Pinterest is your friend when it comes to discovering great UI ideas. Google images is great too but Pinterest provides the ability to save (pin) all the interesting images rather than having to actually download them and store them somewhere yourself. This week I’ve spent time looking up map UI, tactical map, airstrike and hud and collating a modest collection of ideas for the visual aesthetic of Failed State.
Just to prove that good ideas can come from all sorts of diverse places, I happened to see a video about Auckland International Airport showing off their expansion plans up to the year 2044. I found it thanks to transportblog.co.nz which is a great source of all things NZ tranport infrastructure related.
What was interesting about it (with the exception of its content and great graphics) was some of the coloured overlays that were being used to define locations and areas on the map. Also of interest was the camera angle, but that’s an altogether different topic.
The overlays in question looked something like this…
…and what was especially of interest was the way the labelled overlays ‘pinned’ to the terrain. I was trying to think of a way of anchoring an overlay representing a in-game unit (e.g. a tank) to a map location. This is not a 3D game as such and the zoom level is too high so there is not going to be a concept of an actual 3D tank model on the map, it will probably just be a circle with a label. The problem is conveying enough info with something like this. I don’t want to use a google maps type pin or anything else synonymous with mapping apps so seeing this AIA video was a lucky break; I’m not above copying it.
Making higher res mock ups is in violation of my idea of quickly getting a first draft done but hi-res is good for eliciting different type of feedback than hand drawn sketches do. It also helps me visualise screen real-estate and how one might interact with units (e.g. tanks).
I’m still trying to find unit identifiers similar to what World in Conflict and Wargame European Escalation use when the map is zoomed out (gosh did my Mac Book Pro just go absolutely nuts running European Escalation just so I could get a screenshot. Meh, I don’t even need it; just take my word for it that those games look amazing). I’d like to use icons to represent units but for now I’ll just use plain text, e.g. a M1-A1 tank will just use that very text on the overlay unit label.
Regardless, here’s something to show off. There is an expectation that touch devices require bold UI elements and simple game play. Failed State is certainly not going to be a Eugen Systems game but one has to start from somewhere, right.