UI/UX Artist: More on the Glass Standard

UI/UX Artist: More on the Glass Standard

Hello all. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul. The progress with the screen overhaul chugs on.There isn't so much to talk about as there is to show. Further graphical refinement is taking place and more and more the various in-game screen assets are being updated to reflect a single, cohesive vision.

Starting out with the Self-Damage Screen. After a lot of trial and error, the correct levels of transparency and color have been worked out to make the background of the subwindows show against the background and not interfere with the elements overlaying it. Shown is a sample of the Self-Damage Screen's Item Sub Screen. 

UI/UX Artist: More on the Glass Standard

Onto further beasts however, is the task of overhauling the Ship Builder set of subscreens to meet the new standard of glassy windows and white outlines. Shown here is a sample of the old aesthetic, with the thick bezels and faint hint of digital screen lines within.

UI/UX Artist: More on the Glass Standard

Here we have a demo shot of the same collection of windows in the new style, with a false black backdrop to show the lines. All windows of the Ship Builder are going to receive this overhaul, and with that the new standard facelift will be almost complete!

Rank: Warmaster is rapidly maturing into a properly fitted, well dressed playable game. 

Tutorials Progress

Hello! Jorden here with the latest on Rank: Warmaster's writing projects. The first draft of the second tutorial is almost completely finished. I've plotted the activities and I've written most of the dialogue, I'm just waiting for certain game mechanics to be implemented and tested before I can say that I'm done with it. It's hard to write instructional dialogue for things that aren't in the game just yet and even once they're in the game we have to make sure that the mechanics feel good or else I risk writing the same tutorial segments repeatedly and I'm just too lazy to do that more than I have to (Matt can barely get me to play test the tutorial I wrote, much less constantly rewrite it). For those looking forward to playing the game rest assured that this doesn't mean that I'm not prepared to rewrite the tutorial based on feedback, that's a critical part of the whole process and I really look forward to seeing the game in player hands even if it means having to endure some harsh but well-intended criticism. I just don't want to rewrite the tutorial because we changed our minds about a control scheme after the first test.

If you're interested in a sample of the tutorial, here's section 17 which is not yet in the public release. Section 17 teaches the player about turret towers and instructs them to place a couple. It is a little over halfway through the tutorial which is why a lot of the step-by-step instructions are skipped. Bear in mind that this is written basically as notes between me and Matt so that Matt can most easily convert it into actual game play. For you, the basics are:

"Anything in quotation marks like this is dialogue by Ares and will appear on the screen for the player."

A new paragraph in quotations means that the player progresses the dialogue by hitting the "OK" button.

action in Bold like that means that the player progresses the dialogue by perfoming the instructed action and the text remained on screen until they do so.

Other notes in bold like this indicates player actions which will trigger certain dialogue and events.

Dialogue: "It's time to think a little more proactively about defending your new city. After all, it would be an absolute waste to see any of these buildings reduced to rubble when you've spent so much time and resources on them."
"Turrets represent your last line of defense in the event that enemy forces make it past your fleet and into the city proper. They come standard with the best weapon you have researched but I'll show you how to fine tune them later."
"First, research the Turret Installations I technology and Turret Tower Mk I item."
action
"Now place a turret in your city, either on the edge to protect the border or you can place it in the center for broader coverage."
action
"One turret is hardly going to secure your city. If you're feeling paranoid, go ahead and build more turrets. Don't forget to build an extra reactor or two, the turrets don't draw much power while passive but you hardly want to cause a blackout the first time they all fire! That would be embarrassing. Press OK in this dialogue box when you're satisfied."
Extra Dialogue: If the player builds five turrets trigger this dialogue, if they hit OK on the box proceed to the next section
"Being prepared is all well and good, but we have plenty more to cover. You can't afford to spend too much time wrapped up in one activity. Why don't we move one to the next topic?"
Extra Extra Dialogue: If the player builds seven turrets trigger this dialogue, if they hit OK on the box proceed to the next section
"Your single-minded focus on turrets is being counted against your potential candidacy. This is your final warning before you face summary action. Please move on to the next topic."
Final Extra Dialogue: If the players builds nine turrets trigger this dialogue and then exit the tutorial
"It is clear now that you are not a good fit for the company. You may consider this to be your Notification of Employment Termination. Your employee benefits, including life support and access to any company assets such as pressure suits and ships, shall shortly be revoked and you are expected to vacate the bunker you currently occupy within the hour. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors."

