EXO ONE: Momentum-Based Exoplanetary Exploration
EXO ONE is a surreal, momentum-based, exoplanetary exploration game coming to Windows, developed mostly by myself (Jay Weston) under the studio name, Exbleative.
Players pilot an alien craft capable of manipulating the laws of gravity. Use a combination of gravity manipulation mechanics, rolling and gliding to build momentum and soar across a wide array of exoplanets. Follow the story of mankind's first, ill-fated mission outside the solar system.
EXO ONE has been described by some as "Kubrick's Tiny Wings" and "Journey meets 2001: A Space Odyssey". The gameplay mechanics are inspired by games like Tiny Wings (iOS), Journey (PS3), and Tribes Ascend (PC). Every aspect of the game is laser focussed towards delivering an entrancing, flowing and exhilarating feeling of movement across a range of utterly alien exoplanets.
Wind down and travel at your own pace. There are no challenges, time limits, wars or enemies.
As you traverse these planets, an otherworldly, reverberating, electric guitar-laden soundtrack plays, while a far-future historian narrates and presents clues as to what happened during humanity's first, ill-fated mission outside the solar system.
EXO ONE's story is told partly through the player's strange encounters on the surfaces of each exoplanet, and partly through a future-historian, who delivers smooth voice-over narration interspersed throughout the game.
Our pilot, flung to an unknown corner of the universe and utterly alone, has only the enigmatic alien structures on the horizon to aim for. Where they lead is up to the player to find out.
"In the early 21st century, mankind received a signal from a distant point in empty space, light-years from any star. The signal contained plans for an alien craft, which humanity soon built. We called it, 'EXO ONE', 'Exo' meaning 'external' or 'from outside', 'One' referring to the first craft of its kind.
During a regular trial run in a hidden, underground facility, the test-pilot inadvertently triggered a wormhole to open, pulling EXO ONE through to places unknown.
The alien technology was so advanced, humanity had barely begun to understand how the craft worked, its full potential and abilities were yet to be charted."
"The alien craft appeared to be a marvel of high efficiency, momentum-based transportation.
The outer shell was completely frictionless and seemingly impervious to harm, while somehow also highly malleable and able to change form. The craft could transform easily between a sphere and a disc, the former used to traverse the landscape, the latter to glide through the sky and maintain altitude.
A gravity drive enabled the pilot to shift between high gravity and low gravity. In high gravity mode, the craft becomes incredibly heavy, dropping out of the sky at great speed, or rocketing down hillsides. In low gravity mode, the craft was able to maintain momentum and speed, quickly racing up hillsides and launching off into the sky.
In combination, these forms of movement enabled EXO ONE to reach colossal speeds, reach great heights and cover vast areas in little time, and without any discernable power source.
These were just the first discoveries of what EXO ONE was able to achieve."
- It's all about the exhilaration of movement. Increase the gravity of EXO ONE to send it rocketing toward the ground, hitting a downslope to build energy before launching off hillsides and soaring into the air and through thunderclouds.
- A simple, yet evocative and mysterious story, told by voice-over narration. Players are left to contemplate strange and perplexing events as they move from planet to planet.
- 12 procedurally generated, endless, open alien worlds to traverse. Choose your own path, go in any direction. Landscapes are crafted for their beauty as well as their form, to allow maximum satisfaction of movement.
- A wide array of alien worlds, from terrestrial (desert, sand, rock) to water planets, to gas giants and more. Each has its own unique geology, providing you new, otherworldy playgrounds, with different landforms, atmospheres, skyscapes and other features.
- The mysterious craft that is EXO ONE. Master the movement, discover its quirks and uncover new abilities as you progress.
- Visually striking graphics, with vivid colors and dense atmospherics puts you right on the surface of space's wildest locations.
- A reverberating, ambient, and electric guitar laden soundtrack by Rhys Lindsay completes the meditative and entrancing experience of EXO ONE.
EXO ONE features fully 3D, procedurally generated planets as the star feature of the game.
Each planet consists of several biomes, mixed together to create subtle, but endless variation. Many planets also contain 'feature' locations that are placed by hand among the procedurally generated terrain.
Having worked as a photographer and 3D artist, I've worked on everything from low polygon racing tracks in the 90's to sprite-based characters to VR environments. As an HDRI photographer, I have worked with an 'image based lighting' pipeline, giving me a solid understanding of realistic lighting and physically based shaders.
Coming aboard the team is concept artist Tim McBurnie, who has worked at companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Blur studios, Relic Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast. Tim will be working with me to flesh out the remaining planets in EXO ONE.
Players will journey across 12 separate planets. Each is a new sight to behold, with its own unique set of features, weather, and geology.
Prepare for terrestrial planets, water worlds, ice worlds, tidally locked planets, gas giants and more!
