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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsRelic Space - a turn-based, space RPG
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Author Topic: Relic Space - a turn-based, space RPG  (Read 2263 times)
logophil
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« on: March 22, 2021, 03:40:11 PM »

Hi everyone, I'm a London-based solo dev making my dream space RPG! (You can check out my intro post for more about me.) I'm going for Steam Early Access in Q3 2021, and plan to be in early access for some time - so it's still early days, and I'm looking for as much feedback as possible as the game develops. Here's some more about the game:




Relic Space is an open-world, roguelike, space RPG in which you help rebuild civilisation (following a galactic catastrophe) by completing a mix of handcrafted and procedurally generated missions for your faction.

You play an elite starship pilot, and the core of the game involves deeply-simulated, turn-based (and hex-based) ship-to-ship combat with a fluid, modern feel
.


It's an ambitious project, inspired by my love of deep, turn-based games like X-Com, Civilisation and Battletech as well as traditional roguelikes like Angband that add massive replayability due to procedural generation. My feeling was that a game like that set in space, with the specific mechanics needed for realistic ship-to-ship combat, had not really been done before. Another area where I hope to break some new ground, is in procedurally generating the narrative missions in a way that creates real variety.




Here are some other key features:

  • Real Space: Movement rules based on actual space physics: motion in a straight line is free, but turning, starting or stopping cost energy.

  • Deep Simulation: Realistic combat mechanics simulate damage to individual ship components. Each weapon, engine or utility item can catch fire, leak power, and acquire many more status effects.

  • Open World: Explore a vast procedurally generated solar system with handcrafted elements. Factions and NPCs pursue research, trade, construction projects, and other goals irrespective of your actions – though your actions affect their success or failure!

  • Flexible development: Use your growing reputation and influence to acquire more powerful ships and equip them with countless weapon and utility combinations. Acquire new piloting abilities through a flexible skill tree.

  • Immersive setting: Uncover a rich, branching narrative threaded with endless procedurally generated stories in a detailed setting inspired by hard sci-fi.


..and some Screenshots:



I recently released a reveal trailer which indicates some of the backstory:





Thanks for reading! I plan to post regular progress updates here as development continues, and look forward to discussing the game (among other things!) with you all.

Links:

You can join the Discord or the Newsletter to be notified of upcoming Alpha builds. (There's actually an Alpha build on the Discord right now which will be available for another 3 days.)

There's also a Twitter account, and please wishlist the game on Steam if you like the look of it!
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vivaladav
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2021, 05:30:15 PM »

This looks very cool and it seems already pretty polished considering you are only at 40% of development!
Have you done everything by yourself so far? That must have taken quite some time!

Btw, is that 40% based on the roadmap for the EA release or the finished game?
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Alain
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2021, 11:05:16 PM »

Hey logophil! Relic Space looks great so far, I'm looking forward to following your progress!
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logophil
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2021, 04:32:24 AM »

This looks very cool and it seems already pretty polished considering you are only at 40% of development!
Have you done everything by yourself so far? That must have taken quite some time!

Btw, is that 40% based on the roadmap for the EA release or the finished game?

Thanks! It's 40% based on the finished game. Figures like that are sort of arbitrary of course, you are right that in respect of the core engine and mechanics it is quite well-developed (75% or even more), but it is still very thin on actual content - ships, equipment, missions, story - right now (maybe 5%), so I guess I've averaged these to get to 40%!

I'm already close to 2 years into development (at least if you include early concept work), so you're right it has taken some time already! In general I have a hands on approach and create many assets myself, but am quite willing to use freelancers as well (e.g. for the 2D character portraits)
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vivaladav
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2021, 11:04:51 AM »

Thanks! It's 40% based on the finished game. Figures like that are sort of arbitrary of course...

Thanks for the details and yeah, games never really get to that 100% as there's always more to add/improve/fix.
We can only give our best estimates and hope the last 10% won't take 90% of development!  Roll Eyes

Good luck with the project anyway, I'll be following it here.
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2021, 01:38:53 AM »

Quote
It's an ambitious project, inspired by my love of deep, turn-based games like X-Com, Civilisation and Battletech as well as traditional roguelikes like Angband that add massive replayability due to procedural generation. My feeling was that a game like that set in space, with the specific mechanics needed for realistic ship-to-ship combat, had not really been done before. Another area where I hope to break some new ground, is in procedurally generating the narrative missions in a way that creates real variety.
Kiss Kiss Kiss
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Ramos
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2021, 07:22:07 AM »

Welcome logophil

Your game got a nice tactical aspect to it.
Also, very good marketing move on your side to start that coming soon page so fast.

Good luck
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logophil
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2021, 12:06:30 PM »

Also, very good marketing move on your side to start that coming soon page so fast.

