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Thread: [Feedback] Building extremely kludgy

  1. #1
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    [Feedback] Building extremely kludgy

    First things first. I backed this project based on a couple things. One, the dev team was quite communicative and had a great plan, as I saw it, for a game which was somewhat neglected. I like the idea of exploring a single planet, building bases along the way, etc. I am not, by nature, a builder. I prefer more of a survival aspect to things, but that does include building for obvious reasons. I've also been quite busy up until now with some work and family stuff so I didn't have a chance to do a whole lot testing-wise, unfortunately.

    Today, however, I had some free time and decided to load up the game to see how it was at this stage. I found the building mechanisms to be cumbersome, at best. Nothing, for the most part, seems to intuitively snap to the blocks they're next to. This works tolerably well with vehicles but building any bases was an exercise in extreme frustration. Foundations don't snap together and neither do floors. There's no reason at all why a foundation shouldn't snap to the last part I'd placed. Having to aim directly at the adjacent block meant I couldn't seem to put the foundation mostly in the ground. I had to leave enough out and fiddle with rotation each time to get anything remotely like a real foundation. Even that was ridiculously cumbersome.

    A foundation should not ever snap in any manner other than horizontally. That's the entire point of a foundation! Similarly, floor tiles ought to snap only along their sides or along the bottom to the foundation. They should detect the sides of adjacent floor tiles and allow one to click click clik fairly rapidly to place several in a row, at least.

    Walls are even worse! They, at least, appear to only allow you to place them along one edge, but that edge doesn't line up if you line a foundation with them, or a floor structure either. They'll happily fill the blocks on one edge but when you go to make a corner, suddenly you now have no way to actually fill the wall around that corner. You simply cannot, as far as I can tell, work from a foundation and slapo up walls along the edges.

    I get that this is alpha, to be sure. It's important, though, that these very basic building blocks at least actually line up so we can make a reasonably sane structure. Walls ought to be sized such that they will not prevent someone from lining all 4 edges of a foundation or floor with walls then place corners to fill the small gaps. Honestly, the walls probably ought to snap not along the bottom but along the sides of floors. I could find no way to do this, though, regardless of rotational orientation. The code really ought to be smart enough to figure out that a wall is inherently vertical (barring an oddball part) and that foundations and floors, likewise, are inherently horizontal.

    Freeform rotation is great for fiddly or ambitious builds but the basics need to work for those such as myself who don't want to spend 153 hours carefully lining up and placing piece after piece. There should be a basic mode and then, if anything, another mode for freeform placement. "Normal" mode ought to detect the adjacent parts and snap to them appropriately.

    That's sort of the very basic starting place for a game that will be successful, IMO. It works for those who want to build truly ambitious projects and have fun carefully rotating parts and adjusting them at an almost pixel by pixel basis. It also, however, needs to work as well for more casual folks who may simply want to slap up a basic base for a location to get out of the storm or work on their vehicle out of the elements. Hope that makes sense.
    Last edited by Nilt; 11-03-2017 at 02:14 AM. Reason: Forgot to add feedback tag to title

  2. #2
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    I never played the game, because I found out about it too late to be a Kickstarter backer, but from what I know the alpha branch available for backers is very outdated at this point. There supposed to be a big update on March 23, so maybe you'll have better experience after that update. Though, I have no specific information about how much the building system changed.

    By the way, I know that they are planning to include bigger building modules (prefabs) for faster building; although I personally prefer a more detailed building experience.

  3. #3
    Member Hrafna's Avatar
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    I personally didn't like the way blocks were placed in the PN Editor, but I realize the PN Editor is old, and that they're working on improving it.

    So eh \_(ツ)_/

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hrafna View Post
    I personally didn't like the way blocks were placed in the PN Editor, but I realize the PN Editor is old, and that they're working on improving it.

