As you know, we have been iterating on the HUD constantly in the past months / years, but only with relatively small steps every time.
As we get closer to our Early access launch, we need to spend more time uncluttering / fixing the HUD.
There are a few changes that we are considering:
Cockpit view position
Moving the head position in the cockpit a little further back would allow the two physical MFDs ( console screens at the bottom of the view ) to be visible at all times.
This would allow us to go from “MFDs are just for decoration / immersion” to “MFDs are useful for gameplay”.
The cockpit would also feel more immersive that way ( I tested it ) since more of the cockpit would be in view.
On the negative sides well… there is more of the cockpit into view So it hides more of the gameplay “area”. Although the left / right side views are more clear now.
The other big negative issue / to figure out is the spherical radar: it is currently displayed on top of the two MFDs. One easy way to address that would be to move this radar to one of the MFDs, but the MFD screen size is a bit smaller, therefore the spherical radar would be a bit less readable.
The bomber only has one MFD at the bottom screen center; but three is an additional one on the right side, which could probably be moved a bit to come into view. The corvette only has one huge MFD at the screen bottom at the moment, but it’s not square ; it would probably be possible to split it into two equal squared screens.
Likelihood: set in stone
Most of the HUD elements / information will be moved into virtual MFDs ( basically square areas on the HUD, mostly in the corners ). Each MFD will have multiple modes which can be cycled. We’ll probably use F3 / F4 to cycle through the virtual MFDs and F5 / F6 to cycle through the physical MFDs in cockpit ( if they get implemented ). (Note: F3 / F4 are currently used for HUD mode and control scheme, these will be moved to the settings menu ).
MFD modes would include:
- Weapons status ( what we currently have at the top-left corner of the HUD )
- Ship status ( an holographic representation of your ship, especially useful later on when we implement localized damage ). In the first implementation it’d simply show a top-down view of your own ship, with dots representing weapons states ( green dot = weapon ready to fire, orange = weapon aiming, red = weapon out of ammo, black = weapon dead, or something like that ). It’s easy to imagine circular bars around the ship hologram, representing shields status.
- Target status ( similar information, but for the selected target )
- Front / back radar
- Non-critical notifications / alerts
- Squad status / team information ?
Exploration vs Combat mode
Likelihood: set in stone
There is currently an “automatic” mode which switches between exploration and combat modes; we find it confusing for players, so we’ll get ride of the automatic mode. Instead, the modes will be selected manually contextually.
If you have a target selected, you’ll be in combat mode, period. If you have no target selected, you’ll be in exploration mode.
We will filter out a lot of target indicators in combat mode. The main idea is that combat mode will only display: the target, the nearest ally, and the Nth nearest threats ( we’re thinking of using N = 5 ). Some threats will be active ( an enemy that is close and has targetted you ), others will be passive ( an enemy that is close but has not specifically targetted you, like a capital ship firing at you with its auto-turrets ).
Weapons and reticles
Weapons selection will become exclusive, and we’ll only show the lead reticle for the currently selected weapon. There will be a key to cycle through weapons ( or set the current weapon with 1-9 ). This will also allow us to filter out other HUD information that is not pertaining to the currently selected weapon.
That behavior could potentially be customizable for more experienced players.
This is lower priority than the rest, so it could miss the EA launch. The idea is to clean the radial menus. Add icons, tooltips about what each element is doing.
An alternative selection mode will be used, as we found some players to be confused; you will be able to either hold the radial menu key, select an element and release the key ( current behavior ) OR press the key once, which will open the radial menu ( no need to hold the key ), select one or many elements, then press the key again to close the menu.