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Welcome to World War II online - Battleground Europe : Free community contributions to a new User Interface design

Oct. 2009

Please sit back, relax, throw some food to the fishes, and take a hour to discover the content of this blog.

The purpose of this input is to introduce new gameplay concepts that could contribute to a fix of persistent issues highlighted during the last couples of years, with a special focus on the User Interface (UI).
Though it will confuse established players, I believe it will be alot easier for new players to understand.

The blog (creative) layout has been designed to make the reading more comfortable (you can easily pause your reading thanks to feature #IDs) as to make search & discuss easier. Use the labels to select a single part, or use the tree on the right to find a specific feature back.
If you are in a hurry, you may just have an attentive look at the screenshots which should be intuitive to understand. The text is just pointing out drawn features or detailing the context.

All opinions and suggestions are welcome. Please, provide feedback (here) in the official forum . Remind that the whole content is a free gift to Playnet.

Since English isn't my main language, please apologize for the mistakes. I hope you will still enjoy the reading.

-Un0fficial gameplay architect, advises concepts since 2002-

1. New UI design introduction


   This work contains suggestions to improve the architecture of the User Interface (UI) of Battleground Europe™. Some basics gameplay modifications are introduced as well to extend organizational possibilities.
The objective is to provide ideas to official BE architects who may have been asked to perform a full overpass of the current UI ( released back in v.1.20 on 24th October 2005) for v.1.32 or v.1.33.

Features  presented here are either ideas gathered/selected from community discussions or designed by myself . These try to take into consideration developers’ long-term vision for  the gameplay , while exploiting existing code parts as much as possible or using similar approaches. I leave pictures free of copyrights but please don't forget to mention where it comes from.

   This study only focused on a few menus to introduce the new architecture logic. These are the side HQ screen , the platoon HQ and the brigade HQ which are the main screens used to find action and deploy. 
Some extra attention will be given to new leadership tools and to a new multicrewing procedure as well.
Missing sub-menus either contain no significant changes, or are left to the inspiration of BE architects themselves.

28th february 2008 : 1st version of the new 
UI that caught the team's attention

Current UI design

Let us first remind how the current UI is designed
. As we move forwards into the new design, we'll highlight its limitations.





1.0. Major Gameplay changes

Before starting a detailed overview of the new UI sections, let's first announce the major gameplay changes considered when drawing the design: 

#1. Redefining missions:

   The biggest change is probably the new concept for missions.
What is a mission ? Currently just a means to spawn at its origin or at its mobile spawn.
What should a mission be ? A means to stick with other players to accomplish  a task that an enemy group is also aiming at, and that is part of a higher-level coordination.

   There have been plenty of totalitarian suggestions from pro-teamers to redesign the concept, but most ignored that some subscribers aren't looking for team-based gameplay at all (just looking for a realistic vehicle simulation, just fragging around, etc.). Playing virtually as a team is also very difficult (whether you know your team mates or not) and not representative of real-life experience, so it would be a  mistake to chose a path that forces team-based play only ; WWIIol should remain open to any kind of profile. That said, pro-teamers and squads never got the right tools to make the battlefield become a true one.

The concept I would suggest for the future can be resumed as : allow anyone to spawn "anywhere", without leader constrains, but give tempting privileges to groups acting as a true team and following official orders emitted by active leaders.

#1a  Concretely, each brigade will host a permanent automatic "Mercenaries support mission" that won't need a mission leader to be activated (the background for this feature was added in 1.30 witth  the automatic combat training missions). There is no pre-defined spawn origin (feature #2) nor pre-defined target, so that anyone willing to provide support can do it instantaneously.
Discussions should however be done about features currently requiring a ML, e.g. reporting a contact
(for example change the contact report procedure : make the brigade OIC approve it for all missions , and let the reports be approved by default  if not disapproved during their validation period. Players located close to the contact report could be notified as well and could disapprove the report if they can't confirm it).

People joining support missions are not really part of the orbat ; they just enjoy the  fight as mercenaries. In a second phase, further distinctions with regular troops could be performed, eventually such as :
  • Distinctive non-regular uniforms. Allowing players to make a visual distinction between lonewolves and players part of a team (platoon or squad - see bellow) could have an important impact on tactical gameplay, because of the improved meaning of a team.  For example, spotting a regularly-dressed soldier would probably mean there are more close, which would influence players' tactical decisions.  Or a team member could hold his movement if he sees mercenaries going ahead first.
    The marketing impact should not be ignored as well: if the "bunch" of players running nowhere gets a civil-like (or whatever less official) uniform, it will no longer be associated to a failure of the gameplay, but to a feature which adds diversity.

