Saturday, September 20, 2008

GUI WIP Part one

Ok, currently the interface elements are scattered and unorganized. Vangelous has created the theme for the interface along with many nice elements, now I am in the process of putting these elements into the engine whilst adding some of my own. Whilst certain animation issues are being covered, I have focused on designing the layout of the game interface. Rather than make a simple composition for the demo, I am aiming for the real thing so that I shouldn't need to come back to make big changes to the interface unless it is for life or death. In the demo we can just use what ever glyphs are needed and hide the rest for the real game. Most likely, nothing you see in the screenshots will be hidden apart from certain tabs which are going to be group glyphs that control major aspects of the game; and perhaps the popup menu. So, most features will not be in full use in the 0.3 demo.

The play area view is kept square so as not to interfere with the players judgement of their shooting target. The time it takes for a projectile to reach the top of the view should be similar to how long it takes for the projectile to reach the right hand side of the view. This means the camera and ship are positioned in center of the view, slightly to the right and above the screen center. The GUI will be on a high layer to cover over the game entities. A feature to allow the GUI to be toggled visible and invisible way later on will be good; since the GUI is not always needed.

Everything major to do with the player is located at the bottom. Everything to do with other players or AI are on the right, including the target player or AI at which the player is shooting at or helping. Game status pretty much holds team condition and power progress bars along with their states and other information vital for winning a game. Management actions, Statistics, Chat, Missions, Event Logs and other features are on the left. Event logs will show what weapons the player used and how much damage they caused to the targets; anything that helps the player to understand what is happing that is not fully understood by what is seen on the playfield. Critical event logs are rear events such as 'Our scientist has died'; this would also be in the regular event log. The Mini radar is on the top right, which will also be a link to a full screen radar (in the real game), which is there to allow the player to visualize what is happening in a larger scale than in the regular view. The compass and game status elements are yet to be done. The compass points to a beacon entity; usually a mission beacon or sometimes a player positioned beacon. Miniture compasses will optionally point towards detected ships, so that the player is aware of there position even though the player cannot see them from only 500 pixels away. Whether these compasses are to be stacked in the game status area or along the play view perimeter is yet to be decided, any ideas would be great. The mission state is going to be provided with text glyphs.

Anything in the final GUI that is not grey or blue is related to key information. Colors that represent different information should not clash. For example when looking at a ship you are aiming to shoot, you don't need to move you eyes to know how much power you have, because from the lower half of your vision, the only major glyph that is orange on the screen is your power bar.

The action bar currenty contains only 3 buttons because the imaginery player only has two rockets and a force field. The first weapon has a blue ring that is full; meaning the weapon is recharged and ready for use. It is selected because of the orange glow around the button. It is a manual fire weapon because it has a blue ring. The next weapon is automatic and requires that the player selects a target on play view or in the radar for the rocket to home in on them. This weapon is not selected because it has no orange glow. The weapon cannot be used because it is recharging, shown by the incomplete ring (which is a progress bar). The force field on button three is available because anything that does not work on a spacecraft model is removed from the action bar; hence the other empty slots. The force field is on, because the button has a blue border (Normal), if the button is off it would be completely grey. Toggle devices/weapons don't recharge, so there is no ring. There can be many weapons or devices in the inventory, but the spacecraft have limits. Although there are 10 action slots; relating to keyboard keys 1,2,3....9 and 0; spacecraft can hold more than 10 devices/weapons. Button 11 to 20 are just hidden, pressing a scroll button will hide buttons 1-10 and show buttons 11-20, and so on. The inventory does not only represent what is inside of a spacecraft, but also what spacecraft is owned by the player. The spacecraft, bases and containers will act as inventory folders in the real game; so it would be common practice to use a quick spacecraft to travel to far places to pick up small items, a large spacecraft to transfer people and smaller spacecraft around, and a powerful model for battles.

Next I will implement any suggested good ideas and work on the compass, radar and team progress bars.

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