This has been quite the week. Every week it seems is breaking new barriers of levels of production, and while you could argue I should get used to it, so far I simply can’t – it amazes me how much we can do in one week.
So let’s get onto my main focus this week, implementing the UI, and even beginning to program it’s functions also.
MICRO VS MACRO
When I studied at University, I was told by a lecturer that, “The User Interface, is Game Design. It is the game.” and that has always stuck very heavily with me. The choice to make your UI elements, diegetic or not, to make them meta or not, all of these things slowly begin to construct the game you will have. On top of that, the means by which you prioritise your game’s UI, and assign positions for Micro and Macro elements can turn a program into a game, and a good game into a great one.
I always loved and unintentionally refer to the UI from the Civilization games. The Civ series has SOOO much content to make you aware of at all times that it’s staggering. And yet it somehow manages to do just that so effectively.
It does this because of it’s many Micro and Macro elements. “What’s that?”
“A method for presenting large quantities of Data at high densities in a way that a broad overview of the data is given and yet an immense amount of detail is provides” – Ruddle, 2012
This is where Micro consists of Low Level detail, and Macro High Level Detail. And by the way, it’s notoriously hard to do, hence why the CIV series is released so few and far between. However, it seems it just might be the ticket for our game, so let’s see our current stab at it – and as always, remember that a lot of the art may just be placeholder, then again it may not be if people like it.
As I began to develop every screen that you would play through when you were on your terminal (the primary way you interact with your staff, Intel, research etc) I realised that I was adding certain elements in twice or more. Sometimes, I would switch from the first screen to the second because I needed information from the second to complete my task on the first. Which is absurd. I did this intentionally though as a means of prototyping and self testing. To identify which areas of my game would annoy me the most if I could not access it or struggled to do so.
That’s why I came up with this particular menu, which I’ve just named “The Shortcut Menu” as it saved me going to other screens. So interestingly enough, here it is again, try to guess what the icons mean, and I’ll explain them immediately underneath. If it didn’t match what you thought, send me a message or leave a comment about what you did think it was or how I could improve.
From Left to Right:
- The P Symbol Stands for Panic, it’s the current level of Panic the citizens of the city are at. If it reaches tier 5 panic/100% panic, then your citizens will be petitioning to have you removed as your clearly incapable of handling the threat. At other tiers it also has negative effects such as lowering your funding from the government.
- The T Symbol Stands for the Threat Level your current at. This is the general likelihood of an attack happening. Unlike Panic, Threat Level can be inaccurate based on your Intel. So if your Intel is poor, your Threat Level May be at 0, and then suddenly an attack will occur.
- The RF is your requisition funds, the funds given to you by the government to spend on Staff, Research, Intel, etc.
- Pause, Play, Fast, SuperFast, these change the speed at which time progresses. There is nothing worse than a game that needlessly makes you wait, so if you know your Intel is good, and all situations are handled, you can avoid the wait and skip forward a little to the next situation you do need to handle. Maybe you know a bomb will be planted in ten hours, but you have not much to do until then, skip to it! (Although it’s unlikely this will happen to this extent.)
- Exit, this quits you from the computer terminal where you can leave the office (game).
- Rules, this button takes you to the current list of rules regarding bombs. The rules change on a regular basis, e.g. one day you might always cut the first red wire, then the next day you definitely don’t. It’s updated regularly based on how good your Intel is. If your Intel is terrible, the rules too can be incorrect.
- Map, this takes you to the full view of the map where you can see the entire city and all of its districts. On this map will be all of the potential dangers, as well as current bombs, places to investigate, people to arrest etc.
- Day, Time, Year, Week. Exactly as it says on the tin. This is the current day and time, as well as the weeks and years you’ve been in office.
- Intel – This takes you to a screen that displays the full list of Intel you currently have on bombs/terror activities. The notifications shows unread pieces of Intel.
- Staff – This takes you to a screen that displays all the current staff you have, what they’re doing, and what issues they race. The notifications display unread staff issues.
- Email – (I’ll give you two guesses but you’re only going to need one.) This displays all of your emails and the notifications tell you how many are unread.
- UOD Temp Logo – This little icon takes you to the Overview Screen at any time, which shows tiny snippets of every screen in the game, so that you can easily select where you need to go.
So as you can see, there is an obnoxious amount of information to be conveyed in this tiny menu in its current iteration, but in my personal opinion, it’s actually a brilliant quick overview. Each of the items featured are needed regularly and none are waste/there for no reason. They are also not only featured here, but we’ll get to that. What do you think could be put here? Do you like the menu as it is?
Following on from last week, here’s how the new micro/macro elements have changes the screenshots. The emails have been changed, while actually still remaining true to the original concepts.
Substance of The Text, and a Positive and Negative response to each of the messages. Currently, this is it, and an X will take you back to the list of emails. However, that space in the middle and a couple of spaces around is expected to change quite dramatically, with things such as Displaying the Current Relationship Status between yourself and the person your contacting in the form of a number. E.g. Malcolm + 2
Another improvement this week comes in the form of the staff management screen, which now has a nice little piece of info about the latest Intel, so that you can better assign your staff. So if it looks like (based on Intel) there’s a suspicious activity happening, you can assign your agents to monitor the intercom.
As you can see, it’s a minor improvement from last week, but essential none the less. It’s all really beginning to come together. There’s the very obvious Intel being displayed on the right, but then just a subtle little cross next to the second staff member, so that at a glance you can see he’s injured. By inspecting further (without having to go to the separate more detailed screen) you can see he’s also unhappy, and loosing the tech skill.
Perhaps (or arguably) more exciting though, is that the slow task of building the functionality you see is being put in. Already, Intel comes in at a steady rate (not the way I want it to work yet, but it does work.), there are certain “random encounter” emails that are sent to you, time progresses at the right speeds (pause, play, fast, superfast), panic & threat increase independently and all of the buttons work, just the majority send debugs at the minute rather than perform the action.
It’s the slow slow build towards having this brilliant creation that we’re going to pour our hearts and efforts into.
The time has come to consider.
“Don’t Go Bang!” went from a mobile game (hence the particularly mobile friendly name) to a PC game. The funds needed to complete this task have grown exponentially, and while it’s no excuse – we are an Indie Team.
Which generally means two things,
- We have little or no money.
- We pour our hearts and countless hours into the projects we do have.
And you know which platform is great for allowing those kind of projects to continue?
You guessed it.
It’s obviously not set in stone, we haven’t launched the campaign or anything, but we’re definitely considering it, and even doing the preliminary planning on it. But as always, we want to know – what do you think?
Please get in touch in any of these places,
email@example.com – Any information or discussion regarding the game, Don’t Go Bang!
firstname.lastname@example.org – Press opportunities for the game (Interviews, Magazines, YouTube, Twitch etc)
email@example.com – General Inquiries About Anything At All
Or as always, please just get in touch @DalriadaConnor
Don’t think it’s just a standard repeat, I genuinely mean this everytime I say:
Thank you so much for all of your support, interest, kindness, and feedback, we appreciate it more and more everyday and your continued inspiration feeds ours throughout the weeks. Thank you, and until next time..