Server alpha test plans

Posted On 24 Sep, 2013

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for a blog post because apparently I have decided so. I promised in the previous post that I would talk about my plans for server alpha 3 unless I didn’t feel like it, and here it is!

Have you heard the term “Rogue-like” being throwing around a lot lately? I have, and to most gamers it seems to mean “game in which your character plays an unbalanced RPG for a bit and then dies permanently while unlocking some stuff that makes the next attempt last a little longer”. This is very different from the old outdated definition: “similar to the game Rogue” which was an ascii art game about exploring procedural dungeons. Who cares! Wayward Terran Frontier alpha version 3 is going to be closer to the first definition.

You will have some persistent stats:

  • Your ship design budget
  • The tech you have unlocked
  • The ship hulls you have unlocked

You will use these stats when designing and/or modifying your ship, and then you will spawn that ship into a multiplayer universe. From that point on, you will enjoy some other attributes which will probably improve until you die a horrible death alone (or with friends!) in space. You can respawn as often as you like at no cost, but you will respawn in the boring parts of space with your starting loadout, and all the coolest things will be found in deep space.

The loot that you find will come from boarding ship wreckage and searching for data in their computer cores. You won’t always have to create the wreckage yourself, but that will usually be the most efficient way to generate wreckage. Data cores will contain encrypted data hives which can be used as a currency for unlocking new technology, and sometimes you will find credits in there as well. Of course, your AI overlord loves pointless violence so you will always be rewarded with credits for killing enemy crew members.

While exploring you will run into other players who are also trying to explore and kill things, and you will be given incentives to join them and cooperate. Alternately, if they aren’t very cooperative you will sometimes be rewarded for blowing them up! Technology unlocks will require ultra-rare decryption keys, and if you find one you can be nice and share it with everyone on the server in exchange for a decent reward. Alternately, you can hoard it for yourself until someone kills you and loots it from your ship’s data core. Your choice.

No matter what loot you collect, make sure and get it back to the nearest nexus ASAP. The nexus system is a cheap stand-in for the dynamic and living civilization that I haven’t programmed yet. The idea is that spawn points are around these “Nexus” locations where you can repair your ship, trade items, buy upgrades and crew, that sort of thing. More importantly, the loot you collect on your ship is subject to being lost when you are killed unless you can secure it at a nexus before dying.

Aside from the first nexus, each one will need to be unlocked by players. Nexuses will be spread around the galaxy, and initially they will be deactivated, but by completing some sort of challenge the players will be able to activate them. (I’ll figure that out later) Once activated by the community, any player who reaches a nexus can unlock it for themselves and spawn there in the future. Think of them as waypoints.

As for tech unlocks, you will probably have to re-unlock some of the technology that is currently available in alpha 2, but that will be the easy stuff you get early on to demonstrate the game mechanics. The fun stuff to unlock will be the secret new modules and weapons that I haven’t told you about yet. The plan is to periodically make more content for the client and then seed it into the universe for people to find. Of course that plan requires that the whole thing doesn’t go up in flames when people start connecting to the server, so we will call it plan B. Plan A is everything going up in flames and I take the server down for maintenance/redesign.

How this relates to the finished game

It’s important to point out that this whole thing is planned to be a test of limited duration. The alpha will be a game instead of a tech demo, but it will still be totally unfinished. If things work out and the game is fun, I want to look for funding so that I can fill the universe with lots and lots of content before trying to sell it. If there are issues, then I want to try and fix them before moving on to the next step. That being said my ideal situation does involve running a persistent private alpha and adding content as it becomes available. Lets just wait and see what happens.