most requested improvements was to reduce the need for scrolling the Sidebar as much as possible. A key suggestion on how to accomplish this was to introduce the build tabs from Red Alert 2 and Tiberium Wars into the classic UI. We have thus decided to embrace this suggestion, and you can see the build tabs present in the associated preview image. However, because of the construction queue rules of the original games, we wanted to keep all buildings under a single tab, with associated tabs for Infantry, Vehicles (Air, Land, Naval), and Support Powers. To further support the goal of reduced scrolling, we have then designed the Sidebar to fit 18 build buttons. The combination of these elements means you’ll need to scroll much less, and along the way will benefit from many of the modern feedback elements of more recent C&C titles.

In terms of cosmetic design, we wanted the UI to follow our overall project direction of keeping elements authentic to the legacy version. We’ve done our best to capture the visual spirit of Tiberian Dawn, and or course would embrace a similar approach for Red Alert. We are recreating the build buttons in the spirit of the Gold Edition style, and again aiming to keep these as authentic as possible to the original design while preparing them for a 4k experience. Other updates include replacing the Repair, Sell, and Map buttons for icons to support our eventual localization efforts. And we’ve also shifted the Money and Options sections to above the radar map to ensure optimal screen allocation for the battlefield. All of these changes are done in the aspiration of keeping the spirit of the legacy Sidebar, while optimizing for a modern RTS gameplay experience.

Given the ongoing amount of passion around this UI topic, we are certainly eager to hear your thoughts in the comments, and looking forward to making the best UI experience possible for C&C Remastered.

Cheers,

Jim Vessella

Jimtern


 

 

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The UI looks very clean and detailed. I like that they the added a little more real estate for buttons to avoid scrolling through the tabs. 

Do super weapons really need their own tab, though?

I am curious. Are they releasing both C&C and Red Alert Remastered at the same time?

Since the artwork and functionality was nearly identical, it might make more sense to have them both come out at once as part of the same client.

 

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It looks pretty neat... will take some getting used to. Interestingly they didn't mention if they will or will not be doing build queue in the sidebar.

A single tab for supers does seem a little strange... but I don't see how else you'd really do it. it also lets them add more if they wanted to create more game modes and stuff.

The also haven't mentioned if the icons will stay locked in their own locations, or if they shuffle about when new tech is placed etc. Would be good to know. Given that they seem to be talking about streamlining it for modern RTS, I suspect they'l be ironing that issue out.

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I am assuming those are separate tabs for infantry and superweapons (I might be wrong).

Are they planning to add new units and more support power/superweapons? Because originally it only had 4 (5-6 in MP) buildable infantry and 1 superweapon  per faction and that is too little to give their own build tabs. Especially in the Nod campaign where the super tab would be useless until the last mission (which you can use only once). At least GDI has airstrikes in the earlier missions but still seems weird to have its own tab.

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5 hours ago, ore_truck said:

I am assuming those are separate tabs for infantry and superweapons (I might be wrong).

Are they planning to add new units and more support power/superweapons? Because originally it only had 4 (5-6 in MP) buildable infantry and 1 superweapon  per faction and that is too little to give their own build tabs. Especially in the Nod campaign where the super tab would be useless until the last mission (which you can use only once). At least GDI has airstrikes in the earlier missions but still seems weird to have its own tab.

I think part of the issue is just; what should it be under.

I'm interested to know where the flyers will be placed (probably vehicles?)

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The flyers could be under the vehicles indeed. But I say they get their own tab.

I have 2 suggestions:

One:
There is no super tab. When a super weapon is ready. You get an icon in the screen somewhere. In the same way as how it is done is a couple of other games. Like Generals. With a timer in it. Once ready, the player will always know. But it doesn't fix the idle empty tabs.

Two:
The tabs start out centred/stretched with the options a player has.
If only infantry can be build, there is only 1 tab. It is centred/stretched.
If buildings and infantry can be build, there are 2 tabs. Both in the same size and centred, or both stretched to fill the bar.
If we go for the maximum, we have; buildings, infantry, vehicles, air and super weapon.
It would be nice if we get a defence structure tab.
And the super weapon could be placed under the defence structure tab.

So, tabs would be added and removed during the game.

