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 Main Menu Discussion

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Psych0Ch3f
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PostSubject: Main Menu Discussion   Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:38 pm

Ok, since I'm not the most advanced 3d artist, I'll take a stab at the Main Menu (since I have some experience designing)
Anyways, so after giving the archives a quick scan I found the old topic concerning the menu.
There was actually quite a bit of work done on the menu by the old art team lead gotrol, but all his links are broken (he deleted the pictures off his deviantart) so I guess we have to start from scratch.
Here's a compilation of their old ideas, and then I'll give my opinion on it. (I'll start with the simplest)

Icons/Buttons

  • New game
  • Load Game
  • Options
  • Update (this is my idea-for later releases- not the first few)
  • Content
    --Editors
    --TCL (Thrive Content Library)
  • Extras
    (This would include: Concept Art, Prototype Clips, Music/Audio, and a short "Making of Thrive" Story.)
  • About
  • Exit

I probably missed something (since these were the options decided 3 years ago), so just tell me and I'll edit this post as we get more ideas.

*Submenus*
there do of course need to be interfaces for the submenu's of each menu option, those were not discussed in detail in the archived forum, and all the designs were lost with the old art lead. There was one issue regarding gameplay/options that was debated though, which I will post here.
-Newgame/Startgame submenu-
Basically what should it have? Random planet, planet options, god mode, scenario mode, auto evo, and "start" button. That was not decided on the old topic, so ill leave it up to us to decide.
Quick idea: For the "Start" Button we could potentially use "Thrive", "Create", "Evolve" or just "Start". My idea is either its randomly chosen out of the 4 each time you open that submenu. Or we could just pick one and stick with it.

Visuals:Design/Interface
4 were being discussed in the archive:

  • Static
  • Standard Dynamic - No interaction
  • Dynamic-Simple (Interactive with current stage)
  • Dynaimc-Complex (Interactive with current save state)

Static: Basically, one background pic, doesnt move, doesnt change during the menu or anything. It may alternate different times you start up though.

Standard Dynamic: Here's a quote from the old post concerning this: "a quiet pan of any number of environments would be lovely. A view of a small, snowbound village (Society Stage). A cave with bioluminescent worms hugging the walls. A ship sailing the ocean, or a starship gliding through deep space. A savanna with a baobab in the forground, and an occasional bird-like org gliding overhead. A forest viewed from a mountain top. A star. A nebula." Pretty much scenery from the game in a video format or picture format (with panning) that cycles during the menu.

Dynamic Simple: Depends on the stage (and the picture of course releates to the stage). Example: Start-creature has a certain screen (whether it be static or dynamic), then creature to non-sapien, then until sapien another screen, and finally until you get the full techs for exploring you get a grandiose like galaxy like screen.

Dynamic-Complex: This was discussed thoroughly on the previous topic, and a lot of art and design was worked around it but, alas! it was lost with the advent of the departure of the previous art lead (sorry for the language, long posts do this to me)
Pretty much for this one, it changes DIRECTLY proportional to your progress in game, which means it interacts with certain values in your last save/autosave state. The idea that ~scio and the art lead devised was basically a planet in a galaxy (with the planet the focus of the screen) that was black, and as you explored it, it slowly revealed its appearance, and finally when youve explored everything you see the whole planet in its glory. Something like taht. But it was decided that a) it would be visually unappealing at first, and b) it would be a pain to program. (also C) even if all the planet was shown at the beginning, it would be a spoiler)

Other Dynamic complex ideas were:
-the camera cycle through a few quiet pans of environments you've been in recently.
-Your organism. Wandering about a small environment, probably the test area from the OE and TE. This would be a great way not only to show off progress, but to show off your creature's personality as well. The idle animations would be those of your race, reflecting the nature of your play. Post sapience you'd have your creature with any clothes you have made for him, maybe the most common ones in your nation.
You got the idea so far, right?
Also ~scio had an idea that may interest you, its a dynamic menu idea that may or may not be interactive with your current gamplay BUT very nicely fits the "shard" theme:
Spoiler:
 
Like I mentioned above, tell me if I missed something and I'll edit this post. (I'm sure I probably did since I'm kinda exhausted from writing and need a break.)
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:01 am

I split this post off to its own thread because its quite a significant topic on its own.

