Hail fellow Crusaders, and well-met. This week we are going to look at the recent reveals of the UI/HUD for Behaviour's upcoming MMO-shooter, Eternal Crusade. Last week, on the Eternal Crusade Twitch show, Into the Warp, Nicolas Brunoni, the lead designer of the User Interface and Head Up Display, who also handles the development of the entire user experience (UX), along with Peter Rockwell, who is the guy who takes Nicolas' ideas and determines if they are feasible, and if not, determines how to make them work within the game engine. Together these guys put together the ways in which the players see the world, and interact with it and within it.
The UI/HUD is a very important part of the game, because, when done well, it can contribute vastly into how immersed the player will be in the game. Also, there is a fine line between how much information and what kind of information the player gets is too much and how much is too little. Too much information and the UI/HUD becomes a crutch, helping the player too much; too little information and the player can become frustrated while trying to perform the simplest of game world tasks, like figuring out who to shoot. For Eternal Crusade, the developers have decided to try and simulate how the in-helmet data would present itself to the warrior on the battlefield. This is pretty simple for Marines of both flavors, as we have hundreds of pages of fiction to draw upon, talking about glowing icons and runes and in-helmet audio, etc. For Orks I think things will play out a bit differently, perhaps a bit more primitively. Nicolas also pointed out that the team was beginning to play with various effects that will help differentiate the HUDs from each other, for example, the Space Marine HUD will have a little static and a more grainy look, while the Chaos HUD will actually bend and change during gameplay. A little something to add to player immersion.
Speaking to Nicolas also revealed that the UI/HUD is being built modularly, for ease of modification, and, hopefully, that will lead to allowing the player some input into how they want their personal HUD laid out. Do you like to have your ammo information close to your aiming reticule? We can do that. Maybe you like your health/armor information on the upper right, we can do that too. It really looks like Nicolas and Peter are throwing everything AND the kitchen sink into the HUD design, and then will eliminate or change things as player feedback dictates, which is a lovely change from the way these things are usually designed.
After covering the UI/HUD for a while the topic switched over to game interface screens, which is less about the HUD and more about the user experience, or UX. Nicolas lead the stream through a progression of screens representative of what the player will experience as they load into the game. From a generic initial game screen, the player transitions to a more faction-specific screen once he chooses his faction. Again, these screens are generously flavored to each factions own style, enhancing the players feeling that he is fighting for a particular side. From faction and sub-faction selection, the presentation segued to class selection, and to character loadout and customization. For an initial presentation it looked very professional and polished to me, and Nicolas promised more polish to come, as the team really hones in on communicating the feeling of being a warrior of the 41st millennium.
The Eternal Crusade community has really responded to this unveiling, and a plethora of conversations and discussions has flooded the forums over at the Eternal Crusade website, covering all sorts of UI/HUD-related topics, from ideas on how to make the Orks primitive enough while still providing all the essential information, to exactly how much information is really necessary, and at what point is the UI just holding the players hands too much. If you have an opinion on any of these topics, make sure you head over to the EC Forums, register and get your opinions out there.
Remember that coming up on the Friday, the 19th of December, the next Twitch show will be live at 1:30 PM EST. There are potentially a number of really exciting reveals planned for this show, including the possible revelation of the game engine, the possible revelation of the first Early Module Access, and even the possibility that the announcement of the start date for alpha will be forthcoming. There is a great deal of speculation going on about exactly what Miguel and company will reveal, as several tantalizing hints have been dropped in this thread. There will also be some sweet giveaways from Razer and more surprises, in this, the last stream of 2014, hope to see you there.