Sep 122013
 

This week I’ll talk about the creation of the gui for Legend of Grimrock 2. Let’s get rolling!

From the past experience with graphical user interfaces (GUI) we know that creating a gui that not only looks great but is also effortless and intuitive to use is hard work. For LoG1 we did many, many iterations before settling down with the final design (by scanning older blog posts you can see various incarnations that evolve to the final version). We are pretty happy with the original gui but as always there is still room for improvement. So, we spent a week with Juho furiously working on the gui and this is what we got:

The changes are not just eye-candy, some of them make the gui more usable. For example, you can now cycle through the characters by clicking on the arrows on the left and right side of the portrait. Also, the main statistics, experience, food, health, energy, protection and evasion are always visible on the upper half of the character sheet. With a quick glance you can now see whose character sheet is open regardless which tab is active.

On the visual side, the little drips of brown and green here and there remind of the new outdoor environments. A little feature that we wanted to do for Grimrock 1, but didn’t have enough time, is race and gender specific inventory panel backgrounds. Naturally now that we have moddable races (did I mention this feature already?), mods can define new background images for new races.

Like before the stats tab shows the remaining statistics, such as ability scores and resistances. We improved the layout a bit and grouped left and right hand statistics in their own boxes. As a new feature the percentile chance of scoring critical hits is now displayed in the stats tab.

(For the technically inclined, the gui elements in Grimrock 1 were manually packed in a texture atlas and the coordinates and sizes of every element were painstakingly entered in the code. For the new gui, I coded a simple texture packer that spews out a big texture atlas containing all the bits and pieces and a Lua file with the coordinates. The texture atlas has currently 192 pieces, so needless to say, making new iterations is now a lot less painful than with the old gui system!)

LoG2 will have many new harmful and beneficial conditions that your characters can have. The conditions used to be seen only in the stats tab, but the tab was getting a bit crowded, so the conditions are now indicated on the portrait. This is a very natural place for them, so I don’t know why we didn’t realize this earlier. Anyway, if you have any harmful condition the portrait rectangle turns red and by hovering on the portrait with the mouse you get a detailed list of all active conditions and their effects on the character.

Perhaps even more important than the character sheet is the attacking interface on the lower right corner of the screen (see below). We have also redesigned the attack frames so that the rune panel fits on the screen without hiding the little portrait and health and energy bars. It’s a lot cleaner now, especially with multiple mages. As a side effect the attack buttons are now a little bigger making it easier to hit them in the heat of battle.

Observant readers may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Skills tab of the character sheet yet. I actually skipped that on purpose, because the skill system has went through a major redesign and I reserve the subject for another blog post! Ha!

There you have it, until next time! …And back to coding! :)

  34 Responses to “New GUI”

  1. The new GUI system looks like a great improvement. The new overall layout with the fixed character information at the top and the tabs at the bottom looks more user friendly. The bigger attack buttons will be nice too, although the rune table looks weird without any dividing lines between the runes! It’s great that you can see the spell casting interface as well as the character portrait – that means that having 2 back-row mages will be easier to handle.

    The GUI layout/gfx code sounds much nicer. As you’re talking about that now being well defined as a texture and with a lua file containing the sprite/piece locations, is it likely that the overall GUI will be ‘skinnable’ in mods? That would be really cool for sci-fi mods!

    One last note… I reckon a tiny slot for a ring would fit just nicely under the hands slot in the bottom left of the character load-out. Okay, maybe there isn’t quite enough space, but it would be awesome if you could wear rings!

    • Thanks for the comments! About the spell casting interface: not only is the grid gone, but something else weird is going on too… ;-) revelations for another blog post!

      • Colour me interested! Can’t wait to see how you tweak the magic system.

      • It’s a gesture/sweep mechanism, isn’t it? ;-) Bonus spell effects for accuracy/speed…

        Have you considered some other encumbrance system? I find that weight is not very intuitive in a computer game (the inherent lack of physicality) and trying to find heavy items to drop in LoG1 was rather fiddly and micromanage-y. Personally I’d like a stack system, as used in many MMORPGs. Character strength and perks can dictate the number of available inventory slots. You can do away with weight completely – it’d be indirectly encoded as the maximum stack size of a certain item type. Light/small items get large stack sizes and vice versa.

        In LoG1, there are dual constraints, which is fiddly to manage as a player. The player can’t give, say, all unused armour to one character, since that would exceed the weight limit. As the same time the player can’t put all food on the same character either, because there aren’t enough slots. The result is that you have to spread items across the entire party. It results in manual scanning through inventories for items and arithmetical “inventory Tetris” to keep everything below the weight limits.

        Numbers-wise the systems can be made very similar, but a stacking system has less clutter and it’s more immediately apparent whether you have room for items. An item can’t take up *more* than one slot and often it will take up *less* than one slot (because you have an incomplete stack).

        I’ve loved what you’ve shown of LoG2 this far though and just thought I’d put this out there as a most humble suggestion. ;-)

  2. YYEEEAH i loooove GUIs and this one seems like such an improvement!

    Jussst a question; do the arrows like up on mouse hover? I didn’t even notice they might have been arrows until you said so.

    Also, that character looks a bit like me! :P

  3. Changes look great and moddable races is an awesome news!

    Is there a chance for rings and belts? Petri mentioned on the forum that rings would be difficult to spot on the floor. Rings could glare once in a bit (or when properly illuminated).

    Belts could have special function, e.g. assassin belt with slots for extra throwing weapons for rogues. Once the champion runs out of daggers, he picks up the next available throwing weapon. Other belt types could be useful as well, e g. alchemist belt for potions.

