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Item Menus

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Going to try to update a bit more often again.

Yesterday I made some fixes to the item menus. It was an interesting problem to make them work.

The idea is that certain objects, like chests, corpses, etc. contain multiple objects that you could pick up.

We didn't want to go the Diablo/Titan Quest route of having chests spill their items all over the floor, for a couple of reasons. One is that the physics doesn't work great with all shapes, especially really thin ones. Another is that this is not a click and move game, and having the items in one place makes less walking around between items for the player.

So, we needed a way to display one or more menus of items, and an easy way for players to pick items from the menu.

First I tried a system where the center of the screen was treated as a mouse cursor, sort of like in Doom3. Unlike in Doom3, however, our menus weren't fixed in place to a physical object, but floating above a corpse, so as you moved the camera to line something up, the menu moved, potentially away from you.

Next I tried a scheme where hitting Tab froze the camera, and brought up a mouse cursor. This had two problems. One is that freezing the camera suddenly felt really wrong, as normally it moves very naturally and smoothly. Another is that the whole mouse cursor thing felt really strange, when the rest of the game doesn't use one. This mode also froze the character in place.

Finally I settled on a system where hitting Tab toggles the item-display mode. The menus float above the container, but the character can move around as normal. The closest corpse or container shows its contents in a text menu, and you can use the keyboard arrow keys or the mouse wheel to highlight an item, an space to pick it up. The fact that you don't have to use a cursor means that the camera moving is not an issue, so the character can continue to be controlled. Distant containers just show their name, but not their contents. Lastly, I made single inventory objects, like guns placed by the level designer, show up as just their name.

The upshot is that it now feels good, and is fast to pick up items.

Here is a shot of one of the mayan-themed levels, where the character is next to a corpse with two guns.

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I think this generation of games will be known for having really nice fonts.

Seriously -- I only played Half-Life 2 because the in-game font was so nice to look at.

Am I weird?

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No, I agree with you Rav. Their whole user interface just looked so damn...clean...I <3 HL2 in every way. The UI in Counter-Strike as well.

But yea...the Mayan level looks awesome Sim...very professional :-) What about adding some bump mapping + intense specular lighting off the rocks, and light shafts from the sky, maybe make it look like it just rained....mmmmmm, that might be a little cliche, but it would still rock (no pun intended).

Keep up the good work man.

- Dan

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