Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Game Design - Letting the UI Show It

A Short Combat Move

Games--especially our type of games--are often pretty complicated. There is a lot going on under the hood in terms of math, statistics, calculations, and special ways of playing that can help or hurt the player.

While a help file is a good start (the Cyber Knights one is growing, I promise!), I always feel like many of the nuances of a complicated game can be lost on a first (or second or third) time player because unless they see a specific and clear pattern to the happenings in the game, it can be very hard to intuit the rules.

For example--in Cyber Knights combat, you can execute a short combat move. This is any move of 2 tiles or less, which costs a number of action points equal to the distance you moved (1 tile = 1 AP). If you move 3 or more tiles, you always pay a full cost of 3 AP for the move. This can be extremely useful for melee combatants (Cyber Swords) or others with short ranged weaponry (shotguns, pluggers). However, unless you were watching your AP like a hawk, or had read the update of the help guide when that fact was published, you'd likely miss it!

The following are some screen shots of future updates for Cyber Knights that will start to "let the UI show it" where it is ... something. A first, second, or third time player may not know what the lighter green box around his character is while moving (any tile within the short combat move), but it prompts a curiosity, prompts a player to start watching for a pattern, or to even consult the help file. The second is a special purple highlight on the optimal range for your weaponry. Specific models of guns are best fired at specific distances, and getting closer or farther away than that distance has an impact on accuracy. Without letting the UI show it, you'd have to memorize your equipment and count squares, and hope your counting was good!

Optimal Range in Combat

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