Editing GUIs

A game's user interface is typically split up into multiple GUIs. Each GUI is a rectangular region on the screen which is drawn on top of the background scene, typically configured with one of the following behaviors:

  • always be displayed (for example the Sierra status-line)
  • pop-up when the mouse moves to a certain position (e.g. Sierra icon-bar)
  • pop-up on script command only

The default interface for the Sierra game templates is made up of two GUIs - the status line, and the icon bar.

Go to the "GUIs" node in the main project tree. This is where all the GUIs in the game are listed - double-click one to edit it. To create a new one, right-click on the main "GUIs" node and choose "New GUI".

Once you've opened up a GUI, you'll notice the GUI itself in the main window, and its settings can be edited in the Properties grid. This allows you to change the background color of the GUI, set a background image, and set the position, width, and height amongst other things.

The "Visibility" property allows you to set whether the GUI will be initially visible or not.

The "PopupStyle" property defines some pre-configured behaviors for managing GUI visibility:

Setting Behavior
Normal Can be automatically hidden when user interface is disabled
When mouse moves to top of screen Shown and hidden based on cursor position and "PopupYPos"
Pause game when shown Automatically pause the game whilst the GUI is visible
Always shown Never hidden when the user interface is disabled

NOTE: The user interface is automatically disabled during blocking actions but the same result is achieved by using the script function DisableInterface(). To automatically hide a GUI during these times, the General Settings option When player interface is disabled, GUIs should needs to be set as Be hidden.

NOTE: Depending on how scripts are configured, pausing the game may also disable the calls to input handling functions, such as on_mouse_click and on_key_press.

The "Z-Order" setting allows you to set which order the GUIs are drawn in, i.e. when there are two GUIs that overlap this determines which one will be drawn in front of the other. The Z-order setting is an arbitrary number between 0 and 1000. AGS draws the GUIs in order, from the lowest value (0) at the back to the highest value (1000) at the front.

The "Clickable" setting allows you to set whether the GUI and buttons on it respond to mouse clicks. This is on by default, but if you turn it off and the player clicks on the GUI, the game will actually process the click as if they clicked through the GUI onto the actual screen. This is useful for transparent GUIs which are only used to display information.

You'll notice that the GUIs also have names. These can be used in the script in a similar way to using character names. For example, if a GUI is called "gIconBar", you can use reference it in a script by using this name. For example, to configure the visibility of GUI when the game starts:

function game_start()
{
    gIconBar.Visible = true;
}

GUI buttons

To provide interactivity with the interface, the most common type of GUI control to use is a button.

To add a button, click the "Add button" button in the toolbar, and then drag a rectangle with the mouse to draw one onto the GUI. You will see it displayed as a text button, with the text "New button" written on it. Notice that the Properties window is now displaying properties for your new button rather than the GUI.

Using the Properties window, you can choose an image to use for the button instead of the text, and you can also set various other self-explanatory attributes. You set what happens when the player clicks on the button by using the "Click Action" attribute. This can be set to "Run Script" (the default), and also "Set mode", which sets the cursor mode to whatever value has been specified in the "New mode number" property.

To delete a GUI button, right-click it and choose Delete.


Interface text

You can easily display static text on a GUI. For example, the Sierra-style interface displays the current score in its status bar.

To show text on a GUI, you need a label. Click the "Add label" button in the toolbar, then drag out a rectangle like you did when adding a button. You can change the text displayed in the label by editing the "Text" property. Notice that the text automatically wraps around to fit inside the rectangle that you've drawn.

As well as typing normal text into the label, you can add some special values which will automatically be updated during the game. The following tokens will be replaced with the relevant values in the game:

Token Description
@GAMENAME@ The game's name, specified on the Game Settings pane
@OVERHOTSPOT@ The name of the hotspot which the cursor is over
@SCORE@ The player's current score
@SCORETEXT@ The text "Score: X of XX" with the relevant numbers filled in
@TOTALSCORE@ The maximum possible score, specified on the Game Settings pane

Example: "You have @SCORE@ out of @TOTALSCORE@ points."

