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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:54 pm 
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This represents most of the combat art and graphic design work that is needed to finish the combat engine. Pd has a list of specific assets that are needed for populating the currently-finished or currently-in-progress code with graphics. He's going to post his list sometime soon (Pd, feel free to add it here if you like). I'll be adding things here as I think of them, and editing the list to indicate completed work as we go.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good mockups.

Graphic design needs:
1) Starlane entrance points. These will be at the edges of the system map, in the ecliptic. Should these look like a physical object, like the Deep Space Nine wormhole? Should they not be objects at all (maybe just mathematically-derived points), just marked with an icon? How big should they be -- just a point, or should they mark a whole area into which your ships need to fit to leave the system? EDIT: The DD says they are elliptical. So, what should the ellipse look like?

2) Movement and fire indicators. When I order a ship to move, should I draw a big arrow in the direction it will move? Should there be a move-destination icon at the destination? When I reselect a unit, do I see its move path, marked out in arrows, with the destination marked? If it has an attack order, do I highlight its target(s)? It seems most games these days show a marker under the target(s), or a move-to-here marker on the ground.

3) Stealth and detection indicators. Do we want to make stealthy ships more transparent, or otherwise mark them in some way? Do we want little echo rings radiating out from high-detection ships, or mark them in some other way?

4) Scene-overlay UI. What does the info overlay look like, assuming there is one? Is it along the top, bottom, one side, or some combination? What does it show? A detailed info box on the currently selected unit(s), plus an area with more general info and buttons, is pretty typical.

5) Unit-overlay UI. What info do we want to decorate our units with? Health and current orders? Do we want the user to be able to select different kinds of data to decorate the unit with, allowing her to choose the most important stat(s) to represent visually? What should the decoration look like?

6) Map-overlay UI. Do we want weapon-range range rings and other kinds of indicators overlayed on the ecliptic?

7) Tooltip UI. When I mouse over a planet or unit, what should I see? Should we even use tooltips?

8 ) Zoomed-out icons. When you zoom way out, you can barely see the planets clearly, and ships essentially disappear. What sorts of icons should we use as overlays to indicate position and heading of fighters, ships, planets, bases, etc.?

9) TBD...


Art asset needs:
1) Weapon effects. You know, beam weapons, pulse-beam weapons, point defense weapons, missile trails, etc. We'll probably use the Ogre particle system for most of these. Check out the particle script editor here. You can add whatever textures you like and use them to make particle effects, or you can use the (somewhat limited) textures that come with it.

2) Explosions. Again, the Ogre particle system editor will probably be useful.

3) TBD, based on design work above.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:37 pm 
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tzlaine wrote:
1) Starlane entrance points. These will be at the edges of the system map, in the ecliptic. Should these look like a physical object, like the Deep Space Nine wormhole? Should they not be objects at all (maybe just mathematically-derived points), just marked with an icon? How big should they be -- just a point, or should they mark a whole area into which your ships need to fit to leave the system?


If someone animates a DS9-type effect or something similar that would be cool... but we can start with something more modest.

For usability the graphic should indicate the entire width of the exit zone. I also think it would be useful if the color matched the color of the star that the lane leads to... something to help orient the player.

Alternatively we could do something that looks like some sort of HUD graphic... but that's simply a different graphic in the same place.

Here's a quick sketch of what i'm imagining... the text is not supposed to be in-game.


Attachments:
starlane gate.jpg
starlane gate.jpg [ 259.2 KiB | Viewed 3778 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:56 am 
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I don't know how silly it might look, but maybe you could have an actual gate, with signage "Exit" attached to the gate, and the wormhole/starlane entry/exit point in the gate.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:03 am 
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tzlaine wrote:
4) Scene-overlay UI. What does the info overlay look like, assuming there is one? Is it along the top, bottom, one side, or some combination? What does it show? A detailed info box on the currently selected unit(s), plus an area with more general info and buttons, is pretty typical.
...
7) Tooltip UI. When I mouse over a planet or unit, what should I see? Should we even use tooltips

A good mini-map is IMHO vital, since different engagements can be happening simultaneously all over the system. How powerful, and scalable the mini-map needs to be depends on weather we include a "map-view" where you zoom out to a certain point and the mostly realistic view is replaced by a highly-stylized strategic view.