    So eh \_(ツ)_/
    What I noticed in the editor is that it doesn't seem to use the mount surface system that e.g. Space Engineers use, so it allowed some rather weird block placements. But a mount surface system like that is fairly easy to implement, so I’m sure they will take care of it.

    Besides that, obviously a lot of limitations come from the fact that the building system is cube grid based. I think it would be much better if the building system would only depend on mount points (so you could freely place items as long as the mount points connect (with some snapping helpers)), but all similar games seem to use cube grids...
    Last edited by GaborB; 12-03-2017 at 04:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Member Hrafna's Avatar
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    Any building method sound like performance hazard to me, in that any "oops" in the code might double or quadruple (or worse) the face-count and/or callbacks when adding or removing blocks. I don't think I know what you mean when you say mount points because I've never tried to create a building tool like Space Engineers or Planet Nomads so I wouldn't know where to begin. I would assume block size count is serialized after vertices, edges and faces have been removed or added with the help of raycast.



    Edited: Oh, there was a link, lol. I'm gonna read it.

  6. #6
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    As weith Space engineers, i'm hoping there's a way to switch off autorotation.

    It seldom seem to actually help me..

  7. #7
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    Some good points here, especially about the foundation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azirahael View Post
    As weith Space engineers, i'm hoping there's a way to switch off autorotation.

    It seldom seem to actually help me..
    Same here, I wouldn't mind that.

  8. #8
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    Glad to know it wasn't just me. I assumed there were changes coming but thought I'd throw this out there on principle, basically. Looking forward to the end result, to be sure!

  9. #9
    Member Maslostroj (Daniel)'s Avatar
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    The building system is being reworked (sadly it has taken a lot more time than expected) and it reflects exactly these woes. The experience should improve for everyone and be part of the 23rd March alpha update.

    As for the foundation/walls/flooring auto alignment - there are two views, one is the "it should only be placed one way" and the other is "ah, cool, so this is wall, could I maybe use it upside down to create something unexpected?" We are more inclined to the second approach.

    Let's see how it goes after the update. As always, thanks for your impressions.
    "Well, I thought. This is how the world works. All energy flows according to the whims of the Great Magnet. What a fool I was to defy him."
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  10. #10
    Member Hrafna's Avatar
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    When you think about it, it's just a complex tool that needs to apply complex patterns within a complex framework. Are you guys insured against developers going postal at the office?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maslostroj View Post
    The building system is being reworked (sadly it has taken a lot more time than expected) and it reflects exactly these woes. The experience should improve for everyone and be part of the 23rd March alpha update.

    As for the foundation/walls/flooring auto alignment - there are two views, one is the "it should only be placed one way" and the other is "ah, cool, so this is wall, could I maybe use it upside down to create something unexpected?" We are more inclined to the second approach.

    Let's see how it goes after the update. As always, thanks for your impressions.
    I definitely understand the second approach, to be sure. Thinking outside the box is how really nifty stuff usually gets done. That's why I suggested perhaps 2 modes, basic and advanced. Regardless, as you say, let's see how it goes with the new system and go from there, eh?

  12. #12
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    Sorry to necropost but it fits here but I was thinking a key, say caps lock, to toggle a grid-based placement arrangement and 'free' placement. Trying not to just copy Minecraft here but like the buildable items (walls, floors, etc.) lock onto an absolute grid for placement that ignores the angles of the terrain based around a non-visible horizontal ground plane grid. It's a little hard to describe so I did a diagram. The black grid defines positioning, the green squiggly line represents the height of terrain (shown side view cutaway) and the blue square is an armour block placed relative to the grid, mostly ignoring terrain but placed to the nearest grid square height.
    grid-01.jpg

  13. #13
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    It is now version 0.8.6 and this problem has still not been fixed. NOT HAPPY GUYS. This is such a basic feature of the game and is a major bug that needs to be fixed ASAP.

