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The User Interface of Lasting Legacy

The latest video for Lasting Legacy, our genealogy meets Magic the Gathering game, shows some of the improvements to the user interface we made to the game in the past few weeks. Here you can read about some of the stuff I forgot to mention in the video.

Original posted on the Mystery Coconut blog.

As you know Noel and I are still hard at work on Lasting Legacy. Noel has been doing these Development Videos every now and then explaining our process as the game evolves. Last week it was finally my turn to do one of these videos, introducing the changes to the user interface we have been implementing for the last month.

Anyway, you may notice I am as stiff as a board, and not one of those flexible boards of the games behind me in the shelf, but more like the plank pirates would have made me walk if they had to listen to me droning on for even a second more. But hey, it was my first time in front of the camera, so what do you expect?

In any case I either forgot to talk about or didn't put enough emphasis on a few things in that video, so here you have a few extras.

Branches & Wills

Up until now the family tree was drawn with straight lines, but we finally got curves and little adornments to make it similar to an earlier design used in our website. Is a minor change, but one that makes the tree look more natural. I am still hoping to do a "being drawn" animation when the lines appear as people are added to the tree.

Getting the tree layout to fit together was not easy, especially because we added a couple new occupations to save your bacon when you have no available heirs. The Last Will Layer lets you select any person of the family bloodline to become the heir, and the Private Investigator finds long lost relatives with rights to be the next heir. Problem with these is the inheritance line becomes disassociated from the family tree! So we had to improvise.

Does anybody in her family know Kamilla changed her will
and her grandkid is going to inherit everything?

Parents Don't Play Favorites!

Unless you are in the Lasting Legacy world, that is. One of the most important parts of the game is that players are not the ones that choose who is the next heir. The current head of the family does, by capriciously comparing children and their actions against his or her personality. The result, every kid gets scored on how much daddy and mommy likes them, and the one they like the best gets all.

What can the player do if they don't like who has been chosen? That's were you either go Austen (appeal to the parents sense and sensibility with actions they approve by the children you prefer), or you go Dickens (with a twist of poisoners, gossipmongers, kidnappers, and long lost relatives) to influence the decision! In any case, knowing how each kid fares at any given time is important information that hopefully is more clear now thanks to little smileys appearing over each portrait any time you hover over a parent. The more the smiley is filled up in yellow the less daddy issues that character has, and the closer he is to grab the reins of the family when the old paterfamilias finally croaks.

Seems Lilla likes gold more than education after all.

Lighting Effects

You may have noticed we are making players look at a wall for the whole game (this must be a one of those constant of our work we cannot escape, Casey's Contraptions was the same), and well, when compared to the whimsical planets of other games, with blue skies and forests full of cute creatures with anime eyes, I have to acknowledge this is not the most exciting view you have ever seen in a computer screen.

How can we even compete with these fabulous vistas?!

During the struggle to make things more interesting we came up with the lighting effects you see in the video. The light around a portrait actually shuffles and shadows move to make things more interesting. Here is a close up:

Deadly sick vs normal lighting effects. Seems Tímea is soon becoming a widow.

As I was saying in the video the light flickers even more for sick, and deadly sick people. Deadly sick people are one turn away from death, so we really wanted to attract attention to them.


Towards the end of the video I mention the background music. We basically had no sound until now, so we added OpenAL to the game and wrote the necessary systems to have ambient sounds, sound effects, and streaming music. All the stuff you can hear if you really concentrate (my recording equipment was not great) are temporary sounds we have been using for testing; things like babies crying when they are born, people coughing when sick, classical music, and street ambient sounds. Neither Noel or I are very adept at sound design, so we got in contact with a few people see if they can help us with that part of the game. I am happy to say Craig Barnes will be joining us on the game's audio. I totally love his work on Miracle Merchant, so hopefully you will be hearing way better stuff next time around.

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