Predestination

Predestination

A few thoughts from a complete noob (mostly UI stuff)
Hi Brendan,

First of all many thanks for all the hard work that you've done to get the game to V1.0! I played a few hours and here are some small issues that I ran into as a first time player. I'm quite liking the game so far but I thought it might be helpful to hear a complete noob's impressions.

0. I went through the tutorial but got stuck when I was supposed to send my ship to another star. I messed with the camera a bit and then I didn't know if I sent my fleet to the wrong star or what, but when I sent my ships to both of the stars that were in range of my planet, I wasn't able to continue the tutorial.

1. I immediately didn't have power or food at the beginning of my first sandbox game. Just my opinion, but I feel like this is a bit unfriendly for new players. Maybe provide starting players with a farm and a power plant so they don't immediately have a power crisis and/or start starving their people.

2. I don't know which drone is selected when clicking on the "Scouts Available" - clicking on the scout in the "Scouts" available should pan the camera to the scout or something so I know which one is selected.

3. The "Ancient Ruins Found" notification doesn't tell me where the ancient ruins are other than the planet that they are on - it would be nice to have the option to "Go to the ruins" which will move the camera to the ancient ruins and select them.

4. The research complete notification window has 2 options "Open Research" and "Close". Since you can't "End turn" without selecting research, there should only be the "Close" option and clicking it should immediately open the research window to make it so that I can select my next research path. Is there a way to queue research?

5. The "End Turn" button is faded (and disabled) when no research is selected. If you click on it nothing happens. It would be more clear if hovering the end turn button when it is disabled opened a popover window saying "You must select a technology to research before ending your turn". I think this would help prevent some confusion.

7. The duration on the fade animations in the UI feels too slow to me. The delay of the information popover window when the mouse is hovering over a building type in the menu also feels too long. Both of these things contribute to the feeling that the UI is sluggish.

8. It's not clear to me what the significance of the red ore and the red corn is on the map. Why are they red? Hovering over them to see information about the tile doesn't tell me anything.

9. It's weird to me that my growth rate went to zero ("The population requires more food to grow") when my food storage is full. As long as there is food available, why do people stop reproducing? Tying the growth rate to security/health/morale would make more logical sense to me.

10. Why does it cost a bunch of energy to tell my scout where to go? Aren't the scouts surveying the planet without consuming energy? Why does it cost energy to given them orders?

11. It's not clear from the research screen UI which techs I need to get to get to the galaxy part of the game when I can send ships off and explore stuff.

12. It's a little strange that you can build railroads over water. Maybe that's just to simplify pathfinding. Whatever. Not a big deal.

13. I should be able to increase the speed that I rotate the planet. Maybe "Shift+WASD" for a faster rotation or something.

14. The vertical tabs on the menu items were not obvious to me at first. I didn't know how to manually save at first. Horizontal tabs would be more obvious.

15. Exiting to the main menu should automatically save your game. There should be a "Resume Game" option in the main menu.

16. 1920 x 1200 resolution was _really_ sluggish on my machine (2015 Macbook Pro with 16GB of RAM and Radeon R9 M370X). I tried changing the display resolution on my computer in Windows 10, but when the game started, the game window was stuck in the top left corner and I couldn't see the whole screen. I was able to resolve this issue by editing \Users\{Username}\AppData\Roaming\Predestination\Predestination.ini and changing the screenWidth and screenHeight properties to match what I had set in the Windows 10 display settings. I'm assuming that eventually this will be something that you can modify within the game menus. After I downscaled to 1680 x 1050, the performance was better in the planet view but still quite laggy in the galaxy view. I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that this is probably something that can be optimized since there are not that many objects to render in the galaxy view.

17. In the right menu, I can scroll below where there are any menu items. The scrolling should not continue beyond the bottom of the menu items.

18. At some point when I was on the galaxy screen, the game flickered a bit and then went completely white. I had to close the game. It happened twice. I emailed you a crash report.

Ok that's all for today. Thanks again for all of your hard work!

