News

Combat in the Reach: CHROMOSPHERE

By Haley Uyrus, April 25, 2017 · Sunless Skies

CHROMOSPHERE brings us our first animations and our first pass at quite a few complex tasks! We also get to see different terrain types within the Reach, animations for the player’s locomotive (so much steam!), and a few AI agent animations. Tech has been busy with our first-pass at combat implementation, title screens, storylet-UI, and collision damage. The Content team, besides writing up stories for wrecks and discoveries, have been very busy working out the complexities of a randomised loot system for Sunless Skies. In fact, we haven’t seen them in a few days. We should probably check on them.

 

ART

If you saw our Sunless Skies development roadmap, the term ‘iterative design’ will be very familiar. In a similar fashion, Paul has been iteratively creating ports within the Reach.

He’ll lay down a skeleton of what each port could look like, and then at a later date go around and add more detail and finalised touches. In Chromosphere he’s been busy with the ports New Winchester, Carillon and Port Prosper.

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In the third panel above you can get a glimpse of what a dock may look like (though of course things may change as we continue through development). Please be sure to mind the gap.

 

CONTENT

Content have been diving into maths this Sprint in order to create Sunless Skies‘ randomised loot system: the Cache of Curiosities! The Cache of Curiosities returns from Sunless Sea. It’s a randomised loot system used to generate the contents of wrecked ships, abandoned homesteads, and secret stashes.

We want to keep the surprise and flavour players got from looting wrecks in Sunless Sea, while using the content to convey tidbits about life among the stars. In addition, we’ve made it easier for writers to plug these rewards into their content. It’s now easier for them to adjust the average value of a particular cache, and easier to match rewards to challenges. The spreadsheets James forged in the creation of this content are as beautiful and terrible as an encroaching star.

Also in this sprint, we’ve been working on Discoveries. Discoveries are randomised locations and objects you can find in the skies, which have content attached to them. They might be wrecks, homesteads, asteroids, or anything else we can come up with!

One of the Discoveries worked on this sprint was the wreck of the Parzifal, one of the Legendary Wrecks! The writers also insisted on sharing pictures of mushrooms with the office throughout their research for some fungal meteoroids.

 

GAMEPLAY & DESIGN

Now that Mac’s implemented a rough title screen, we’ve been playing builds of the game internally! Here you can see us oohing and awwing over his shoulder:

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He has also been working on collision damage for players’ locomotives, by assigning different materials with ‘soft’, ‘medium’, or ‘hard’ qualities. When a locomotive bumps into something, it will take that quality along with the current speed, into consideration before tallying the damage done.

Mac also took a look at creating a straightforward way for the Content team to be able to add or edit different content-specific areas within ports, such as stories or shops.

Sam has been busy implementing Liam’s storylet-UI designs into the game so our writers can begin inserting actual content into the game and begin testing out stories. This sounds straightforward, but is quite a complex task and forms a large part of a Failbetter game!

Meanwhile, Liam has been animating various sky-beasts and horrifying us all with his swarm animation.

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Beside the bees (bees!) he has also been working on things like the Scrive-Spinster, with all their pages fluttering through space, and, very excitingly, one of the player-locomotive’s animations.

Liam’s been working on animating our locomotives in a way that gives as much immediate feedback as possible, so players can see and feel how their locomotive races through space.

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In order to do this, he’s been using the steam trails and some parallax. For example, the locomotive sways from side to side when it turns so it feels much more 3D and realistic in its maneuvering compared to the relatively static boat animations in Sunless Sea.

Players will also notice that when their locomotive’s going full speed, the steam trail will appear longer than at slower speeds. All these pieces of animation work together to create a more satisfying feel to moving throughout the world.

 

This Friday at 16:00 BST, we’ll be back with another FBG Podcast! We’ll be discussing the Sunless Skies Roadmap, so you if any question on game development scheduling or about the roadmap itself, please come join us on Twitch!

 

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