Congratulations, backers! You’ve now unlocked the first stretch goal,Origins of Jack! Players will now be able to choose from several background stories for Jack’s origin. Each story impacts his look and special skills. Some even include unique perks that affect the gameplay! So which background will you choose as Jack’s roots: an infamous pirate, a lost child raised by aliens, or one of several other options? Let us know!
Now let’s talk about the new stretch goal for Exoplanet: First Contact.
In many modern RPGs companions are a standard feature, but sometimes it can be annoying to manage and control them. Some developers go even further and make interacting with companions and completing their personal sidequests an important part of the core gameplay that cannot be avoided if you wish to get the “good” ending. We at Alerstam think that all of the game’s features should be enjoyable and not punish the player for avoiding some activities they are not so fond of.
In Exoplanet all of the companions activities are completely optional and in fact there is a special achievement called “Lone Wolf” for completing the game without using their help. They may still appear in some quests on their own behalf, but if you would rather walk the lonesome road and like quiet moments of solitude - then just leave them at your ship to do the daily chores. Or don’t even invite them aboard in the first place. You are the captain after all.
Just me and my buddy vs K’Tharsis
We decided to limit the number of companions you can take with you on a mission to one person. It was a hard decision to make, but this limitation is a result of our experience playing many other action RPG’s. We also took into consideration what the companion should bring to Exoplanet’s core gameplay in order to be valued by players, to be seen as a friend but not expendable NPC you can easily replace. On one hand, we want to give the player good company, a buddy to talk to and help on his journey. On the other hand, we are trying to exclude boring micromanagement and don’t want to implement the standard “party” mechanics. The companion is your sidekick, your Robin. In Exoplanet the bond between the hero and his companion is stronger, it is more intimate than in the “party based” games because our companions are designed to be unique and contribute to your gameplay experience in many fields.
How to get yourself a companion
Watch out for quests and try to be be charismatic and patient. In your adventures on K’Tharsis, you will inevitably meet many interesting personalities: humans, aliens and other creatures that you can convince to become members of your crew and live on your spaceship mobile base. Some of them are cut out to be your sidekicks and can follow you everywhere you go, provided you help with different activities according to their specialization.
What can a companion do?
First of all, he or she (or it) will be a valuable asset to your crew, providing unique passive bonuses to your mobile base. Some companions will increase the ship’s defences or travelling speed, others will help to manage supplies or craft and improve your equipment, some will help you to find or avoid random encounters etc.
When you take a companion on a mission, he will provide you his unique skills to aid you in combat or other gameplay aspects. For example, one will help you negotiate by adding a couple of lines to the dialogue. One half of a war is fought with words. The other will break into locks on doors and containers that you aren’t able to break into by yourself. The third is a real “animal whisperer” who can calm down wild beasts or redirect their attack onto other enemies. These are just a few examples of the additional options your companions will unlock.
Your buddies have a personality, their own beliefs, desires and fears, so they will also react to your decisions and situations you will encounter, sometimes giving a sharp comment or even taking part in dialogues. Be careful: some companions will not tolerate certain courses of action. Luckily, they will give you a warning before leaving your side, so if for example you are really determined to burn down that aborigine village, just be sure to pick the right companion for the job or face the possibility of getting rebuked by others. Don’t test your leadership capabilities too much though, or one day you could face a revolt.
How to command your companion
We want to make the typical interaction with the companion easy and contextual, limiting them to literally pressing one button that is called “Command companion”.
Point at the cover and they will take it. Point at the enemy and press the key - and the companion will attack him using all his means. If you want a special attack or interaction then hold the button and choose available actions from a radial menu. Point at the cover and they will take it. Point at the interactive item to command your companion to pick it up or use it. The button in the menu will set the combat mode of the companion (defensive or offensive, melee or ranged combat, enable activation of special attacks at will). You can always change these settings on the fly.
Meet the space biker Vasily Volkov: A companion born to be a badass.
Vasily’s Short Biography
Vasily was born on Volf’s Stone, an airless massive planet with 1.6G gravity that exports only 2 products: uranium and military recruits. Since he was not fond of the idea of spending his entire life mining radioactive ore and looking up at the metal skies of underground cities, Vasily enlisted in the Terran Alliance Marines at age 16 by hacking into his boarding school’s database and adding a couple of years to his real age. The recruits from Volf’s Stone were always welcome in Alliance’s military service thanks to their exceptional physique and psychological endurance. Usually no one dares to direct questions about age at the guy who can bend a crowbar with his bare hands.
In fact, if Vasily had stayed on his home planet he would never grow over 5 feet and 200 lbs due to the high gravity and heavy labor in mining operations. Freed from the hard embrace of his homeworld and thanks to the genetic modifications typical for all inhabitants of the Stone, he grew at tremendous rate and at 18 was the biggest grunt in his platoon, carrying a heavy machine gun with ease, like his comrades did with their standard issue recoilless assault weapons. Vasily saved the lives of his comrades many times and was revered and respected by his mates and superiors.
