Stardust Colonies - a uniquely AI-driven sci-fi RTS
Stardust Colonies - a uniquely AI-driven sci-fi RTS
A unique sci-fi RTS where you micro-manage both actions and emotions of your minions in order to colonise and defeat alien planets.
A unique sci-fi RTS where you micro-manage both actions and emotions of your minions in order to colonise and defeat alien planets. Read more
About this project
Gather resources, build up your base and complete mission objectives. Customise your mothership and choose between abilities that will challenge your morality.
The first 50 backers who pledge £14 or more can design their own in-game flag that will be used by other players!
- Complete mission objectives like building monuments, securing an area or defeating enemy bases
- Micro-manage your minions by assigning them to jobs they like and are good at
- Let your minions take a break to make them more effective at work
- Build light beacons to repel alien creatures that want to steal your resources
- Train soldiers to eliminate hostile aliens
- Take care of the basic needs of the colony: provide food, water, light, power
- Make your minions happy by creating beautifications and entertainment for them
- Customise your capabilities by buying and researching upgrades for your mothership using resources and intelligence gathered during missions
- Colonize side-quest planets to secure a stable resource income
- Procedural maps. Missions feel and look a bit different every time you play them
- Realistic fog of war, using only line of sight of units and buildings
- Good, evil or pragmatic? Become the kind of colonizator you want to be
- Show off your skills and achievements on an on-line profile
- Original 3D graphics
- Survival-style minimalistic user interface
It is year 4860 and gorgans have become a successful species of scientists and explorers. They use the lower lorkans for all physical work and manage to control them almost perfectly using long-range telepathy. Gorgans live off the Universe itself - they colonize untouched planets and use acquired resources to progress even further. As a Colonizator, you will be given a chance to create your own intergalactic empire by generating an income, researching technology and upgrading your mothership. You can become a generous and caring explorer of the vast space or a powerful and merciless ruler. Or something in between.
Every minion has its own job preferences and moods that affect how it performs at a task. For example, a minion might hate farming and it will make sure to let you know! Apart from responding to you grumpily, Its work will be slow and not efficient. It might not even work at all. On the other hand, another minion might love to breed. It will have many offsprings and deliver them in no time.
But individualised moods are not the only thing that makes Stardust colonies fun and new. Minions get tired, work very slowly and require more food until you let them rest. Managing their energy levels is as important as managing their moods.
The clock is ticking, food is running out, and more supplies are needed to complete the game objectives. Unless your farmers are efficient enough, you cannot gather enough food and your minions will start dying by hunger. The old ones will fall first, but the entire colony could die if you don’t attend to its needs and preferences. On top of that, there are alien organisms getting more and more curious about your base. The game play is a constant battle for survival and you can only succeed if you learn how to micro-manage both actions and emotions of your minions.
The final game will take you through a dramatic story-driven campaign full of surprises and moral choices. You start as a young Colonizator adept and soon build yourself up to get your own first planet. As you progress, you uncover your hidden past and learn dark truths about your species.
The game will give you research choices and options to upgrade your mothership, allowing you to craft your Colonizator capabilities. Do you research mind control, so that even unhappy minions obey you, or do you invest into happiness injections? Or do you invest into pub blueprints, so that minions can let some steam off from time to time?
There will be procedurally generated side objectives introduced to you along the main story line. Conquering some planets will provide you with a stable resource income that you can use to purchase unique upgrades and research ingredients.
OK, it all sounds cool, but who are you?
I come from the EU and currently live in Brighton, UK. I am currently working towards my PhD in swarm robotics at the University of Southampton. I also do freelance development, mostly Flash, to earn a bit of extra money. You can read more about my work on my website.
I am passionate about robots and games and wanted to create a successful game of my own since I finished my undergraduate degree in games development. No, sorry, let me correct myself: I wanted to create a successful game since I was 10. Along my path, this dream has been becoming more and more real and I feel that now it’s time to make this really happen.
During my bachelor and masters studies of artificial intelligence, I worked as a web / mobile app developer. I love programming as much as I love gaming. When I code, I am 'in the zone’ and I love the feeling of being enthusiastic about a project and seeing it come to life. I also like doing art, mostly writing poems but also drawing.
I previously created a shooter iPhone game ‘Alien Strike’ and released it on iTunes. I learned a lot from that experience, especially that a community around a game is really important and that agile iterative development is a way to go. I also gained a lot of experience in game and app development, project and time management, as well as in working with and managing other people during working in development studios. All these past experiences led me to a state where I know both my strengths and my limits and how to work with them.
The current state of the project
The current state of the game is a working Alpha 0.1.0 demo version (you can read its history here) that gives you around 3-4 hours of game play in the campaign mode and unlimited play of procedurally generated maps with randomised objectives. Anyone can download the game and play it for free on Windows. Try it now or watch some game play videos.
