FSNA: Noble User Interface

Developer Diary 5

As I noted in an earlier dev diary, the traditional RTS movement interface has a player select a unit (or group of units) and then select a point on the map where they should move or an enemy unit/structure for them to attack. There may be other bells and whistles (formations, speed, roles, etc.), but that is the heart of the UI. You can see a video of me explaining the UI HERE

The intricacies of spaceship maneuvering in the frictionless void requires something different. We debated automating that process, but doing so really seemed to eliminate one of the funniest aspects of the miniatures game. Instead we allow the player to freely change her ship’s facing (in one of eight directions) and then apply thrust in that direction.

Our lead programmer came up with an elegant system whereby players can either set the acceleration on a thrust tracker or by clicking and dragging from her ship. Clicking and dragging allows her to change facing, and the farther she drags the cursor from her ship, the more she accelerates.

The click-and-drag acceleration feature rarely takes more than two tries for a player to understand, and there is always the thrust fracker for players who want a more controlled system. This lets players really dig into the intricacies of the movement system and fine tune their maneuvering for maximum impact.

In our next Developer Diary, we will cover how we are handling game boundaries. What game user interfaces do you think were both innovative and easy to learn?

We had a great conversation on the GGDA livestream last night with George Skleres that covered a lot of topics, but really dug into UI design. Check the VOD out HERE.

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