6 Replies Latest reply on Oct 14, 2006 1:44 PM by Newsgroup_User

    Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI

    zaki33
      Hi,

      I was wondering if anybody had any info or experiences on Director being used to author HUD and Frontend menus for PS2, PS3, Xbox and Xbox 360 game consoles.

      I've been working in the game industry for the past five years as a UI artist and before that I worked for ten years as a graphic designer / animator on websites, kiosks and CD-ROMs (using Director). The company I work for now has been using proprietary software to build there UI systems, but are now open to the idea of using third party software for this task.

      I found this article on Adobe.com ( http://www.adobe.com/devnet/director/articles/halo_ui.html) and found it to be pretty informative. I feel pretty confindant that Director could handle 75% of the work required but can't seem to find any documentation that would answer my other concerns.

      some questions:

      Is Director capable of displaying text from outside sources? The games I work on are published in multiple languages and we use speadsheets when localizing text. Is this something built into Director?

      Would Director be able to handle in-game HUD elements like health gauges or compasses? Is it possible to control exported Director files with external code?

      Can Director display the same art assets in 16/9 and 4/3 screen ratios?

      Is there documentation that I could show my Techinical Director that describes how Director files can be "plugged-in" the game and be used by the code developers?

      Leads and answers would be greatly appreciated. I have more questions but I wanted to keep the first post as brief as possible. Please feel free to post questions if you have any about the game industry (in relation to UI) and I'll try to answer them the best I can.

      I'm kind of suprised Adobe hasn't tried to break into this segment of interactive development. UI development in the game industry is a basket case and is really ready for a reliable and robust tool.

      Anyways, thanks in advance.
        • 1. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
          tedalde2 Level 2
          You could definitely use Director (probably along with a good dose of Flash and Photoshop) to make prototype UI's, as the halo article states... why not? But actually using Director with your real game code... I don't know.

          your questions:
          quote:

          Is Director capable of displaying text from outside sources? The games I work on are published in multiple languages and we use speadsheets when localizing text. Is this something built into Director?
          You could easily import TXT (or XML or RTF...) into Director using the Filio xtra, if it's a projector, or getNetText() for stuff on HTTP or FTP. A handful of custom Lingo could easily parse a table-style spreadsheet formatted as a TXT file.
          quote:

          Would Director be able to handle in-game HUD elements like health gauges or compasses? Is it possible to control exported Director files with external code?
          Absolutely on the HUD elements, you're just limited by your lingo skills (and again design work in Flash-Photoshop etc). Controlling exported Director externally... never done it... closest thing that comes to mind is Adobe's tech note on setting up a Shockwave ActiveX control in Visual Basic.
          quote:

          Can Director display the same art assets in 16/9 and 4/3 screen ratios?
          Sure, but you'd probably want to format two different stage viewing areas. It seems just a basic design problem of changing aspect ratios.
          quote:

          Is there documentation that I could show my Techinical Director that describes how Director files can be "plugged-in" the game and be used by the code developers?
          Probably not, since Director isn't really setup to be plugged-in to anything else, except anything that can use the Shockwave player. But that's out of my scope. Dig for that Visual Basic article and see it it helps.

          Is there any Director W3D needed (this _is_ the 3D forum...) ? Otherwise it might be easier to create simple fancy UI with Flash alone.
          • 2. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
            zaki33 Level 1
            quote:

            Is there any Director W3D needed (this _is_ the 3D forum...) ? Otherwise it might be easier to create simple fancy UI with Flash alone.


            Thanks for the info tedalde2. My team is leaning towards a 3D UI but honestly I didn't know if it made sense to put this thread under "basics". Sorry for any confusion.

            If you're curious, we were looking at this third party software and as I was reviewing it made me think of Director.
            http://www.anark.com/entertainment/gameface-features.html

            I actually would prefer to work in Director then Flash. It's a more robust tool, IMO.




            • 3. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
              AlinaX Level 1
              check out this demo:
              http://necromanthus.com/Games/ShockWave/warcraft.html
              probably the most complex UI made in shockwave.
              • 4. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
                duckets Level 1

                Director is a great tool for prototyping GUI's and other visual displays. There's an article here by David Candland about designing the interface for Halo 2 in director:
                http://www.adobe.com/devnet/director/articles/halo_ui.html

                Your main problem with developing a UI in Director for console games will be getting it out of Director when you're done, and actually into your game engine. You'll basically have to write your own exporter which exports everything you have created in Director into a format that your game engine can understand - no small task! (and something that I notice Anark Gameface gives significant attention to).

                In addition, if you're going to be developing a 3D interface, you'll find that director can't (currently) make use of the more advanced visual effects such as normal/bump mapping, glow, pixel shaders, etc. It even takes a bit of a hack to achieve a multiply effect between models (as opposed to between texture layers on a model), so in that respect you might find it a bit limiting.

                That said, there is a lot you can do with director 3d, and it's very much able to handle in-game HUD elements. Here's a few screenshots of my recent games which use in-game HUD elements over 3d:

                This game for Renault Clio had a dash with a working timer, moving steering wheel and needles, plus a rotating streetmap, laid over the 3d view using 3d overlays:
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/clio16.jpg

                This game for Ladbrokes had overlaid scoring and time, and a 'goal direction' arrow which rotates:
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/ccf06.jpg
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/ccf08.jpg

                This game for VW Polo had track map with car positions, position and lap, stopwatch, revs, gear and speed overlays:
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/polocup03.jpg
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/polocup16.jpg
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/polocup14.jpg

                And here's another with a full dashboard (no steering wheel), and gps style map:
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/matiz04.jpg
                http://robotduck.com/dev/screenshots/matiz02.jpg


                Hope this is of help, or at least of interest :-)

                - Ben



                • 5. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
                  zaki33 Level 1
                  quote:

                  Originally posted by: duckets
                  Hope this is of help, or at least of interest :-)



                  This was very helpful. Thanks duckets!



                  • 6. Re: Director and Next Gen Game Consoles UI
                    Level 7
                    The Chrome Lib contains a lot of UI behaviors (button, push button, slider,
                    knob, color picker, sliding pane, context menu, 3D UI, Flash). There are
                    some examples in the Samples section.

                    It could help you prototype your UI. A free version is available with
                    already a lot of UI behaviors: http://www.chromelib.com/

                    Best regards,
                    Karl Sigiscar.