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OK, yeah, they've said that vehicles will be air and naval, also.
I can't say I like the idea of the icons changing in size... I also not a big fan of icons off the sidebar :S

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I am no fan of icons that are useless until the last mission. So they need to think of something better.

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Super weapons/Calldowns should be put on the building tab. As far as I am aware, only 3 exist: 

Ion Canon

Nuclear Missile

Air Strike

It’s pointless for only 3 slots to be occupied on an 18 slot grid.

Everything else looks great. I can’t wait to see what the unit icons look like.

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16 hours ago, Kikematamitos said:

For be honest i just wait RA2 

There may not even be a RA2 remaster. I recommend supporting the existing efforts so that they will make an RA2 remaster.

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Posted (edited)

Hello, first time posting.

Usability-wise, I agree with @X3M on superweapons: it was the right move in TW and RA3 to keep support powers out of their improved sidebar.

There's nothing wrong for all the remasters, even potentially TS and RA2 to handle supports like TW. Neither have as many supports as TW, and won't lead to the pileup situation as TW did. I'd say even the TW pileup is fairly tolerable.

posted image

Edited by Sutare

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Posted (edited)

About art direction:

1. Buy, Sell, Map and Tab icons:

As graphical design, they are over-detailed and scale poorly (the white "body" of the Humvee gun barrel is only one pixel wide in the image). Compare the equivalent icons in TW and RA3: those are simple and practical, embodying good design principles.

2. Build icons:

I actually find the sample's build icons kinda endearing, reminescent of games from the early 2000s.

Anyway, the original icons in RA95 and C&C95 were intended to feel photorealistic/cinematic. They each has a distinct tone with high-contrast lighting, and suggest a scene in itself (sometimes taken directly from cutscenes). 3D CGI with good color-toning may reproduce the original style better (plus live actor infantry icons as in the original), though I acknowledge this may be outside the remaster's budget range.

3. UI texture:

In the sample image, the remaster team has interpreted the TD UI as weathered dark metal with scratches. I have a lot to say about that.

TD's general aesthetic is one of modern military cool with a few futuristic elements.

RA's style is dieselpunk with retro future tech. From the music to the sprites of damaged buildings, RA's heavy industry aesthetic always feels grungier, more brutal than TD. This styling is continued even in RA2.

Now, one signature UI texture in RA is the polished stainless steel (complete with fine polish marks), seen in both the main menu and in-game UI. So here is the problem: when the remaster team moves to RA, and reproduces its polished steel UI, they will inadvertently make RA appear cleaner than TD, reversing the two games' intended aesthetics.

We can attribute this problem to Westwood, who created RA95 first, and when porting TD, chose to give it the dark texture to distinguish it from RA95. However, I think the right way to look at it, is to realize the TD UI texture was probably never meant to be metallic.

black_granite.png.99ff215f87aff84c22838504ecf0878d.png

It was black granite, which actually fits into Tiberium's crystalline mineral theme.

My suggestion is to keep the sample image's faintly blue/green hue (which IS well-chosen), while replacing the metal with a granite texture. It will be challenging: the granite grain can easily appear too noisy, but if done right, the result will be even more authentic to C&C95.

Edited by Sutare

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Posted (edited)

I think there's a misunderstanding that this is TD only. I think you'll find they'll use the same layout, but with different colour, for the RA1 sidebar, also.
On top of that, they MAY release extra content with more support weapons. IF they move the support weapons off of the sidebar, what would they then fill that space with?

My bigger concern is that they're locking stuff away behind extra buttons... when there isn't that much stuff to actually build, especially for TD. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the current sidebar would actually, for the most part, be easier to use (when you're making vehicles, infantry and structures all at the same time. You can SEE them all building, and just click on them. That will no longer be the case without extra button pushes in this build.

And god forbid that you have to click the tab buttons, and cannot just use a hotkey to move to them.

Edited by AchromicWhite
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Hotkey implementation would be absolutely splendid. I'm seriously looking forward to seeing and using the extra features that they're adding, if any.

Personally I hope this will be a strong foundation for mod creation. I hope we'll have really good assets to use and so forth. :) I really want to get my hands onto the latest build.

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Yet another sidestep away from the original. As I said in the dedicated thread, I doubt having tabs will make building stuff easier than using the scroll-wheel to navigate the regular sidebar. Better have a customizable one.