    Example of non-regular uniform for french forces (resistance)

  • Inability to take part to an area capture . Since a team-based gameplay require more time to mobilize and coordinate, capture events should become less frequent but more epic to fully exploit the immersion brought by team combats. It's feared that solo caps (made easier because of support missions and non-fixed origins) could seriously hinder the efficiency of platoon-based missions as it is designed in this blog, even more for attakers.
    Furthermore, the OIC would have a better control of the battle progression since platoons are easier to follow and coordinate (feature #62).
  • Physical performances. Again, since forming up and moving a team requires more time, it should be balanced with the ability to sprint for a longer time. Regular troops are supposed to be better trained as well;
  • Load-out priority. The experience provided by some special units (mortars, LMG, bazooka,...) is nil without teamwork and could be reserved for platoon/squad soldiers only. However this could be a good reason to get fake platoons being created and must thus be considered with care.
    Eventually, limit the use of advanced weapons from depots and MSPs only to platoon members. Mercenaries could then spawn it from AB/FB only. Again, teams should survive as long as possible and be involved in team vs team combats as much as possible. A too easy suppression by mercenaries could hurt this spirit and vision.
  • No advanced team-based ranking points . The source of ranking points for mercenaries should only be based on kills, in opposition to platoon/squad members who should get an advanced scoring system based on objectives accomplishments. 
    Mercenaries would then help clearing the path, or do diversion for regular troops.
  • ...

#1b   In opposition to "freestyle" support missions, platoon missions allows to gather players that want  to stick together and accomplish objectives as a temporary true team.

Since players are no longer forced to join a mission lead by a ML, some restrictions can be added to improve subordination and discourage the creation of "fake" platoons (created only to make use of its pivileges). For example, initial spawn could be initiated at ML's signal only (feature #48), members must make their origin/unit choice be approved by ML (feature #46), and maybe cut platoon members' friendly radar down to only 100m instead of the current 1km  (except for the ML) to add an encumbrance that can be solved by sticking together and following ML's orders.

However, having true teams running around also opens the door to team-focused special features such as team-shared points, order emotes heard by platoon members only (feature #65), dynamic 3D mouse-dropped waypoints (cf. BIA game) , the famous platoon command post (or respawn@ML concept), etc.

   Platoon missions would be subdivided in two separated categories : "forming up" - and "deployed" platoons:
"Forming up" is the status of platoons whose ML and members are still organizing at the platoon HQ screen (topic 1.5). Joining such a mission guarantees the integration into a team that will soon accomplish a task altogether.
Once the platoon stopped recruiting and/or deployed ingame, its status is changed to "deployed" (see feature #47). The spawn is performed automatically for everyone at ML's command (feature #48). Such a platoon can't be joined anymore (feature #3).

#1c  Squad missions are back. They were removed because they didn't allow non-squad players to know where most of people were actually playing This is simply solved by displaying where permanent squads are currently deployed (see features #13 and #25).
Squads can't be joined in a conventional way like platoons, but anyone may still join an active recruiter like it is currently the case (feature #26).  Multiple squad missions should be allowed, but each should have a nominated ML for coordination purpose. Squad members should of course still be allowed to create conventional  "public" platoons or to play a mercenaries.

#1d    About paratroopers brigade, we should change how the system currently works :
Since missions no longer have a fixed origin (feature#2), "simply" allow platoon members from ground brigades to select as origin any AF hosting a para brigade, even if the brigade has no link with it. They would then get access to paratroopers and transport planes of the para brigades parked there. In other words, allow to use equipment from another brigade while staying in ours.
It makes more sense to keep paras in the brigade coordinating the attack and list them together with other missions.
Let's remind that paras are doing a longer run to reach action and are vulnerable. Tools to make cohesion easier (respawn@ML) will definitely improve their effectiveness, but the experience will  already be improved by only allowing platoon/squad members to deploy as paratroopers. Paratroopers should not be available to mercenaries since it's all about team cohesion once dropped.

   The same structure can be found for air forces (platoons become "squadrons") and naval force, since a team that left can not easily be joined.

#2. Missions no longer have a fixed origin

  Players are now allowed to spawn from any origin currently supplied by their brigade (AB, depots, spawnables, FB and msps if feature #4), independently of the selected mission.

This allows the implementation of brigade support missions (feature #1) which could hardly be tied to a fixed origin, brings the possibility to link MSPs to the brigade instead of the mission (feature #4) and allow a softer implementation of future non-fixed spawn points.
Furthermore, respawning platoon members will be able to more easily get back to current platoon location, even if it traveled a lot from its initial spawnpoint, thus improving team cohesion a lot.
In the case of platoon- and squad missions, it allows more tactical possibilities to accomplish a given objective (e.g. tanks from FB combined with infantries from spawnable).
As a consequence, missions now only display a target in their description. This will also give more sense to future dynamic target management, and make OIC-suggested objectives easier to implement (feature #50e). Para equipment would be an exception to the supply rule (feature "#1d).

