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Thread: The Confusion Bars

  1. #1

    The Confusion Bars

    OK guys, this is the first of what is likely to end up being a series (perhaps a long series) of posts. We've got to knock all the burs off the controls between here and Beta. The interface needs to be as intuitive and obvious as possible.

    To start with I want us to discuss The Confusion Bars. They're also called the Casting/Crafting bars, but it seems like they're really good at creating confusion.

    I'll open with an explanation of what they do and why they're there:

    Each turn a player can spend up to his Spellcraft Skill in mana on casting and/or crafting per turn.

    Now, Spellcraft Skill can almost be looked at as “caster level”. It limits the amount of mana you can spend on each battle and how much you can spend each turn on casting/crafting. If you have a Spellcraft Skill of 100 then you can spend 100 mana in each and every battle and you can spend 100 mana each turn toward casting an overland spell and/or crafting a magical item. (In MoM this was called Casting Skill. We changed it to Spellcraft Skill because we felt it was more representative of the fact that you use it for crafting as well as casting.)

    We're going to stick with the 100 Spellcraft Skill for the rest of my explanation.

    So, if you're casting a spell and doing nothing else you could spend up to 100 mana per turn on that spell. If you're crafting and doing nothing else you could spend up to 100 mana per turn on that item.

    The questions this raises are:

    What if you want to spend less that 100 mana per turn?

    What if you want to cast and craft at the same time?

    Enter the Casting/Crafting Bars!

    (I hope everyone is following me up to this point because this is where confusion generally begins to rear its ugly head.)

    The Casting/Crafting bars currently handle both these questions.

    First, you can lower the bars to less that 100%. If you set them to 80/0 (for simplicity's sake) you would only spend 80% of your Spellcraft Skill in mana on casting per turn. If you set it to 40/0 you would only spend 40%. If you set it to 30/30 you would only spend 60%. (This is why the bars don't have to add up to 100%.)

    Second, they allow you to set the split you use if you're casting and crafting at the same time. If you set the bars to 80/20 you would spend 80% of your Spellcraft Skill in mana on casting and 20% on crafting each turn. If you set it to 40/60 you would spend 40% on casting and 60% on crafting. The default is 50/50, which is obviously 50%/50%.

    It's worth noting that the split only matters when you are doing both. Say you leave the bars at 50/50. If you're just casting then 100% of your Spellcraft Skill will go to casting. If you're just crafting then 100% will go to crafting. If you're casting and crafting each will get 50%.

    If you set the bars at 40/40 and were casting and crafting at the same time 40% of your mana would go to casting and 40% would go to crafting and you'd only be spending 80% of your total Spellcraft Skill per turn.

    (Is everybody still on the same page?)

    The problem with all this is not the end result. The end result is great. You can spend just the amount of mana you want in just the place you want to spend it. The problem is the confusion it causes. This has taken more than a page of explanation and I'm not absolutely confident that everyone is going to have understood my examples.

    So, what do we do?

    How can we get the result we want without causing people's heads to explode?

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Archmage of the Central Tower Happerry's Avatar
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    Give it a little checkable box that says 'Maintain current spending level' or something, and have it start out with a checkmark. As long as it is checked, if you adjust one bar the other bar will automatically change to maintain your current spending total. And then give the box an info pop up that tells you that you can unsticky this to change your spending level, allowing you to save your mana and so on. (Only more elegantly, of course)

    That way if people don't mess with the optional boxes it works as people expect those kind of things to work, but someone who takes the time to go look at their options can find out about the ability not to spend at max when you don't want to. Which would insure that the only time it comes up is when people have chosen to make it come up.
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  3. #3
    I'm just throwing down my stream of consciousness on this one...

    Mana income = 200
    Skill = 100

    If cast+craft (C+C) = 100 (using all your skill), then you use 100 mana of your 200 mana income, and the remaining 100 mana is banked.

    If C+C = 80, then you use 80/200 mana income and the remaining 120 mana is banked.

    Mana income = 80
    Skill = 100

    If c+c (50+50)=100, you use 40/80 mana income with the remaining 40 going into your vault.

    This one's a little less clear, because your mana output isn't defined just by your skill, but is restricted by the income:
    if c+c (30+50)=80 (using only 80% of your skill), you use 80% of 80 incoming mana = 64 mana. with the other 16 mana being banked.
    Of the 64 mana used, 24 (80*30%) mana is used for casting, and 40 (80*50%) mana is used in crafting.

