It’s the Little Things: The Drag-Select-Attack Command in Homeworld: Cataclysm

This Game has a Great UI...
This Game has a Great UI…

I’m something of a nut for a good user interface. In my professional line of work, website usability is what I’m most passionate about, so it would make sense that gaming UI is both amazingly important and wonderfully fascinating to me. While playing Homeworld: Cataclysm the other day, it dawned on me that it had a feature I don’t recall playing in nearly any other RTS game I’ve played (and I’ve played a lot of them, though not all). Cataclysm has this little feature that allows you to first select your units in the typical box selection method, but THEN, once you hold down a button (I forget which at the moment), the cursor changes to a crosshair and you can tell your selected ships to attack all the ships in that box. It looks like this:

HWC-UI2

It seems like a simple little thing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a beautifully efficient, genius little thing that I just love. To. Death. Seriously, this UI feature makes the game much more fun and fluid for me. I can’t recall if this was in the original Homeworld (it likely was, I’ll be told, I’m sure), but to whomever came up with this: you’re a genius. Why don’t more RTS games have something this simple, this beautiful?

I mean I can just tell my units to attack THAT GROUP of enemies in an instant, rather than individually clicking or shift clicking or any of that nonsense. I mean it makes the game feel SO MUCH MORE FLUID than other RTS games, especially 3D games like these. Honestly, as much as I’m enjoying the game, this feature has been my favorite thing about it. Besides the fun combat and fascinating story, I wanna play more because of THIS feature, I kid you not. I mean it’s just so…amazing.

Anyway, just wanted to rave about this simple yet amazing UI feature. Thanks for reading. :)

5 Comments

  1. Worth noting that, at least in Homeworld 2, it would also properly prioritize targets in the “attack Box”. Fighters would prioritize Bombers, Bombers would target Capships, Frigates would do whatever they were designed for, Capships would focus Frigates with their smaller guns and Capships with their larger guns. It was stupidly intelligent, and it made combat so much more manageable.

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