Best,
Eric
Last edited by eric.r.lesch; Jan 14 @ 2:59pm
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Showing 1-6 of 6 comments
Also setting graphicsFXAAenabled = False in predestination.ini helped out with performance quite a bit.
Nyphur  [developer] Feb 11 @ 7:41am 
Hey Eric,

Always great to get detailed feedback like this! I'll respond to each of your points as I consider them and integrate them into our iteration plans:

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
Also setting graphicsFXAAenabled = False in predestination.ini helped out with performance quite a bit.
This feedback must be from just before the V1.0.0.0 update then, as we removed FXAA in V1.0 due to compatibility issues with our engine after switching to Monogame. You'll be happy to know that we were able to make some significant performance optimisations while developing V1.0, so the game should run smoother now and use a hell of a lot less memory.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
0. I went through the tutorial but got stuck when I was supposed to send my ship to another star. I messed with the camera a bit and then I didn't know if I sent my fleet to the wrong star or what, but when I sent my ships to both of the stars that were in range of my planet, I wasn't able to continue the tutorial.
The star you're supposed to send the ships to is supposed to be in sensor range of the Sauros homeworld in the tutorial, and making first contact advances the story. We test the tutorial all the way through before releasing an update, but I wonder if this may be an issue with the galaxy generation messing up if you start a tutorial after starting and quitting a sandbox or singleplayer game. I will make a note to investigate this bug more thoroughly. This may have been fixed in V1.0 also as we did some work on the random planet generator.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
1. I immediately didn't have power or food at the beginning of my first sandbox game. Just my opinion, but I feel like this is a bit unfriendly for new players. Maybe provide starting players with a farm and a power plant so they don't immediately have a power crisis and/or start starving their people.
Fair point, the start of sandbox mode is always the same actions so it makes sense to build the essentials for you in pre-warp mode. We're planning a full iteration on the pre-warp gameplay and I'll add this to it.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
2. I don't know which drone is selected when clicking on the "Scouts Available" - clicking on the scout in the "Scouts" available should pan the camera to the scout or something so I know which one is selected.
That's a nice small change that we could try as part of the pre-warp iteration, I'll definitely add this to the list. It might be more annoying to have to rotate the planet back to the part you want to explore to click on it, but we'll give it a try.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
3. The "Ancient Ruins Found" notification doesn't tell me where the ancient ruins are other than the planet that they are on - it would be nice to have the option to "Go to the ruins" which will move the camera to the ancient ruins and select them.
This is actually how the game was designed to work, but there was a bug preventing the planet from rotating around to show you the highlighted resource. This has now been fixed in V1.0, so the "Open Planet" button will swing around to bring the resource into view after the planet opens. We can change this button maybe to say "Go To Ancient Ruins" if it makes more sense.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
4. The research complete notification window has 2 options "Open Research" and "Close". Since you can't "End turn" without selecting research, there should only be the "Close" option and clicking it should immediately open the research window to make it so that I can select my next research path. Is there a way to queue research?
I'm not sure that removing the option to close/dismiss the window would add anything to gameplay, people already know they have to pick a new technology and they could always just ignore the notification or dismiss it without opening it by right clicking it, so it's not guaranteed they'd be opening the research window immediately. If we did remove a button, I'd like to make sure the player knows they chose to open the research menu so the remaining button would have to say "Open Research" or something to that effect.

