UI UI…

Hi folks!

This week has been pretty good Dom Dev wise – after last weekends ‘status review’ I found the greatest issue when trying to toddle around in Dom is the navigation.

Despite all the tech being good enough to make use of – the UI for things like the Galaxy Map and the Nav-Com was pretty much ‘Rapid Application Development’ – and bolted together to “make it look like it worked” to give me something to show. Not that it’s poor code – but it all falls far short of the mark for a “Usable navigation system”.

So – as promised in the previous post – I fixed up some creepage issues with docking, the basic trading system, the 3D UI interactions, the NPC’s moving about – and then turned my attention to the Galaxy Map. What’s there is the very bare bones of the idea I envision – but it’s nigh on impossible to use in the state it’s in. Even for me! When testing the trade system again, I was struggling to choose another system using the map – it was easier to just aim my ship at an arbitrary star and engage the auto-pilot! (And yes, you will be able to do this in the game – turning on the Stellar HUD layer will show all star-systems in range, allowing you to just point and fly to a star of your choice, no map needed.)

The aim of the galaxy map is to have a fluid, intuitive system that lets you make sense of a cluster of 200,000 stars, in real-time, and arbitrarily make your way around the cluster without the map getting in your way. Nav-com will show you your waypoints, and routes it calculates between stars as you choose a new destination within your drive’s parameters.

Filters allow you to highlight systems of interest – inhabited, uninhabited, one’s with asteroids/ringsystems, systems with trading stations, repair stations, mining zones and so on. ‘Boundaries’ such as Imperial Systems, Pax Trade Alliance members, the Dark Zone, Border Worlds. Trade routes will also be shown (within the Pax at least), indicating principal traded goods, volume of trade. Danger zones – piracy, conflict and wars – which you can program your nav-com to avoid. Filter by tech level, economy, population, police enforcement levels, naval presence – basically everything. The in-game database is SQL like, so it’s just a matter of slapping a query together and filtering out the systems. It’s highly likely that in the final build I’ll expose this in some easy to use form for you to create your own filters.

One cool aspect of the UI framework I’ve built is that one UI ‘component’ can invoke another… so if a news event were to occur in a particular system, clicking on a link will invoke the galaxy map and show you the location of that system.

I’ve also had an awesome idea on how the Pax Trade Alliance will help you become a better trader – but I’m keeping it under wraps until I can implement it. But, when the time eventually comes – you’ll definitely want to earn enough credits to pay for a PTA Membership 😉

Anyway – that’s all ‘down the road’ ideas-wise. Right now, I’ve got a fair amount of tweakage to get on with. I’d like to get the galaxy map and nav-com into a solid (even if non-final) look and feel, robust enough to not need any further dev work and let me navigate the entire galaxy before I embark on the gameplay dev. That means a fair bit of UI upgrade work, and I really want to reduce the size and look of that 3D font to pack more text real-estate into the UI. But, it’ll be worth it – if I can get even half-way to realising on screen what I visualise in my head, I’ll be happy…

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Author: Mak View all posts by

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