#3. Platoon can no longer be joined once it has a deployed status

   Once the leader changed the platoon status to deployed (features #1b and #47), it is no longer possible to join his team via the deployment screen. However, this rule does NOT apply to mission members dying and/or respawning, who remains part of the group initially formed up and who are supposed to continue to follow redeployment orders given by the ML. In some cases when you die it's best to leave and join another platoon forming up, but the use of this feature should be kept customizable.

This feature needs discussion, but allowing permanent recruitment actually hurts the team spirit and the cohesion in field. A ML can't be fully dedicated to his platoon if new members are constantly joining 4 km behind his current location with their own agenda (which is even more true in the case of air/naval missions).
Furthermore, not allowing reinforcements in deployed platoons would allow to more quickly fulfill the ones still forming up. Each deployed platoon would have its own unique battle story, with all members experiencing a fellowship they currently never find. The story would end when everyone left platoon.
Closing deployed platoons also prevent fake platoons to hurt the game experience for other players who would lose confidence in this feature. This makes management a lot easier for the OIC as well. This shouldn't be applied to squad missions as they should stay free to organize themselves.

   The only means to reinforce a deployed platoons would be to fuse with another deployed platoons (maybe consider the ability to split an existing one as well, as the transfer of single players between platoons, to allow advanced organization).
I tried to consider other options but couldn't found one  (yet) which wouldn't raise any gameplay  issue, Transfers between platoons and mercenaries missions would be more complex to handle because of the differences between the two categories.

This feature could also have an impact on other upcoming gameplay changes, such as the respawn@ML concept which could no longer require a proximity condition for instance. This should be discussed in a dedicated blog.

#4. MSPs are no longer tied to missions, but to brigades

  Another big change is linking MSPs to the brigade instead of missions.
Removing  fixed spawn origins  (feature #2) would allow anyone to make use of an available MSPs for the brigade, whatever mission they belong to. This would definitely cease the scenario where a player joins a mission not for the leadership it provides but for the MSP it is hosting.

MSPs can't be deployed from a Mercenary support mission. These can be deployed from platoons or squad missions only. Though, once deployed they would be available for anyone part of the brigade, even mercenaries. This rule would allow a better control over msps location. If the MSP becomes unmanned (UMS), it will automatically disappear after some minutes (countdown) but can also still be manually deleted by the OIC (if any).

A consequence of this feature is that it will become more meaningful to set up a platoon fully dedicated to the defense of the MSP, since currently its defenders have to mix themselves with attackers spawning at it, preventing efficient leadership and organization inside the mission.
If finding an appropriate tool to provide information about the location of  brigade MSPs (feature #38), it will improve tactical organization a lot and make combat deployment much more easier, both for n00bs, Lonewolves, platoons and squads. This rule could be extended to the future naval MSP as well.

The following topics will focus on one screen at a time, giving details about the features displayed in the "screenshots". These pictures are just means to help the reader visualize concepts and should not be taken as definite designs. Since I was limited to the size of a screen, the display is very compact compared to what it could be like using a scroll bar.

Blog layout : 

   - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected

   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display


1.1. Side HQ - Welcome screen

   - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected

   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display



    The current welcome screen -accessed after having chosen a side and a persona- only displays a list of divisions with their brigades and a population indicator, along with an interactive map. This design was created when "Tables Of Equipment" were expected to go along with players sticking to their own brigade, as they used to do  (virtually) at the very beginning of the game.  But the game evolved, and so did the playerbase. New gameplay features made the game much more dynamic, and such a layout is no longer pertinent.  Both players, MLs, OIC and HCs suffer from the current lack of (easily-accessed) situational awareness. The new design tries to fix this

Typical side HQ display at arrival on this screen

#5.   Persona selection becomes dynamic and intuitive. You no longer need to pre-select a branch persona  but just a side persona. You can then easily jump between each other via dedicated tabs (ground, air and naval forces). Branch persona upload -with its appropriate rank- is then performed instantaneously. Each branch has its own side HQ welcome screen but ground forces should always be displayed by default to give a situational awareness to joining players. Best would be to also have branch ranks shared between different countries of the same side since brigades of both countries are mixed (feature #7).

#6.    A common “recruitment chatroom” is accessed when displaying one of the side (branch) HQ screens.

Players lose access to this chatroom once they leave to another level of UI (brigade, mission, squad, events…). MLs may continue to use it while they are not deployed in field (recruitment purpose) but OICs and HCs may access it at any time. Colors help identifying mission leaders and brigade leaders and brigade ID helps identifying their location.

#7. Brigades are no longer separated between countries and divisions, and are displayed individually on the screen to allow different displays according to the wanted information (feature #8). However each brigade name is still preceded by the initials of its division and a picture of its country flag

#8. The list of brigades with their missions are by default sorted by descending active population .
 It's a simple means to know where the action is currently the most intense, or to identify towns lacking forces according to its current situation. However, a scroll menu would suggest alternative displays, such as a sorted list by country/division orbat, attack/defense AO, remaining supply,....
Eventually, if HCs are allowed to define P1, P2 and P3 AOs in the future, it could then have an influence on  the default display (these would be displayed at the beginning of the list, even if not containing the most population).

