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November 13, 2018, 03:11:08 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsCosmic Ray - casual space exploration (out now on Steam!)
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Author Topic: Cosmic Ray - casual space exploration (out now on Steam!)  (Read 1958 times)
snugsound
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« on: July 02, 2018, 04:57:39 AM »

Cosmic Ray is a short game about exploring space in search of planets to colonize. Here's the tentative marketing blurb/elevator pitch:

Quote from: Marketing Blurb
The sun is about to die. Scientists predict we have, at most, 5 days. The world as we know it is about to end.

Cosmic Ray to the rescue! His mission:

  • Explore distant solar systems
  • Colonize inhabitable planets, terraform inhospitable ones
  • Search planets for resources, such as rare alien artifacts
  • Collect ship parts to buy upgrades
  • Thwart alien attacks while avoiding the perils of space

Cosmic Ray features casual gameplay and short rounds, making it a great option for killing a few minutes.

A bit of back story: Cosmic Ray originally started off as a prototype about a year ago. Just something I jammed out with an artist in about a week. We released a WebGL build on Itch, where's it's more or less just been stagnating since then.

I recently came to realize, however, that the project I've been working on for the past couple years (Undermine) is too ambitious--bigger in scope than I have the resources (time and/or money) to enable releasing in a reasonable timeframe. My last game took ~3 years to release, and I'm on track to exceed this with Undermine.

So the thinking is to pause the big game for a bit and capitalize on work I've already done, focusing on releasing smaller games quickly and starting to build up a backlog catalog. The hope is this will start generating more recurring revenue, which I can then use to fund Undermine and bigger projects down the road.

Here are a few shots from the latest build:













As of now, the main game loop consists of:

  • flying through space in search of planets, avoiding hazards, engaging with enemies
  • colonizing inhabitable planets, attempting to terraform uninhabitable planets
  • searching planets for items

The basic mechanic when terraforming and/or searching a planet revolves (no pun intended) around orbiting the planet. Because of this, it's often not possible to see what's on the back-side from the "solar system" view, which encourages exploration. (this is where I'll be hiding the alien artifacts, naturally) Many elements of a round are also randomized, including planets (name, size, texture, the probability of terraforming) and enemy placement.

Here's a video from the latest build showing most of the core mechanics:




And here's my high-level backlog for an initial release:

  • Steam achievements
  • basic upgrades system: enemy ships have a chance of dropping a ship part, which can be used to buy upgrades
  • alien artifacts: each with their own sprite representation and back-story. Only a limited number spawned per round.
  • message from Earth: displayed at key intervals/events (intro, 1 day remaining, victory, fail, etc.). Each will have a little sprite representation of the character, and some silly random stuff for comedic value.

My plan is to undertake a fairly aggressive timeline, I'm thinking 2-3 weeks to release an initial version on Steam. I'll try my best to report my progress here regularly.

Oh yeah, if this sounds interesting to you, feel free to drop by my Discord; always happy to chat about what I'm up to (or what you're up to, for that matter!)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 08:31:58 AM by snugsound » Logged

snugsound
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2018, 05:08:17 AM »

It's a long weekend here in Canada so I've been able to take a pretty big bite out of my backlog this weekend, so far:

  • implemented brand splash screen, basic main menu (with theme music)
  • initial implementation of ship parts (pick-ups, UI)
  • prototype of "Messages from Earth" dialog
  • prototype of upgrades screen

Plus a bunch of little fiddly odds & ends (tweaking enemy firing, screen-shake, etc.)

I also paid the Steam direct fee and started setting up a store page:



I just need one more screenshot and a trailer and then I can send it off for approval.
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snugsound
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2018, 05:08:55 AM »

Here's what ship parts look like (close-up):



A bit cliche, I know, but I can't help myself Cheesy
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snugsound
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 05:24:44 AM »

Here's a quick GIF that shows most of the mechanics in the current version:



(don't mind the default mouse cursor, it's on my list of things to do!)
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snugsound
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 05:27:26 AM »

Here's how the UI is looking so far (still a bit clunky, just trying to get the overall size/layout/etc. right first)





I'll be using pixel art in places to keep costs down, although what you see in these shots is more or less placeholder.