We've left some room in planning for backer suggested planets, so this is an area we'd feel particularly happy to get backer feedback on!
The completed planets so far are:
A gentle and relaxing introduction into the worlds of EXO ONE, Sagan 4 features rolling hills, sweeping mountain faces and thunderclouds lit by a slowly setting sun. Mostly a desolate place, but there are still traces of life to be found...
On the opposite end of the color palette, Gnowee is dark, and frozen solid... Winds whip across its surface, driving high speed clouds through the sky, which EXO ONE can surf like waves.
EXO ONE wouldn't be complete without its signature, hypnotic, ethereal and reverbing electric guitar soundtrack, written by Rhys Lindsay.
Each planet features its own custom track to suit its personality and further bring the player into the alien environment.
While I've worked on the game on my own now for over a year, I've also had help from Rhys Lindsay with the game's soundtrack, and occasionally, with some sanity-saving coding help when I get stuck!
Tim McBurnie is also coming on to help with some planet concepting, and was kind enough to create the Rezzed poster I took to London. With these guys on board, the game development studio is called Exbleative.
I'll continue as the mostly sole developer, unless the game reaches 2 or 3x the campaign funding goal, in which case I may recruit someone else full or part-time.
Jay Weston - 3D Art, Code, Sound, Story.
EXO ONE's development is lead by myself. I write code, create the artwork, write the story and produce the sound. I have a 3D art and photography background, and worked as an artist then game designer in a AAA games developer (Ratbag) for 5 years before working as a photographer for over 10 years. I then joined forces with a former work colleague to create the zombie games, Class 3 Outbreak and Zombie Outbreak Simulator. Later, I created my first solo iOS title, Unknown Orbit. EXO ONE is my second (mostly solo) game.
Rhys Lindsay - Musician, Code Consultant
Rhys is crafting the hypnotic soundtrack for EXO ONE. He did the music for Class 3 Outbreak, Zombie Outbreak Simulator and Unknown Orbit, and has been programming in Unity/C# for over 5 years. He will also be helping me with some coding as required.
If you like the music in EXO ONE's trailers, check out Rhys' YouTube channel.
Tim Mcburnie - Concept Artist
Tim Mcburnie is a concept designer, illustrator and author based in Australia. He works in the French comic book market as well as animation and video games. His client list includes companies such as Editions Delcourt, Gunfire Games, Ankama, Blur studios, Blizzard Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast.
You can find Tim's amazing work on his website at www.timmcburnie.com
Full-time work on EXO ONE began early 2016, and since then, all basic systems have been implemented. I've perfected the gravity and gliding movement mechanics, and created numerous planets, including many prototypes and tests. From this point on, what remains is mostly content creation (planets, music, narration, story) and optimization.
I showcased the game at this year’s EGX Rezzed in London in the Leftfield collection with great success, and prior to that, at Australia's local AVCON Indie Games Room. The version I brought to Rezzed included the game intro, tutorial, first and second planets, complete with voice-over narration and other story elements.
We are asking for $35,000 to complete the core game, which includes 10 more planets, a similar number of music tracks, story refinement, concept art, and the voice over narration.
We have a number of stretch goals that, if met, will allow EXO ONE to further push the boundaries of representing highly varied, fantastical planets, atmospheres and generally improve quality in all areas. We will be unveiling stretch goals as we approach them, and plan to aim first and foremost for stretch goals that won't push project release dates back too far.
EXO ONE will be a predominantly digital-only reward campaign. As a mostly 1-man team, and in line with keeping things simple, we've opted to do minimal physical shipping to take as little time away from actual game development as possible.
We've tried to provide options, for example the print-it-yourself, high resolution poster files, to fill the physical gap. Most people living in a metro area can get posters printed very cheaply, and we feel this is a decent alternative.
Backer Preview Build
Currently at an early alpha stage, the backer build is included as-is, and is unoptimized. You may encounter bugs, frame rate issues and other problems that make this build unplayable for you, especially if you own an older computer. There are however quality options available to cater for a wider range of computer specs. It contains the intro, tutorial and first two planets.
You'll receive this at the end of the campaign in the event of successful funding.
Take part in backer polls during development to help influence things like planet types and other features that will go into the game.
Contains 1 song and one song variation per planet, provided in mp3 format.
Unlike the above alpha preview build, the beta is a mostly completed game, which requires testing and optimisation before the final game is released.
PDF Art Book
I'll will be working with the concept artist, Tim, to come up with the visual appearance of each planet prior to work commencing. This will include work such as thumbnail sketches, color studies and variations, and more detailed work ups, which finally inform the look of the in-game planet and the self-print posters.
Self Print Posters
This is a digital reward, a JPG file that you will use to print your own EXO ONE poster at home or at your local printer shop. Resolution will allow printing up to A0. We had a lot of positive feedback on the poster at Rezzed and I'm excited to do more!