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12 hours ago, AchromicWhite said:

My bigger concern is that they're locking stuff away behind extra buttons... when there isn't that much stuff to actually build, especially for TD. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the current sidebar would actually, for the most part, be easier to use (when you're making vehicles, infantry and structures all at the same time. You can SEE them all building, and just click on them. That will no longer be the case without extra button pushes in this build.

 

52 minutes ago, cn2mc said:

Yet another sidestep away from the original. As I said in the dedicated thread, I doubt having tabs will make building stuff easier than using the scroll-wheel to navigate the regular sidebar. Better have a customizable one.

 

True. I hope this sidebar is optional, they can't keep it like this...

 

 

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1 hour ago, cn2mc said:

Yet another sidestep away from the original. As I said in the dedicated thread, I doubt having tabs will make building stuff easier than using the scroll-wheel to navigate the regular sidebar. Better have a customizable one.

What they could do is put infantry and vehicles together on the same tab, as opposed to having separate ones for them. Either way, its an improvement over navigating a single column imo.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

What they could do is put infantry and vehicles together on the same tab, as opposed to having separate ones for them. Either way, its an improvement over navigating a single column imo.

True, TD does not have enough units to warrant separate infantry and vehicle tabs, but presumably this will also be the layout for RA1, and that definitely has a lot more vehicles.

Edited by Sutare

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At least with Tiberian Dawn, they could get away with not having tabs since there isn't much to build in the first place. We could just have everything on a single page, since there's enough icons and what not to suffice. What do you guys think?

I'm sure they'll have some sort of customization with the sidebar, maybe?

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Posted (edited)

Well there goes my muscle memory, also I believe that means I have to learn more hot keys? But on the positive side at least it looks nice and neat and probably wont take  long to get used to.

 

The original is annoying ugly and cumbersome, especially at low res, fair play EA

Edited by chem

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"However, because of the construction queue rules of the original games, we wanted to keep all buildings under a single tab, with associated tabs for Infantry, Vehicles (Air, Land, Naval), and Support Powers."

Let's see, one production line for all structures, one tab, 3 production lines for air, land, naval respectively, one tab. What gives? The "construction queue rules" justification for omitting a dedicated tab for base defenses is invalidated by the lack of consistency in the internal logic. If wacky compromise for the sake of a lightweight UI is their favored path, they should disclose that much, instead of trying their best to make it look like theirs is logically consistent and sound design philosophy.

"To further support the goal of reduced scrolling, we have then designed the Sidebar to fit 18 build buttons."
This is a low hard cap and a bummer for modders, I'm amazed that none of you caught this one. It's way worse than in CNC3/RA3 exactly because of the lack of subtabs, meaning: no space for an extra faction into the game (in CNC3/RA3, the added factions would just have their own subtabs, in the upcoming TD Remaster there would be no subtabs and not enough build buttons to work with).

Combining the old with the new can break the design and, paradoxically, features that were supported by both the old and the new.

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12 hours ago, FunkyFr3sh said:

True. I hope this sidebar is optional, they can't keep it like this...

I mean, they CAN keep it like this, but I'd rather it was customisable.
 

11 hours ago, DrTh0ll said:

What they could do is put infantry and vehicles together on the same tab, as opposed to having separate ones for them. Either way, its an improvement over navigating a single column imo.

I thought that at first myself, but then, most of the units you make are only a handful, and then the rest are mostly just a few that you scatter in. With the old sidebar (at least the extended one that we have now), you can often fit all the cameos you need to click on in the visible list.
So this will always make sure that you HAVE to hit extra buttons to switch between different stuff, even basic units. Pretty ruff on GDI at a point where they're pushing, as you're likely to be going for mass gren + meds (maybe some structure, as well). That's actually a lot harder to manage than the current one.


All in all, it's nothing I can't get used to... but still.

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I like the original sidebar better too. At least for the extended one in high-resolution. Like I said in the other thread about sidebars, I don't like separate tabs, it's better if everything is in one place and I can see most of the structures and units in one tab (TD has low number of units by the way) and using the mouse wheel to scroll down if I need to see more.

I don't like using hotkeys on the keyboard as shortcuts to change tabs. At least allow us to switch tabs using the wheel. I prefer not to use both hands to do it.

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