Hello there! Just thought I'd share the progress of Hevn over the past week or so. There have been several updates to the concept of "Datagraphs", which I'll discuss a bit below, as well as some improvements to the overall performance of the game. So to start with... what is a "datagraph"?
In the future, a "datagraph" is essentially a collection of data (both secure and not secure) associated with a 3D fingerprint of an object or "thing". Think of it like several layered Wikipedias of information for just about every visible "thing" in existence that are linked across many networks and are only accessible with the proper levels of access.
An imaginary real world example of this could be a simple road sign. To most of the public it's just a metal/concrete structure of some sort with some directions or navigational information. To the manufacturer it could have additional information such as manufacture date, condition, lot number, cost, etc. To police officials it could also be associated with a crime scene and is part of an investigation. To the city or state it could be associated with local traffic data and how it impacts traffic. All of this data would be linked in a way that can be queried by the proper personnel. And naturally, the higher level of access the more data you'd have access to.
How does this concept translate to the game? Well to start with just about every object, critter, or "thing" will have data associated with it that is hopefully meaningful in some way. This data can be accessed by the player by equipping a helmet, connecting to the network (in the game), and enabling "datagraph mode".
To get into the details, the helmets in the game are equipped with special cameras that capture a 3D'esque image of all objects in view (including various properties such as color, relation to other objects, visible material, temperature, etc). When the player enables "datagraph mode", the helmets actively scan the area, find objects, query the linked networks, and display the proper data to the player. This basically means showing a very simple UI that displays icons above objects so the player can recognize which objects have data associated with them. Sort of similar to Google Glasses as well as other augmented reality type displays.
Here's a gif of a player enabling datagraph mode and walking around a bit:
The player just needs to move within a relatively close distance to the object, then target it to see the name, it's manufacture history or scientific information, as well as some nuggets of information. In some cases, clues or story elements will be revealed and "remembered". There is a chance none of this will be absolutely necessary to progress through the game, but in many cases it should help to make things feel more immersive. There are also a couple other uses for this mode that we'll hold off on discussing now.
Here's a screenshot of the player learning a little bit about a particular microscope on a table:
Control wise, the player can [TAB] through text (or paginate) to quickly read succinct bits of information. In some cases, just knowing this information can be enough to change certain aspects of the game.
Brief Performance Update
While working on the code to render the datagraph icons mentioned above (and after talking with the dev team), I realized the same basic concepts/patterns could be used to improve the performance of the custom culling system which was written almost a year ago (see http://www.hevngame.com/blog/culling-from-hevn). Some background info - the culling system is responsible for rendering the objects in the game as well as handling audio, particle systems, custom code, physics, etc. It was basically designed so this game can run on much less-than-powerful hardware, especially GPU wise.
In any case, a few days were spent implementing the changes and lucky enough, the FPS for the game on my humble, aging MacBook 13" improved by almost 2x. It also helped to make the game easier to design in general - it was pretty exciting! We'll see how this changes things soon.
Well, that's enough text for now. Again, thanks for reading!
More game design details at IndieDB