Empyrios is an upcoming turn-based tactical strategy RPG set in the fantasy world Borealis. Ally with a faction and recruit your squadron of soldiers from between the eight major races that inhabit the realm. Each race provides six distinct units, with each unit having three powerful abilities. Battle through the campaign from the perspective of either faction, or take your army online to clash with enemies, vying to become the true champion. War is here. Are you ready?
Our first update detailing this week's task of finalizing the in-game HUD.
Posted by mode13h on Jul 23rd, 2014
Last week we spent a lot of time polishing the HUD elements, along with going over ways to improve the usability for the final version. We poured over feedback and played with a variety of designs, and we now have a plan for the final revision. So I thought I would write about our design process and thoughts as we work to implement them in this week's build.
For reference, below is the HUD from the current build showing a friendly Lithos Raider unit selected.
The HUD is comprised of four main components, each integral to gameplay, so I'll go over each one and detail the upcoming changes.
Unit Details Panel
The first component located on the far left is the unit details panel, which is used to show information on the unit you currently have selected.
If an enemy unit is selected it is quite apparent as a red glow is used around the panel.
This provides you with the unit name, portrait, alignment (friendly/enemy), and the unit's current and maximum health and power. Most of these seem pretty standard, but what is power? It is the resource used to perform all unit abilities, and you can basically view it as a consolidation of mana and stamina into a single resource.
We're pretty happy with this component for the most part, but we've decided to make one small addition in order to completely remove any ambiguity. The decision was to implement small icons for each bar in order to signify health and power, not only to make it extremely clear on this panel, but also to allow us to use it elsewhere to identify these stats.
We're still working on the final design and artwork for these, but shown above is our mockup example for health and power.
Unit Actions Panel
The largest component of the HUD and the one used for controlling gameplay. We had a lot of work that needed to be done on this panel, some of which were long needed usability changes, and some art finalization to get it to release state. All the new changes are "art complete" but still require some writing and code implementation.
The first step was polishing all of the ability icons to their final state, and finalizing the ability names.
The second step which is happening this week is to clean up the ambiguous number in brackets (i.e. the 16 in the polished final shot). For previous alpha builds we listed it as “Power: 14”, as you can see in the original shot, but it was something that was always a placeholder. The new change will use the small power icon (mentioned in the unit details changes) with the cost number beside it.
Also not seen on these screens is when a unit has an ability that happens “over time”, such as a disease spell that lasts for a duration of 3 turns. Our current alpha build has this to the left of the (16) in a different colour as a placeholder, but this will be changing to a small stopwatch icon with the duration listed beside it.
The third and final step is to clean up the writing for all of the ability descriptions, which you can see changed between original and polished final screens above. Right now we’re happy with about 55-60% of the descriptions, but we want to finish the rest this week.
Player Turn Panel
This panel shows the player name, and how many actions you can still perform this turn. There were no needed changes and so we’ll be keeping this exactly how it is now. Although depending on the changes needed for the turn control panel mentioned below, we may revisit things.
Turn Control Panel
Currently this is comprised of three buttons, one for ending your turn without using all available actions, one to surrender the battle, and one to exit the current game and return to the menu.
Right now this is the panel which can cause the most confusion with new players, and so we’ve decided to rework things. This is the one area where the design is not finalized and we’re still going over ideas this week and the changes may actually bleed over into next week’s build.
One idea is to tie the end turn and surrender buttons into the actual player turn panel to give it more context, as well as analyzing the icon used for finishing a turn prematurely. Short “end turn” and “surrender” text descriptions may also be added, although that really depends on how the design comes together.
For exiting the battle (which in multiplayer returns you to your game list, or single player returns you to the campaign screen) we’re looking at using a gear icon with a pull out menu. This menu would have an option to leave the battle, as well as a few other options such as turning on/off the grid, grid opacity, etc. Things are still up in the air but I’m hoping to at least really nail down the design and usability by the end of the week so that I can implement the changes in next week’s build.
That wraps up my post on our upcoming HUD changes, and my hope is that the vast majority will be implemented in the build next week and I can return to show the final polished version.
If you’d like to show us your support, which we vastly appreciate, please add us to watched projects, follow us on twitter, and like us on facebook. You can also visit our company site to read more about us and Empyrios. We’ll be launching the game site for Empyrios in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.