Strange Sounds Tier
I'll work with you to come up with and record either your voice, a message, instrument or generated sound, 3 seconds maximum length. Must be an original recording.
You could submit one 3 second clip or a number for me to choose between. Without giving too much away of the story, most of these sounds will appear somewhat randomly, and could be quite heavily distorted.
Naming Rights Tier
Work with me to name one of the planets featured in EXO ONE. You choose the planet, and based on its characteristics and theme, we come up with a suitable name. The narrator will speak it's name! Included in the credits are a super special thank you letter for your support at this tier.
Increase your pledge by the following amounts to receive these add-ons.
Note - you must be at least an Early Bird reward tier level to gain access to add-ons.
- Downloadable "Rezzed" print-it-yourself poster
- Desktop wallpapers
- 12 self-print posters
- PDF Artbook
- Beta access (must be EXO ONE tier level or above)
- Extra copy of game
How do I get these add-ons, you ask?
Press the “Manage your pledge” button (top right). If you haven’t pledged yet it will say Back this Project. Increase your pledge in the Pledge Amount box by the amount of the add-on/s you would like. For example, say you’re an EXO ONE tier backer ($17), and want the pdf art book (+ $7.50). You’d increase your pledge to $24.50
Don’t change the tier you’re pledged at, unless you’d like to do so while on this screen.
After the end of the Kickstarter, you will receive a survey that will ask how you would like your add-on money assigned.
EXO ONE will be initially available on Windows to download on Steam (the game has been Greenlit). Other platforms, including consoles, Mac and Linux will be evaluated after the campaign and game's launch, and most likely in that order.
Want to help spread the word about EXO ONE? Thank you! Check out our Press Kit here for trailers, screenshots, press articles and more!
EXO ONE was recently selected from a record number of applicants to be part of the Leftfield Collection at EGX Rezzed in London.
EXO ONE was also selected to show in the Indie Games Room at one of Australia's biggest events for comics and video games, AVCON, in 2016.
"Tiny Wings, Journey and Kubrick collide in this sci-fi delight" - Edge
"... slip on the headphones and dive in, because this is something quite special.." - Mike Diver, Waypoint / VICE
"Exo One is a brilliant, desolate 3D Tiny Wings." - Philippa Warr, Rock Paper Shotgun
"EXO ONE is by turns serene, satisfying and surprisingly exhilarating." - Johnny Chiodini, Eurogamer
"A very different space experience comes in the form of EXO ONE, one of the most popular games in the always wonderful Leftfield Collection." - Jordan Erica Webber, The Guardian
"This feels SO great to play, nails that feeling of speed and momentum." - Terry Cavanagh, DistractionWare
"...you find yourself alone on some far-flung planet which I found stunning." - Joel Goodwin, Electron Dance
"An especially arresting game was the stunning race-to-the-horizon 3D endless runner thingy, EXO ONE. A bit difficult to describe, but great on the eyeballs" - Thomas Quillfeldt, Laced With Wax
EXO ONE appears in this month's edition of Edge Magazine as part of a 2-page preview!
Where to Find Us
Risks and challenges
Even for industry veterans, creating a game is a huge challenge, especially if the game is pushing the boundaries of gameplay or technology. Developers have to deal with a variety of risks. Here's how I'm dealing with each of them:
FINANCIAL RISK: I have self-funded and worked full time on EXO ONE since early 2016, and have traveled to show the game at events such as EGX Rezzed in London. I'm fully prepared to do whatever is necessary to reach completion. I wouldn't be asking for your support if I hadn't already invested my own time and money to create a fun and proven game (see the quotes above). With your help, I can begin working towards completion.
SCHEDULE RISK: The most common risk factor in any game. The completion date for Early 2018 is based on my experience having completed numerous planets already, with the core of the game now mostly complete. Should the game take longer than expected to complete, there is a chance that the release date will slip. If I feel this is necessary for the good of the game, I plan to be fully transparent with the reasons behind the decision and will notify backers to explain the situation.
FUN RISK: Having developed numerous prototypes in the past, I'm fully aware sometimes game concepts just aren't as fun as expected. However, having built out and polished the core gameplay loop for EXO ONE over the course of a year, and taken the game to two events locally and overseas, I can safely say gamers thoroughly enjoy playing.
Finally, while I live and work in the small city of Adelaide, I frequently meet and talk with other similarly sized indie developers who have successfully brought games to Steam, and often seek their advice. Furthermore, as a game made with Unity, the huge community of developers is a big help. I am in personal contact with the developers of plugins I'm using, and for anything else, I have the support of experienced developer, Rhys Lindsay among others.
Thank you for helping EXO ONE reach its full potential by backing my dream sci-fi, space exploration game!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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