The Properties window also allows you to align the text to the left, to the right or center it, as well as change its font and color.


Customized Text Windows

If you want to add a personal touch to the standard white text-boxes which display all the messages during the game, you can create a border using the GUI Editor. Right-click the "GUIs" node, and choose "New Text Window GUI".

The element will be resized to about 1/4 of the screen, and you will see 8 images - one in each corner and one on each side. These are the border graphics. You can change each of these in the normal way, by setting the image number in the properties panel. You can give every corner and side a name to more easily identify it, although the current selection will be indicated by by surround the image with bright red squares.

In the game, the corner graphics will be placed in the respective corners of the text window, and the side graphics will be repeated along the edge of the window. To tell the game to use your custom text window style, go to the General Settings pane, and check the "Text windows use GUI" box. Then, enter the number of the GUI which you used.

You can also set a background picture for the text window. In the GUI editor, simply set a background picture for the GUI itself. The graphic you specify will not be tiled or stretched in the game; however, it will be clipped to fit the window. You should use a graphic of at least about 250x80 pixels to make sure that it fills up the whole window.

To set the text color in the window, simply set the Foreground Color of the GUI and that will be used for any text that it displays.

Additionally, you may configure padding - the distance kept between the text window's border and text inside of it.

For example editing the GUI Borders of the [Display] Command in the [New Sierra Style Template] looks like this:

Editing the GUI Borders

After compiling it looks like this in game (with x2 Scaling):

In-game GUI Borders


Custom inventory

Another option you may have noticed in the GUI editor is the Add Inventory button. This allows you to drag out a rectangle which will display the player's current inventory, in the same way as the LucasArts games did. To make the inventory window scrollable, you will need to add Up and Down arrow buttons, and attach script code to those buttons to use the available functions such as InvWindow.ScrollUp and InvWindow.ScrollDown.

To see a full list of commands available for inventory windows, see the GUI Inv Window Functions and Properties section.


Sliders

You can now add sliders to your GUIs. This allows you to have a nice interface for the player to change settings such as volume and game speed. To add a slider, click the "Add slider" button and drag out its rectangle just like you would for a button. You can also resize it by dragging the bottom-right corner out in the same way you would with a button.

Sliders can be either vertical or horizontal. The direction that it is drawn in is automatic depending on the size that you stretch the slider box to - if it is wider than it is tall you will get a horizontal slider, otherwise you'll get a vertical slider.

For the properties of a slider you can set the minimum, maximum and current values that the slider will have. In the game, the user will be able to drag the handle from MIN to MAX, and the slider will start off set to VALUE. For horizontal sliders, MIN is on the left and MAX on the right, for vertical sliders MAX is at the top and MIN is at the bottom.

Whenever the user moves the handle's position on the slider, the OnChange event is called. This means that if they continually drag the handle up and down, the event will get called repeatedly.

Your script can find out the value of the slider using the Slider.Value script property.

See also: Sliders Functions and Properties


Text Boxes

A text box is a simple GUI control that allows the player to type information into your game. Adding a text box works like adding the other types of control.

If a text box is on a currently displayed GUI, all standard keypresses (i.e. letter keys, return and backspace) are diverted to the textbox instead of being passed to the on_key_press function. When the player presses Return in the text box, the OnActivate event is called. You can then use the TextBox.Text property to retrieve what they've typed in.


List Boxes

List box controls allow you to add a list of items to your GUI. These can be useful for allowing the player to make a selection from a list of options, but a common use is in the implementation of a custom save/load dialog box.

You use the ListBox script object to manipulate the list box - for example, ListBox.AddItem to add an item, or ListBox.SelectedIndex to get the current selection.

The ListBox.Translated property defines whether a game's translation to another language will also be applied to list items or not. It is recommended to disable translation for lists containing saved games.

The OnSelectionChanged event is fired when the player clicks on an item in the list. You may wish to ignore this or do something useful with it.