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JTippetts

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Creepers gonna creep.
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The swordsmen, I can probably take, but the three shaman are probably going to mess me up. If they don't murder each other first, that is. The red goblins tend to have unstable tempers.

I've been getting back into it. I came to a realization some time back. I tend to step away from my game projects whenever I start thinking about or working on UI. I hate UI programming. It's just so tedious. This time around, I started working on the map screen system, and I just sort of dribbled off.

I think the main problem is that I just don't have a "system" for UI programming. For gameplay and engine work, I have my ways. They might not necessarily be the right ways, or the best ways, but they work for me. (They should work; I've been doing them for long enough.) I can usually get a gameplay demo or prototype up in a matter of days, using the various tricks and designs I have grown accustomed to. But I don't have any tricks or designs to facilitate development of UI. I can not rapidly iterate on UI designs, like I can on gameplay designs.

As far as gameplay goes, I'm still sort of hemming and hawing about how I want to manage the whole base-camp + mission map thingy. I've got a few days off work, and I'll likely spend most of it re-familiarizing myself with various systems. And maybe I'll sit down for a real serious think about how I can more comfortably fit into the role of UI designer.
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I'm not in love with UI design too ;-) Small changes in gameplay often needs the overhaul of half the UI and this on top of the annoying interface you already have for feature X for several years.

 

For me the following actions lessened the pain of working with the UI, maybe here are some useful tips for you:

 

1. Don't paint your own icons until the game is ready for release, use this awesome icon database (free) instead: here

 

2. I stopped using a compact GUI (known from old RTS game), but a more open group concept, much like in a MMORPG. I have several GUI elements grouped together and attach them to the border (top-middle,left-bottom). Changes often only involve a single group and repositioning the groups is quite easy.

 

3. I stopped trying to use some costly GUI backgrounds. Repositioning icons is easy, trying to paint some new background for a new icon group is expensive.

 

4. There are sometimes UI features which go beyond simple GUI, e.g. UI visualisation in the 3d game world itself. I often have avoided these, because I fear the effort I need to put into it. The bad solution was often some kind of cheap workaround. But eventually I was never happy with all these work-arounds and stopped after several years. If you need some of these expensive/difficult UI features, then try to slowing prototype them into your game.

 

 

Your game still looks like something I would like to play, so, keep it up, can't wait for the release ;-)

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#1 is my chief downfall. I've never used anything but my own artwork before. But I fall into the trap of spending a lot of effort on making it look fairly nice, only to throw it away a few weeks later.

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