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Ostranauts - spaceship management sim set in NEO Scavenger universe - now available on Early Access

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
https://bluebottlegames.com/games/ostranauts





We first heard about this back in September:

The elevator pitch I'm telling myself is "Prison Architect/Rimworld meets FTL/Starflight, but in NEO Scavenger's universe." Namely, some 2D ship-building and tweaking component that lets me feel like I'm building a fully-functioning ship from Lego, and a ship-and-crew-simulating component that lets me relive Firefly and Cowboy Bebop episodes. All within a cold, harsh atmosphere of NEO Scavenger.

Like NEO Scavenger, hard(ish) sci-fi will be the rule, and ship components will each serve a purpose. E.g. instead of magitech like shields and teleporters, I want to focus on things like HVAC, STL thruster tech, white/gray/blackwater systems, radiation shielding, and the infuriating coffee machine in the galley.

And assuming one can get their ship design out of dock in one piece, I want them to have a hell of a time making ends meet, keeping the ship running, and the crew from unraveling/perishing. I want crew to have chafing personalities, unprofessionalism, greed, and other drama-producing features. And since I don't want to write a million lines of dialogue, I want to see if I can abstract it a bit and make it procedural.

This all takes place in NEO Scavenger's universe, where a fledgling Solar System economy was established just as Earth "went dark." I have to figure out the logistics of this, too. What kind of system economy could exist in the near future that simultaneously makes for fun, blue-collar Firefly drama and still survive without any more reliable Earth contact/supply lines? And what role, if any, does NEO Scavenger's supernatural overtone have beyond Earth? The cosmology of NEO Scavenger is pretty wild, as some of you may already know. Predicting system-wide changes is a bit harder than Michigan-wide changes :)

For those wondering, this isn't a direct sequel to NEO Scavenger as much as a "...meanwhile..." story. I still want to continue Philip's story in a NEO Scavenger "2," I just needed a break from that codebase to play with some new ideas. Space is a setting itch I've been wanting to scratch for as long as post-apocalypse, and now is a good time to take a stab at it while NEO Scavenger gets ported to a more multi-platform-friendly codebase (Haxe, a.k.a. "not Flash") by a contractor dev (in anticipation of a tablet-friendly release). Once that tablet version is done, I could start work on a NEO Scavenger sequel using that new code. The question then is: will NEO Scavenger "IN SPACE" be too much fun to put down by then?

Time will tell :)

Since then he's been quietly blogging about it: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2016/01/11/neo-scavenger-next-game/

NEO Scavenger Dev Is Making A Spaceship Crew Management Game

danfedor2.jpg


NEO Scavenger was one of our favourite games of 2014. Now its creator, Daniel Fedor, is working on his next game, and he says it’s a “mashup of Starflight, Prison Architect, and some Firefly.” That is, it’s about top-down ship and crew management in a hard sci-fi universe.

Fedor has been blogging about the project at his site. For example, in this post he writes about how he’s thinking of representing equipment in the game, using a nuclear reactor as an example.

First, it gives players a chance to tinker with ship designs in a more meaningful way. Instead of swapping “fusion reactor mk1″ out and replacing it with “fusion reactor mk2,” they can fine-tune the performance of their ship to their own tastes. Games like EVE Online allow ship mods, but they’re limited to a few hardpoints and off-the-shelf systems. Gearheads like to get in there and mess with the guts.

Second, this makes failure more interesting. “How did your last character die?” “Well, the Lithium tank blew when we were en route to Jupiter, unloading gas all over the engine room. We were able to contain it by locking the room down, but the pressure drop caused radiation to start escaping the reactor. We either had to shut down the reactor and hope for a rescue, or limp with an unshielded reactor and hope we survived the rads…”

“We didn’t.”

danfedor.jpg


Aside from your ship, the plan is also to simulate your crew, their needs and fears, and how they react in different situations in space. So far, Fedor has settled on a list of needs that includes security, friendship, sex, family, intimacy, privacy, achievement, and half a dozen others that might prompt your crew to behave in undesirable ways while on long voyages. “I’d like for each NPC to have different needs and preferences, so that managing a crew is also about finding the right mix of people and making sure they don’t kill each other,” Fedor writes in the comments.

