tyler butler

Zoom Zoom

Lukas Mathis linked to this video of a mod tool Chris Taylor’s Gas Powered Games is working on for their (now canceled) Wildman Kickstarter campaign.

Coincidentally, I installed Supreme Commander just last weekend to give it another go, so the zoom-happy interface looked familiar. Indeed, Taylor and GPG are the same folks behind Supreme Commander, so it’s not a big surprise this made it into areas beyond the game.

I’m not a huge fan of it, though, which may mark the first time I’ve disagreed with Mathis in a very long time. Obviously I haven’t used the mod tool, but in Supreme Commander the zooming in and out to navigate the battlefield gets very tiring. In the context of the game, you need to move around the field a lot, so zooming out, then zooming back in on the area you want to focus on is much slower than a minimap that you can click on to navigate around. If such a thing exists in the game, I couldn’t find it. Not that I looked that hard, though… Something was really busted with the audio, and the game is old enough that finding the patches is hard. Oh well.

Anyway, back to the mod tool… There’s certainly a lot of interesting stuff there, but I remain skeptical of zoom being the only means of macro-level navigation. Unlike the game, though, perhaps moving around the field rapidly is something that you do less often in such a tool. If that’s true, then zooming might be quite nice. My objection is certainly not to the concept as a whole, but rather to it as sole means of navigating, and the fact that today, the primary means we have of performing such an action is with the mouse wheel. Even when scrolling web pages or documents the mouse wheel gets tiring, but at least there we have the scroll bar1.

So I’m skeptical, but intrigued. Intrigued is good. Let’s see where it goes.


  1. I often miss the scroll bar when using an iOS device. While the ‘scroll to top by tapping the top edge of the screen’ is pretty universal these days, there’s no analagous shortcut for jumping to the bottom. Seems like I need that all the time. Maybe I’m weird. 

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