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The Art of Subterfuge

Since my last post the Subterfuge screen was completed in Conquest!. Read on to learn more.

Over the last couple of weeks, Krees and I completed Subterfuge.  This is one of the most important areas in Conquest!, as it allows players to view the information regarding others.  It was challenging from a design perspective because it combines information from several screens into one.  Lets dive into the details.
The first screen is the landing page, which sets the mood and allows players to Spy, Hire a Spy, or Perform Espionage.

Players can only have one spy at a time and are can only be hired in cities which have a spy market.  In addition to using spies, magical items and certain classes have similar capabilities.  All of these options are handled in this one area.  Eventually I could see using different graphics to represent class abilities but these will suffice for now.

These screens use the same scroll motif used extensively in the client, so there were no challenges implementing the overall design.  Displaying the results, however, is where we had to get creative to display all the information while making it usable.  Here is the Overview tab, which combines information from the HUD, Royal Vault, and some miscellaneous information (Liege, Alliance, Spy, Fleet).

The row of "shield" icons are the player's badges and will be replaced with distinct icons (on the roadmap once we finish other sections of the client).  This is new functionality, as badges did not even exist when we still used text based clients.
Here is the Army tab, which combines Combat Stats, Settings, and a page similar to Move Units:

I was able to re-use the method for generating a formation based on the string returned from the server, which aided in the development of this page.  Clicking on a troop icon brings up a new page which shows the individual details.

In Conquest!, there are six different abilities troops may have, in addition to attack/defend statistics: Ambush, Multiple Attacks, Range, Regenerate, Shield, Swarm.  Some troops have these abilities innate, while magical items or artifacts can grant them.  Additionally, these statistics and abilities can differ between a player's defense and campaign army.  All of these details are captured on this page.  This is the same screen used to display a player's own troops (under Move Units).
Espionage allows you to perform a wide variety of missions against another player, ranging from burning crops to stealing magical items.  These missions do count against a player's attack total but allow you to gain assets without combat.  I'm especially excited about the two missions added this year: Forgery, which allows land to be taken, and Raid, which allows you to steal magical items from a player's vault.
As the design of subterfuge completed, the population screen was refreshed to use the same graphics:

This screen shows 10 random players on the same continent as your player and is the primary way other targets are found.  A pop-up menu here allows you to jump to the combat or subterfuge screens or use a magical item on the other player.
Server side changes from the past couple of weeks including breaking out troop abilities into individual parameters.  Before, the server would send one comma delimited string representing the abilities.  This was fine for text based clients, who would just pass that string along to the user, but puts undue burden on a GUI client trying to figure out which icons to display.  Incidentally, I have not retro-fit the reference Windows Forms client I made earlier this year so it is now acting a bit squirrely.
Up next, we are going to work on the Class and Hero icons.  These will not add new functionality but continue to enhance the overall experience.  Once those are done we move to the cornerstone screen, Combat.

Follow the journey on Facebook or Twitter.  Until next time, I hope to see you in the game.

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