Survival, Crafting, Drones, and Weapons
as Proven Lands is sort of a unique Don’t Starve in space (and in 3D), things like survival, crafting, drones and weapons are an important part. Let's talk about it for a minute.
Survival is our strongest concept. While playing Dungeon Crawl, Project Zomboid and Don’t Starve, I was missing a sci-fi survival game for years, so ultimately I started to do my own.
But what does survival mean? In Proven Lands it starts with a stranded astronaut -- you. You fight hunger, thirst, strange animals, weather and even the nature itself. Sand storms (those strange clouds in the pre alpha demo) are just the beginning. You will have an airlock in the beta, for real-science reasoning, such as oxygen. Give the pre alpha demo a try, attempt to survive for a few days. Right at this moment you’re still able to eat everything with your helmet on (for demonstration reasons) but because we aim to be a hard sci-fi game in the future you’ll have to take off your helmet first before you can eat anything. I deactivated this feature because we’re lacking an airlock 3D asset, to be honest. Your initial spacesuit is weak and old. However you’ll need an armored one to survive against stronger animals and armed aliens later on – oh, and you’ll need better weapons than an axe, that’s for sure.
As soon as you’ve mastered the first terrain biome (desert), there is plenty to discover such as steppes, savannah like environments, forests, big rivers, caves and different planet types such as ice or volcano - each filled with tons of items and characters. The AI game master will watch your influence in a region so after some time more intelligent animals, and perhaps even aliens will start to attack you. First off though we start with simple alien villagers and introduce you to a rather basic storyline. And, because it’s a sci-fi survival game, build devices, smaller machines, factories and before you basically upgrade your “camp” to a small one-man outpost -- similar to an advanced camp in Don't Starve, just deeper, bigger, and more sci-fi.
You may ask why you should play planet after planet in the long term? Shortly after the crash your goal is to survive. But your main goal is to build a jumpgate in order to jump to the next planet. Your human spaceship was slow compared to those alien jumpgates you’ll discover on your journey - you can even jump back and forth between solar systems. Why to jump? For a neat major story reason. This is the part where it becomes more and more epic due to different alien races, cultures and trade nodes. What is a jumpgate? A jumpgate is an orbital ship which is sort of a spaceship with a big jumpgate device. Even if you craft your first jumpgate modules, you need to find a way to bring it into orbit!
Another obvious feature of Proven Lands is crafting (see demo). The crafting system is already there. It’s influenced by Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Each item has 1 “type” module and 6 “extra” modules. Extra modules are for armor, power cells, shielding, special abilities, incredients or decoration. For instance a knife: tool base + short steel blade; or a bio scanner: tool chassis + biology level 1 scanner; or a M1 Abrams tank with a scanner: car base + kevlar-uranium armor + smoothbore gun + turbine engine + bio lvl 1 scanner. Aliens craft items depending on the planet's resources. Oh and don’t forget to dismantle alien items, you may actually discover new modules and tech (because I love the old XCOM/UFO). Those modules are the “advanced resources” which you can craft, sell and buy as well. Each alien village has its own “modules” to trade. So, you do not only trade or craft readymade items like in most games. You do craft and trade the basic resources such as “ore” or “wood”, advanced resources such as “cpu” or “battery” and finally the crafting result itself “fancy beam laser +20”.
Some stated that the first weapons are rather boring. Axes? Knifes? Shovels? Yes! But this is just the beginning for a forklift driver who stranded on a hostile planet. Even if you find your first laser guns, the navigator, the scanner – all of their accessible functions and features depend on your knowledge level (see “Knowledge” screen in the demo). We’ll have plenty of advanced laser weapons in the game but drones as well which are probably more important than a laser in the long run.
Drones and AI behavior
What does “drone” mean, actually? Well, I think that drones are underrated in sci-fi. Drones are not just robots. In Proven Lands many things such as mining, farming and even logistics are based around drones depending on your knowledge and resources. The reasons for such a game design move – which is a bit different to the common sci-fi movie and story with big ships and a brave crew – is that I expect to see far more drones in the real-life future within the next 50 years. You may even use drones as weapons. Some drones are intelligent, some of them might even grow an own will and fight against you. But how does it work technically? Imagine that each character in Proven Lands shares quite the same variety of moods, traits and ambitions as your main character does. This is how our engine works. So a drone is just a character with the trait “drone” which leads to special abilities - also influenced by Crusader Kings 2, actually. I hope you see the potential and notice what we’ve achieved within 6 months. If you take a closer look at those aliens in the last demo version for example, you’ll even notice that they already patrol over areas. Soon they will chop down trees, hunt each other or gather resources (for no other particular reason than hunger, for now), and drones will do the same. If you come too close to an animal’s “hatch” or “tribe”, they will attack and hunt you down - even by night. I hope you see that we do such things step by step, slowly but surely. The beta (release this year, 2014) will truly be unique.
Shout Out Time
Path to the Sky by dek -- A procedurally generated platformer/roguelike fusion. You are a force knuckle pilot and propel yourself towards the Sky through aerial combat. The higher you manage to climb, the harder the enemies and challenges will become.
Ashen Rift -- Ashen Rift is a first person survival horror game for PC, Mac and Linux that places you and your canine companion Bounder in a barely recognizable Earth which has been twisted and drained of almost all life. Together you seek to stop the remaining life from hemorrhaging Earth by disabling the "Rift" rumoured to be the cause.