Ergonomic Redesign of Battle Screen to Prevent Wrist Injuries

"Accessibility" series

While Autoplay could be perfected over the longer term, an interim measure (inspired by @Tomaxo 's comment) could be enabled for the benefit of those (unfortunate) players chained to OR’s Windows version (non-touchscreen) who are lugging their mouse pointer around the screen & risking wrist injury (i.e., carpal-tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapmentRSI, etc.). The current design of the battle-screen interface does provide some degree of keyboard control. Could we please extend this as follows:

  1. Manual play —as the default setting, here the player disables the game engine’s control and controls all the interface buttons (navigating hero, spawning units, casting powers & invocations, toggling offense-defense modes, and Pause/Exit). 
  2. Full Autoplay —played by default at 2x speed, here (except Pause/ Exit) the player enables the game engine to navigate hero, spawn units, cast powers & invocations, and toggle offense-defense modes (when the hero’s HP falls below X%). Of course, the player can intervene during this gameplay. 
  3. Semi Autoplay —here the player gives partial control to the game engine ONLY on hero navigation. The player controls unit spawning, powers & invocations casting, and offense-defense toggling. 

The mouse is a convenient device, but a bit dangerous from an ergonomical perspective. Expert computer application users will vouch for the speed & repetition convenience of the keyboard (we’ve all admired an expert’s flying fingers using keyboard shortcuts). In Semi Autoplay, the repeated clicking of the mouse for hero navigation is removed to give huge relief to the player’s wrist. The remaining interface elements also need to be enabled with easy keyboard shortcuts (in addition to the default mouse-click hotspots). Here’s a simple illustration of the idea:

First, the shortcut keys are ergonomically assigned as per the correct comfortable placement of the player’s hands from the tactile bumps on the “F” and “J” keys on the standard QWERTY keyboard.

  • The starting left A-S-D-F row is assigned to the Units. Now, the troops can be controlled by just the player’s left hand only. Important : As each unit’s Morale value is identified in numerals on the button, no number keys are assigned to any button on the battle screen, in order to avoid any confusion between the Morale value keyboard shortcut. 
  • Invocations are deliberately given a slightly complex combination of Shift key plus a numeral on the top numeric row. This could prevent accidental casting of costly invocations (say, when the keyboard is used in the dark). If the key combinations are difficult, the player can use the mouse pointer as an exception here. 
  • The largest key, Spacebar , is assigned to toggle the Offense-Defense modes. In high-risk, high-speed battles, quick accurate reaction on this is critical to success. 
  • The intuitive Escape key is assigned to the Pause/ Quit button. Placed at the top-left corner of the keyboard, this is the suitable key for this function. 
  • Finally, the toggling autoplay button is assigned to another large key, Enter. On pressing Enter repeatedly, the autoplay mode toggles sequentially from Manual to Semi-Auto to Full-Auto, and then back to Manual. 

Next, let’s discuss the ergonomic placement of the battle-screen buttons for the benefit of touch-screen players as well. 

  • As illustrated in the first image, all the Unit buttons are near the left thumb and the Power buttons are near the right thumb (as is correctly placed in the extant design).
  • However, we can shift the Invocations button from the top right to the right side for better access to the right thumb. Especially, when playing on a large tablet, the player need not release the right hand to travel to the top of the device.  Caution : There should be adequate space between the right-most Power button and bottom-most Invocations button to prevent accidental pressing (“fat fingering”). For this, the size of the Invocations buttons may be reduced to that of the Power buttons. 
  • Now, shifting the buttons from the top-left side, the Offense-Defense mode button is placed near the left thumb for quick toggling. The Pause button is locate just above it, in case the player wishes to catch his/ her breath mid-battle.
  • The Autoplay button is placed above the Pause button, as it is immediately followed above by the Game Speed button. During manual play, the Game Speed button is not visible. Once the autopilot is engaged, Game Speed is activated at 2x. The player may intervene to reduce the speed by pressing the right arrow on the keyboard. 

Last, the iconography of the battle-screen interface elements. 

  • While Units are iconized in round buttons, the Powers can be designed as 8-point stars to differentiate. Besides visually better intuitive, a multi-pointed radiating icon looks suitable for powers. 
  • A plaque design (square with rounded corners inside) is appropriate for Invocations as it looks like an extension of the 8-pointed star design. New players can intuitively connect these to Powers. 
  • The ancillary buttons on the left feature a rounded-rectangle design, which visually resembles contrasts with the Invocations button on the right. This makes the screen appear nicely balanced. To increase visibility, the background fill of the ancillary buttons is transparent. However, the icons themselves need a contrasting shadow or glow to differentiate from the battle landscape. 
  • In the Offense-Defense button, instead of both iconography being squeezed in, let’s have only one visual at a time for Offense or Defense. A green Shield appropriately intuits safety and a red Swords visual indicates attack. These 2 visuals appear alternatively on toggling the button. 
  • The Pause button also has a transparent fill, but the icon is blue (indicating “suspended”, neither red nor green). A contrasting shadow or glow is placed around the icon. 
  • The current “joystick” icon could be replaced with a “steering wheel” icon to show 3 states—for manual, semi-auto, full-auto. As shown in the second image, the manual state is iconized by 2 hands holding a red steering wheel. The semi-auto state is visualized as 1 hand holding a blue steering wheel. The full-auto state is presented as a green steering wheel only, no hands.
  • The keyboard shortcut info is presented on the buttons in black to contrast well with all other elements of the screen. Touchscreen users will not see this info. 

