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davemakes
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« on: August 01, 2016, 07:20:19 pm »

Pan Galactic Railway is a game about driving a train in space.




It's a space exploration game with a focus on fun above realism.



Pan Galactic Railway is being developed in Game Maker Studio. I've been working on it full-time for about a month now, starting from a small prototype that was too fun to ignore. Here are some things that are currently working in the game:

  • A space train you can fly around.
  • A massive procedurally generated universe.
  • Unique planets and space stations to visit.
  • Various resources to collect and sell, each with their own weight and value.
  • Upgrades for your space train.
  • Space pirates to fight.



I've worked on games professionally for a few years, but this is the first time I've really struck out on my own as an indie dev. The goal of this devlog is to share progress and get feedback from the community during development.




Thanks for stopping by!
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 06:35:34 pm by davemakes » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 07:26:13 pm »

Progress hasn't been very flashy lately because I've been upgrading the way I'm generating random numbers. I was relying heavily on Game Maker's RNG and using seeds to get repeatable numbers, but I was having issues with patterns emerging. The problem is outlined pretty well in this article. So now I'm getting random numbers using a hash function, and it works a lot better.

This weekend I took a little break to clear out my head and participated in the One Button Jam. The result of that is a little arcade game called RotoDefendo, which you can download and play for free on Windows or Mac. If you'd like to support development of PAN GALACTIC RAILWAY, consider donating when you grab RotoDefendo.



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rj
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 11:04:27 pm »

both of these look sweet. happy to follow this.
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davemakes
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 04:07:18 pm »

Quick update: Development has slowed a bit because some freelance work came in. But that money will go towards extending development time for Pan Galactic Railway, so it's a good thing.

Some aspects of this game are procedurally generated, but I'm starting to move more towards hand-crafted assets. The way I'm currently envisioning it, there are still big procedural galaxies to explore, but the things inside them are more designed than shuffled.

I'm also working on a quest system and a narrative to tie the gameplay together. Right now, there's a fun "toy" to play with (the space train) and a cool setting/sandbox to play in, but it needs some more meat in order to be a proper game. The design is still very flexible at this point, but I think as a player (and creator) I would enjoy this a sort of open-galaxy adventure game. It should be fun to just fly around and do whatever, but I want to have a satisfying narrative experience as the primary focus.

On the more technical side, I recently bought a laptop with a 4k screen, and although the game scales properly (and looks really slick) there were some UI kinks to work out. But that's fixed up now, and it looks good.

Not too much to show off as far as screenshots as of now, so here's some goofy concept art that came out of exploring art styles for planets.

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davemakes
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2017, 05:11:42 pm »

It's been a while! Wrapped up my contract work and now it's back to full time space trains. Here's what I've been doing:

  • Space is prettier, feels more interesting to fly through
  • Planets have trees! They rustle a bit when you fly through them
  • There's junk floating in space that you can blow up for loot
  • Pirate AI is better
  • Galaxy generation is better
  • Started building a dialogue system
  • Updated the project to Game Maker Studio 2

Here are some pictures:







GIFs are a bit large because there's a lot of stuff moving on the screen at any given time, but I've been posting some videos on Twitter.

Here's a short fight with a pirate.
Here's some rustling trees in action.

Next up on my to-do list, I want some space creatures to interact with, some more unique resources to find, and actual suns that will damage you if you fly into them. Also, I'm gonna keep chipping away at that dialogue system.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 02:56:03 pm by davemakes » Logged

Calle
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2017, 06:42:43 pm »

I'm curious about the concept. Looks like fun too. Will there be any portals?
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davemakes
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 02:25:15 pm »

No plans for portals like in the game Portal. I'm planning on letting the player warp to different galaxies from space stations, though.
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2017, 07:56:42 pm »

Looks cool, a little like Kenta Cho's Mu-Cade which is a good thing:



Might want to check it out: http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~cs8k-cyu/windows/mcd_e.html
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davemakes
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 03:15:26 pm »

Oh wow, that's wild! Looks like we've got very different gameplay, but starting from a surprisingly similar concept. Mu-Cade is a brilliant title, too.
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davemakes
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 04:06:00 pm »



I haven't been a huge fan of the minimap radar in the corner, so I'm revamping the HUD. Now there are little icons to go along with different objects, too. The space station one even shows you which side the opening is on, which is helpful.

Watch this video to see it in action.

Other than that, I've been optimizing some things and adding graphics options so it can run well on a range of computers.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 02:55:36 pm by davemakes » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2017, 09:25:07 pm »

My focus lately has been on improving the galaxy generation. Here's a peek.



Basically, the levels of grey represent the density of space stuff in that portion of the galaxy. So, for example, if you're flying straight through a very swirly galaxy, you'll get bands of empty space and then a bunch of stuff. By stuff, I mean stations, planets, and suns. Oh yeah, there are suns now! They destroy stuff. They're not much to look at right now, so no picture yet.

I've also been working on a new enemy type I'm calling "chompers." Temp art incoming.



I've had pirates in the game for a while, and they're properly threatening, but I wanted something less dangerous. These guys won't damage the player, but they will eat the cars off your train. They're slow enough to be avoidable, but just clever enough to be a pain if you aren't careful. Here's a video on Twitter. If you shoot these guys, you can get your stuff back (and maybe more!).

