Hey Folks! As mentioned earlier on, I'm eventually going to have to tackle some sort of UI for delivering situational text, conversation, and mission info to the player. The message log works for smaller bits of info, but there are going to be larger chunks of text in places, and/or the player will be expected to provide input to determine what happens next.
Enter the Encounter UI.
Unlike some of the other UIs, I'm going to try and hold myself back from over-designing it to look pretty, since I'm not even sure what I'm going to need yet. Ideally, I'll get a version of this thing up and running quickly so I can start throwing data at it and test it out. Then, I can iterate until it gets to some stable format where I can design a final version.
So far, I'm anticipating a layout a lot like NEO Scavenger's: some area for the main text to describe what's happening (left), some area for a related illustration (top right), and some area listing the choices the player has (bottom right).
Initially, I started looking into whether I could have the illustration on the left, and have the text wrap around it like in a magazine. But it turns out that's hard to do in Unity, so I moved things such that the biggest piece is the main text, and the image and choice areas are roughly splitting the remainder.
In the process of the above, I ended up checking out TextMesh Pro in Unity's Asset store. And I think I'm going to shift most of the text stuff to that system, as opposed to the standard Unity text object. (TMP is basically an official Unity feature in more recent versions anyway.) Doing so unlocks quite a few useful features, such as rich text markup, inline sprites/icons, linking text boxes so one overflows into another, custom spacing/kerning/padding, and more.
One feature, in particular, was a major reason I took the leap: text interactivity. Basically, each text object can be treated like a mesh for things like clicking and rollovers, which means I can make tooltips and links for key words. Michael tipped me off about the way Tyranny does this, and with our major investment into setting and background info, this seems like a big payoff. With this, players can deep-dive into some of the lore, and potentially journal-like-info, while considering the text of an event. That's the modal window you see in the middle-ish of the screen, which is just a pop-up window I'm thinking the user will summon by clicking on a highlighted word or phrase. (And in theory, this could help make the choice area in the lower right less crowded.)
Between all the markup stuff above, scrolling view areas, linking and tooltips, and other features, this should hopefully be a pretty tough workhorse in the game!