Friday, 9 September 2016

Sprint Update 09.09.16 UI so serious? :)

It’s been a funny old sprint this one really, obviously going on ‘holiday’ didn’t get in the way of us continuing to crack on with development and so although we were spread over some 6000 miles the 3 of us managed to put in some fairly exciting changes even while away visiting family on various continents.

By the second half of the sprint we were all back in the UK too and so it has been business as usual for the last week or so.

Rich literally stepped off of an overnight plane from the States and had to run to join Harry and Pontus at Microsoft’s London offices for a Greenshoots workshop on building to Windows Store and Xbox.

Windows Store and Xbox Workshop

The workshop was led by the ever enthusiastic Ago Simonetta of the Xbox team and we were also joined by Richard Hackett of Xbox’s developer team. We covered the tech and hardware constraints, XboxLiveID shipping, and we covered more technical information about deploying to the Windows Store. We Also got a free lunch - which is something every real indie is seriously comitted to! (Thanks Ago!)
It was a great opportunity to catch up with some of the other developers from the Greenshoots funding program we are part of and see some of their work. We also got a closer look at Mark Backler’s title ‘Lost Words’ (which Rich is incredibly jealous of because it’s such a neat concept and one that he had a semblance of a similar idea for a couple of years back too!).

So what dev and design work have we been up to while on our travels??

Tall Tales

There was some progress on story and outlining some of the level designs associated, this should help us with picking out which levels will be the best showcases of mechanics for the alpha, and make sure that we push the hacking mechanics accordingly over the coming sprints.

Deploy Deploy

We also did a decent bit of work going through all of the AppId setup for Windows Store and getting all our publishing ducks in line ahead of our Microsoft visit.
As well the obligatory Lua fix ups, Harry has been focusing primarily on getting the game working on the Windows 10 store, this has required a few changes to our code base as well as a few tweaks to support Unity’s fancy new IL2CPP feature.
The results look pretty good so far!
At the end of this sprint we also got some pretty exciting news regarding platforms we’ll be able to distribute to customers on, so watch this space, we can’t wait!

UI is dead. Long live the UI!

As mentioned in previous blog post, we’ve been rebuilding our user interface using Unity’s native UI system. The reasoning behind this is explained better in that post so let’s just say that the work is mostly done now, and we once again have a fully working user interface that does everything it used to do and looks like it used to too! Well, pretty close at least…
There are few bits and pieces that still need sorting out, but then again we’ve been able to add quite a few improvements, and there’s more to come! Redesigning the systems behind the UI, and rebuilding everything, took a bit of figuring out but now we have a pretty good setup that’s also quick to expand and that allows us to do some neat things that would have been really difficult to do with the previous setup. There are downsides, of course, HTML and CSS are excellent tools for creating layouts and some things were quite a lot easier to do with them than they are with Unity’s native UI. For example most of our user interface graphics, and all animations, were just coded with CSS while now we had to create sprites for all graphics and then create animation clips and set up Animators for everything. On the other hand more direct integration between UI and the rest of the game, and access to Unity’s EventManager and gamepad support, are great benefits.

Anyway, let’s just list some of the changes (in no particular order):
  • All new graphics for all windows & buttons
  • Inventory & file manager now use icon-based layout rather than the list we used to have
  • Message history now looks and works like you’d expect from any e-mail application, with a dual-panel layout with a messages list on the left side and contents of the currently selected message on right side.
  • Menus now work properly with both gamepad and mouse&keyboard controls
  • We’ve converted in-game apps to run on Lua scripts, and they get added to the app menu automatically
  • Data view tracking progress bar was moved to the top of the screen (we’ll add some app sub-menus at some point and the old location would have been in the way)
  • The tracking progress bar can also display other useful messages
  • All notifications appear along the right edge of the screen, in a single dynamic list
  • We can now display multiple popup messages (if necessary)
  • The UI scales with screen size (we might add some scaling presets at some point…)

…there are still some things that need sorting out, our popup menu is positioned correctly and we are checking to make sure it stays above screen’s bottom edge, but we still need to deal with what happens if the list is longer than what the screen resolution would allow. And browsing through items in menus doesn’t currently auto-scroll the page so you need to use a scroll bar instead. We were slightly surprised that Unity’s scrolling system doesn’t do that automatically, but no worries, we’ll come up with something to make it work!
So, now we’ll just polish few things here and there, and then start working on a completely new part of the user interface. You’ll hopefully hear more about that in the next blog post, but let’s just say it includes even more Lua & modding API, connects with our data & network systems, and adds some interesting gameplay options we’ve been planning for ages. ;)

What are Hue doing tonight?

Our new friend and fellow Greenshoots member Dan Da Rocha is throwing the launch party for his new game Hue tonight (Friday 9th September) at Loading Bar Dalston if you are in east London pop over as we’ll be there co working in the day and celebrating with Dan and Henry in the evening!
Hopefully see you there, otherwise we’ll catch you at the next sprint update!

Pontus, Rich and Harry.

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