“It’s like Oregon Trail meets Alpha Centauri with some slightly depressing Sim City thrown in.” - Greg @ Cliqist.com
Starting from classic city builders of the genre, Terminus takes the terrifying leap into the frontier of space where every new game and new colonization effort bring a wildly different experience on a new, procedurally generated planet.
You are the administrator of the colony and it's your mission to keep humanity going by any means possible. Colonists are mouths to feed, supplies are dwindling and almost everything is non-renewable.
Plan for long term growth while dealing with short-term crises, survey and exploit planet-side resources faster than you can use them up, perform critical research to offset the difficulty of living off-world and issue colony-wide directives to shape the growth of the only home of humanity, keep the old ways of thinking alive or forge a brave new world.
Earth is doomed, we know it, you know it, your neighbour knows it. In Terminus everybody knows it because astronomers spot tremendous amounts of impact events on the outskirt of the solar system. First Pluto is pummeled, then we can see the surface of Neptune and Uranus deluged by extrasolar rock. It's determined by the data that an immense cloud of debris is intersecting our solar system and that every planet, moon and asteroid will be scoured by impact.
Knowing the end is coming decades ahead of time allowed the people of Earth plenty of opportunity to panic. It was only after years of political and social chaos that a plan was hatched, the Terminus Project, the last option for a doomed civilization.
With the Earth expected to turn slightly molten within the century, mankind no longer felt the need to preserve it and so all restrictions on industry, pollution and most international treaties were dissolved or ignored. Every industrial effort on the planet was turned towards constructing the components of the starship that would be needed.
Entire states and provinces became foundries, Australia became the launching pad for nuclear rockets, little more than a pallet of cargo on-top of a steel plate with a nuclear bomb underneath. It was enough to get it into orbit and added to the 8,000,000 tonne "Super Orion"-inspired ship that would take as much of humanity as possible to the stars.
Terminus plays like a city-builder, as administrator you determine what buildings should be built and where, what parts of the planet to survey or clear for development, what research to perform to improve efficiency, and what social decisions to make to guide growth, or stifle chaos.
Terminus isn't just a sedate city-builder however, disaster management is a critical and integrated component of its gameplay. Things go wrong in space and on other planets, and when they go wrong they can turn catastrophic. You're not just designing a city that operates in the most efficient way possible, every decision made has to be made with "What about if things go wrong?" in the back of your head because things WILL go wrong.
Fire is deadly in space and the same is true in the closed environment of a colony, fire can spread from one building to another, killing people inside, damaging the building itself or causing a hull breach. Fire isn't the only thing that spreads, biological hazards, disease, electrical disturbances, air-loss, every building is linked and you're in charge of the links. Sometimes you have to seal an area off if you expect to keep the colony as a whole alive, but that building you just sealed off was the agricultural dome and people are starting to ask about food... but depending on the planet you pick, at least there might be plenty of water.
Terminus is built on a modern interpretation of the 'roguelike' model: Each new game should result in a different planetary environment which presents new challenges and altered gameplay. Every game of Terminus will start the same way with the player outfitting their starship 'Oregon Trail' style and picking a planet to attempt to colonize. If during your playthrough you want to take a break you can save and pick up the same session later, but if all the colonists die... well, that's game over, you'd have to try again on a new planet, or reload the random seed that created the planet you were just on if you want to try a different approach.
As an avid game player I have seen countless awesome games fall totally flat as soon as the 'optimal strategy' is discovered. I adhere to the Sid Meier' philosophy of games being a series of interesting decisions and so for each and every situation the player finds themselves in we are very careful to make sure that each choice has value and cost and is dependent on the situation in the colony. Choices such as during crisis events or on the research screen are going to have the most time spent on them for balancing and playtesting since it's so critical to the game's longevity. We aren't going to muddy things up for the player either, we're going to try to display as much information as possible in tooltips, Europa Universalis style so the player can weigh their choices carefully. Losing colonists to random accidents sucks and is annoying, but losing colonists because of a choice you made, even if it was for the greater good... that's what we're trying to achieve.