Besides preventing injuries enhancing Windows player satisfaction, I hope these changes will add further dazzle to an already shining OR. 

Thanks. ☺️


_ PS : Players who use PC Android emulators (i.e., Bluestacks, Nox) could test the ergonomic performance of the suggested keys by “assigning” virtual keys on the battle-screen buttons and typing out during battles. Feedback from that experiment could be valuable. _


Edit : Also, see an alternative “left-handed operation” suggested by @Heroesflorian .

Arrow keys work for moving your hero in Windows, so you never *need* to use the mouse during a battle.

This is a good suugestion @AriesRising but I have no idea whether developers can make so many changes in windows version.

This is a far better suggestion than asking for a better AI.

I don’t mind a good AI but the problem lies with OR match makeing aspacte.

I mean if you’re high on trophies but low on level trsut me OR will match you against level 20+ opponents meaning pkayers who are playing 20 levels above you.

They can hit low ascenion pkayers for maximum trophy gain and now imagine an AI that does not make mistakes like casting spells wrong time ,heroes running ahead of armies etc.

All such features in AI makes them less suitable for average players.

Which I believe is a good decision by developers.

(P.S. For a couple of weeks I am playing OR four hours a day,do not think I do not use autoplay and I am advising things not based on experience)

When I play, almost always on manual these days, my semi-chubby index finger always hovers over the ‘Q’ key to switch between defence and offence mode at an instant.  I totally get what you are saying with regard to speed of actions and key strokes being faster - I played a few years of LoL (League of Legends)  to appreciate that. :slight_smile:  

Just don’t go asking for the fully immersible virtual reality version of OR. Don’t think my heart could take being crushed by a cyclops :grinning:   

@AriesRising here’s what I see in game on windows, the key strokes are where they should be, numbers for units, Q key as stated above etc…

Still consider the invocation icons to be too big! 

Phistar I think @Heroesflorian asked this feature too.

Invocations icons are too big!!!

Super nice presentation! That would definitely enhance the game control experience. It’s a lot of work for the devs, but it’s more feasible than the game console suggestion.

@Philstar @HOLYDIVINE

 

@AriesRising dude the Windows version is perfectly working as it is… all we have asked it was a shortcut to toggle between normal and fast speed and an on/off button while we are in autoplay, the hero won’t waste spells anywhere. 

So please dear devs don’t change keyboard shortcuts or add more and bigger icons to the screen as it will be harder to adapt.

Cheers

Yeah, that are quite bulky… I personally am satisfied in that regard, as they added an unequip option for invocations, so I just raid without invocations and thus no invocation icons obstructing the view. But for those occasionally using them, having the buttons smaller in size would be good I guess. In RR2 (no unequip option for scrolls there), I think over the 4 years of playing like 75% of my used scrolls were accidental presses, and every single one of them makes me angry and annoyed at the game…

Regarding the other suggestions in here, the author definitely took the time to think and write about it and make some nice illustrations, that effort is appreciated.

Moving troops/spells from the 1-0 row to the A-L/P row, could be more comfortable for some, but also possibly slightly less intuitive for some, at least initially… moving Q and A for off/def and automode to space and enter is… hm… feels a bit weird to me, but that may be habit (which is important for many players, though); space/enter would be more ergonomic indeed. Escape for pause, same as before, and I think currently, the back/delete key can also be used to toggle pause on/off. I would rather have that key remapped to regular/double speed than using the right-arrow key for that, which is part of the hero movement controls (arrow keys). And I would actually like being able to use double speed for manual raiding as well.

A sort of semi-auto-mode with manual spellcasting sounds useful, same as some distance between invocations and other keys to reduce unintentional casts.

One thing to also consider is, when using mouse for hero movement (as I think quite many do, including myself usually, as it feels superior to arrow key movement), there is only one hand free for anything else, so ergonomics should also keep one-handed keyboard usability in mind, not only just two-handed.

Awesome idea, @Heroesflorian . Here’s the visualization for a full left-handed operation of the keys, while the hero navigation is controlled by the mouse. Also, this factors in dumpster’s point about hero navigation currently enabled via arrow keys (which I didn’t know). This configuration would enable the player to control even  without looking at the keyboard (having the “F” key’s tactile bump as the reference point for positioning the hand). 

Thanks, my friend. ☺️

One thing to consider, though: Some keys differ greatly depending on what keyboard layout is used (English, German, Swedish, Spanish, etc). While most of the letter keys are same (with Y/Z swapped on some) afaik, but symbols like &,# or @ can vary wildly in their positioning. For example with Germany keyboard layout, & is on the 6-key, # is right next to the enter-key, and @ is on the q-key. Thus, with all other keys in the left-hand area of the keyboard, I’d suggest rather using numbers 8, 9, 0 for scrolls then (or something similar)… it then has sufficient distance to any other used key, but is still consistent across keyboard layout variants.

Quite insightful, @Heroesflorian .  ☺️

As a new player, the numeric shortcuts confused me with Morale numbers of the Units. That’s an issue with 8, 9, 0 or any other numeral. Anything else on Shift+<Numeral> that is universal across all keyboards…? 

Hmm… I’m afraid I am no expert in that regard. I just happen to have a German keyboard, making the difference regarding symbols mentioned in the previous post pretty obvious to me. But I suppose wikipedia and/or google should have a good array of keyboard layout images and infos if you want to look into that topic more closely.