November 2011

“Phase 2” – November work-in-progress video

I’ve just uploaded a new work-in-progress video from my current version of Projekt “W” – Phase 2. It’s been some time since my last posting on “Phase 2”, and though I didn’t have that much time to work on it I still got a lot of stuff done, and what’s better than showing screenshots of that new stuff? Correct, showing an HD video of it :

As you can see I (once again) redid the whole user interface. Some may think I’m nuts when it comes down to the UI, with having at least half a dozen complete changes to it, but this time I actually had a good reason. You may remember the last arc-shaped user interface that looked just great? The looks sadly couldn’t cover all the problems that design had, so I decided to throw it away in favour of something far more simple. The last design looked good, but wasted a lot of screenspace due to it’s arc shape and also was only able to display one single window at a time, resulting in a very bad and annoying workflow, especially after longer periods of play.
One good example was the new region list, a window with all regions in your posession. Clicking on one of them brings up that region, and in the arc design this caused the region list to disappear due to the nature of that user interface, making regular tasks like managing your reasons very tiresome. With the new design, which is kinda back to the roots it’s now (again) possible to have several windows open. So if you look at the video you’ll see what I mean. You can now have the region list to the left and the region’s window on the right and quickly switch through all your regions and manage them, a perfect workflow.
But that’s not all, as the new design also offers a lot more space for the different windows. The old arc design wasted a lot of space and made it especially hard to display windows with lots of information, like the espionage one. So with this radical different design I’ve got much more space to display important information, increasing usability even more.

And (as also shown in the video) I also redid the main menu, endgame screen and battlefield user interface, so that the game’s user interface now looks seamless. That’s something I’ve been wanting from the very beginning of the development on “Phase 2″‘, but never really achieved with the old user interface designs. But now the game truly feels like it’s made from one piece, especially with the new icons that I created in my 3D modeller.

But it won’t stop here. I did a lot of things behind the scenes to get into a state where I can release at least a beta, though I’m not sure if this will happen 2011, with 2012 being more likely. For example the performance of the user interface was never that good, and now with the possibility to (again) have multiple windows open at the same time I realized that the UI was performing really bad. So I spent weeks optimizing it, taking away a huge part of the CPU limitation that was caused by the user interface. Now many items are rendered via vertex arrays, texture IDs are cached, hit tests are optimized and much more, resulting in roughly 200% performance increase for the user interface.