There is no way to queue research currently, it's something we considered initially but eventually decided against because it would take a fair bit of dev time to implement but wouldn't add a lot to the gameplay. We decided instead that each technology should be impactful and the choice of which order to get them in should be something that changes as you progress. You find certain resources or planet types, meet other races etc and your priorities change.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
5. The "End Turn" button is faded (and disabled) when no research is selected. If you click on it nothing happens. It would be more clear if hovering the end turn button when it is disabled opened a popover window saying "You must select a technology to research before ending your turn". I think this would help prevent some confusion.
That's absolutely a small improvement we could make, great idea! In general, I'd like to add tooltips to all buttons that are grayed out with info on why it's grayed out.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
7. The duration on the fade animations in the UI feels too slow to me. The delay of the information popover window when the mouse is hovering over a building type in the menu also feels too long. Both of these things contribute to the feeling that the UI is sluggish.
If you could give V1.0 a try and let me know how that feels to you now, that would be very useful! We had some weird animation timing issues with the old version that we've fixed since switching from XNA 3.1 to Monogame. If it still feels slow, we can probably add a slider for it in the Graphics options.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
8. It's not clear to me what the significance of the red ore and the red corn is on the map. Why are they red? Hovering over them to see information about the tile doesn't tell me anything.
Good find! We have information on the "?" resource icons that shows what resource is there and why it can't be used (missing technologies etc), but we don't have an explanation on the tooltip for red resources. They're red because you don't have the Infrastructure Biospheres technology and can't harvest resources in that environment yet, but we don't explain that anywhere.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
9. It's weird to me that my growth rate went to zero ("The population requires more food to grow") when my food storage is full. As long as there is food available, why do people stop reproducing? Tying the growth rate to security/health/morale would make more logical sense to me.
We'll be doing an iteration on growth rates soon, but the food issue is a complicated one. If we allowed population to eat into your food stores and keep growing, they would eventually run out of food and starve VERY quickly. Perhaps we could add more warnings about this (e.g. only 5 turns of food left, build more farms now!) to solve the problem. Adding more factors to growth rate (e.g. morale, security and health) is a great idea too, but we'll have to add new tooltips with a breakdown of what factors (including technologies and race bonuses) are affecting that stat. To be honest, we should do this will all of the main resources to make it clear where you're getting all your resources from. I'll add this to our UI iteration pass.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
10. Why does it cost a bunch of energy to tell my scout where to go? Aren't the scouts surveying the planet without consuming energy? Why does it cost energy to given them orders?
This is a hold-over from the way we originally envisioned the Services tab to work, which was that we'd have a bunch of strategic options that cost energy and money to activate. We removed the money component from most of them and made it just energy, and when we added auto-scouting we made it so that the player can direct the scouts manually but doesn't need to. The whole services tab needs an iteration of its own, with improvements to Soil Enrichment and Oil Drilling etc. too. As part of that change, we may change how scouts work or simply remove the energy cost.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
11. It's not clear from the research screen UI which techs I need to get to get to the galaxy part of the game when I can send ships off and explore stuff.
OK, good point! This is covered in the tutorial, but we should really have this be explained in the sandbox pre-warp stage. What we'll probably do here is roll this into our pre-warp iteration. We'll be presenting the player with a series of opportunities to make strategic choices that will give small bonuses and penalties to your race, such as selecting what type of government you want to have. It'll be almost like a storyline for the sandbox pre-warp era, and we'll use this to tell the player which technologies they need to get into space. We can also mark them clearly on the Research Screen with a special colour or side-image or something to let the player know they're your warp goal technologies.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
12. It's a little strange that you can build railroads over water. Maybe that's just to simplify pathfinding. Whatever. Not a big deal.
Yes, the different road technologies (railways, underground tunnels, transporter relays) are all just straight upgrades to your empire's existing and future road systems, but they use the same pathing. You actually can't build any of them on water until you research the Aquatic Tube Engineering technology in the pre-warp era, at which point you can and the explanation is that they're actually going underwater in sealed tubes.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
13. I should be able to increase the speed that I rotate the planet. Maybe "Shift+WASD" for a faster rotation or something.
That's an easy change, I can add that in one line of code and I can't see any problems with it. Will add it to the iteration list.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
14. The vertical tabs on the menu items were not obvious to me at first. I didn't know how to manually save at first. Horizontal tabs would be more obvious.
That's not really something we can change at this point in development, but what we can do is add a bit of the tutorial where you change tabs to let new players know that's how it works.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
15. Exiting to the main menu should automatically save your game. There should be a "Resume Game" option in the main menu.
There's now a resume latest save game option in the Load menu that acts as a shortcut to the last save game you made, or the autosave if that was more recent. We could easily make the game autosave when you exit to main menu, and then have a toggle option to turn that off.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
I was able to resolve this issue by editing \Users\{Username}\AppData\Roaming\Predestination\Predestination.ini and changing the screenWidth and screenHeight properties to match what I had set in the Windows 10 display settings. I'm assuming that eventually this will be something that you can modify within the game menus.
Yes, the resolution will be something you can modify from the in-game menus as soon as we get around to adding it. Right now you can edit it in the ini file, but we don't even have code for a dropdown menu to make resolution selection easy so we'll have to spend a little time adding that or something similar. Regarding optimisations, we had some major graphics slowdown in V1.0.0.0 that was caused by a text rendering bug, and that was fixed in V1.0.0.1. If you spot any parts of the game that run sluggishly on your system, please send me a screenshot to brendan@brainandnerd.com as that will help me find out what parts might be causing slowdown. We've made a lot of optimisations so far but there are definitely more that we can make.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
17. In the right menu, I can scroll below where there are any menu items. The scrolling should not continue beyond the bottom of the menu items.
This issue has popped up from time to time on different parts of the UI, but it can be tricky to track down. If you ever spot this, please take a screenshot and send it to brendan@brainandnerd.com as that will help me figure out what causes it on that particular part of the UI.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
18. At some point when I was on the galaxy screen, the game flickered a bit and then went completely white. I had to close the game. It happened twice. I emailed you a crash report.
I got your email, thanks eric. I believe these crashes may be graphics driver resets, and unfortunately I don't think that's a problem in my code so I'm not sure if I can solve it. The best suggestion I've found online was to tell the player to make sure their graphics card drivers are up to date, please let me know if this was the cause of your crash as there have been a few more crash reports with this profile and I can't replicate them or find a cause.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
Ok that's all for today. Thanks again for all of your hard work!

