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Which features of Connection menu do you use?


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I hope I'll return to Connection feature in DarkRadiant soon.

Since better GUI is the first on the TODO list, I decided to create a poll about used features.
Almost half a year have passed, and hopefully some usage patterns exist now.

Unfortunately, our forum only allows 3 questions in a poll, so I created poll in google forms.
Here it is:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf8ITryAHqiByvXIKdRJcfQnnvgDxgN8gNlFckxXtr2rms-IQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Depending on results, some features can be removed from the GUI, or put to less obvious location (like "advanced" tab or whatever).

 

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Note that I have made a couple of minor improvements to the GUI. There is no full-fledged management widget or anything, but you can quickly enable/disable the camera sync or move the DR camera to the current game position using buttons on the camera view toolbar. I also rationalised some of the menu options, so enable/disable is a single toggle rather than two separate menu entries.

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I definitely use the Control + K shortcut all the time, life would be so much harder without it. It would be nice if it could be even further improved. For instance it only lets you select two entities at a time now... could help if you could select more, then when hitting the shortcut have them link each other in the order of selection (eg: path_corner chains).

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7 hours ago, MirceaKitsune said:

I definitely use the Control + K shortcut all the time

That's not a call for new DR features.

The discussion is exclusively about Game Connection feature, or the "Connection" menu in DarkRariant.

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11 hours ago, MirceaKitsune said:

I definitely use the Control + K shortcut all the time

I think you're confusing the Game Connection feature which @stgatilov introduced recently, with the "Connect entities" command which has existed in DR from the beginning.

Game Connection is a tool which allows you to synchronise the game camera position with the camera in DarkRadiant. It is not related to connecting entities.

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As of now, I see only 3 responses.
And every feature (except for "pause game") has its users.

If it continues the same way, then I'll ditch @peter_spy's idea of "less buttons", and put all implemented features into the GUI, like it was in my original suggestion (except LEDs replaced with something like radio buttons).

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I've taken the poll, but please be aware that after playing with it when it first came out, I've really only gone back to using the connection feature consistently for the past week.  I might find other parts more useful later on, but right now for me the biggest advantage is in setting up and tweaking lighting, and adjusting model positioning for player navigation and sight lines.

I mostly just turn on "Game position follows DarkRadiant camera" and "Update entities on every change", and only have to toggle them if i restart TDM and need to force it to reconnect.

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3 hours ago, stgatilov said:

As of now, I see only 3 responses.
And every feature (except for "pause game") has its users.

If it continues the same way, then I'll ditch @peter_spy's idea of "less buttons", and put all implemented features into the GUI, like it was in my original suggestion (except LEDs replaced with something like radio buttons).

I'd rather be worried that with the number of responses being this low, people simply aren't using this feature. And yeah, I'd still blame complexity for that :) Or perhaps not being advertised enough?

Edited by peter_spy
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If people aren't using the feature, it is most likely due to a lack of discoverability — users don't know that the feature exists, or what benefit it can provide for them. This is probably not going to be fixed by tweaking the GUI layout or having more/fewer buttons, but there are some things which could be done to improve discoverability:

  • Have the connection always active when the game is running, rather than having to go into the console and enable com_automation. Currently there is no way for users to even know that they have to do this without visiting the forum and reading the appropriate thread. If a user clicks on one of the camera-toolbar buttons, they will just get an error dialog and probably conclude that the feature is broken or useless.
  • DR could dynamically detect when the game is running and automation is enabled, and automatically enable the respective buttons, rather than having them active (but not useful) at all times. This would be a clear change of state when automation was possible, which would encourage users to click on the now-active buttons to see what they did, thereby discovering and exploring the feature. There could be some kind of indicator widget in the status bar, maybe with a pop-up bubble the first time (and only the first time) automation is detected, to make users aware that there is something new they can do.
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That wiki entry reads more like a technical white paper than a feature documentation; I certainly wouldn't expect ordinary users to plough through all of that. It's probably about time DarkRadiant's own online documentation contained some instructions for using the game connection feature. I hadn't added it up until now because the feature was somewhat experimental and in flux, but now that it's been in the software for a few months and has visible UI elements associated, it should be documented.

Of course we all know that users hardly ever read documentation, so improving discoverability of the feature is still important even if it is also covered by the user guide.