#9. A supply status in % of remaining equipment is displayed for each brigade in order to allow a quick situational awareness of supply without the need to join the brigade. This would be helpful both for players and for leaders. Note the use of a large supply box icon, which also serves as visual reference to help the brain distinguish different brigades.

#10. The current side CinC is displayed. By default it's the name of the campaign CinC, but in the future it could eventually be an online HC that decided to took the temporary lead in the same way OICs do. This would improve situational awareness of the side organization, both for players, MLs and OICs.

#11. Players currently having an active lead role (MLs, OICs, CinC) have their own identification color that is displayed everywhere their tag appear (chat, UI, ingame tag).

#12. Each brigade displays its current attack and defense objectives. Since there's always a permanent defense mission for home towns (feature #1), defense objective is never empty  (permanent indication of location), while attack objective appears only if an AO has been set by the OIC. If there is no active AO, the icon is colored grey. For defense target only, ews/attack icons are eventually displayed for increased awareness.

#13. For each brigade, missions are grouped according to their category (feature #1)

#14. A quick glance should allow players to find missions that will offer the experience they are mainly looking for (experienced ML, large platoon, armored column, defense mission...).
Therefore, mission information displayed on the "mission line" is limited to : ML's tag (colored), his leadership points (upcoming feature), the number of mission members, the eventual specialization and the mission type (offensive/defensive). Icons notifying the use of a Platoon Command Post (PCP) for deployed platoons may also be displayed, as the use of a countdown. Target is a secondary priority information since it may change (dynamic target as upcoming feature). Display may be adapted according to mission category.

#15. A "join" button allows the player to immediately jump into the wanted mission without needing to open a brigade tab first as it is currently the case. Missions that can't be joined because of gameplay restrictions don't display such a button, i.e. deployed platoons because of feature #3 and squad missions which can only be joined via a recruiter (feature #26)

#16. Selecting a brigade/mission/squad will display more detailed information on the other half of the screen, providing an instant situational awareness (see  following topics bellow).

#17. If nothing has been selected yet, the other half of the screen displays an interactive map that can be used for situational awareness, but also for intuitive deployment if selecting a town would instantaneously filter all brigades currently hosting a mission related to that area (feature #29).  Notice that the map tools (search, legend, ...) are displayed at this level, in opposition to the current system where you need to open the large map to access these.
A "reset button" allows to come back to this map when an unwanted selection had been done in the list, though is doesn't cancel the ordering criteria (feature #8) nor the filter display (feature #19).

#18. Officers may quickly form up a new platoon by clicking a "create platoon" button available above the "deploying platoons" list of every brigade. This will make mobilization much easier  to perform compared to the current design.

#19. A filter display allows to perform a detailed research into the current active missions, with dynamically updated display.

#20. Gophur mentioned he supported Rexxor's idea of a calendar gathering events. I called the tab "events". An art concept has been posted on the official website.

1.2. Side HQ - Squad selected

   - Welcome screen
  - Squad selected
  - Town selected
  - Platoon selected  
  - Mission member display
  - Mission leader display 


   Currently no useful informations about squads can be found if you're not member of it, since part of the information contained in the "squad tab" has not been made public. The design of the recruitment window added in the 1.26 patch also missed the point of helping players to judge the efficiency and ideology of a squad, or leaders to know where squads were currently operating and how many members were active. The new design tries to fix these issues.

Typical side HQ display when selecting a squad in the list

#21.   When selecting a "Mobilized permanent squad" in the mission list on the left, further information about the squad is displayed on the right. The purpose is to allow players to easily learn about active squads before deciding to join academy (feature #26).
Notice that here it doesn't display details about their selected mission, while it will in the brigade HQ (see topic 1.7) since such informations would be more relevant for brigade members.

#22. In the squad information screen you can find a paragraph where squads tell about their ideology. Eventually consider a place to put a squad icon.

#23. A squad website address is made public as well.

#24. Some useful wiretap information is displayed, such as active members since the beginning of the current campaign and combat stats. These kind of informations allow new players to better judge a squad before joining it. It would also require squads to do their best to remain attractive.

#25. Current squad missions are listed, showing where the squad is operating and how many members are involved. Each mission has its own ML to make coordination easier for OICs.

#26. The current "recruitment tab" has been replaced by the "Join academy" display. It contains the list of current online recruiters and playing in a squad mission. They can be joined by non-squad affiliates like it is currently the case, though I would not allow squad chat access.
If a recruiter is playing in a traditional platoon or a support mission instead of a squad mission, he should not be listed as nothing guarantees that he's indeed involved in a squad-operated maneuver.