Thanks again eric for the wonderfully comprehensive feedback! We've got a lot of valuable things from this that have gone straight into our iteration plans and helped us flesh them out. Please keep any feedback you have coming, and keep sending in those crash reports. It really does help!

Cheers,
-- Brendan, Lead Developer
Hi Brendan,

Thanks for your detail response to my feedback.

Regarding the crashes - after your response, I updated my graphics driver to the latest version, uninstalled Predestination, and then reinstalled it again to ensure that I had the latest version.

I created a medium sized galaxy in sandbox mode and went to the galaxy view. When I was zoomed out and rotated the view with WASD, the view rotated smoothly at a high FPS. When I zoom in so that the camera is near the stars and rotate, the FPS gets "chunky" i.e. it will be ok for a second or two and then slow down to 1 or 2 FPS and then go back to being ok and then get slow again. I tried to get the app to crash for a few minutes of doing this but it wouldn't crash.

So then I left the game and created another sandbox but this time with a Colossal galaxy. I did the same thing, rotating while zoomed out the FPS was ok but when I zoomed in the FPS went really really slow. I rotated for maybe about 15 seconds zoomed in and the app crashed and gave me the white screen of death.

My only thought is that *maybe* the FPS drop is due to the engine rendering a lot more nebula when zoomed in? Obviously I have no knowledge of the internals of your app so that is just a wild guess from eyeballing the situation.

Anyway..... I hope that description might offer some clues on where to look.

Regarding the fade animation duration in the game, I still feel like they are just a little bit too slow - they add to the feeling that the game is just a little bit sluggish but that is just my personal preference so whatever.

After uninstalling and reinstalling predestination (and verifying that I am running 1.0.0.1), I took a look at the predestination.ini file. The property graphicsFXAAenabled is still there. I don't know if the ini file is just persisting across separate installations or what....

So I _believe_ that when I was giving the feedback in the post above that I was running V1.0.0.0.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
2. I don't know which drone is selected when clicking on the "Scouts Available" - clicking on the scout in the "Scouts" available should pan the camera to the scout or something so I know which one is selected.