It sounds as if every part of the game will be presented with a similar level of fidelity. In another post, Fedor outlines his thoughts on crew sleep patterns, and how he’s created a system to roughly mimic what melatonin does so he have crew dynamically sleep and produce effects like jet lag. In his words, “Neat!”.

There’s no release date for the game yet – there’s no name yet – but it sounds like a game I want to play. To close, here’s a GIF of its lighting model in action:

 
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Jimmious

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
I'll be waiting for this. NEO Scavenger was my Christmas holiday game this year. I must have died 100 times in these two weeks in there
 

Zed

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Will this new game be in flash?
 

Luka-boy

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Aside from your ship, the plan is also to simulate your crew, their needs and fears, and how they react in different situations in space. So far, Fedor has settled on a list of needs that includes security, friendship, sex, family, intimacy, privacy, achievement, and half a dozen others that might prompt your crew to behave in undesirable ways while on long voyages.
Tasteful rape confirmed :incline:

ndicechre3.jpg
 

dcfedor

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Since then he's been quietly blogging about it

I think my period of quiet tinkering may have just expired :)

Thanks for the shout-out! Still plugging away at this thing. Been through one engine change already, added a third dimension for shadow-casting, and took advantage of Unity's built-in shaders for some normal-mapping on the sprites. Target features are still the same as before, though. Just a bit more spiffy looking!

Will this new game be in flash?

No, thank god. I was originally working in HaxeFlixel, which would've produced native C++ apps on all platforms. However, there were some things I wanted that it couldn't do easily, so I decided to try out Unity. A month later, and I'm pretty impressed at what I can make in Unity in so little time, so I think I'm sticking with it. So no, no Flash. Should be Windows, Mac, and Linux native apps at release. Not sure yet if other Unity-supported platforms will make sense or not.

Tasteful rape confirmed

Yikes! I hadn't thought of that. It's an interesting and legitimate question to ponder, though. NEO Scavenger had to wrestle with similarly touchy subjects, and usually erred towards implying rather than implicit. (Edit: Duh, I mean explicit) I'm pretty satisfied with the tone in NEO Scavenger, and this game shares the same universe, so I'll probably stay the course.
 
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Whats opinion on that Neo Scavenger, passed below radar for me, any kop?
It's fanfuckingtastic. One of the best games I've played in years.

We gave it an award last year (bronze reader's choice, I believe), but fuck awards. Don't take that clickbait shit seriously.

The game is legitimately great though.
 
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Jimmious

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Yeap. My last dude died from a heart attack while running like crazy to escape a dogman who had already made him bleed from every body part
 

Alienman

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Codex Year of the Donut Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Got my sis to try the game. She made a sling. She met a guy, and she wanted to scare him. So she sent a rock his way, but the rock hit his brain insta-killing him. Such a great moment. She actually felt bad for a very long time after that :)

I haven't managed to kill someone with one blow myself. Even the tiniest creature I have to wrestle with for hours before it succumbs.
 

dcfedor

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Hey Folks!

I've been wrestling with a design decision recently, and figured I'd see if any ancient lore in the 'dex could help. In short, I'm looking for an engaging and intuitive way to present dramatic and procedural crew activity to the player.

As most of you know, I'm working on a top-down crew management sim. This screenshot is one of the latest iterations:

37PNqe3.gif


This UI followed a discussion of various dialogue presentations in the comments on this devlog post.

The problem is that there will be a lot going on in a given ship. Crew will be walking the ship, interacting with each other and equipment (i.e. their duties), and I'd like the player to be able to watch and engage with these events in an entertaining way. Note that dialogue is likely to be more generic like the above, rather than specific/topical lines. It's meant to minimize content creation costs, allow for emergent/procedural drama, and leave just enough to the imagination to be interesting.

I think the shipboard duties will be pretty easy to handle, as this is a known problem solved by many games (FTL, Rimworld, Sims). The trick will be making the dramatic portion more interesting (and not overwhelming).

