I was able to get some particle-style effects going on the map today, and had some success with the way it turned out. The biggest success appears to be traffic dots. Each of the major arteries and avenues have traffic now, and I think I'll keep that in place for the final version if I can.
I also tried some twinkling/flickering style effects in the sprawl region of the map, to give the illusion of natural lights like fires in trash cans and unreliable flourescents. This effect came out well too, but it's actually pretty hard to see unless one looks closely, so it might not be worth it. I have a few more ideas to try which might improve it, though.
The main issue I forsee is framerate drops due to the excess particles (particularly if they have alpha blending). I have some ideas here, too, but it's too soon to tell. I have an older laptop to test on, so that will help gauge the severity of any problems.
The good news is that this UI is pretty much the only thing on screen when it's being used, so performance might not matter much, as long as the user can click on their destination of choice without issues. Even if the framerate drops, the hardware cursor will largely mask it, and the VFX particles won't be noticeably affected due to the way they're used.
I also let Rochelle take a look at the map so far, and that was a bit sobering. She had a hard time telling what was going on, so I may need to revise a few things. Of course, she admitted she hasn't tested the game in a while, so some of the map's regions were unfamiliar to her, but might make more sense to someone who's played the game more. E.g. the sprawl vs. walled sections of the city will be apparent to a player, but not someone who's never been introduced to the DMC.
Anyway, I think we're still making progress. It was fun to do some VFX programming today. That's one of my favorite activities, actually. Writing code to produce visual effects produces some of the biggest bang for the buck. Simple math can produce some really interesting patterns and illusions. Gotta make sure I don't get too distracted, though!
Have a good one!