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5 hours ago, OrbWeaver said:

If people aren't using the feature, it is most likely due to a lack of discoverability — users don't know that the feature exists, or what benefit it can provide for them. This is probably not going to be fixed by tweaking the GUI layout or having more/fewer buttons, but there are some things which could be done to improve discoverability:

  • Have the connection always active when the game is running, rather than having to go into the console and enable com_automation. Currently there is no way for users to even know that they have to do this without visiting the forum and reading the appropriate thread. If a user clicks on one of the camera-toolbar buttons, they will just get an error dialog and probably conclude that the feature is broken or useless.
  • DR could dynamically detect when the game is running and automation is enabled, and automatically enable the respective buttons, rather than having them active (but not useful) at all times. This would be a clear change of state when automation was possible, which would encourage users to click on the now-active buttons to see what they did, thereby discovering and exploring the feature. There could be some kind of indicator widget in the status bar, maybe with a pop-up bubble the first time (and only the first time) automation is detected, to make users aware that there is something new they can do.

I think new GUI plus (re)start button will significantly improve on both points.

Except that I'm against enabling automation by default: either you start TDM from DarkRadiant, or you enable it manually.

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Starting TDM from DR would actually be useful I think. If you could hit a single button which would start the game, enable automation, compile and launch the current map, move the player position to the current camera position... this would really cut down all of the manual switching between applications, entering "testmap" etc.

In this case players wouldn't need to worry about the automation feature, entering console commands and the like. The automation would just be there under the hood to streamline the process.

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Note that when you enable com_automation for the first time, the Windows Firewall will ask you for permission. Most players won't have interest neither in mapping nor in having their game process to listen for connections - I think enabling this feature and confirming the firewall dialog should be something that is done on purpose, once when people start playing around with the editor.

On the other ideas, I think there's nothing stopping DarkRadiant from launching the game with the +com_automation 1 parameters. That would be useful and resembles some of the functionality that was present in DoomEdit.

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On 7/28/2021 at 2:00 AM, OrbWeaver said:

If people aren't using the feature, it is most likely due to a lack of discoverability — users don't know that the feature exists, or what benefit it can provide for them. This is probably not going to be fixed by tweaking the GUI layout or having more/fewer buttons, but there are some things which could be done to improve discoverability:

  • Have the connection always active when the game is running, rather than having to go into the console and enable com_automation. Currently there is no way for users to even know that they have to do this without visiting the forum and reading the appropriate thread. If a user clicks on one of the camera-toolbar buttons, they will just get an error dialog and probably conclude that the feature is broken or useless.
  • DR could dynamically detect when the game is running and automation is enabled, and automatically enable the respective buttons, rather than having them active (but not useful) at all times. This would be a clear change of state when automation was possible, which would encourage users to click on the now-active buttons to see what they did, thereby discovering and exploring the feature. There could be some kind of indicator widget in the status bar, maybe with a pop-up bubble the first time (and only the first time) automation is detected, to make users aware that there is something new they can do.

Thanks for the info OrbWeaver.  Altho' I'd noticed the 'connection' menu item I hadn't bothered to enable it - to find the forum thread that explains how etc. was too much hassle what with all the other mapping things overloading my frazzled mind.  Anyhow I put 'seta com_automation  1' in autocommands.cfg and started using the feature yesterday.   If changes can include menu items it might be helpful having something like 'connections' item highlighting (unobtrusively) green when connected, unhighlighted when not, but clicking it when not connected might have  pop up an info-box with a message "unconnected: to enable connection to TDM, type 'com_automation 1' in TDM console".  

I like the feature!  It's perfect for my current task optimizing fps and tweaking lights/shadows/hide_distance etc. and so far I'm already hooked on using "move camera to current game position" - it puts me right there: saves time and helps me focus.  Also I like "update entities now" (saves .map) and the hot reload "tell game to reload .map file now".  I like the term "hot reload" as the feature is much better than going to console and typing "map myFM" and restarting at player start.  Hot reload resumes with edited entities plus the player is in the same game position and, it appears, at the same game state.  Lights shot out are still out, etc.  I suppose this makes the "respawn selected entities" option handy but have yet to try it.  Haven't checked if it resumes with the same objectives completed/not_completed, visible/not_visible, etc.  

 

 

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