What is this game about? It is called Extrasolar Origin because I’ve always been interested in extrasolar Planets and Ancient Astronauts. So I registered this domain back in 2000 and had absolutely no clue what to do with it, I just wanted to own it
To give you a first impression about the basic gameplay concept I try to put it all in one sentence (if you can’t explain the game concept in one sentence, the concept is too complicated already and should be reviewed again):
“From a fixed Base in the Solar System you can explore the Galaxy with a Spaceship, visit other Star Systems, land on Planets and encounter Alien Races out there.”
Although the story is not finished yet, the setting currently looks like this: it is the year 2200 and you are the Commander of a secret Moonbase on the far side of the moon. The purpose of this lunar base is the research of alien activity in the solar system including Earth and Moon in the past and this is considered as top secret. In these highly secret investigations a badly damaged alien spaceship was – among other things – discovered and explored decades ago.
That spaceship has an unknown source of energy, an antigravity unit and appears to have even an interstellar drive. The research on these new technologies are very advanced and we are about to recreate it and build our own interstellar space ship now. The Commander recruits new crews to command a fleet of new Spaceship to explore extrasolar Star Systems and find the origin of the aliens who built it. And you will slip into the role of one of these Spaceship Captains.
There will be a skippable Tutorial where you can get some experience first how to play the game. For example you test the “Planet Exploration Vehicle” (PEV) on the lunar surface, collect and return rare elements to the Moonbase helping to build your own ship. You will conduct your first navigation tests within the solar system before you’ll receive your promotion to a space ship captain. You can train and specialize a Crew, like in a Role Playing Game. Certain capabilities of these Crewmembers will come in handy later in the game. And then… you will jump into the first extrasolar Star System.
First you will scan the central star and its planets, seeking information. Then you’ll go into orbit of one of these Planets. Once you decided where to land, you can disembark and drive around with the Planet Exploration Vehicle (PEV) and collect Ores, explore Ruins and discover clues to the Story or new Technologies. You will encounter various Alien races and communicate with them, trade or fight which depends on how you talk to them and what characteristics they have.
Once you return to the base, you can store the collected Ores, explore the discovered Technologies, rebuild and install them in your Spaceship. The more you explore Planets and talk to Aliens the more you’re going to learn about the Universe, its history and the Alien races. You will be absolutely free in your decisions. You’ll get a basic Spaceship, a Main Quest and then it is up to you what’s coming next. So you can decide to follow the main Story, achieve a side Quest, explore a tiny little useless Planet or just search for a yet unknown Alien Race.
Sounds familar? No? Some elements are similar to very old Amiga games like Starflight or Millennium 2.2 if you remember these. Starflight became Mass Effect and Millennium became Deuteros. I’ve enjoyed all of them but my game will be different from all of these titles. Extrasolar Origin is no classic remake, it is something new, more a crossover with new elements.
I’m still in an early game design stage, created many Tech Demos to see if certain concepts are possible and still writing the Story. In the next phase I’ll create a basic Prototype to test the whole game concept. In the last stage I’ll turn this Prototype into an eyecandy Alpha candidate. In the meantime you can visit the Screenshots, Videos and Downloads section to find out more about the current progress.
Thoughts about the Game Design
The player should feel alone and abandoned in the vastness of space, but not feel lost. Beside that, you’ll learn a lot of the universe and its wonders. You should get the feeling to be a real Explorer and go where no one had gone before. A bit like in Star Trek but still different. You will be able to fly around quietly, occasionally have trouble or provoke this while having a lot of fun as there will be many funny incidents you won’t expect there.
One of my main objectives is to give the game a great depth that it does not become boring. The graphic presentation is secondary and the universe won’t be 100% realistic (otherwise it will be very boring), but “believable realistic” enough and I will do my best to make it look good enough.
There will be no 400 billion star systems to visit as this is ridiculous too large for a game. The galaxy will be as large as perhaps 128 x 128 x 32 sectors with about 500 – 1,000 star systems in each sector, procedurally calculated. Each star will have between 0 and 10 larger planets to visit and perhaps moons, too. So if you want to replay the game in a different sector, we have a maximum of 524,288 sectors to chose from, each one with 500 – 1,000 stars which gives about 5,000-6,000 planets in each sector.
This should be more than enough. The size of a planet won’t be realistic as you could drive around on only one of such a planet for your whole life. So they are much, much smaller and more simplified, but still large enough to get lost.
Thoughts about the Game
Extrasolar Origin will be no “Massive-Multiplayer-PVP-Shoot-Everyone-Else-Game” or one of these 4X games (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). I don’t like many of the space games as they are often only about fighting, making money, conquering the galaxy, killing aliens and other brainless garbage. My game will be different. First – there will be no money as you won’t need money. It’s more about curiosity, philosophy, reflecting society, looking ahead, human arrogance and the meaning of life. I wouldn’t even call this an Indie game as my target audience is primary – myself.
I want to create a game I’ve never seen before, with elements I loved in other games so much and combine them with a story, my personality and humor that everything still makes sense and fun. Some of you will find this boring and some most interesting. I don’t try to suit everybody. I just want to know if I can do it. That’s all. Like climbing on a mountain top, climbing because the mountain is there. And when I find a nice place along the hiking trail, with a bench and a beautiful view, I’ll sit down, rest and think about if I’ll go further uphill or stay there because it can’t get better.
Yes, this describes it good.
The minimum system specifications depend on how effective my final code will be but it’ll run on most systems when it’s finished unless you’re having a real old rig. The Blitzmax 3D module MiniB3D doesn’t support shaders and uses only OpenGL 1.x so the main calculations are made by the CPU but I’ll try to keep the GPU busy, too. Minimum screen resolution will be 1024×768 (4:3) or 1280×800 (16:10), with a scaling view and GUI. Inputs are Mouse and Keyboard only, Sound and Music are in Stereo. Nothing special so far for an Indie game.
I’m thinking about localization from the beginning, object oriented programming for sure, releasing the well documented source code when it’s finished. So if anybody has suggestions or improvements he could play around with the source.
Not quite Open Source, but opened source.
Oh well, again another guy who wants to create a large scale game huh? So many other guys failed with their projects. I wouldn’t start if I don’t think I could do it. But yes, there are some risks that I could fail, too. First, I’m doing this beside my full-time job in my spare time only. Its hard to self-motivate after a long day of work, with traffic jams, shopping with my wife, my two sick rabbits, meeting with friends, the “real life”.
Creating a game takes a lot of time and I’m doing this alone right now. And I always have phases where I stop working on it and do other things or play a game or watch an unseen TV series which can take some weeks. But in the last years I always came back, launched my IDE and went on. Well, let’s see if I can finish it. I won’t give it up without a serious reason.
And what about you, the potential player? Well, you can sit back, enjoy watching the game’s development and finally – when I’ve finished it – play it, too – free and unlimited. Of course I seek your attention with this project, too. But hey, I’m just a human and that’s a part of the human nature. If you like it I’ll be happy and if you don’t like it it’s ok, too.
What do you think? I would be happy to get feedback from you about this game concept. Do you have suggestions or questions? Feel free to comment and check out this blog for news and updates.