Homeworld and Strata Selection

Hey Folks! I apologize for the lack of news yesterday. I had an afternoon meeting off-site, and wasn't back until late. I did still get some work done, though, both yesterday and today.

Emily sent her first few main menu mockups to me for guidance, as she figures out the best composition, color, and lighting. Those are coming along nicely, and I look forward to sharing her progress there.

I also sent Michael some more specifications for the next writing task: more interaction variety. I'm hoping he'll be able to expand the AI "social vocabulary" a bit more, so I can get a better sense of how to proceed with AI interactions, drama, etc.

On the dev side, I was able to solve that bug I mentioned in the pronoun/appearance selection UI. Right after I mentioned it in the news, in fact. It was a case of the ship layout using sink item data from the save file, which lacked the new UI stuff I added. Deleting the old sink and re-adding a fresh copy worked. Going forward, this might become a more common issue, and warrants revisiting.

With that fixed, I was able to change my appearance and pronoun preferences, and it would be saved to my character's stats! Pretty painless once I figured out that save/fresh issue.

The next step, as you can see from today's image, is to do homeworld and social strata selection. The metaphor I'm going with for now is a phone kiosk, since it's a fairly recognizable way to choose both a region (area code) and payment method. The chosen region will be the player's homeworld, and will set appropriate stats on them. E.g. Tharsis Landing on Mars is slightly higher gravity than Ceres, so you'd get maybe a lesser penalty to strength or other health benefits from growing up on that planet.

Note that these are just starting attributes, and can be changed via career choices and lifetime hobbies in a later step. I'll have to decide if it's worth trying to balance these all, or maybe just make them as-is, sort of like choosing hard mode or easy mode. I feel a bit like NEO Scavenger's balancing was redundant in the end, as some builds were easier for folks to play, and maybe they should just be allowed to build what they want?

I'll think about this some more. There are a TON of new stats in this game, so balancing would be hard.

The payment method component here sets your social strata. "Credit" is meant to be like a citizen, who has the luxury of a credit history, can borrow money, and is generally trusted by businesses. "Prepay" means you have the money, but you're not as established, so you have to pay now. Sort of like an immigrant/visa holder. Finally, the screwdriver is an illegal. No money. No records. Just jam that thing in there to make the call.

Overall, not looking too bad so far. I think the one thing I overlooked was background information that might be useful to someone making this choice. Things like which stats you get with each choice, so you don't end up having to navigate a bunch of menus to see the effects. There's a certain amount of space in the UI for typing this out, alongside each button.

However, it might make more sense in this context to put notes in the margins using graffiti. Like, if you choose "Calico City," the graffiti all over the phone changes to say things like "go home belter" or "off-worlders have bones of glass." Basically, like a stat listing, but spiced-up a bit. And contextually logical.

Just a thought. I may have to do something more boring, too :)


Rovlad's picture

You could probably do both, spicy graffiti sounds like a great idea, but probably doesn't communicate all that well to the player (they might think it's just flavor text), so have tooltips on mouseover too? They may be optional in the settings as well.
Oh and please something to denote hotspots on the screen? Last thing I'd want to do in character creation is to pixel hunt for all the options. :) I mean, buttons might be pretty obvious because of instructions, but screwdriver isn't.
Barring that, maybe have a tutorial popup at this point or something?

dcfedor's picture

Good points. And the more I thought about it last night, having graffiti text for each trait might become a data burden. (Beyond just defining text, would I need handwritten fonts? Rotation/position info for each? Color?) The tooltips suggestion is a good way to provide the info in a timely manner without cluttering the UI.

In fact, I wonder if I should just replace that card slot down in the corner with another LCD or something to put tooltip info in? Seems a lot of wasted space on that side of the UI.

Graffiti can still be useful for more flavor/style. Maybe to communicate less rules info, and more setting info.

And yeah, I worried a bit about that screwdriver, too. It might make more sense for me to make a third button that's been hacked open, and just angle the screwdriver into it. Then, you have three buttons to choose from, and the screwdriver just becomes context.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Rovlad's picture

>replace that card slot down in the corner with another LCD or something to put tooltip info in?
That might actually be the perfect solution. I understand that you're trying to avoid breaking the 4th wall, and that's actually quite commendable. :)
You also have plenty of free estate on the screen itself, but maybe it'll get more crowded later.