aaaand we’re back!

Posted On 19 Apr, 2014

I saw We’re back, instead of I’m back, because the team has grown by over 200% during our bout of media silence. Specifically, I’ve been quiet because I was in contract negotiations with a talented artist type person. Everything worked out, and we’re a 2 man team now, arguably a 3 man team because I am still working very closely with Chris Kukla who is making an epic sound track for us.

Now I know what everyone’s first reaction will be. “But George, you’re such a genius, would not the project benefit from you doing all of the work yourself?” and I can understand your feelings. However, we tried that, and it sucked! So I say out with the old, and in with the new holy hell look how great everything looks all of a sudden!

Everyone please welcome Jan Orszulik to the Wayward Terran Frontier Dev team. If something around here has started to look amazing all of a sudden, it is probably his fault. I mean…have you seen the new website? I think maybe you have.

Wayward Terran Frontier: Zero falls

Jan and I have been hard at work over the last month, and now that the paperwork is done we finally get to show off what we have been making. In addition to a website overhaul, we have been putting together an entire new game in the Wayward Terran series: Zero Falls. This is sort of the same game, and sort of an entirely new project. I’ll try to cover everything that is new with this project below.

The first thing you should know is the bad news: Multiplayer support has been put on hold.

It isn’t out of the equation entirely, but for right now there is no plan to include multiplayer in the first release. The reason? Well, multiplayer support adds a million new bugs to every gameplay feature, and after the kickstarter situation it became clear I was going to have to tighten up some timelines and goals in order to make ends meet. Choosing between multiplayer and compelling gameplay for the first release was not the hardest decision I’ve had to make. So lets move onto the good news:

New Visual style

Jan has an insane art pipeline that creates some pretty fantastic results. So fantastic, that we’ve decided it makes sense to start from scratch and redo all of the existing artwork in the new style.

The new art pipeline will include the following:

All new ship artwork

  • We are starting from scratch and making new ships an entire faction at a time.
  • Ships from the same faction share very strong visual themes.
  • Layered approach allows recolored variants.

New shader support for ships

  • Bump mapping for dynamic light and shadows on ship hulls gives them a 3d look.
  • Specular mapping for ships allows some parts to shine while others are gritty and dull.
  • Emission mapping allows glowing bits like windows and other fun stuff.
  • Shields are using a new shader and they look way better.
  • Explosions look 250% better with a new rendering technique.
  • Lots more to come, we have only just started.

GPU optimizations

  • We’re using shaders now, which means the GPU is doing more work. Not only will it look better, it will run faster as well.

All new artwork for ship interiors

  • All interior artwork completely redone.
  • Animated rooms and modules.
  • Loads of new modules, including complete sets for multiple tiers of quality.
  • Modules can react to player movement and position. (imagine doors opening, lights turning on)
  • Module, room, door, and hallway placement simplified to both improve aesthetics of ship interiors and make ship design less confusing when designing from scratch.
  • Honestly it will look like a completely different game, I promise to show you WIP shots in another update soon.

UI won’t suck

  • The non-existent UI that you have grown to tolerate will be replaced with something much more pleasing to the eyes.

Better story telling

The Wayward Terran Frontier I was originally making is not cancelled, it is simply on hold. That game was to take place at the very end of an epically long timeline of events in a multiplayer sandbox. Zero Falls, on the other hand, will have a stronger narrative and will give us an opportunity to tell an earlier part of the story. So in a sense this means things can be told in the correct order without spoiling anything.

The game will still feature open ended sandbox-style exploration, combat, and loot collecting, but now it will be directed by a proper story with a beginning and a middle and an end. I have some new technology in the engine that will let me do interactive narrative, and I’m going to try to give you as much freedom as possible while still telling a good story. Also tutorials are part of the design now and I intend to make the new player experience much less painful.

New Progression Content and Gameplay

Art is no longer going to be a limiting factor for content, and that means more of everything! We are making tons of new modules, we will have multiple complete factions of ships to fight, explode, board, explore, capture, own, modify, and design, in addition to some secret fun ships and equipment. On top of ships and modules, you are going to own a space station that can be upgraded over time, and you will cultivate your own crop of growing space crystals which can be improved through genetic research.

Did I mention that there is now fighting inside ships? You may care to upgrade your gun and body armor over time, because you are going to need it if you want to board enemy ships or fight off dangerous invaders in your own. I am working on a system of procedural guns similar to something you would see in borderlands or a diablo style game. Randomized stats that allows an infinite variety of weapons for murdering freighter captains or accidentally punching a hole in the wall of your favorite cabin. Just be careful because the enemy crew will be shooting back with guns of their own.

Music

I didn’t forget the sound track of course, I plan for a full sound track staying true to the aesthetic you experienced in the game’s early trailer.

Series of mini-updates

Looking forward to the immediate future, we have so much new content to show off that I can’t possibly fit it all in the first article. Instead, we plan to have a series of updates each featuring a different aspect of the new artwork or code progress. Hopefully this will continue at the same pace as our development, since we are creating new content every day. So keep your eyes out for the next update which will feature our new shaders and the new advanced art pipeline for ship sprites.