Generation ship game

(Placeholder top post for a new project! Read second post to find out what happened to the old one.)

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GAME DESCRIPTION
You control a generation ship, tasked with exploring the galaxy and colonise habitable planets. You are presented with a node based screen of “destinations”, each of which have some sort of effect. A research station might bring you some extra fuel, or you might pick up some extra crew at a trading outpost. Choosing wisely is important since you need to make sure you don’t run out of resources on your journey. Going to every destination isn’t an option, either, as you risk running out of fuel. Even if you don’t, the longer your journey, the more harmful mutations will crop up in your crew.

As you journey, your ship will improve with new research discoveries. On the other hand, crew mutations and traumatic experiences will make your journey more and more precarious. As you venture further into the dark depths of the galaxy, your destinations go from mundane to mysterious and sinister (think space anomalies, alien life, space monsters…).

There will be meta progression - unlocks of things like new ship types, research skills, destinations, biomes, etc. The game would be suited well to a “daily challenge”, a seed based run with leaderboards identical for all players.

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WHAT HAPPENED?

Shortly after the launch of Fates of Ort, I began planning and prototyping the new 8BitSkull project. A game about a small crew of aliens on a centuries long journey, dealing with crazy genetic mutations. I still believe the core of the idea is sound, but will not be taking it further at this point. This is for two reasons:

  1. The mutation mechanic just did not feel good. I playtested a lot (in my head…), and all the gameplay configurations suffered from one problem or another. Either the mechanic was too simple, or too complicated. Either the mechanic favoured mindless mixing of genetics, or keeping “pure” alien bloodlines. I still think the idea has potential, but because of reason #2, decided that now was not the time to pursue it. This brings us to…

  2. Scope too big. An infinite galaxy map to traverse. A solar system view where you could dodge enemies and seek out points of interest. A visual novel style encounter system with skill checks. A real time combat system. These are all good things - but they are too numerous and too large for my personal situation as it stands currently. The project to pursue must be smaller in scope to have a chance of being completed!

WHAT NOW?

I spent a lot of time pondering what to do. I still feel drawn to the concept of generation ships and space exploration. However, the game I have come up is radically different to the initial plan. The game is significantly simpler, which hopefully leads to multiple benefits: First of all, it makes the game more feasible to complete. Secondly, it allows for more resources to be spent polishing the mechanics that make it in the final product. Finally, when done properly, there is depth and elegance to be found in simplicity (think of the old adage “less is more”).

WHAT ARE THE INSPIRATIONS?

We have drawn upon multiple sources of inspiration. From ‘FTL’, we borrow the node based space traversal, hopping from one event/encounter to the next. We also keep the sense of urgency in balancing resources (think hull, fuel, life support, crew population). ‘Reigns’ also has this resource balancing act, and the simplicity of player input (basically swiping a card left or right) is something we are learning from as well. We want the game to be extremely easy to pick up, but have enough depth to remain engaging for a long time. Finally, ‘Luck be a Landlord’ does a great job of distilling the roguelite experience down to its very essence, something we would like to achieve as well. The interesting combinations of skills creating wild synergies is also something we would like to emulate.

YOU HAVEN’T ACTUALLY DESCRIBED THE GAME…

See the top post!

WHEN CAN I PLAY?

Not yet! We’ve basically had to start over from scratch. Even though it won’t be particularly exciting, we have begun the journey towards the very first build.

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Some extreme WIP videos coming up!

First functional traversal. In the actual game you will only be able to move to destinations (white blobs, currently).

I will simulate the outcome of traveling to a given destination. This is revealed when hovering over it (see bars changing in bottom right). This was a huge bit of progress that I was dreading to implement, but it worked easier than expected!

I harvested the radial UI component I made for the previous iteration of this game. Here’s a placeholder selection process for a ship tech upgrade:

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Looks great! (And I love that you’re using the Dear ImGUI extension for prototyping and debugging!)

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Thank you! Dear ImGUI is extremely useful for prototyping, would recommend. And honestly, if I was developing for desktop only I’d seriously consider using it for actual input and UI (depending on the game of course).

For this game I want to get it on the Switch so Dear ImGUI isn’t suitable for input, hence the radial selection menu.

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Tweaked the tech upgrade screen a bit to show how it can be easily customised to go for a different feel. I’ll probably end up removing all the elastic animations, they’re a bit too silly for the mood I intend for this game.

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I have added an outline to highlight the destination currently selected by the player. Lots of juice can be added still I am sure, but it’s a good foundation. Placeholder graphics, of course.

(Edited to update with fadeout animation)

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Started working on the HUD. Displaying the projected impact of traveling to a destination. This is a huge bit of progress! It will be super important to clearly display what the outcome of a decision will be.

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Just a small update today. Implemented Richtext to display projected values for stats that are numbers only (rather than bars).

Since the extension supports loading images in the text, I will most likely end up replacing “->” with images like :arrow_down_small: and :arrow_up_small: .

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Added more test destinations, placeholder tags describing the destinations, improved the look of projected values in the HUD.

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Experimenting with a popup tooltip instead of displaying all relevant information around the destination itself (see previous post) because i think it will get cluttered trying to do it that way. I’m sure this mockup could be arranged better by someone with an eye for design, but I wonder what you all think about something like this in principle? It would spawn on the opposite top/bottom of the destination you’re hovering over.

I don’t mind a popup tooltip. It’s likely quite a bit more flexible and it will give you more room for important info.

1 Like