#27. A "check for events" button would send you to the "event tab" (feature #20) and list planned activities related to the selected squad. This would allow anyone to synchronize with the squad agenda. However I made the assumption here that events would be made public and that the calendar would gather all events of a side.

#28. Remind that you can use the filter display at the default screen to only have the list of squad missions displayed. This could be done by unchecking "deploying platoons" and "deployed platoons" in the filter options (feature #19). Sorting displayed results by population (feature #8) then gives HC a useful overview of currently mobilized squads.
The reset button cancels the squad selection and thus displays the default welcome screen, though it doesn't reset the display filter nor the ordering criteria. In other words, you just get the interactive map back and need to re-check all filter options to get the first screen back. This could sound slow, but such a procedure allows more research abilities. It is not expected that many players often use of this filter.

1.3. Side HQ - Town selected

    - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected  
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display 


    The current design displays a map where you can right-click on a town and display a list of deployed brigades. Though this is an interesting feature to join a defense and should thus be kept, it doesn't allow you to get the same situational awareness for an offensive event since you need to jump into every surrounding brigades to find missions currently aiming at the enemy. Furthermore, there's currently no mean to get a quick overview of air/naval forces also involved in this area, except by going back to change your persona and start looking for these missions into the different brigades.
The new design suggests a new filtering feature that will improve global situational awareness, coordination and mobilization capability, both for players and leaders.

Typical side HQ display when selecting a specific town

#29. When selecting a town (by either clicking it or finding it with the search menu as shown in the screenshot), brigades hosting forces currently involved in that area will be filtered on the left.
This would include :
  • If friendly town selected:
    - Brigades currently parked there
    (because of their permanent defensive support mission);
  • If enemy town selected:
    - Brigades with an attack AO on it (if we image that multiple brigades may set their AO on a same town);
  • Both:
    - Brigades hosting at least one mission targeting a building that belongs to the selected town
If a brigade is hosting missions which are not aiming at the selected target, these are displayed as well but with faded colors, though they can still be selected and joined.

No-man's land battles would become easier to manage since you currently can't easily know from which brigade(s) troops are leaving from.
Since support missions don't specify an objective, they're never taken into account in this filter.

#30. Jumping from one branch to another (feature #5) will not cancel the town filter. This means that you will display in turn ground / air / naval forces currently involved in the selected area only. Again, missions which have no link with the selected town are faded out.
Notice that the display filter content and the persona rank will change according to the displayed branch. I adapted some informations such as brigade AOs since it's only available to ground brigades. Maybe we should consider to fuse ARFR and BEF ranks to avoid complications for a multi-countries side.

Example of screen display when jumping to 
air forces while having a town selected

1.4. Side HQ - Platoon selected

    - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected 
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display 


  Learning about current active missions, either for the player that wants to join or for the leader who wants a situational awareness, is currently a complicated task since you need to join every brigade one by one, and then jump throughout every missions. The new design allows you to access valuable mission information by simply going through the mission list of the side HQ.

Typical side HQ display when selected a platoon in the list

#31. In opposition to the current system where you can't get any valuable information about a mission without joining it yourself, the new system allows to display instantaneously extra information by selecting a mission in the list. The following extra information should be found:
  • Quick button to send a private message to the ML (swifter then typping /m);
  • Current target - if selecting a platoon only (support missions have none (feature #1a), and selecting a squad mission doesn't provide such an information at the side HQ level (feature #21)). Note that there's no origin mentioned (feature #2);
  • A map focusing on the current target
  • Mission type (feature #50a);
  • Countdown before expected deployment;
  • Platoon stats : duration since creation, platoon kills and deaths. Initially this feature was designed for the case where players would still be allowed to join a deployed platoon, since such informations could help them evaluate the current effectiveness of the platoon. Though this has changed (feature #3), this information could still serve to the OIC and the ML as his leadership points could eventually make use of it.
  • Orders - if selecting a platoon only : One of the most important information that should be made available without needing to join. This will provide a good situational awareness both to the OIC and to players looking to join. Also notice for how long the order has been posted.
 Mission members list is avoided at the side HQ level but will be displayed when selecting a mission in the brigade HQ level (feature #52). Other content could be added in the feature.

#32. If you selected a town on the interactive map, the search filter isn't canceled when you go through the different missions. A reset button allows to display the default screen back.

1.5. Platoon HQ - Member display

    - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected 
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display 


   The new platoon screen is not very different from the current one, it has mostly been updated to fit new gameplay features (topic 1.0). However, watching it in detail allows us to better understand the  consequences of these suggested changes.
The following lay-out has been drew for a platoon mission, but can be applied to support - and squad missions as well after performing adaptations.

Typical platoon HQ display for a new joining player

#33. Since it would now be more meaningful to join a mission, all platoon members are notified when someone joined or left (see chatroom).

