I fucked around with the tech tree visualization this week. One of the things with the new XP system is that blueprints are organised in a heirachy, so you have to unlock one item before you can unlock another. For example, you need to unlock the wooden spear before you can unlock the stone spear.
The problem is how to visualize this? How to show the player that they have to unlock these two items before they can unlock the item they want to? Or how to show the player that an item they want to unlock will unlock at level 7, and needs this item unlocked first?
I started off with a timeline looking system, where levels were expressed on the X axis.
This worked to a certain extent, but it ended up being too spread out. It didn't scale well at all. So I thought, fuck the level on the X axis, bunch them all together and blue the icons out that we can't spawn because they're level locked.
This works from a technical point of view, but I can't help but feel it is way to busy visually, which makes it pretty tricky to read. This is only going to get worse when we have to add indicators for stuff being locked etc.
So right now I'm leaning towards having the second mode, but only showing the tree that contains a selected item. It's going to take a bit more experimentation to get right.