Unsurprisingly, simple questions like ‘what should the fuel counter look like?’ are some of the hardest to answer. The solution needs to be un-intrusive yet visually obvious as to what is going on.
We need our fuel bar to not only indicate the remaining level of power for the pod, but also to communicate the rate of power consumption. We don’t want to take pains to point out to the player how different actions (firing thrusters, using the tractor beam etc.) have different fuel requirements. Nobody wants to read pages of text before they get to start playing.
Another element required is, for want of a better term, the mothership’s energy cargo. As a mining vessel with absorption technology the mothership can dissolve and convert them to energy. The player dumps objects into the collection hopper to achieve this.
We need the player to be able to see the current amount of energy cargo as this will influence decisions about what to harvest from the environment and how quickly it is needed.
We have settled on a system of blocks that represent discreet units of power- each ‘pip’ is a full recharge of the pod’s fuel- that the player will be using. This will carry over between levels and will be expendable to redeem various improvements in a ‘levelling up’ fashion. Below is a video showing the first working pass of these two UI elements.