Designing an interface for building Goblin Ships

Design for games is incredibly rewarding and fun work. When Engient approached me about designing the user interface for their PC Game, Rigonauts, I jumped at the opportunity. Their game was already nearing completion when I started on the interface so I had to get up to speed right away. The lead developer and founder of Engient helped get me set up with ng, the version control software they were using for the project. A game artist had already drawn most of the art in game, so I already had a set style to match for the interface.

A Game of Building and Battle

The game Rigonauts is kind of a wind-up-toy. You build goblin ships adding struts and weapons to them, and then pit your build against enemy ships. We needed a screen for the build process: a tray to hold all of the parts, a widget to place parts, pause play controls for releasing your toy, and a few gauges that show stats. I came up with some preliminaries on paper to get the layout right and after sharing them internally I started drawing the interface. The lead dev had built a flash importer and all of the final art was in svg format so I drew all of the artwork with adobe flash and the animations were handled by the game engine.

Making Toys

I wanted the interface to feel like a toy as well, to match the theme of the game. For the level selector I landed on this gear wheel that you spin, and lock the level you want to play into a viewing glass. I imagined it as a kind of mechanical compass on the goblin ships. It's fun to interact with and keeps you in the game world at the same time.

The game is such a fun concept, it feels to me like playing with lego or remote control cars. I think Engient did such a terrific job building this game and designing the play. I'm really grateful to have gotten a chance to work on this project and have so much fun building the interface.