User Experience

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 18:52 -- BlueWinds

So, believe it or not, I have still been working on the next sequel, and it's getting close to "demo-ready".

Over the last couple days I've been adding the market, where a player buys and sells cargo in various cities - the primary way of making money, other than completing storyline jobs.

The biggest thing that keeps slowing me down is iterating on the User Interface. I think a lot of amateur games consider it of secondary importance, "I'll fix it later" - but they never do, and in a game, the experience is everything. Cursed is a wonderful game, with great writing, but it's a horror to look at.

For a game like the one I'm developing, there's a lot of information to squeeze into not all that much space. How to present that information without causing "huge wall of text" issues is an interesting challenge, and one I keep iterating on. Lots of mouse-overs is one method - and unlike BrothelS.im, the mouseovers are aimed at providing mechanical information, rather than flavor tidbits.

Another method is consistent colors / layout, hinting at what things mean without needing to make them explicit. Stats are always ordered a certain way, so when you see an empty box with a couple of dim numbers, it's readily apparent what it means - fill that box with a character matching those numbers.

Anyway, I'm still not 100% happy with some of my solutions, but I think when you see it in action you'll see how much I've learned in the process and agree how much of an improvement it is over my previous games. :)

Comments

Raindrops (not verified) on

Yeah. The UI is important. In the last game, we have to talk to the girls in order to check their stats, it's pretty inconvenient. Hopefully in the sequel we can view all informations easily like in the original Brothels.im

BlueWinds on

That was an intentional choice on my part - if you want to know something about a person, you have to talk to them! BrothelS.im was very much a "personal" simulator - you were a single person, and how you spent your time was the most important factor. It was an interesting experiment, but I'm not sure how well it worked.

The new game steps back a little, into a more traditional player role of "impartial observer." You have a POV character still, but it's less about occupying her shoes than BSim was.

Raindrops (not verified) on

I see. It does make sense even if it's inconvenient. I'll leave it up to you to decide. By the way, will you include exhibitionism scenes? 'cuz that's my favorite fetish.

BlueWinds on

You'll be able to see complete stats for everyone (almost) any time you please.

I'm not entirely sure on what sexy stuff will be in the game - probably at least a little exhibitionism, given that it's so easy to fit into a plot, but I make no promises yet.

ab1189 on

The screenshots do look interesting. Getting more curious about the game. Not sure how to get a nice ui and also present a lot of information. More info about it could perhaps help :P (or just satisfy some curiosity :) ). But good to see the project is moving forward and hopefully i can assist with some testing at some point. 

BlueWinds on

I'm intentionally playing my cards close to my chest so far, dribbling out information slowly rather than in great heaping gobs. :)

Testing... yeah, I hate testing. As always I'll look forward to people's help in that regard.

Anonymous (not verified) on

I can recall you said something about adding sexual content, though I'm not sure what it was. How are those plans going?

BlueWinds on

The current plan in that regard is simple - a SFW and NSFW mode. Choose the first, you still get an entirely playable game, with plot and story and characters.

Choose the second, and you get the same, but with more content - you can actually sleep with people, in addition to building relationships, and you can do things like whore yourself for cash, bribe officials with sex, and transport sex toys as cargo.

There's currently no plans to add any additional fetish toggles, or anything that would require them. One of the three game-paths in significantly darker than the others, but will be clearly marked as containing non-consent before the player is committed.

winthr0p on

This is looking awesome!

Konb (not verified) on

Wow looks awesome, like another great flash game Carvanner, man I missed that game with it's economy system and all. Say will there be a battle system or anything the like, or just a stat check system? Asode from that game looks interesting, I'll be sure to check it out; goodluck in life, and relationships, and jobs, and programming, and all! 

BlueWinds on

Just stat-checks, no battle system. I think an awful lot of amateur games fall into the trap of adding a battle system when they don't really need it.

I took a look at Caravanner, but didn't get more than a couple minutes into it - the real-time navigation aspect really turned me off, and the poor production values (ugly colors, walls-of-text, grammer mistakes / weirdness everywhere, use of "men" as a generic instead of "people"). That is vaguely the sort of system I'm aiming for though - buy/sell, keep yourself fed and your ship repaired, hire crew, complete missions.

Vestrina on

Just curious, but will the new engine move away from the "auto scrolling" method that BrothelS.im used, where each new event became a new panel and it automatically scrolled to the bottom?

For whatever reason the previous engine proved troublesome on most tablet devices, and to be honest I don't think I ever scrolled back up to re-read the story, so it didn't provide much benefit to me.  I know touch interface compatibility isn't your primary concern, but since you're building a new UI I figured I mention it since it'd be nice to have. ^_^

BlueWinds on

I don't even want to think how many hours I spent wrestling with the scrolling library, trying to make it do what I wanted. ^^;; And, as you noticed, the results were still only "ok" rather than "good".

The new game (whose name I am not yet releasing ;) ) moves to a page-based system, like a visual novel - click or use the arrows to move between, each one taking up the whole view-port, with backscroll still available but not visible on-screen.

I am aiming for much better support for touch-screen devices this time. We'll see how well "aiming for" translates into "achieving" though.

Vestrina on

Fair enough, sounds good to me. ^_^

Arith on

The scrolling system works pretty good on PC browsers. I like it.

Just an idea, a switch in option page may help with this issue.

Joe4224 on

Where would you recommend someone whose looking to try their hand at making games to start?

BlueWinds on

Mmm, that's a tough one. It depends on what sort of games you're interested in.

A very first intro step would be trying to create additional content for games you already enjoy - just get used to thinking in those terms, of how data underlies gameplay.

Start small. Do NOT be ambitious with your first game. Have a tiny idea, make it, move on. You'll learn a lot more by finishing a small project than starting a large one.

Beyond that, look for a pre-existing framework rather than starting from scratch. RenPy is excellent - while it's designed for very "visual" games, it can be used for anything text-based, and making it do your bidding is still far easier than handling the gritty details yourself. Load? Save? File format? Getting things to show up on the screen? All those are coding, not game design. RPGMaker is also popular for this reason, though I personally despise it. >.>