Post news RSS UI, Story, and Gameplay Update

A busy 2 weeks of simplifying the gameplay and refining menu navigation. Nailed down the first draft of the plot, and allowing myself a bit more freedom from the shackles of using text.

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What have I been up to since last time? Well, both a lot, and not much. I was away last week, so programming work has been limited to the past week only. However I've spent a great deal of time thinking over the gameplay, the story, and the UI. So, in no particular order, this week's updates are:

  • First draft of the story done! Due to the way that I am dishing out the narrative it's quite tough to plan out the flow of the story and maintain pacing through the game. In the end I decided to just write it out in prose, then I can dip into it and break it into chunks later. My intention is that the story will be delivered in segments between days. At the end of each day (i.e. midnight, as the game is in real time) a short paragraph appears to progress the story and give some indication as to how close the 'end' of the game is.
  • Game length sorted- I had a number of ideas of how I would actually control the length of the game. The general premise is that you are outrunning a storm, moving from location to location to keep ahead of it. However you can't stay ahead perpetually, so there is a semi-fixed time before the storm catches up. Of course there is nothing stopping you from ignoring the storm altogether, but (not to give too much away) this might not result in an unsatisfactory ending. I'm aiming for a maximum playthrough of 30 in-game days- enough to deliver the story, but not so much that the gameplay becomes rote. Just to note, the duration of play modifies the difficulty of the game, so there is a difficulty ceiling to prevent endless progression.
  • Simplified much of the mechanics. In principle I like the idea of enormously complicated systems that are all procedurally generated, but in practice it's a lot of work and there are many points of failure.
    • I broke the character generation into a Class and a Trait- the class dictates the base attributes of the character, as well as which in and out of combat skills they have, and the Trait is a modifier to make the characters a bit more varied.
    • The number of different environments that the player can visit has been reduced from 10 to 5, making it easier to balance, and creating a bigger difference between the environments. The impact of the environment on gameplay has been simplified, with each environment having a different quantity of each resource, and different weather types.
    • Temperature has been simplified into Very Cold, Cold, Warm, Hot, and Very Hot. Characters require 20%, 10%, 0%, -10%, and -20% food in each temperature category respectively, and the inverse requirement for water (this water/food requirement modifier used to be a value that was calculated from a continuous temperature range).
  • General improvements to UI and usability. I'm desiging with Keyboard/Controller input in mind, so everything has to be easily navigated in as few button presses as possible. Of course this still needs to be balanced with having each menu display only the information it should display, rather than overloading it to reduce key presses (my main example this week is adding tabs to inventories to make it easier to find items, and to reduce key presses required to highlight said items).

New tabbed inventory functionality

Replaced the in-line weapon details from the inventory to a new weapon to make it easier to upgrade & equip.

  • Another aspect of the UI I have improved is the way in which attributes are displayed. Previously I was using the format "currentval/maxval", however I felt that showing this info textually made it difficult to find the required information on the page, and needlessly increases the time required to decipher the information. To replace this I've used a simple progress bar of sorts. White diamonds represent the current attribute value, grey diamonds indicate the maximum value, and a red diamond indicates the limiter value. To explain, there are 4 attributes- Endurance & Strength, and Stability & Intelligence. Endurance and Stability are both attributes that affect gameplay in their own right, but they are also represent the max value of Strength and Intelligence respectively.

In the next few weeks I'll be working on implementing progression so that, in theory, it'll be playable from start to finish (though incomplete). If I can get that done I'll start sending it out to friends and anyone interested for testing.

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