For example, the above animation shows one approach where the currently speaking AI is bracketed on the map while the bottom of the screen shows their portrait and interaction details. This is fine in some games, but I'm finding even in this limited case of 2 AIs talking that my eyes are constantly darting from map to dialogue and back. It's a lot of work to keep up with it, and this would only get worse the more AI we throw in.

I've considered floating text immediately above each AI:

screenshot-2016-01-29.jpg


which could work. Even if many AIs were talking at once and the player couldn't keep up with it all, that wouldn't be contrary to expectations in reality. Focus on the convo you want at a cocktail party, for example. This might start to dominate the play screen, though. Especially with the addition of portraits (which I'm warming to for variety/personality benefits).

What I'm wondering is: are there any other presentations you've seen that might handle this situation well? And suggestions for how else I could approach this?

One suggestion I've received is to make an interaction a generic word bubble above the participants, requiring the player to click it (or something) to see more. This would be akin to approaching a group at a party (or else just eavesdropping deliberately). It keeps the big picture lively but not crowded, and allows the player to probe deeper as they wish. This seems good on paper, so I may try that next.

Any others?

Also, I guess the above problem invites the question of point-of-view. Who is the player in this game? Are they the captain? Are they each of the crew equally? Some omniscient god?

My first instincts was to make the game similar to Rimworld or Prison Architect: the player inhabits each AI equally (excluding visitors, prisoners, etc.). The player can know anything about any AI at any time, and is limited to their knowledge/awareness (line of sight, instrument read-outs, etc.). I haven't sorted out whether the player will "drive" any AIs, or just set their priorities a la Rimworld. I like the latter, but it could limit certain player input down the road (e.g. making plot decisions, if any, or puzzling out better equipment designs on a grid).

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you guys think, and if you have any suggestions that could help!
 

adrix89

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How about having some text boxes all around the screen with portraits.

The boxes will fade(things shouldn't be opaque until you are very close) when you leave its range or there is no conversation and can be color coded so that normally they could be blue but when there is an alert and a person screams it can be red(maybe with the box shaking?) and very opaque even if it should be more faded because of not being in range.
When you get close and want to join the conversation the boxes could naturally align and converse like that.
Likewise when a NPC discusses with another NPC they align and link as one.

You could also go with icons, definitely rectangles/boxes are more your style instead of the Sims more comic book speech balloons. Although the boxes could have different themes like the alerts I said. Maybe have some lines from the boxes to the characters. Maybe have something for whispers.

A source of inspiration for this could be Spaces Station 13 although not in this particular case as it just has IRC style chat.
 

dcfedor

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When you say text boxes all around the screen, I'm kind of picturing the way off-screen contact icons hug the screen edges in EVE. Is that what you had in mind? Full-on text boxes would probably crowd the UI fast, but maybe small directional icons or indicators would compliment the clickable conversation regime.

As for world bubble style, that isn't something I had thought of yet, but is a good point. The style I'd like is less Sunday Comics than white, rounded blurbs.
 

Neanderthal

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Also, I guess the above problem invites the question of point-of-view. Who is the player in this game? Are they the captain? Are they each of the crew equally? Some omniscient god?

When I read this an look at them mock ups I couldn't do owt but think o HAL in 2001 watching his crew, while they whisper about it. That dunt help much though.

Personally I think little icons over talking folks heads, that are indicative of speech, but only produce text when scrolled over wi mouse. So you'd hav to follow a conversation going from person to person. Perhaps convos don't start until you first open up speech boxes, but player don't know that?
 

adrix89

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When you say text boxes all around the screen, I'm kind of picturing the way off-screen contact icons hug the screen edges in EVE. Is that what you had in mind? Full-on text boxes would probably crowd the UI fast, but maybe small directional icons or indicators would compliment the clickable conversation regime.

As for world bubble style, that isn't something I had thought of yet, but is a good point. The style I'd like is less Sunday Comics than white, rounded blurbs.
Something like that, you probably have try multiple styles to see what it works anyway.
I don't think there is any easy solutions in this case. Try whatever comes to mind.
 

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