Enriching the Reach: HYPERGALAXY

By Haley Uyrus, July 3, 2017 · Sunless Skies

The HYPERGALAXY sprint finds us continuing to enrich the Reach. Art have finished their first pass at all the ports of the Reach and started on Ambiences, Decorations and a UI pass. Meanwhile, Content have written a tutorial specifically for Early Access, created a system to track faction conflict in New Winchester and created base content for Albion. Besides working on bug fixes for the Alpha, the Tech crew have been continuing their work on weapons, creating the in-game chart, and implementing plenty of UI and HUD systems.



We had a very joyous moment during our Sprint Review meeting where Paul showed us a collage of all the ports on screen—the first pass on all the ports in the Reach is finished! Both Paul and Tobias will in a later sprint go back over them with polish to finalise them.

Tobias has also begun creating Decorations, which are non-interactive background scenes that players will fly through on their journey through space. These may include things like the beanstalks below, or shards of wreckage from battles past.


Paul and Tobias also discussed Ambiences, which are the background scenes that accompany storylets.


Not all storylets will have need of an icon, so Ambiences need to be able to fill up the entire space and also give a sense of atmosphere and location.


Paul also did a pass over the UI, tweaking the Art Nouveau to be more functional (rather than overly aesthetic).




We have all also fallen in love with Tobias’ rendition of the Romantic Ornithologist.




One of Content’s first tasks this sprint was to devise a simple tutorial specifically for Early Access. In it, players will be able to explore their ship and learn about the game’s mechanics and setting.

James and Chris have also been working on the Winchester War: the conflict over the Reach, between the Windward Company and the Tacketies. The fortunes of each side fluctuate as time passes, and players can throw their weight behind one faction, or try to play each against the other. If one side gains dominance, they’ll seize New Winchester, driving their rivals out!

This has been quite a feat for us, as the quality-based narrative (QBN) that’s used within our games is designed for responsive, player-facing stories, rather than background simulation. We think we’ve cracked it, though!

Cash and Chris have also been working on the first content for our second region: Albion. They began, of course, with London, where you’ll be able to curry favour with the well-paying Ministry of Public Decency, or support the underground New Street Line. You can also take part in the wargaming weekends of one Mr H. G. Wells. A number of senior military figures attend them to experiment with new strategies. Play correctly, and with the move of a handful of tiny soldiers, you may be able to influence the outcome of the war in the Reach!



Mac has continued work on weaponry, specifically creating an arc mechanic to different types of ammunition. Not only does this allow our team to be able to create different movement to different types of ammunition, but is also part of our work on accessibility for difficulty settings.  Along with this he’s also started to implement force, so if an opponent is hit with a shotgun, they will be pushed back by the force of it.

This sprint Barry started to develop the player chart—the in-game map that allows players to see where they have been and what has yet to be discovered. Below is a shot at the first pass at this, which shows the fog of war around the player-locomotive. Below is a shot of Barry’s work to date, using Failbetter’s world-renowned programmer art! We’ll be getting Liam and Paul to beautify it in the near future.


Meanwhile, Liam has been implementing plenty of UI, including the Hold, Possessions, Profile Page, Officers, and also some heat animations on the HUD.

The Hold UI features multiples of items, as opposed to stacks, and visually updates in real-time.




We’re particularly excited to welcome Lesleyann, our newest Failbetter recruit, as QA tester on Sunless Skies! She’s just getting started – getting to grips with the game to date, learning all 7,777 names of the office rats, etc – but will be vital in making sure Sunless Skies is the most polished it can be on launch.


Our next FBG Podcast will be Friday 7th July at 16:00 BST! Feel free to tweet @Failbettergames your questions ahead of time, or ask in chat on Twitch! Our next sprint, INVARIANTHEORIE, where we’ll be taking a look at bug fixes from the Alpha, music and audio triggers, and implementing Scouts!

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