Axe99

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I like some of the announced gameplay changes like diplomatic plays and the new warfare system. But if I were paranoid, I might say that these changes are deliberately designed to reduce the need for pausing (like they tried to do in HOI4), which would not be a good sign for message settings. For example, if someone declares war on you, it will no longer happen suddenly, but the diplomatic play will give you time to prepare, so it might be less devastating if you don't react immediately when the actual war starts. And as mentioned above, the lack of controllable units might make it less important to pause during war.
If that's the actual intent, it might be good for people who want to play without pausing, but it won't work for players who want to pause (just like it didn't work in HOI4). Pausing will still be useful, and I will still want to pause on the exact tick that e.g. a war starts, even if it's less necessary to do so.

I cannot agree with this more strongly. The only way to make pausing not have an impact on play, is to make the game play itself* - which, of course, wouldn't be much of a game. I'll just keep hoping - I'll likely play it either way, but like CK3, there's a chance that if it shanks the surfacing of information as badly as that game has, I won't play it a lot (I haven't played CK3 in months, and I'm kind-of-having to force myself to try and play it, rather than look forward to it - ie, it's really, really close to dropping off my rotation entirely due to it's poor UX).

* Unless the game allowed players to give the game a hugely complicated decision-tree of what to do when certain events occur, but I can't see this being the devs approach.
 
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My personal opinion: If the gameplay were actually structured in a way that required less pausing, that would be a *good* thing.

For example: In Stellaris, I usually don't need to pause on researching a new technology, because I have an entire month to make a decision on which tech to research next, and even if I don't, the research overflow will be saved up for a time. Also I know the techs well enough at this point to not really have to think about it very hard in most situations. And when I actually do have to think about it very hard? I can still manually pause.
...Contrast this with a system like the council tasks from CK3, where every single tick I am not clicking on the new task is a tick of progress wasted. Can I still live with such a system? Yes, but only with auto-pause (which is why I made a mod for that in CK3). The research-system in Stellaris is better than the council task system in CK3 in this way: I can still use it without having to pause.

However: While I think it is a good idea to make player-input less time-critical in this way, I don't think it's possible to entirely remove time-critical inputs completely. In order for that to be the case, I as the player would have to have access to every piece of information required to make a decision, as well as the time to think about it and actually click the interface, *before* that decision has any effect on the game state. Like, I would have to have the ability to click on a decision a significant amount of time *before* it becomes available in order to have the same "reaction-speed" I could achieve with auto-pause. A lot of people seem to assume that having a council task in CK3 complete a few ticks later because you clicked the UI a bit later is "not a big deal", and *most of the time* they are right. But that doesn't change the fact that the game rewards fast clicks rather than strategy here, and that for someone like me who hates having to do fast clicks, it would still be much better with auto-pause.
 
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pthooie

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My personal opinion: If the gameplay were actually structured in a way that required less pausing, that would be a *good* thing.

For example: In Stellaris, I usually don't need to pause on researching a new technology, because I have an entire month to make a decision on which tech to research next, and even if I don't, the research overflow will be saved up for a time. Also I know the techs well enough at this point to not really have to think about it very hard in most situations. And when I actually do have to think about it very hard? I can still manually pause.
...Contrast this with a system like the council tasks from CK3, where every single tick I am not clicking on the new task is a tick of progress wasted. Can I still live with such a system? Yes, but only with auto-pause (which is why I made a mod for that in CK3). The research-system in Stellaris is better than the council task system in CK3 in this way: I can still use it without having to pause.

However: While I think it is a good idea to make player-input less time-critical in this way, I don't think it's possible to entirely remove time-critical inputs completely. In order for that to be the case, I as the player would have to have access to every piece of information required to make a decision, as well as the time to think about it and actually click the interface, *before* that decision has any effect on the game state. Like, I would have to have the ability to click on a decision a significant amount of time *before* it becomes available in order to have the same "reaction-speed" I could achieve with auto-pause. A lot of people seem to assume that having a council task in CK3 complete a few ticks later because you clicked the UI a bit later is "not a big deal", and *most of the time* they are right. But that doesn't change the fact that the game rewards fast clicks rather than strategy here, and that for someone like me who hates having to do fast clicks, it would still be much better with auto-pause.
Sure, I don't want the game to be intentionally designed to be hard to play without pausing. That would be bad UX, just like not having message settings is bad UX. But even if the game gives you some time to make a decision without penalizing you for doing it too late, something else that requires your attention could come up at any time while you still haven't made the first decision. Without pausing, these things could pile up and you might miss something. I don't want to risk it, so I want make all decisions immediately when they become available even if it's not strictly necessary.

