Wayward Terran Frontier
Design a star ship and explore a massive galaxy with your friends. Fight space monsters and find some loot. Or be a pirate...
Wayward Terran Frontier is part space-trader and part exploration-driven ARPG, with a whole lot of functionality packed into the space between. The game takes place inside a procedurally generated galaxy filled with dynamic events, making each game a brand new adventure.
At the every galaxy’s heart is a handful of human worlds which act as safe havens, and commerce hubs with functional economies. The core planets are brimming with life, surrounded by space stations and NPCs going about their daily lives (yours to bother and exploit). Out in the wilds of frontier space, there is more opportunity for profit—but also far greater danger.
Play How You Want
Wayward Terran Frontier lets you experience content the way you choose. You can be an honest freighter captain, delivering cargo and winning the galaxy over with charm and diplomacy from the safety of the core planets, or take to the wild frontier as a pirate in pursuit of plunder and glorious explosions. WTF will initially be a Windows-only release, but a port for Mac and Linux are both long-term goals.
If Wayward Terran Frontier were a novel, then you are the protagonist. The galaxy is filled with dynamic events which react to your actions. The game server is the writer; it knows the history of the universe, all of its actors and their motivations, and its job is to make sure that you and the other actors cross paths.
As you explore the galaxy, the server tracks the movements and interactions of real characters and events, and subtly steers the action your way, encouraging you to explore these events. From suspicious derelict ships to responding to distress calls, you will decide the course of each engagement. Do you save innocent lives, or split loot with the raiders? The choice is yours.
The frontier is a living, breathing world, and its story unfolds whether you are the nearest actor or not. When a merchant vessel runs aground on an asteroid, and you’re nowhere in sight, an NPC or fellow player may be the first one to its loot!
Multiplayer is a huge feature of Wayward Terran Frontier, perhaps even the defining element. Cooperatively or competitively, the frontier has much to offer.
- Fly in a fleet The game’s travel system matches the speed of all ships in a fleet to that of the fastest ship, so that no man is left behind in the search for treasure.
- Crew the same ship The Console system divides ship functions intelligently between as few or many players as you like. Design your ship with friends in mind, or play the lone wolf and fly solo.
- Share in the plunder The world of Wayward Terran Frontier is vast and rich with resources, making data the only loot of real value. Free to reproduce, all loot is shared equally between your fleet.
- Build it together Although there are more technical hurdles to overcome, cooperative ship-building is a long term goal.
Wayward Terran Frontier is at its core a role-playing game, and character growth is an important measure of how far you’ve come. Your journey will drive you to unlock the secrets of the galaxy, but this wisdom lies far from the safety of the core planets. To meet the challenges of the frontier, you will need to continually upgrade your ship.
New technology, weapons, and ship hulls are discovered through exploration, or purchased from vendors for credits. Your budget for allocating ship components and assigning crew will be increased through your exploits. While your crew, ships, credits, and loot never stray from the reach of the cold hand of death, nothing in the galaxy can snatch away your budget or secured unlocks.
Budget is an EXP-like currency which is rewarded immediately, whereas technology unlocks must be safely secured at a space station to become permanent. Finding treasure out in the black is only half the journey, the rest is making it back alive.
Death is usually a permanent affair, but that’s your clone’s problem. You’ll control them from the warmth and safety of a cozy neural-interface pod on a distant planet. Whatever resources you haven’t tossed into storage when your ship violently explodes may be lost forever, but your character will live on.
Wayward Terran Frontier is full of tons of different ship designs. As soon as you unlock a ship hull, it’s ready to fly. But before you set off, you can choose to customize its insides. The game uses a modular tile-based system that lets you truly redesign the floor plan of your entire ship. This plays a key role in ship-to-ship combat, as a vessel is no more than the sum of its tiles.
Customize your ship to overwhelm your enemies with brute force, or target specific subsystems and watch as the enemy is burned alive by hot plasma, or blown away by a hull breach. You can see the combat system in action by downloading the public alpha here, or watching gameplay videos over at our youtube channel.
