Social Combat Flow
Hey Folks! More work on the social combat UI today. This time, getting it to respond to user input and start closing the loop.
As you can see in today's screenshot, it's now listing all available interactions in the lower left, and selecting one updates the preview area. Right now, I've got it setup like a radio button. Choosing one deselects all others, so we only click one at a time.
In NEO Scavenger, it was setup such that you could add zero or more items before confirming. And sometimes, choosing more than one input changed the outcome.
However, I'm not sure if that was the best approach. There was a lot of opportunity for wasted effort on the user's part, as they were left to try all the combos and see if anything happened. I think a number of players appreciated a few of the cases where it rewarded them, but probably not enough to warrant having it work that way. (I originally wanted the game to respond uniquely to whatever the player chose, but that rapidly became too complex to manage.)
Here, I think we can basically list all possible avenues, and just let the player choose the one they want. If a choice can be amplified by a skill or item, let's just make that a new choice.
Once a choice is confirmed, the game unpauses, with this UI still active, and we see the message log update, the avatars animate and show thought bubbles, until one of two things happen:
1 - The interaction ends with no further options, at which point the UI closes and game resumes.
2 - The player has a new choice of actions, and the game pauses while player thinks.
This mostly works now as-is. But there are still things I want to add.
First, I want the target's portrait to only show conditions we know about. And to gradually reveal those through interactions. Like an interrogation scene. And similar to NEO Scavenger, I want this to be focused a lot on getting your counterpart's defenses down before attacking, so to speak. If you need a favor from them, don't ask if they're in a bad mood. Improve their mood first.
There might also be some way to integrate a context or subject into the mix here. Like if we're giving them an item, we'd need a way to choose the action "give item" and then the item we want to give.
Or disciplining crew for their actions, we'd ideally be able to choose "discipline" as an action, and a menu would appear to let us choose "insubordination" or "stealing" or something. To make the NPC's AI aware of the consequences of that action. (This sort of ties into an ongoing task on our schedule for making AI's remember incidents and events.)
The content for these interactions is also going to require some updating and tweaking, in light of this new UI. Some of them only work well if non-interactive, and we just read the results. They need refinement to support player interactivity as they progress. Things like user-friendly title text, or a wider range of options.
Finally, there may be a more general need to spawn additional UI while in this mode. Something like a hiring UI, or trade UI. How that UI interacts with the social combat one is to be determined, but we may need to temporarily go to the new UI and come back here when done.
And last, but not least, what happens when social combat evolves into physical combat? What if we throw a punch? Or pull a gun? Not a small problem to solve!