What the game is
Wayward Terran Frontier draws from many genres for inspiration, and has a very large scope in terms of desired gameplay. I want to add fun new gameplay features the way dwarf fortress adds accurate simulations of things.
At its core, Wayward Terran Frontier aims to be a mix of a space trader, and an exploration based action RPG. Inside the procedurally generated galaxy there will be some core human worlds where players will enjoy a dynamic economy and NPC characters going about their daily lives that can be messed with or exploited for profit. However, outside of those core worlds players will find the galaxy plays more like an action RPG. As they explore players will find dynamic events which are similar to quests, they will find monsters to fight and bad guys to explode and most of all they will find loot.
The meta game can be played casually, or very hard-core depending on your preference. Players who stay near to civilization can enjoy short, low stress game sessions with constant character progress. Meanwhile players who venture out into the dark will find great rewards in exchange for great risk: the farther you travel the more dangerous space becomes, and you only get to keep what you find if you can bring it back home without dying.
Multiplayer is a huge feature in Wayward Terran Frontier, maybe even the defining feature.
Flying in a fleet? Obviously, the travel system will guarantee that everyone moves at the rate of the fastest ship in a fleet, so exploring as a team benefits everyone.
Sharing a ship with friends? Sure, design the ship with custom roles in mind so that your friends can take half the responsibility of managing the ship, or design a lone wolf ship made just for you. The consoles system divides ship control intelligently between as many or as few players as you like. The AI can help too, but it’s pretty dumb.
Collecting loot together? Yup, in a post scarcity space society the only loot to be found comes in the form of data. Everyone in your group shares data so you collect loot as a team, even if you are collecting it from the corpses of other players.
Designing a ship cooperatively? May have some technical hurtles to overcome but I don’t see why not. Lets make that a stretch goal.
Pvp? Shoot whoever you want, including your friends. The frontier is pretty big, but it’s not very friendly, and pvp will be a viable strategy. Of course your server admin will be able to toggle this feature.
This is an RPG first and foremost. Your character has been granted a budget to put towards a ship and a crew, and you start with a basic set of ship hulls and technologies unlocked. Your budget and unlocked technologies do not reset when you die, so you can always request to have your ship rebuilt from scratch if you are in empire space at an NPC station. Between deaths, your primary currency will be credits and data cores which can be gained and lost in trade, combat, and exploration. If you visit an NPC station credits can be used to upgrade your budget and data cores can be used to unlock technologies.
Characters and ships are mortal once they are spawned into the world, however their actions make permanent improvements that can be used the next time you spawn. Some players will trade their way to riches, upgrade their budget, buy technology, and trade even more. Others will search for loot in deep space, and once they find it they will desperately try to make it back to civilization where they can put their loot into storage. Both will eventually die and leave behind corpses for the next generation to pick through.
Wayward Terran frontier is full of different ship designs, and when you unlock a ship hull it will be ready to fly. However the game uses a tile based modular design system that lets you literally redesign the floor plan of your entire ship. This ties in with the combat system as well because a ship is no more than the sum of its tiles. Combat is tactical and dynamic allowing you to overwhelm your enemies with brute force or target specific subsystems and wait as they succumb to plasma fires and explosive decompression.
But why are you reading about it here? The client can be downloaded here: http://www.wtfrontier.com/?page_id=198 and it lets you play around with ship design and combat.
I aim to constantly expand and improve on the combat system by adding new modules and effects into the game which add to the overall utility. My most recent additions have been missiles and a new type of bullet that pierces through hulls instead of exploding on impact but I have lots of crazy plans for the future that I would like to implement such as repair drones, inertial dampers, mobile item fabricators, and guns that set people on fire.
Deep Crew Management
Since this is a game about exploration as much as it is about combat and trade, ship design needs to be deeper than “how many guns can I fit on this ship.” To that end, I want to make crew members grow impatient with long bouts in deep space unless they have the proper facilities to keep them comfortable during the voyage. Only a naive explorer takes a hardened warship on an expedition to explore deep space. Without a gym, a dining hall, proper restrooms, and other such comforts for the crew they will probably consider mutiny long before you have even left the edge of civilized space. You will have to consider your ship’s capabilities before you leave, or you can run into issues along the way, and that means not every ship you encounter in the world will be a warship.
A crew that doesn’t complain about pooping in buckets for 18 months will probably cost you a lot more than replacing that extra set of guns with a toilet.
