Someone has to do it. Someone must take up this mantle; Someone has to come up with a blog post about something or other because Nicholas & Daniel are too tired from crunching out a bunch of (quite fascinating actually) systems which, however, lack visual polish and therefore aren’t much good to show off. Yes yes, we’re going to fix that giant white cube that says “POWER SAW” on the side.
So why not icons?
You may recall something of this most diminutive Art from such games as, oh, Dungeons of Dredmor which had altogether over 500 skill, spell, and status icons. There’s no reason to think that Clockwork Empires will be any different. (Except less with the magical spells, perhaps; That’s cultist stuff and we Don’t Approve.)
So, as mentioned in a previous blog post, we have thought icons to express what characters are thinking, feeling, and talking about. Being in effect an avatar of bureaucratic panopticon, somehow, cough, you get to see all of this. Your little people will say things which influence how others feel about them while, perhaps, feeling other things entirely. At this point the valid topics of conversation are entirely about the hatwear of social classes. A lower class labourer will speak of their fine flat cap, though this might not go over well with the middle class overseer who prefers a business-like bowler. Among the aristocrats there are even poetically-inclined types who deign to “slum it” and associate with their lessers while wearing the hat-wear of lessers. On the other hand there are ambitious folk who prefer to discuss hat-wear which is above their station such as the regal top hat, though due to their birth they’ll surely never gain acceptance from their Betters. It’s all very awkward and British.
There are also, as players of Dredmor will recall, very good reasons why I won’t be making any icons in a mere 16×16 pixels — we’ve got more UI space to play with for our target specs. Would you believe that our original plan for Dredmor was the ship as an 800×600 fixed resolution game? Terrible idea. And this time around our UI workflow doesn’t consist of me writing giant passive-aggressive documents and giving them to Nicholas for hard-coding. In C++.
I won’t get into the specifics of UI layout here because I really can’t — our entire plan, based in part on experience from Dredmor and in part from some common bloody sense, is to have a highly modifiable UI system which allows easy iteration. For instance just last week Nicholas fired up some Prison Architect (Hi Introversion! We think you’re pretty swell) and thought some of what they were doing with UI was clever so he had to try it out. He edited some XML and had an approximation working in CE before the end of the day. A few ideas we are sticking with for now, a few are still proposals based on old Bullfrog games and our company-wide Company of Heroes brawls the past few Fridays. Iteration is cheap, which allows us to experiment and rapidly react to feedback. And if you really don’t like the UI, why, you can just mod your own.
All that said, I bet we can beat that 500 icon count for Clockwork Empires. I mean heck, we’ve got like 30 different kinds of hats already, and that’s just hats. Yeah! Art is pain! (Please send wacom nibs.)