The combat system will constantly be expanded and improved upon with the addition of new ship modules and effects. While the current version of the ship editor has a bit of a learning curve, this will be resolved in the final version.
In the tech demo, crew members are very dumb, and assigning them to your ship doesn't do much beyond help with aiming guns. But in the final version they will be so much more.
Crew will have basic inventories and be able to make use of hand weapons and items like pressure suits to fend off boarding parties, invade enemy ships, and protect themselves even while your ship is falling apart.
I am also investigating the creation of a system for befriending NPC characters to use as crew. More expensive than standard crew, these NPCs would provide special bonuses to your ship.
Space stations and inhabited planets will buy and sell commodities and luxury goods with fluctuating prices, allowing you to ferry cargo from one world to another for profit (or steal it from an NPC transport).
While I’d like to implement a much more complex, player-driven economy with real player-produced assets, this would require significantly more funding, and would likely be completed quite some time after the core game launch.
The story of Wayward Terran Frontier has many facets. In part, the plot is a commentary on gaming itself, and the primary antagonist is a malevolent AI bent on capturing humans and subjecting them to a real-life role playing game from which they can never escape.
The battle of man against machine is a key part of the history of the game world, particularly the struggle over a series of artifacts which allow control over the laws of physics themselves. In combating the AI threat, one of the NPC factions has even renounced technology altogether. With all this said, my primary focus is on building a platform for storytelling, rather than telling the story itself.
To read more about the story of Wayward Terran Frontier, make sure and check out update #2: the lore update
Pledge Level Summary
(T1) $5 My thanks, and a backer-only forum title.
(T2) $15 - A copy of the game on release via your preferred distribution system
(T3) $20 - Closed beta access & Previous tiers (Limited)
(T4) $25 - Closed beta access & Previous tiers
(T5) $30 - Closed alpha access & Previous tiers (Limited)
(T6) $35 - Closed alpha access & Previous tiers
(T7) $60 - Total of 2 game copies with closed alpha access & a forum title for the one making the pledge & Previous tiers
(T8) $250 - Design and name your own ship, immediate ship access & Tier 3 rewards (Limited)
(T9) $750 - Design your own game event & Tier 4 rewards (Limited)
(T10) $1000 - Producer Credit & Ongoing game design input & A NPC named after you
Wayward Terran Frontier draws much of its gameplay inspiration from free-roam space RPGs like the Star Control, Escape Velocity and Master of Orion series. Aesthetically, the game is informed by beloved series like Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and Trigun. The game world and it’s inhabitants draw much of their inspiration from the humor of Scott Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, and the imagination of Orson Scott Card.
The game is built to be a data-driven system running on simple, intuitive tools. The ship engine is built around .PNG images, which can be easily be modified by the player. This idea of simplicity and user freedom will be carried over into the creation of a game client that can talk to modded servers, ideally without any patching or configuration.
My goal is that with a single client, players will be able to connect to a multitude of completely customized servers with unique ships, modules, rules, and perhaps even mechanics.
The project forums have been, and will remain a very good place to give me input about how you want to use the game and its systems.
WTF is an XNA game which means it is built for windows. I have taken care to keep track of Mono development and curate the code, so some day the game could easily be ported to other platforms.
That being said, it is a lot of work to manage active distributions on multiple platforms during development, so the project will likely remain Windows-only for a some time. I intend on adding Linux and Mac support eventually, but it is not our first priority.
Where’s my money going?
- $18600 - Art assets for game entities and modules, as well as mapping
- $5300 - Sound effects: explosions etc, environmental, potential character voices
- $7800 - Art assets for environments, space clutter, stellar bodies, backdrops
- $7100 - Misc assets such as particles, space wrecks, and user interface improvements
- $5500 - Full musical score.
- $5700 - Fees for amazon, kickstarter and some leftover for california and the feds
- $Priceless - Espresso (it's like mana for programmers)
As a result of my involvement in the project, the cost of programming is limited to keeping my stomach full of Top Ramen, and a roof over my head. To pay for fancy things like coffee and meals containing some form of food, I will continue providing my share of the art assets. I'm already responsible for much of the game’s art, such as a number of stellar bodies, ship modules, station interiors, and space wrecks. Creating art assets helps me pace my work, and won’t interfere with the programming of the game (although it might help prevent my head from exploding).
