Borders with Cut Corners in a Post-HTML5 World

In previous articles focusing on the technical side of creating Tau Station, we’ve discussed how our team is working hard to utilize inclusive design, how they’ve created an authoring tool to provide meaningful choices for players, and about their focus on writing clean database code. Today, we are going to discuss artist choices about borders which make game’s user interface (UI) visually complex and interesting, while still allowing the art assets to be usable in a variety of situations.

Tau Station has many different types of artist elements that use non-standard borders and edges. A design like this can be implemented in a variety of ways; with an older approach, which utilizes files in a PNG format, and which only consist of the file having one layer, or a newer approach, which is more complex, but which utilizes more layers and which is less limiting. We will focus on a new(ish) technique which seems to often be overlooked by many front-end developers, even in 2017.

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The Art of the Inn

“Whoe’er has travel’d life’s dull round,
Where’er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome, at an inn.”
~William Shenstone

After a day spent scavenging in the ruins or mining the ice rings of Saturn, having a place to unwind, rest, catch up with friends, or meet new ones is much appreciated.

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Mission Builder Reloaded

More than simply linear paths or interactive stories, our missions in Tau Station provide a unique adventure in immersion. To advance through the universe of Tau Station, many difficult decisions await. Missions are one of the main sources of experience in the game, and completing them will help you to understand the Tau Station universe better. Passing them won’t be easy, however.

In order to provide the narrative team with enough level of creative freedom, we are constantly improving and developing new features for our mission authoring tool: Mission Builder. Now it’s time to uncover some of the internal details and show what goes on the behind the scenes while playing in Tau Station.

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The Art of the Market

Peace is a natural effect of trade.

Charles de Montesquieu

Peace may not be the first word that comes to mind when walking through a market in the Tau Station universe.  From the raucous harmony of a vendor hawking his wares, to the acrid, metallic taste lingering in the air after a potential customer tests out a gun at the Hephaestus Weapon Tech booth, the Market place is always one of the most chaotic and vibrant areas on a station.

Recently we showed you a glimpse of what our very talented artists were creating in as far as space travel.  This week, we invite you to enjoy a small tour of some of the many interesting aspects of our market places.

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The Art of Space Travel

We are gliding across the world in total silence, with absolute smoothness; a motion of stately grace which makes me feel godlike as I stand erect in my sideways chariot, cruising the night sky.
– Michael Collins (astronaut)

Outer Space and Beauty have always been two concepts that often find a great kinship in each other, both in the stunning visuals of the universe around us but also through the lenses of our own imaginations. While Tau Station will always strive to harness the boundless creativity of your own imagination through engaging narrative and an immersive universe, we are just as committed to presenting you with stunning visuals crafted by the deft fingers of our talented artists.

This week, we would like to present you with various images inspired by the concept of travel within the Tau Station Universe.

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Interstellar Travel for All – A Socratic Exchange

In one of our recent posts we described some of the work we’ve been doing to improve Tau Station’s star map. This week we’re going more in-depth about the process and will even show some of the code we’re using.

Initially, a canvas map was all we offered the player.

A three-dimensional rotating set of stars and their names, with some connected by wormholes.
The <canvas>-based star map.

 

But as we said in the last map post, a canvas is only selectively accessible, and doesn’t work with screen readers or in browsers that don’t support JavaScript. Thus we wanted to reduce the star map into its basic HTML representation, so that we could progressively build it back up into a canvas rendering.

When we approached this, we asked ourselves one question:

What is this thing, and what does it do?

Ok, so maybe two questions.

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Interstellar Travel for All

In Tau Station, you can travel between star systems and stations by taking a public shuttle or flying your own ship. One of the ways you can explore and plot your route is through the Star Map.

Our first version of the star map was built using a canvas element and looked like this:

A three-dimensional rotating set of stars and their names, with some connected by wormholes.
The <canvas>-based star map.

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The Tau Station Universe: Design

Pretty, immersive, thoughtful, and inclusive – these are concepts that have guided us as we’ve been designing our user interface. Words and stories are the foundation upon which Tau Station is built, but we’re going beyond just text on the screen to create the universe that we’ve imagined. Our narrative, art, and graphic design all work together to create an immersive experience and the sense of adventure and exploration that’s at the heart of Tau Station.

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The Tau Station Universe: Accessibility

We’ve always envisioned the Tau Station Universe as a place of escape and adventure, somewhere you can go when you want to step away from the world for a time. It’s important to us that we create it in such a way that everyone who wants to can explore and enjoy the universe with us. We’re doing our best to build a user interface that is accessible to as many people as possible, and in today’s post we’re going to share a little bit about the technical work that goes into that.

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