25 years later, a decorated veteran, sergeant Volcov, who fought through the entire Human-Orha war and survived, was about to retire and spend the rest of his life as a revered citizen of on one of the Core Worlds. His last combat mission was the beginning of the Tartaros sector conflict. We do not know what happened to his platoon or his leg nor why he preferred to remain Missing In Action and finally settled on K’Tharsis.
Since his “retirement” Vasily began to drink like there’s no tomorrow and build custom hoverbikes during his short periods of soberness that were always filled with black melancholia. The only thing that could give him some temporary relief was riding alone in the desert. He found himself fascinated by the vast expanse of the K’Tharian plains and roamed free under the double suns and countless stars at night. Maybe he will share these stories, if you manage to successfully complete his personal quest line.
A fun fact about Vasily: Mr Volkov has a genetic augmentation that allows his digestive system to convert pure alcohol into adenosine triphosphate. He can literally “fuel” himself with booze! In order to get properly drunk he needs to consume a dose of ethanol that would be lethal to any normal human. That is why he is unrivaled in drinking competitions.
Vasily’s Unique Equipment
“Grizzly Mk III” exoskeleton combat suit. Vasily’s old military grade spacesuit provides him with excellent protection against kinetic weapons and environmental hazards. It also has some cool airbrushed graphics, decals, and mean face mask. The backpack contains a significant amount of C2H5OH as emergency supply storage.
“The Road Warrior” is a triple barreled, eight-gauge sawed off shotgun, Vasily’s favorite sidearm that he never leaves at home. The recoil is so strong that it could break the wrists of a normal man. Just as Vasily likes it. The real life prototype was produces by Chiappa Firearms.
The eight-gauge version owned by mister Volkov turns unarmored raiders into heaps of shredded meat and can blow up a hoverbike with one well-placed shot. The downsides are the low reload speed, rather poor accuracy, and expensive ammo.
Vasily is a front liner and a “tank”-type character. He knows that you will use him as a meat shield and does not object to such tactics. In fact, when he closes his helmet and remembers his war days, he becomes a different man, fierce and merciless, enjoying the destruction and death he causes. Send him into the fray and he will not hesitate to get his hands dirty, taking advantage of his extraordinary physical capabilities and performing amazing moves such as:
Mighty Headbutt - Vasily's unique melee combat move: a targeted strike with his head that stuns larger enemies and knocks smaller on the ground unconscious.
Living Battering Ram - for a man of his size Vasily can move amazingly fast if needed. Once in a while he charges and bodyslams crates and other small cowers destroying them and leaving enemies defenceless. As you probably already guessed, charging at the small opponent sends him flying. Larger humanoids and creatures hit by the Living Battering Ram could stay stunned for a while so you can take your time and score a good headshot on them.
Angry Throw - our big friend can grab and throw large objects like barrels, gas canisters, or crates at enemies which are too heavy for Jack to lift. Using the advanced levels of this skill Vasily can even grab small (in his case that means - any normal humanoid) enemies and launch them at their friends. Another way includes strapping a hand grenade to the poor guy’s ass before launching him.
Every companion contributes to Jack’s cause in different fields, e.g. Vasily provides following bonuses:
Talented Mechanic - Having Vasily on your ship increases the speed of ship’s repair and upgrades significantly. All hoverbike chassis, parts, and upgrades you might buy get a discount in shops.
A Man Has His Needs - The ship gets regular free shipments of booze for its mess and you will find Vasily’s secret stashes with a bottle or two, saved for a rainy day in the most unpredictable places. In the field, the alcohol he consumes provides Vasily with adenosine triphosphate for his impressive muscles and also improves his mood. Being slightly drunk, Vasily deals 20% more damage in melee. But be careful and don’t let him drink too much - he might become melancholic and lose his focus.
Volcov’s Custom “Fury” - Our tough guy is a skilled mechanic, probably the best on K’Tharsis, and has a knack for making intuitive inventions. He built this masterpiece of a bike using parts from other vehicles, devices, and even spaceships to fit his personal taste. Vasily has always had a taste for more horsepower, stronger armor, and bigger guns. His hoverbike is faster than other models and more durable when it comes to ramming into something. The unique feature of this amazing ride is an armored sidecar equipped with 2 machineguns. Jack can hop into it and shoot the raiders while enjoying the highest degree of safety a hoverbike can offer. Gameplay-wise that means you will steer the bike and have a 360 degree fire sector for the main caliber. No other bikes can provide this. Vasily is irreplaceable in driver seat though - this is his personal bike and no one else is allowed to touch the handles, no exceptions even for his captain.
So if you wanna have a strong shoulder to support you in combat, win a race or just shoot some raiders in the desert, take Vasily as your companion and show them the meaning of being pawned!
We hope that you like our concept of companions and we will reach this new stretch goal together to be able to use Vasily’s strength as well as findin other unique friends who will accompany us in our journey on the wild planet K’Tharsis.
Check out Exoplanet’s Main Theme music WIP and let us know what you think of it!