This week was spent working on getting some of the last of the pipeline systems to function correctly. Unfortunately there is not much of interest to speak of in that regard, except perhaps the sky and weather systems. So I thought I would write a bit about some of my gameplay plans along with some of the interesting aspects of the sky.
The game begins with players colonizing and terraforming a moon of a ringed planet. This moon is barely capable of sustaining life. As far as vegetation goes what is growing there is rather limited, just grasses and weeds and wildflowers. The fauna inhabiting the moon is likewise rather primitive and limited. This moon was chosen for colonization because of the limited ecology... it was the best option for reviving the ecology of the players' original homeworld.
The sky from the moon's surface is somewhat alien looking. Ever present is the ringed planet, and orbiting the moon is an even smaller moon. The sky goes through quite a lot of changes as the day cycle progresses, showing hues of oranges and blues and purples. Cloud cover varies over time, and weather functions add a lot of variety between hazy fogs, crystal clear skies, drizzles, torrential rains and thunderstorms. In the winter it also snows.
That all sounds pretty good, and its actually kind of pretty to see it all ( I guess I should post some screenshots on my forums? ) but there are some funky weasels I need to work out to make the best of it.
The system operates on an array of transparent layers. The farthest back is opaque but everything in front has transparency. Currently, the back layer is the starfield / daytime sky layer, the next layers are the planet and moons, and then on top of all of that are the various weather layers. As it is now, it is kind of "ok", but because of the transparency rules some odd things happen. The worst of the issues is stars showing through the planet and the moons, which should obviously be opaque. I have some ideas to fix that but I am going to wait until the rest of my pipeline systems are working before trying to mess with that.
We made this moon our home...
While the game begins with basic colonization and terraforming, it is ultimately a game of survival and evolution. This is not going to operate the way most MMOs do. Surviving is not going to happen by ignoring the story and game events taking place. This is survival of the fittest. No magical potions will save you. There is no such thing as resurrection. You may get knocked out, yes. You may be bleeding to death though. And if you are unconscious... how do you expect to call your friends to help? Why that is just purely impossible no matter how you look at it. It might be a good idea to stick close with some friends, whenever you go about potentially dangerous activities. You might also simply think twice before doing something that has a high probability of ending in death.
Death is of course not the end. Well... it is for that character, but that is what other characters are for. The population needs to rise, skills and technology need to be handed down, and survival of the species must be ensured. Nature and other sentient entities are going to make life difficult. At least one alien species is going to try rather hard to make survival of all life ( including the fauna bred by the players ) impossible. Its going to take the player population working together to survive the machinations of these aliens.
I'm sure at this point someone is wondering "what about solo players?" Technically speaking, solo play will be possible but it is going to be a very different experience. Solo players will have to make tough choices, as the difficulty of surviving without backup is rather high. There are going to be things that really need more than one player to accomplish... but if a solo player manages to do so, everyone is going to bow to the greatness of such player. This is the stuff of true legends.
Now I suppose I should also point out something else important. I am not trying to make the next WoW, or the next Rift, or the next [name of mmo] with hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers. I am not trying to build a game of mass appeal. There are plenty of games out there that cater to the pure fantasy types. There are more games suited to lazy brainless gameplay than I can shake a stick at. I'm aiming for more of a social game with a smaller, tight-knit community of people who want to play out an epic story, use their brains to solve puzzles, and generally take on an epic challenge. A challenge with the real possibility of complete and utter failure.
It is not enough just to survive...
Over the course of the game, player built cities will rise and fall, players and animals will evolve, and even the society as a whole will grow and become more than the sum of its parts. There will be a significant reward for those who survive to the end, and have evolved to a certain degree. What that reward is, will most likely stay secret for quite a while ( its revelation is actually part of the gameplay ). But aside from the core survival strategies, I intend to give players a number of recreational activities to engage in and compete in. Also, I hope to stay flexible enough to implement goodies suggested by the players.
Well that is probably enough for now. I wish i had more to say ( and in not such a chaotic way ) but alas my work lately has been mostly of the boring variety. I am going to upload a bunch of screenshots to my forum, and then I will update this post with the link. I haven't gotten many comments on my earlier posts here... but perhaps this post will get a few? We shall see...
[EDIT] Ok here is the link to the screenshots: http://www.mythaka.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=32
More details, and hopefully more progress to be reported, next time....
The Undead Dev