UI selection panel and other mindless UI decisions

This is taken from the PCGamer preview so this is how the game is actually going to be launched, not going to change anymore, but I’m doing this more out of curiosity on why would someone qualified and in the right mind decide to do the UI like this for an RTS of the scale of AoE.

Image 1 is how the game UI is: selected units are grouped together in the same type, while queued units are listed individually - so the complete wrong way around in both cases (the queued units weren’t present in this particular screenshot, I took the liberty of editing them in because this is how queued units are actually listed).

Image 2 is a basic sketch of mine just to get an idea on how the UI should logically look like for a proper RTS game on PC like Age.

The only explanation I can think of, besides dumbing it down, is having more main screen space (but at the same time they decide occupy the freaking middle of the screen with the Chinese dinasty button?!).
Well, if there is anything that needs to be present in the UI besides the basic stuff, it is the UI selection box listing units selected individually. You dont make compromises for that.
Therefore, in order to make more space, if this was the reason, things like the resources, workers on them, and pop can be listed at the top of the screen. Gamers are not dumb, they are quite capable of looking at the top of the screen as well in a glance. It has been like this in proper RTS games for decades and nobody complained. It is pointless cramming them all in the bottom of the screen and then complaining about lack of space. This releases plenty of space for a proper wireframe to see your selected units.

So, folks, please picture this, can you imagine that some people in decision making positions for AoE4 actually sat down, thought about it and decided that units selected should be listed grouped together, while queued units should be listed individually. This is how amateurish this is. Now Adam Isgreen tells us that he has this huge RTS background in his CV and knows RTS inside out, but actually greenlit such a design decision for the UI?! Please…

Yes, AoE3 didnt have a selection panel and that was a BAD design decision. So instead of taking whats good from AoE3 (e.g. manned crew) and leaving what is wrong behind, instead of taking what is good from AoE2 (e.g. UI selection box) and leaving what is wrong behind, some great minds in the development process thought it would be a good idea to make the game like this? This is my curiosity.
(and I’m not even getting into the design of the buttons, how confusing they look, that’s yet another discussion).

Also, in the PCGamer interview, Quinn Duffy mentions they weren’t looking to surpass and replace AoE2 by any means. Wow, what a terribly modest mindset to be pleased with so little. So instead of being bold, motivated, perseverant in creating something even greater, exceeding predecessors, having most of players switch to AoE4, you basically admitt you don’t have it in you to make something greater and AoE4 is just an alternative. So much for reviving the RTS genre. AoE4 is going to be just another game with a rather insignificant playerbase compared to others.


My thought exactly. That struck me as a really bad idea early on… and it was never adressed by the devs in any interview.
I’d like to add how easy it would be to have those things adjustable by the user. Make a toggle and offer both styles of interaction.

Since we have 4 very distinctive parts of the lower UI why can I not chose the docking position and size of each? For example (left to right) minimap, group info with individual units, group context specific actions (basically how Company of Heroes does it) and the resource bar up top left.

This could also include scaling of content, since the current design takes up a lot of dead space between text and icons (compare their resources element vs your proposed resource bar). Don’t let me start with those giant win condition texts and the freakin dynasty button.
I bet some designer will know what the perfect ratio for the most efficient readibility would be, but adjustability again would allow everybody to find their own sweetspot.

This is such a simple thing in other types of software, why are games so stiff in adopting adjustable UI? Who cares about new users… let them have a sensible preset and once they have outgrown the standard UI they can explore the depths of :skull:[ADVANCED OPTIONS]:skull: and adjust it themselves. Everybody is happy, nobodies feelings got hurt. 69/10 IGN score.

With all the inclusivity rhetoric in their interviews, UI/UX should be the top priority.


Thanks for posting this. The UI has been talked about on numerous occasions, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will be adjusted. If not, I’m sure mods will take over, and the defacto “install x, y, z mods before playing the game” articles/guides will pop up.

I can understand the oversight in the poor UI design choices… but the individual production queue is straight up baffling. :smiley: I thought I was initially doing something wrong when I was playing in the Stress Test.


Early promo footage showed someone working on a UI mock. Here you can see that the queue (red arrow) was already planned at that time. It also shows a drop-down (blue arrow, I suppose on mouse-over?) for the sub-groups of your currently selected units (green frame color maybe indicating HP) which was not included in our builds of the game.
Not a fan of time consuming mouse-overs for such information (same with the unit-info panel we currently have in the game).

I really like this UI suggestion, keep up the good work.
Makes for less clutter on the screen and it conforms well to RTS UI design in general.


The whole queue invading the screen is pretty unacceptable.


Definitely agree with this. I really think they should change that.

As far as resources in the top left or bottom left, I don’t think that matters much. Toggleable options are always good though.


