CrossCode Update #41
Circuit menu, messy cabins, snowballs and more

Hi again!

First, in case you are confused: we decided to rename our Weekly Update into CrossCode Update because of the lack of an actual weekly schedule.
But don’t worry: This doesn’t mean we’ll post updates whenever we feel like it. The bi-weekly schedule seems to work out fine so far, so we’ll stick with it.

Anyway! What’s in for this update? Lots of stuff, in fact! We went ahead and started with a major goal of our next milestone: the circuit menu (formerly known as the talent tree). On top of that, we have a lot of graphical improvements, sound and music!

The new Circuit Menu

We talked about the talent system in CrossCode before.
First big change: we renamed it to Circuit Menu. Has a more futuristic sound to it, right?

We started with planning out the layout and control patterns of the circuit menu. We all had very similar ideas, so we found an agreement very quickly.
However, before starting with the implementation, I first wanted to integrate several optimizations in our GUI systems. Those were very similar to the optimizations we had for the entities and the collision engine as mentioned in this update… and they worked again! And for all of you who are still waiting for a more detailed article about these optimizations: we did not forget it and will post it let’s say… sometime in February!

With these optimizations done, the next step was to create graphics for the interface. I finished this just about yesterday. And here comes a first mock-up for our new circuit menu!

Let’s start with the overview:
circuit-overview

Here the player can select one of the five circuits for further inspection (neutral in the center and clockwise around it: cold, shock, heat and wave). On the lower left you see available CP (Circuit Points) for each circuit. Those are used to activate the nodes (i.e. learn the skills) of each circuit. Note how activated nodes are already highlighted in the circuit overview! (That will be fun to implement. Good thing I won’t have to do it, right R.D.? :P). As for the “swap branches” option… we’ll probably talk about that in another update.

Now let’s zoom in into one of the circuits:

circuit-browsing

First what is missing: Icons are obviously incomplete. Even the existing icons might change (in fact GFluegel is already working on that). Also, the whole tree structure is more for graphical testing. That being said, we like how the result turned out, with that circuit pattern in the background and all.

Finally, here is how you can interact with a circuit node:

circuit-activate-node

The description will most likely appear whenever you hover a node with the cursor. Once you click it you can choose an option on how to interact with it. It’s more or less what you’d expect.

With all the graphics prepared, it’s now up to R.D. to implement the menu.

Pictures and Sounds!

T-Free was working pretty hard since the start of this year. He completed all the effects for the cold element mode. You could see some of the effects already in our Recap 2013 video.
Anyway, have a gif:

snowball-battle

In addition, T-Free also added some nice wave animations for the cargo ship:

waves

On another end, TQ and R.D. further improved the cabins environment of the cargo ship:

cabins-details

Seriously, look at all those details!

On the sound side, we have Teflo who recently contributed new menu sounds, e.g. for the equipment menu. Even though we’re still fine-tuning these sounds, they already help to make the equipment of items a much more satisfying experience.

Finally, our composer Intero continued working on the BGM for the outside of the cargo ship. He already created an initial version, which matches the mood perfectly! Maybe we’ll release another preview in a following update. :D

And… that’s all for this update! Overall, it’s a fairly good start for this year – especially considering we had to struggle with several study-related deadlines during the past weeks.

Otherwise, you can look forward to another technical article about our menu system that we’ll post during the next two weeks.
Until then!

6 Comments

  • Hey, friends!
    Although I don’t have something helpful to contribute, I felt like commenting.
    That “circuit” menu makes Lea rather appear as a robot than something … well, holographic-projection kind of stuff she looked like when loaded in the Tech-Demo. I mean: if her personality is code-based, why would she improve her skills by circuit-soldering, what has become pretty complicated in even today computers?
    But okay, just thoughts.
    The water looks amazing and I wonder if you can hold up that amount of details in the cabins throughout the game! I just can’t tell how I want to play this.

    And what I wanted to say for a longer time, not only the game’s, but even your update article’s design is great. I’m looking forward to it each second sunday (and sometimes each sunday, ending up frustrated that I confused the schedules).

    • Hey Topp!

      Don’t worry, it still makes sense in the context of the world the game plays in. We don’t name stuff without thinking a lot about it.
      You can see this as kind of a hint actually ;)
      Just like you guessed, we want to make sure the world of CrossCode makes sense, so we always have discussions about naming things. It’s part of our idea to create a rich world with plenty to learn. This means that “why” the skill menu is named like this, is explained to you by an NPC. Or maybe even an more important character.

      We too hope to be able to keep up the details. Of course not every area will be this detailed. But we want to make sure that the mapping reflects the people who live in a specific area.

      Thanks for the feedback! Let’s hope we can keep the quality of the updates up!

  • Those menu screens look pretty stylish! ;-) I know, these are still concept screenshots, but I wonder how these graph-patterns will be generated. Do you design them by hand, or is there a cool algorithm that does this for you? Also, there are nodes that seem to be disconnected with the graph. Why is this?

    As a player, its quite intuitive to develop the character. But I always wondered: How do you approach the task of distributing the effects of the nodes, or rather, how do you come up with node-specifications in the first place? There must be some math in the background that ensures a balanced and predictable experience, right? :-)

    Then I have a question regarding the level editor: Since I have played with Weltmeister (the original one) as well, I know that there is no built-in mechanism that adapts “border-stripes” between different types of tiles automatically (as it was the case in the RPG Makers). So there is always a sharp edge between the tiles. Did you enhance the level editor or did you simply draw all the possible combinations at the interface of different tile types (like water and grass)?

    And finally: Can’t wait for the technical article about the menu system. ;-) I love those articles!

    • For each tree, we design the paths along with the skills you obtain. Along with this we have indeed an algorithm that takes the tree data and generates the whole thing for us. This lets us make changes without manually changing the skill tree.
      The disconnected node is just for testing. All nodes have a connection :D Altough the idea is tempting…

      I guess it’s hard to start with a finished tree, as you might guessed. We will change the trees and the number of points you get according to the balancing we make. And yes, we indeed do a lot of math to predict results . We talk a lot about it to ensure we get a nice base for coming changes. We still have not planned out every enemy, the areas and everything, so there will be changes.

      Actually we have no such mechanism :D For now we manually create these “nine patches” as we call them to make edges look rounded. the same goes for water. But we’ve already talked about the possibility of creating such a system. It all depends on the requirements for future ares.

      It will arrive soon! Like next week or even Sunday soon-ish :D

  • Thanks for the reply!

    Just in case you don’t know the topic of the next technical article (after the one about the menu): How to actually design such a skill tree? ;-)

    It is quite remarkable how fast you progress, despite being involved in university work, and given that even small or hidden things need careful planning and implementation.

    Weiter so!

    Cheers!

    • Oh this might be an interesting topic to talk about. But we could only tell people about our standpoint. I’m sure there are lots of different types of handling skill trees.

      Thank you! We could actually go faster if we would be able to work full time on the game. Doing crunch time we tend do work that can be done fast, like adding a some help buttons to the equip menu ;)

One Trackback

  • [...] The circuit menu has finally taken a bit more shape in form of actual code. We sketched out the basic outline of the tree that contains the skills so we can easily create the tree itself whilst changes can be added with ease. As you might have seen in our previous post, we use a tree structure combined with so-called OR-branches. Along with this, we discussed the data structure we want to use for a single skill. We tried to make it as flexible as possible so we can make changes fast. The coming weeks will probably contain lots of information regarding the skill tree and the creation of the circuit menu. [...]

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