This version is strictly a game play demo. All graphics are very basic and provisional. Have a look at some of the screenshots:
Immediate plans towards Alpha 0.2.0
The entire graphics engine will be replaced in Alpha 0.2.0 to include 3D and to set the unique game mood. Your minions are trying to survive on a new, potentially hostile planet. The environments will be dark and scary and the player will gradually transform them into colonies full of life, colour and light. The GUI will also be replaced and more innovative - read more about it in my development blog. Improvements to the game play and cross-platform support are also a must.
I am planning to release the game on Steam, which I will use to fund my development further. The game will first be put on Steam Greenlight, a community where gamers vote for games that should be allowed on Steam. Once the game gains enough votes, it will be available as Early Access Alpha 0.2.0 version. This Kickstarter campaign is NOT about investing a lot of money and time into creating a full game. It is about getting the game to be good enough to be funded and developed on Steam, while a community of players is built around it to get valuable feedback. This means that you, Kickstarter backers will get a polished playable game sooner and will have the opportunity to see it grow.
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the following steps will be executed:
- Call for a 3D artist will be posted on Deviant Art and other art pages.
- Game refactoring process will start. This will involve implementation of 3D environments and day and night cycle. 3D building and units will be added when ready. Windows and MacOS will be supported by the new game application.
- When the basic looks of the game are done, it will be posted on Steam Greenlight.
- The menu system will be completely redesigned to create a natural flow from off-game RPG to real-time strategy. Read more about it here.
- Units will move slower in the dark. Illuminating work areas will become important.
- Creepy aliens. Build lamps to keep them away at night!
- The random map objectives will be revisited to create better challenges that last longer.
- Once the game is approved on Steam, work will start on Steam integration.
Plans for the future
There are many possibilities where this game could go and opinions of the player community are very important in making decisions. The current plans and ideas include:
- A Linux version is something that should happen in the early stages of development after 0.2.0 has been released on Steam
- Log in system and storing your progress on-line. On-line Colonizator profile page to show off your progress.
- You will have to generate power using power plants in order to support other buildings
- Need for water: apart from having farms for food, you will need to build water generators like pumps or atmospheric condensators
- Happiness boost buildings: adding decoration will make grumpy and lazy minions work better
- Training engineers who will periodically inspect buildings so that they don't break. They will also repair broken buildings.
- Building roads to speed up your units.
- Your minions can die of exhaustion if not let to rest for a long time
- Realistic fog of war - units cannot see behind their back, so a Colonizator who possesses their eyes shouldn’t either. However, buildings will provide a stable area of sight.
- In-game combat: on top of taking care of the economy and happiness, your task will also be to protect your colony from hostile organisms on alien planets
- Infectious mood: minions will affect each other's mood. Be careful or you might have a riot on your hands!
- Multi-player, initially in form of trading resources and research. Getting two (or more) players into the same map, playing against each other or together against time also sounds very exciting
What your money will go towards
- £6,500: Professional marketing
- £8,000: Much more polished AI and game play
- £10,000: More detail on the models and graphics
- £12,000: Non-Steam game client
- £13,000: Professional music and sound
- £14,500: Longer campaign in the initial alpha version
- £17,000: Campaign cutscenes
- £1,000,000: My own real spaceship!
Risks and challenges
I am an experienced game and web app developer and I have a lot of confidence in this project, especially as the game already has a lot of interesting content. During different stages of my career, I worked both as a solo developer and as a part of a bigger team. A couple of apps I worked on were released on iTunes or involved working with high-end clients from all over the world. What’s more important, I love games, especially strategy sci-fi games. All this means that I take pleasure in working on this and I can’t wait to share my ideas and my product with you fellow gamers.
HOW WILL I MANAGE FEATURE CREEP?
Committing to do too much and making a product a mess is always a danger, especially when a growing community of demanding players is being built. While I will try my best to carefully consider every new idea, I am planning on consulting a small team of Kickstarter backers in order to get opinions on what seems important. You can grab your chance to be a part of that team by backing up this project and getting either the Colonizator or the Mastermind Council membership.
WHAT IF THE GAME IS NOT GREEN-LIT ON STEAM?
Yes, this is a possibility. Admittedly, I am a programmer, not a marketing expert. There are three ways how we can avoid this risk: pledge more and tell your friends. My first stretch goal is to get professional marketing help. Secondly, don’t forget the Greenlight process yourself! As a Kickstarter supporter, you will be notified when the game is posted on Steam so that you can vote for it and tell your friends. If we will all do our small part, we can get many more people interested and voting for the game. Currently, games on Steam remain in the voting process until they are green lit. The process might take longer, depending on the interest we generate, but the game will not be taken down from Steam. Finally, if there is interest from non-Steam players and enough funding, the game will also be released as a stand-alone application.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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