It's getting close to the time to start heavily considering polish. Where most of the current UI is mostly functional, the Empire Tree is still too basic and lackluster, and not mentioned in Frogboy's newest dev journal on polish issues.
The Empire Tree itself is a great concept, but it's the implementation that makes its addition good or bad. The Empire Tree in Sins was pretty fantastic, even for all its technical limitations, because the user was allowed a high degree of control over it:
- Several auto-pin options for the common things people want (planets, capitals, etc).
- Quick Fleet overviews (all formed fleets go right on top and easily show ship numbers)
- You could search for stuff!
- Manual pin/unpin control.
All of these features should most definitely be in Elemental's Empire Tree.
- The user should be able to dictate what gets pinned automatically and what doesn't. Maybe someone doesn't want all their champions pinned, or their cities. To get a leg up on Sins (which could not modify display mid-game), allow for filtering the tree (Hide All Cities, Hide All Champions, etc).
- Stacks with multiple units should be combined on the Empire Tree in an obvious and clear manner, allowing for easy control of the whole stack and the ability to see who's where.
- Searching! In the huge maps, you're bound to have lots of Champions and Cities and whatever else. Wouldn't it be awesome if, instead of mousing over everything and scrolling the tree, you could just start typing a name and the tree would jump to it (think how Windows Explorer works - it searches for every character typed). That way if you want to find some champion that you don't quite remember the full name of but remember that it starts with Da-, just type D-A and the tree will jump to him.
- Manual pin/unpin. Maybe I want to pin a pioneer to keep track of him. Maybe an army unit. Who says I'd only want Sovereign, Cities, or Champions on it? The tree should be able to be used for anything the player wants to keep track of, which means that everything that should be able to kept track of should also be able to be pinned - every unit, caravan, etc.
- Hide/Unhide on main UI. Not everyone may want to see the tree. Maybe people prefer not seeing it sometimes for more screen space, and only showing it when they need to use it. Throw up a button by the tree, "<<" hides it, and turns to ">>" when it's hidden, which opens it back up.
- Names displayed on tree. Right now, you just get portraits. If you don't remember how someone looks, you have to hover over with the mouse to find them. We should be able to enable names for quick navigation.
If anyone can think of more necessities for the tree, post!