Developer Update 1.5 (Happy 2019!)
Happy 2019 Star Citizen community!
Boy, what a crazy 2018 it has been. Since I started this project 3 weeks ago it has come a really long way. 2019 is going to prove to be an incredible year as well if things keep going the way they are.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank you all. Especially the visionaries who have donated to move production along with SCPADD. Through the private discord channel they have proved most useful in getting some interesting use cases thought out and hammering out a solid design that works for everyone.
I’d also like to thank Andy & Mike, these two folks have hopped on board with this project and have helped develop amazing new features, had incredible ideas and will be instrumental to the future of this project.
To the rest of the playerbase, your support and well wishes have motivated me and inspired me, so thank you!
This is not a normal update.
So far it’s been standard for me to create a video when I’ve made progress, but I’m holding off this time. Why? I don’t feel SCPADD is ready for another video yet. Through the design and development process there has been a lot of questions that have come up. Questions that need answering! (cue Gandalf meme)
Anyways, we will talk about that later in this post. Why you are all here, is to see the next screen on SCPADD. Without further adieu…
Presenting The Shields & Combat Screen
Things have changed for the better.
Let’s do another top-down approach to this screen, much like we did with the original developers update.
There were a few updates made to the menu bar. As you can see in the image above, I’ve added a section that fans out where the logo is, and modified the smaller buttons in the top right. Instead of just a menu, we now have chat and toggle FPS. The menu functions the same way as it always has. Toggle FPS was originally in a sub-menu under the screen tabs. I don’t see too many of these buttons appearing on the MFD so I decided to add some “utility” toggle switches to the top menu. Toggle FPS works the same way it did before, and will show a toggled state when on/off, and chat will function in the same fashion, just toggling your chat on/off.
Another update to this top section is the new starmap icon. I finally got around to “vectorizing” the official starmap icon and now it will be more obvious to some of you that this icon opens the star map.Foreseeing the future…
A major decision I made in the last week was to implement controls for the new flight model instead of optimizing & adding new features to the controls that will be replaced. Even though we don’t have a whole lot of info regarding this model, I feel like I have a good understanding of what to expect and have been able to plan out something that makes sense, and is hopefully future-proof.
NOTE: THIS SECTION WILL PERSIST ACROSS ALL TABS.
So the first thing to take note of here is that I’ve completely removed COMSTAB and SCAN. Apparently comstab is being removed with the new flight model, and I felt scanning should be moved to the bottom section of buttons as it will be more readily utilized than what I had there previously, which was mining. The mining interface will still be done, I just haven’t decided yet if I will be including it in the 1.0 release.
With the flight model change, “boost” has been changed to “afterburner”, and the original afterburner has been removed. This prompted me to create an afterburner toggle switch. I also created a max thrust toggle. What this will do is hold down your forward thrust button. This will be handy for those of you who fly dual sticks, or for when you want to leave the atmosphere. Just hit these two toggles, point up towards the stars, and bobs your uncle!
The SCM Limiter (to my understanding at least) sets a hard stop on your maximum thrust. So if you had the ability to go from 1-1000 with thrust, and when you hit 500, you could hit the SCM Limiter toggle, and this would make it so you will never go OVER 500. This will be extremely handy in limiting the amount of drift you will experience with the new flight model.
If you have any additional insight you would like to provide regarding this new flight model please get in touch with me on discord, so I can make this the best experience possible and not waste time developing things incorrectly. It is still all speculation after all.
Buttons, buttons everywhere!
The meat and potatoes of this screen is the targeting array, shields, and power distribution. I went through many iterations of designs for the targeting array and this is what I settled on. Originally I had a tabbed system, but things get confusing when you start hiding additional buttons behind additional button taps. Yes, it looked cleaner, but sometimes you have to consider function over form.
From left to right, shall we?
Power Distribution – This section was relatively straightforward to create. I just logged in to the game, looked at what functions were available to me and created what I felt was a logical layout to control these functions.
Targeting Array – As I said before, this one was a challenge to get done well. There is a massive amount of targeting hotkeys, and a tablet only has a small amount of space. Especially when you want power and shield distribution on the same screen. I think it generally speaks for itself, but one thing of note is that I left “cycle all targets” off of this screen. The reason is that you have much more granular control over WHAT your targeting with this array, and it would be pointless to cycle through all targets. You can of course continue to do this on your input method of choice though.
Shield Distribution – Another relatively straightforward design. I still need to figure out top and bottom shields, but when I was testing in-game I found that the keybinds (7 and 9 on numpad I believe) didn’t do anything, or had no representation on the shield MFD in game. For now, I’ll leave it like this. Another challenge here was that when you hit your hotkey to increase shields in a specific direction, it only increases it by 25, and you aren’t able to go higher than that. This is unfortunate, because if you use your mouse and click the MFD, you have full control over your shields.
The last section in this update is the footer menu. I wanted to add another tabbed section for more non-essential buttons, so what you see in the middle section is what I came up with.
NOTE: THIS SECTION WILL PERSIST ACROSS ALL TABS.
First thing to notice on this footer menu is I removed the icons and reduced the height. Because of all the different keybindings (and I’m sure there will be more added) the extra real estate will be handy to have, and helps de-clutter the screen.
I also switched out mining for scanning. I think this will be utilized a lot more and isn’t locked behind a specific ship. Lights was moved to the right hand side instead of the left.
In the middle, we have three tabs.
The systems tab will contain all your major ship systems. Shutting any of these off is essential for decreasing your IR and EM signatures to keep you in “stealth” mode. Another interesting use case Noobifier mentioned was that you could turn off your weapons systems as a show of good faith to other players.
The coolers tab has yet to be created. Why? Because I have no idea how these function yet. We have the hotkey bindings in game, but I went through every single MFD to see what difference these hotkeys made and I noticed no changes in anything at all. If one of you has more insight regarding this mechanic, please get in touch with me so I can plan something out.
The ??????? tab is dedicated to something special, which I won’t be revealing today. Consider it classified. It’s awesome. But classified. Stop asking.
There you have it!
I’d like to think these screen is almost ready to start coding. I’ve decided I’m going to continue the design process before I code any more of the MFD though as it makes sense in the long run instead of back tracking on work. I’m excited to start working on the social tab for you guys, I have some amazing features in mind, and can’t wait to share them.
If you want to follow along with this project and get much more regular updates on the design, philosophy, features and goals of SCPADD, consider becoming a patron. Not only will you get early access to SCPADD, you will also receive regular updates when work is completed and be a key contributor in UI decisions. It also really helps us connect with people and get an idea of different use cases for SCPADD.