Previously on RDD:
Tons of hard work and there are no more playable sections in the game than there were a month ago.
That’s the kind of thing you’ve got to get used to when you’re working on a spare time project like this. Sometimes it really seems like you’re just spinning your wheels. But after a month of feeling like you’ve gone nowhere, when you suddenly step back and see that you’ve just covered a huge amount of ground, it feels really good.
Let’s discuss it in this month’s Developer’s Diary, entitled:
When we started the game six months ago, I dove into Flash and started making the GUI (graphical user interface, yeah?) graphics. I’m no artist, and Shane, the character designer took a look at my first mock up and reminded me of that. I had been going for a minimalistic Apple-ish kind of design. But Shane offered to redesign the whole thing, and suggested that we use a motif that fits in with elements of the plot.
I realized that he was right. While the slick Apple interface is all the rage nowadays, it really didn’t fit in with the theme and setting of Resonance. So, Shane took an object central to the plot of the game and designed all the GUI elements to incorporate a look and design reminiscent of that object.
I thought the whole thing looked awesome, and had been using it ever since. But Shane, a perfectionist like myself, had intended that awesome GUI to be a rough draft. So, after making sure that every GUI element was laid out, programmed, and working exactly how it would be in the final game, he took all the old GUI elements and added a level of polish that pushed them to a whole new, possibly illegal, level of awesome.
I mean, this was the kind of polish that turns old worn-out drug-addled actresses into gorgeous cover girls. Not that the GUI started out with anorexia and a coke habit… I… Ok, forget the metaphor. The GUI looks great.
This is an example showing the LTM (long-term memory, for those who have been paying attention) filled with placeholder memories. Likewise, the ??? icon is just a placeholder icon that you’ll never actually see in the real game. This is likely to receive further tweaking at some point. And, ooh, is that a hint of a background behind the sexily transparent GUI?
Unfortunately, the redesign took a lot of work and time. I had hoped to be able to just replace the graphics files and everything would be hunky-dory. However, in the interest of awesome, we ended up tweaking some positions, sizes, dimensions, and transparencies. A few new things were born into existence during the process, like some extra buttons for increased functionality and some fancy new frames around certain GUIs to make them all purdy.
In addition, I had been having a few people outside the team with eyes-on the game giving some feedback about the feel and intuitiveness of the interface. I decided that during the graphical overhaul, I’d also do some tweaking so that some actions like dragging and dropping and navigating the inventory felt more natural. All together, the overhaul process ate up a whole month.
Resonance’s interface is complicated in that it has many parts, and has been extremely challenging to code, but it is not complicated to use. In fact, I am confident that most people will jump in and instantly find it completely natural and intuitive, while the rest will be zipping around the interface with ease after reading through the game’s helpful (and optional) on-screen tutorial.
As Shane said to me while playing a version of the game with the GUI overhaul almost finished, “I’ve never played a game with an interface like this.” I know that different doesn’t necessarily mean good, but I think you’ll love it. It’s more evolutionary than revolutionary, so it maintains that familiarity, while hopefully making the player wonder why other games haven’t done things like this before. I stress the word “hopefully” because I’m not one of those giant game corporations (though my employees get almost equally crappy remuneration and benefits!) that can bring in hordes of people for play tests.
Fingers crossed! Press on!
Next time on RDD: