Screen Maker Ready!

Screen Maker Ready!

Ok, what is screen maker?  Well, I realized the reality is that I needed more tools for my game, or more specifically for my engine.  Originally, the interface screens were all hard coded.  In the resurrection of the project, I have been slowly moving a lot of the screens to use the scripting engine (and new controls/UI/UX) that I had built.  The idea being that the artists could play with the scripts to change the look and feel of the game without having to recompile for each change.  Unfortunately, the artists never wanted to play with the numbers, so they used the script side very limitedly.  When I started on the multiplayer code, I was faced with that I needed to build between 2-4 interface screens.  Considering how long it took to make the shipbuilder, configuration and splash screens by hand, and honestly how badly things just didn't fit, I realized that doing the numbers by hand, even in a script, was a waste of time.  And a lot of it.  I decided to bite the bullet and spend a few weeks to make the screen maker.  While GUI/interface constructors exist, and I did look into them, I still would have had to convert their output to my script, and make "custom" objects to make it all work right in their interface, and it would only be 80% of the work, since a lot of changes still would have to have been made to the output script anyway.  By writting it IN the UI engine, what you see is what you get!  No guess work.  If it saves and loads back the way you expect, it will look like that in the game.  I was, for the first time, able to extract the UI engine from the main game and keep the scripting engine intact, which I admit, I'm inpressed by.  Now, you can just drag to construct controls, click to modify/resize things, etc.  Instead of taking days to get the numbers "mostly" right, now it can take a few minutes to an hour to do a whole screen, and everything is perfect!  I plan actually redo the current screens in the current screen maker, so the artists can tweek at will via the interface.  With a LOT more screens needed to be done, this should, in the long run, save me months of development work versus doing things by hand. 

What you see in the screenshot with all the outlines is showing the different objects, even if hidden.  Red are the "Omnigrids" and green are the OmniGrid Objects.  The lines going to a center point says that the center OmniGrid Object (known as an OGO), will move all the rest of the connected controls as one.  So it acts like a container or window.  You've seen the result of that from previous posts.  The screen shot is a test for making a properties window, and let's me test everything out.

Yes, I did mention the multiplayer. ;)  I will be starting on that this week, even if it is just to make the screens for it.  :)

New buildings in the game!

New buildings in the game!
New buildings in the game!

In preparation of the first set of testing, the new buildings are finally in the game itself.  Here you can see them in action, along with finally flying one of the newer fighter designs.  

Tutorial Coding is in Process

Tutorial Coding is in Process

I found an interesting problem with the Nav Markers.  They are upside down. ;)  Another thing to fix.  But it least it is all working.

New Opening/Main screen of the game

New Opening/Main screen of the game
New Opening/Main screen of the game

The tutorial needs a way of getting to it.  Now that way has been created.  The "effectors" have been overhauled so it has become it's own mini-scripting engine that allows a bunch of sequenced effects for the objects of the screen.  By created this midway point, it can be the launching point for the tutorials, multiplayer, configuration, etc. that are typical of modern games.  The previous screenshots now transition to this screenshot smoothly via the effectors.

 

 

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.