Account management systems and usability improvements probably aren’t the most exciting things to read about on our dev-log. But the fact that this is exactly what we’ve been dealing with this week can only mean one thing: We’re making good progress on our way towards a version of Prosperous Universe that’s actually playable!
As mentioned before, we are getting closer and closer to an internal Alpha milestone. Once we reach it, the plan is to slowly grant access to a select few testers to gain early insights into how the game works and feels like when there’s actual activity in the game world. But to make this possible, some work on rather mundane backend systems needs to happen first.
So that’s what I did this week: We already have a battle-tested account management infrastructure in place for our existing game, but it’s become out-of-date in a few respects and misses a few feature that we’d like to have both for Prosperous Universe as well as other projects. Because it is such a central piece of infrastructure, just rewriting it from scratch is not an option right now…it would just take too much time to get it right. Therefore, we went with a compromise: I added a new API to our current account management system that offers the functionality we need but uses our existing systems to provide it. At some point in the future, we can switch the underlying technology and the API will remain unchanged.
I got the backend-side of things done this week. For next week I plan on completing the integration into Prosperous Universe and rolling out the changes to our account management systems.
My focus this week has been usability again. Last week I told you about the context menu that appears when hovering a star or planet and helps to see what kind of actions can be taken. We have had a similar idea for the content tiles itself: Each tile can have a list of context commands that will open new tiles that are somewhat related to the current tile. That way the players don’t have to remember commands and can visually navigate from content to content.
Here is an example. Say the player has opened the system map and wants to see more information about a certain planet. She can click on the planet and a tile with the planet’s information (PLI) will open. After buying some goods on that planet she decides that she wants to transport them to a nearby system. First step in doing that is to check if there is a ship in orbit of that planet. There are many ways to find out if there is a ship: She could check the fleet (FLT) tile and go over the list of ships to find one at the given location, or she could open the fleet tile with the planet parameter (FLT -p1234) to only get ships at that planet. While all these methods work it is still a bit cumbersome. This is where the context commands come into play. In the upper right corner, right within the tile controls is the list of context commands. In the case of a planet information tile there are three context commands:
- System (MS yxz) to open a tile with the system map to which the planet belongs
- Inventory (INV p-123) to open the inventory at this planet
- Fleet (FLT p-123) to open the fleet tile, filtered by ships that are in orbit of this planet
We hope the context commands will make it easier for players to navigate within the system and to find new commands and their usages they might not have been aware of.