Form UI Progress, and Sample Gameplay

Hey Folks! Progress on the data-editing UI is actually pretty good. I got a bunch of features hooked-up today that have traditionally taken me weeks in other APIs, so I'm feeling hopeful.

IMAGE( Data Editing form showing actual interaction data.

As of now, I've got a form that I can dynamically add to the scene which has editable text fields for each data field. I was able to add an interaction's values to each field, and capture changes to those fields immediately after the user makes them.

The form can be dragged around, the scene can be panned with WASD, and zoomed with the mouse scrollwheel (or +/- keys). If the user clicks in a text field, scene view controls pause while they type.

As an added bonus, the Unity text fields seem to handle just about everything one would need. Ctrl+A selects all, I can (sort of) highlight text with the mouse, cursor navigation via arrows works.

Unfortunately, the "Enter" key seems to lose focus on the field instead of entering a line-break. However, this seems to be more of a default behavior setting than a missing feature. I think they expected most text fields to be single-line, so hitting enter immediately focuses on the next field in the form, so users don't have to click to continue filling-in the form. I'll be looking into how this can be changed next week.

Apart from that, the UI stuff has been pretty easy so far! I think I'll be able to start tackling node-to-node connections to show branching logic, and maybe some other node types (Conditions, Triggers, etc.) soon. And all this is with the aim to make editing my data easy again in this new engine (and therefore, easy for modders in the future).

Also, I've been continuing my thinking about drama UIs, asking around here and there, and I'm getting some good feedback. One thing which came up today in my discussions was a potential example of gameplay. I.e. what do I expect the player to be experiencing during the ship and crew management portion of the game?

Here's a possible example:

Player: Huh, I wonder why Ted is just sitting there at the end of that corridor, not doing anything? <Clicks Ted> Ted: Ted is moping around, dejectedly. Ted: Ted is listening to voice mail over and over. Player: That's not good. What the heck happened? Scrolls around ship to find rest of crew. Sees Tina and Vallerie chatting in the mess hall. <Clicks conversation icon.> Vallerie: Vallerie puts a hand on Tina's shoulder. Tina: Tina vents about Ted's constant advances. Player: Hm. <Clicks Tina's avatar.> Tina: Tina refuses to be around Ted. Tina: Tina is considering terminating her contract with the Flying Dutchman Co. Player: Ah crap. I'm probably going to have to get rid of one of these next port. Or else keep them on opposing shifts from each other. Game: Alert! Pipe freeze in the main coolant system! <Fluid starts flooding the HVAC chamber.> Player: Crap again! Drama's going to have to wait. Time to roll-up my sleeves and jury-rig a fix for the busted cooling system. Hope we have enough coolant left to reach Io...

Up until now, I've sort of been hand-wavy about how drama is going to work aboard the ship. But this is one of the first times I've written it out, and thought about user clicking, decisions, etc. I'm unsure if all of this will be possible yet, but it gives me a slightly more tangible goal to work towards. And I think it's pretty compatible with our recent discussions re: clicking conversational entities.

More on that later, though. The weekend is here, and Steam is having a Lunar New Year Sale (which features a -50% NEO Scavenger, hint hint). So grab some games, a hot drink, and enjoy the weekend!


Malacodor's picture

Where have the good times gone when sailors knew that women aboard bring bad luck? *sigh*

But joke aside, I have some concerns about this:
- The last thing I wonder about is an AI controlled character in a video game doing nothing. If someone is unhappy maybe show a rain cloud above their head, or a speech bubble with a sad smilie.
- Welcome aboard the USS NSA! Seriously, would you ever work in an office where your boss could hear everything you say and think? The player character should only be able to listen to chatting crewmates when being in the same room. Crewmen should be able to have secrets, which they only tell when being drunk, for example.
- Are you aware about how much of such drama you have to write to avoid it becoming repetitive too quickly?

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

ra1's picture

You could also provide the ability for the player to know how each interaction is affecting NPC stats. E.g. A particular conversation decreases morale, another increases health, etc. Perhaps the player would gain this ability over time, depending on upgrade, or perhaps how long the NPC has been on the ship.

Possible ways to do this would be to color-code each stat, or have an icon at the beginning of the conversation indicating the stat(s) that were affected.