Icon Worship – Designing the Datapad Interface

Posted on April 9, 2014 by Max Shields

Let’s bring you up to date on some of the past week’s developments to start things off.

Commander’s Log

Dave has busily been turning his prototype procedural generation work into usable code. Adam has had his nose to the grindstone getting the major coding we need to get to our first playable version using production code. Daniel has turned his artful attention to designing ranged and melee weapon parts that you’ll be able to piece together to make procedurally generated weapons. Max has had his brain twisted into a knot trying to figure out what the inventory interface will look like. Dollar has been fighting off the forces of darkness using his techno-ninja skills to keep our network in tip-top shape. All of this means that within the next few weeks, we hope to have some gameplay footage of everything running with the new look and feel.

Datapad Design

Datapad Demo_With Watermark

The new datapad in glorious 3D – WiP Screnshot with some debug UI elements visible

As you have seen from some of our early screenshots, we want to draw you into Astrobase’s universe by foregoing the traditional graphical interface favoured by most other RTS and RPG games. We want you to feel like you are really in the station commanding the characters that make up your crew. One of the methods we are using to do this is by taking cues from the real world, and giving you something that feels physical to draw you in. We’ve designed the datapad to feel like a piece of 80’s era technology miniaturized into something that can fit in your hands.  You’ll notice that we’ve decided to go down the 3D route for the interface. This should let us do some pretty neat things that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do without a lot of effort if we had stuck with our 2D datapad.

Stellar Interfacing

We want to make the datapad as useful as possible to make sure you naturally want to use it rather than try to click around on the astrobase to get things done. It’s going to take a lot of testing to find the right balance, but it will be a lot of fun getting it right.

Datapad_InventoryUI_001Prototype inventory interface concept

Having a datapad means that we need to think long and hard about how we’re going to be presenting the information for you to understand what’s going on. The datapad allows us to run virtual cartridges that are essentially programs that run independently within the main game.

Iconology

Astrobase’s universe is not necessarily a representation of our own future. We want to loosely base our icons on the conventions we have learned as part of our daily lives to ease the learning curve. But we also want to incorporate novel design elements to suggest the weird and wonderful ways in which pictographs could have evolved in an alternate reality.

Coming up with entirely original material is also a good way to avoid getting the coveralls sued off of us, too.

Medical Lab Icon Concepts

Prototype medical lab icons

We’re sticking to a simple design aesthetic for now using bold lines and a black and white color scheme to hint at the universe’s utilitarian and survivalist nature.  It also helps us keep things moving along. At this point, we have 124 different UI icons under development, and that’s just to represent the different module types you’ll have to play with.

That’s it for now!

Remember that you can ask us your questions in the forums.