    Does that sound right?

    Anyway, my actual suggestion is a combination of things that have been said before. Put a "lock" on each slider, so you can say "I always want to spend X% for casting spells, and you can move the other freely. Secondly, if neither is locked, some sort of graphical change that shows a chain between the two sliders which would link the two. Lastly, an indication of how much mana is going to be put in your bank. It could be a slider-type thing (or a beaker), or just a number readout.

    Having all 3 as sliders with locks would be very MoM-like, and it would be clear how much mana goes to each thing..

    skillbars.jpg

  4. #4
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    If c+c (50+50)=100, you use 40/80 mana income with the remaining 40 going into your vault.

    This one's a little less clear, because your mana output isn't defined just by your skill, but is restricted by the income:
    if c+c (30+50)=80 (using only 80% of your skill), you use 80% of 80 incoming mana = 64 mana. with the other 16 mana being banked.
    Of the 64 mana used, 24 (80*30%) mana is used for casting, and 40 (80*50%) mana is used in crafting.
    my understanding is that if you have 150 skill, and 100 income, then you could spend 150 out of 100 mana, which would deplete your reserves.

    30/50=80 (using only 80% as skill is 100), you use 80 out of 80 incoming mana = 0 left over.

    if you bars are set as thus, when you skill increases in a turn or two then:
    30.3/50.5=81, and thus using 80.8 out of 80 mana, thus resulting in 1 being taken from your reserves. this means you need to adjust you sliders every turn for maximum efficiency, and be sure to always keep some mana in reserve, just in case (personally i'd just keep more mana in reserve, and be less efficient, possibly only putting points into raising skill when i can afford the expenditure).

    you can't use 40/80 with a skill of 100, because that would be 120 total. if you had 120 total then yes the remaining 40 would go into reserve.

    that whole spending more than you make is why a suggestion for a 'match output to income' checkbox was made.

    i wholeheartedly agree that we need an indication of what is not getting used, and that a third bar would allow options as to manipulating the other two rather intuitively.

    so my suggestions in order of importance go:
    1. indication of unspent amount
    2. a third bar
    3. lockable bars
    4. able to type in the values via keyboard
    5. adjust expenditure to income toggle
    6. auto adjust toggle to control when casting/crafting can use all spendable amounts
    Last edited by jamoecw; 04-22-2014 at 08:43 PM.

  5. #5
    Good catch. I hadn't even considered spending more than you make (which I often did... I'm slow today).

    Then what if Mana was a bar that could go negative. Center is 0, below 0, the bar turns red, above 0, it changes to the 'mana' color. Something like:

    ManaBarPlus.jpg ManaBarNeg.jpg

    The main issue I see with this is that it functions differently from the other two (which may not be a problem).

    I wouldn't personally use a textbox that let me type in the amount of mana I wanted to use, but I could see that being what happens when you click the numbers in the circles (at the bottom of the sliders).

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    you can't use 40/80 with a skill of 100, because that would be 120 total. if you had 120 total then yes the remaining 40 would go into reserve.

    that whole spending more than you make is why a suggestion for a 'match output to income' checkbox was made.
    Sorry, I left something out of that. It should have read:


    Mana income = 80
    Skill = 100

    Assuming you're crafting something, but not casting and your sliders are at 50 cast and 50 craft, you're only using half your mana that's incoming.

    If c+c (50+50)=100, you use 40/80 mana income with the remaining 40 going into your vault.
    By 40/80, I meant 40 of 80 mana, not a 40cast/80craft split. What would really happen is that all 80 mana would go towards crafting and another 20 would come out of your reserve so that you're spending 100 mana (your total skill) on the crafting

    I realize this is also wrong, according to what Aaron said earlier, namely that the craft/cast sliders are only in effect when you're trying to do both. Otherwise, all of your expenditure goes into what you're doing.

    That makes a mana slider even more useful: you can set the slider to 'bank' 20 mana/turn, then lock that slider (this actually should address point #5: set the mana bar to 0). Then the other two sliders could be linked. This would also limit your mana vault drain rather than dumping all your potential mana plus some from your bank (which would total to your spellcraft value).
    Last edited by WyldeRhide; 04-22-2014 at 10:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Archmage of the Inner Ring ampoliros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WyldeRhide View Post
    Good catch. I hadn't even considered spending more than you make (which I often did... I'm slow today).