Tooltips and the detailed info segment of the control bar could potentially be redundant. I'm guessing that with the relatively quick pace tooltips could be more useful if you can keep them from too often covering up what you want to see.


tzlaine wrote:
5) Unit-overlay UI. What info do we want to decorate our units with? Health and current orders? Do we want the user to be able to select different kinds of data to decorate the unit with, allowing her to choose the most important stat(s) to represent visually? What should the decoration look like?

The main thing is the two bars, the shield bar and the Hit-point bar. We'll also need something to show what unit(s) is selected. "Current orders"? maybe... or that might just go in a tool-tip or in the control bar. Anything else i think can be ignored for now.


tzlaine wrote:
6) Map-overlay UI. Do we want weapon-range range rings and other kinds of indicators overlayed on the ecliptic?

I'm assuming we'll have (at least as a toggle-able option) some sort of grid on the ecliptic plane. Having all the indicators shown at once would probably be a mess. Generally i think we would limit these sort of indicators to the selected ship(s) and any under the mouse. Some items (like the zone that defines being "in orbit") could be important enough to be always on.


I don't spend much time with RTS games so i speak here with less confidence then i usually do in graphic matters. And I know, under the hood this won't be an RTS... but the design constraints for the UI are pretty much the same.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:51 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
tzlaine wrote:
1) Starlane entrance points. These will be at the edges of the system map, in the ecliptic. Should these look like a physical object, like the Deep Space Nine wormhole? Should they not be objects at all (maybe just mathematically-derived points), just marked with an icon? How big should they be -- just a point, or should they mark a whole area into which your ships need to fit to leave the system?


If someone animates a DS9-type effect or something similar that would be cool... but we can start with something more modest.

I've thrown something together, based on a nebula Josh did: The circular texture is mapped on two modified cone meshes, both rotating. This is obviously far from a DS9 effect(it doesn't even shrink(yet)) but it's a start and it should be fairly easy to accomplish in Ogre, I hope.

eleazar wrote:
I also think it would be useful if the color matched the color of the star that the lane leads to... something to help orient the player.

I like this.

Image
Yeah, it wobbles, blame Josh :)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:07 pm 
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that is soo cool!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:13 am 
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looks really good.

i don't know how big those things are going to be, but anyway, i think the animation is a bit too fast. it would be even more impressive if it was rotating slowly. (a wormhole a.k.a. starlane entrance point really is an impressive thing, don't you think?)

edit: oh hey, what about some flashing lightnings inside?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:16 am 
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This is just a proof of concept, not a final design(just a basic 100frame, 360 degree rotation). Whether something rotates in-game and how fast this will, can easily be tweaked later.
If you have any ideas of how to create flashing lightnings in a low poly environment, don't hold them back.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:23 pm 
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I think it would make more sense if starlanes were only visible (in combat) when they're being used. The area in which ships have to be to enter the starlane can be shown on the mini-map and/or a hotkey "fwoosh" overlay that displays normally unnecessary information. The effect of the starlane actually opening has potential to be quite impressive.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:02 pm 
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Quote:
If you have any ideas of how to create flashing lightnings in a low poly environment, don't hold them back.


i don't know much about the engine, but if it is capable of doing that an animated and self-illuminated map with a bloom effect overlayed could work.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Animated textures are possible. Having them self illuminated too(it's actually already done with the stars and lens effects). Mockups are always useful.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:22 am 
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ok, i put together a mockup. for example a map like that one:

Image

(but more beautiful and not lazyly put together via applying the photoshop difference cloud filter several times) on a cone like pd used together with his version of the starlane entry point could look like that:

Image

now imagine several of those randomly flashing now and then and being rotated between flashes (if possible randomly too) to add some variation. could be nice imho.

after a second look the lightnings should be much smaller so they don't fill up the lanes that much, i guess.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:30 am 
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Yep, could work :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:51 am 
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utilae wrote:
I don't know how silly it might look, but maybe you could have an actual gate, with signage "Exit" attached to the gate, and the wormhole/starlane entry/exit point in the gate.


That should be an easter egg! If you name a world in your empire Ursa Minor, then you always see a huge EXIT sign over every starlane entry point when in combat.

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