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.

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