[Ciel Devlog #11] UI Change… Wait, Now?

My Absence Last Devlog

Hi, RikuoTanaka here, bringing you the latest Devlog!

You might notice something weird regarding the writer for this and the previous devlog.
I’ll cut to the chase. Yes, I was supposed to be the writer for the previous one,
and this one was supposed to be numfank’s turn.
But 2 weeks ago I didn’t know what to write about, due to the lack of progress on my part.
But hey, it’s different this time! Besides I don’t think anyone missed me that much

Anyways, let’s move on with the devlog! Today I’ll talk about the general progress, and what’s to come!

New Menu Design (now of all times)

Usually, I don’t have much to say when it comes to decisions regarding the visual design of the game.
It’s not my forte, so numfank and wltr3565 usually did most of them. I only comment on them once it’s there.
But there is one thing that I find odd. And that is numfank’s desire to change the menu design so frequently.
In fact, he did it this week! Here is the screenshot of the new menu design:

Featuring squares instead of circles.

Now the menu buttons are square-shaped, and they fill the entire bottom of the screen. Looks pretty!
I have nothing against these design changes, especially when it is for the better.
With that said, I do hope that this doesn’t become recurring trend. Especially this late in development…
Oh well, only time will tell.

There is also another minor, yet very important change.
In the current build of the game, you can change the resoulution setting… but there’s one problem.
Those resolution changes nothing while in full screen mode, it only applies the change in windowed mode.
As such, no matter what resolution you are on, the game will still hog the same amount of resource.
That is until now. Thanks to wltr3565, our skilled programmer, the resolution changes in full screen as well.
See it in action below!

Best resolution possible.

 

Worst resolution possible.

Needless to say, this will be a helpful option for those who only own low-end PCs.

The Near Future

Currently the team is working around the clock for the demo build, which will be released to the public at a later date. The game is mostly complete, with only few of the gameplay mechanics left to be implemented.
With that in mind, expect a lot of new features to be, uh, “featured” in the next few devlogs.

Anything else to say… oh, E3 has already come and gone, and it was amazing. So many new games to play.
I wish we can showcase our games in an event like that. One can dream.

That’s it for now! This is RikuoTanaka, signing out!

[Ciel Devlog #10] Road to Minimum Viable Product

Hi, back with me again num with the 10th series of Ciel Fledge devlog.

In the previous blog, I’ve been talking about our effort to close the core gameplay loop of the game, which we have completed. Now with the core gameplay finished, we are working hard to actually make the game  fun to play with the bare minimum of only the core gameplay.

Making the in-game tutorials as foundation

Since this is a simulation game, which rely on so many stats to track, my first and foremost effort is always on the  intuitiveness of the UI. Everything must be smooth, easy to read, and be understandable quick. But still, with so much for the player to digest, an In-game Tutorial is a must. In the last two weeks we have implemented interactive tutorials in so many parts of the game. It mainly function to guide the player to learn the mechanics of the game, which, unfortunately, can’t be explained just by the intuitive UI alone.

 

Short tutorial on item usage

 

The most difficult part to explain in the in-game tutorials, personally for me is the battle mode. While the battle mode itself is based on simple match 3 gameplay, we somewhat actually made it more complex just so your daughter stats that you have been raised so hard can actually affect the outcome of the battle mode.

 

Yeah sure, things will go well indeed…

 

On top of that there is a technique menu that will be a hell to understand without interactive tutorial and guided practice in-game:

 

The enigma that is various technique to be used by your daughter.

 

Another concern of mine is how to make the tutorial not boring as f***. We learned it the hard way in last year event where we brought Ciel Fledge (in a bare minimum anything) to be tested by people. That time we put obligatory tutorial that must be read by the player without the ability to skip it, or just practice it right away. The result: most people find it boring and uninteresting. We put that valuable lesson in this new iteration of the in-game tutorials. Hopefully it will not be boring anymore.

Will everything going well?

All in all, I can say everything’s going well although there is occasional bump here and there. With the game reaching MVP, there won’t be long until a closed alpha of the game begin!

