Dev Letter 1: Build Plan Evolution
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By Fabrice Cambounet
Heroes 5 dev letter
#1: the town construction interface
The town interface in Heroes 5 has been a typical case of usability versus visual quality. We are reaching the final version only now, and I`ll describe a bit the process it has gone through.
The very first interface test we made was actually quite close to the final solution being implemented now. It was half a screen used to display all available buildings (quite similar to previous Heroes games), with the whole town itself shown on the other half.
Another test was made later last year, showing only the town itself, with a camera centered on the building to be done. You would cycle through all of the buildings one by one, getting the view centered on them, switching from one position to the next. With this solution you could see the town details up close and the graphical quality was used to its full extent.
It was much too slow though, and it was too hard to understand how you could build up to a specific building, so the cityplan was introduced. There all buildings were shown with logical links, and with a status (a color code) to show what was already built, what could not be built for some reason, and what possible choices you had at this stage. The full screen was used for this feature, and when you clicked on one building you would switch back to the town view with the corresponding building selected.
This seemed like a good solution but was still quite slow, and needed the player to switch between different screens for the simple operation of building a new structure. The betatesters have witnessed this solution being integrated over the end of last year.
Finally we decided to go back to the original solution, mixed with the latest one. The cityplan would be displayed over one half of the screen, and the building would be shown zoomed in on the other half. You would use the cityplan to select and choose which building to make. A last twist is the added option to either display the whole construction tree, or only available buildings on the cityplan.
Hopefully this one will work ;p
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