Plans for the game economy
Stations and habited planets trade commodities at fluctuating prices, you can buy low and sell high, or you can raid NPC transports and steal their cargo (or their ships) By design, most commodities will be luxury goods, and NPC civilizations will simply consume them in return for credits, since NPCs like variety, a lot of credits can be made by transporting things from place to place. However the best profits will come from producing your own commodities. To that end I intend to eventually make a deep resources based economy with farming and player run factories. New trade good blueprints might also turn up as loot when exploring.
I really want Wayward Terran Frontier to be able to tell a story, but the main character has to be you, and not some pre-written character for you to live through. So I am designing my own dynamic events system to fill the game world with content and stories, and it will be your actions that determine how they play out.
The server knows all of the history of the universe, it knows all of the actors and all of their motivations, and its job is to make sure you are forced to deal with them. As you explore the procedural galaxy, the server will track the movements and interactions of real characters and real events, and it will use subtle tricks to steer trouble in your direction. When you confront the events, you will be encouraged to explore them. A dynamic clues system will give you just enough information to secure a reward by pursuing the story.
To give an example, as you travel between systems you may receive a distress signal from a neutral ship being attacked by raiders. The ship is being attacked because it has stolen a valuable data archive containing the location of some loot. As a player, you will make your own choice of what to do, you can save the ship and you may be rewarded with the data, or you can take the data archive by boarding them, or you can wait for the raiders to take the archive and follow them to the loot. The story happens if you interact with it or not, and nothing prevents other players from stealing the loot before you can find it. The only thing the server does to twist the odds in your favor is to make sure the ship comes within your sensor range. The server also tracks your interaction with its puppets, and once you have the data archive for yourself you may find that the raiders have started coming after you. You may fight them off or hide from them and lose them in a nebula, that’s up to you, but once you get to the hidden cache part of your reward will be learning the lore behind both the raiders and the loot.
Types of dynamic events I would like to have:
- find and recover abandoned ships
- find and explore abandoned space stations and structures
- make server-wide first contact with new NPC factions
- be raided by pirates
- bump into NPC explorers with loot worth raiding
- being attacked by aliens is always fun
- discover the sites of ancient battles
- raid boss style encounters that require a team of people to take down
- explore large interactive super-structures with multi-part puzzle elements
- secret events so epic they will change the landscape of entire servers once activated
Wayward Terran Frontier is a story about humanity, what better protagonist could I have than real live humans? The story is about how human civilizations rise and fall, and how it relates to human nature and human ambition, attributes that will be brought to the story by the players themselves. The challenges will be real in the sense that I want to create a strong parallel between your gaming ambitions and your character’s virtual life ambitions. If the main activity in an RPG is character building and changing the world around you, then that should be center piece of the plot as well.
The setting of the game will be a gameified human civilization controlled by an AI story-teller that controls everything. The AI story teller is a real AI in the server code, but it is also a real character in the game world, and its goal is to make you play the game. Its tools for making you play will take the form of game objects and game mechanics, for example the AI controls the game’s economy as well as a fleet of scary warships. If your character becomes powerful enough you may just be able to break the system…but isn’t that cycle present in all of human history?
The plot starts 100,000 years in the future after humanity has gained the ability to control space and time with pure thought, but they have subsequently renounced all technology and fallen into ignorance and inequality with only 1% of the population actually being granted powers. A war on humanity is being won 1 planet at a time by a sadistic artificial intelligence and its fleet of robot goons. Your planet wasn’t even aware of the war until it became the most recent victim.
Your character has no powers, and you go from being the slave of one tyrant to being the slave of another. However this new tyrant gives you a space ship and grants you access to an entire galaxy. Somewhere out there is an explanation to everything, you will have to explore and increase your status if you want to find it all.
I aspire to make the game as data-driven as possible, and I like simple tools. The ship engine is built around .PNG images, and if you pick apart your save files you will quickly find that you can edit them in any image editor. I hope to make this a trend for all aspects of the game and the server. Likewise, the client is designed to stream content back and forth so that no patching is needed to play on a server with custom artwork.
My hope is that with a single client, players will be able to connect to a multitude of completely different servers with different ships, modules, rule sets and perhaps even mechanics.
The forums are, and will remain a very good place to nag me about modding tools that you would like to have, and I do listen.
This is an XNA game which means it is built on windows. The game itself could be easily ported to linux or mac, and that is planned, but the associated tools (patch downloader) makes extensive use of the windows API which means an alternative or a full rewrite would be needed.
Windows only during development
Linux + mac support is planned eventually (could be sooner if I can afford some help)
Who is developing it?
I am coding it all myself in C#/XNA and I am doing some of the art as well. I have contracted for artwork and sound and found that the quality of work was much higher that way so now I mostly focus on code and site maintenance. I still don’t update the site often enough.
Can I test the game already?
Yes: Open Alpha