Distribution & Monetization
Steam is a popular request for distributing the game. Vote for our greenlight campaign to make it happen! Regardless of where the game is distributed my goal is for the game client to be freely available, so that anyone can experiment with building a ship and playing around in the sandbox galaxy or logging into a friend’s server.
The server hosting application will be sold for a reasonable fee, and will support any number of your friends for simultaneous play. Purchasers of the server software will receive an integrated application which includes both the game client and server. In the end, playing the game alone should as simple as launching the game client and hitting "Continue Saved Game"
The game client is already in Open Alpha, and you can play with it now. As I develop the server I will continue work on improving the client. My goal is to have the server ready for a Closed Alpha within a year of our fund date, although it will likely be a little rough around the edges. I’ll be following the Minecraft model with the Alpha: Allow people to play with it as soon as possible, and iterate constantly based on community feedback. A rough schedule of my goals follows:
Closed Alpha - Testing the limitations of the server code and while tweaking the game balance and squashing bugs with your aid.
Closed Beta - The server is ready for small-scale distribution. I’ll have a much better idea on the date once we move into the Closed Alpha. All participants in the Closed Beta will receive a copy of the server executable, and will be able to host and play the game on their own worlds.
Open Beta - The distribution system is stable. Larger scale testing will help perfect the gameplay and server hosting experience.
Dynamic Event goals for game release:
- Encounter and recover abandoned ships
- Find and explore abandoned space stations and structures
- Server-wide first contact event with new NPC factions
- Pirate raiding scenario
- Encounter into NPC explorers with loot worth raiding
- Hostile alien encounter
- Discover sites of ancient battles
Future event goals:
- Boss-style raid encounters which require a team of players
- Exploration of large interactive super-structures with multi-part puzzle elements
- Epic, sweeping events which change entire server landscapes on activation.
Goals for future ship modules:
- Missile factories
- Greater missile variety (from rockets to torpedoes)
- Modified and alternate sized versions of all existing modules
- Beam weapons which fire from arrays instead of rotating hard points
- Hull repair cannons which can be used to support friendly ships
- Shield capacitors that allow you to actively reinforce shield coverage by "painting" new pixels during combat
- A module which can passively repair hull and armor by using energy
- Supporting modules for making ships faster and more maneuverable which aren't just engines
- Drone bays
- Hangar bays for small ships to land inside larger ships, perhaps even allowing the fabrication of fighters (pilot fabrication seems unlikely)
- Transporter pads for beaming crew between ships
The WTF Team
An ongoing collaboration between a group of very talented individuals. The team composition may change to fit the expanding needs of the game.
- Josh Hano (http://jhano.carbonmade.com/) - Artist responsible for some box art and all of the polished ship sprites
- Kahlief Steel - Artist responsible for the backdrops and animation particle sprites
- Bombadeer Studios (http://www.bombadeerstudios.com/) - awesome professional indie-friendly sound studio that made all of the FX I use.
- Chris Kukla (http://chriskukla.com/) - Responsible for the epic trailer score
Risks and challenges
I have budgeted and worked from the beginning to guarantee that the greatest risk in the production of the project is simply that it might not reach funding. That being said, there are still some technical challenges that will need to be overcome
Cheating. The game is multiplayer and the plan is that to allow community-hosted servers. That means someone might modify their clients in unfair ways which is difficult to prevent. So my hope is to give the community the tools to moderate itself. Server administrators will have the authority to choose who can play on their private server shards. If there are big issues with exploitation I will create a system for tracking the reputation of game clients.
Multiplayer scalability. While I’d love it if the platform supported hundreds of players on a single server, this is a very lofty goal, and I won’t be able to truly test server capacity until the closed alpha. For the time being I will focus on designing a game that is fun to play for between one and twenty players. If testing reveals the feasibility of supporting more players, this is something I will investigate.
- (30 days)