Building the User Interface in a game like Techtonica is its own unique challenge.
There’s so much information happening all at once in a factory automation game as players explore, research, build, and upgrade their factories.
Add in multiplayer? Well, that introduces a whole host of fresh challenges for how and where to place information.
Today, we’ll dive a little deeper into the evolving UI for Techtonica, touch on what was present in the demo, share how we’re showcasing information today, and give you a glimpse into the UI of tomorrow.
Before we start! This is all super work in progress. Understand that Techtonica’s UI is in-development and that a lot can and will change both before release and during Early Access. Cool?
Let’s dig in.
But first! A look at the Notification and HUD UI from the demo
If you’ve played Techtonica’s demo, then you’re familiar with the temporary UI that’s in place. We know it’s cluttered and a bit hard to digest. We poke fun at ourselves about it, too, but programmer art UI is how games get up and running.
Let’s take a look at a screenshot that gives us a good chuckle. Here, we’ve just scanned our first Smelter and are greeted with what’s basically a dump truck of on-screen information.
The demo was essentially the Alpha of Techtonica. It’s early days stuff, so we totally get it. There’s too much on screen, and it’s hard to really parse what matters and what doesn’t. If we let that stand as our baseline, how do we improve?
Addition by subtraction
We start with reduction and simplification. All of those notifications that flew through the center of the player’s view during the demo? They have been pushed up below what we’re calling the Notification Center (more on that in a second).
This single, convenient stream of information is a hub for all of what each player is actually doing. If you’re gathering plants, we detail what and how much in a small notification. If another of your friends scans and unlocks new equipment, we share that information along with their Steam name.
It’s so much cleaner.
This reduction in clutter makes it easier to spot notifications and pick up on bigger, more important cues.
Easier access to what you care about most in a given moment
You’ll notice at the top of the refreshed HUD is a collection of icons and shortcuts. Each icon will have a notification counter on it as Groundbreakers unlock new tech, dialogue, and quests. Hit the shortcut key, and you’ll dive directly into the menu with the notification.
We wanted a way to gather waiting notifications for players without pestering them. Now, when you want to explore what’s new in your journal, you can do it at your leisure without a massive block of text flying over the middle of the screen.
Those shortcuts, of course, will change if you ever rebind your keys. Don’t worry.
More urgent notifications will get priority billing beyond just a number above one of those icons. We’re looking to expand the roster of urgent notifications, too. Power failures, for instance, will be easier to spot as we continue to improve the UI.
A peek at the HUD in Techtonica’s tomorrow
We have more coming in the UI, too! Our art team mocks up additions and changes as we design and concept new machines and functionalities.
Here are a couple of those mock-ups for you to peruse and consider. Not all of this stuff will come to Techtonica, but it is cool to see what we’re cooking and trying on for size as development moves into and through Early Access.
Thanks for reading, Groundbreakers!
If you’d like to chat more about the UI or what’s coming to Techtonica, join our Discord.
Until next week.