  14. #14
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    Hi guys,

    Grid-based approach is one of the fundamental principles of building in the game. It allows us to do many optmimizations, like using integer indicies instead of float vector positions and rotations. On ground you can place a new block freely, adding other blocks is allowed only by one grid step - 0.5 meter. Ability to build blocks on each other is defined by possibility to build on grid's edge - you can put two blocks together only if they share at least one 0.5 * 0.5 m edge with building allowed. And also if they don't collide. We will not change this principle, so connecting blocks freely according to meshes will not be possible.

    We do not plan to add more restrictions, like how could be blocks rotated or which blocks should or should not connect to each other. Not only because of unleashed cretivity, but also because of simplicity.

    Placing blocks in 3D environment only by 2D mouselook is bigger problem than we thought, so we're still trying to tune variables, like default and maximum building distance to fit best our feel. It's still far from perfect and we are open to suggestions that could make building easier while not limiting possibilities or adding complexity. But we cannot see what is real issues of real players, so probably the best way to describe what botters you, is to send us a video showing where do you feel building is cumbersome.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    Hi guys,
    ...
    It's still far from perfect and we are open to suggestions that could make building easier while not limiting possibilities or adding complexity.
    ...
    Why not add a small flying building drone, which could offer a different "view" and snapping solution?
    This way you could preserve the current solution without risks to destroy something which works for most cases.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Vrmithrax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Menzagitat View Post
    Why not add a small flying building drone, which could offer a different "view" and snapping solution?
    This way you could preserve the current solution without risks to destroy something which works for most cases.
    I like that idea. The current jetpack hover option is useful, but it can be a little slow and awkward to use in some cases (but still way better than the old alternative). And I've always rather disliked the "magic floating 3rd person building view" way that some games handle construction - it's effective and useful, but is somehow feels like a... cheat, I guess? I think a building drone idea would be an interesting bridge to give the best of both options, and not feel like you are relying on a metaphysical out of body experience when building

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    Hi guys,
    [...]
    Placing blocks in 3D environment only by 2D mouselook is bigger problem than we thought, so we're still trying to tune variables, like default and maximum building distance to fit best our feel. It's still far from perfect and we are open to suggestions that could make building easier while not limiting possibilities or adding complexity. But we cannot see what is real issues of real players, so probably the best way to describe what botters you, is to send us a video showing where do you feel building is cumbersome.
    Let me suggest a "two click" solution.

    The problem happens when we want to place a "big block".
    You cannot know which part of the "big block" the player wants to weld to the surface he is pointing to.
    For special cases where the player have difficulties, let him press a key to mark this point.

    Imagine this:
    - wire-frame is visible (and does not snap correctly)
    - press key to transition in a nice way from the world view to a "block view" screen where the block is in the center.
    - in the "block view" the player can rotate the block, pan and zoom
    - with one mouse click, mark the point indicated with an appropriate color, close the "block view" and snap the marked point of the block to the one indicated by the cross-hair.

    If the player want to change the point:
    - press key to enter to "block view": this will rotate and pan the block to show the marked side toward him in the center
    - click mouse to select the new point

    Allow different configuration possibilities for these key events:
    - the key to open the "block view" could be the middle mouse button, and the select&close could be the same middle mouse button.
    - some people may want to use the keyboard.

    In the "block view" it should also be possible to reset / clear the marking.
    Without marking, the currently implemented algorithm would take effect - very comfortable when we build bridges (place block, step forward, place block, step forward...)

    If this solution adds complexity then think to some other way to allow marking a point on the wire-frame.

  18. #18
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    My take on the build process is the many interface menus and cursor modes are obstructive and do not flow ergonomically one to the other.

    For a start there are two build interfaces, requiring you press B twice, build select and build tool, but you cannot exit the build select menu using the TAB key or the T or Q keys, so in survival game it is a gameplay blocker, you need to be able to override it and switch to what you want with a hotkey, first you have to take a step backwards and press the key which corresponds to the menu you are in before getting to the menu you want to use. The same is true of the inventory screen, it blocks the flow of play with uncessary pedantic keypresses. Also the connection cursor, can only be dismissed by pressing TAB to change view mode should be dismissed with T or Q or any other keypress IMHO and C again should also dismiss it without taking you out of build view.