Our game's tutorial is actually part of the main story in which the player is a corporate settler stranded on Mars. In the story the player messes around with the commands in their bunker and eventually triggers the training program, which activates Ares for the first time. Ares refers to the player as "candidate" throughout the training. Candidate for what? You'll have to see for yourself. Section 17 of the second tutorial actually marks the second area where the player can actually fail the training and be terminated from the company. The first is in the Flight Tutorial, which is currently part of the available release on Game Jolt. If you want to go looking for it I'll give you a hint: If the only way you could lose is intentionally and you still do it, maybe you aren't a good candidate. Have fun!

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

Hi all. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul here continuing the ongoing progress of the various Screen uplifting.

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

The above image shows one of the primary stumbling blocks that I've encountered is that the game engine's bloom function is, to put it a certain way, overly eager? If color levels are above a certain threshold, the graphic holding them will have bloom applied it it. This creates a complication when you use white as a kind of subtractive platform to create a glassy texture that can be recolored easily as needed.

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

With a little bit of tinkering I was able to deduce that switching the color mode from RGB to HSL for the glassy white texture and setting the white to a very light shade of gray solved most of the bloom issue, but as you can see a little bit of erroneous bloom still happened. This seemed to result from the overlapping layers of off-white elements.

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

Further toning down of white layers solved the glassy window bloom.

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

What I've learned from the Factory Screen overhaul project, I can apply to other screens! Above is the concurrent model of the Asset Screen, from the "gradiented colored outline" and "heavy scan lines" days.

UI/UX Artist: Oy Those Bloomin' Bloom Settings

Here is the same collection of windows redone in the glassy window & thin white outline aesthetic.

What I've Been Doing Lately

Hey, it's Jorden again! As I indicated in my last couple of posts, the pregenerated corporations were all written months ago, before the Indiegogo campaign launched, so today how about a quick overview into what I've been working on for the project lately and then in the next few posts I can cover some specifics of the most interesting bits. Unfortunately my work isn't really as flashy and cool to show off as what everyone else is doing, that's just kind of how it is with pure writing at times, but I can still try to display what I can.

Three of my ongoing projects are all under the banner of "marketing" which the team as a whole has had to take on since we parted ways with the marketers who managed our crowdfunding and social media before November. None of us are really trained marketers but I'm the closest (I think I took a whole three classes on the subject back in college and I only slept through one). It's fallen to me to try and rework the different elements of our public face to the best of my ability, from our website to the upcoming Steam page. The website is getting there and it's a joint effort between me and Arthur to try and make it better. My other personal responsibility has been writing the game's upcoming trailers for when we are closer to release. We need a short teaser trailer (which is written) and a longer release trailer (which really isn't). The third project is the continued writing of our social media posts; you may have even noticed the difference when the social media changed hands. As of November I write all of our social media posts with Matt and Arthur overseeing. We're basically three monkeys crowding around a typewriter and I will personally fight anyone who ever wants to say that social media is easy or that millenials are all naturals at it because this is hard. I've never struggled to write anything in my life as much as I've struggled on our marketing and anyone who does this professionally has my respect forever.

So the website, trailers, and social media are my marketing related projects. My other task has been writing the game's second tutorial (currently called the main tutorial but I'm lobbying to rename it the City Building Tutorial). That project has been coming along pretty well and I might even share some bits of it that I found entertaining. I'm personally hoping to have my segment of the tutorial done by the end of next week (it's a holiday week at time of writing after all) and then once it finishes being coded in we'll be much closer to something that anyone in the public can pick up and play.

That's all for now, just a quick overview of what I've been up to. I think I'll be back in two weeks with my next update and hopefully some good news on the progression of those projects!

Pregenerated Corporations: Higgs & Smith Engineering Solutions

Here I am once again with our final pregenerated corporation. I originally wrote these because it was a suggestion of the marketing firm we worked with at the time that we should have some kind of factions that players could identify with as part of our Indiegogo campaign. It was always planned that Rank: Warmaster would have some system for players to start with different advantages to each other to keep the game interesting and varied. It's also true that we were probably always going to have a few pregenerated corporations to give players examples to work off and to spark the imagination. We were, and still are, quite a ways from implementing this concept in the actual game but we wanted to follow the advice we paid for and so Arthur had me come up with a few example corporations. Ultimately, due to miscommunication, they didn't end up being advertised during our Indiegogo campaign which is why you're reading about them now and not months ago. Without further ado, Higgs & Smith Engineering Solutions:

