A Steam-punk Sandbox RPG combining a next generation Voxel engine, build-able aircraft and models, with a meaningful crafting system
Are you tired of the same game being built over and over again by different companies, with each new generation just having prettier graphics. VoxelVerse is a new kind of game, its a game that is created by users, changed by users, evolved by users.
VoxelVerse is not an just idea, its real! Give VoxelVerse a try by clicking on this link! You will need Flash 11.3
VoxelVerse is a revolutionary new kind of game.
A game where anything and everything can be created, moved, modified,
and destroyed. A game where everything you find can be used in crafting,
and what you craft actually makes you, your vehicles, and your fortress
stronger, faster, and more powerful. VoxelVerse ties together
exploration, adventure, building, crafting, and socialization in a way
that has only been imagined up until now. And of course it's all free to
play in a web browser on PCs and Macs (and eventually on handhelds).
So what makes VoxelVerse different then other Voxel games?
- First off VoxelVerse uses a next generation Voxel Engine, which I call an Oxel Engine. Oxels are a combination of Voxels and Oct-Trees. What does this mean for the user? It means that users are no longer limited to one size block. Now blocks have a huge ranges of sizes. They can be as large as the moon, or as small as grains of sand. This gives users the ability to create models of anything they can imagine.
- VoxelVerse utilizes and encourages users to create Independent Voxel Models (IVM). For example IVMs are the islands, ships, and creatures. IVMs can be linked together to form groups of objects, so your zeppelin can add cannons, engines, and accessories. IVMs can be items that have been crafted by user, or just a convenient groups of oxels in the shape of an arch or statue. IVMs allow users to create their own unique vehicles like zeppelin's, which can fly around the VoxelVerse. IVMs allow users to create and share anything they can imagine.
- Crafting - VoxelVerse has a totally new approach to crafting. In VoxelVerse you will find a wide variety of metals, woods, and others items. Each material has attributes which contribute to the items stats. A sword made of copper and oak will have basic attributes such as speed, weight, damage. Whereas a sword made of titanium, elder wood, with a gem in the hilt will be faster, and do more damage. Items that have been crafted can be re-crafted, for example to upgrade the blade, or add a gem. Also engines, cannons, boilers, and rudders are all crafted. You will find things that make your engines faster, guns more powerful, and rudder turn faster.
- IVM's can have scripts attached to them. For example a door has an open script, this allows users to create their own kinds of doors. For content creators, think of this as Second Life meets Minecraft.
- No downloadable client, no local content, so you can play anywhere! Sharing the world you have created is as easy as sharing a URL.
This is an ambituous goal indeed. And if there is one thing I have learned after designing, creating, and delivering commercial MMO's for 12 years it's to proceed in baby steps. So I am splitting VoxelVerse into three phases.
- Phase 1 - Massively single player. A story driven game where users can explore, build, and fight. And with a simple click of a mouse, you will be able to visit the worlds created by your friends and by other users. Think of phase 1 as a mashup of Minecraft/Second Life/Skyrim.
- Phase 2 - Massively multiplayer. Multiplayer will bring many new aspects to the game: Cooperative building, selling of minerals and IVMs in the auction house. PvP combat, fights over control of key mineral assets, multi-user first person combat on user built/crafted ships. Raids on fortresses. Add in aspects of Eve Online and LoL to the mix in this phase. But in this combat, you design the ship, craft the guns, engines, boilers. You can watch your opponent's ship get obliterated, and watch him desperately trying to repair it in combat. I am dying to see the first full scale model of the death star.
- Phase 3 - User generated missions, make the game within the game. Since VoxelVerse is free to play and all the content is server based, all your friends can come try out your adventure. No more downloading and installing mod's. VoxelVerse has been designed from the start to be all about user generated content.
Phase 1 is what I am going to talk about in the rest of this story. I have been working on phase 1 for 10 months now. The Oxel Engine is ready for alpha content creators. Ready to put into hands of users.
There is a game too? I have seen thousands of people come into Sandbox worlds and the first thing they ask is "What’s there to do?". Story is a critical element that adds context and purpose to every starting players experience. The story behind VoxelVerse is that your colony ship that escaped from the dying embers of Earth but was destroyed just before reaching its destination. You escaped in a 1 person life pod, but the crew and passengers were scattered across the VoxelVerse. Your job is to survive long enough to reunite with the other colonists and start a new civilization! a.k.a Phase 2.
Why use Kickstarter? Crowdfunding is the future of indie game development, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know that already. Users know what they enjoy and have shown an amazing willingness support it. Early on in this project I spent a few month trying to get VCs, angel investors and game publishers to understand why a next generation Voxel Engine like VoxelVerse could unlock a whole new type of gameplay, a whole new generation of user generated content. But after hearing “Why use Voxels” for the 10th time, I realized this was a losing battle. So I decided to self fund the project for as long as I could.Raising money is a full time job, and when I do it, I don’t get to design or code. I have raised millions of dollars in the past, I have the business plan, the pro forma, and market studies. But when it comes down to it, I love to create, and make tools for others to create with. Spending months and months of my time raising money, might have been a better long term strategy, but I had an idea that wanted to burst out of me like the creature in Alien. So I decided to do it on my own dime. To be beholden to no one but the users. Well, that dime and my wife’s patience have worn a very thin, so my choice is raise some money, or make this project a part time project. The result of this effort is the basis for what you see in the demo. It still needs work on some major area’s like lighting, but the overall result is just what I imagined. I think you will find VoxelVerse is on the path to becoming the ultimate Voxel game and creation tool. What you see in the demo is just a tiny glimpse of what VoxelVerse will ultimately deliver.