    Then what if Mana was a bar that could go negative. Center is 0, below 0, the bar turns red, above 0, it changes to the 'mana' color. Something like:

    ManaBarPlus.jpg ManaBarNeg.jpg

    The main issue I see with this is that it functions differently from the other two (which may not be a problem).
    I like this option more than the checkbox for "don't spend more than I make"
    Setting a slider for how much mana you want to bank is a great idea.

    There are issues with this, however:
    • first, there's what you pointed out - it's different from the other 2 sliders.
    • second, what if your mana income far outstrips your spellcraft?


    The way to fix the first issue is to make the "banking" instrument physically different from the crafting/casting sliders. Maybe a little mana vault picture with a color coded number of how much your reserve will change this turn. Then you can click it to type the number you're aiming for.

    That would also address the second issue, actually. Because, the widget could calculate everything it needed to and set the sliders and the number in the graphic based on the calculations.

    ---------- Post added at 06:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:12 PM ----------

    Aaron - now that you have explained the sliders twice. I understand them clearly.
    Having said that it's impossible for me to un-learn the explanation and I won't be of any use for being able to tell if your new tutorial explains them properly.

    I have a suggestion for the tutorial which I will put in its own thread to not clutter this one.

  8. #8
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    based on my understanding of the suggestion, if the mana income far outstrips your skill, it would be like the third bar didn't exist. essentially you wouldn't be able to spend enough for that bar to come into play (unless you set your reserve amount really high).

    it is still linked to the other bars, so adjusting to save 10 mana should adjust the other bars, and adjusting down the other bars still should add mana that you're saving to the third bar. that way you can see where the mana goes if you don't spend all of it in one turn (which would avoid confusion, as there isn't hidden things). it adds everything i want from a third bar, but simply does the math for you so that you know how much mana you are actually gaining or spending, not a bad thing.

    the typing thing makes it easy when you have say 200 skill, and you have the bars set at 100/100. while crafting and casting a big spell, one or the other has 101 mana left to go. by typing in 101 you can get the spell/item a turn earlier, then start another long term spell/item that is less important to get out fast, without sacrificing any extra mana on a less important spell/item. the next turn you can adjust so that you get the more important thing done quickly, while dumping the extra mana into something useful.

    in other words it is a micromanage thing that makes it easy to do precise spending amounts (not super important, but helpful and probably not difficult to code). i put it above the two options that remove micro, simply because it makes all micro in regard to the bars rather painless (and if it is carried over to other numbers that can be set, then it eliminates other issues as well, in addition to giving better control to less functional mice, and lower resolution monitors).

  9. #9
    Abecedarian Mage Trudd's Avatar
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    I re-enter here my thoughts, which are not too far frm others, especialy with jamoecw and WyldeRhide.
    It's a thought that is quite sticking to the MoM atmosphere

    The problem is that the mana generated each turn is from the mana sphere and the mana used to cast is the amount of the spellcraft skill.
    then the idea could be :

    three bars (casting/crafting/Mana storage).
    and their should be an indication of how many mana is stored or cast each turn
    it could be like this

    Casting.........:======] 25 mana (50% of spellcraft)
    Crafting........:===] 10 mana (20% of spellcraft)
    Mana stored..:====] 6 mana (the remaining 30%...)

    The sum of the 3 bars is 100% (in order to keep the MoM feeling) even if the mana stored is not directly related with spellcraft.
    if the mana used (in casting/crafting) is more than the mana generated, the mana store bar should change color and indicate -X mana.
    And if you generate more mana than your spellcraft skill, even if the mana store bar is at 0%, the number indicated the mana gained.
    As in MoM, where there was spell research even if your pulled the research bar to 0%, because research came from the mana distribution and from the research buildings (library,...)
    Last edited by Trudd; 04-23-2014 at 11:09 AM.

  10. #10
    I'd like some + and - buttons on everything having to do with power/mana for this game so I can fine tune it better. I waste a lot of time trying to drag levels up and down, over and over trying to get the number I want.
    My RPG Design and Theory Blog: http://socratesrpg.blogspot.com/

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