#34. Once you're part of a platoon, sentences of you leader will now be entirely colored for better visibility, while previously only his tag was. Note that player lost access to the recruitment channel and that the brigade tag is no longer displayed in front of leader name tags.

#35. The list of platoon members is displayed on the main screen and no longer in a secondary tab. It contains the unit type, the deployment status (when forming up everyone will be shown as non-spawned, but this can change once deployed), and the approving status (see feature #41).

#36. Since a mission is no longer linked to a pre-defined origin (feature #2), the joining member is now requested to chose an origin that is currently supplied by the brigade. Current spawning restrictions are thus still valid.

#37. The origin can be selected on the interactive map, which should be zoomed out until displaying an area hosting both all possible origins for that brigade (except for para units introduced in feature #1d, which basically belongs to another brigade) and the target. It allows players to have a good geographical awareness that will help selecting an appropriate origin.

#38. Since MSPs are now available for the whole brigade (feature #4), a list of currently available mobile origins is displayed, which can be selected instead of a "solid" spawn on map. However just displaying a list is not enough as you don't know which is the most pertinent to reach your target. Therefore, each msp also displays its approximative location, e.g. approx 400m SE of target. We could of course mind about spies transmitting this information, but the current design also allows it. Furthermore, considering all the new gameplay features, there's a higher possibility to see MSPs finally be defended by dedicated troops. In the worst case, renewal of trucks would still be simpler to organize then it is currently the case.
For the same reasons, and the fact that there *could be* no longer someone to suppress msps (though this responsability could be given to the OIC), UMS' are only available for a limited duration of time and displays a countdown with the remaining time of availability. Manned msp colors the driver's name while UMS doesn't.

#39. Note in the chat window that the an enemy activity warning could appear when selecting a spawn: "Attention, friendlies reported to have died around the selected spawnpoint during the past minute". This feature would help improving the situational awareness even more and help players and leaders to take more efficient tactical decisions.

#40. Once a spawn has been selected, the list of available units at that location is dynamically updated on the screen. This allows players to more easily find a unit he's looking for (you just need to hover from one spawn to another instead of changing mission), as the leader/OIC to have an easy supply awareness in their area of operation.
Once a unit has been selected you stay with the same screen display, in opposition to the current design. This allows you to continue to benefit from the displayed information, to eventually decide to change your reservation if an attrited unit suddenly becomes available for instance.

#41. When the origin and unit have been chosen, the player enters an "approving pending" status. This means that the player's choices need to be approved by the mission leader. This makes sense with the new design, since platoon members are expected to follow the mission leader's organization or vice-versa: ML is supposed to care about its troops' deployment. It will guarantee some degree of interactivity between players and ML, which is very important for the effectiveness of the team and the immersion. Though this will of course slow down the initial deployment a bit.

#42.  On the right of the screen you can find the same extra information then the one displayed at side HQ level when selecting a mission. Again notice that map tools are displayed for the small interactive map as well, and that the current brigade OIC name is reminded to platoon members.

#43. The brigade HQ can now be displayed from a tab, this means that you are allowed to jump to it without leaving your mission (see screenshot of next topic). This is currently not possible to perform since you need to go back, hence leaving your mission. A button allows you to leave the platoon.

#44. You'll notice that the player doesn't have the ability to spawn. The button displays "automatic spawning", which means that the ML will decide when everyone will be spawned, independently of their origin. This will be done only once the platoon changed its status to "deployed", and once everyone has been approved (feature #48).

To resume the platoon HQ, we now have a kind of "ready room" thanks to new gameplay suggestions.
Dying members would eventually come back to this screen to select a new spawnpoint or a new unit, but discussions should be made about whether or not they could then spawn alone or if the ML should need to re-approve from his map re-deploying members that died or despawned (eventually with a limited amount of deploying validation per minute, simulating a spawn-in timer as well). Maybe this could be left as a nonmandatory option because member approving is more important when forming up, since it allows to select members that will probably continue to listen to orders even after having died.
The coherence of the team will of course become fragile after deployment (if not using a respawn@ML feature), but the new rules still make it easier to keep members sticked together then it is currently the case.

1.6. Platoon HQ - Platoon Leader display

    - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected 
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display 


   When an officer wants to create a platoon (feature 18), the procedure should be simplified to a simple pop-up window like the on displayed in the next screenshot. The same pop-up would also allow easier dynamic mission configuration changes. In this topic we'll mainly focus on specific features accessed by the ML.

Typical platoon HQ display for the leader editing his platoon configuration

#45. In the chat window you can notice that the ML gets brigade orders from the OIC, in the same way platoon members recieves orders from him. This will allow the OIC to give some directives when a new leader is setting up a platoon, or to organize the battle. Also notice that the ML still has access to the recruitment channel while platoon members didn't (feature #34).

#46. Feature #41 introduced the concept of approving mission members. The ML thus needs to approve every member that joined before deploying. He gets in the platoon members window a slider next to each member name, set on "refuse" by default. If sliding it to "approve", it will remain in this state unless the member modifies his origin or unit.

