A fair chunk of my work today has been building the transition between the first draft of the introduction into the game proper. This involves not only saving the data but keeping track of just what nuances the player has complete. Obviously the existence of a save file itself is enough for me to know that they’ve made it past the introduction. However beyond that point what have they touched? Stat tracking is one of those things that gets marketing types all hot and bothered. But for me it’s currently about presenting the users the information they need to know and not losing a sense of continuity.
I suspect that this will be the least glamorous portion of the work. Sometimes projects like this end up being some of the larger amounts of effort with the least amount of front end surprise or intrigue. However they are, in my opinion, some of the most critical. Nobody likes seeing the same help message over and over, or being stuck in a progress loop each time they exit and re-enter a game. This was my biggest issue with the arrival of games that had no save button. They’d save on their own time and often this meant fighting the same baddies over…and over…and over. While my inventory clearly showed that the game hadn’t actually lost my progress.
But that didn’t stop them from having only a couple of checkpoints in a long winding level. The ultimate goal with this design will be that the very second you complete an “event”, learning about a new button, or even accomplishing something that would have later been explained to you, had you missed it, you’ll never be bothered by that instance again. It’ll also give me the power to be a little more organic with presentation. If you miss something for a long while that would be pretty helpful to your play I can make that item squish or move in some way to attract your eye.
Additionally we’ll have a “news boy” style news ticker that you can open on the bottom right of your screen. This’ll be very basic in the beginning, and may ultimately move somewhere else once the UI is worked out, but it’ll provide you with both up to the minute news about the progress of your game and occasional quips from the narrator that introduced you to the game. It’s nothing fancy, if you’ve ever dealt with a console window you’ve got a basic idea of what it’ll do for you. In this particular instance I might not save “past history” but we’ll see. The amount of data that could be stored there could become pretty large and I don’t think it would make a good use of HDD space in the end.
Eventually I’ll be able to also use this kinda thing for some kind of achievement system. I don’t think we’ll be doing the conventional “Grind 10 billion of this thing” style achievements. At least not many of them, it’ll be more like a stamp book that you can fill up with all the different items, moosecats, places, etc. For folks like myself who like to 100% games, it’ll allow them a quick and easy means to see how close they are to said achievement.
And, as always, Unity UI is still an alien monster to me and I do dream of the day that I “get it”.