Monday, May 06, 2013

Gridiron Solitaire #54: Potpourri

This is kind of a catch-all post, because it's been kind of a catch-all week.

First, a new stadium:

This is going to replace the very first stadium, which was 100% crowd (Rose Bowl, sort of).

It looks like we're going to have 8 stadiums (can't remember if I mentioned that).

I've been trying to use both ratings (on an A-F scale, shown when you start a new league) and relative rankings (based on ratings, on a 1-16 scale). The concept behind doing so was entirely reasonable, but in practice, it was just too confusing to show information one way in one place and another way everywhere else. So relative rankings are gone now, replaced by A-F everywhere.

The bigger news this is week is that someone I respect very highly played the game last weekend and offered a ton of terrific suggestions. For instance, and it never crossed my mind before, he said that I should treat the ball as the player's character in the game. That makes perfect sense, but like I said, I'd never thought about it before. So that resulted in this:

That's a bigger ball, in case you're wondering, and it's much, much easier to see now. I'm also going to animate the ball movement instead of just updating the position. It's not a huge difference, but the animated movement will attract the player's attention and reinforce that they're gaining yards.

He also mentioned that having the dynamic help speech bubbles moving around was distracting. I'd done it that way to locate the speech bubble near the action that needed to be taken by the player, but it resulted in the speech bubble hopping all over the place.

I played "Talisman Prologue" this weekend, and as I played the tutorial, I noticed how incredibly easy it was to know what needed to be done next, because they had a pleasant, glowing circle around what they wanted the player to select.

Well, duh.

If I do something similar, there's no need to move the help speech bubble--I can just highlight what needs to be selected. Like this:

I just cycle the opacity of the circle around the control, and the control itself has a higher display order, so all the player sees is the pulsing ring. And I (finally) went through the very grindy bit of locking out controls when necessary. So in the case of this screenshot, when the help bubble says "close me to proceed", the player can't go ahead and select the run or pass buttons. That speech bubble has to be closed first, and when it is, the pass button can't be selected. All that can be selected is the proper control.

The speech bubble also doesn't move now, because I just highlight the controls to select.

This doesn't add up to much, seemingly, but it makes guided help easier to follow and (more importantly) impossible to break.

There was also a gameplay suggestion that I found highly interesting, although I'm not sure I can do it: add a meaningful choice with the cards before the play starts. His suggestion was excellent, but it would also add a layer of strategy that, while very interesting, would slow the game down and totally reset the play balance. So I'm thinking about the concept of another meaningful choice, which I like, hoping that something can be done without slowing the game down.

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