Ha, thanks, one of the many things I learned from my experience with Xenomarine (after doing a lot of things completely wrong on the marketing side there!). I should really do a post-mortem on that soon like you suggested!
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logophil
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2021, 07:57:20 AM »

DEV UPDATE 1: WEAPON DESIGN

Hi all, time for my first dev update! As a solo dev with limited time to spare, I'm not planning any fancy video devlogs, but I will try to share some insight into my development process here as I make progress with the game.

This last week my focus has been on weapons: adding new ones, refining weapon stats and associated combat mechanics, and rebalancing all those stats.

As in many RPGs, weapons (and equipment more generally) are a really important part of the gameplay in Relic Space. The variety in each ship’s equipment and weapons loadout (as well as differences in the ship hulls themselves) will play a big role in generating variety in the ship-to-ship combat situations that are central to the game.



There are so many ways of creating a systematically balanced range of weapons, that it helps to start with constraints that may be unique to your own game. In my case I started with the following constraints:

  • There should be a significant range of weapon power even for the starting weapons available in the early game. (This was important to me because in Relic Space you only control a single ship, and combat situations often involve multiple hostiles. Therefore it is going to be hard to get a balanced fight unless your weapons are significantly more powerful than your enemies’ even near the start of the game)
  • I wanted to have each weapon come in a number of variants (to generate additional variety and loadout options for both the player and hostiles)
  • I wanted weapons to be interesting different from each other, not just small variations of stats (this is again important for generating true variety to the tactical combat situations)

I then basically considered various options until I found one that I thought best met all three of these criteria. What I settled on was:

A) Each base weapon comes in three classes: light, standard and heavy, where heavier classes are significantly more powerful than lighter ones (I have provisionally settled on roughly 1:2:3 in terms of power ratios). This particular version of constraint 2 allowed me to also meet constraint 1 since I could allow the player to start with Standard weapons (still quite vanilla, allowing for lots of progression in acquiring new weapons for the player) while having a fair chance of beating multiple enemies with Light weapons.

B)Weapons with the same ‘weight’ class have roughly similar stats, but are differentiated by unique characteristics (constraint 3). I designed a set of weapon characteristics such as ‘thermal weapon’, ‘disruptor’ or ‘rapid fire’ that would have a distinctive gameplay impact. E.g. thermal weapons have a greater chance of causing equipment to catch fire, whereas rapid fire weapons have a bigger spread of possible damage outcomes.

In terms of actually implementing this, I first used google sheets to allow me to easily view all the stats side by side, and choose some carefully balanced values. The next step was to copy and paste these into the JSON files I use for a lot of data in the game (which I hope to eventually expose to players for modding purposes!).


Generating light, medium and heavy version of each weapon then just required a few lines of code (though the exact ratios to be used here will no doubt require some tweaking through playtesting):



I then needed to go through the list and code the specific gameplay impacts resulting from the new ‘characteristics’. Finally I then tested each weapon in turn, by setting up test scenarios in which the player faces a single hostile ship equipped with the new weapon. As well as testing any distinctive mechanics I was also testing for balance, getting an intuitive feel for how hard it was to defeat the opponent with that weapon, and comparing that against my initial expectations.

Next on the to do list: creating VFX for the new weapons!
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liva
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2021, 02:37:52 AM »

How many weapons will be available? Will they be affected by the skill tree? Can't wait to see them
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logophil
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2021, 11:15:57 AM »

How many weapons will be available? Will they be affected by the skill tree? Can't wait to see them

Thanks for the question! I actually can't say at this stage how many weapons will be available, but I can say it will be as many as I can possibly add, as long as I can continue to make each one have some kind of distinctive gameplay impact (in my last game, Xenomarine, I managed about 50). Right now I am adding 9 more base types for a total of 12 - so that's 36 if you include the small, medium and heavy variants.

And yes, they are already affected by the small number of pilot skills already in the game, which allow you to specialise to some extent in different weapon types. They will also be affected by the 'research tree' by means of which they are unlocked in the first place (this is part of the '4X'-style strategy layer to the game).

I'm currently enjoying trying out some of the new projectiles, hope to share some pictures and videos soon!

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Alain
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2021, 11:53:05 PM »

Thanks for the update. Reading about your system makes me want to tinker around with it Smiley Sounds like there will be quite a lot of freedom in playstyles that players can dig into.
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logophil
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2021, 03:06:50 PM »

Thanks for the update. Reading about your system makes me want to tinker around with it Smiley Sounds like there will be quite a lot of freedom in playstyles that players can dig into.

Thanks, that's good to hear! Yes, the kind of games I enjoy playing are those where you are given a lot of freedom in how you develop and not restricted in your choices (e.g. by particular 'classes') and that's what I'm aiming for here.
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logophil
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2021, 01:19:03 PM »

DEV UPDATE 2: WEAPON VFX AND SHIPS

Following on from update 1 about weapon systems, this update focuses more on the graphical side.

