Category: "R:WM Dev Blog"

UI/UX Artist: Which Way'd He Go Officer?

Hi all! This is your UI/UX Artist Paul here. This week I've got a new development for the in-game Heads Up Display to show you. Introducing the Compass!

UI/UX Artist: Which Way'd He Go Officer?

If you've ever played first person shooter games like Call of Duty, Halo, or any action game, you may have noticed that there's often an indicator that appears on screen when an enemy NPC lobs a grenade at your player character. This indicator often has a simple icon for its function (in this example case, a grenade) and also a direction that "rolls around" an unrendered circular overlay on the screen to "point" out where the enemy explosive is so you can dodge it before it goes off. This "threat compass system" is simple and effective for the singular purpose it serves in those games, but of course Rank: Warmaster takes things a bit further than that.

As has been mentioned in previous posts, our space travel system involves realistic to life orbital physics. This however creates a problem for space combat: in a vast black void with no real visual references to eyeball target's change in velocity, an enemy ship looks like its stationary until it gets close enough to slingshot right past you. This is happening in a truly 3D environment where any number of complicated flight paths can be executed to shake off pursuers. You'd be surprised how easy it is to lose track of someone that is just above or below you! To solve this issue, the same concept of the Compass is not only being applied here, it is also expanded. Two compasses will be guiding the player. 

One will indicate to a more long-lasting threat than a grenade: the enemies themselves. Specifically, the current enemy the player has target locked. A constant denoter of where that one hostile that zipped past you for the umpteenth time lies waiting. 

The second compass pointer will be for your targeting reticles themselves. To get back to the orbital physics mentioned earlier, there are times where an enemy is behind you, and thus it becomes necessary to fire backwards in order to connect your shots. However, some weapons, pulses and missiles specifically, inherit the velocity of the ship that fired them. In other words, under the right conditions it is possible to friendly-fire oneself by firing in the wrong direction at the wrong time. To aid in successful combat and in avoiding accidental self-destruction, the second compass pointer indicates where your weapon fire is aimed.

Due to the fact that these two pointers are both related to targeting an enemy ship, these two pointers will often cluster near each other, and so unique icon design and color coding will be used to differentiate. Once again, these designs will likely adapt and evolve as in-engine implementation and further play testing follows.

Right in the Face - Featuring the Ableton Live 10 Wavetable!

After I got Ableton Live 10, I started playing around with the Wavetable instrument. I'm still learning the instrument, but I'm beginning to understand just how powerful this instrument is. I highly recommend it!

This is what I came up with. It's called "Right in the Face," because I wanted something that starts right away and hits you hard. 

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HUD Advancements

HUD Advancements
HUD Advancements
HUD Advancements
HUD Advancements
HUD Advancements
HUD Advancements

Along with fixes to the multiplayer (second live stream this Tuesday!), work is being done to update the HUD graphics and functionality.  In the screen shots, you can see the new "targeted ship" monitor in the upper left, with the old one for comparison in the lower right.  The Damage bars for Shields (Blue), Armor (Green) and Items (Yellow), have been shifted from a horizontal bar that is hard to read, to a hexigonal shape, with dual colors representing the highest percentage armor of a single facet (if applicable), and the total hit points of that type.  Generally, the facet goes to zero long before the total hit points of that type does (such as sheilds or armor).  So the lighter color is the facet, with the darking being the total.  Items don't have dual colors, and just are yellow.  Also added is a status icon, showing the status at a glance rather than words (see the old monitor).   The different statuses are: Shields Up, Shields Down, Powered Down, Hull Ok, Hull Breached, Jumpless, Weaponless, Immobile, Disabled (Reactor destroyed), Dead (pilot is dead because the cockpit was destroyed), and wreck (the ship is exploding).  The last of the current updates to the monitor is the background of the monitor actually represents, at a glance, the status of the front, back, left, right, top and bottom armor as a whole.  Currently, it shows the worst facet, but I haven't decided if this is useful or not, and more play testing with feedback will likely make it more useful and functional.

 

Warmaster progress

Warmaster progress

Short post on the Warmaster today. Under the link are sketch poses and progress of the default pose colored.

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Asset Screen #5

Asset Screen #5

We finally have all the basic elements of the asset screen together: from top to bottom, a corporation bar, a personnel bar, installation and building bars,  squadron and ship bars, and finally a message bar. All of the data appearing on the screen is being fed in live from a running instance of the game. The next step is to add functionality behind the scenes as we continue to play test Rank: WarMaster.

UI/UX Artist: "Target LOCKED!"

 

 

Hi all! This is your UI/UX Artist Paul here. This week we're going over the revised Targeting Reticles and Player Self Monitors design elements! 


While in the fray of your outerspace battles, you want to know who's who and what they're doing (and what you're doing to them) upfront, instantly, and without taking your eye of the action. How does one do that? By placing the most vital information right where the eyes are going to be in the first place. That is the purpose of the "heads up display" after all. The trick is what to put where, and to use what is already there. 

UI/UX Artist: "Target LOCKED!"

One aspect was to utilize the targeting reticles to convey simple information regarding the target they overlay. In this case the reticle will communicate two things: if the ship in question is moving closer to or retreating away from, and which ship the player has locked onto if any. This requires the reticle to be simple but also distinct between its states, as there are going to be a lot of these things on-screen during the particularly hectic space dogfights. These are still experimental, as the only way to tell for sure how well they function is to get into as much trouble in-game as possible. Thus further evolution of these designs will likely happen.

