Tuesday, May 30, 2017

President, General, Spy #3

I've been spending quite a bit of time the last few days working on how information gets presented to the player. I've played geopolitical sims that practically looked like giant quote screens.

Not what I want.

I need to be able to distill that information into a higher layer, with the ability to click through and see the detail if someone wants. But for most of the decision making, it won't be necessary.

Here's what I've come up with. Sorry for no images yet.

There will be two areas on the screen: a map panel, and an interaction panel.

The map panel will take up roughly take up 3/4 of the screen. The scenario's map will be displayed, which goes without saying (even though I just said it).

The bottom 1/4 is the interaction panel. At the beginning of the player's turn, there will be three buttons across the panel: President, General, Spy.

When the player selects one of the unit buttons, they all hide, and are replaced by the action options (based on the unit type selected). The possible actions are represented by static images (with text in the middle).

Ugh, I can't do this without images. Okay, I mocked up two of the ugliest, jankiest shots ever to illustrate what I mean.

First image, when the user starts his turn:

Those three "buttons" at the bottom represent President, General, and Spy (and there will be less space between them).

The user clicks on one of the unit buttons, and now he sees this:

Now, those six buttons represent possible actions for that unit type. And they're static images, but when they're deployed on the board, those images turn into animations (so it's a "live" action).

There are plenty of issues here. What about the map aspect ratio? What if the map gets too crowded with live actions? How does the user get more information?

I can only answer one of those right now. If the user wants more information, all he has to do is click on the animated panel on the map, and he'll see when the action was initiated, how long it lasts, etc. So abstracted top layer, detail layer underneath.

I haven't designed the display of information for the user at the start of their turn yet. I see how the AI turn flows, but when it ends, there needs to be the ability to review information at will until the user is ready to act (Briefing documents? Or maybe a CIA fact book sort of thing?).

What's encouraging is that everything I've encountered so far is clearly solvable. I even have an early model for in-country revolts.

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