Plus, auto-pause would save me from doing an extra keypress to pause manually.
 
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Axe99

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A very mixed DD on the message settings front. Not surprisingly, seeing that Paradox seem to be doubling-down on inaccessibility for their games (or really do have their head in the sand in thinking that all gamers are just like them?)

From the Generals and Fronts DD:

Our aim is to make the game playable and well-paced, without requiring frequent pausing, on every scale while retaining the detail and integrity of the Pop simulation.

This sounds an awful lot like Podcat's failed goal from HoI4. @Wizzington - sorry to tag you, but this did not work for HoI4 - it just created a subset of players that it creates a right pain for - and a large subset - more players use pausable notifications in HoI4 than play MP. It also creates historically implausible gameplay situations as players work around a UX that does not tell players what the Gov't of the day knew, and requires map and UX-micro and gameplay adjusting to counter (all of which reduce the fun-factor). HoI4 is my favourite game in the series, but it would be a good deal more enjoyable if it's UX was up to the standard of the rest of the game.

I'm baffled by what seems an almost religious dogmatism when it comes to this approach to UX design. Paradox games are complex games - they require complex information-handling processes for the UX to do the job. They're played by a wide range of players - a one-size-fits-all approach is basically making it hard for everyone bar the lucky few who happen to match the approach chosen. There's a reason better UX/message settings suggestions are at the top or very high of the list for HoI4 and CK3 - Stellaris, by design, doesn't need them as much, but it still suffers from it. There's barely a word form Paradox - it's nearly Trumpian in approach to handling the communications - just not talk about it and hope it goes away - an approach that is very un-Paradox in general.

Now, of course, maybe the silence on the UX doesn't necessarily mean that Paradox has decided to make Vicky 3 harder-to-play than it needs to be, requiring map and UX-scrolling to see what's going on (or are happy letting large portions of the game play themselves) - but given we're four games into this head-in-the-sand approach, I'm sure it's not hard to see why I'm not optimistic.

Then they split, the Generals decide where to go, and if any newly created Front ends up unstaffed (maybe you only had 1 General on the Front that split) you are notified.

On the plus side, we do know that there will be some kind of notification. We don't know whether it will be tailorable to user needs though (important because not all players are the same in terms of cognitive and memory performance, or in terms of playstyle). We also have no idea whether everything we need to know about to play the game will be included - and based on recent form in HoI4, CK3 and Stellaris, my confidence is not high.
 
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At least we no longer have to worry about message/pause when our armies reach their destination province.

Aye, and this is a good thing, but we still need to worry about front's in trouble, collapsing, or doing well, out of supply (however this works), generals that might be able to launch a coup, and so on - the reduced complexity in operational military activity is likely to be replaced by greater complexity in politics and diplomacy, which we'll still need to know about to play the game effectively - either by notifications or lots of UX scrolling.
 
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pthooie

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The current situation of having pause, but no auto-pause is worse than removing pause entirely.

If you can pause the game, then there is nothing preventing you from pausing on every tick. This means that even without auto-pause, you can in principle respond to everything on the same tick that it happens. The fact that it's possible to do this makes me want to take advantage of this possibility, and message settings with auto-pause make it more convenient. Designing the game mechanics to reduce the need for pausing does nothing to discourage me from wanting to do this. Therefore, removing message settings only makes the UX more frustrating by making it more fiddly to do something that you can still do.

But if pause was removed, it would make it impossible to do everything you want in one tick. Unlike removing message settings, this would be an actual game design change because it would affect what you can do in the game. So even though I personally wouldn't like it, I would accept it as a valid game design decision. But even without pausing, message settings would still be necessary (probably more so) to notify the player of things they care about and not distract them with notifications they don't care about.
 
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Axe99

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The current situation of having pause, but no auto-pause is worse than removing pause entirely.

