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February 27, 2020, 08:10:26 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsEARTH ANALOG - Deep Space Exploration
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nkm
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« on: January 24, 2020, 02:00:44 PM »

Hi guys,

I started working on a new game project in my free time. It's a space flight sim with an emphasis on exploration and story. I decided to use raytracing to generate the visuals to make it more appealing and perhaps more interesting. System support could become a problem though  Cheesy I'm aiming for a release sometime around Q4 2021.

The description, taken straight from the Steam page:

In Earth Analog you take control of the space vessel Eurisko XI in its quest through deep space. Its goal: find our new home.

In this space flight simulator you will have to keep your ship in one piece while traveling through mysterious and often dangerous worlds. Apart from steering and landing your ship and exploring distant planetary systems you will also have to keep all the ship systems operational, which involves prospecting and mining for fuel and water, upgrading ship systems and fixing broken parts. It's all up to you, you are alone out there... or are you?

For fans of: Interstellar, Gravitiy, Sunshine.

Features:
* An intriguing single player adventure based on a story full of drama and plot twists.
* An atmospheric and newtonian flight model.
* A fully raytracing based graphics engine brings never before seen worlds to life.


Here's an early teaser trailer which conveys the tone I'm trying to set:





At the moment I'm still struggling with the gameplay mechanics. The core gameplay loop is currently centered around controlling the ship while solving puzzles. There's also a bit of prospecting and mining. But I feel it needs more. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for reading,
nkm
« Last Edit: January 27, 2020, 03:08:36 AM by nkm » Logged

NovaSilisko
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2020, 04:56:12 PM »

The rendering system is impressive. What is the performance like at various resolutions for your current hardware? I've seen demos of raymarched rendering systems with full terrain and such but they are usually very, very slow. For that matter, what about physics and collisions between the ship and terrain? Is that being computed on the GPU?



At the moment I'm still struggling with the gameplay mechanics. The core gameplay loop is currently centered around controlling the ship while solving puzzles. There's also a bit of prospecting and mining. But I feel it needs more. Does anyone have any suggestions?

If you add an interior decorating mechanic I'm gonna go get an axe  Evil
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nkm
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2020, 11:36:27 AM »

Thanks, yes the performance is an issue currently. Depending on what is shown I average around 30 fps @ 1280x720 on my laptop's gtx 1060. With FXAA this look reasonably well when upscaled. One reason for the 2021/2022 target is the hope that GPU's will be strong enough by that time.

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If you add an interior decorating mechanic I'm gonna go get an axe

Haha, don't worry, the ship is way too small for that  Smiley
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NovaSilisko
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2020, 01:44:17 PM »

Thanks, yes the performance is an issue currently. Depending on what is shown I average around 30 fps @ 1280x720 on my laptop's gtx 1060. With FXAA this look reasonably well when upscaled. One reason for the 2021/2022 target is the hope that GPU's will be strong enough by that time.

Ooh. Ouch. I wonder if RTX/DXR raytracing stuff would be of any use for you. I don't know if there's an overlap with what you're doing and what the RT cores are capable of performing, as I've never really dug too deeply into the details.
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nkm
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2020, 02:01:15 PM »

I've looked at it briefly but they seem to work on some kind of mesh proxies. I don't think it matches well with ray marching.
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Kris with a K
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2020, 10:50:41 PM »

Hey, I like your concept! The trailer was interesting as well. Was that elastic rock? And weird alien cubes? Sounds pretty crazy. A story line could involve aliens/creators... or if you don't want to go that route, there could be gameplay mechanics about controlling your ship while you're on drugs! Those gamer kids want crazy stuff these days.

If I may, I am working on a game with a similar premise (but it is text-based and takes place after you've found the planet). My gameplay mechanics are going to be centered more around the activities of daily living; keeping balance, exerting effort, timing your move for the apex of some energetic phenomena, etc. So, in my thinking, mechanics around keeping the spaceship running could be very interesting for you.

Since you only have one ship, vs. building up a whole base or civilization (as with many gather+craft games), your gameplay loop would be very different. For instance say you survey a system that turns out insuitable for human life. In another gather+craft game, you might strip-mine it for all useful resources. In your game, you could only take as much as you need to repair some minor damage that occurred in transit, or to prepare for your journey to the next system. You could also have occasional upgrades to the ship that are only unlocked after major story events, or by some kind of in-transit mini game. Having rarer upgrades lets you make them more unique and powerful.

Some potential inspiration in your mechanic-crafting:

  • The exploration probes in EVE Online.
  • Verrecial, "a space exploration game with controls reminiscent of modular synthetisers."
  • Reciever, where you shoot robots while manually controlling the action, safety, reloading, etc. of your pistol. Reminds me of "controlling the ship while solving puzzles".
  • Obivously, Kepler Space Program. You can infinitely build, test, and rebuild in KSP; in your game, maybe those rebuilds have to happen on the fly, with consequences every time?
  • Science category on Steam

Wish you the best with this project!
One question, will the game be save-based/linear or roguelike?
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nkm
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2020, 07:06:23 AM »

Hey thanks for your elaborate comments!

Elastic rocks: yes, on one of planet the terrain morphs into ocean occasionally.
The storyline includes aliens in some form indeed.

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So, in my thinking, mechanics around keeping the spaceship running could be very interesting for you.
Great idea! I was already thinking of adding FTL-like text based events. Some of them could be related to ship systems breaking down or something along that line.

Quote
You could also have occasional upgrades to the ship that are only unlocked after major story events, or by some kind of in-transit mini game. Having rarer upgrades lets you make them more unique and powerful.
I was thinking of adding a probe upgrade. The player would get it somewhere around the 25% mark and it would allow him to see planets in a different way. It would also give the player an incentive to revisit previously visited planets. Similar to how the Zelda games have different layers in their levels which are uncovered by new tools you find as you progress.

Thanks for the references. Some seem very obscure Smiley How did you find them?

Quote
Wish you the best with this project!
Thanks mate! Appreciate your feedback.

Quote
One question, will the game be save-based/linear or roguelike?
Mostly linear.
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muki
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2020, 10:31:50 AM »

I love the pitch. I'm a huge sci-fi fan and have always been more intrigued with the wonder, mystery and exploration aspects of it (rather than action).

Keeping an eye on this!
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nkm
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2020, 12:13:41 AM »

Code:
I love the pitch. I'm a huge sci-fi fan and have always been more intrigued with the wonder, mystery and exploration aspects of it (rather than action).

Thanks! There will be some action though but it will not be weapon related.
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nkm
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2020, 02:10:22 PM »



Today I added a HUD, i.e. a pitch ladder, heading indicator and flight path indicator. The pitch ladder helps with finding the horizon and your pitch angle with respect to the horizon. The heading can be used to determine the direction you're flying with respect to magnetic north. And finally, the flight path indicator shows the direction in which the vessel is moving, which is not per se the direction which the vessel is pointing at. The latter is especially important when flying in a newtonian physics system as you get in frictionless space.
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nkm
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2020, 08:07:22 AM »

Working on probes lately. A probe can help with gathering planet data. Here's the result of a probe's surface scan of planet Ross 192 c, which is quite a strange one  Smiley


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Jasmine
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2020, 10:19:14 PM »

Ooh, that's a pretty cool image! Will the scans always be in white or do you intend on the scans have varied hues during the process?
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2020, 11:36:07 PM »

The teaser piqued my interest! It definitely has some Christopher Nolan vibe to it. Will be following this. Good luck with the dev process!
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