TWOAS Dev Diary #8

This is the eighth entry of my weekly dev diary for The Weight of a Soul.

Progress

I spent most of the week catching up on some other schoolwork. I had to take some other courses to make up academic credits, and while I’ve been doing my best to ignore them, work has a way of sneaking up on you. I designed a webpage and wrote a literature essay, so that was most of my week gone.

Nonetheless I did scrape some time together to get stuff done. I’ve started work on the last bit of Day Three. I’m not sure if I will actually be able to finish by October 15 — I might need another week — but the end is so close. I have 3-4 more scenes to write, and then Day Three will be complete.

User Interface

My mentor has reminded me that it would be a good idea to have something to show for my work-in-progress presentation — while writing a whole bunch of extra content is well and good, it doesn’t make for very good optics when the reviewers ask “So what else have you done?” For this reason I’m going to have to set some time aside to make a mockup of the UI The Weight of a Soul is going to have in its final release.

Based on the feedback I’ve gathered, the UI needs to accomplish the following goals:

Improve readability

While the current presentation of text is “traditional,” it leaves much to be desired. When modern games have large chunks of text, they tend to break them up with colored text, italicized text, emphasized and de-emphasized sections, and even tooltips where necessary to convey background information. This is something that Vorple could accomplish.

Signpost interactions

The most common problem with players who aren’t familiar with text adventures: they don’t know the verbal vocabulary and have a hard time getting used to this mode of interaction. A possible workaround is buttons for interactions, as in many point-and-click adventure games.

We could have icons for “look”, “examine”, “talk to”, “go”, and perhaps contextual ones like “sleep” or “take”. Icons for “help”, “map”, “hints”, and the all-important “commands” are also important. Clicking these icons would automatically insert the appropriate verb into the command prompt, or in the case of the out of world commands, jump straight to the appropriate help page.

Look pretty

Well, naturally. If the UI had more fancy trim and graphics in the style of the existing map drawn by Shanflower, it would improve the game experience and also immerse the reader further in the game world.


I’ll probably end up spending another day or so on creating the UI mockup in Illustrator — the typography, icons, fancy divider artwork, etc. aren’t going to create themselves. With luck, I’ll have a nice looking series of mockups by the end of next week, and also have completed a good chunk of the remainder of Day Three.

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