If you can pause the game, then there is nothing preventing you from pausing on every tick. This means that even without auto-pause, you can in principle respond to everything on the same tick that it happens. The fact that it's possible to do this makes me want to take advantage of this possibility, and message settings with auto-pause make it more convenient. Designing the game mechanics to reduce the need for pausing does nothing to discourage me from wanting to do this. Therefore, removing message settings only makes the UX more frustrating by making it more fiddly to do something that you can still do.

But if pause was removed, it would make it impossible to do everything you want in one tick. Unlike removing message settings, this would be an actual game design change because it would affect what you can do in the game. So even though I personally wouldn't like it, I would accept it as a valid game design decision. But even without pausing, message settings would still be necessary (probably more so) to notify the player of things they care about and not distract them with notifications they don't care about.

I'm very different here - my brain is fairly slow-moving, and I need pause to play - if Paradox ever removed it, it would be a hard block on playing their games because of my cognitive characteristics. I'm also happy pausing regularly but not every tick and "scanning for trouble", so I'd prefer pausing to be a thing, with or without effective, optional surfacing of information (but I very much want the latter as well!) Not suggesting that your preferences are any less valid than mine though :)
 

pthooie

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I'm very different here - my brain is fairly slow-moving, and I need pause to play - if Paradox ever removed it, it would be a hard block on playing their games because of my cognitive characteristics. I'm also happy pausing regularly but not every tick and "scanning for trouble", so I'd prefer pausing to be a thing, with or without effective, optional surfacing of information (but I very much want the latter as well!) Not suggesting that your preferences are any less valid than mine though :)
I also definitely prefer pausing to not pausing. My point was that game design is subjective, but UX can be judged objectively. If someone prefers a game that doesn't allow pausing, that's just as valid as preferring a game that does, so neither is objectively better than the other. But removing message settings makes the UX objectively worse because it reduces the usability for some players without improving it for anyone.
 
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There's barely a word form Paradox
There was a more or less explicit "no, we are not implementing Classic Paradox Style message settings" from Paradox regarding message settings in CK3.

(I can even understand why! The message settings interface, much though I loved having it, always set my teeth on edge, and I can't imagine it was any more pleasant to implement and maintain in the first place than it was to use.)
 
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There was a more or less explicit "no, we are not implementing Classic Paradox Style message settings" from Paradox regarding message settings in CK3.

(I can even understand why! The message settings interface, much though I loved having it, always set my teeth on edge, and I can't imagine it was any more pleasant to implement and maintain in the first place than it was to use.)

Aye, totally - I'm very cool with a different approach to the UX - I'm just not cool with a UX that doesn't let me know important information to the game without requiring a lot of pausing, panning and scanning. There are better ways to enable player customisation if that's part of the design, and there are better ways to "pause and highlight". I'm all for the devs saying what they're not going to do, but what I want to know is what they are going to do. Ie, are they going to leave us hanging with a UX that isn't fit-for-purpose for a proportion of the playerbase or not? It's getting off-topic for this thread, but of the three UX-deficient games, CK3 is by far and away the hardest to play because of UX issues.

More broadly, my concern is that the decision was made to kill the old system without an effective replacement (as time has borne out) - sure, the old system was clunky as hell, but I didn't realise how much I appreciated it until it was gone, because instead of giving us better, we got shinier but less effective. There is absolutely no question (getting back to an objective assessment of UX functionality) that from a baseline functionality perspective, taking clunkiness into account, the UXs of EU4 and I:R do a better job of telling players what is going on than Stellaris, CK3 or HoI4.

My point was that game design is subjective, but UX can be judged objectively. If someone prefers a game that doesn't allow pausing, that's just as valid as preferring a game that does, so neither is objectively better than the other. But removing message settings makes the UX objectively worse because it reduces the usability for some players without improving it for anyone.

Aye, agreed, and sorry for getting confused. I think CK3s UX is objectively poor for a non-pausing game as well - although if CK3 really wanted to be a non-pausing game for everyone bar a few very capable individuals, I expect it would require substantial game redesign and simplification to enable this.
 
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There was a more or less explicit "no, we are not implementing Classic Paradox Style message settings" from Paradox regarding message settings in CK3.

(I can even understand why! The message settings interface, much though I loved having it, always set my teeth on edge, and I can't imagine it was any more pleasant to implement and maintain in the first place than it was to use.)
Are you referring to this?
The underlying system will not allow us to recreate the message settings as they existed in CK2 but this is something we hope to explore sometime in the future.
The way I understood it, there are technical issues in the way CK3 is coded that prevent implementing CK2-style message settings, not that they're not going to implement message settings at all.