Other than that, I rewrote how the background stars work so they perform and look better, and I changed it so you can access the galaxy map at any time instead of only at stations. I'm considering making it so that you reveal portions of the map by visiting stations, but we'll see.
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davemakes
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 05:53:05 pm »

Originally, the controls for your train were similar to the ship from Asteroids. Left and right arrow keys rotated left and right, and since there's no friction in space, you had to balance out one force with another or else you'd go into a crazy spin. I thought it was fun, and it felt good playing on just a keyboard, but it felt lousy on a gamepad. And after testing the game on some close friends, it turned out nobody was getting it. So this week, I overhauled the controls, and the game feels much better.



Now you just point where you want to go, and the game calculates the forces required to make that happen. You can use arrow keys, mouse and keyboard, or a gamepad. It's a bit more work for me, but the game is waaaay more accessible now.
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2017, 06:33:10 pm »

I'm starting to hold back on details because I'd like for things to be a surprise, but the art style is starting to come together and I'd like to show off some stuff.











That's all for now!
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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2017, 12:12:21 am »

I adore these visuals. The big wobbly trees are especially wonderful! The general movement and exploration seems very fun too.
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davemakes
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2017, 03:58:00 pm »

Thanks for the kind words! The art style is finally taking shape, and the response has been encouraging.

Here's what's been happening lately:
  • New art for space stations.
  • Smooth scrolling on the map screen. I did a small behind-the-scenes overhaul for the controls to account for different behaviors depending on mouse/keyboard or gamepad. The UI still needs some art love.
  • The name generator continues to delight. I found a star named "Peyote"
  • I finally sat down and figured out the proper math to make pirates aim better. Before, they would simply point in your direction, fly forward, and shoot. This meant that if you were moving they would definitely miss because bullets have travel time. Also, if you tricked them into having some lateral velocity, they would orbit you and miss forever. Now, they account for their own movement, your movement, and the distance between the two of you, which means they became amazing shots and would storm in and kill you on the spot. And that's not fun. So I nerfed them a bit, adding some variation to their aim. Now they are more dangerous, but it still gives you a chance to feel like you're in a space battle.
  • Enemies have a way of kind of sneaking up on you, so I'm experimenting with some of Game Maker's 3D sound features. The pirates make a spooky sound now and there's even a doppler effect, which I think adds some tension and gives you a bit more information about where they are and what's coming.
  • There's a branching dialogue system working. Still a lot to do here, but it's a good start to getting story and quests and whatnot.
  • Previously, the camera would automatically zoom out a bit based on your velocity. There was also a button to change the camera zoom, so you could see more or get closer depending on your preference. Then, also, I made the camera extra reactive to pirates so you could see them more easily. It was kind of a wreck, and playtester response wasn't great. So I kept the velocity thing, but I also made the camera aware of the objects around you, and it automatically adjusts your zoom level to give you the best view of what's going on. It's much better than fumbling with camera controls, and it meets my goal of simplifying the control scheme as much as possible.

That's it for now!
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davemakes
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2017, 03:35:41 pm »

I'm trying a new design idea that I hope works out. The core of the game right now is: Fly around, explore, find resources, evade baddies, haul resources back to stations, buy upgrades. You go into higher risk areas for more profitable resources, but I wanted another way to increase the value of your cargo.

In a lot of games here, you would collect stuff and then craft it into better stuff. Which usually involves an inventory screen + menus... And that can be fun. And I actually built that. But it didn't feel right for this game. In this game, your train IS your inventory, right?

So the idea is that if you want to take the risk, you can collect resources and take them to a refinery first (which you have to find on certain planets) and those resources are condensed down into more valuable versions of themselves. So you're encouraged to explore more, to haul longer distances, to take greater risks for greater rewards, and to run into interesting problems along the way.

And you're spending more time in the world and less time in menus.



Here's a picture of a refinery that I took right as a pirate came to wreck my day, and here's a little video on twitter if you want to see refineries in motion.

So this opens up some more design questions. I really like breaking mechanics out from menus into the world, so what else is appropriate to do this with? Is there a better way to handle refueling, repairing, buying upgrades, getting quests? It's something I'll be feeling out as I go, I guess.
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davemakes
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2017, 07:25:10 pm »

Not too much to show off lately, I picked up some contract work, and I did a couple little game jam things.

I did revise the refineries to hopefully make it more clear it's taking cars from your train and giving you something in return. Have a gif!



Oh, and I bought the very good domain name spacetrain.space
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davemakes
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2017, 02:55:42 pm »

This week: a bit of new art and some tweaks to make space prettier.



And some new art for cargo chompers, bringing them more in line with the other enemies.

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« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2017, 08:56:51 pm »

Looking better and better!
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2017, 06:47:48 pm »

It's a bright but chilly Sunday in Chiba prefecture. We've officially entered the season of sweaters and hot tea. I've been doing battle with a nasty cold for a couple of weeks, and at this point I'm fairly certain it's been vanquished. Contract work continues, and so does Pan Galactic Railway.

This week's focus was on weapons. I made big changes to the way damage is handled to allow for some wild new stuff. At one point, I accidentally blew up a sun. That probably won't make it in the final game. BUT, here is a cool laser for y'all.

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