Alright, back to work for now Smiley
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snugsound
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2018, 06:34:13 AM »

The first couple of ship upgrades are implemented (tri-beam, rapid fire). Also reduced the size of the projectile particles a bit, and added trails:



I'm still deciding on what the remaining upgrades will be, but probably some combination of speed boost, terraform boost, and/or shield.

Here's the theme I wrote for the main menu (and perhaps the trailer). Still a WIP but I don't see it changing much apart from the mix:
https://soundcloud.com/snugsound/cosmic-ray-theme

For BGM, I'll be using some existing ambient music by myself and one of my regular collaborators, JFS. So far:
https://soundcloud.com/snugsound/snug-jfspray-incoming-transmission?in=snugsound/sets/battle-for-planet-earth
https://soundcloud.com/snugsound/snug-jfspray-afterglow?in=snugsound/sets/battle-for-planet-earth
https://soundcloud.com/snugsound/oh-ost-vendor?in=snugsound/sets/operation-hardcore-ost
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sidbarnhoorn
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2018, 07:46:14 AM »

This looks cool. Following!
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Siddhartha Barnhoorn
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Award winning composer

Composed music for the games Antichamber, Out There, The Stanley Parable, Planet Alpha...

Website:
http://www.sidbarnhoorn.com
Bandcamp:
https://siddharthabarnhoorn.bandcamp.com
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/SidBarnhoorn
snugsound
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2018, 08:05:10 AM »

This looks cool. Following!

Cheers, much appreciated! Beer!
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snugsound
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2018, 09:54:00 AM »

Alien artifact discovery:



Alien artifacts are just represented generically on planets (placholder-ish):




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snugsound
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2018, 03:03:59 PM »

Really product week last week! Here's what I've been up to:

  • made the upgrade and artifact systems more dynamic to support adding additional content
  • implemented a couple more upgrades (terraform booster, speed booster)
  • implemented additional messages from Earth (1d left, half the population relocated, etc.)
  • added SFX for alien artifact discovery and incoming messages
  • added a custom mouse cursor
  • integrated Steamworks, added the first few achievements
  • tons of little UI tweaks (adding outlines to text, increasing font sizes, fixing aspect ratio bugs, improving usability, etc.)
  • made planet "latching" (entering orbit) an explicit action
  • disallowed latching when enemies nearby
  • added a pause menu

Here's a video showing some of the recent updates:




On the business/marketing front:

  • submitted Steam store page for review, along with pricing and launch discount (as of now: $2.99 USD with a 25% launch discount)
  • prepared a press mailing list (basically, consolidated all my game-centric lists into a single list for Cosmocat)
  • started discussions with an artist about contributing a more visual design for the HUD
  • started working with another artist (Ricardo, who helped out with several of my other games) on improving the placeholder-ish people, artifact and upgrade sprites (below)



On the plate for the next week or so:

  • continue working with Ricardo on sprites
  • updates to support more easily capturing shots and video (adding an option to disable motion blur, fixing "visual bugs", etc.)
  • finish implementing all achievements (which also includes persisting the discovery of artifacts and upgrades)
  • add one more upgrade (something like a shield)
  • add remaining artifacts
  • if things pan out with the HUD design, integrate it (otherwise, do a redesign myself)
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 04:22:55 AM by snugsound » Logged

snugsound
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2018, 05:12:26 AM »

Still plugging away, here's what I've been up to this week:

  • added a new type of pick-up: ship upgrade blueprint (permanently unlocks access to an upgrade)
  • implemented persistence for found upgrades, acquired upgrades and found alien artifacts
  • implemented two additional achievements: Gearhead (try all ship upgrades), Explorer (find all alien artfacts)
  • I'm now spawning more aggressive enemies (different colour, faster movement, shooting, and wider attack pattern) when more than half of the population has been relocated
  • coordinated with artists on creation of additional sprites (upgrade icons, people), and a mock-up for a new UI/HUD (below)



As you can see, we're going for something kind of retro. The theme is "80s space program", although as it is now it looks a touch Gameboy-ish because of all the green. The full version will have a few diff colours.

