Hi everybody and welcome to my first
developer designer diary!
I’m Julius Kuschke, software designer at Nevigo and responsible for the feature design of articy:draft. Since our 2.3 beta is coming along well, we’ve already started working on the 2.4 update and I would like to give you a sneak-peek into what’s going to come. Please keep in mind that everything I’m writing about here is still in development and may change until release. This is particularly true for all UI elements – so expect to see some screenshots with completely unfinished styling.
For 2.4 we’re focusing on two features that are very high up on the community’s most wanted list (and on my personal one as well!):
Let’s start with the latter. The most important feature we’ll add to the location editor is a convenient transformation mode for zones and paths, which will work similar to editing shapes in Photoshop. In transform mode the selected objects offer handles on all edges to allow scaling in any direction.
Furthermore it’s possible to rotate objects precisely around a moveable pivot or to mirror them along their center axis. This will make designing a level sketch much easier and faster.
Another location feature that was requested by many users is to offer different options for spot and link objects. Right now spots and links always have a fixed size which can lead to a lot of overlapping objects (and yes, that sucks!). With the next update you’ll be able to choose between different sizes and styles to visualize spots and links. Thus you can adjust them to the overall dimensions of your location and avoid clutter whenever there are many links or spots close to each other.
The mock-up below shows a variety of visualization options for links: On the left the linked object is displayed with its preview image, in the middle with its object type icon and on the right as simple circle. Every style comes in different sizes and with or without displaying the object’s name.
By the way, the fact that every zone and path in a location shows its display name also led to some unnecessary clutter – especially if you’re using them to sketch out a rough floor plan. So with 2.4 you’ll be able to choose for every location object whether it should show its name or not. That may sound trivial, but it still has to be implemented. This is also the case for a few other improvements like options for the outline of a zone (color, size, dashed,…), different endpoints for paths (e.g. arrow heads), more convenient shape editing. All in all these small improvements should have a huge impact on the overall usefulness of the location editor.
And last but not least we’re working on the possibility to use multiple image objects in a location. Right now you can only set a single background image. While that’s sufficient for many use cases, there would be so much more flexibility when being able to use more images in a location. The 2.4 update will allow working with as many images as you like, which e.g. makes designing a scene for a point & click adventure or a hidden object game in articy:draft much easier.
The second feature that I can’t wait to see in action in 2.4 is the evaluation of conditions and instructions during a journey. Right now you can already experience your game flow from a player’s perspective by using the presentation view. However, articy:expresso scripts aren’t evaluated, yet. This will change, so that you’re able to test your game and dialogue logic way ahead of implementation.
During a journey the conditions at input-pins and conditions will be checked and the available choices are either colored green (if the condition returned true) or red (if the condition returned false). If you want to experience the flow exactly like a player would, you can even hide “false” options completely.
The screenshot below shows the current state of development. Invalid options are already colored red.
You can also switch to the “player mode”, which hides invalid options to reduce distractions:
Conditions with multiple connected checks show which part of the condition returned false by coloring this part in red. Furthermore, hovering over a variable during a simulation displays its current value – making debugging a lot easier.
For more info on the current game state you can also check the current values of variables inside the property sheet of each journey point. Thus you can track precisely, if instructions are working as expected. In the mock-up below values that changed during the current simulation are highlighted.
Personally, I think the simulation mode is a huge step forward as it makes the game designer more independent from the developers – allowing the writer or designer to test and debug their scripts without the help of a programmer. Of course we already have plans to make this feature even more awesome in the future, but that’s a story for another day.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak-peek. And if you have any feedback, questions or suggestions, please visit our forums and let us know!