Main Menu Ready, Encounters UI
Hey Folks! Main menu is ready to go now. All the same clickable bits as the old placeholder, but nicer-looking.
Getting the shadows to pass in both directions in the hall was almost as easy as expected. There was a minor hiccup trying to flip the shadow billboard to face the other way, as I hunted down the correct setting. And getting the shadows to pass at more random-seeming timing involved delaying one of the emitters a few seconds. But all was good in the end.
The next piece I tackled was the ship editor button you see in the lower left of the console. It's just a button, but I wanted it to look like a "live" screen. So I yanked a bunch of the screen projector bits from the old menu to use here.
I ended up creating a custom quad mesh to cover that screen area, so I could do all my layout and animation on a square canvas, and have that projected onto a skewed (perspective) panel. It's just some big white text over a blueprint mockup I made a while back. (Bonus lore: it was a mockup from the original idea for this game.)
I wanted it to look a bit more lively and techy, though, so I added a few more visual effects to it. First, a CRT-like scan pass effect, to give it that faint screen flicker you'd see on some old Alien/2001 screens. I also added two phosphor-like scanlines to the screen that randomly crosshair at different spots each second. Both effects are dialed down enough that they're not overwhelming, but visible enough to catch the eye and add some life to the scene.
Also, in the process of hooking-up the hit area for the ship edit button, I trimmed the other three button hit areas to be more accurate and not overlap.
Once that was done, I added logic to each of the buttons to handle launching the game into each respective mode, and swapped the old scene out for this new one. And voila! New main menu! I'll have to post a video of it in action soon, as I'm pretty happy with the results.
On to the next task, I decided to try and tackle the UI for branching-encounter-type situations, like NEO Scavenger's encounter systems. In cases where the player has to receive some exposition, important dialogue, or make a decision, I need a way to show that info, any relevant images, and the choices that are available.
Then, once that's running, I have to figure out how to wire that up to game logic to actually handle missions, contracts, and other things. Probably some rudimentary "go here and talk to X" mission as a minimum test case.
It's a bit tricky making this UI, as I'm not sure if it should be as simple as the NS one (image, text, and choice area), or if I'm going to need more UI bits. I guess the best way to find out is to throw something together and start testing!