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Rich Documents

Collectible documents are a part of Wetware's design. They provide a means to convey side stories and backgrounds that enrich the game's world, which the player can consume at their own pace. Also, there's always those people who really enjoy collecting things.


We wanted these documents to be as expressive as possible, with a creation workflow that's simple yet flexible enough to boot - using UI blueprints was considered, but eventually we settled on building the document system on Unreal's built-in HTML browser.


What's not to love from HTML? It's been the backbone of the internet for almost 3 decades now. It can display not only text, but also images, sounds, and video (although we never used the latter two for documents). All you need to make an HTML file is a text editor, so writing one can be done anywhere, anytime - the convention, including layouting using CSS, is also fairly simple and well-known.


Thus a special importer was made for HTML files. It converts them into a custom asset format which defines one document. Displaying is eventually as simple as feeding the entire HTML text into the browser embedded in our game menu.





All in all, it's not a perfect system but pretty satisfactory. We were able to do some fun layouts, and even embed GIFs for various effects (although trying to run JavaScript leaves some things to be desired)

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