On the marketing front, the Steam store page has been approved. Now I just need to get things looking good so I can put the store page up as "coming soon". As a result, I'll probably shift my focus to visuals until I'm able to capture some shots and footage that I'm happy with.
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snugsound
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2018, 07:01:25 AM »

Here's a quick GIF showing messages from Earth as well as discovery of artifacts:



(also, collisions with asteroids; ultimately I plan on having the ship spin out for a few seconds or something)

We're also working on achievement icons, similar in style to the new UI:



We'll probably need to re-touch the more detailed pixel art pieces for cohesion. I'm going to start by applying a green-ish tint, as pictured in the mock-up above.
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snugsound
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2018, 08:38:59 AM »

Integration of the new UI/HUD came together pretty quickly, just about done!



As part of this I implemented a basic "colour inheritance" component to aid in colourizing various parts of the HUD, as well as a simple text inversion system using two text components and a mask. Crude but effective:



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sidbarnhoorn
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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2018, 08:51:24 AM »

It reminds me of a game I used to play a lot called Solar Winds. Was actually thinking about making a game myself in that style! What are you using to program/build it?
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Siddhartha Barnhoorn
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Award winning composer

Composed music for the games Antichamber, Out There, The Stanley Parable, Planet Alpha...

Website:
http://www.sidbarnhoorn.com
Bandcamp:
https://siddharthabarnhoorn.bandcamp.com
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/SidBarnhoorn
snugsound
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2018, 04:25:33 AM »

What are you using to program/build it?

Unity Smiley
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sidbarnhoorn
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2018, 05:59:31 AM »

Cool thanks! I've been playing it on the website. Cool game! Very nice music too. Smiley
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Siddhartha Barnhoorn
--------------------
Award winning composer

Composed music for the games Antichamber, Out There, The Stanley Parable, Planet Alpha...

Website:
http://www.sidbarnhoorn.com
Bandcamp:
https://siddharthabarnhoorn.bandcamp.com
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/SidBarnhoorn
snugsound
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2018, 03:16:20 PM »

I put the Steam store page live today (as "Coming soon"), which means a new batch of shots along with a quasi-trailer (it doesn't showcase quite as much as I'd like, but I wanted to get something live sooner than later so I can start ramping up the marketing efforts).













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snugsound
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2018, 02:38:27 PM »

Volumetric lights for the suns, I can't help myself Grin



Should make for some pretty good shots/video:



Also added colour cycling for the skybox. Pretty subtle but I think it makes the visuals a bit more interesting:



Other than that, I'm plugging away at adding some tutorial-ish stuff, like showing what keys do what on the first playthrough. I also put together a registration form for the upcoming closed beta, and submitted the beta to Betabound. I had a pretty decent response for the last beta I listed with them.

So I'm basically 2 days away from my "2-3 weeks" schedule for something shippable. I'd say I've made it! The game is fully playable, minus a few bugs and polish stuff, the Steam store page is live, and the marketing efforts are underway. :toastl:
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 04:27:40 PM by snugsound » Logged

snugsound
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2018, 04:27:17 PM »

Cloud cover for terrestrial planets:



Slowly moving, of course!

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snugsound
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« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2018, 12:37:25 PM »

I'm still waiting to hear back from Betabound about my submission, so I'm iterating over some things in the meantime:

  • doubling the length of a round: 1 game day now = 2 real minutes (was 1), and everything else was scaled accordingly (number of solar systems, terraform agent usage, etc.). I want there to be enough tension created over the course of a round, I don't want it to feel like too short of an experience, and my hope is to create something that requires at least a few tries to beat... tough balance to strike!
  • controlling the solar systems a bit better: I now ensure there's a minimum number of planets, a limited number of "easy" planets (immediately inhabitable), etc.
  • alongside the above I also introduced another element to add some variation (and more difficulty towards the end): black holes (GIF below). They appear halfway through the game, surrounding the solar systems. They one-shot the player, but are pretty easy to avoid.
  • polish stuff, like adding some particle effects and SFX on terraform success, adding some more interest to the orbit marker (GIF below), etc.

Black holes:



Orbit marker:

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