Enriching the Reach: INVARIANTHEORIE

By Failbetter, July 18, 2017 · Sunless Skies

The INVARIANTHEORIE sprint continues our work at fleshing out the Reach ahead of Early Access. Art has been finishing up ports while also delving into even more ambiences, icons and decorations. Meanwhile Content have been working on experience accrual designs and working on Kickstarter backer rewards such as Correspondence and geographical location names. Tech have accomplished a myriad of different pieces to ensure all the bits and bobs are running for Early Access, including melee attacks, trade loops, scenic spawns and character progression!



Now that many of the ports are on their polish stages, Paul and Tobias have been busy at work with ambiences, icons and decorations.


Many of the icons will be of characters involved in stories connected to the ports you visit. For example, last sprint we saw the Romantic Ornithologist, which players will meet at the Leadbeater & Stainrod Nature Reserve. This sprint Tobias has been hard at work on the Amenable Host, who will feature in Magdalenes.


Other icons and ambiences will incorporate landscapes for ports and places in the High Wilderness, as well as all UI, goods and quality icons within the game.

Liam has also been attending to various pieces that required a UI pass, such as the Chart and Journal page. He’s also crafted a UI style guide, so anyone on the team will have a clear representation of the design behind the UI. This will come in handy in case anyone else needs to tweak or make additional assets for the UI (or marketing assets) while understanding the master design behind it all.

Alongside the UI work, Liam has also animated the Reach Marauder vessel.


Paul has also spent some time this sprint tackling the character creation and avatar generator assets, which you will have seen a prototype of during our Kickstarter! The prototype we shared only showed a few variations, but as we continue towards full release, Paul will be creating more assets for each category, such as chin, nose, brow, hats, etc. and will be working ensure there’s more diversity available for players to choose from.



This sprint, Chris immersed himself in spreadsheets. First he tackled designing experience accrual, or how much experience players receive for defeating agents.

His second delve into spreadsheets was to take a look at our Kickstarter backer responses for both those who get to create a Correspondence sigil and those who get to have a geographical location name. We provided the various backer tiers with different prompts for each, then Chris has a look and designs a name based on the information they’ve provided.

For example, for the location name, backers provided us with:

  • their full name, beloved’s name, or pet’s name
  • their profession or hobby
  • and their foremost virtue and chiefest vice

This allows us to ensure that each name, holds personal meaning while at the same time blends into the Sunless Skies atmosphere and lore.

Cash and James have both been busy with various port quest QA, such as New Winchester and Port Prosper.



This sprint Mac implemented melee attacks, which are important not only for some locomotive agents, but also for organic agents that may be lurking in the skies.


Featured above you can see one of the tools we’ve created for ourselves in Unity. We’re making sure we have a lot of them at our disposal to help us create a range of interesting types of enemy attacks.

He has also begun work on implementing the character progression spec that Chris has created in a previous sprint. Character progression in Sunless Skies will be different than Sunless Sea, and more story-driven.


Barry has continued work on Wrath, this time implementing instantaneous provocations, which means that agents will be able to become provoked immediately if shot at or attacked, as opposed to only becoming provoked based on qualities.

He has also begun implementing Scouts, which will be very helpful to allow players to explore the skies!

Henry has been working on scenic spawns and agent spawning tags, which will allow the team to have more control over where an AI agent spawns in game. These tags, for example, will allow specific agents to be spawned in specific regions of the High Wilderness.

He has also been implementing locomotive equipment specs written up by Chris. This will ensure players can add different equipment to their locomotives.

Caolain has taken his first dive into Sunless Skies by working on the design for AI behavior of the Tackety Scouts, as well as working on trade loops for the Reach. The trade loop designs will narrate which shops sell what in various points of the Reach.

Besides learning all the ropes at Failbetter, Lesleyann has done her first general QA pass, focusing on both finding bugs and ensuring bugs the tech team has fixed have actually been fixed. She’s also worked with the tech team ahead of public launches, such as Alpha updates, to work through major bugs which would stop any builds from going out.


Our next FBG Podcast will be Friday 21st July at 16:00 BST! Our next sprint, JANSKY, will bring more content from Albion, continued art polish on the Reach, music triggers, and more AI behaviours!

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