Weekly Update – August 13, 2021

The hotbar design process led to hours of screen resolution and aspect ratio research. This research consumed a lot of time this week, but allowed me to finalize the supported screen resolutions and aspect ratios (something I should have done early on).

  • Finalized aspect ratios. After great feedback from a recent Reddit post on this topic, and much research, I decided to support a 16:9 aspect ratio exclusively, with letterboxing for other ratios such as 4:3. The reasons behind this decision are a) 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio by far, b) being able to optimize the UI for widescreen, and c) ease of implementation. Unfortunately, the game menu screens are currently designed for 4:3 and will have to be rearranged for widescreen.
  • Finalized base resolution. The base/minimum resolution will be 640×360. This is the resolution that the pixel art will be designed for. The reasons behind this decision are a) this resolution has a 16:9 aspect ratio, b) it scales evenly to standard HD resolutions (1280×720, 1920×1080), and c) the number of 24×24 tiles that can be drawn on the screen (27.7×15) was in my desired range of 24-28 horizontal tiles and 12-16 vertical tiles.
  • Finalized hotbar design. In the end, the hotbar will work like most hotbars – 10 slots that activate the contained items/spells/abilities with a mouse click or by pressing the corresponding number key (standard hotbar), slots populated by dragging items/spells/abilities from game menu popup windows. I am debating having a second hotbar to quickly change between weapons.
  • Added sound effects for releasing an arrow, an arrow hitting something, throwing an object, opening/closing chests, opening/closing doors, opening/closing your backpack (inventory), drinking a potion, drinking from a fountain, and hitting different objects with a wooden staff. They sounded good enough from my MacBook speakers, but not so great when I listened with noise-cancelling headphones. Some sounds were louder than others, timing was off, and some sounds didn’t match the action. I need to swap out some of the sounds and add audio mixing.
  • Implemented simple material-based sound effects. A wooden staff, for instance, should make a different sound when it hits flesh than when it hits stone. Each item type definition has a sound effect for each physical material.

Next week, I’ll continue working on sound effects and reworking game menu screen layouts for widescreen. If time allows, hotbar implementation will begin.

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