I can imagine there might be some difficulties in adding them to CK3, which is an already-released game that was originally made without message settings in mind. Because Vicky 3 is still in development, it might be easier to add them there since there are fewer things that are set in stone.
 
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This is not directly related to message settings, but still an interesting (and not necessarily encouraging) insight into some design ideas by @lachek (original comment he replied to was "I really don't understand why the devs consider pausing/speed 5 is a problem to be solved though..."):
Because if we designed the game around the premise that if people are bored they can always turn to speed 5, or if people are overwhelmed they can always pause, this has two major and intertwined detrimental effects on the game:

- the game's pacing is a very different experience in large countries compared to small countries, where even with full speed controls players of smaller countries might feel like they have too little agency while larger countries can be outright tedious to manage
- asymmetric multiplayer (e.g. where one player is a large country and at war, while another player is a small country at peace) becomes either overwhelming for the first player or boring for the second

In my view, when a player changes their game speed this should ideally be a subjective decision based on personal playstyle, not a way to "skip the boring parts" or "pull the emergency brake". Ideally there should be no boring parts, and the game should never overwhelm you with so many decisions in such a short amount of time that you have to stop the train in its tracks to take a breath.

Ideally, that is. Of course we're not going to remove this functionality, because there are extenuating circumstances or just personal preference. Pause/FF gameplay is fine and it's your option if you want to play that way. We're just not going to force you to do that by designing the game so you have to.

I hope this is more about trying to accommodate different playstyles, including speed 5 & autopause, rather than just "forcing" multiplayer-like playstyle on everyone.
 
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This is not directly related to message settings, but still an interesting (and not necessarily encouraging) insight into some design ideas by @lachek (original comment he replied to was "I really don't understand why the devs consider pausing/speed 5 is a problem to be solved though..."):


I hope this is more about trying to accommodate different playstyles, including speed 5 & autopause, rather than just "forcing" multiplayer-like playstyle on everyone.
I assume the devs are trying to accommodate all play styles... its just that they seem to be working on the assumption that *all* play styles means everything between speed 1 and speed 5... they don't seem to see playing on paused as a viable playstyle... rather as an extenuating circumstance.
 
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This is not directly related to message settings, but still an interesting (and not necessarily encouraging) insight into some design ideas by @lachek (original comment he replied to was "I really don't understand why the devs consider pausing/speed 5 is a problem to be solved though..."):


I hope this is more about trying to accommodate different playstyles, including speed 5 & autopause, rather than just "forcing" multiplayer-like playstyle on everyone.

While Iachek's points aren't wrong, I think they're asking too much of the design team. What's going on can't be paced the same all the way through - I would expect that do so would require differentially deep mechanics at different times or for different circumstances. There's no way to make the game the same level of gameplay 'involved' for all times for all countries (just someone not at war should have, all else being equal, less to do than someone at war - unless the peacetime gameplay for the not-at-way country changes). Will be interesting to see how it turns out. As always, as long as they have good surfacing of information that allows players to digest what's going on at their pace, preferably with some kind of optional auto-pause, then how they do it is neither here nor there - as long as it's done. So far, Paradox has tried with three games, and is none from three..... Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?
 
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I assume the devs are trying to accommodate all play styles... its just that they seem to be working on the assumption that *all* play styles means everything between speed 1 and speed 5... they don't seem to see playing on paused as a viable playstyle... rather as an extenuating circumstance.
In many ways this is the most infuriating thing about the whole message settings debacle: they had an optional system already in place that allowed people to pick their own playstyle, including making decisions while paused, and then junked the entire thing to force one play style on everyone instead of trying to improve the flaws in the existing system. They could have easily kept the message settings and just turned them all off by default if that was the game style they wanted to encourage. Once it became clear that a significant portion of the forum in fact missed the message settings they could have backtracked. Remember this is a feature that already existed and was removed from the new versions of these games. Instead here we are five years later.

I do think you are right about pausing--PDS would do their games a world of good if they stopped trying to focus on eliminating pausing as much as possible from the game. @pthooie is right--either pause is a valid part of the game design or it isn't, but as long as it is you should not be designing the game to actively fight the pause button because it messes up your in-house dev MP games. I assume that Vicky III will not have a ledger, much like all of the other games we are discussing here, because of course a ledger requires pausing the game. And yet the ledger still represents a vast improvement (IMO) over the attempts to replace it by cramming information (or not) into various game menu screens. Stellaris remains an absolute MESS in this regard.

By all means design the game as @lachek describes here: engaging and fun at all times so you are not trying to move at high speed through "dead" times but not so overwhelming that you have to pause every moment to make 20 different decisions. That's great and I wholeheartedly support it. But it is an entirely separate issue to provide players with the ability to get notified about the in-game actions they want information on (and turn off the notifications for the ones they don't) in an easy to use manner that allows for easy access to the decision/information--in other words alerts do not work for N* events because you just keep getting the same alert flashing with no helpful information (station under attack in original Stellaris). It is an entirely different issue to provide players with detailed information about their country and the world in one, easy to navigate place like a ledger.

Make the game fun and well-paced and let the player decide exactly how they want to interact with it--including the dreaded speed 5 with pausing if that is what the player wants. The two things should not at all be related from a game design perspective.
 
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I'm not sure if pausing vs. not pausing should even be considered a difference in "playstyle". My understanding of the term is that it refers to how a player chooses to interact with the actual game mechanics, so it includes things like playing wide or tall, with or without micro etc.

Game speed, pause and message settings are UX features, not game mechanics. They do not affect what's mechanically possible in the game. One player might have the same playstyle as another, but different preferences for the UX. That's why I said earlier that UX design issues should not be treated as game design issues. In game design, it makes sense to restrict the player's actions, but the purpose of UX design is to make all playstyles as accessible to everyone as possible.
 
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That's great and I wholeheartedly support it. But it is an entirely separate issue to provide players with the ability to get notified about the in-game actions they want information on (and turn off the notifications for the ones they don't) in an easy to use manner that allows for easy access to the decision/information--in other words alerts do not work for N* events because you just keep getting the same alert flashing with no helpful information (station under attack in original Stellaris). It is an entirely different issue to provide players with detailed information about their country and the world in one, easy to navigate place like a ledger.

I think what they're getting at is that they believe that if they can make the game suitably paced, than there's no need for customisation of message settings. However, this assumes that all players have the same cognitive characteristics and UX-interaction preferences, which we know isn't true.

I'm not sure if pausing vs. not pausing should even be considered a difference in "playstyle". My understanding of the term is that it refers to how a player chooses to interact with the actual game mechanics, so it includes things like playing wide or tall, with or without micro etc.

Game speed, pause and message settings are UX features, not game mechanics. They do not affect what's mechanically possible in the game. One player might have the same playstyle as another, but different preferences for the UX. That's why I said earlier that UX design issues should not be treated as game design issues. In game design, it makes sense to restrict the player's actions, but the purpose of UX design is to make all playstyles as accessible to everyone as possible.

There's something to be made for this argument - if playstyle is defined as how one uses the gameplay mechanics, then UX preferences should sit above this - nice reasoning pthooie :)
 
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The latest dev diary has a screenshot of the war declaration popup (I don't recall seeing this one before):

dd25-4.PNG


This would definitely be one of the most important popups for me to auto-pause on. It contains a lot of information that I would want to check before I do anything else. I know you can also see the belligerents and wargoals in the diplomatic play view before the war starts, but the start of the war is probably a good time to double-check everything. Even though the fighting will happen without your direct input, I still wouldn't want to let it go on for too long without me checking on it, which is why I would not want the game to proceed while I'm looking at this popup.
 
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The latest dev diary has a screenshot of the war declaration popup (I don't recall seeing this one before):

dd25-4.PNG


This would definitely be one of the most important popups for me to auto-pause on. It contains a lot of information that I would want to check before I do anything else. I know you can also see the belligerents and wargoals in the diplomatic play view before the war starts, but the start of the war is probably a good time to double-check everything. Even though the fighting will happen without your direct input, I still wouldn't want to let it go on for too long without me checking on it, which is why I would not want the game to proceed while I'm looking at this popup.

Aye, no two ways about it - as well as making sure the right armies are in the right place, there's naval deployments to think of (and participants can change during the diplomatic play, so planned deployments may need adjusting depending on how everything works out at the end - both for armies and navies). I can't imagine a more important pop-up that would benefit from an option to pause.
 
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