This month we have an update about Mask of the Rose’s user interface, but first, we have some news about the release date. Unfortunately, we’ve decided to delay release until April 2023.
Lately, we’ve been seeing signs of an over-tight schedule: mounting stress levels, team members becoming reluctant to take time off.
In this situation, there are three things we could do in principle. We could ask our team to put in significant overtime to meet the current schedule, but it’s important to us to provide a good workplace where everyone has time for personal and family life. We could cut features and parts of the story, releasing a game that didn’t fully meet our intentions and ambitions. Our sense, though, is that our players and backers would rather get the game later in its best state, rather than sooner in a worse form. So that leaves us with the third option, moving back the schedule.
We don't expect to move the release again, and we'll have a specific date for you in the next few months. We hope you'll bear with us for a little longer.
Now, here’s artist Tobias Cook with a look at Mask of the Rose’s improved UI.
UI is vitally important for a game like Mask of the Rose, where the player spends most of their time reading and any actions they take are via an interface. It’s important that the UI also has a character of its own that enhances the atmosphere of the wider game, as well as providing a pleasurable and effortless reading experience.
So, after the Kickstarter campaign was complete, we sat down and took a hard look at every part of the Mask UI. Was it doing everything it needed to do to support and enhance the rest of the game? How could we make it better?
The public demo released in February featured a work-in-progress version of the resulting UI revamp, and it has continued to improve since then.
Our first objective was to improve the way we present text. We consulted with Joseph Humfrey of Inkle as part of this process, and found his help invaluable when redesigning our narrative interface. This system delivers text in an intuitive and digestible manner even with multiple cast members present. It also has enough space to accommodate our many font options, as well as supporting the whole range of actions the player can take, such as making a choice unlocked by a clothing option or opening their notebook in order to interview a subject.
We also remade key interfaces such as the Wardrobe, Map and Character Creation, with the aim of aligning them with the game’s new look and promoting readability and atmosphere at every opportunity.
About that look: Mask of the Rose is a romance at its core. However, the world in which it takes place is in a state of upheaval. Much of London is still fractured by the Fall, with opulence and ruin sharing the stage. We wanted the UI to support and echo these themes. For us, this meant departing from Visual Novel staples like text boxes and bubbles; breaking text out of both containers and vertical alignment, giving a sense of both the risque and the grit in the decoration and colours, all whilst maintaining readability. Sort of like a high-contrast, post-apocalyptic boudoir.
Mask of the Rose features a broad range of font configuration options, from adjustable text speed to sans-serif and non-cursive text variants. We have three separate font sizes (including one large enough to make viewing on a Switch screen comfortable) and multiple font style options. This can be challenging: we have to leave enough space for everything that isn’t text, while making sure that any combination of font and size options (of which there are… lots) still looks good. Still, with reading at the centre of the game it’s vital that players can tailor text appearance to their needs and tastes, so it’s well worth the effort.
Ultimately, we feel that Mask of the Rose presents the most fully featured and mature UI presentation in any of our games to date. We look forward to you getting your hands on the finished version upon the full game’s release in April 2023.