To address your post:

1. All those options sound great, but I would change "Content" to "Tools", since it is more appropriate considering what it contains, and plus its a convention in video games. 
2. For creating a new game, I don't know exactly what options are planned for for the player to be able to edit. Also, all those alternatives to Start sound good, so again I can't decide. However, Create might be kind of misleading in that creating a game doesn't necessarily mean starting to play it. 
3. All of those menu ideas are very fancy, but I think the best thing is just a simple animated background shot. For example:
Spoiler:
 

Here is the link to the base image (I think it's a picture one of our users made, I don't know who): http://media.moddb.com/images/games/1/13/12364/planetscene.png

Now obviously there is a lot of work to do with that, I just quickly used paint to mock it up, but I think the above is a perfect menu, based on samples I found from older threads. The planet will revolve very slowly, the stars themselves will move very, very slowly, and the sun to the left would occasionally flash more brightly (but again, subtly). There could be an occasional asteroid or comet that flies past, and if the player is lucky there is a rare chance of a spaceship flying past, but it will be hard to make out and will fly past briefly. Going into the sub-menus will maintain the same menu. None of that complicated basing-it-off-your-save stuff. Something that would be cool would be if, when the player finished changing the settings and they click start (or whatever its called), the menu, interface, and logo will all disappear, leaving only the planet and the space around it. Then, the camera pans over to a different planet, and zooms in. The player would realize that the background image was actually the galaxy they would be playing in. However, the camera would not zoom into the planet right there, because the planet is dependent on the settings the player sets. This planet would only be there for that brief moment before the camera pans, and then it would despawn, because the galaxy is created procedurally.

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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:06 am

I pretty much agree with everything you just said. My earlier post was literally a compilation of the old ideas in the archives, and I felt like they were getting waaay to far ahead of themselves. Lets keep it simple for now (we can always change it as new versions come out), and if we have enough resources even do you universe/galaxy pan and the spaceship easter egg ideas.
Any other thoughts? How should we go about starting this? We should probably make a list of specific files/things we need. (ex background pic, models etc..)
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:01 am

My idea for a dynamic background:
The background depends on wich stage you played last. If you for example start a new game and then quit to go back to the menu you'll see for example the primeval soup with some cells swimming around in it. The cells and the exact background will be choosen randomly In organism modeit will load one of a few scenarios, for example an ocean surface from the bottom with organisms swimming around in it, a beach with a few small animals, a rain forrest or a dessert. In socienty stage you'll see a city, a tribe or even a satellite orbiting around a planet. In space stage you  can see everything from planets orbiting around a star over a colony on a moon with a view to the planet it orbits around to one of the organism backgrounds.

Hope it's doable and you like it
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:21 am

I could try and chisel together a basic mock-up of the GUI for the Main Menu.

Any guidelines/suggestions?
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:51 am

Aiosian_Doctor_Xenox wrote:
I could try and chisel together a basic mock-up of the GUI for the Main Menu.

Any guidelines/suggestions?
I think it should be as similar to the other GUI design as possible.

http://thrivegame.canadaboard.net/t1323-microbe-gui-finalisation

It still isn't sure if they'll keep the old design or if they'll decide to go with OliverLs version. Manybe you should make two versions, one for the original and one for Olivers.
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:32 pm

I'll see what I can do.
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:05 pm

@MirrorMonkey2
Very similar dynamic backgrounds were suggested in the archived forum, but it was decided that for the early stages, something like that would be too much. By the way, what you suggested is basically the half life menu. (Someone quoted that in the archived one haha) I think dynamic would be very interesting to have after the first few big releases.
@Aiosian
If you plan on being extravagant, please make the icons separate images and then paste them onto the "overall" picture, so you can always edit them later (you probably already know this). This saves you extra time if everything is perfect except for one button.
Like mirrormonkey said, try and stick to the theme we have for the GUI, it would make it consistent.
But what would be awesome if you came up with multiple sketches/drafts (variation in button placement and size, etc...) for us to choose and then we can vote on our favourite and then you can put a bunch of effort into that design. Best of luck with your design!

I really want to see someone try the shard design suggested by ~scio. I might make a really bad stab at it later, but if anybody else wants to give it a shot, please do!
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:38 pm

I've made a quick (well, not that quick) mock-up of the main menu from what's been discussed here:
Spoiler:
 
You'll notice I've added a slight liquid/bubble gradient to the new game button to symbolise the microbe stage. My thinking is that the complex dynamic part (which depends on your progress through the game) is changes in these slight tints on the buttons. There are seven buttons and seven stages, so each one could change its appearance as you reach the next stage in your furthest progress game - therefore, once you've reached the space stage in a game, every button will have a texture highlight to indicate successive stages (new game - microbe, load game - multicellular, options - aware and so on).

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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:42 am

That's an interesting idea Oliver, and it's convenient that the number of buttons corresponds with the number of stages. However, I worry that implementing this will force us to stick to 7 options, when in the future we might need to add or take buttons away for revision. However, it would be nice to try out to see what it would look like.

However, regarding the image, I think it would be better to stick with the original layout, for the reasons below (I know you said this wasn't your best attempt, it was just a mock-up, but this is also advice for future attempts):

  • Usually games have the name of the game or their logo somewhere on the main menu. It's a perfect place to have it on the planet, especially since the crescent in the logo represents light reflecting off of the face of a planet.
  • The menu is very large. I would suggest diminishing the buttons in their size.
  • In addition to the point above, there should be much more focus on the background image. A smaller menu, as well as one that doesn't cover the planet's star, would help this. Basically, I think the format of the picture I found was perfect, with the menu being under the planet, and the logo being on the planet.
Also, as you noticed the original image link I gave you is smaller than what I posted (I assume that's why your mockup was smaller). That's because I had to make some changes to increase the size. It's really easy, I literally just used Paint to increase the dimensions, fill out the new blank space with black, and the copy and paste stars into it to make it all look natural. If someone took the time to use a better program they could do a much better job than me. One needs a larger image to be able to create the original layout.