    Another thing is selecting items to build is drag and drop, but this could be smoother, e.g. subnautica enables mousing over an item and pressing a number to set the tool hotbar.

    The other thing which goes wrong all the time is default build mode when you have an item selected, you place it but cannot immediately build it and have to press T to build it. This should not be the default mode, default you should place and then immediately switch to tool mode. Placing multiple copies should be done by holding a modifier key eg shift-click to retain the build outline. IMHO this would be more ergonomic and in keeping with useful hotkey conventions.
    Last edited by boolybooly; 01-02-2018 at 06:47 PM.

  19. #19
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    Another problem with the build interface is that the hide weapon is an ergonomic nuisance for two reasons.

    First it is too short a timer and you are constantly having to make redundant keypresses just to bring the tool out to use it, it is like swimming in treacle.

    Secondly hiding the tool shifts the avatar center of balance, which means that if you are aiming at a button especially the radial menu which does accept input despite being shifted to the wrong segment, or some other aiming at a precise build location, it throws your aim out, repeatedly.

    Its a PITA and I would dearly love to switch the hide weapon function off, so that if I have the weapon or tool deplyed it is always ready to use and if I want to see ahead I will put it away, would help if it was on a toggle for that.

  20. #20
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    I actually did like the building system in Planet Explorers. Adapted to PN this would mean:
    - Point the mouse somewhere to show the ghost block
    - Rotate as required
    - Move the ghost block using the arrow keys and pageup/down along the grid. This would allow to move the block on top of a pillar where you would not be able to place without jetpack.
    - Click to place

    This would also be used to place custom blueprints exactly where they should be to form larger structures. I can't imagine how you could define the exact position if you can only use the mouse to point somewhere.

    Another thing: make the build hotbar optional. I don't want to drag every machine to the hotbar just to build it once. Hotbar should be used for blocks you constantly need not 1-time stuff.
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  21. #21
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    One last point about the factors contributing to a kludgy feel is avatar movement.

    I find the avatar tends to snag on collision boxes a lot and cannot brush past them as one would in games which flow well and even in real life. The worst offender for this is the reinforced door panel which has an aperture like a small corridor, the internal facing corners frequently obstruct easy movement around more compact base structures. Likewise the corners of base objects seem to made of super high friction material, which stops the avatar in its tracks when you would expect that the avatar would keep going though perhaps be deflected a little by the collision, so you have to weave around invisible hitboxes !

    Ditto the lip of ramps and stairs, if they project even a fraction from the terrain, catch the avatar and slow or halt it. IMHO these are one place where the avatar should be facillitated in easy movement so the movement flows to assist the movement necessary for building and using a base.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Another last point worth mentioning is the problems with snap-to especially flooring and the aforementioned stairs and ramps. It is very difficult to get things to snap to the location you want which has been mentioned before and it obstructs building considerably, this could usefully be overhauled. It feels almost like its trying to be too clever, an example of a clear snap-to is Empyrion where if you can see the face of an object you can align another object to the visible face so the surfaces are flush. You cannot do this with flooring etc close to terrain or even other panels in Planet Nomads as the nearby objects seem to project invisible hitboxes (again) and throw the snap-to off.
    Last edited by boolybooly; 03-02-2018 at 10:50 AM.

  22. #22
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    Surely we can disable auto weapon hiding, we'll se if this will be adjustable in options or just disable it at all. Can you see any meanigful usage of it?
    We will add possiblity to use blocks directly from menu without using hotbar, you're right that hotbar is useless when you want to build just one instance of the block.
    I am not sure if switching to tool automatically after block skelet placing will be good, because sometime you want to put more blocks and finish them later at once, don't you? Personally, I must confess that I play much more in creative than in survival. Yes, we can make it configurable in options, but we want to keep number of options low, so we first try to find universal solution.

