Some New Thoughts On Shipboard Item UI
Hey Folks! I tried to put my head down today and focus on gamedev, and got a fair amount of work done.
I had a thought last night about a different way to wire-up the ship items using an in-game UI. Rather than clicking on an item and filling-in a bunch of text fields when building the ship, it might be more intuitive and fun to do it graphically. Plus, I can probably simplify things for the user in the process.
The new idea is to let the user "open" the control panel to see wiring inside, and then choose colored wires that correspond to items on the ship. The colors available will depend on how that panel is linked in the ship via colored conduits. Here's a preview of what it might look like:
In the above image, the control panel is the meter on the left. Clicking any of the screws will replace that UI and expose the "innards." In this case, two wiring terminal screws with some labels. The labels here might say "Meter 01 Input" and "Meter 02 Input." There's really only one meter here, but I wanted the second screw to show how more would look.
Clicking on the gold screw will show available wire colors to choose from. The user can then choose which wire connects to the meter input, and voila! The control panel is hooked-up to the ship item.
How does the user know which color to choose? Easy. They determine that by laying colored conduit between the control panel and items on the ship:
Just like laying power conduits (the gray-blue quartet of pipes), the user can place anywhere from 0-4 different colored conduits on the ship. Depending on where these are, they may connect items to control panels. So if the control panel was at the top of the screen above, it would have green and yellow conduits coming into it. And if the player wanted the meter to be based on signals from the battery, they would choose the yellow conduit. (Green doesn't connect to anything, it just ends at the junction box.)
Of course, this isn't a perfect system.
For one thing, I'll still need a text box or something to edit the label on the meter (so it doesn't just say "Title.") Also, what if the control panel is on the same item it needs to get the signal from? (Any color works?) What if I need two signals from the same item? (Does it matter? Maybe one conduit is good enough for all signals from a single item.) And are four colors really enough to wire an entire ship?
But I kinda like this approach. It looks fun, and a heck of a lot more engaging than filling in a form for each UI.
Plus, this seems like it might open up the possibility of fixing equipment in-game. Perhaps I could let players reroute controls to different items in a pinch? Or figure out why a panel is dead after a hit? I could add patch cables to run along the floor and jury-rig connections when underway. I might even be able to let the player slot replacement parts into items/panels this way.
As I said, seems like it could be fun. I'm waiting for the gotcha to appear :)