Main Menu Progress
Hey Folks! Nearly got the main menu rigged-up, and it's looking pretty snazzy!
I spent the better part of the morning working out how to handle the buttons, since this layout uses world-space meshes instead of Unity's GUI system. (My thinking was that it'd be easier to use parallax tricks and particle effects for the animations in world space.) The graphics are pretty much the same either way I go, but the mouse handling is different.
Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to get the code working with non-GUI buttons. I blocked-out the placeholder buttons from Emily's mock-up, then added my own custom buttons for new game, options, and continue. And for now, they just depress when the user is over them with the mouse button down, and they pop up when the mouse leaves them and/or mouse button releases. And since I already have the game state logic to launch the various modes from my old menu, that'll be an easy hook-up when I'm done.
The other half of my day was acquainting myself with Unity's particle effects system. I've long been putting that off, as it is a bit of a learning curve, and a while before one can produce good results. But I'm happy to say that I think I have achieved competence with it!
First, you'll notice some wisps of steam rising from the thermos. That took a lot of tweaking to get right, but thankfully Unity's editor lets you tweak it in realtime, so you can see results as you make changes. And after messing around with the trail rendering system with some custom steam sprites, I'm pretty happy with it! Steam rises slowly, undulating and twisting a bit before fading from view at the top.
The other effect I added is peeking out around the doorway: a shadow on the wall. I want shadows or other forms to occasionally pass by the door, to hint at activity elsewhere on the ship. (Ideally, ambiguous enough that the player can imagine their own crew making those shadows and silhouettes.)
The good news is that setting this up took literally minutes once I had finished the steam trails. A much simpler emitter, with just an occasional billboard shadow passing the doorway every now and then. I'll probably add one more emitting in the opposite direction tomorrow, so we get back-and-forth traffic. And probably dial-down the rate so it's not overwhelming.
Once that's done, I just have one more button to tackle for now: ship editor. The rest can wait until later on in the project (e.g. wiki, website, etc.), since they're not critical to testing. Though, I might also see if I can get the main screen to show tooltips or news, as that's hopefully not hard.
Anyway, pretty exciting day! Visual effects are always fun to tinker with, and now that's another tool in my toolbelt!