Finalized Asset Screen

Finalized Asset Screen

In Paul's last post (UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together) , he showed some new asset screen art. Here's some of that same art in what's turning out to be the finalized version of the asset screen. All of the new bars are now in the game. All of the icons have tooltips, so players can see what does what on the screen. Connections between screens are currently being filled in, so you can go from a ship or a building on the asset screen directly to the Ship Builder or Building Screens.

For contrast, here's a screen shot of the original version of the asset screen. We've certainly come a long way! Next on the agenda: an updated Research Screen. Can't conquer the solar system without tech, after all!

Finalized Asset Screen

Continuation of creating a ship

Continuation of creating a ship
Continuation of creating a ship

After deciding on a concept sihouette from my last post, I created sketch rotations. The low poly modeling comes next and is being created in Blender.

Fleet Command

Fleet Command
Fleet Command

While a lot of behind the scenes code has been updated, the more obvious front facing code is the fleet command interface in the Sim screen.   With this, this allows the player to give quick commands to their own forces, while still piloting their own ship.  Even something as simple as attack my target, or Flee, it gives the player the quick ability to issue important commands.  With this system in place, it actually finally completes the single player game loop, so I'm actually more comfortable calling the game in an Alpha state rather than pre-alpha.  It still has a long way to go, but it's a Big milestone.  A player can build their own city from scratch, research their new buildings and ship parts.  They can gather resources and produce the ship designs.  The final piece was being able to issue orders to those built ships to do something useful.  The AI has already been able to do all of this, with the auto-save in place, one has the basic gameplay in place.  The campaign engine has been functional for a while.  Currently it is being used to do the tutorials which you've seen in other posts.  So now to work on the Navigation screen!  :)

 

 

 

UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together

UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together

Hi all. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul. I'm proud to say that the Asset Screen is coming together nicely!

 

UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together

First is the Corporation Bar. This is more or less your "View Totals" header. This allows the player to view the overall standing of all of one's assets in one place: all personnel, installations (cities), squadrons, and ships. This bar also functions as the master dropdown for the Asset Screen, as selecting the categories will open the main bar for that item (i.e., choosing the "Installations" icon will open up the familiar-sounding the Installation Bar.)

UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together

Next we have the Personnel Bar. This bar allows the player to view their direct underlings and their pertinent information such as their Rank, Message Inbox, Current Orders, Budget, and what Resources, Cities, & Squadrons they own. This bar also gives the player control over each underling. One can grant their underling tactical advantage in the form of additional resources with the Transfer Assets icon, or "fire" them from one's employ completely via the "Delete AI" icon.

UI/UX Artist: The Asset Screen Comes Together

 

And lastly, a collection of smaller bars. Here we have the Messages Bar, the Buildings Bar, the Squadron Bar, and the Ships Bar, in descending order. The Messages Bar is a subset of the Personnel Bar, and displays in-game messages from the player's underlings. The Buildings Bar is a subset of the Installations Bar, displaying information about a certain specific building, such as a research outpost or a reactor. The Squadron Bar displays codified groups of ships, how many ships make up a given Squadron, and the total combative force that squadron presents. The Ships Bar is a subset of that Squadron Bar, displaying information about specific individual ship within that squadron.

The Warmaster Thinks You'll Enjoy This Game, And So Do I

The Warmaster Thinks You'll Enjoy This Game, And So Do I

It's been a very busy couple of weeks here at LBPS Inc. Most of what I've been working on is now being tested, refined, and wrapped up. The flight sim tutorial is up and running and being tested; you can see a screenshot of that tutorial, and the Warmaster character who guides you through it, above. I have to admit I was never very good at flight sims, but I've now successfully completed this tutorial multiple times, which I was a little worried about while I was writing it. After all, how could I successfully write and test it if I can't win a simple space combat scenario? But I did win, more often than not. I guess the multiplayer test streams really paid off, and of course a lot of thanks also goes to Arthur's HUD, which makes flying these ships so much more intuitive.

The Warmaster Thinks You'll Enjoy This Game, And So Do I

The factory screen now has tool tips and a ship build timer. Small details like that, being able to tell when your ship will be complete, make quite a difference to real game play.

The Warmaster Thinks You'll Enjoy This Game, And So Do I

The asset screen continues to be greebleized, one bar at a time. (Greebles are visual details added to the otherwise plain surface of objects, in this case the bars, to make them more interesting.) This also makes a significant difference in gameplay; it's so much easier to keep track of all that data when there are visual differences to look for.

Ship Concepts

Ship Concepts
Ship Concepts

New ships will soon be coming to the game. Here's a glimpse of my concept process. Some are created wtih sihouettes or pen. I'm still a bit old school and like drawing theses concepts on paper. Using pen also allows "happy mistakes" and create shapes or lines I may not have created with pencil or by tablet. Next step will be refining.

A Tale of Two BuilderBots....

A Tale of Two BuilderBots....
A Tale of Two BuilderBots....

