WARNING! LONG POST INBOUND! Bring engines up to maximum thrust. Starboard batteries, bring collective fire to target at mark 47 range 41.8! I uh… I don't know what I'm saying…
I was planning on working on my UI framework today, but I got busy doing design document work. (It's odd, but I'm actually having fun writing the design document. Perhaps its because I mix it up with mockups and small code prototypes, rather than one giant, long writing session.)
Speaking of which, I've made some interesting progress on certain aspects of the game's design that are worth showing off. Keep in mind that the ships in the picture are shamelessly stolen from the Internet, and they won't be what's actually used in the game. They're just samples of what might be.
Also, a bit of a description of what it all means follows the images as well. But I know you're only here for the shiny stuff, so that first!
These cards should give you not only a hint of the visual style I'm gunning for, but also how some of the game mechanics are expected to work.
Each ship card will show a picture of the ship that it corresponds to. Right now, I'm just using some images for some 3D models that I may or may not purchase (they're actually kind of expensive). Ultimately, in the game, I'm thinking that this will actually be a drawing of the ship rendered to a render target then redrawn as a sprite, so that it shows things that are actually happening to your ship (damage effects, etc.). This will give the cards a sort of "live" feel to them, like the images in Harry Potter. (Try to do that with a physical board game!)
Below that is the ship's name. Each ship will be given a unique name, and that's displayed here, with a background that matches the team's color. (Get your cards to do that, too!)
You can see that I've got a red team and a green team here, with the red team having one destroyer and the green team having two frigates. (Ah crap! The text says "Destroyer"! They're frigates, gosh darn it! I'll have to fix that later….)
Speaking of that, below the ship's name is its class and designation.
There are certain pre-made ship classes that will exist in the game. They'll outline basic ship capabilities, plus the upgrade types that are available for it. Two ships of the same class will generally appear the same, and you can see that the two green frigates are both Black Fire class frigates.
One way that the game will be expandable is by adding in additional ship classes to use as your starting point.
I don't think the player will be able to design their own ship classes from the ground up. I don't know if that will really be possible, based on the higher priority need of good game balancing (to avoid "pay to win" scenarios). But perhaps the tools will be accessible, and you'll be able to design your own classes for use between you and your friends or something. We'll see.
Below the ship class is a row that contains the ship's total life/health/strength, and the ship's engine rating.
As I mentioned in the earlier document, most ships will have a total strength of 3, with more powerful ships not getting more strength, just protecting them better. All three of these ships follow that pattern, and stick with the standard 3 hits. But this leaves open the option for some variation in this regard.
A ship's engine rating comes in three parts (two of which are shown here). The first is a set of points that can be used for either moving forward or turning 60 degrees to either side. (To the next direction in a hexagonal grid that the game will be played on.) The baseline engine rating is 2 points of this type, allowing you to either move two spaces forward, turn twice (so you're almost facing behind you), or turn once and move once.
Sometimes, ship classes or ship upgrades will provide you with additional movement. Sometimes, this is in an extra point or two of this same type of movement (turn or move) while other times, it's limited to just turning, or just moving. For these cases, this movement shows up a little differently, as shown on the Sword of Ares card. The Sword of Ares has the normal 2 movements, plus an extra rotation, making it extra maneuverable (but not extra fast). The other two ships simply have the base movement.
The next row down is the Upgrades Bar. This bar indicates which upgrades this type of ship can include. As it turns out, all three of these ships could add on a Missile Upgrade, as indicated by the missile icon, while the Sword of Ares also has another available upgrade: the Shield Upgrade.
The grayed out upgrades are currently being unused. It isn't always wise to fully upgrade your ships. Upgrades, like the ships themselves, cost points to include in your fleet. Sometimes, depending on the location and your general play style, it may be better to have more ships that have fewer upgrades. So you can see that the Sword of Ares as well as the Styx have both chosen to forego an upgrade.
While the specific upgrades are not shown here, it is easy to imagine that the Acheron and the Sword of Ares have used their Missile Upgrades on different upgrade types, because their cards don't really show the same effects. Perhaps the Acheron has upgraded with the Rail Gun Upgrade (which we'll say has the Missile Upgrade Type) that has converted one of its standard dice into a red Attack die, giving it much higher odds of rolling Hits (and giving up the Shields). The Sword of Ares has potentially elected to upgrade with the Long Range Missile upgrade, which is a secondary weapon that allows it to hit targets farther away than usual, without modifying its standard dice roll.
On the bottom row is the dice that the ship rolls on a standard roll. You can see from the red die on the Acheron that this already accounts for ship upgrades that are in place that modify its standard roll, because it has a red Attack die instead of another blue Standard die.
Not shown here is the dice that are rolled for a secondary weapon. That would be shown on the secondary weapon card, and only used when the player elects to use their secondary attack instead of their primary one. Secondary weapons are usually more powerful, but usually limited in number of usages.
Finally, down in the bottom right corner is a little icon that indicates which set the ship/card came from. This is another nod to the board game universe, where this is incredibly common in games that have expansions.
Just to reiterate, the intention here is that you might pay money for each new expansion, and while you might pay to have more variety, I really want to avoid any sort of "pay to win" problems with this game.
Having done this much of the design upfront now, I'm getting quite nervous about the abilities of my current UI framework. It's going to need some serious work to make it capable of dynamically drawing cards like these. So my goal in the few days left leading up to the competition (and keep in mind I only have a couple of hours each evening) is to expand my UI framework to draw these cards.
And once again, I think I'm starting to see how overly ambitious I've been. This is an insane amount of work, and I'm both excited and terrified about what lies in front of me in the month of November.
I might have to take some time off from work for this….