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This is an RTS-MMO mobile game I am building, Each unit has health-bar and name of the unit and owner on top of it and a small circle indicating if the unit is friendly and/or has weapons activated or not.

Problem is, when there are a lot of units in one spot, the tags become so cluttered and the critical information becomes lost.

I have tried making the name tags more transparent but this does not help. Tried putting some name tags above the unit, other tags under the units, also to no avail. Tried removing the healthbars unless the unit is damaged, didn't help much either!

How does RTS games solve this issue? I have seen some RTS games remove the healthbars for non-damaged units, but this didn't have any impact on how it looks, and having no name tags or at least no owner-name-tags will be a no-go as this information is critical when attacking/approaching other units, or when picking own units (as units might be equipped with different tools and be named by their owner to be recognized.)

enter image description here

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If you're troubled by the overlapping text, one thing you could do is have a list of "top 20" names along the side of the screen, with neat vector lines pointing to which unit in the main viewport that is (maybe only when you hover over the name?). This at least prevents overlaps.

You could also make this list scrollable if you have pointer / touch access.

This is like looking for someone in a crowd in real life - it's going to take time to pick them out. Still better than not being able to make them out at all.

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You basically can't solve this problem by changing drawing, rendering, etc. You are essentially showing too much information on the screen at once. Every game has this kind of issue, any time players are all clustered.

A few things you CAN do are...

  • Give players control over what is shown on screen. It looks like you are showing the worst case of everything on. Let the player's decide.
  • Only show some info when players hold down a key like alt or shift. Perhaps treat these keys separately, like alt gives name, shift gives health, etc. This doesn't work on a mobile interface, but you didn't specify if you were mobile only so I'm adding it.
  • Just let go of the idea of showing everything

In the end, like I said. You just plain have too much on your screen. Not just the labels over players, but everything else. It's too complex. UX redesign combined perhaps with game redesign can fix this, transparency and UI tricks are going to have a lot harder time.

I'll add that if you were doing this on a regular computer monitor, it would work. But in the limited space of a phone, it's a challenge.

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