Towards diegetic and meta UI

We are testing some user interface (UI) ideas in this build. There's a nice article in Gamasutra about four kind of interfaces with fancy names I usually have to look up because I forget which one is which, that are related to game geometry and narrative:

Diegetic: UI that is included in the game world, like Isaac's life bar in Dead Space (his own space suit). It's part of the narrative.
Meta: It maintains the game's narrative but it's not represented in the game space, like GTA4's phone (which was an on-screen sprite)
Spatial: UI elements present in the game's 3D space that break narrative, like character outlines in Left4Dead or arrows that guide the player.
Non-diegetic: UI that is rendered outside the game world, like Mario's classic life, score and time texts. They don't maintain the narrative.

Ideally, those that keep narrative (Diegetic and Meta) and more inversive than those that break it (Spatial and Non-diegetic). We are testing two designs in this build:

Testing diegetic and meta UI
  • Heat is shown as a heat sink in the back of the ship that turns redder the hotter it is, until it overheats. The heat sink is diegetic, the 'overheated' text that appears when the ship overheats is non-diegetic. We might remove the text at some point if we figure out how to tell the user about it with in-game elements. (Maybe the heat sink throws vapor particles while cooling down?)
  • Hull damage is shown as an increasingly shattered screen glass, which would be a meta UI. Feels nice, but it requires more work. We might remove it by adding smoke, sparks and damage textures to our ship.

You can test both by activating the Boost skill (W + F), which will heat the ship up, or by colliding repeatedly with asteroids, which now damages your ship (which also requires more feedback like sparks coming out the contact point)

But there were plenty of updates in Crossing Galaxies this week!

  • You can play with a XBox controller if you have one attached to your PC by simply pressing the START button.
  • We added viper-like u-turns! This was something we wanted since this project started, and can be tested in the current build! By double-pressing the S key (fly backwards) our ship will turn 180º to face incoming Cylon raiders!
  • We also added some camera shaking when using the Boost skill. Just as a test to synchronize camera effects with skills (like Boost, Dash or UTurns)

On the programming-side of things...

  • One of those non-visible updates was a SystemScheduler class that allows us to define the execution order of our systems. The way it works now makes our lives way easier!
  • FX effects now use something called Scriptable Objects, which are terribly useful to make things configurable. Each weapon may have its own shooting FX.

And that's it! Please download and play, and don't be shy: share your thoughts in the Community section!

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