February 2009

GUI, GUI-Editor and Espionage (along with some sabotage)

So in the last update from January I promises you some more information on the progress of “Phase 2” for Projekt “W” along with some screenshots, and today I’m gonna keep this promise! Although I’m still not having as much time for coding (and working) on “Phase 2” as I’d like to have I still manged to do a lot of stuff during the last days and weeks towards the road to “Phase 2”. The last update already hinted at me redoing the whole espionage and sabotage part and that’s what I spent most of my spare time on. Most of what I intended to change is already written down within the source and recently I went on to redo the whole userinterface for the espionage (and sabotage) part of the game to reflect these changes.
Actually I only wanted to rearrange the UI elements of the former espionage window to reflect the changes for “Phase 2”, but then I got struck by a great idea (as usual not in front of my computer, but somewhere else) and I decided to give this a try.
So instead of a bland window scattered with dozens of listboxes, panels and dropdowns, I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if the new espionage window (which from now on is called “secret agency”) would make you feel like you’re digging through confidential papers and photos?”. So  I fired up my imaging application and drew a quick mock-up of my idea to see what it would look like in-game. And I must say that I was promptly convinced of that ide. So I threw away all my old plans for remaking the espionage UI and instead continued on that idea and refined it with some additions to the user interface functionality of my game. So if you now open up the new “secret agency” you’ll be presented with the great looking window you can see at the top-left of this text, which in my opinion adds a lot to the immersion of the game as it’s no longer just a plain window, but makes you feel like you’re doing real espionage work on your desk. (Note that the window is not final, it’s still work-in-progress!)

Other than that I did a lot of work on the GUI and my editor for it. The editor now has a much better workflow than it had in the beginning, including a lot of small tools to make things easier (multi-selection, group-selection, possibility to switch to ingame UI-behaviour on-the-fly) and let’s me create new windows in a matter of seconds. The GUI itself also has some new features, including the possibility to group objects, something that was easy to implement and allows me to e.g. hide or show a group of UI-elements with one command, something that’s needed for the new way espionage works. Also new is the support for different fonts (the game uses texture fonts, stored in DDS files along with character size information in a separate file), so I can now select a different font for each UI element (where it applies, so not for elements that don’t display text). Something that was missing from the inital GUI, where all objects used the same font. And just in case you’re interested in seeing what my GUI looks like, here are two screenshots (mostly not of interest if you’re not a coder) :

And on a sidenote, I received the “Most active project”-Award 2008 from the german Delphi OpenGL Community for “Projekt W”. Hopefully I can build upon that in 2009, although I don’t have that much time left for coding as I had when I first started to work on the game.