Suggestion: Hot Key Cheat Sheet

Alex suggested to have a hotkey cheat sheet. Meaning, coming back to a game and forgetting the important keys for a screen, make a default key (such as Tab), bring up a window while held that shows the relevant keys for that screen and what they do. That way they don't need to be looked up in the configuration. Since not all keys are needed on all screens, it may give hints on what a screen can do that the user might have forgotten.

Updated Splash Screen and Tutorial start

Updated Splash Screen and Tutorial start

The navigation (RTS) screen is working.  It will have to be overhauled graphically, and honestly, how it's controlled, but that is for testers to decide how best it should be.  So overhauled is too strong of a word, but certainly a LOT of tweaking.  To that end, many of the graphics that have been waiting to be updated to the game are now being put into place.  The idea being to update the path into the game, and into the tutorial as an option.  This will also create the path needed for accessing the multiplayer aspects of the game when that is put into place (after the tutorial).  While the tutorial overall has been written, only now is it starting to be coded into the game.  Admittedly, the interface to even GET to the tutorial needs to be created, hence this enhancement of the splash screen.  Considering that the game has hit a specific milestone of the sim and the rts being functional, it is time to update the graphics and game play on things that are more cosmetic, so that the tutorial feels more complete.  Obviously, as more features are added to the game, the tutorial will also have to be updated.  But this is a nice kick off of the new phase of the development. :)

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Navigation Screen almost minimally done...Tutorial soon!

Navigation Screen almost minimally done...Tutorial soon!

The Navigation screen (or the RTS screen) is almost minimally done.  What does that mean?  It means, things are selectable, commands can be given, etc.  As soon as the builderbot can be told to build buildings successfully, I will declare victory and move on to the tutorial.  The graphics for the navigation screen are still being worked on, hence the minimalist pictures.  The graphics that I do have for it are stuff that I drew a while ago so I had something, and trust me, you don't want to see it. ;)  Does this mean the navigation screen is 100% done?  No, it just means that it will be functional for it's purpose, and I'm sure through play testing, a lot of suggestions will enhance it.

This also means the tutorial will start to be worked on rather soon.  This will effectively be a mini-campaign to help people understand how to play the game, of course.  But this also means the game is almost ready for a small release to testers.  Once that is completed, and applicable fixes put into place, who it is released to can be expanded.

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Navigation Screen Battle Animation Test

This is an engine test of the game in the Navigation screen.  It shows using the gauge control (at the bottom) to zoom all the way in from seeing the whole solar system, to a battle around a small cap ship.  Sort of like it is saying "Meanwhile, in Mars Orbit"...

Previously, only the planets showed up.  Now they can be clicked to "auto-center" (not shown).  Now ships and their special effects show up too. ;)  They are clickable, but only in high orbit.  Still a lot to work on.

First Look at the New Navigation Screen!

First Look at the New Navigation Screen!

The Navigation screen is really the RTS element to the game.  The old version was never ported, and this new one already looks a lot better in the new framework.  This will be my focus for the up and coming weeks.  The gauge at the bottom allows scaling from seeing the whole solar system in its entirety to zooming into a single ship up close very quickly.  With the new gauge functionality, it works far smoother and better than the original already.  Certainly the look is far better already too.  There are place holder button on the right as the updated button are designed.  This will be an ongoing process of course.  I am looking forward to how this will end up working and looking. :)

Look Mom! No seams!

Look Mom!  No seams!
Look Mom!  No seams!
Look Mom!  No seams!

While the terrain engine is FAR from being done, having the level of detail from one larger triangle terrain into a lower detail one without holes is a big step forward.  While it doesn't work 100% in all cases because of how resolution is selected, it works about 95% of the time.  The mechanism works 100%, just the resolution selection and telling it to reduce properly sometimes gets out of step.  Meaning, if a triangle is at resolution 9, and the one next to it is set to resolution 7, it bumps it to 8, and knows to do a resolution adjustment at the fringes. The problems is, does the triangle next to it know it got bumped and adjust accordingly.  Perhaps I will have to do a routine to force validation.  But the hard part of the sewing mechanism is working 100%.  That was a pain because each of the three sides had to be "hand crafted" to reduce the resolution.  The points of the triangles, which I call caps, also had to have 4 states each.  (ie. left, right, both or none).  The second and third screencaps above show how the triangles are reduced.  (Red is bottom, Blue is Right, Green is left).  But you can see the caps being bigger than just the point reduced side.  If you look closely at how a series of terrain triangles are being reduced, the caps on a different triangle are half the size (or double depending on which way you look at it) to the ones next to it.  A higher resolution terrain triangle is always the one with the "reduction"/sewing side, not the lower resolution one.  So in these pictures, you can see two higher resolution terrain triangles, going one step down, and those terrain triangles and being reduced again to it's adjacent triangles.  The Perlin noise is currently out of control and is VERY jaggy, but in the pictures, you can see as the resolution drops, that things turn from sharp rocks to rolling hills like pillows.  

UI/UX Update: Old Screens, New Look

UI/UX Update: Old Screens, New Look

After an intermediate set of placeholder backdrops for the sub-screens, we are now zeroing-in on a final and cohesive "look" for the various screens in-game. Here is a static preview of the Auto Builder, a component of the Ship Builder Screen, which allows players to set parameters for what ships they want to be manufactured on-order by the game's AI itself leaving players free to continue their activities in the real-time game world. Because it's good to have a in-house chef. ;)

Config Screen Update

Config Screen Update
Config Screen Update

Taking a break from the Terrain Engine, the Config screen needed to be rebuilt in the new control set.  And for the first time, screen resolutions can now be picked in the game, rather than forcing a command line option to set the resolution.  So this is new code.  I plan to finish it up in the next day.  The graphics are from the old system, and it is unlikely to be updated for the crowd funding release.  We just don't have the resources to do fresh graphics for everything.  Expect where there effort has been going to be posted soon.  To me, having the screen and monitors selectable is a big deal since the old system never had it.  As different people had different monitors, I had to manually program in a command line option for their favorite resolution.  Now I don't. :)  It defaults to 1920x1080, and then you can select what you want and save it.  Work still needs to be done on the config screen, of course.  The controls only show keyboard bindings and don't let them be changed yet, but that should be done very soon, so I can retire the old config screen.  I plan to tackle the navigation screen very soon.

Working on the Terrain Engine Again.

Working on the Terrain Engine Again.

I am working on the terrain engine again.  The shipbuilder is functionally done finally, but not graphically done.  I'm sure play testing will have more changes and updates.

I actually fixed a lot with the planetary UVs.  Everything matched up.  It was wonderful...Then I had to mess with the code to make LOD changes, and now things don't mesh up again.  But things have been prepared for. ;)  I have old code that did the meshing of different resolutions, I just have to resurrect it and adapt it.  Now that I can do HiRes renders of the Perlin Noise and see what it actually looks like, I will start to tweak that too, since it is far too "rocky".  I may just ask for a fixed HiRes Height map from one of the artists, since in the end, it would yield something nicer and more consistent.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, I have to fix the LOD alignment.  Once that is done, I can update the shaders to have multiple texture and normal maps rather than just one set. This will allow HiRes detail, which currently the terrain doesn't have other than structurally.

First look at finishing up Shipbuilder: Playing with the OpenGL windowing interface

We are getting closer to a finalized look for the shipbuilder.  I am also showing off here the new skinable windowing interface that lets me put controls on.  This is all using "OmniGrids".  And no, the interface shouldn't be allowed to do this, but it CAN do this, so why not for fun. ;)

 

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