When I was a young lad playing the original Outpost, I was entranced and mesmerized by the theme and story of the game, even the mechanics were obscure and... non-optimized. I want to try to maintain that potential for a young boy or girl to pick up Terminus and be able to understand and experience the imagined scenario of space colonization. That said, Terminus is going to be the game *I* want to play as well, and for that I want a challenge! The game will be designed and balanced around the idea of a high difficulty, similar to the 'normal' mode of FTL: Faster Than Light. Most playthroughs should NOT end in victory, the joy after all is often in the fresh slate and starting anew. I know I enjoy the first few hundred turns of Alpha Centauri better than the last hundred, so Terminus will try to live in that space, that first few hundred turns of try, fail, try, succeed.
Real Time Strategy? What about turns?
I don't think there's any complexity lost with a real time game versus a turn based one - anyone who's played Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron can agree with that! Terminus will be real time but pausable, after all it's not about how fast you can make your decisions but how intelligently you can make them and how far you can think ahead to the consequences.
The soundtrack is one of the most important things for any sci-fi, and so special attention is being paid to the quality and theme of Terminus music. The composition for Terminus is being created by the talented Christopher Orgeron following an Industrial/Mechanical/Synth blend. Below you can listen to "Cellotrome Branches" a piece composed specifically for Terminus.
A catalog of Chris' styles and instrumental range can be found in his Scoring Samples Soundcloud page.
Buildings are the most vital elements of the colony; buildings consume power, resources and they refine or produce materials in addition to performing some vital function in your colony such as housing or research. Buildings have more attributes than some RPG characters, with health, resistances to damage types and adjacency bonuses that encourage building your colony intelligently, but don't build too compactly because of...
Every building in the colony is connected, most buildings have human workers and all of them are vulnerable to one form of disaster or another. Some buildings are reinforced or naturally durable against fire or earthquake but might be vulnerable to the spread of disease, while other buildings might be resistant to power grid disruption but have incredibly weak skin and are prone to hull breaches, which, depending on the planet you're on, have immediate and dire consequences for any colonists inside. The list of planned environmental effects are:
Fire - Does equal damage to buildings and colonists, spreads very rapidly to adjacent buildings (unless sealed) Has a chance of causing hull breaches, requires oxygen to exist, so can put itself out quite rapidly.
Earthquake -Does significant one-time damage to vulnerable buildings, rarely hurts colonists. Can cause hull breaches and fires in rare cases.
Atmospheric Disturbance -Can cause electrical disruption or cause hull breaches or both depending on the atmosphere.
Electrical Disruption - Spreads from building to building causing reduced efficiency, does not hurt colonists.
Biohazard/Biological -Spreads from building to building, kills colonists but doesn't damage buildings
Meteorite Impact -Causes damage to buildings, may cause hull breach. Larger impact events can wipe out multiple buildings.
Riot & Colonist Events -Escalates resource shortages into crises and reacts to population pressure, policy choices. The result of populist pressures.
Technology is the best tool and survival mechanism humanity has on Earth and the same is true off-world. Research Laboratories and Hazardous Experiment Labs can be constructed and operated by colonists. You can only one run research project at a time no matter how many labs you build, but the more you have and the more scientists you have inside them the faster your research progresses.
Research can unlock new buildings, enhancements to existing buildings or divergent building classes, luxury residences compared to reinforced residences. Research projects allow you to predict disasters or respond to them more effectively, even providing access to the...
Crisis Response Emergency Workers (CREW)
An elite team of disaster management professionals, the CREW are rescue workers, engineers and a SWAT team all rolled into one. Once unlocked from research the CREW can be deployed to any building during a crisis, once there they can attempt to save the building, save the people, or simply try to scavenge as many materials as they can from the structure before it goes up in smoke. The CREW are a vital and active tool to keep your colony going, no matter if they're sealing a hull breach, cleaning up a toxic waste spill or quelling a riot, the CREW is the first and best option for dealing with a situation going out of control. But there's a lot you can do before it gets that bad, by using...
Government and centralized control is necessary more than ever when the only thing between humanity and extinction is a steady hand on the airlock control ready to make the decision to sacrifice a few lives to save the species. Directives shape your colony and allow you to do everything from starting mineral surveys, deploying temporary damage control, instituting temporary rationing measures all the way to colony wide policy decisions.
