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Developer Diary 05: One Week! One! Week! 1 wk!

Next week in fact. October 24th. That’s the big launch day. I can not wait!

It’s been a progressively useful two weeks, no great strides, but lots of small steps in a row. Jonathan has turned his attention to the user interface, which has led to some interesting research and discussion. As should always be the way, we’re trying t find the right balance between giving the player info and options on the screen and not having all that interface display stuff get in the way of seeing and playing the actual game.

I think we’re somewhere near the balance point, although the final implementation will vary depending on which of the three games we end up doing. One game has you controlling a lot of different units each with only a few possible actions, while another has you controlling just a few units who have many more options.

One thing I hadn’t thought of at first is what the default option should be when you first select a unit. Right now, there isn’t a default at all. In our test game, you select a unit and then hit a key to choose “Move” or “Attack.” That works, but it does put this extra step in there. So we’re going to default to “Move” being the already selected action, since the first time you select a unit each turn, that’s most likely the thing you’re going to want to do first.

From there we realized that since we’re already highlighting the spaces where you can legally move on the map, we could also highlight the enemies you can legally attack. So the default now is going to be, move or attack, depending on which space you select. Select an empty space, move there. Select an enemy, attack it. That of course led Jonathan to point out, attack it with which attack type? That’s going to depend on the game. Right now, in the test game, the units all have a default attack, so it’s no big deal to select as the default. If you want to do a special attack, you’ll have to press a button or whatever to select it first. For the more complicated game idea, which has inventory, we’ll probably revert to the “last used” attack as your default. Or maybe let players set a default. We’ll see.

Austin’s been working hard on drawing up some sample screenshots for each of the three games. It’s a really time-consuming, trial and error process. The first one he did is also the most complicated, with a lot of Art Deco details in the level background. I’m really happy with how it came out. We had an interesting discussion about perspective with the second game, and are trying something a little different. It seems to be coming together, but we’re still experimenting. The third one, which is a straight down, overhead view, raised its own challenges, but I think we’ve got it figured out.

All three will be part of the big unveil on Monday, October 24th, so you’ll be able to judge for yourselves! See you then.

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