User Interface and Other Changes for Phoenix Point (Backer Build 3)

OK, so here is my ginormous post on Usability and Other Changes:

User Interface and Other Changes for Phoenix Point (Backer Build 3)

In this rather large 32 page document I am going to go over my thoughts and annoyances with the game’s UI and how I think we should fix them which shall be broken down into 3 main areas:

  1. Squad Management Layer
  2. Tactical Layer
  3. Geoscape Layer

Thirty-two pages?? That’s three big two me! But hopefully the devs find it useful.

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There were the brave who clicked the link. :smiley: Question is if at least one of them was someone from Snapshot. :wink:

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It’s been shared around the studio right from the UI artists, QA team and even directors. We always look at feedback, even if it’s not always usable.


Respect. Presentation is top-notch.

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Just wanted to say that the team was extremely impressed with this and found it very useful. Kudos to you, @FreeXenon.


Impressive work and your ideas in many cases are really great, like tables customized and sorted by players (I really missed that in recent XCOMs), colour coding teams in roster and in the mission, soldier drop positions, html-like colours in soldier bar, initiative (so it was you in the other thread).

Here are my comments to some of your ideas, because there was some announcement you probably didn’t heard of or there is something currently in place to help with some of the issues:

My First Impressions and Basic Bugs -> Annoyances and Bugs


Currently enemies are light, expect them to be fast, so they could pose any threat to the player. Queen is slower for example.

Better Overwatch and Return Fire Control

Your ideas were already announced.

Missing Mobs

Believe me they are there, just line of sight is broken, so sometimes it is difficult to spot them - you need to know the map really well and search for tiles occupied and not accessible for your soldiers, then shoot that places. :slight_smile:

Squad Management Layer -> Squad Roster

First of all I would not create any additional layer. This can be just part of Geoscape Layer as pop up window/table. Geoscape and some of its information can be in the background of squad management screen.

Phoenix Point Resources

Keep in mind that production screen will be implemented. Current production pop up message is just a placeholder. There will be queue, time of production, personnel requirements, so there will be many more conditions to fulfil for sure and this information would need to be somewhere. :wink:

Soldier Class Priority

I would even say that making those icons with specific colours would make it easier to assemble the team.

Limited Use of Soldier Name

It is not just about immersion. When player will have many different soldiers, it would improve proper soldier selection. Believe me that your classes will have different loadouts, not just because of the scarce equipment and its cost of production, but also because of diversity of weapons and items. You will need to have different kind of damage, different firing range and power in the same class. Some soldiers will carry scanners, other will have stun equipment and other some combat boosters - and it can be all in the same class soldiers. And over that, players like to change names of soldiers to have virtual representation of real friends in the game. :wink:

Soldier Initiative

I would not create separate tab. Just make another sortable column in Squad Roster where you can set that priority (it can be also counter of which you have written - so you don’t have to count soldiers before the mission), and by default first soldier to move should be first in the list, not the last (of course as I mentioned it can be sorted)

Soldier Healing

Keep in mind that you will have many places where you will have soldiers. There will be teams in many dropships and bases. Having healing buttons for each soldier controlling time flow will make little mess. I would not allow for a time pass from Squad Management Layer/Screen. But on Geoscape Layer there can be little list showing currently healing soldiers along with their location and… maybe operational team from your ideas. There can be also some checkboxes near the clock which will allow you to decide if you want to pause the game every time any soldier is healed. Thinking more about it (added this sentence later) you can have a checkbox in each soldier status which would allow the player to decide if we want time to stop when current soldier will come to his full health, but checkbox near clock in Geoscape Layer would override those particular checkboxes.

Squad Management Layer -> Equipment

Colour Coding Equipment and Its Children

This is definitely bad option for colour-blinded people. At least that small aura. If at least aura and space borders with triple aura thickness were changing colours then maybe. For me better would be just one aura (no matter the colour) for currently selected item. All other items could be greyed and dimmed out. But we will see what time will bring as current version of inventory is there just to show us that something can be equipped to any soldier and to allow us to produce ammo.

Equipment Management Metadata and Condensed Inventory

Inventory will be revamped with stacking the same items. So your Condensed Inventory will be by default. I suppose there will be the list of items and second to every item will be quality/condition of that item and next will be quantity of items with this condition and the last column or row will be icon leading to manufacturing screen (if it will be possible in current base / transport - dependant on your tech and facilities available in soldier’s location). Even if it will look differently, your idea is nice, but I think that there are downsides of this solution:

  • too many small numbers on the screen - there are gamers not sitting with their nose in the screen - trying to watch those small numbers can be difficult

  • some items may also cost more than 100 materials so you will have at least 3 digits in left bottom corner and some additional in right bottom corner

  • there is also second cost of each item (materials+tech) so number of digits increases, too much for me

  • the more items we will have on the screen the easier it will be to select them (yes I think that those icons are too big for the whole screen management), so shrinking each item slot would more likely decrease readability.

But MAYBE this could be valid idea with the checkboxes you have mentioned. Filters are also great idea.

Ammo Management

Buttons for ammo increase, decrease near weapon are ok, but that threshold is not necessary. If I well remember you will save each soldier loadout, so the game will try to load everything from base storage when the soldier comes back to base and something is missing (not only ammo).

Equipment Schematics

You write that when we get hold of an item we know how to make them. This won’t be truth in final game. You will need to do proper research to get proper tech and have proper facilities to be able to make new items. But you will be able to produce items that you didn’t have yet. So there will be something like schematics screen just with name manufacture screen and list of all available items to produce.

