I know you're not a fan of the pre-select command feature, and I don't disagree with you that it can be confusing. Let me explain the motivation behind why this feature was added to the game in the first place. But first, I want to clear up something.
Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:we don't have a way to show queued actions, what those actions are, or which character you're commanding currently
None of these claims is is true. Queued actions and what those actions are is shown in the lower right area of the screen when no commands are currently being entered by the player.
This is a screenshot taken two days ago. This screenshot shows that the player has pre-selected a skill for Claudius (which is why the little circle icon is greyed out instead of white). The queued action is the "Sword Slash" skill and is targeting the head of one of the spiders (which one is not apparent, but UI improvements I've suggested elsewhere fix this). The other two characters can have an action pre-selected if the player wishes to do so, or the player can simply wait until the battle pauses and prompts the player for an action. As for which character you are commanding, when the command window is active, the character you are selecting for is highlighted in the lower area (there's a red boundary behind the character's name and HP/SP bars).
There's certainly room for improvement for these visual elements (maybe the selected character name should be bolded/yellow to make it more apparent who is selected). And it is true that you can't see queued actions if the command window is up (and you can't hide the window if one or more characters are at the little green notch on the action bar and waiting for a command).
One thing I noticed in the past while playing RPGs similar to Allacrost is there's a lot of time spent in battle "waiting and watching". The player enters commands, then they sit and wait until another character is ready, then they enter commands again, then they wait again, and it repeats. How much time does the player spend watching
the battle as opposed to fighting
the battle? And does a player really enjoy having the battle pause for a few seconds over and over, especially in the fights against simple enemies that aren't very interesting or challenging. I began referring to this period of watching and waiting as "downtime".
So to reduce downtime, we allow the player to enter commands for characters as soon as they are finished executing their last action. And we allow the player to change that pre-selected action as well. This results in the battle moving at a faster pace and keeps the player more active and engaged during the battle. And at the same time, this feature is completely optional to use
. If a player prefers the standard RPG battle expectation of having a lot of downtime, that option is available. The battle will still stop and wait for a player to issue commands when a character is ready and waiting for an action to be decided for them. The expectation is that the player will forgo pre-selecting commands in battles which are more intense and difficult, or where they are trying to work out timing if they are aiming to cancel an enemy's action.
So that's why that feature exists. I wouldn't mind removing it if we get a lot of negative feedback on it, but since it is (and will remain) optional to use, I would rather leave it in the game for now. I think it's a worthwhile attempt at solving a chronic problem of RPG battles.
So with your action bar changes, I'm assuming that in the idle state where the notches are, every actor moves at the same speed? And therefore when an actor finishes their last action and resets to the idle state, their initial position will be determined based on their agility (which determines the amount of time the actor spends in the idle state)? My major concern is the warm-up and "extra idle" space, because there the icons would move at a variable speed, and it might be confusing to the player to see icons moving the same speed on one part of the bar and not the other parts.
I need to think about this some more, but I think I like it.