 

As the size of an explosion increases the number of problems it is incapable of rendering irrelevant approaches zero. Other companies are founded on lesser commercial interests only to eventually branch out into the military industry when necessary but Higgs & Smith understands that there's no shame in being the first to resort to violence. A private military company to the core, Higgs & Smith Engineering Solutions was founded on the principle of taking what you need from those who would hoard it. You can count on Higgs & Smith Engineering Solutions to blow the competition away.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to missile damage

·         Bonus to missile speed

·         Penalty to shield strength

As an American myself I don't really feel bad at all playing into the stereotype of big guns and big explosions with a wild west-sounding company name. Especially since I personally like all those things quite a bit. Our final corporation is basically the polar opposite of our previous one, focusing on the power of chemical energy over electromagnetic. The traits presented are intended to play into more of an artillery style strategy in the game, which is something you can actually currently do. Lasers and autocannons are DPS weapons and using them effectively will require dogfighting with enemy fighters getting whatever hits you can or creating a firing line for focused attacks in order to remove buildings. Missiles do all their damage at once and their range is based on the missile's available fuel and speed so they are quite preferable for bombarding your foes from a distance or even doing a flyby of an enemy city as a bombing run. Because of this players may feel that the penalty to shield strength in exchange for their missiles going further and doing more damage is an easy choice since effective use of this strategy would, ideally, mean their ships rarely take any hits at all.

 

As a final note, I wanted to talk about the format that I ended up writing these corporations in. I wanted to create short but memorable descriptions and after the first two I found myself falling into a pattern that I will share in the hopes of benefitting other writers. It may not show up so well on the blog but these were originally written in Word, 12 point Calibri (Body) font. Standard 8.5"X11" pages. Each description starts with an indent and is seven lines long and all but the last sentence are written in third person, referring to the company. These sentences are focused on the company's history and specialties. The last sentence is written in second person and is designed as a sort of stinger hook, it addresses the reader directly with a promise that the company intends to fulfill for them while naming the company once more time (If you need to be first, if you need to be comfortable, if you need to be stylish, then you need Loharani Luxury Crafts). I tried to imagine advertaisements for each company and I envisioned different speakers delivering each ad to try and alter the style of each company to be more unique.

That's all for this week, I'm still doing weekly blogs for now (possibly forever if I prefer it) and I'll be back next week with a new topic. See you guys then!

UI/UX Artist: Graphical Overhaul Continued >> Factory & Research Screens

The graphical overhaul of the remaining screens continues. There's not much to say here, as these improvements are visual.

UI/UX Artist: Graphical Overhaul Continued >> Factory & Research Screens

This is the "old" Research Screen, dated March 25th. This was back from when "gradiented silver bezels" were the aesthetic.

UI/UX Artist: Graphical Overhaul Continued >> Factory & Research Screens

And here's that same screen in our modern, clean "colored glass with glowing white outline" look!

UI/UX Artist: Graphical Overhaul Continued >> Factory & Research Screens

Another example of an older look, this time the Factory Screen.

UI/UX Artist: Graphical Overhaul Continued >> Factory & Research Screens

And once more viola! Same layout, new standard. (With quite a bit more in the way of shown greebles and interactables.)

Pregenerated Corporations: Taiyo no Me Waveforms

I totally almost forgot to write this!

Hi everyone, you read the title so you know who it is and I'm here with our penultimate pregenerated corporation, Taiyo no Me Waveforms.

Taiyo no Me means Eye of the Sun. Just as the Sun's light both illuminates the truth and burns away the weak, so too does Taiyo no Me Waveforms seek out their enemies and annihilate them. At the forefront of the field of electromagnetism, Taiyo no Me concerns themselves with all the possible applications for light. This extreme dedication to their craft has produced the most powerful lasers and detailed sensors in the solar system, allowing them to plan surgical strikes against oblivious rivals. With Taiyo no Me Waveforms, the Eye of the Sun will show you the path to victory.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to laser damage

