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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsColony Antares - Survival 4X Card Game
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Mloren
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« on: July 21, 2018, 10:39:32 PM »

Colony Antares is a survival themed 4X-lite card game about a group of people who crash-land on an alien world and then have to build a colony in order to survive. There's a catch however: the planet is psychically alive and doesn't like you being there, it sends animals to attack you, and the more invasive you become, the more it tries to destroy you. It's still very early in development and all the art is placeholder.

The game is very story driven. The player is presented with events that need to be overcome in order to survive and choices they will need to make that will shape the future of the colony. The player will be able to win through one of several victory conditions, including building a spaceship to escape, becoming one with the psychic lifeforms living on the planet, or conquering the planet and making it your new home.

Card Game
I want to represent almost everything with cards and have card-based game mechanics drive most of the interactions. I'm still working out how all of these should work, but here are some basics.

Drag and drop. Cards currently snap to a grid although I'll probably allow this to be turned off.



Cards are dragged onto each other to combine them, for example sending an engineer to construct a building. The number on the card indicates how many turns it will take to finish, and some cards trigger story events when completed.



4X-Lite
The plan is to emulate many of the mechanics found in 4X games but in card game form. This naturally means simplifying a lot of them, hence the "lite" part.

The play area represents the player's colony and each card in it is either a colonist, a building, or some other feature of the colony. There are also techs that can be researched and these unlock more cards.


Here's an engineer constructing a building.



Colonists can be sent off on expeditions and will return bringing back new discoveries, but may also be injured on the way.



Event cards are drawn at regular intervals and can cause things like a drought, a colonist committing a crime, or an attack by local wildlife. When the colony is attacked, it takes damage unless the player has adequate defenses in place. The colonists can be sent to fight the attacking animals.


The colony being attacked. If you end your turn without assigning defenders, your buildings will get damaged.



Assigning defenders. The soldiers are the best at this, but other colonists can be sent, they just have a higher chance of being injured. Some buildings like these sentry guns can also be assigned. The red plus symbols indicate damage taken.



Damaged buildings can be repaired by engineers, and injured people treated by doctors



One of the major themes will be choosing whether to work in harmony with the planet through green tech, or to exploit it through polluting but more profitable tech.

Resources
Like any 4X game, you have to manage your resources. Resources are produced through buildings like farms, mines, and power plants. These buildings also take resources to construct and some have an ongoing upkeep cost.


You also have to manage the wants of the colonists, represented by a Morale score. If Morale is above zero, colonists can receive bonuses to all their tasks.



Low morale causes penalties:



Other stats you need to manage include Pollution which damages your farms if it gets too high and if it gets really high can cause major catastrophes.
Defence comes from building walls and gun turrets and provides the whole colony with a bonus against attack.
Threat indicates how aggressive the wildlife is, the higher it is, the more often you will be attacked. Having a high pollution will also increase Threat: the planet doesn't like what you are doing.

Corporations
The original ship that crashed on this world was funded by three corporations, each with their own agenda.
As you play, they will act as advisors, but will also make demands on you. The more you help one corporation, the stronger that corporation will get. This will further grant you bonuses but will alienate the other two who may turn to sabotage or worse.

Each corporation also has a very different personality and will have very different demands. Each building or tech you complete will strengthen one of them while weakening the other two, based on whether it aids their goals.

Replayability
Every time you play, the game will be a bit different: You start the game in the landing module in which you crashed, and have to send people outside to see if its safe. At this point several cards get revealed: one describes the planet, maybe it's a forest world and there is abundant wood, or maybe you've crashed in the ocean and have to build underwater. The other card describes an unusual feature, such as there being a toxic mist in the air, or another landing pod crashed next to you. These two cards are both random and together pose a set of unique challenges and determine what cards are available in the tech tree.

At key points throughout the game, the player will also have to make choices that unlock one section of the tech tree, but close off another.

So between these mechanics, the tech tree will be a bit different every game, a combination of the planet, the rare features, and the choices the player makes.


The tech tree is still early in development:


Modding
I decided early on that I needed cards to be easy to create, there are going to be a lot of them! So to tackle this and as an experiment in getting Lua working with Unity, I decided to make the game fully mod-able.
Pretty much everything is driven by Lua scripts and it's working amazingly well. New cards are very easy to create.


Each card is its own Lua script and adding a new one to the game is as simple as adding a new text file in the right folder and adding just a few lines.


What's next
I've still got a lot to do graphically to improve the look of the game and make sure everything is readable. I also want to add a lot more feedback to the interactions, so for example when a combat happens I want to show a little animation over the cards indicating whether each side is succeeding of failing.

I also want to give the colonist cards little portraits and a randomly generated name and bio to give them some personality.

There's still a lot to do, but any feedback would be most welcome Smiley
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 06:47:18 PM by Mloren » Logged


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Mloren
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2018, 12:06:39 AM »

Today I added tooltips.
Vitally important for a game with this many stats.

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Filippy
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2018, 01:25:07 PM »

This looks great. How hard was it to make Lua scripts work with unity?
also do you plan reveal the tech tree to the players or is there going to be some discovery aspect(like cultist simulator perhaps?)?
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Mloren
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2018, 02:43:29 AM »

Thanks Smiley
Getting Lua to work with Unity wasn't that hard, I used this pluggin:
http://www.moonsharp.org/

The tech tree will be mostly discovered as you play, but you'll be able to see one level ahead. The game will focus more on moment to moment problem solving rather than long term planning.
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Mloren
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2018, 12:43:09 AM »

Today I worked on stacking cards to they take up less space and are easier to manage in large numbers.



