Excalibur breaks the mould of traditional space simulation games by putting the player firmly in the boots of an experienced Starfleet captain. From the outset you will be able to control your character and command your ship as if you were standing on the bridge yourself. From taking direct control of the helm, to transferring command of any ship in your task force, or even calling your senior staff to the briefing room to discuss mission tactics; Excalibur is the most immersive Star Trek experience ever. Set six months after the events in Star Trek: Nemesis, Excalibur's story mode deals with the turbulent political scene caused by a decade of war and turmoil. From the second Borg incursion in First Contact, to the fall of the Dominion and the collapse of the Romulan political system; these events resulted in huge loss of life and changed the Alpha Quadrant forever.

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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Concepts - From the Drawing Board: UI

9 comments by Cadet on Sep 4th, 2014

Hi everyone!

The following article is an attempt to illustrate some of the technical and artistic design concepts that Excalibur development has gone through. Hopefully this will shed some light on the inner workings of how some things start on the drawing board, get loosely sketched into the engine, and then are remade or even abandoned in lieu of a better design. Whether it be due to a technical, functional, or useability impasse, designs for many things have come and gone during development so here's a look at one of those concepts that went through an internal trial-and-error process and was eventually replaced.

Every project starts at the table where artists and developers put their ideas down on a piece of paper. The Excalibur project is no different...

One of the main things when working on a large scale project is to break down your ideas into manageable chunks. Just as the fictional saying goes "Ideas are easy, implementation is harder". It is important for all artists to start their work with basic concepts and then determine which are good enough to be developed further.

There is a lot of thought (and even more work) being put into ideas which can turn out to be either good or bad in the end. This crucial process of the development approach takes time and only a handful of presented ideas ever make it into the working build of the game due to so many pieces having to fit together in order to sustain the overall goals and vision of the project itself, and to not break other areas of the game!

Because the concept process is usually fun and artists/developers have a lot of creativity when attempting to come up with design solutions, we think it would be fun for everyone to see some of the ideas our talented team has come up with over the years of developing Star Trek Excalibur.

Since Excalibur is still being developed, many of the concept ideas that will be shown here are either drastically changed by now (for the better) or are replaced by other solutions in general. Nevertheless, we would like to show you some of the ideas that the team started with.

Please note that these are concept images which means that most of these ideas may be drastically different or have been completely replaced.

So without further ado, let's dive into the concept work of one of the lead developers, Rob!


Excalibur's Past Concepts

Gameplay UI


Name: Rob Mann aka Rob Archer
Age: 26
Position: Lead developer for gameplay mechanics
Responsibilities: Rob is currently responsible for the development of the game's mechanics, which is the development of the ways that the user/player will interact with the components of the game and how those components will respond. The tricky part of this is understanding the technology of Star Trek and transforming it into a gameplay mechanic.

Here are some of his concept ideas that did not make it into the game in their concept form;


EXC Master Engineering Interface Power Controls

"So this image is a concept design for managing the power systems. This would be the menu used to change power allocations to subsystems on a whole and it's based off of the Star Trek Bridge Commander menus. Of particular note is the submenu marked "Profiles". One thing we were (and still are) keen on implementing is having a mechanism that would allow the player to customize how the player's ship responded to a situation/mission. Rather than tweaking sliders when you need to fight in a defensive manner you could instead set the profile to be "Defensive" and the power priorities would update accordingly."


EXC Engineering BC Style Power Menu

"While the command wheel showcased our minimalistic approach, this menu shows our "BC Approach". The general feeling is that Bridge Commander was an awesome game and while the UI was not the best and the game's mechanics lacked a certain level of depth, we were initially curious if we could use this as a jumping off point for experimenting with more advanced menus. This lead to the following concept image.

On the top we see the familiar power management menu with a slider for the key systems. Engines are split into thrusters, impulse, and warp drives. We also have transporters, tractor beams, and the deflector added. The power profiles menu, which has already been discussed, is also implemented.

However, a new addition to this is the "Advanced menu".

