Rebuilding the UI
15 June 2018 by Jarryd Campi
UI in a management/sim game is crucial since a pretty large number of the systems a player will interact with are invisible or hard to see - a coherent, readable UI goes a long way to making sure that a player doesn't feel overwhelmed.
The UI in SkyCruise was always meant to be a temporary placeholder, so for the past few weeks we've been rebuilding it from the ground up. Ideally the new in-game UI needs to be simple, minimal and flexible - something that can be updated regularly as new features are added and removed.
All of the UI in this post is still under pretty heavy iteration and work, but it feels far enough along that it's worth sharing.
The Prop Window is pretty crucial in SkyCruise - all of your building, painting and expanding takes place here. The previous window looked like this:
The new Prop Window looks like this:
The first big change was unifying the Props, Paints and Expansions panels in the old UI into one new, single panel. Now whenever we add a new feature to the prop window, it will be applied across everything you can purchase in the game.
Information about the prop has been consolidated and simplified into a new Prop detail view at the top of the panel - here you can see weight/power/water usage, need effects and any other information we need to show. This info stays active when you're placing a prop, so you won't need to go back into the menu to double check whether you can afford something.
It also supports sub categories, allowing us to manually control where and how props are categorised and ordered.
The new prop inspector breaks down your stock levels, prices and durability - using visual representations of stock as well as a much cleaner layout.
The passenger inspector has had a couple of changes as well as a visual redesign. Complaints are now shown as simple icons instead of more sliders, and need sliders now change colour to help you judge the needs of a passenger at a glance.
A few testers have mentioned they'd be interested in trying out the new UI, so I set up a "newhud" branch on Steam this week for any existing testers to try it out. Be warned that it is missing some functionality right now, but it should be more or less functional.
Not a tester yet? Sign up to be a tester here for a chance to get a Beta key - I usually send them out with the monthly build at the end of the month.