Brendan said:
That's a nice small change that we could try as part of the pre-warp iteration, I'll definitely add this to the list. It might be more annoying to have to rotate the planet back to the part you want to explore to click on it, but we'll give it a try.

Yeah I think that my suggestion for resolving this issue was a poor one - I agree that having to rotate the planet back to where you are trying to explore would be more annoying than the current implementation.

Ok, thanks again for your continuing work and I hope that was somewhat helpful!

Best,
Eric
Last edited by eric.r.lesch; Feb 17 @ 9:20am
Nyphur  [developer] Feb 22 @ 1:24pm 
Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
My only thought is that *maybe* the FPS drop is due to the engine rendering a lot more nebula when zoomed in? Obviously I have no knowledge of the internals of your app so that is just a wild guess from eyeballing the situation.
That helps me narrow things down a lot, thanks! When you're zoomed in very close to nebulae, each particle of gas gets drawn to a larger area of the screen so you get a lot of slow-down. That's something we can optimise at the cost of some visual quality, so we're looking into that now.

However, the crash you're experiencing is your graphics device resetting because it's over-loaded and that shouldn't happen even if it's running at 100% capacity. This is usually caused by an old driver (which you've eliminated as a cause), overclocking your GPU, heat/airflow problems in your PC, or rarely a fault on the graphics card.

Most games will never use your GPU at 100% for extended periods and so will not cause the graphics card to reset, so you may not get this crash with any other game. But the long-term fix is for us to optimise the parts of the game that can cause the device to reset.


Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
Regarding the fade animation duration in the game, I still feel like they are just a little bit too slow - they add to the feeling that the game is just a little bit sluggish but that is just my personal preference so whatever.
Fair enough, I will have a look at all the transition speeds on a few different PCs first to make sure the timing is correct, and then I'll see what it looks like with the transition timings sped up a bit. Our old timing system used to sometimes run too fast, so we switched to a new more reliable one but didn't re-adjust all the timers. A quick look at them and experiment with them shouldn't take long.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
After uninstalling and reinstalling predestination (and verifying that I am running 1.0.0.1), I took a look at the predestination.ini file. The property graphicsFXAAenabled is still there. I don't know if the ini file is just persisting across separate installations or what....
Ah, yes you must be on 1.0.0.0 or 1.0.0.1 as the graphicsFXAAenabled option was called "FXAAenabled" in previous versions. Does toggling this option really make a difference in your game? We've actually removed FXAA entirely from the codebase and the option shouldn't be doing anything, but there could be a big with it.

Originally posted by eric.r.lesch:
Ok, thanks again for your continuing work and I hope that was somewhat helpful!

Best,
Eric
Detailed feedback like this is always welcome! We're currently scoping out all the major iterations left for Early Access, so now is the best time to have your voice heard.

Cheers.
-- Brendan, Lead Developer
Brendan said:

Ah, yes you must be on 1.0.0.0 or 1.0.0.1 as the graphicsFXAAenabled option was called "FXAAenabled" in previous versions. Does toggling this option really make a difference in your game? We've actually removed FXAA entirely from the codebase and the option shouldn't be doing anything, but there could be a big with it.

Well I didn't measure it with an FPS tool or anything so the most likely scenario is that I imagined an improvement. :-D

Regarding the GPU issue - I have had some issues with my computer getting too hot recently. I'll try to do some things to mitigate this issue and see if that fixes it. I will note that I haven't have any other games *crash* on me though....

Thanks,
Eric


Alright so I took apart my Macbook Pro and cleaned the interior with a can of compressed air. Also, I downloaded a utility to make sure that my case fans are running at maximum all the time. So now I can't get the game to crash even when I'm zoomed in on nebula and the galaxy view is rendering at 1 FPS or less. So I guess we can chalk that crash bug up to my machine having poor cooling and not any issue per se with the game.

BTW, the galaxy view looks stellar! I'm so excited to have a true 3D galaxy to play with! This has been on my personal wishlist in a 4x since the 90s! :steamhappy:

Thanks Brendan!
Eric
Last edited by eric.r.lesch; Mar 1 @ 7:48pm
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