Policy decisions are unlocked by research and are mutually exclusive within their own category. For example when it comes to the "Disaster Response" category you can choose between "Evacuation Procedures" which helps reduce colonist casualties, or you can elect to go with "Facility Inspection" which gives all buildings a better resistance against damage, or maybe you want to reduce the time it takes your CREW to get to the site of a disaster? It all comes down to your colony design, the nature of the planet and the other choices you've made.
The Big Picture
All of these elements taken together create a tight, complex but easily understood game with tonnes of replayability. Besides the big-picture base building and the fine-focus disaster management the game also offers the reflection and imagination that science fiction provides so well. The variety of landscapes and design of the growing colony will of course be aesthetically pleasing, but for the curious player there will also be an opportunity to read in-game descriptions for each building and research project, the story of Terminus being told through the historical and fictional quotes added to each description, descriptions which are written with scientific accuracy in mind, following reality as close as possible while allowing for the theoretical.
The primary audience, the people who would get the most out of Terminus are the enthusiasts, the gamer who loves games for the challenge, because Terminus will be very challenging by default, but Terminus is intended to be a game suitable for anyone to play, of any age who are interested in the kind of setting and science that the game offers and difficulty can scale down for a slower paced game as much as it can scale up to offer a traumatically accurate portrayal of the difficulty of colonizing another planet.
Why we're crowd-funding
Terminus is a game we want to make and we
think the game is a solid one, so we're bringing it to you so
you can get in on the ground floor and help this game exist.
If we don't reach our funding goals that won't stop us from trying to
make the game, but we'll be missing crucial pieces of the puzzle;
people, skills, licenses, assets... We're working with a fixed funding
model so if we're even a dollar short of what we're asking for, everyone
gets their pledge refunded.
From game industry professionals to 30 year programming veterans to being involved in putting actual, physical man-made objects on other planets, our team is quite diverse and comes from a broad, multidisciplinary background.
15% 3d Art Assets (Game Models)
8% Music Composition and Sound Effects
7% 2d Art Assets & Concept Art
10%-12% Backer Rewards
8% Business Expenses, Licenses, Fees and Taxes
5% Kickstarter Fee
3-5% Payment Processor Fee
Reach us on twitter @Harbourgames or email us through Kickstarter!
Risks and challenges
With all games there is the possibility of delay. For Terminus development our goal is game quality, and if our release date arrives and the game is not ready to ship, we will use our communication channels to dialogue with our backers and the public, explain the obstacles and challenges we are experiencing, and ultimately produce a more polished game.
Beyond our control there might be delays in shipping physical backer rewards, but we`ll keep on top of it and keep our backers updated every step of the way.
We were planning on keeping our stretch goals fairly modest, since the core of the game is covered by the amount we're asking for. But as we move forward we'll add several stretch goals with details describing how we would like to have more planet variety, more planet types as well as more music.
We're taking advantage of the built in shaders, physics and other tech in Unity to produce and iterate quickly, letting us leap over traditional obstacles to game development and get things done fast, with plenty of shine on features.
Colonist Tier: Two digital copies of the game plus high-quality PDF of the "Art of Terminus" art book containing concept art pieces, sketches, game-assets, commentary and discussion from the designer and the artists. Also the "Building Better Worlds" PDF containing design and programming discussion from the developers. A must for aspiring designers! Plus all previous tiers.
Surveyor Tier: Digital, high-res poster of Terminus art, as well as alpha and beta access to the game. You also receive the opportunity to vote on game features to help guide development. Plus all previous tiers.
Councillor Tier: Physical, printed poster of Terminus art to put on the wall, signed by your choice of design team member if you so choose, as well as six digital download copies. Plus all previous tiers.
Architect Tier: A physical disc with Special Edition art on the jewel case. Jewel case can be signed by your choice of team member. Your name added with "Special Support" in the credits. Plus all previous tiers.
Commissioner Tier: Lithographed concept art, signed (if you choose) by the artist as well as hard-cover book prints of "Art of Terminus" and "Building Better Worlds" featuring concept art, game art and developer commentary on the design process. Plus all previous tiers.
Administrator Tier: Share a meal or drink with the lead designer anywhere within 200km of Vancouver, Canada plus a 3d printed model of the colony ship or building of your choice. Plus all previous tiers.