    About using keyboard to move blocks by steps on the grid - It sounds promising, but we would need to find a way how to integrate it into our current building mode.

  23. #23
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    Weapon auto-hide could be a user option. Right now I can't even say if I'd use it. I hardly press H, maybe because it auto-hides. On the other hand, I often need to activate the tool again. I like the idea of having more control.

    Let the block stay until the user presses T or H. We totally don't want to select the conveyor block after every click. I guess this variant is preferred.
    [complex variant: How about a modifier key if you want to keep the block active (in single block mode)? For example if Ctrl is pressed while placing a block the game will not switch to tool.]

    The keyboard movement for blocks should not be required very often so maybe it can be an on-the-fly toggle to "precise mode" where you don't move the character with movement keys but instead move the block?
    Using the arrow keys for moving the block and WASD for the character would work for me but I'm sure some player will change the bindings... Anyway, it's good to know you like the idea, maybe your UI/UX folks come up with a great solution.
    100% linux gaming

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    Surely we can disable auto weapon hiding, we'll se if this will be adjustable in options or just disable it at all. Can you see any meanigful usage of it?
    We will add possiblity to use blocks directly from menu without using hotbar, you're right that hotbar is useless when you want to build just one instance of the block.
    I am not sure if switching to tool automatically after block skelet placing will be good, because sometime you want to put more blocks and finish them later at once, don't you? Personally, I must confess that I play much more in creative than in survival. Yes, we can make it configurable in options, but we want to keep number of options low, so we first try to find universal solution.

    About using keyboard to move blocks by steps on the grid - It sounds promising, but we would need to find a way how to integrate it into our current building mode.
    Thanks for reading and replying martinsustek

    IMHO switch to tool after placement, i.e. single item build, should be default because of survival mode where at the beginning you are usually placing individual devices to survive and time is of the essence and a free flowing game is most important. The survival game is all about Maslow's heirarchy of needs and the start needs to prioritise survival as part of the gameplay / roleplay. Also first impressions are lasting impressions and the game has to play smoothly from the start for that reason too.

    The idea of placing multiple items being the predominant build mode is, as you observed, biased to the late game survival and creative megastructure building. These are relatively rare occurrences in early survival but they are time consuming once you start them and anything to make repetitive building easier would be good. But its kludgy to add extra keypresses and obstruction as default which make survival play harder.

    Saying that, both modes of building are important in Planet Nomads and we need to find a way to facillitate both and let the play flow in an easy and delightful way, all the time.

    IMHO don't bury it in options, keep it accessible in the stream of play, here are some hotkey examples .


    • toggle build mode e.g. [shift]-B toggles repeat placement / single item build, also provides a state indicator light on the build hotbar
    • modifier hotkey e.g. [shift]-LMB is the convention for chained actions, so keeps the model after placement on a per click basis
    • toggle-modifier e.g. [alt]-LMB toggles keeping selected item until untoggled or dismissed with T etc, highlights item on hotbar


    Any one of these would suffice and I prefer the first, a simple toggle, all three could work together and offer most flexibility. Since this game features building and survival so prominantly its worth going the extra mile to get it right IMHO hope you can see what I am saying.
    Last edited by boolybooly; 03-02-2018 at 01:16 PM.

  25. #25
    Kickstarter Alpha Nomad fura's Avatar
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    Please don't make the "switch to tool after a single block is placed" behavior the default. Even imagining it is sooo annoying. That's the "holstering the tool after 5 seconds idle time" all over again, just way more irritating.

    And I don't agree on that in the early stage one just places 1 block at a time. I had a few new worlds and - except the functional blocks, like printer, etc - I almost never place only one block and start welding that. Foundation blocks, walls, conveyors, roof tiles, suspensions, wheels and lot more are there from almost the very beginning. And I doubt that most of the people place these only 1 at a time.
    I made screenshots: http://imgur.com/a/D1FM7 \o/

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