UI/UX Artist: "Target LOCKED!"

 

Further developments have also been made to the Player Self Monitor. Continuing an established hexagon theme, four hexagonal readouts divided into 6 wedges each will provide damage indicators for the player covering their ship in all spatial orientations. Color coding indicates severity with an intuitive green = "good," yellow = "watch out maybe," and red = "trouble." Each wedge changes color independently, allowing for a simplified sense of where damage is being taken on ones' vessel without taking the time to look for individual armor facets. Time and further testing will tell us how these elements will grow and adapt to the game's needs as well.

Even More Horns!

I really enjoy when game soundtracks have connective threads in them. Even though this track uses a lot of percussion and orchestral samples, I still wanted to feature the horns. This time, I wanted to make this part epic, with a soaring horn melody over all of the rhythmic pulses happening underneath. 

Maybe I just like French Horns. 

Here is a clip. (For those of you counting along at home, this one stays in 7/8 for the most part)

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Multiplayer Continues to Mature!

Multiplayer Continues to Mature!
Multiplayer Continues to Mature!
Multiplayer Continues to Mature!
Multiplayer Continues to Mature!
Multiplayer Continues to Mature!
Multiplayer Continues to Mature!

Here is an example of the multiplayer with capitol ships firing upon each other.  You can see the turrets firing as well as the enemy capitol ship firing and the player taking damage.  The shields on both the target and self-damage monitors are showing the damage by showing the blue turning to red.  When it is just a red outline, then a shield breach exists.  In the last screen shot, the shields are in the process of dropping because the hull was also breached and the reactor was destroyed so the shield can no longer be powered (hence the status of disabled). 

So behind the scenes, turrets over the multiplayer now work properly.  This is significant because the turret AI therefore also works across the network, which is the first time AI has worked across multiplayer (which you are seeing in the screenshots).  A successful test of the ability for the players to select their ships also worked fine.  We tried out an ALL capital ship battle, and a fighter versus a single capital ship.  This is to help with game balance, and certainly the pulse based ships did better against the capital ship shields.  I have code now via the scripting engine that is able to sends messages and activate local scripts.  This enables the scripts to detect when a ship gets destroyed, who did it, and then keep track and respawn that ship based on the rules of the scenario.  These will be tested during the next multiplayer test.  We keep trying to add more clients, but it seems it can handle everything we throw at it without stuttering or lag.  The multiplayer is becoming more and more mature, and I look forward to the “King of the Hill” scenario now currently being created.

Even the Smallest Details Make A Big Impact

Even the Smallest Details Make A Big Impact

Below are some samples of the debris you may witness as your adversary blows up in front of you. The models were created in zbrush and textured in 3D coat. 

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How to Science: A Beginner's Guide to Technological Superiority

Hello again, this is Adam coming to you with another look at Rank:Warmaster's systems and mechanics! Today I'll be talking about the structure of our game's technology tree.

Researching new technologies, buildings and ship components begins with constructing a Research Facility in a player's base. The technology level of the base determines the speed at which it will generate Research Points (RP) when actively assigned to a project, so researching how to research is always a solid investment! Each Research Facility can be assigned to a project or to assist another facility on the same planet in researching a project. There are several different Research Facilities to unlock, some of which are powerhouses for RP generation on their own while others are more suited towards effeciently supporting the research of other facilities. All research projects experience diminishing returns the more facilities you assign to them, so diversifying your research will always be more efficient overall. However, the advantage gained from quickly researching a powerful new technology by throwing all available resources at it can also be considerable, so adjusting strategy to match the situation is key.

The most basic level of research is Primary Technologies, such as Electromagnetics, Materials and Fabrication. These are the trunk of the technology tree and are required for every other technology. You begin the game with a basic knowledge of each and can advance every Primary Technology through several tiers of power. All other technologies at a given tier have a basic requirement of one or more Primary Technologies, so these are the most important projects a player can complete. Each new tier of Primary Technology also helps improve some of the traits of the previous tier, making buildings and components cheaper, lighter, or more power efficient, wherever applicable.

Branching off from the central trunk are Secondary Theories, including research into Electromagnetic Hypervelocity, Integrated Nanoconstruction, and Wave Motion Harmonics. These are much more focused and are the precursor technologies for buildings and ship components as well as related modifications. Secondary Theories require mastery of at least two Primary Technologies at the same tier, so a firm foundation is needed before a player advances their research into more specialized disciplines. Secondary Theories are also divided into tiers, where each new tier builds upon and improves the efficiency of the previous tier's buildings and components.

After researching a Secondary Theory, all related Applications and Modifications will be unlocked for researching. Applications are the buildings constructed in your base and the components used when designing ships. Modifications apply a beneficial modifier to a specific class of technology, such as making all railguns hold more ammunition reserves, or all main thrusters are more energy efficient. Modifiers require at least three different Primary Technologies and are the most intensive to research but their benefits apply to all technology within its class, allowing a player to improve their current equipment without fully committing the resources to reaching a higher tier of the technology tree.

Moving forward, the technology tree will continue to be expanded and refined to achieve a balanced, enjoyable and varied game experience. There will be multiple paths to success and many potential strategies to pursuit of system-wide domination. No one method will always be the best, as opponents will deploy vastly different tactics that require each player to formulate counters based on their own playstyle and available technologies.