Tactical Layer -> Soldiers

Highlight Technician and Healing Target

You are completely right. Just small tip: My way to deal with it is not to target icons on the bottom of the screen. I target wounded soldier with my cursor and left click him to not make any mistake. Btw you can use Tab to cycle between targets.

Squad Health Status UI and Pack Icon

Another great idea, but UnstableVoltage mentioned that there will be some new soldier status screen or UI information. Maybe those things and your ideas can work together.

Tactical Layer -> Aliens

Alien Movement Aura

I think we really should not know that. Can you tell just by looking at someone how fast he is? And movement+attack range would be even more difficult, because they can have many different attacks with different Time Units cost. So which one to show? Btw there was also information that we won’t see enemy hit points. :wink:

Missing Mobs Timer

But what if that alien is waiting in ambush? You will think he is missing and game should move him? This would cause players to just wait for enemy to show up. Definitely bad option. I would prefer some info where that last alien could hide (without exact spot).

Tactical Layer -> Boxes, Dropped Items, and Trading

Dropped Items

Press Alt. :slight_smile: Showing them on bar with boxes and enemies will clutter the screen.

Box Recovery on Successful Mission

Actually we recover twice as much items as there are on the mission (probably a bug). :wink: It is just that the mission summary screen doesn’t show them all (only 5 randomly selected - those with more count first?).


You can trade. Icons are to the right of the screen. Not really intuitive. But they announced it will be changed.

Geoscape Layer

Refuelling Station Potential

You can recognize that by clicking each POI and observing local leader attitude towards you. If it is positive you can build radar and refueling station. But you are right that this attitude can be shown on whole globe after pressing Alt or switching some overlay with checkbox without need to click every haven there.

Pre-mission Warnings

Good idea. But to buy ammo while hovering over the place? :slight_smile: We should be able to equip and manufacture only while in our base. And the checkbox near the clock along with healing list on Geoscape Layer I have mentioned earlier should allow for preparation of wounded soldiers - but for me it is strange that soldier in Manticore get healed - but then again maybe it will be explained that dropship has medical facility on-board or something. :wink:

And that is all. Damn I like the way you think and work.

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Wow! Awesome!!

@Yokes Thanks for the feedback! =) I found your comments very informative. =)

And, yea there is a lot that they may have announced that I have not heard of.
I have only heard of the potential Overwatch changes which is great news!
My ignorance on this genre of games may be showing through too! =)

Squad Management Layer -> Squad Roster
There is not creating a NEW layer, because this already exists - the Squad Roster Button on the Geoscape Layer. I am just calling this a Layer because of its fundamentally different operation and goals than the Geoscape and Tactical Layers.

Soldier Initiative - I like this idea- a sortable column in the Squad Roster and then just have the number of the amount of the soldiers the screen. A bit more elegant of a solution.

Missing Mobs: Good idea! Perhaps an alien detector radar thingy!

Regarding the use of soldier names, it isn’t just for immersion. One of the systems being worked on is that each soldier will have a backstory that ties into the gameplay so that you’ll get different events that will trigger like, for example, if you visit their destroyed hometown a special event will trigger for that soldier, or if they have a phobia of a certain thing the might panic easier facing mutations that look like that creature or other things, and so on

Ahhh… that is neat!
Good to know.

you mentioned you only recently found Phoenix Point so I figured you hadn’t heard about that part yet.

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This is huge. For me Phoenix Point is already great with its ballistic system, free aim, disabling body parts and freedom in use of inventory. Mutating aliens, different factions with which you can ally, complex economy (unfortunately not as complex as original, but well…), and different sometimes changing objectives during the missions take it to another level than ‘great’. And now this psychology of units… Phoenix Point made by indie (really?) studio will beat all turn based tactical strategy games I know. :slight_smile: I’m just worried now that environments will be limited to those of havens, ruined scavenge sites and alien bases + some predefined custom maps. God, I will miss those jungle/ forest/ desert maps of original X-COM.

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Regarding the pack icon section:

You can open the inventory and see what is in there without an TUs being used. It is only when you move something to a new location or change the order that TUs get used. (Lack of a tutorial doesn’t help)

Alien Movement Aura:

One of the things the devs are considering in order to preserve the horror elements is that when a new enemy of mutation shows up, you don’t get an info on it. It is only after you do research projects that you can find out stuff. This sounds like something that could be added in via the research system.

Box recovery on Successful mission:

We do actually recovery the stuff, it just gets sent straight to the nearest base. Another system the devs have mentioned is having a B-team go to the site and recovery the stuff after it has been cleared (with the occasional mission involving the b-team getting attacked by reinforcements)


Yokes covered this. The soldiers just have to be standing side by side (lack of tutorial)

Flight Paths:

I believe waypoints will be a thing, if they aren’t already in and we just don’t know how because, say it with me, a lack of tutorial.

Refueling Station Potential:

It is a nice idea in theory, however there are a lot of times when you can get a giant cluster of PoIs and the symbols can get buried beneath each other. If you look carefully at the Au haven you can see it has fuel dump but is covered by the Phoenix base.


I’d rather see the selected haven info box expanded with more info including opinion threshold markers showing when you can build a fuel depot and radar site and the equivalent negative opinion thresholds (I just know that there will be some).

Yokes covered most of my other points already so I left them alone unless I had more to add.

You can set them manually with Shift key. But automatic calculated path would be nice.

Awesome, I like this idea. Risk and reward. If every one is injured, do you risk sending a weak team into a possible ambush.

You beat me to it. Holding down shift and clicking way points works but it would be better automatic.

I would avoid color coding unit states and ammo for reasons of accessibility - use changes to icon design and UI overlay instead. I also note that the targeting view should be changed to a crosshair system, as it is far more friendly to most forms of colorblindness.