Also, I just noticed, we don't have a "Continue Game" option. This is another thing players always want in games. For those of you who don't know its just a button that immediately takes you into your last saved game.

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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:30 am

Oliveriver wrote:
I've made a quick (well, not that quick) mock-up of the main menu from what's been discussed here:
Spoiler:
 
You'll notice I've added a slight liquid/bubble gradient to the new game button to symbolise the microbe stage. My thinking is that the complex dynamic part (which depends on your progress through the game) is changes in these slight tints on the buttons. There are seven buttons and seven stages, so each one could change its appearance as you reach the next stage in your furthest progress game - therefore, once you've reached the space stage in a game, every button will have a texture highlight to indicate successive stages (new game - microbe, load game - multicellular, options - aware and so on).
That surpasses my skills at this moment in time. .3. I concede to you, Oliveriver.
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Oliveriver wrote:
I've made a quick (well, not that quick) mock-up of the main menu from what's been discussed here:
Spoiler:
 
You'll notice I've added a slight liquid/bubble gradient to the new game button to symbolise the microbe stage. My thinking is that the complex dynamic part (which depends on your progress through the game) is changes in these slight tints on the buttons. There are seven buttons and seven stages, so each one could change its appearance as you reach the next stage in your furthest progress game - therefore, once you've reached the space stage in a game, every button will have a texture highlight to indicate successive stages (new game - microbe, load game - multicellular, options - aware and so on).
I really like it! Stars blinking and maybe a satellite flying by, or sometimes a planet eclipsing the sun would be cool.
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:25 pm

I can see what he's saying.  To give the menu a little motion.  I like the idea William stated, but what would be cool IMHO is to give a cycle for the sun, so that it would resemble something like this
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:46 am

That's far ahead of schedule. As I mentioned in the second post, the space and planet in the background could have animated effects, but for now just an inanimate planet background is best.

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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:53 am

Now we just need good enough UI, animations are after that.
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:43 am

Oliveriver wrote:
I've made a quick (well, not that quick) mock-up of the main menu from what's been discussed here:
Spoiler:
 
You'll notice I've added a slight liquid/bubble gradient to the new game button to symbolise the microbe stage. My thinking is that the complex dynamic part (which depends on your progress through the game) is changes in these slight tints on the buttons. There are seven buttons and seven stages, so each one could change its appearance as you reach the next stage in your furthest progress game - therefore, once you've reached the space stage in a game, every button will have a texture highlight to indicate successive stages (new game - microbe, load game - multicellular, options - aware and so on).
Why not use this one?
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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:36 pm

Oliver, I like your idea. It seems simple but the little "window" into whatever stage you're in works well. I do propose that the first time you start up the game, you aren't presented with a menu, but instead see an intro animation and dropped right into a microbe, especially since your first species somewhat acts as a backdrop, with all other species you play being created by that species in god mode.

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PostSubject: Re: Main Menu Discussion   Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:33 pm

@Doctor:

Because of all the reasons in my post just one page ago.

NickTheNick wrote:
That's an interesting idea Oliver, and it's convenient that the number of buttons corresponds with the number of stages. However, I worry that implementing this will force us to stick to 7 options, when in the future we might need to add or take buttons away for revision. However, it would be nice to try out to see what it would look like.

However, regarding the image, I think it would be better to stick with the original layout, for the reasons below (I know you said this wasn't your best attempt, it was just a mock-up, but this is also advice for future attempts):

  • Usually games have the name of the game or their logo somewhere on the main menu. It's a perfect place to have it on the planet, especially since the crescent in the logo represents light reflecting off of the face of a planet.
  • The menu is very large. I would suggest diminishing the buttons in their size.
  • In addition to the point above, there should be much more focus on the background image. A smaller menu, as well as one that doesn't cover the planet's star, would help this. Basically, I think the format of the picture I found was perfect, with the menu being under the planet, and the logo being on the planet.
Also, as you noticed the original image link I gave you is smaller than what I posted (I assume that's why your mockup was smaller). That's because I had to make some changes to increase the size. It's really easy, I literally just used Paint to increase the dimensions, fill out the new blank space with black, and the copy and paste stars into it to make it all look natural. If someone took the time to use a better program they could do a much better job than me. One needs a larger image to be able to create the original layout.

Also, I just noticed, we don't have a "Continue Game" option. This is another thing players always want in games. For those of you who don't know its just a button that immediately takes you into your last saved game.

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