Ressources, global unit/tech queue and minimal should be in the same bottom corner of the screen like in aoe3DE.
It’s just so much better to have all important information in one spot and just having to move your eyes there for a split second to know all important information which you can’t grasp from the battlefield itself.

Unit groups (created by crtl+number) can be anywhere else on the screen, I don’t mind.

I do think the way the units are selected and shown in the UI in aoe3 DE is ideal, honestly.
Never been a fan of having tons of single unit icons in the UI.
Let’s say you got a mix of 10 types of different units, how would you keep fkn track of what’s happening to each type lol.
Just think of playing China in aoe3 where you got tons and tons and tons of different types of units in the same army. Since the counters are super important in aoe3, you always have to be able to keep track of how each group of units is doing. Like how many of them are alive (in a blink of an eye spotted through a written number!) while knowing their AVG remaining HP.

On the global queue I agree with everyone else here.
If you have queued multiple units of the same type, the icon should only be presented once with a small number added to it.
Everything else screws with readability.

Unfortunately the people in charge of this project were so out of touch, without a clue that things like some UI elements and hotkeys need to be top priority.

And even the smaller designers and programmers not bringing these issues up with higher ups. Can you imagine the person who spent hours designing that Chinese dynasty button in the middle of the screen and not realizing for one moment that it blocks the view in a terrible way? He/she would have brought it up with people in charge had it realised the issue and they would have redesigned it. I mean what, do we really expect the game designer in charge would have responded something like “yeah it is indeed a problem, but you know what, just leave it there… whatever”. No, of course they would have fixed it, but truth is that they are so out of touch that they haven’t even realised this is a problem past a super super casual level of play.

Now what to expect from a bit more advanced UI design element like unit queue or selection panel showing individual units. No chance they understand stuff like this on their own.

You know during beta I have watched some Starcraft players trying the game and they ALL complained about selected units not being displayed individually in the UI and most of them said this is a deal breaker for them. It’s sad, any chance to overtake Starcraft lost from the get go over simple stuff like this.


And of course, ideally today in 2021 we should be able to customise UI how we wanted. Minimap left-right, size, grouped units/units listed individually, resource bar position etc. But I think this is waaaay too much to ask from them that I didnt even mention it anymore.


I’d almost bet my ■■■ on he people working on details like the dynasty button, just got THIS very task assigned and had NO SAY in making decisions above that.
In the company I worked at previously it was exactly the same.
Don’t you dare to open your mouth and question the decision someone has put on you from above.
Do you job and keep your mouth shut.

I pretty much have the impression that M$soft acts EXACTLY like this towards their dev teams.

Relic too, remember that glassdoor review about Relic where a current employee was complaining about exactly this, that they have no say and have to execute orders and higher ups are very out of touch?
Well, now we collect the results of that.


Actually this is a must.
The bare minimum is to give at least a few options.
Like they did in aoe3 DE, you can choose which layout you want, that’s quite enough for most people I’d say.
But this is the minimum which should be on offer in a year 2021 triple AAA game

Which is fine, as long as the guy above has a good vision and feel for the subject… or takes and accepts council of… well, for example that council which supposedly includes veterans of the genre as well as pro players?^^

But who knows how all that worked out internally… no real use in speculating about details of who did what.
Maybe the one unpaid intern who designed all of that on a weekend is laughing about our posts x]

Check their recent devblog about Company of Heroes 3 UI design. It’s even scarier :woozy_face:

What are they saying/doing there?

This is exactly what I am thinking. Unfortunately, it is more or less impossible to solve without having the superiors replaced by more competent staff.

They even had select top players of some RTS communities come in to play the game while it was in alpha and obviously they did not take their advice to heart. I’m sure TheViper would have given honest advice about the GUI and hotkeys being ■■■■.

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From my understanding the players selected to take part in this community council did give them feedback, but I dont know on what exactly (except for one story detailed below), but people in charge of the project did not listen to their feedback.
Yes, I find it close to impossible that someone like TheViper didnt tell them about very important UI issues like these. But then what doesnt make any sense is how and why would such feedback be rejected. Like what? Would the devs in charge say in response to such obvious issues: “We are not taking this into consideration because ____ ???”
Doesnt make an sense, UNLESS the community members in this council didnt really care about it or wasnt provided in a more assertive tone.

Right, about that story, some members of this community council were flown to Vancouver to provide some early feedback, and one of them who is a known streamer, had this to say: the Dock sounds like a fart when selected “haha”
I hope the rest of the given feedback was more serious.

What is certain is that members of this council have a lot of explaining to do once their NDA is lifted.

They are FORCING “as minimalistic as possible” UI approach for whatever reason. Check their Company of Heroes 3 UI devblog. Same thing happening. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is very close to what the final product will look like.

If I had to guess, they said something like "We are not taking this into consideration because you can’t play the game like that!

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Ugh not this ■■■■ again. Give it a rest. Taking this quote out of context never helps your point.