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Minimalism in RPG Interface
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Jan 15 2010, 5:40 pm
By: Norm  

Jan 15 2010, 5:40 pm Norm Post #1

Okay - so if anyone knows my map making history, you'll know that I have NEVER been able to finish a TRADITIONAL rpg EVER! I like to think that I'm a decent mapper, so an RPG is something that I should be able to make, but every time I have tried, I have never pulled it off. Then I started to ask myself why this happened...

Here's what I figured: Elaborate RPG's take a LONG time to make (see the year long contest where most slackers took over a year to finish.... nothing) and let's be honest. As far as re playability, you get serious negative returns on your invested time. Now, When I finally made a good map (HS) that took me over 4 months to get it to a point where it is now, BUT I enjoy playing it, other people enjoy playing it, and the time spent by people playing the game has already gone over the time I invested in it's creation. This is satisfactory to me.

RPG's are a different ball game because it's a lot more difficult to get positive returns like i just described. This is the real reason why I've never finished an RPG I started, but I am not willing to end my (very short and technically not a) map making career without having made an RPG. Then, during class the past couple days I was not paying attention and decided to think about RPG interfaces instead. Then, I thought of a way that I could create a RPG Interface that revolved around 3 screens.

Inspired by "Room" maps and Zelda for the SNES, I decided that center screen would be a VERY good thing to fuse into interface designing. I would just need 3 screens and a way to toggle between them.

This is what I came up with:

The 3 screens used in this interface are 1. Current location screen - the area where the player's character stands. 2. Menu #1, and finally Menu#2 is the third screen. That was the easy part, so then I went on to ponder effective ways to toggle between screens. Before I could do this, I had to think about how I would want my RPG to be like. I'm not going to go into any details (that's best left for when it actually goes into production), but I will say that the use of a Melee character and the need to share Screen1 among two people made my options very limited.

Then, I remembered something. Mutalisk.

Then, my interface was born. Given an approximate screen size of 12X20, that would indeed leave room in the top corner of every screen for 2 mutalisks to be placed. In times where the menus are available, 1 mutalisk is given to the player and he can morph it into either guardian or devourer. This will bring him to either screen2 or screen3 respectively. Then, I could make like a hydralisk in the bottom corner of each menu screen that upon morphing into lurker returns you to the default screen: screen1.

Bam. I got to work on designing these screens and the layout last night, and when I am done with classes for the day I can resume this. I think that this minimalistic approach to the interface in RPG's has been hinted at by many people and the combined result is this. Working with this design, I may finally be able to bring to SEN a traditional rpg - something I've wanted to make ever since I started mapping a little over a year ago. I'll probably be able to pump out a demo of all these systems within 2 weeks, and we'll go from there.


Jan 15 2010, 6:49 pm JaFF Post #2

How about using units that you do not have to re-select when you switch screens? Combine motion detection and burrow detection for, say, a zergling and go from there.

Will there be situations when you'd have to use the menu screens during battle? What will be the use of these menu screens? Spells and inventory would suggest the use of at least one of them in battle, which is not good.


Jan 15 2010, 7:00 pm rockz Post #3

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!

why can't you just press a button or build a unit?

"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

Jan 15 2010, 8:35 pm Norm Post #4

The thing that this works around is that the menus would be like... a character management area. So imagine I dunno if any of you guys have ever played the Final Fantasy series where they'd have a menu you bring up and select which gear you want them to wear, select which spells you want them to use, and other stuff too such as view map / select characters in party / save game would all be in a menu.

Likewise, when I construct the menu for the RPG, it'd be just a screen with a console able to do the necessary functions, and then when you have everything set up you return to the game and continue going on that screen.

@Jaff, I was actually thinking that making access to the menu unavailable during combat would add to the challengingness of the game. For example, I am going to have one menu where you assign your abilities. When you begin a fight against a boss, you might realize that a different ability would have made it easier, but now you must fight with the handicap of having abilities that don't quite work the best in the given situation. I dunno, like I said I'm workin on a demo starting right now since I just got home from class and I can probably demonstrate this system better in game than in words.


Jan 15 2010, 8:43 pm Vrael Post #5

Just place a start location in the middle of screen #2, then when they press F4 it auto-centers there... and they can shift+ F2, F3 ect to place the third screen.


Jan 15 2010, 8:52 pm Norm Post #6

You guys are missing the point, I'm trying to force them to only be able to see one screen at a time... one of 3 possible screens.

Eh, I condensed it down to a 2screen system instead of 3.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Jan 15 2010, 9:58 pm by Norm.


Jan 16 2010, 4:32 am stickynote Post #7

So, if you have 1 screen that you are actively playing in, are there other screens that you would move to? 20x12 is a small play area.


Jan 16 2010, 9:43 am Falkoner Post #8

Ugh... Why is it that basically all my ideas for Mystic Islands get posted publicly before I can finish the map?

I really have 3 interfaces, on top of the main game, obviously your normal interface is in the game simply moving around, however, to interact with things, you have a dropship which you hotkey, and empty units out for common things, also which also has two generic units, whose effects can be changed through the menu system, and ordering the dropship acts as a selection to attempt to interact with something on your screen in the game. The menu is reached through different buildings and such throughout the map, and does basically all customizations to your game, it's pretty much an options menu, and when larger decisions are made on the map, you're brought to the menu as well, but to more of a submenu, rather than the options menu.


Jan 16 2010, 12:26 pm JaFF Post #9

What's stopping you from doing it with one constant-text-displayed menu? Just introducing an option; it does have its disadvantages.


Jan 17 2010, 7:40 pm Norm Post #10

This can get closed plz


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