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Author Topic: SITREP Saturday #54: Map Zoom QoL  (Read 769 times)


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SITREP Saturday #54: Map Zoom QoL
« on: February 16, 2024, 04:13:17 PM »

I recently finished my Adventures in Map Zooming series over on the dev blog, and the most recent and final part covers what is from a player perspective the most important zooming-related topic: QoL!

You can read the full article for every detail, but this being a set of vital new features I figure it's worth providing a quick summary here in announcement form as well.

Before we get to that, another important notice: Since last week's introduction of a new fully-upscaled UI layout, I also had the opportunity to stream that layout and demonstrate it in action while talking about its various features:

Work on modal layouts has continued this week, including the addition of our third even more modal variant I know some you have been looking forward to as well. Yep, the "Phase 4" UI is already on the way... I'll be featuring that one in my next stream.

Movement QoL

Spinning the mouse wheel is normally a convenient way to wait for turns to pass, and we wouldn't want to take that away, but many folks are already using the mouse to pan the map view around while holding Shift, and Shift-Wheel is not taken, so provides us a natural alternative for toggling zoom state rather than always requiring usage of the ZOOM button or 'z' key.

That’s low-hanging fruit, though. We’re going to need much more powerful QoL...

Beginning in Beta 13, you'll be able to manually adjust the map centerpoint to keep more focused in a particular direction of interest (important while zoomed in because the visible map area is smaller):

Non-mouse players can similarly set a manual centerpoint via keyboard, which is still fairly fast if you're familiar with jumping the examine cursor:

Keyboard players can also take advantage of several types of algorithms for automatically adjusting their centerpoint while zoomed, trying to shift the view without any manual input in order to keep interesting features visible (it seems weird and takes some getting used to, but at least in the non-modal UI layout it works as a pretty nice supplementary feature):

Offscreen Object QoL

Once you’re zoomed in on only a quarter of the normal map area, it’s literally impossible to always see everything you might need to see in every situation. We need new indicators for important objects outside the current map view, especially those which are still within FOV (and probably even attack range!).

While manually panning the map or designating a centerpoint to keep an eye on a particular direction is useful, and temporarily zooming out to get a general idea of the surroundings is another option, to save time there are a variety of new markers that can appear at the edges of the map view to denote objects in that direction. You’ll see markers for offscreen hostiles, non-hostiles (both neutral and friendly), new items, and sensor data. Each marker category uses its own unique background color, and in the case of sensor data is also darker and blinks in and out to reflect the fact that it is not a directly visible object like the others. Items are only marked until automatically labeled for the first time after entering view.

A demo of flashing offscreen zoom markers for visible robots (I have some drones out here to help demonstrate):

Threats appear on a dark red background, while non-hostile robots use dark-green. As usual, the colors used are different if colorblind mode is active.

Flashing offscreen zoom markers for new items, which use a dark gray background:

Dark offscreen sensor data markers with a low-frequency blink out effect:

Indicators are great, but still not quite enough. After all, what do you generally want to do when a new threat comes into view? A quick visual check! What exactly are they, what’s their status, do they have company, what’s the surrounding environment like... These can be important questions to answer before making your next decision, and by default Cogmind already pauses for a moment in these situations in order to let the player have a moment to take it in (and avoid accidentally wasting valuable turns), so why not also use that opportunity to automatically shift the view over to spot the threat?

Automatically shifting the view a bit more to the left as soon as a Sentry is spotted down at the end of a corridor:

Another autoshifting example, in this case simultaneously spotting enemies down two different corridors and shifting to put them all in view:

The full article has other samples, such as shifting the map view to highlight a Watcher reporting a threat to nearby allies, or entering a Heavy's potential sensor range. Automated shifting can also be applied to useful situations such as machine pings (RIF Installer discovery, Zion Terminals...).

whether zoomed or not, another new feature that became more desirable with the advent of zooming is the new HOSTILES button that can appear above the map. This serves as a reminder that there are enemies in view, and is also clickable to center on said enemies (or back on oneself):

There you have it, anyone planning to stick with the original 60-row UI layout and combining that with map zooming will likely be making heavy use of many of these features, which will also come in handy even when not zoomed in if using a new modal layout.

Progress has been so good that unless there are too many unexpected discoveries during ongoing testing, Beta 13 might just release a lot sooner than later... this month even? (I do hope that we can get some more reviews going--been a slow... years in that regard :P)

Again I'll soon be streaming further playtesting of the modal layouts, including the newest one I have yet to properly introduce. Sharing that will probably be a good opportunity to finish my other run, the melee-crab-turned-flier :)

Aside: While there's no Community section to today's announcement, I feel it's worth pointing to a recent masterpiece by u/dogawesome. They've been posting a lot of memes to r/Cogmind lately, and recently concluded with a video meme compilation that summarizes a lot of Cogmind experiences in a pretty funny way. While one could say it contains a lot of spoiler references, they're almost all so esoteric and indicated by acronyms such that you only know if you know, so maybe not really that spoilery after all. In any case, consider checking it out here for some laughs :)
Josh Ge, Developer - Dev Blog | @GridSageGames | Patreon