#47. An issue that could raise is that the ML won't be able to launch if new members are constantly joining the mission. Therefore, when enough members have joined according to ML, he's first invited to set the platoon status to "deployed". Since players can't join a deployed platoon (feature #3), the ML gets time to finish approving everyone. I didn't draw how to kick someone out of the platoon, but this should probably be considered as well.

#48. Once everyone is ready, the ML makes everyone spawn automatically at the same time,  in the same way it's performed in the multiplayer mode of most of Real Time Strategy games. In the screenshot you have to imagine that the button "mark as deployed" would change to a "Spawn platoon" if everyone is in an approved status.

#49. The ML also gets the ability to leave his leadership position to someone else by either .makeleader -ing someone else, or by leaving the platoon.

#50. The ML is allowed to edit the current Platoon configuration at any time. The management window appearing contents :
  • #50a. Mission Type (with eventually an impact on the way your earn points):
      Facility attack
      Facility defense
      Area occupation
      In field supply and repair
      Recon & reporting
      Infiltration & sabotage
      Brigade resupply
  • #50b. Specialization (without any restriction on available units in order to allow tactical variety):
      Multi-arms (default)
      Paratroopers (meaning units will be spawned from an AF and the ride performed by plane)
      ATG guns
      AA guns

  • #50c. Countdown setting:
      It can be launched, updated or canceled at any time. It doesn't have any impact on the automatic spawning (feature #48), it's just an informative display.

  • #50d. Setting appropriate target on map:
      According to the selected mission type, an appropriate target should be set on map. Area occupation would mean to consider the ability to set up a custom waypoint as target objective.

  • #50e. (or) Select a priority target set by OIC:
      A leader can join and just pick up a target suggested by the OIC (feature #66) and try to gather troops to accomplish the mission. This can also be selected from in field by an already deployed platoon looking for a new mission. The new design and gameplay features allows to "easily" introduce this command features that a lot of people will appreciate. The available information would be the target location, the mission type, and a short message typed by the OIC for instructions. Note the lat-long coordinates as target location for an area occupation.

1.7. Brigade HQ

    - Welcome screen
   - Squad selected
   - Town selected
   - Platoon selected 
   - Mission member display
   - Mission leader display 


   With the current design, the information that can be found on the main brigade screen or in the "communications" tab, is limited, unclear or not very useful. Furthermore you can no longer access some needed information once you joined a mission.
The new design tries to give more useful information to brigade members and leaders, makes it available everywhere it's needed, and tries to make coordination and organization much easier thanks to this. Many features contained in the next sreenshot have already been introduced in previous topics.

Typical brigade HQ display

#51. The same list of active missions ordered by category then the one that can be found in the side HQ (topic 1.1) is displayed on the left of the screen.

#52. When selecting a platoon or a squad mission, a zoom is performed on its target in the little map on the right. At the same time, extra information can be found bellow the left screen :
  • Target;
  • Current orders; (only available if selecting a platoon)
  • Countdown status;
  • List of current mission members, ordered by unit type. Unit type, spawn status and last selected origin are displayed as well. Note that somehow multicrewed vehicles should be announced;
  • Platoon stats (duration of platoon's existence, number of kills, number of deaths);
  • Platoon specialization displayed with an image, if any;
#53. The OIC name tag is reminded;

#54. Current AO(s) status are displayed, showing for how long they have been active.

#55. The supply status is displayed as well. Note that at this level a distinction is made between light units (infantry icon) and heavy units (tank icon) to allow leaders to better establish a supply awareness;

#56. As introduced in feature #38, a list of MSPs currently available for the brigade is displayed at this level as well;

#57. A mission display filter allows to find a specific mission in the list.

#58. A part of the screen now displays all units that don't belong to this brigade (ground, air, naval), but which are currently also involved in the same areas (home town and target). It would actually just gather missions filtered when selecting the towns on map in the side HQ (feature #29).
Selecting one of these platoons would also display its details on the map and on the left. This becomes valid for squad mission as well, in opposition to the side HQ level where you read squad informations instead. Note that mercenaries are not taken into account.

This important feature would allow brigade members and leaders to get an excellent situational awareness of available troops, allow easier coordination with air/naval units and other ground forces, and allow players to more easily know if there's another more pertinent brigade to join then the one they're currently in.

#59. In the chat window you'll notice notifications about the membership candidature being approved by the leader (feature #46), and a change of the platoon status which means an automatic spawn signal is imminent (feature #48).

#60. When leaving the platoon thanks to the "leave platoon icon", you would land in the brigade HQ and be allowed to join another mission.

Note : Some feedbacks pointed out that the information displayed in this screen is very useful, but is a bit too much because of spying issues. Therefore, some of the information could eventually be filtered and displayed only for MLs and OICs.

