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Battlestar Galactica Online - Developer Blog 16 - New HUBs

28 March 2014

Hello fellow commanders!

We've all walked through our faction’s flagships and felt a little bit lost. It’s sometimes frustrating to have to move to a different room to access something, or accidentally click on a UI element and find yourself whisked away to another room. Finally, there wasn’t anything to really do when docked to and generally it just felt a little clumsy.

All of these things made us realize the docked environment really needed a revamp. When we began designing the revamp of the hubs we have the following goals:

  • Immersion: You should feel like you’re on the Galactica or the Basestar. The environment should help tell the story of BSGO.
  • Easy to Use: You should be able to easily access everything that’s important while docked. Characters should be easy to find, the text should be easy to read, and it should be clear what you can do in each room.

ImmersionEdit

One of our main objectives was to improve the immersion and the experience while being docked. We thought about multiple ways to handle the immersion, and we asked ourselves what BSGO is really about. We realized that it wasn’t about walking around a ship, but instead it was about piloting ships and experiencing stories. We decided to create a stage.

We wanted to use these environments to tell the story of BSGO, and we felt the fixed, first-person perspective worked well. Taking inspiration from classic games like Wing Commander and Starcraft II, we decided to switch from a traditional, MMO third-person perspective to a fixed, first-person perspective

We also want the player to feel as close as possible to the characters while talking with them, and this required us to set a new camera angle that brings your dialogue partner into focus. The next step was a full recreation of the environment itself to fit the demands of a proper stage.

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Easy to UseEdit

In order to make the docked hub a bit easier to use, we decided to do a few things outside of the perspective change.

There wasn’t really any good reason to spread characters out between multiple rooms. All it really did was confuse people and increase the amount of time you spent trying to access important features. First, we reduced the number of rooms to the flagships’ command centers and moved all the iconic characters to into those rooms. We also created a redesigned the outpost scene to fit with this new style. So, we combined all the characters into a single room to make the hubs easy to navigate and present the environment better.

Last but not least we got rid of the walking around, which while being cool when doing it for the first time, didn’t really add much to the game. It also significantly increased the time you need to access certain menus and features. All the hub functions are now accessible through multiple methods. If you want to speak to characters, you can access all the functions through dialogues, but if you need something quick, you can click on side menus on the left hand side of the screen. Basically, we wanted to create a UI that could work for the different preferences of each person using it.

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TradeoffsEdit

This new style does have some tradeoffs from the previous style. Within the decision to limit the field of view to a single shot, and making the characters into interactive objects we faced one fundamental problem. While the Colonial CIC allows you to be close the characters, the architecture of the Cylon CIC is so open that you need to be quite far away to grasp the environment. This leads to a smaller appearance of the characters on screen in the Cylon CIC and a more restricted area to click on. In the end we didn't want to cut the appearance of the Cylon scene and decided for a compromise between immersion and usability.

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