But it might be a bit annoying to have to pull the stacks back apart just to use the cards, so when dragging a stack of workers onto a job, the workers get assigned just as if they were dragged on individually.



But what if you have a mixed stack of workers and other cards?
Well maybe the system can pick out the valid workers and assign those while leaving the invalid cards in a new stack. I tried it and found it works pretty well and feels pretty intuitive when you do it.


So that's stacking finished, I'm pretty happy with how it works.
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Mloren
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2018, 01:53:58 AM »

I've started focusing on the visual presentation.

First up, new cards are dealt onto the play area instead of just appearing:


I've also replaced the old selection highlight (which was just a colour tint) with a simple glow shader.
When cards are stacked, it highlights the card under the mouse and all cards stacked on top so that it's clear which cards you are about to move.
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Mloren
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2018, 01:42:43 AM »

So this game will be more of a card puzzle game, where you strategically plan out your worker placement and then end your turn to see the plan take effect.

I've been thinking about how to represent that visually, especially for combat. I want a fairly fast paced sequence so you're not having to wait too long, and my art will be limited so no fancy animations.

To test this, I put together this scenario where I have assigned three colonists to fight a wild animal. I'm not really happy with the result, so I'm going to keep tinkering and see if I just need to alter the speed of the sequence, or scrap this approach and try something else.

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Mloren
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 10:36:35 PM »

It's been a busy few weeks so I haven't had much time to work on this, but I did get a few things done:

Firstly I made a placeholder menu animation, experimenting with particle effects and shaders.




I also polished the combat interactions, I think the floating damage numbers make it a lot better.


I also created some art mockups, these are still placeholder (and made with random internet assets) but should better convey the graphic design of the cards.
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Zireael
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2018, 12:26:13 AM »

I love the little sfx you have on the cards (blinking lights in the latest gif, or the morale circles in one of the earlier posts)
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Mloren
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2018, 02:59:49 AM »

Blinking lights? Oh at first I thought you meant the bullet holes, then I rewatched the gifs and noticed the two little red crosses on the side blinking! That's an artifact from the gif recorder, not actually in the game. You're right though it looks good, I should do something like that. :D
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2020, 07:57:57 PM »

Wow it's been a long time since I updated this. A lot happened: I got married, went on a honeymoon to Japan (before Covid), got tied down with my day job and this kind of fell to the side for a while.

But then I got back into it, hired an artist and the project has come a long way so here are some of the changes.

First we did a lot of mock ups to work out the art style and this is what we settled on (this is just a mock up):


We decided the card art would feature a simple style so we could make a lot of cards quickly, with colour playing an important role: cards representing part of your colony tend to be more blue while cards representing the planet and its features tend to be more red.
Here are some of the cards:




I really like the look of these cards and will have a lot more to show soon.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 08:23:26 PM by Mloren » Logged


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Filippy
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2020, 04:43:45 AM »

Congrats,
The new art looks amaizing, looking foward to this
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Mloren
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2020, 06:46:56 PM »

Here are some finished UI elements:

So as you play, the story will unfold through popups like this one:


Sometimes these events will require the player to make a choice. These choices will lead to different story panels and may grant different resources or cards.


These popup panels are also used to display specific information about the cards which can be viewed at any time by right clicking the card. Here's an example of a building card:

In this case the popup displays information about the card including the resources that it provides (4 power) and the condition that the building is in.

Buildings, colonists, and monsters have a condition bar which acts a bit like a health bar. Conditions vary depending on the type of card but can include things like damage, hunger, disease, etc. Conditions are always negative and each has a different effect and a different way to remove it. If a card's condition bar is ever filled then the card is destroyed.

The buttons in the bottom right are Demolish (destroys the card), Power Down (temporarily disables the card), and Upgrade (improves the card at the cost of resources). Here the buttons are greyed out because they can't be used until the generator is repaired.
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2020, 02:23:27 AM »

WOW

I love the tactical, simulation, and management aspect of your game, it is totally my cup of tea.

When do you plan to make a Steam coming soon page?

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Mloren
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2020, 03:33:56 AM »

Thanks Smiley

When do you plan to make a Steam coming soon page?

Oh good reminder. yeah I'll do that ASAP.
Thanks Smiley

There's also a mailing list in my sig which you can join if you want a way to be notified when it's ready
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 03:39:06 AM by Mloren » Logged


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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2020, 05:09:40 AM »

Thanks Smiley

When do you plan to make a Steam coming soon page?

Oh good reminder. yeah I'll do that ASAP.
Thanks Smiley

There's also a mailing list in my sig which you can join if you want a way to be notified when it's ready

Yes, I noticed your email but I must ask if you use Discord or if you have a Discord room for your game?
Email subs are not so efficient while Discord is perfect to not only be able to notify fans but also keep then engaged and not letting them lose interest
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Mloren
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2020, 10:19:53 PM »

Good point, we now have a discord server! Smiley
Come hang out and follow our progress:
https://discord.gg/4ZWaEAm

I hope you don't mind but I like your sig banner so I made one similar.
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Mloren
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2020, 10:20:27 PM »

So for colonist cards I wanted to have some random generation so that every card could look different. To this end we made the art in a modular fashion so we could swap out different faces, hair, body shapes, etc


When you right click on a colonist it brings up more info about them and for this I also wanted a randomly generated bio which often produces hilarious results.

This screen also shows any random traits they may have under their name, the resources they consume each turn (1 food and 1 water in this case), their skills and any negative conditions they are suffering from (hunger, injury, disease, etc)

Colonists level up throughout play and gain additional skills and occasionally random traits.


Here's another example:
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