Just wanted to show tumblr I’m not dead.
Here’s an early WIP from my game from the latest Ludum Dare game jam, space Rig Zeta. I’ll post a link to the LD page so you guys can play the old buggy version. Video and demo of the new one will hopefully be up by late tomorrow.
So I’ve been developing this for a year and am quite sure I still don’t have a planned features list. If I do, it’s older then radio. Let’s fix all that.
What’s the short answer?
Periapsis will be a sandbox, free-movement shoot-em-up with retro style and realistic substance.
What’s the long answer?
I don’t know yet. I guess we’ll see when I finish it. That’s the magic of brogramming.
But here’s what I think it will be about.
Periapsis is a game about making quick decisions with actual stakes. Everything from the map and stations to the enemy bosses will be randomly picked or generated, ensuring memorization will get you nowhere and analyzing reacting on the fly will mean everything.
Who can you trust? How and when will you fight the goliath Overseer craft and their endless drone armies pursuing you? Its up to you.
Confront a randomized enemy in a procedurally generated world
The way you deal with the army pursuing you will matter. Get away before an enemy raid arrives. Destroy supply transports before they can call for help or face powerful reprisal.
The main path to beat the game revolves around defeating three randomly chosen bosses pulled from a pool of user made creations. The next boss could be bearable or a nightmare. It’s up to the player to adapt, upgrade and fight in the way they see fit to defeat the boss at all costs.
Acquire resources to defeat your enemy
Survey and mine randomly generated asteroid fields or conduct risky supply raids on enemy supply lines and mining operations to deny the enemy resources, then return to a station and outfit your ship with an array of upgrades and weaponry.
If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, focus on upgrading your craft to better combat the threat. Veterans can attempt to speed through the game with minimal upgrades while more casual players can explore the extensive, modular ship upgrading system.
Build a customized, unique combat platform
Ships are built from modular parts in a simple staged upgrading system. The player can swap out their current upgrade tier or install a module of the next tier by docking with it, removing the need for obtuse and unimmersive menus and tabs.
There will be three upgrade tiers, core, first and second. The player will start with a core and will then be able to attach a first and second expansion to their baseline ship, unlocking hardpoints for larger weapons, extended fuel capacity, cargo and much more. The player can mix any combination of the separate tiers, allowing them to mix and match attributes.
There will be over 40 unique weapons to choose from in four classes, explosives, projectile, missiles and beams ranging across 3 size classes.
Navigate a randomly generated story
NPCs will have randomized agendas and alleigences, influencing the key choices they can or will make and making betrayals much more surprising, and repayment of trust all the more fulfilling.
Well, there you have it
I hope you guys got some useful or intriguing info from this post of things-yet-to-be. Anything you’re still curious about? Ask away!
New component ship concepts/mockup. I’ve had a lot of trouble designing static ships so I’m going to implement a ‘dock to upgrade’ system. Modules will be spawned on dockable platforms that will attach the module to the ship or swap it with your current one if it’s the same type. You’ll only be able to swap your base module (ie the last one you added) so you’ll have to make some permanent decisions each playthrough.
My biggest concern has been that Periapsis is just a weird game. Throwing somebody into it is going to leave them blind. For some that’s great, but for a lot of people these days it can almost be an insult. “Well I’m throwing you right in so this game should be knowable. Oops! You never figured out the strafe keys. Oops! You never figured out the specific thing you have to do to dock. You must be stupid.”
Basically one thing people afford a game these days is you can figure it out on your own. This isn’t always the case (Minecraft, Spacebuild et cetera) but more often then not games give you a way to learn their core system. When they don’t then you usually assume that their core system should be inherent and play to your affordances.
But there’s a trick around Periapsis’ obtuseness. Periapsis has ships, guns, enemies, uses the arrow keys to move and others. Sounds like a SHMUP. All we need to do is confine the player to screenspace and unlock the camera from their position.
Since Periapsis shares affordances with fixed-screen SHMUPS, we can use such a modification of Periapsis to establish precedents like movement, firing and destroying a few types of enemies.
This does have the unwanted side-effect of making the remaining affordances, most prominently turning, the free camera and preserving momentum in movement, sting a bit harder when they’re presented to the player after the SHMUP sequence.
However, I think this can be remedied with more dedicated teaching through play. By inductively introducing mechanics I hope Periapsis can be played organically. And, for those who already know what’s going on, consider jsut not playing ‘Patsy’ mode and skipping straight to ‘idealist.’
So I just finished #Bastion , GREAT game. It really rearranged my state of thought and I feel like sharing how it may change (or maybe better realize) how I make Periapsis.
Bah, this game looks normal.
