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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mach-Arena: Menu Systems

     We got around to making our menu layouts the other day. We needed to accommodate our new currency/leveling up mechanic and ship editor. Here's what we came up with.  


Menu Systems

      The main menu of Mach-Arena is themed and immersive. It all takes place in the cockpit of one of the game’s combat vehicles. Different menu sections are represented by monitors in the cockpit that the camera orients itself to face.

        In the background of the cockpit (through the glass dome), AI controlled vehicles are engaged in combat to create ambience. The monitors are inactive and “turned off” until a menu option is selected, which is when the camera changes its view to face a specific monitor. When it does, the monitor “turns on” with an animated flash of white and an interface that takes position on the screen (in relation to the camera view).

     To make up for potential screen resolution errors, a tiled background or black panel will be used to cover up negative space.

Main Screen

On startup, players are initially greeted with a “Press Spacebar” style screen. The text is in the center of the screen. Text along the bottom of the screen reads “Mach-Arena is a student project developed at the Pennsylvania College of Technology by Group Two in association with Yotes Games for educational purposes.

Upon input confirmation, four buttons, the game title logo, and developer credits become visible. All the while, dynamic AI combat is taking place in the background.


If the options button is clicked, the camera turns to face a monitor that reveals this menu.  Here is where various control options may be changed. Because of the game’s forced resolution and system requirements, controls are the only options to alter here. A button is located here to take players back to the main menu.

Additionally, a button that deletes a player’s accumulated points and rewards may be placed here. It would essentially wipe the game clean and start a new profile.

There are two control options to choose from but all inputs have control over the same actions. The options are slightly different in terms of ergonomics and convenience. Players can switch controls whenever they like. The actions are: slow down, speed up, dodge left, dodge right, use item, shoot, move left (tunnel), move right (tunnel), aim ship, and turn ship. There is a radio switch that determines how ships enter alternate paths in tunnels via one of three input options. The only current compatible input device for this game is the mouse & keyboard.


The tutorial is a simplified instruction manual. It uses a series of images accompanied by, and decorated with, very little text. It explains the basics of playing the game for new players in a straightforward and visually appealing way.

The player can toggle through the tutorial “pages” with buttons and exit to the main menu.


Selecting the deathmatch option takes the player to the customization menu. This is the menu that displays how much currency a player has. In the customization menu, players can select a ship of their choosing, unlock new choices with accumulated currency, and allocate skill points for the match. 

If no skill points are allocated, they are evenly distributed starting from the topmost number and downward. Another possible solution is to not have the continue button display itself until all points are distributed.

A 3D model of the player's customized ship is visible to give a visual representation of the selections. It automatically rotates slowly to be seen from all sides.

After the player’s ship is customized, the camera turns toward the match launch menu. The player needs only to press the big launch button for the game to begin. In this menu players can alter the number of computer opponents to face and their initial difficulty level.

When the launch button is pressed, the camera faces the glass dome of the cockpit again. It then rushes toward it while fading to either white or black. The game uses this time to load. When the match is ready, the player ship is seen speeding down a tunnel for a few seconds. Just as the vehicle leaves the tunnel, the player assumes control and the game begins.

Gameplay H.U.D.

The health and boost meters are in the bottom corner (with health on top) leading into the power-up slot where the current equipped power-up is displayed. A mini-map is present in the opposite corner, leaving lots of space for gameplay.

When a shield item is used, a shield meter overlaps the health bar. All bars deplete to the right. In the top corner, an icon indicating the help button is displayed.

When the user toggles the help screen, two information boxes appear, one with a list of the current controls and another displaying everyone’s ranking in the current match and their kills, deaths, and general score.

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