That is all from me, thank you for reading this devlog, hope this can somewhat inspire you the reader. See you in the next Ciel Fledge devlog!

[Ciel Devlog #09] Magnum Buster -Content Genesis-

Long time no see, readers. wltr3565 here. This week’s artwork is for the last initial set’s memorial. The canon initial set for Ciel’s costume is her white dress and ribbons, but I’m pretty fond with the cape and skirt with her black T-Shirt. I’ll remember you, cape-black T-shirt-skirt set. The magnum she is holding? The same reason as her sword on last post.

Oh, the devlog.

The focus of this week is the game’s tutorial, explaining how to play the game. This is a complex raising game, which is coincidentally, a number-crazy game… So I hope the tutorial will make you more familiar with the game’s flow first than its mess of numbers.

Battle Tutorial and Zahra’s Lecture

But more importantly, the numbers. The very goal of raising in this game is to perform well in Battles. So we take a lot of care for the Battle tutorial. There will be a lot of text, but it won’t be too restrictive. You can safely mess up the Battle in here at a certain point, so take your time in Battle tutorial.

Introduction scene… on TV!

This week we have remade the introduction scene. The old one… let’s say the director wasn’t happy. But darn, this one is done with in-game engine. What a pain in the butt.

Ciel and the Party.

With the tutorial part is more or less done, we hope that we can continue on building the game’s actual content. We have been doing too much refinement for the game’s systems. Very tiring.

Oh, why are you posting some screenshots that are taken with a camera, you ask? Actually, I want to show you guys how the game currently fare when played on TV. The project has been in development for a pretty long time, so I want to chronicle how far the game has progressed, including when viewed on TV. It’s pretty nice actually when viewed in person.

Plus, I want to make sure that the game looks good in a big screen on a convention.

The last system that we have to consider is the one that will map how the story progresses. I REALLY pray that it’s the last system that the team has to work on! Till next time. Smell ya later.

[Ciel Devlog #08] Closing The Gameplay Loop

Hi, back with me again, num, at our devlog #8 on Ciel Fledge. In case you didn’t notice the devlogs so far have been written by various author with different responsibilities within the team such as programmer, music composer, and game designer. You can read the previous blogs here!

In this devlog I want to talk about our current progress so far and how close are we to finishing Ciel Fledge core gameplay loop.

Progress Review

For the past few weeks, I have been working to make sure that every characters portrait has their own unique gesture to be animated! So dialogue won’t be as boring with the characters only moving their lips with one portrait. Now, every characters have their own body gesture, not just facial expression

Various character portrait gesture.
Character interaction mock-up

 

Aside of portrait designs, I also worked on overhauling most of the game menus to look pretty and consistent (much to the lead programmer dismay), also most importantly, to be intuitive enough that makes the player understand it quickly and easily.

The chaos in the battle technique menu.

 

Battle technique in action!

 

Wrapping up

With all the gameplay core at its simplest almost ready. My workload is now getting a bit lighter. Mainly it’s just making sure that the programming side works as intended with the design mock up and also “beautifying” everything, graphics wise. Looking for oddity in design, inconsistencies in portraits, wrong resolution and artifact in images.

Also, with all the gameplay, technical, and boring stuff in general tackled now. I can focus on actually writing the game’s story and character dialogue/interactions. The part that is largely untouched by the team.

The new character creation summary

 

Conclusion

So, actually I want to write more, but writing devlogs is quite a struggle, especially if you don’t have anything important or interesting (but need to do it anyway for all that views and exposures). Since I don’t have any interesting stuff to write anymore aside of the above writing, I’ll just conclude it here. I hope you enjoy reading this rather short devlogs. See you in the next devlogs! (spoiler: demo soon!)

Also don’t forget to follow us on the social media for more updates!

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[Ciel Devlog #07]The Importance and Complexity of User Interfaces

General Development Progress

Hi, RikuoTanaka here!

Sorry for being a bit late with this devlog, I am busy with exams this week and the previous one.
And thanks to that, I have to take a break from development for now.
Don’t worry though, as soon as the exams are over, I will jump right back in!
Even without me, it is progressing smoothly, as far as I can tell.

As far as my work goes, remember the Schedule Menu that numfank showed a few weeks back?
While he complained that it looks too complex, I think it looks fine back then(but then again,
I never really complain about any design he does, so… yeah).
Well, since then he redesigned the menu multiple times, which I implemented into the game.
And I have to say, it looks a lot better. Take a look yourself!

The button styles are now in tune with the rest of the other menus, and the information they provide are now easier to read as well. I have to give props to numfank for the new design. It really looks beautiful.
Oh, and did you notice that text at the bottom? From now on, every time you hover a button in the game, a neat little description will pop up to explain what it does! Like I said before, every small details count.

2 weeks ago, wltr3565 showed the Status Menu with the new icons.
What he didn’t show however, was that the sub status menu also gets a similar treatment.

Similar icons to help distinguish between different types of skill.

The team has now started working on the new techniques menu. What does it look like? Find out in the next 2 weeks.

Why UI is important

So, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about something else.
Last time I discussed about the work that I do in Ciel, that is managing activity parameters.
This time I would like to talk about another aspect that I am working on, and that is the menus, or more specifically, User Interface.

Back in High School, I used to think that the most important aspect of a game is the gameplay system. That is, as long as you get the gameplay aspect fun, everyone can enjoy the game(specifically regardless of the graphics).
Nowadays, I understand that not just the gameplay, but every single aspect of a game is important.
Graphics that can define the setting and theme of the game, music and sound effects(or even lack thereof) that can set the tone, and of course, the gameplay system itself.
With this in mind, it’s not so much about whether graphics are important or not, but rather what kind of direction you want the graphics of a game to be, and whether it is appealing and consistent with the theme or not.

User Interface, of course, is one part of the graphics. How you design the interfaces will certainly affect the feel of the game, albeit in a smaller scale compared to other aspects of the graphic.
Now designing the interfaces is one thing, implementing it in the code is another.
And I have to say, sometimes I feel very tired by just implementing them. It’s not that I don’t know how, but rather there are so many things to consider. The placements, length of text, animation, and so on.

And it is certainly not pleasant when you find out the result of your code to be not what you’re looking for.
Especially since sometimes it takes a lot of time to compile the code and check it in the first place.

Prime Example of UI Done Right

All of those, and add in the fact that when someone talks about a game, the topic of its user interface rarely pops up. And when it does, usually it’s because the menu is designed poorly or not working properly.

Basically, no one talks about the User Interface when it’s good or okay.
…But then came Persona 5. And its gorgeous looking menus. Especially the battle ones.

I’m sure a lot of you know what I’m talking about. And that’s the thing. All of a sudden, EVERYONE was talking about the game’s user interface! And it even became a popular meme! And it’s not broken, that’s for sure!

The thing is, even before the game was released, I already looked at the battle menus from the trailers.
And even back then I thought it looked awesome. I can hardly find a game in which menus do not follow the traditional square(or almost square) shape design, and looks stylish, to boot.
Like I said, design is one thing, implementing is another. I already have some trouble implementing the menu design Ciel Fledge uses, so imagine my awe when I think about how the programmers implement that kind of stylish menu.
There should be a ton of things for the programmers to consider. And I imagine plenty of trial and error as well.

Lesson to Take

Looking at that menu made me realize that there is still a lot to learn for me, as a programmer.
It made me think, “THAT’s the standard required for a professional programmer these days???”
But I guess I can’t keep feeling down about that sort of thing. I can only keep moving forward, alongside the team.
Who knows, maybe there will be a time when I can implement the menus that Persona 5 has.

…The music of Persona 5 is awesome too, by the way. YOU NEVER SEE IT COMING….

And I guess that’s all from me! Sorry for the longer devlog than usual. I promise the next one from me will be much, much shorter.

This is RikuoTanaka, signing out!