What will I do with the money that I raise? Any money earned through kickstarter will be used to make VoxelVerse even more awesome. These funds will give me the freedom to finish VoxelVerse, to bring up the server on AWS and be able to pay for the artwork VoxelVerse needs, rather than asking for favors. To be able to add the sounds and music that VoxelVerse needs. For the past year I have been in designing, planning, and coding VoxelVerse. VoxelVerse is the fifth generation of virtual worlds platforms I have designed and architected. What it took to make VoxelVerse happen was a new type of 3D graphics engine on a new platform Flash Stage3D. And, after working on this for 10 months I am just starting to unlock the power that it holds. I love working on this project and I want to keep working on this project full time. What happens if I don't raise the money? Then VoxelVerse will turn into a nights and weekends project and take longer to finish. But it will get finished regardless. One thing I hope to gain from Kickstarter are some passionate content developers who want something more then current Voxel Engines can deliver. So please support VoxelVerse if you can. And even if you can't afford it, come explore the power of Oxels, IVMs, and User Generated Content. I hope to get to know many of you well over the coming months and I look forward to collaborating with you on this exciting project..
I am a huge linux fan, I use it for all my servers. One my primary goals for VoxelVerse was to make it highly accessible, I don't believe in downloads. This meant it needed to run in a browser. So that left HTML5, Unity3D, and Flash Stage3D as my choices for delivering this content to your machine. After testing HTML5, I found the support for it was not mature enough for me to use at this point. Unity3D is not the right fit for any kind of virtual world project due to the way they structure their data. Plus Unity3D is optimized for meshes, I need an engine optimized for Voxels.
So that left Flash 11 using Stage3D. Unfortunately Adobe chose not to support Flash in the fragmented linux desktop market.
Can you create models with in game tools or would I have to have 3D modelling experience and/or programming experience?
VoxelVerse was CREATED to free people from needing 3D modeling tools and programming experience. Everything you need to create models will be built into world (still rough around edges at this point).
Since VoxelVerse is free to play, the way I generate revenue is to allow players to buy extra minerals they want. All of the minerals will be out there, you will just have to spend time finding them and bringing them home. So for people who have more money then time, there is the mineral Store. So I cant let user just create minerals where ever they want. Or that would remove any chance I have of feeding my family.
In phase 2, all users will get a "home" region, a place that is only for them and their friends. By default the population counts on a region will be limited to a small number of people. If you want a region with a higher population limit, you will have to pay to upgrade your region. As owner of a region, you will be able to give other users editing privileges, along with a host of other customizable settings.
User spaces will not be limited to one island. It can be many islands, regular terrain, what is in your region is only limited by your imagination. The only thing we limit is the population, and what types of minerals are there.
Indeed, something that always bothered me in games what that I could dig up gold, but I had no way to spend it. In VoxelVerse, gold is gold.
I did considerable research on best path to take before starting this project. I decided that the age of the downloadable client is in its final days. So the requirement was that it run in a web browser.
It came down to HTML5, Unity3D, and Adobe Flash 11 which included the GPU accelerated Stage3D.
While HTML5 is hot right now, it is not well supported for the WebGL across browsers (Chome,FF, Safari, IE) and platforms. Plus I have had experience with VRML, which made me decide that anything made by committee is a long slow path.
Unity3D was another option, but I had worked with it on a number of projects, and its overall design is not targeted toward highly dynamic resources like this game/engine uses. Its great for small, single use games. But for virtual worlds you have do to a LOT of work arounds to make it work at all. Plus unity is optimized for meshes, its a mesh engine. I wanted an engine optimized for Voxel, especially Oxels.
So that left Flash 11 with Stage3D, I ran some tests, I could render 2,000,000 quads with 5% processor utilization. So while the old Flash which didn't support GPU acceleration was slow, this new version appeared to run quite well. Since I started the project, Adobe has added support for C++ which is complied into swfs. I haven't had a chance to try this yet (as I have a million more things I want to do, and performance is quite good so far). I have been against Flash for years, but this new version is quite decent.
Adobe supports a standalone player, and I will definitely support offline play during alpha (when I am going to connected to my already developed server). Not sure if I will continue to support it for beta or not.
This game was designed from the start to be Modded. The approach I take is to make it almost totally data driven. You can configure almost everything from the data files. Trick is exposing that to user in an intelligent but user friendly way. So effectively modding is built right into the engine. Scripts can be attached to the Voxel models to give them different behaviors. How external scripts are going to be supported is still up in the air, but I have a number of ideas on how it could be done.
Even better then that. Every voxel model can use a completely different texture pack.
I believe that Internet is the way to go. Having to setup your own server is problematic for 95% of users. I am going for ease of use. I have a great server that I have used for my other virtual worlds. It is really a great design, but once again I am a designer/coder not a marketing person. The plan is to reusing it for VoxelVerse. Each server can support many 1000s of simultaneous user, and it can support a LOT of servers. So I will probably stick with over internet only for near future.
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