That said, the game's interface is annoying. I mentioned a couple things back when I had time to keep up with beta-testing (to be fair, some other things I did complain about did get addressed):
http://slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=226&t=45930jgf1123 wrote:I'm going to have to disagree with that. Okay, sometimes it was hard to tell in BARIS what components were needed for a particular mission, or what missions you should complete before others, and moving astronauts between programs took more clicks than necessary. But to R&D in BASPM, I have to go Headquarters -> Location -> Category -> Program -> Mission -> Configuration. Even horizontal navigation between screens within a configuration is not clear. In BARIS, you clicked on R&D and you were there.Deadmeat1471 wrote:To be fair, the BARIS ui was awful. This game is actually a slight improvement on it, even now. But we don't love BARIS for its good UI
http://slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=226&t=45951jgf1123 wrote:You should either use a scrolling window (all personnel on one page, but you have scroll to see them) or display as many items as possible on one page (without scrolling) and then flip pages to see more, but not both; otherwise you force the user to navigate two sets of controls to do the same job: look at personnel. The former option seems to be more common, and I think it is the better choice.
If I was to write a Steam review, it would probably go like this:
While Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space has the catchier name, the title of Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager is an accurate description and not just a tip of the hat to Football/Adventure/Duckpond Manager, et al. BASPM is very much about managing staff and projects to hit prestige goals while staying in budget. (In comparison, BARIS was also about managing projects and staying in budget but also about knowing when to make a riskier launch before reaching max R&D in order beat the other side to the goal and when to skip steps to catch up to the other space program.)
In BASPM, you have three different staffs to manage, including recruiting and training, and I spend most of my time in-game managing them, in particular SET. Most every season, I have some personnel coming out of advanced training. Then there's projects reaching max R&D so those personnel have to find a new assignment. Therefore, almost every season I have rejigger their assignments, deciding who researches what and who goes back to school.
However, the only place I can see all my SET personnel together is on SET Department page. (Despite my complaints above, the SET Department page is okay. I still think scrolling and paging is a dubious design choice, but 95% of the time I don't need to see more than the top 10 personnel in a skill.) Then I have to navigate to a different interface to assign them. This takes at least two clicks: click the Projects icon in the lower bar, click either Manage Rockets or Manage Payloads, then scroll down to the project. Yes, not only can't you assign researchers to project on their department page, but assignments are done on two separate pages. There is a way to assign SET to payloads and rockets from the same page, but it takes 3+ clicks to get there: first the Project icon in the lower bar, then scroll to find the project, then possibly click through to the correct mission (I'm looking at you, Agena docking and lunar lander testing missions), then click R&D Mission Components. Wouldn't it be more natural to, say, monitor personnel and assign them to tasks using the same interface?
This isn't the only interface oddity. Ideally, you want well-trained flight controllers just in case something goes wrong (and in long missions with 20+ steps, something will probably go wrong, even if reliability is 97%). Having the right flight controllers means knowing how many of each you'll need (unless you just happen to know that no mission needs more than one propulsion controller and by when you need that 5th trajectory guy). But to get that info, you again have to navigate away to the project's page, pick a mission, click the information icon, click on a season, then click on the flight controller information. Then I have to do this will all the missions in a project because not all of them have the same number of flight controllers. But it's needing to first select a season that really irritates me. Why? Because the screen I see upon loading mission information is pretty useless: it just tells me the number of seasons. And then, in order to get to the information I really need (like number of flight controllers or their contribution at each step or the number of steps), I can't even go their directly because first I need to click on a season before those buttons are activated.
I'm pretty sure I know why the interface was made this way. The theme in the interface design is that everything is arranged hierarchically. Personnel go on their department page. Research is done under projects. The mission information is probably stored in files organized by project, then mission, then season, then steps, then broken down between components and flight controllers. (I spent an inordinate part of my PhD mucking with file formats.
To this, I want to add that the Automatically Assign Best Candidates button when filling flight controllers isn't perfect. Specifically, what I think happens is that