Lots of Energy, A Little Movement

Moving units in Illyriad with directional indicators

There is an amazing amount of complex information that goes on behind the scenes of Illyriad, creating the outcomes we see on screen as people play the game.

One example is unit movement. Through most of Illyriad’s life, movement has been fairly simple. Players’ units have moved from point A to B upon their request, at a rate based on movement speed of the units themselves. Layers of complexity have been added with Diplomatic Visability, Undead armies that emerged from the Rift and now the Heart of Corruption. There is an increasing amount of movement in the world, of which much of the complex work takes place behind the scenes.

For example, there is a database that currently has 1,550 variables relating to animal movement. And that doesn’t include animals’ locations in the world – that’s just the mathematics for their movement.

And that is where the challenge comes in to play. How much of that information is visible to players, and how do we represent important information to them? Currently in game, to see if a unit is moving on the map, or which direction it is going requires that you zoom in and observe the movement yourself. Often times though, the movement may be so slow that it isn’t easily visible.

That is why the new unit movement icons have been designed. The challenge was to display direction, speed and relationship to players (hostile, friendly or neutral) in an easy-to-understand fashion that wasn’t disruptive to the landscape of the game. The solution was a set of small wing-shaped arrows that display next to individual units on the map. The number of arrows shows speed (1 = slowest, 5 = fastest), the direction they are pointing shows movement trajectory and color of the arrows (yellow = neutral, green = friendly, red = hostile) shows intention with relation to the player. This simple, elegant solution provides players with more information about the world around them and represents, visually, a complex set of data that determines these factors.

The new directional icons will be available in our next game update.


1 thought on “Lots of Energy, A Little Movement”

  1. Just a thought … if it is possible you might want to make this feature optional. I think it will be widely used and appreciated, but I have already heard someone express concern about the load it might put on laptops and mobile devices. In addition, people who are making “videos” of battles and other events might not want the arrows in there.

    I will be interested to see how precise the arrow vector is — is it just one of the eight or so “directions” or is it precise enough to show a vector that could be used to track diplomats, for example?

    For units that move randomly on a path to their destinations, like the skeletons did in the undead tournament, will the arrow show their next movement or their eventual destination?

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