by Kyzrati on 20120603 , under ,

For you, not me, that is.

The game is starting to get rather complex, and that complexity will jump yet again in the near future with the addition of more special items and their UI elements, so I decided to go ahead and add context help before going any further.

The first time a new help topic is available (one that hasn't already been seen before), the game will pop up some text to give an overview of how to use a particular function or window. Here's what you'd see when opening the inventory window for the first time (click for full-size image):

The entire system is very dynamic and ready to simply drop in new text (it comes from an external file) and give it a target area or console. That said, the help I've got in there now is limited mostly to UI elements, not gameplay. Eventually there should be more tutorial-style help as well to help new players understand the X-COM mechanics, but for now the majority of players probably know what they're getting into, so I'm holding off on that.

Hitting F1 or '?' on any window will also bring up the list of commands associated with that window. Here's the command list for the map/HUD screen:

A command list screen did exist before, but it was a temporary solution hacked together for the first release as part of last year's ARRP. Now it's mouse accessible, is properly animated, and has been integrated into the primary UI control system. The inventory and log windows have their own command list, as will all future windows. (For now mouse access for the main command list is through a tiny button found near the bottom-right corner of the HUD, since the that part of the UI has yet to be designed.)

So with another good chunk of the [somewhat boring yet essential] internal stuff behind me, up next are probably special items and Chryssalids/spawning. As with the other mechanics, the latter will be implemented using a pretty dynamic overarching system that will enable creative modding while still being capable of modeling the original X-COM mechanics. Weapon attacks (e.g., Chryssalid bite) will become capable of special effects on the target, one of which will be to cause the target to die and spawn another unit (e.g., zombie) of a specified faction. A greater variety of spawning will also be possible, so instead of just spawning a single unit, you could have the effect be to spawn multiple units nearby (xenojelly/ooze?), or even have a unit that naturally spawns duplicates of itself, or some other specified unit, at certain intervals. Think of all the possibilities! (No, really, think of possibilities you might like to see and tell me about them, so I can make sure they'll be supported.)
4 comments more...


  • Kyzrati

    Death-triggered explosions are already in the game (they were added last year for Cyberdiscs). Spawning I do have on my list as one of the special effects, so units can be designed to spawn other unit(s) based on time intervals, when hit by certain weapons, when they die, etc.

    Today I was going over the design possibilities, and am leaning towards a system of both item-based special effects and unit-based special effects. The egg-implanting effect of a chryssalid attack would be an item-based trigger (their natural attack is technically an item--their claws), and the zombie transformation will be unit-based (triggered on death). A large number of interesting combinations will be possible by combining different triggers with different effects (and each will support multiple parameters for further differentiation). All the default special items will almost certainly fall under this same system, so the motion scanner "effect," for example, is triggered by the "use" command. So theoretically you could attach that same effect, or that of some other device, to a different item. You could make weapons that come with a built-in motion scanner, or provide other useful enhancements through effects.

    Silacoid fire trails would even be a part of this system, an entity-based effect triggered by moving. Today I was imagining some kind of "smokebeast" that exhausts thick clouds of smoke; same system... Come to think of it, explosion on death could moved into this system as well, rather than continuing to have its own unique variable.

  • zé hobbit


    UfoTheTwoSides had implemented snakemen that layed eggs on the map that after a certain time spawned more snakemen.

    That would me a great effect too for the creative modding part!

  • Kyzrati

    Ah, thanks for the idea--I didn't have that one on my list yet. The ability to spawn items which would in turn spawn other entities. I am probably going to give props (terrain objects) special abilities, as well, so that would also be something they could do, like in an alien base where there's some kind of egg culture that produces more enemies.

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