Project Bio

Posted On 6 Oct, 2012

I wanted to play a game with the full experience of owning a large space ship. That meant walking around inside the ship was one of the most important features, but during preproduction I also had to figure out exactly how and why I would be walking around inside a ship. The feature alone does not make for compelling gameplay.

So you can walk around inside a space ship? Why do you care? what makes walking around inside a ship better than walking around inside a static map in any other game? To me, there were 3 reasons I wanted a ship to be a place to walk around inside.

  1. During a massive space battle, I wanted to feel like I was actually part of the action even while not in control of the ship
  2. I thought that designing a ship would be much more compelling if I could walk around inside afterwards
  3. I wanted to try a new type of ship vs ship combat where keeping your crew alive was more important than hitpoints

Part of the action

In Wayward Terran Frontier, ships take voxel based damage wherever they are hit, and the systems are specialized and distributed. That means that ship combat is as much about what happens inside your ship as it is about what happens outside. In many games seeing some smoke is an indication of being on fire, but in Wayward Terran Frontier it could also mean your crew is trapped behind a burning capacitor bank and getting them out is a higher priority than chasing down your enemy. This is a game where a single well placed shot on a poorly designed ship might cause critical damage, from the outside it looks like business as usual, but on the inside the crew is running around trying to repair the single conduit that feeds the entire life support system, while dealing with a partially decompressed ship interior.

Every single ship in Wayward Terran Frontier has a living breathing world inside of it, and yet nowhere is safe to hide. Being stranded in a crippled ship is a fate every bit as bad as obliteration, and walking down the wrong corridor could put you in a lot of trouble when that section gets blown entirely off of the ship.

More than just a ship, also a home

With a tile based module system, you can place the floor plan of your entire ship and create something that is uniquely you own. Will you have luxurious crew cabins and a posh dining area, or a space efficient military style arrangement? How close will you place your cabin to the reactor cores? Even if it is a clunky old beater of a ship there is something special about the ship that you get to personalize.

Of course you won’t need to design your entire ship if you aren’t into the engineering aspect. Every ship in space is designed to accommodate its crew, except for the ones that are full of space zombies. You can pick up an existing ship, learn its quirks, and make it your home as well.

Subsystems targeting to the extreme

Combat really becomes interesting when hitpoints are taken out of the equation. To give an example of what can be done, lets look at the example of how piracy might work in Wayward Terran Frontier:

First of all, ship combat may not be necessary at all. Any ship docked at a station is actually connected via airlocks, perhapse you can shoot your way onto the bridge and hijack an entire cargo ship without ever having a ship of your own. Of course, if you do have an awesome pirate ship your options are equally open. So long as a ship isn’t moving and shooting at you, nothing stops you from boarding, why not take out their engines and guns with some well placed shots? Or simply target the power systems if you know where they are, just be careful not to set off the reactor because the explosion may damage the cargo. If your aim is good enough, you can even shoot the cargo containers clean off of an enemy ship and board the cargo pods long after your victim has run away. Just make sure you leave some room on your ship for storing cargo…ships have no magic inventory space, only open floor space and storage lockers.