    Definitely looking forward for the skills update.

    Great update! Thanks a lot for keeping us informed.

  4. Nice looking GUI!

    First questions:
    If the portrait has arrows in left and right for cycling characters then whats with the arrow in left of inventory/stat window?
    And what does the left/right hand show if character has shield or any other object equipped?

    Then comments:
    Maybe loose the Resist word before resistance, it should be obvious enough?
    How about showing weapon speed in left/right hand?
    And continue with this, how about ever so popular dps?

  5. Very nice !

    Just one question : will you add 1 or 2 small quick slots for drinking potions or throw bombs ?
    This point was, from my point of view, the worst thing that was missing in LOG 1.

    You can consider every character wears a belt with quick access to one bomb or one potions.
    This would make them more useful, or more used because easily reachable, instead of needing to open inventory, clic on it etc…

  6. The new GUI looks like it fits very well with the screenshots you’ve posted so far. The grouping of the stats will be a very convenient feature too. This post brings up some comments for me though:

    One of the characters has knives in both hands. Does this mean dual wielding?

    Will effects be modable also? You could script an effect in the current dungeon editor, but there wasn’t really any good way to let a player know of it.

    Key bindings for attacking would be very nice, perhaps even with the numpad for spells. It is hard to click on things once they recharge with a mousepad, especially spells.

    And finally, “1 or 2 small quick slots for drinking potions or throw bombs” would be very nice. A quick slot would make healing potions worth a whole lot more in the midst of battle.

  7. i can’t help but think this would just play brilliantly on my ipad, but then remembered I have a surface pro also, so looking forward to that :) I should probably try the original one as the surface now that i think about it.

  8. Thanks for responding earlier to your team size and telling me you are six members….

    So my next question is since your team is so small and you have so much work to do, How many hours a day do the artists and SINGLE programmer work? Do you also work weekends?

    Thanks again for such a fine game!

    • We generally try to avoid overtime and try to keep it to 8 hours a day and 5 days a week. Of course when things need to be done (close to launch), then some extra hours are not unusual.

  9. I wonder, will you be able to import custom portraits like with the first game?

  10. I really like the graphic style and the tweaks you done to the GUI. I love LoG and will love LoG 2 even more im sure, there is only one thing i miss and that is a waterbar below the foodbar. The party could have leather bottles with water they fill at different places like springs, streams, underground caves and so on. It would make us care abit more about our characters. Thanks for making these games!

  11. I really like to read these development blogs. The GUI is looking quite good, and I hope you don’t mind if I tell my opinion how it could be even better. I’m going to write in a quite straightforward way, so please remember that these are only my opinions.

    My comments are about the image which shows the stats tab.

    The white text feels like it is drawn to a separate layer which is planted on top of the stone texture. The text should be sized and positioned more carefully. Or if the text size cannot be changed, the space should be resized.

    The space for character name is a little bit too small to look perfect. There should be a little bit more space above and below the name. The experience numbers on top of the experience bar are too tall. Smaller font should be used.

    You should pay attention to the line spacing. In the top where the main statistics are, there are 5 lines of text and 3 different line spacings. It would look much better if the experience, food, health and energy lines were uniformly spaced.

    In the left/right hand information boxes, there are more empty space in the bottom than in the attributes/resistances boxes. The attributes/resistances boxes look much better, because the top and bottom margins are the same. It also looks much better if the top/bottom margins are the same and the left/right margins are the same. And of course, all boxes should have same the margin sizes, now it seems that every margin in every box is different.

    The stats tab has too much space for the information presented, both vertically and horizontally. That space should be used somehow. The actual data should be presented quite compactly and the additional space should just be filled somehow. Maybe some stone carvings, vines or something. Maybe images of the used weapons.

    Everything could be moved up so that there are no empty unused space in the top (above attributes and resistances boxes) and then decorate the bottom part.

    With current layout, there is a lot of empty space between the attributes and their values. It would look better if they were closer to each other. That can be achieved using bigger left/right margins or adding some vertical background art that makes the space more narrow.

    Remove all colons from the text, they are totally unnecessary and don’t look good. There are spaces around the “/” character in the experience value, but not in the health/energy values. They should all use the same style, whichever it is.

    The text is now totally white which doesn’t look to my eye because white is the only bright color used in the GUI. A little bit darker text color could look better.

    I’m not the biggest fan of the font used. There are very thin parts in the characters which do not look so good. Especially the “/” character looks quite bad. If you can control the character spacing, you could try making the spacing a little bit bigger and see if it makes the text look better.

    That’s it for now, I’ll tell if still something comes to mind :)

    • Thanks for the the detailed report, Mika! I agree with you. I have not polished the layout because we have been thinking about changing the font and the layout would need to be tweaked with the new font. We wanted to give this early sneak peak into the GUI to get some feedback even though the GUI is not yet polished.

  12. What i really liked about Might & Magic was that the status of a character was reflected on this picture. So a diseased characters portrait changed to a version where he looks diseased, poisoned, cursed ….

  13. I can’t wait to dig into this game…no other game last year had me so committed to discovering all its nooks and crannies as Legend of Grimrock. One of the things I loved so much about LoG was the skill system…it really felt like I was making meaningful choices about my characters future, and I enjoyed the discovery of opening up new features of a skill.

    I’m sure you will be thorough in your consideration of the future of the skills system, but I seriously hope you don’t stray too far from the original.

    Thanks for a great game, and a future of great games.

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