As suggested last week, the main achievement this week was creating VFX and SFX for the 9 new weapon types I had set up last week. Here’s a gif in which I test the new sound and visuals by cycling through some of the weapons.


The VFX involves two separate effects for each weapon, one for the projectiles and one for the ‘damage’ effect on hitting the enemy ship. Since the trajectory of the projectiles has to be calculated via code in any case to match up with the hex-grid system, I could have used normal 3D objects for the projectiles, and in some cases - missiles and lasers - I did (for the lasers I used the excellent, and free, volumetric lines package from the unity store). In other cases though I chose to use particle effects for the projectiles (treating the particle effect itself as a gameobject for the purposes of generating its trajectory) because of the ease of implementing trail effects.

In addition to this, to make the weapons actually playable in-game, I also needed to integrate them into the game’s tech tree. The idea is that weapons (among other things) are unlocked for your faction on researching lost technology from before the Fall - this is at the heart of the 'strategy' layer of gameplay that overlays the base 'tactical combat' layer: in order to progress in the game you need unlock more powerful weapons and equipment in this way.

When a weapon is unlocked for your faction it can be produced - and importantly sold to you at equipment trading modules - at space stations. Since these lost technologies can only be researched by first recovering associated technological ‘relics’, I needed to set up and add both the research goals and their relics to the game.

The relics themselves, as well as their in-game icons, are procedurally generated, currently only in a basic way, but still enough to generate different descriptions each playthrough. The core of the code is this:

result = "The "+randomobjectfeature() +" of this " + relictypename(type)+" suggests an origin in the "
+ randomobjectperiod()+"period. " +rg.info.relicdescription;

Here's an example, in the context of an early preview of what the 'tech tree' might look like.


Still early stages, and I plan to add various improvements to the procedural generated descriptions to generate more variety.

Finally I also created a couple of new ship models for the initially hostile 'Union' faction. As with weapons, diversity of ships (both visually and in terms of underlying stats) will be crucial in generating diverse combat situations in the game. Each ship type is defined by a 'hull' which has its own set of stats, over and above any equipment items that may be fitted onto it. The key ones are:

  • Base weight
  • Max weight
  • Armor
  • Base heat sink
  • Goods storage
  • Number of weapon slots
  • Number of utility slots

If some of these familiar to you from Battletech/Mechwarrior universe, that's not a coincidence - Battletech in particular is a big influence on Relic Space. In particular I've more or less stolen from it the idea of a 'weight-based' equipment system, in which the ability to equip certain items is limited in a significant way by that items contribution to the total weight of the ship.

I'll end with an example of one of the new ship models:

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vivaladav
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2021, 03:48:15 PM »

Shame GIFs don't have sound!  Wink

The new graphics look pretty cool even if I am a bit confused by the tech tree... simply because it doesn't look like a tree.
Is there any correlation between the elements of the first and second columns or are they independent lists?
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2021, 07:45:01 PM »

Looking good!  Gentleman That's amazing for a solo effort over 2 years.  Are you doing this full time?
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logophil
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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2021, 01:12:48 PM »

Shame GIFs don't have sound!  Wink

The new graphics look pretty cool even if I am a bit confused by the tech tree... simply because it doesn't look like a tree.
Is there any correlation between the elements of the first and second columns or are they independent lists?

Ha, yea I probably should have posted a video as I worked quite hard on the sound effects as well!

It's a great point about the 'tech-tree' - this is definitely a work in progress. Right now it's just a list (columns don't mean anything), but I think I need to categorise and lay it out to make it more easily understandable by the player - as well as more graphically appealing. While I'm intentionally avoiding a fixed civ-style tech-tree to allow for more variety in possible pathways, I do think it needs some structure to give a sense of progression.
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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2021, 07:45:16 PM »

Fair enough.

I am looking forward to seeing your next iterations of the TT.
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logophil
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« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2021, 04:32:50 AM »

Looking good!  Gentleman That's amazing for a solo effort over 2 years.  Are you doing this full time?

Thanks very much! No, doing this on top of my day job, but I'm pretty dedicated so I still manage to put in a lot of hours almost every day Coffee
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logophil
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2021, 01:33:51 PM »

DEV UPDATE 3: ALPHA 6


This is just a short update as I have spent most of the time since the last update fixing bugs (so many bugs! Crazy) which is not that exciting to write about (though if anyone really likes reading through lists of changes, there's one here)!

But hey, it's all in a good cause, as Alpha 6 is now out on the Discord, and includes the new features I've written about in the previous updates above.

I've also posted a time-limited download link over in the Tigsource Playtest forums here in case anyone is interested in trying the game - any feedback would be much appreciated!

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