First of all, congratulations on the 1.5 release; it's heartening to see how far the game has come in such a short time, and while there is some way to go yet this gives me hope for X4 eventually being a great successor to X3. Been playing the release for a while and all the major bugs I got stuck on previously (unable to upgrade ships, etc.) seem to be fixed, while the reintroduction of Betty makes for a much more X-like experience.
That said, here are a couple of my small scale, easily(ish) fixed problems with X4 compared to its predecessor that I'm sure I'm not the only one to hope to see implemented:
- Improvements to game feedback
- Have Betty say the faction of the selected target (when spoken targets is enabled, obviously). The ship class is a good start, but you kind of want to know who it belongs to when quickly cycling through targets while focusing on something else. If selecting a renamed/player ship, do what X3 did and still have her give the information as opposed to remaining silent.
- When in combat or managing your empire, it can be difficult to determine whether you're being hit or something close by is being hit, as there is no discernable difference audio-wise. X3, though screen shake and different audio effects, communicated clearly when you were in trouble, whereas X4 will just happily carry on until you're warned of being on critical damage. Maybe if you don't want to add any shakiness to hull damage, make consoles/lighting flash red? Or make the sounds of shields being hit and hull being hit noticeably distinct.
- Likewise, feedback could be better if some of your assets elsewhere are under threat or attack. I love the addition of being informed when traders are beset by pirates with the Escape/Engage/etc. options, but either this doesn't always work, or doesn't apply to outright hostile ships or other damage. I've missed ships being blown up several times, whereas in X3 there was no escaping the audio cue.
- Allow us to see the recent message in the HUD (not sure if this is already an option and I just can't figure it out?) - when managing assets on the map, it's easy to miss important information. Either show it on other screens as well, or have it wait for us when returning to the HUD.
- When docking at a station, make the welcome and generic announcements more faction specific. This added a lot of character/life to X3 whereas in X4 it's generally a monosyllabic "welcome", making all stations feel alike and making it hard to tell what faction you're dealing with at times. Have us be welcomed in the name of the Kingdom of Boron, the High Priest, or the Chairman, etc. With how immersive X4 tries to make everything, this bit of character is sorely missing.
- Some of the UI elements, like the "x" and "<" close and back buttons on windows, slider arrows, graph legend, etc. do not scale with resolution or UI scale settings. Playing at 4k some of the click targets are positively minuscule.
- Please, please, let us see the currently executed command with destination in the 'property owned' tab. X3 allowed you to quickly check at the press of a button where all your assets are, their status, and their current command and destination. There is a lot of unused space in X4's menu, so why this is information is absent is puzzling (the small, vague icons are less helpful by themselves).
- Make it easier (or possible?) to select an arbitrary point on the map - imagine X3's precision select mode where you could individually dial in the X/Y and Z coordinates. X4 seems to be built around the idea that everything is on the ecliptic plane.
- The logical overview of stations is not very useful once your factories get bigger/more complex. I can only see a fraction of the information at a time and while I can scroll up/down via mouse wheel the same isn't true for left/right. My advice would be to make it similar to the map interface, where you can click drag the overview and mouse wheel zooms in and out to make it easier to see.
- Please consider bringing back a text/list overview of product consumption/production for factory complexes, preferably also available in the build planner. With something like the commercial agent menu in X3, it was possible to design stations efficiently just by looking at the raw overall numbers, whereas right now in X4 there is no easy way of doing so.
- Bring back some of the more advanced graphs from X3 - station overview is missing basic information like profitability, it's impossible to select more than a couple items at a time (why?) and they all start deselected adding more unnecessary clicks, and player information is absent altogether.
- The TRADE filter on the map should have a toggle to switch between "Any/Player Owned Only/Non-Player Owned Only". Right now, trying to do manual trades while operating stations can get awkward, as your internal buy/sell orders will get in the way of trading with AI, and vice versa.
- Allow us to specify which wares individual ships assigned to stations should trade in. Right now, I can deselect items from the behaviour tab, but they keep coming back, with ships often prioritising low value transactions when there is good stock of valuable products available for trade. Right now the solution seems to be to restrict trade with other factions for all items except the one you want to clear periodically, then re-enable when stocks run low.
- Make better use of tooltips/contextual information. The module equipment tooltip in the build planner is a good example of what the game could use more of across the board - it's very useful and stops you from having to click into a different screen every single time or expanding the section. Particularly the station/ship information could benefit a lot from helpful tooltips - right now you have to navigate through two separate menus with their own nested sections (information/behaviour) to know what's going on with a ship where most of this could be in a neat little popup when hovering over it on the map or in the nested list (current cargo/command/destination; or for stations, trade offers perhaps?). This could also save on some clutter, as right now additional information is contingent on zooming in past a certain point, at which point it can render the map unreadable with overlapping text over overlapping text.
I know I've been harping on about this since before release, so bear with me. I've discovered there are some hidden in the game (like pressing 'i' on a ship will bring up the information tab) and some more have been pointed out throughout this thread but this is perhaps the area X4 is most severely lacking.
- Make existing keyboard shortcuts obvious from menu items/titles (e.g. "Information [ i ]", or X3's blue menu indicators) and introduce them across the board.
- Too much of X4 is spent clicking around interfaces where a simple keypress would do fine in prior games. Property owned, the inventory tab, the filters tab, message log, cargo and crew information, command list, etc. should all be accessible with a single keystroke.
- Ideally bring back X3's system of key that opens menu -> key that closes menu. Much easier than having to worry about going back vs. closing the menu, etc.
- Common commands should also be possible via keyboard (e.g. select player asset on map or maybe even from HUD, press 'shift-D' and click on station -> ship will dock at station; same for follow/attack/etc.)
- Confirm/Cancel need a dedicated key across all menus.
- Allow us to rename ships when selected with a key shortcut (like F2) - change text input fields so you can actually move the cursor and copy/paste
- Perhaps more of a long-term request, but make something like this officially. X4 feels dead quiet too much of the time. Give areas of space their own themes and remove the hours long stretches of silence unless there is combat going on. If it's a (cheaper) option, don't be afraid to recycle music from prior games either. People would appreciate the throwback, and it would give you time to implement new music down the line if desired. If you're worried about the purity of the simulation, make sector music optional, but don't make players choose between silence and *modified* (now that there are actually things you can't properly do when modded).
- Allow us to snap screenshots which are autonumbered and saved to Documents, like in X3. Right now it's next to impossible to take screenshots in the game without using overlays or other third party tools, which is a pity. Trying the old PrtSc gives me a black image.