1.8. new organization tools

   Along with the UI and gameplay changes, some other UI tools could appear as well to further improve situational awareness.

#61. right click on target allows to displays a list of leaders (from platoons and squads) currently aiming at the selected target, ordered by brigades (in the screenshot bellow there's only the brigade name ID displayed, as an icon representing its specialization). The number of mission members is indicated into brackets next to the ML, which constitute the two most important informations to know.
Also consider the ability to send a private message to all of them. This feature should be available to anyone.

Feature #61 : list of leaders aiming for the selected target

#62. In the upper left corner of his screen, the OIC has a window displaying the list of missions linked to his brigade (forming up or deployed). It could just mention the platoon leader name and the amount of mission members in brackets, like done in feature  #61.
Eventually, allow platoons to notify their pending status, which would be automatically/manually communicated to the OIC throughout icons in this list  (see picture bellow). E.g. a little "pinned down" icon would appear next to a platoon reporting to be suppressed, or a flag icon when a member of that platoon is standing in any capture area, or a transport icon when ML is being transported (truck/plane/boat),  or icons calling for transport, support, etc. Though this wouldn't replace chat/vocal communications, it would allow the OIC to quickly get the message (or remind it) and to better manage the coordination. This would make the OIC job more meaningful and enjoyable.
The same concept could be given to the ML who would have a permanent list of his mission members.

#63. In order to improve his situational awareness, the OIC could be notified by chat when:
  • a platoon is being created (forming up) (feature #18);
  • a spawn signal has been issued by the ML for a forming up platoon (feature #48);
  • a mission has ended because there were no remaining members left;
  • A leadership change occurs; 
  • A target change occurs;
  • ...
  Features #62 (mission list) and #63 (chat notifications) for a brigade OIC

#64. Most of the information contained in the different new UI levels should also be made avalaible from ingame map tabs, both for players and leaders, especially if dynamic mission change is planned as upcoming feature.

  Feature #64 : Full UI can also be accessed from ingame map tabs

#65. Platoon leader (and members ?) get advanced emotes capabilities that can only be heard by close platoon members. The emote is displayed in the chat (with a notification sound), and eventually heard as a vocal order as well. Enemy is not notified, since we could suppose that platoon members are trained to perform silent gestual communications that can't be reproduced ingame.
The activation of an emote could be performed with such a system: open the emote menu by keeping a key pressed, hover the mouse above the wanted emote and then release the key to use it. No clicks nor complex combination keys.

Feature #65 : Platoon emotes menu

#66. OIC can right-click on map an drop brigade targets that leaders may then select as platoon objective (feature #50e)

Feature #66 : OIC right-clicking on a depot and setting it as a prior target for MLs to select (feature #50e)

#67.  Ingame visible waypoint marks. Located high in the air to not hinder visibility and to be visible from far away.  Can be toggled off together with player tags. Eventually, display this waypoint only if it's further then 1km away. Notice the little direction arrow that appears when you activated the waypoint (cf. current map feature), and that should disappear while aiming your weapon.
If the aspect is too gamey, then maybe consider giving it only to ranks lower then 4, to MLs and to OICs to improve their situational awareness.

Feature #67 : ingame visible waypoint indicator

#68.  Friendly radar radius is limited to 100m for platoon soldiers only (but not for ML), in order to improve subordination (dependency of members with regard to their leader), force team members to stick together, and discourage fake platoons. Current range settings are kept for the ML and waypoints display. Notice in the screenshot bellow that each platoon could get its own color to improve situational awareness. This does not apply to  mercenaries and squads.

Feature #68 : Radar radius limited to 100m for platoon soldiers (left), but not for the ML (right).

1.9. Multicrew

New multicrew requestion/join pop-ups

#69. The main innovation brought by the following new multicrew procedure is the ability to define custom crew positions distributed among players.  This will bring  more tactical possibilities (e.g. getting a second crew only for permanent spotting at commander's post), compared to the current system which is definitely "rigid".

#70. A n00b-friendly visual representation of the vehicle is used to make the learning curve less steep then it's currently the case.

#71. Since members of a platoon are all waiting on the same screen when forming up, it would become pertinent to introduce a pop-up window that would notify when another member is inviting us to join his vehicle (first line of screens bellow), or asking permission to multicrew our currently reserved unit (second line of screens bellow). Once a platoon has deployed, or in mercenaries missions, it definitely becomes more difficult to efficiently exploit such a feature (people are already spawned while you're still creating a request), hence still requiring some communication efforts between players.

#72. Though there is currently still a limitation of 2 players, it could later be extended to polycrew.

#73. Joining a multicrewed vehicle cancels our current selection (origin and unit), and our settings are changed to the ones of the initial vehicle owner.

#74. A ML could eventually require its members to polycrew vehicles in order to be approved in the platoon (leadership points could be earned when this happens).