So during this most recent pass I've gone in and changed/tweaked a lot of small details.
Originally I went in and I started adding some shadows underneath all of the information to help make things pop out, and eventually I realized that I've been trying to save this style that I developed for the borders of the HUD boxes since like for since like...September, which was pretty early on in the development of this. So I went and I started looking and looking at a bunch of ref, looking at current and older games. I came to the conclusion that the transparent blue borders in their current form look kind of hokey and aren't in line with the original goal of this project which is to bring this older game's interface and modernize it. I also realized that the drop shadows in their current iteration are too strong and obscure the gameplay just as much as I knocked the old interface for. I need to dial things back and refine.
Here I've kept all of the same information and layouts, just refined things quite a bit in my opinion. I've cut out the transparent cyan borders in favor of a more solid slightly transparent black with a thin 1px edge. This feels more "modern"/sci-fi to me, personally, and I like where this is starting to trend. The bright transparent cyan borders were just fighting with the information too much. The purpose of an interface is to convey information to the player, but what's the point of it if the thing is fighting for the player's attention over what they should actually be focused on. The one place where I've kept the bright cyan border is on the city title, because it's going to be clickable to exit this screen and knowing which city you're managing is an important piece of information, and it also draws the eye to show which "Governor" mode the city is on.
Something I would like to improve on is some more cool little lines/decoration to help amplify the sci fi-ness of the now slightly boring black gridded rectangles. Also more interesting shapes for the bar graphs for Nutrients, Minerals, and Energy.
Here is the current working concept I have for the main HUD. The development of this is actually what prompted me to go back and change the look of the menus in the Governor/City Management screen. I couldn't get those bright transparent borders to look right with all of this information. I need to bring some of this transparency back over to the Governor menu, or the transparent black borders from that screen over to this screen's HUD to make things consistent though.
Some thing I think that I can improve upon in the next iteration is to make the shape of the selected unit box more interesting, either by changing the shape entirely or adding some kind of sci fi decoration to make it more visually interesting than a square in the corner. I'd also like to give a button on the mini map that allows the player to change the orientation/zoom in or out depending on their preference.
This was also where I added some improvements to the top information bar. In the original game there are actual screens that take up a bunch real estate with cycling information/in game statistics. An idea I had to simplify this was to take all of the commerce/economic stats that keep cycling and have them scroll through the top bar like you'd see on the news/ESPN where they have stats/breaking news/stock market statistics cycling through on a banner.
Some ref from other games that I've been looking at recently--
I'm always gonna be looking and comparing to Civ Beyond Earth, since that game is the spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri in a way, I'm always mindful of how my concepts and trending/stacking up to what is going on in that game. While the visual style is notably different (I'm going much more angular and boxy, whereas Beyond Earth is going with rounded buttons and flat boxes that taper off into transparency).
Stellaris is another game that's still in development that has really cool things going on in their UI style.
Galactic Civilizations and Offworld Trading Company are both games that I've started looking at that definitely has cool things happening with their UI in terms of handling a lot of information on screen i.e. numbers and resources.