As GDC approaches (now canceled it seems as of earlier tonight...But we are still going!), the push is to get the single player fully running by mid-March, which has unfortunately delayed the livesteams as we push for getting everything done in time.  (Sorry about that).  As shown in the pictures, there are two AI controlled builder bots slowly building a city each.  Not only that, but since it makes a reactor (for power) and research center, the WarMaster AI also researches.  It actually only starts with the plans for a warehouse, a reactor and research center.  It has to research the rest (as you do too as the player).  So it currently is actually able to do the full cycle of researching the buildings it needs to complete the city and in turn actually place and build them.  Once the factory is ready (and of course, the mine and refinery are ready), it starts to produce ships, like you've seen in other screen shots.  The difference is, in those cases, the city was built by the scripts, not by "hand".  Now the system is able to build the cities itself, as well as research on it's own.  Currently, there are minimal fleet commands within the main simulation, which means as a player, you can take the same path and research and build a city, and start making your own custom ships.  The fleet commands allow you to direct your ships without manually piloting them.  Such things as "fire at will" and "Attack my target".  The visual part of the interface still needs work, but the commands themselves work.  

Also, another major change is the Autosave feature is now implemented!  Currently it is running every 20 seconds for debug reasons, but the timing is settable in the configuration file quite easily.  The good thing is, the autosave is so quick that it is barely noticable, and only noticiable if you are trying to look for it.  It appears a a minor lag spike at worst.  Hence the 20 seconds so its easy to reload from what one had left off if there was a crash.  So now, I can have it crash, fix it, and see if I fixed it, rather than waiting the many minutes it might have taken to get to that point again.  I will admit, it is strange having the load/save actually work, but I'm happy it does.  (So many years without such a feature...)

Once the fleet commands are properly working, the game is basically ready to come out of Pre-Alpha and become Alpha.  There are LOTS of features that still need to be added, but a full basic game (very basic) would be possible.  Very scary and very exciting at the same time!

 

As far as GDC goes, the current plans are still to go to Game Connection that is(was?) along side GDC in San Francisco, and hopefully honor all the meetings that same week that were supposed to be at GDC.  I'm not 100% sure how that will happen, but Game Connection is still open, so perhaps use their meeting places.  I'm sure this will all get more worked out in the coming weeks.

Please check out the next livestream on Youtube and subscribe (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXex4ualUNFdSVHJhtxDsWg) and follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/@LBPSInc !

UI/UX Artist: Installation Bar — Now With 80% More Greebles!

Hi all. This is your UI/UX Artist Paul. This week I have finer details to show for the Asset Screen. Specifically, the Installation Bar. 

UI/UX Artist: Installation Bar — Now With 80% More Greebles!

The Installation Bar is an overview of all the player's total "immobile" possessions and assets. Things like buildings, cities, mining sites, power plants, factories, research labs, raw & processed materials, components, and even defensive fortifications will be represented here, but not more "mobile" things like ships and personell. The above is the concurrent Installation Bar, showing the icons necessary to represent all pertinent information, as well as one possible layout for all of them.

UI/UX Artist: Installation Bar — Now With 80% More Greebles!

This is a 1:1 retexture of the same layout shown before. The screen backdrop and gradiented outline from the other Asset Bar elements were once again brought in. A smaller set of background "runner" bands were placed behind the icons to both organize them into more clearly defined rows and make them stand out from the backdrop. The top band shows actual assets, while the lower band shows the power levels for each one in vertical correspondence. Redundent icons were removed in favor of having simply one icon, the lightning bolt to the left, indicate the entire row's purpose and prioritize the actual numerical data being conveyed. This mockup was a step in the right direction but it had its flaws. The two icons at the top, aptly named "I forget this one" and "This too. Wut do?" actually belonged in the "run" with the other icons. The lightning bolt the far left, though a good route to take, left no room for the Expand icon that would open the dropdown of specific assets. The box on the far right, showing raw, processed, & component materials was not associated with the run and therefore could have been resituated.

UI/UX Artist: Installation Bar — Now With 80% More Greebles!

All of the above flaws addressed, we have the final Installation Bar. Proper transparency of the screen fill has been implemented. The Resources Box on the far right has been made into a row and moved to the top. The lightning bolt icon has once again been redone in the form of a part of the transparent backdrop for the lower runner band, clearly and unobtrusively denoting what the percentages overlaying it refer to. This gives room for the plus sign Expand icon. The battery icon, being a total power overall indicator, received its own band, with a visual connection to the reactor icon to denote meaning. The wall icon has taken its place in the run now that the resources no longer take up horizontal space. An off-center circle now occupies the top left as a holster for the Installation Icon, making it stand out from the other hexagon-themed backdrops. Lastly, a new "Transfer Assets" icon (the arrows in the hexagon top right) was designed to allow players an easy-access button to send assets to installations or personell.

Tutorials, Scripting, & Bug Fixes

Tutorials, Scripting, & Bug Fixes

The clock is ticking down to our visit to GDC and Game Connection in mid-March, which means it's time to finish things like our tutorials, which are written in our custom scripting language, as you can see above. Rank: Warmaster is completely moddable out of the box. Want to create your own quests or scenarios for you and your friends? You can. Want to swap out the default ship hulls for the ones in your favorite series, or create your own custom solar systems? You can do that, too.
We've also recently made the transition from testing particular pieces of code to testing actual game flow, i.e. actually playing the game to make sure everything is working together properly. The longer we can play without running into problems, the better. Of course this is leading to plenty of bug fixes, but we're still playing the game.
Lastly, our artists have recently turned their attention to the asset screen, so we should have some much upgraded pictures of the game in action next time.

Backdrops for the pitch deck

Backdrops for the pitch deck
Backdrops for the pitch deck
Backdrops for the pitch deck
Backdrops for the pitch deck
Backdrops for the pitch deck

Sharing this week are a  few pitch deck and concept images. The last image is how the builder bot scene was created in Blender, my prefered 3d program.