This would have allowed the player the ability to not only customize how their phasers as a whole would respond in a given situation but it would have allowed us to customize how individual weapons would behave. Allowing you to create even more complex power profiles such as "Attack Run" and "Forward Phasers 120% power". You should also note that the weapon system has the ability to be switched between "Primary" and "Secondary". This allows you to switch the weapons' power source to an alternative input (Secondary/Auxiliary Power Grids), a mechanic which still lives on. "


Command Wheel Progression Engineering Demo 1

"Similar to artistic movements, Excalibur has also gone through a series of phases. The Command Wheel originates from our "Minimalist Phase." The concept was to condense our interfaces in such a way that they did not need to be on screen, but could still be accessed quickly. To begin with I started with the following structure: Engineering -> Transfer Power -> To Weapons. What I then did was translate this statement into a process; "Open Engineering Menu, Open Power Menu, Transfer The Power"

Since we are looking for a minimalistic approach we then minimise the actions that need to be taken by assigning the command wheel to a right click action. With it we eliminate the need for the user to move their cursor to a region of the screen to then open a menu and relocate the cursor to that menu. It also makes everything exist on a clear arc. Infact you see this right click context approach everyday when you use most windows based machines.

So why didn't we use this approach? Well, two reasons; First, it was very difficult to implement it graphically in our assigned interface mechanic and secondly, it was too simple and we had difficulty implementing our mechanics within the constraints applied to the menu."


That is it for now Captains...

We hope you have enjoyed this short presentation of Rob's ideas and hope it provides you with an idea on how things come and go within development. These could also help encourage ideas for people (you!) to mod and/or create entirely new UI interfaces based in part on past designs! :)
-Article by Nejc.

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Post comment Comments  (30 - 40 of 327)
Guest
Guest Dec 24 2013, 10:47am says:

Nobody denies the great job that this team is doing as indie, but, ¿what they arén´t tell us about the real state of the project? They said that in this year we have at least the quickbattle portion of the game. Well, days are passing and, by their tweets, it seems that its far to be released this days. If it so, all appreciated the truth: if not ready yet, tell us, but don´t make promises that can´t accomplish. Its better that said TBA and we wait. Once again, I don´t deny all the valuable work that excalibur team is doing. Its just a reflection.

+5 votes     reply to comment
ProfessorChaos14
ProfessorChaos14 Dec 25 2013, 8:36pm replied:

I'm a little disappointed that the quick battle has not yet been released but you have to understand that what this team is doing is no small feat. They're obviously dedicated to making a high quality game for the fans and are doing so for free; be patient. I for one am willing to wait for what will undoubtedly be one of the best Star Trek games available. Keep up the good work dev's!

+4 votes     reply to comment
Shevchen
Shevchen Dec 26 2013, 8:02am replied:

We've seen a lot of games being released as broken alpha versions, which destroyed not only the game, but also the studios and hurt the franchise. I'm with you and think, that it is time to go back to "the old days" and release a game (or a part of it in this case) with a high quality, instead of rushing out an unplayable version of "something". QB will come, may it be in a month or three, I don't care. :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
fallenvanity
fallenvanity Dec 25 2013, 10:31pm replied:

Well said ProfessorChaos14, I too am willing to wait for the game to launch when it is ready to launch and not rushed like so many other games that had "potential". I look forward to this game's release. It will definitely be a lot of fun :)

+4 votes     reply to comment
stephenmbanham
stephenmbanham Dec 21 2013, 4:36pm says:

Hey! We're doing an Indie Of The Year special series on the Top 100! And we featured your game!

Check it out? Youtu.be

Thank you so much in advance! and we hope you like the video!

Alot of team effort went into it! So if you could help us out and spread the word we'd be so grateful and thanks again for your amazing game!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Xavier55 Creator
Xavier55 Dec 21 2013, 6:14pm replied:

Thanks, but you appear to have confused us with the fanmade web TV series Star Trek Excalibur. They are set in Kirk's era, we are set in Picard's and all that footage you used was theirs.

+3 votes   reply to comment
stephenmbanham
stephenmbanham Dec 21 2013, 7:00pm replied:

we're so very sorry about that, our team searches for trailers so thats unfortunately what they must have found! Apologies for the error!

+2 votes     reply to comment
JohnHardy Creator
JohnHardy Dec 22 2013, 12:34pm replied:

thanks for the praise on the video :-D

+1 vote   reply to comment
bonzograssa
bonzograssa Dec 19 2013, 5:59am says:

very interesting, cant wait to see full game :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
JeremySecola
JeremySecola Dec 16 2013, 5:05pm says:

Seems very interesting. I can't believe I've never even heard of this project till now.

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Star Trek Excalibur
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