Robotic Arm, Beta Status Update, and a Publisher
In the last update I mentioned adding a new "tool" for the astronaut. Well, here it is: a mobile robotic arm attachment (seen here lifting a small rock):
When the arm is deployed, the player goes into first-person view and the movement controls are then used to manipulate the arm. The device will have several functions in the game, especially in regards to solving puzzles that require reaching up high...
There is also a "Claw-Cam" mode that allows the user to get a closer view of the object they are interacting with:
The addition of the robotic arm came from my desire to add some depth to the puzzles and to give the astronaut a few more "tricks" than he would otherwise have at his disposal. The astronaut is not capable of the gymnastic moves of say a Laura Croft or Nathan Drake (it wouldn't make sense). But with his jet-pack, and now the robotic arm, I think there is a well-balanced and unique set of gameplay mechanics for the player character.
New Beta Goal: By End of February
As I'm writing this on the last day of January I can safely say we've missed the target release for the beta. However, the last two weeks have been extremely productive and I expect to share an early build of the "beta test level" in the next few weeks. There's still a good bit I need to do to get there, but my workflow and productivity has improved greatly (I'm not just learning game design but also the process of developing such a large project).
Some of the things I've accomplished since the last update include adding a new third-person camera rig (so you can control the camera angle with the mouse), adding a headlamp function, setting up rag-doll physics for deaths, and adjusting the jet-pack functionality. I've also updated the astronaut model by making him a bit less chubby and a little more realistic. Believe it or not, he only had three fingers and a thumb in the trailer! (Early designs for the game were a bit more arcade-like, and I simply hadn't gone back and updated the model to reflect the more realistic flavor the game had evolved.) Finally, as you can see from the robotic arm photos above, I've got Aelita animated and navigating her way around the test level.
Lifeless Planet has a Publisher!
Oh yeah, and last week Stage 2 Studios signed a worldwide publishing deal with Lace Mamba Global. This means Lifeless Planet will be showing up in boxed form on retail shelves across Europe, Australia, and hopefully the US! This is a huge development for the game as it means more resources to make a more polished game (but don't worry, I'm still indie, and I haven't sold ownership of the project). I'll have a more formal announcement on this soon.
I finally received one of the figurines yesterday and it looks great!
The photo really doesn't do it justice...holding this in your hand is quite amazing. It's a cool world we live in to think you can email someone a 3D model and they "print" a real, tangible object like this. In fact, I think I'm going to offer these for sale at some point...so if you didn't pledge for one you may still get your hands on a figurine.
Sitting in front of the computer for hours on end is not good for your health. Thankfully we have a couple of interrupters who make sure I take occasional breaks to play fetch. Meet Neptune and Panda, our adopted blue-eyed Husky/Rottweiler pups from the Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue: