Triverse 0.8 adds training and challenge scenarios along with playability features like grid lines when building, edge panning, and radar proximity markers.
Until recently, Triverse only had a survival mode option that pushed you in the deep end and expected immediate swimming. However, Triverse is a moderately complex game with non-obvious rules and behaviors, and the UI has had a mix of commands, tools, status, and playback controls that are both overwhelming and maybe not visually distinctive enough.
The focus of this release was on making the game more approachable. Part of that is creating scenarios that incrementally teach the game rules and eventually give players challenges that require understanding the rules (or just random experimentation?). Training is especially needed when going beyond the edge of established genres or conventions.
To start with, I made a list of concepts in the game:
- Basics: Select, pause, order, damage, footprint, step, unpower, capture, claim
- Build: Repair, worker, inventory, placement, mobility, territory, modify, design, clipboard, extract, blueprint
- Parts: Cannon, claw, thruster, launcher, pulse, core, storage, hull, shield
- Resource: Support, salvage, harvest, convert
Next I created a progression of training scenarios that each introduce several of those concepts:
They currently dump a bunch of instructions up front, but eventually I’d like to break them into sub-objectives that cover the materially more thoroughly and visually rather than relying on words. And although I tried to remove the major pitfalls, there are a variety of ways these scenarios can go astray and cause the intended outcome not to happen (e.g. you build on the wrong units, etc).
I’ve also added a sequence of challenge scenarios. For each challenge, the player is presented with a hostile fleet and must build units to defeat it given an initial amount of crystal to spend. The amount is lower than the value of the hostile fleet, so you can’t simply copy the fleet and hope for the best. The intent is to require analyzing the fleet and building your own fleet that exploits its weaknesses.
Having challenges like this also tests game balance and how well the design embodies the rock-paper-scissors ideal. In many cases, the opposing fleet of a challenge is a solution to the previous challenge. Currently, there’s one OP strategy I know of that can lead to a head-to-head arms race rather than rock-paper-scissors, but otherwise the tradeoffs (armor, shields, mobility, firepower, etc) roughly work (but I still think could be stronger).
At the end of each challenge, a summary is shown that scores:
- Deployment: How much of the starting resources were needed
- Part value gained: how much of the total parts in the world and inventory were recovered by the end
- Speed: How many extra turns were left over out of the time limit
- Overall: The three prior scores averaged
Edge panning is when you move the cursor to the edge of the screen to pan in that direction. It’s an expected control option in most RTS games that are played full screen. However, it’s not always ideal because:
- The web version of Triverse defaults to windowed mode
- MacOS has various edge/corner hotspots that conflict with edge panning
- It prevents use of prime real estate (edges/corners) for UI elements like buttons
Based on feedback, I’ve now added edge panning when in full screen mode (note you must toggle this with
F10 currently), although now I find that I inadvertantly pan down sometimes when trying to select tools with the mouse. This could be addressed by moving the UI further away from the screen bounds when edge panning is enabled.
So now there are three ways to pan:
- WASD keys
- Middle mouse drag (not working in web yet)
- Edge panning in full screen
There are a few ways to indicate objects that are off the visible portion of the map:
- Avoid the situation in the first place by have a small enough map
- Show a minimap as part of the UI
- Allow zooming out
- Proximity markers around the screen
I chose to go with the last option for now because it’s easy to implement and has minimal impact on the UI. The downsides are that it adds visual clutter and doesn’t give much of a strategic view to see exactly where your forces are. I plan to prototype zooming out and a minimap at some point.
There’s still a lot of room for improving playability. The training progression could be smoother and more thorough, especially in detailing how parts actually behave. Along with that, I’d like to experiment more with visualizing power, shields, armor, and turret ranges. And thrusters need better feedback to indicate their effect on mobility. Better warnings on exceeding storage or resources when building would also help.
- Training scenarios
- Challenge scenarios
- Scoring screen
- Proximity markers
- Edge panning
- Triangle grid lines when building
- Can freely place parts in the first turn
- Survival mode can now theoretically be won
- Toolbar has spacing between commands, tools, status, and playback
- Tool region has a darker background to distinguish it better
- Construction required for parts to be usable
- Split damaged fragments were getting marked for repair