The old GUI is history

Yes, you read that right. In a “shocking” turn of events I decided to scrap almost the whole old GUI for “Phase 2” in favour of a new and better one. Most of you might now ask if I went insane or so, but to counter this I’ll elaborate on why I scrapped the old GUI and decided to put a new one in : When I’m not in front of my PC and working on “Phase 2” (that’s actually the only thing I’m doing in front of the PC nowadays, no more gaming or such, spare time is rare for me) I always have pen and paper in close range so I can put down and work on new ideas anytime they hit me. Those of you that do game design (or anything related with design, art or such) know that you usually never get good ideas in front of the PC cause there is so much to distract you while in front of it. So some days ago I was relaxing a bit (watching the snooker world championship, congrats to Neil Robertson for winning it) when I suddenly got struck by a great new idea for a GUI redesign that would not only look much better than the old one, but would also add functionality and more information at the same time. You must know that I actually was never really satisified with the old UI, as the totally different looking windows (’though they looked kinda nice) made the UI look messy without a real direction. So I got this great idea that would make the UI look like it was made from one piece and get it in line with the design of the main menu and the nation selection screen. So this is what my idea looked like on paper :

And so over the last three days I tried to press out as much spare time as possible to get a first implementation of that idea running within “Phase 2”, and although there is still a lot of stuff missing (but that’ll change within the next few days, it’s not really hard implementing this new idea), it’s already looking great, and it’s even animated, adding a bit of dynamics to the whole UI thing.  So before talking about the new functionality, here are two preliminary screenshots (with lots of things missing) :

As you can see it really changed a lot. But contrary to the redesigns of the old windows this one** is not only a visual change but rather adds a lot of functionality as well as usability**. In the first shout you can see the new “navigation bar” with all symbols to access the different gameplay areas  (and one new icon, more on that in the future, it’s nothing spectacular). But what you also can see is a lot of free space besides (and below) these symbols. And that free space will be used to permanently display important information. When it’s finished you’ll be able to directly see what global project you’re currently working on, which technology is being researched, how many units you’re constructing and much more, adding a lot of usability. And on the second screengrab you can see what it looks like when a “window” is opened. Although you don’t get to see it in screenshots, this action is animated. If you click on a symbol, the navigation bar will slide to the right side of the screen to make room for the window while the window itself nicely slides to the left. Closing the window reverts it to the state seen in the first screenshot. Note that later on I also plan to move the globe to the left when a window is opened up to always have the globe visible.

So although the new design is still under heavy developement and missing a lot of things, I’m positive that it’ll turn out to be a good one as it makes the UI look like it’s made from one piece and also adds usability to the game. And another positive effect is the fact that it doesn’t take me weeks anymore to design visually appealing windows.