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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsIce Caves of Europa (Demo now available!)
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Author Topic: Ice Caves of Europa (Demo now available!)  (Read 4706 times)
monoRAIL
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« on: April 02, 2015, 10:35:47 pm »


Ice Caves of Europa is a science-fiction, cave-exploration game set in Jupiter's moon, Europa.


In the near future, a comet smashes into Europa, shattering the ice crust near Thera Macula and revealing the liquid water beneath. You play the Dragonfly, a robotic rover whose mission is to explore the caves beneath the surface for signs of life.

And now for the gifs...
Exploring the ice caves and melting your way through:



Examining mineral deposits and discovering liquid water:


Gameplay movie - click to play



The game will also feature time-trial levels. Training missions which take place in a simulated environment teach you how to fly, hover, use your laser and other skills required for the main game. As you progress you unlock time-trial simulations where you can compete on a global leaderboard.

Training missions:



Time-trial movie - click to play



The game is being developed by Io Normal, a Melbourne game-dev studio led by me, with the assistance of a talented team of freelance programmers and artists. The game has received funding assistance from Film Victoria.

I'm hoping to release in 2016 on Windows, Mac, Linux and any other platforms I can. I'll be keeping this thread updated as the game progresses.

[Update - Ice Caves has been Greenlit! Thanks to everyone who voted for the game.
The demo is ready to download: Get the demo here]


The demo is for Windows (Mac version is coming soon) and requires and Xbox 360 controller (or similar) to play.


« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 07:43:00 pm by monoRAIL » Logged

MereMonkey
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2015, 12:22:54 am »

This is looking very interesting, can't wait to see where you take this!
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2015, 03:52:57 am »

3D print of the player vehicle:

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Green Gospod
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 04:13:04 am »

Comet crashing into Europa and making a huge hole is the only way we will ever to come anywhere close to the underground ocean. So maybe trying to figure out how to redirect a comet into a moon is easier and faster than sending a costly expedition that will spend decades drilling a hole in an extremely harsh environment just to find some bacteria and perhaps fish. So there better be huge sea monsters and alien fish people in your game!  Tongue
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Zorg
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 04:22:31 am »

Cool scenario (and graphics), following.

Edit: I'd like to see a slower rotation around the vertical axis while changing directions. The rotation could randomly be clockwise or anti-clockise, resulting in illuminating the back of the cave or the eye of the player which could lead to additional cool lensflare and overexposure effects. Smiley
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 04:31:41 am by Zorg » Logged
monoRAIL
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2015, 04:31:31 am »

Comet crashing into Europa and making a huge hole is the only way we will ever to come anywhere close to the underground ocean.

Yes the ocean is very likely to be under 20km or more of ice, however the latest studies from NASA suggest that the chaos terrain features are probably caused by sub-surface lakes which aren't as deep as the ocean.



My game is set in one of these lake systems, which has been exposed and mostly evaporated by the comet strike. Oh and yes, there will be 'interesting' things to discover down there  Well, hello there!
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2015, 04:45:23 am »

Edit: I'd like to see a slower rotation around the vertical axis while changing directions. The rotation could randomly be clockwise or anti-clockise...

It always turns clockwise (to the right) at the moment. Just like Derek Zoolander. Should be easy enough to randomize it though.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2015, 06:00:11 am »

Please be a hauntingly beautiful exploration game and not another run-off-the-mill murderscape
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LightEnt
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2015, 08:08:05 am »





oh my god that water is making me so hot
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2015, 06:11:33 pm »

Some of the characters in the game:



From left to right:
Sophie Chatterjee - Principal Investigator on the Europa mission for Hydrosphere Industries.

Ronan Brout - Lead Software Engineer on the Dragonfly personality simulation program.

Europa - Phoenician noblewoman, descendant of Io, consort of Zeus.


Verne - The name of the personality simulation embedded in the Dragonfly rover.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2015, 04:42:29 am »

Woah, woah, woah. Phoenician?

Are these Space Phoenicians? Or is this alternate-timeline stuff?
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2015, 04:58:18 am »

Are these Space Phoenicians? Or is this alternate-timeline stuff?

The majority of the characters in the game are going to be robots, with 'Personality Simulations' which are primitive Artificial Intelligences. No humans are actually sent to Europa, the humans just direct the mission from Earth. These AIs can project any appearance they desire when communicating with each other in virtual space, and one of them takes on the persona of Europa herself.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2015, 05:56:07 am »

Cool!

... can we expect Dark Star-like AI shenanigans?

EDIT: For the uninitiated, Dark Star is a very old Science Fiction movie by John Carpenter, which features a smartbomb who is getting impatient and wants to blow himself up despite technical malfunctions. So the crew tries to postpone this by teaching it philosophy, making him doubt his purpose in existence.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 06:01:21 am by JobLeonard » Logged
Hyiero
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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2015, 07:04:14 am »

Looks super cool! Keep up the good work
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2015, 10:53:31 pm »

Here's a look at the custom Unity level tools I'm using to build the game. These tools were created by Ed Basset

The caves are built using a spline based system.



Drag nodes to move the cave walls. UV mapping and collision for multiple cross-sections are all handled automatically.



Modifiers add more detail to the initial spline path.



The back-wall is automatically generated to fill the space between the cave surfaces.



This system allows me to do all my level creation in Unity without having to go back to any 3D software for UV mapping or creating collision meshes. It handles random placement of prefabs, collision optimization and vertex colors. Moving the spline happens in real-time. Recalculating collision or back-wall fill takes a few seconds of calculation to rebuild before the level runs.

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JobLeonard
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2015, 12:02:10 am »

Wow, nice! That must remove so much tedium from the process!
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2015, 10:17:58 pm »

Wow, nice! That must remove so much tedium from the process!

Exactly - it also allows me to experiment more as I can create stuff quickly and test it right away in the editor. When your tools work smoothly you can be more creative - prototyping risky ideas takes less time.

I've added replay-saving into the time-trial levels now so you can race against the previous best lap.

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monoRAIL
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2015, 09:58:41 pm »

Starting on the sound effects:




« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 10:04:02 pm by monoRAIL » Logged

Greipur
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« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2015, 10:13:51 pm »

Your game sounds interesting! And that cave tool certainly looks neat.

How big is the life you can encounter? As far as I know scientists predict that life on Europa would be microscopic. I mean, most space sci-fi games I've seen/played throws weird and fascinating species for the player to interact with. I'd imagine finding minute life would be anticlimactic for your average player.

Will you stay on the hard science path or take some liberty with the setting?
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monoRAIL
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2015, 10:23:01 pm »

My plan is to stay on the hard side of sci-fi - no FTL travel or communication, no anti-gravity, no teleporting and no humanoid aliens. I'm trying to depict what a real mission to Europa might look like, if we could afford multiple landers, and if we're lucky enough to get deep into the ice (in this case, due to a comet impact).

Yes, there will be Europan life in the game, but it is like nothing on Earth.

The story also focuses on the interaction between AIs as all the characters on Europa are robots, and it examines the ethics of how we treat AIs we have created for a specific purpose.
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