When the player interacts with the UI, I want it to be really clear what’s going on. When you click on a creature’s portrait it snaps onto your mouse cursor before sliding back to where it started; the player needs to know that they can click-and-drag that portrait. When you hold down the mouse button on the portrait, any “ability” icons next to the portrait curl up and hide behind it to let the player know they’re dragging the creature and all their abilities along too.
If you release the mouse button in a useless place, everything smoothly returns to where it started to let the player know clearly that their action had no effect. If they drag the portrait near an appropriate resting-place, all the other portraits near that place will move aside to make room for it, even if the player hasn’t released the mouse button yet. If the player moves the mouse away from that resting place, the portraits will all move back to where they were, showing that you’re no longer considering dropping your portrait in that place.
Everything on the UI needs to move smoothly, deliberately, and intuitively to make sure the player understands exactly what they’re doing with the elements they’re interacting with. I hope I’m slowly getting close to this goal.
While play-testing your own game, it’s sometimes hard to imagine what a lot of your game’s features are going to feel like from the perspective of someone other than yourself. After a lot of play, I’ve decided to throw out a chunk of code regarding “Ability Cooldowns” simply because it’s no fun and doesn’t make immediate sense.
It can be kind of hard to accept that a ream of code you wrote might actually have no place in the game you’ve written it for, but it’s just part of “Making a game”, you put some code in, see if it works, and then change it if it doesn’t. The code I’m removing has been a core part of the gameplay for months now, but as the game’s changed slightly over time, I’ve created a much more relevant set of rules for how “Abilities” are used in a fairer and much more sensible way.
It’s become quite a challenge to communicate to the player exactly how “Abilities” work, especially when you have a full team of five creatures running about potentially all using different abilities at the same time in different locations. The player needs to be able to always see at a glance who is doing what and whether it’s working or not. I’m changing the way the “Solution” box at the top-right of the screen works so that it will show what abilities are currently being “Cast” and how long they’ve got left until they’re finished. Hopefully you’ll start to see this change in future videos. In the meantime, here’s some play-testing I recorded.
In other news, Man Fight Dragon has been accepted into the Indie Pavilion at PAXAus 2013 where I’ll have a little booth for people to come look at a game and maybe play it if they’d like to hunch over a monitor and keyboard.
A productive weekend goes on by and lots of new graphics and some actual engine work get done. I spend almost 50% of my time lately between working on “the game” and talking to people about it. Some days I write emails for hours or introduce myself to people on twitter while looking for other game developers or people in the industry. Getting to know other people doing the same things as me, or people who are generally interested in what I am doing is a very rewarding experience.
Work keeps on chugging along. In the meantime, here’s three pictures of some new stuff.