·         Bonus to sensor range

·         Penalty to missile damage

Today's corporation is Japanese which I feel carries a lot of expectations with it. There are a lot of ideas about what Japan might look like in the future and I tried to draw from that a little without stereotyping. When I think about the future there tends to be two distinct images in my head, maybe in a lot of our heads. There's the heavily mechanized hyper-industrial future with big guns and big robots running on super nuclear reactors producing unspecified vast amounts of power. Very oil and metal kind of feel in that one. The other is a super neon glow future where everything is built using hard light construction and powered by solar fusion plants and happy thoughts. They kind of both exist in the world of Rank: Warmaster as evidenced by the various branching tech trees available to the player, though aesthetically the current game leans more towards the first version. Taiyo no Me Waveforms is designed to be like the second version where I imagined a company that, as the advertisement says, was determined to explore every possible use for light. This has cost them a competitive edge in the explosives department but what's the value of a missile when you can just vaporize your enemies with a death ray? Of further interesting note, the qualities I listed also indicate another mechanic which is not currently in the game but is definitely coming to the game: sensor range. Currently there is no fog of war in Rank: Warmaster, you always know exactly where your enemy is. This is going to change in the unspecified future (I'm not one of the coders, I can't make promises as to the timeline of development). We're presently batting around the idea of tying sensor range into the ship's cockpit to allow the player to fit a ship with the kind of sensors they need. A scout ship will have the best sensors you can put on it and little else, essentially becoming a flying radar dish. Your fleet fighters probably don't need sensors which can detect much further away than their maximum weapon range, especially if you mix some of those scouts into the fleet. When the sensor system is implemented and the game has a proper fog of war then the plan is to ensure that enemy bases spawn in much further away from the player and each other so you'll have to go looking for them.

I've gotten super off topic here so anyhow thanks for stopping by and come back next week when we'll be covering the last corporation I wrote: Higgs & Smith Engineering Solutions (who are basically the polar opposite of this week's corporation).

Pregenerated Corporations: Kizuizi Heavy Armaments

Hey everyone! Jorden again, need you to stop judging me for being a little inconsistent with exactly which Monday's I'm posting on because I've actually been pretty busy lately. As a quick note, I'm going to be posting every Monday for a few weeks to get through the pregenerated corporations a little faster and so that I can also get to talking about more things that I've been working on recently but I can't talk about now because they're still in progress (I can say that I've been hard at work designing a better version of our main site and we're hoping to publish results soon but that's all). Without further ado, let's launch into Kizuizi Heavy Armaments, our third pregenerated corporation.

The unquestioned leader in modern metallurgy Kizuizi Heavy Armaments are famous for their many patented and highly classified forging techniques. The mere sight of their titanic, indestructible war ships has been known to inspire immediate surrender from even the most entrenched of enemy fleets. When intimidation doesn't get the job done rest assured that Kizuizi's top of the line kinetic armaments are ready to reduce rival ships to easily salvaged and repurposed scrap metal. Kizuizi Heavy Armaments is here to grind your enemies into dust and forge their remains into a new future.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to armor strength

·         Bonus to kinetic weapon damage

·         Increased ship weight

The first note I want to mention is that ship weight is not a definite mechanic that is going to see much play. While gravity is currently in the game and ships do have weight, we haven't decided for certain if we're going to have altered weight be a possible quality at empire selection or if it might be a technology that can be researched or if it will just be a standard and unchanging value (certain weight per amount of armor for example). The idea that I wanted was that Kizuizi Heavy Armaments ships and kinetic rounds are made of incredibly dense alloys that are very strong but this makes them heavy. In today's space programs this would be a death sentence but thrusters have gotten pretty advanced by the time of Rank: Warmaster's setting and it mostly would manifest as reduced acceleration (I perhaps also should have made it mass instead of weight but this was written a little while ago). There are lots of ways to accomplish this penalty (or potential boon if you create your own corporation with very light ships) so it isn't final by any means. As to the lore of Kizuizi, Google Translate (I may want to see if we can pay a couple of translators to ensure that our pre-gen names are appropriately spelled and have good grammar but for now I have Google) tells me that "Barricade" in Swahili is "Kizuizi". So the name is "Barricade Heavy Armaments" which is objectively cool. I admit to being a little inspired by some contemporary movies (way to really date this blog post, Jorden) but rather than having Kizuizi's success be due to a special super space metal I went with the idea of advanced metallurgists who have found a way to make incredible alloys out of common Earth metals. Naturally the exact recipe is a deep secret but it's all stuff you could find on Earth today, allegedly. The exact state of countries you might know of today is not quite the same in the time of Rank: Warmaster so some places may be very different. Maybe at some point we'll explore life on Earth before The Isolation (and after) in a more official capacity.

That's all for now, be back next week as we explore our penultimate corporation: Taiyo no Me Waveforms.

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

Hi everyone. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul here. This week I'm covering a more in-depth look at the aesthetic direction of Rank: Warmaster!

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

We've arrived at a unified aesthetic with our transparent glassy windows and thin white glowing lines that was initially developed as an unobstructive UI for the Navigation Screen. And thus I've been uplifting the other screens to fit this aesthetic.

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

I'm starting with Self-Damage Screen since it's been my current assignment. Here is what it recently looked like, when gradiented silver screen bezels were the motiff. The new aesthetic incorporates the glassy window and outline look into the pre-existing color scheme. You can see it in action in the teaser image to this post. But for this post I thought it would be prudent to show how I'm creating these graphical elements.

 

This is a screencap of the graphical element in its original vector program, showing the various layers with names referring to their opacity and even blending modes. (The artboard was temporarily colored black to show the white outline and glow, which would be hard to see with the default background.) In the program I'm using, Affinity Designer, the transparency/opacity of a layer controls its alpha channel. This is what allows the graphical element to have its "see-through" properties. But that's just the start of it. Look at the layer titled double erase nav screen as you'll see a streaky red object and a matching streaky gray object. These are what create a truly dynamic glassy texture. I'm not only giving the layers transparency, I'm varying the transparency itself. Here's how it looks in action...

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

This is the image once it's been imported into LightWave, which converts the image to the IFF format that RWM's engine natively handles. Shown here are the image's red-blue-green color channels. Note how it looks completely solid and the glow is lost to a massive solid white. An error? Nope!

UI/UX Artist: Rose-Tinted Glasses?

This is the same exact image's alpha channel. This is where the magic happens. Look how the glow comes through from the thin outline properly. And, note that the glassy gradient effect comes through in shades of gray. This is how the transparency is done. Darker shades of gray are more see-through, lighter shades are less. Black would be totally invisible, and white (the outlines) would be completely solid.

This is the art of non-destructive graphical editing. Not only do I have a glassy window effect that works in layering, I can swap out that color layer for any other color I want! The Self-Damage Screen will have rose-tinted UI windows, but other screens will have their own color theme. And all I have to do is resize the windows and use the color picker tool in-program to reset the color scheme.

Pregenerated Corporations: Loharani Luxury Crafts

Hello! This is Jorden in the right time slot, wrong week. I missed my blog last week because I was wrestling a bear working on a troublesome project. So this is a make up week and next week I'll be posting again on my normal Monday. This week we're discussing the second pregenerated corporation I wrote.

One of the youngest of the modern mega-conglomerates Loharani Luxury Crafts nonetheless hold their own on the interplanetary stage. Originally a high-end transport agency, the growing need for direct access to the solar system's resources forced Loharani to expand into the military field. Their ships boast a speed and energy efficiency that is challenging to match and only their relative inexperience has kept Loharani from being first on scene for every available resource in the asteroid belt. If you need to be first, if you need to be comfortable, if you need to be stylish, then you need Loharani Luxury Crafts.

Suggested Traits:

·         Bonus to thruster speed

·         Bonus to energy efficiency (lesser bonus than a specific efficiency bonus)

    Penalty to ship space (ships are still a little form over function)

For this corporation I tried to think a bit about how large conglomerates can form today; in this instance a smaller, more specialized company expanding into a new market due to necessity. Loharani started as the space ship equivalent of a yacht company but yachts are expensive and that leaves the company with two options: continue to rely on other corporations to provide the needed resources or go and get them personally. They chose the second, or we wouldn't be talking about them. When it came to the traits I thought about luxury vehicles today, namely sports cars which are known for their cool bodies and excessive top speeds. The corporation traits mechanic is not in the game yet but I imagined a system where players would perhaps have one free point to work with and up to three traits they could add. Beneficial traits would cost one or two points and negative traits would be worth one or two as well both dependent on strength of benefit/severity of penalty. This means that a player can make a corporation with just one cheap benefit but it was more fun to design corporations that made full use of the system. In this instance, overall energy efficiency boost and ship space penalty are considered to be two point traits because those are both game changers. Compare to Sherwood Industries where all three traits are one point traits. As a final note, I tried with these pregenerated corporations to imagine companies from parts of the globe other than just the United States (where I and the rest of the core team live). Loharani is, according to Wikipedia, a fairly common Pakistani surname and two of the remaining five corporations feature similar attempts at more interesting titles and origins.

That's all for now, come back next week as we go over corporation number three, Kizuizi Heavy Armaments.