Kojima-san once said games aren’t their own medium, they’re more of a museum. If thats the case then Bastion’s the first game to transcend the picture frame. What Kojima meant was, games aren’t so much a new medium as they are a new way of putting together everything we’ve made. They need visual artwork, music, writing, design but they aren’t just the sum of these things, they’re a fresh synergy. A new frontier.
Whether or not he meant to, Supergiant ran with that idea when they made Bastion. It’s a fresh take on narrative. Taken part by part, it sounds boring. Diablo style isometric gameplay (click click click dead) and towns (the titular Bastion.) Stereotypical-Japanese-Fellows (The Ura.) And a story that has very few points of divergence. Yawn. Seen it.
Bastion adds a bit here, a bit there and a couple of unexpected whoppers. First has to be Logan Cunningham’s world-weary drawl, chronicling your every move as you journey to far lands to undo the Calamity. The story is there but not usually unskippably presented. It’s just sort of chilling with you as you play.
The gameplay may be an isometric beat-em-up style, but there are a lot of blocks, dodging parries and the like that play into your style. Slap in a dozen weapons and a bunch of selectable ‘spirits’ distilled into drinkable form for maximum custom buffage, and you’ve got a rich game. Beat-em-up though it may still be.
The art is solid, and the narrative weaves its way in an unexpected fashion. You may not make a lot of decisions, but the ones you do feel like they’ve got impact. This isn’t commander Shepard flying away on a shuttle and getting his crew gobbled up while he’s away. This is mercy versus apathy. This is looking forward versus looking back. Big stuff that can take you places.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Most of all, Bastion taught me that telling a story is never strict. Damn all else if you can find a new way to do things. That’s big, it makes me want to reach high and pluck a posthumous narrator from the sky, then play with the idea until, again, it dies. There’s still new territory to explore.
I’m not going to say too much because, well, that would be spoiling and I’m a coy bastard. You may be an AFGNCAAP in Periapsis, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a story to tell and a way to tell it on the fly.
Next, you may still be fighting three bosses every game to win it. But, what happens to them when you knock them out of the fight? Who might have second thoughts about coming after you again? Who might REALLY have second thoughts about coming after you? Who might come back to help you because “my employers are lightyears away, what are they going to really do if I switch sides?”
Not an easy decision for some people. Others will always finish the guy off because it’s jsut a flipping game. No big deal. It’s pragmatic, the narrator’s gonna tell it like it is. There aren’t any ‘wrong’ actions in the story, just choices.
Same thing once you’ve wiped out your pursuers and can finally fence off what you stole. Or will you? Why not keep all of this hidden schizo tech for yourself? Or bypass the resistance altogether and drop it onto the public net yourself?
I like this idea.
So I’m aware there’s been a big outage so far as progress reports on #Periapsis go. Felt like I should rectify that.
First, the HUD’s been revised. I think the people who enjoyed the old one will like the throwbacks to the original. Most of the components are the same and the RADAR has more prominence.
Before the haters start, I have something for you, too. Even though the radar is 2x as large, it’s also got a 2:1 aspect ratio now and a lighter bounding box. It has also been moved down to the bottom on the screen with your ship and out of the forward line of fire (where most of the enemies will be while you’re shooting at them.)
Similarly, the weapons groups are also behind isntead of ahead of your ship, the cargo is down and to the left and the nav will be down and to the right, displaying text there instead of the center of the screen.
Future plans: Finishing Patsy Mode
In the immediate future, I’m going to finish off the release of the first difficulty level, already playable through the intro and the midgame (you can fly and mine as long as you want.)
Next I’m adding the endgame for that difficulty mode so I can move onto Idealist mode, which will have combat and introduce the dynamic enemy fleet chasing you.
Before then, I need to finish a transport docking and launch system. I’ve got most of it spelled out in blank functions and comment sand jsut need to start making some simple code and making sure it doesn’t act weird (hardest part.)
The intro still isn’t all I want it to be. It doesn’t imbue any sense of the world into the player and I want to get the player acquainted with the dynamic story that they can play out (or not, possibly depending on how late design goes.) My original prototype had that but wasn’t participatory enough. In the future I’m hoping to get a good intro song that can help me rewrite the storyboard for the intro and tutorials since I tend to direct ingame narrative with music. It’s an absolute neccesity so I’ll be talking with my sound designer about it.
That’s all for now, hopefully I can put down some time for this game. We’ll see how it goes.
Hey all, up next I’m going to do one of two things for this game and I need your input if you can give it. I’m either going to finish up the current game mode with win conditions or overhaul the UI to be more usable, including a unified RADAR and nav overlay with better placement (not up at the top of the screen where your targets usually are.)
Either of these will be some work, but I don’t know what you guys want more. Balance or content? You decide.