This week, we focused on the Game Design of Bio Colonies. Additionally, we continued working on the UI.
We spend a day intensively planning the Game Design. Of course, we had an idea of what game we want to create, but as we’re getting closer to the public demo version, we wanted to specify more details and get the team focused on one idea. As Game Design is a very broad term, let’s take a look at the details.
Note: Before you read on, keep in mind, that all of this is just work in progress. We’re still Pre-Alpha and nothing here is final!
First of all, we wanted to specify how the game should be played. We’re creating Bio Colonies because we wanted a new RTS game, which isn’t focused on actions per seconds, but rather on overall strategy and base building.
We split our vision for the gameplay into multiple parts:
The main focus for Bio Colonies will be base building. There are many different aspects to it. The main parts are resource mining and processing, microbe production, research, unit construction, and energy supply. As we don’t have global “teleporting” resources, all of these will provide a unique logistical challenge to the player.
To solve these problems, we’ll provide the player with various different cells (buildings) and means to automate processes. The heart of the base will be a big factory consisting of different modules.
Of course the main way to interact with another player is battle. Both players (usually) have the same possibilities, but they can decide on different strategies. If they choose to play defensively, it will be a bit like a Tower Defense game. The base needs to be protected against threats, mainly by setting up walls, building and supplying turrets, and similar. When a player actively attacks, they’ll be able to use microbes as main damage dealer against the defenses and other units to support and add tactics.
Additionally, players can have different relations to each other, and potentially even trade. This might even be necessary, if some resources are only available on certain parts of the map.
The main factor to make every game feel unique is the environment. Either pre-build in the scenario, or randomly generated. The player usually doesn’t know about the entire world due to the fog of war. They need to explore the world by extending their base and using radar-like units. In the world, the player can find different structures, like biomes, mountains, caves, and resources batches. All of these can and should be used as advantage.
Last, we want the player to be able to choose their strategy. With the planned DNA system, they’ll be able to adapt their research tree and unlock certain units. This means that different players often have slightly different loadout.
However, we’ll take a close look at possible positive feedback loops, making the stronger player even stronger without the possibility of others catching up. We don’t want players to feel like the game has already been decided after the first 2 minutes.
Next topic is the world design. In what world does Bio Colonies take place?
It was quite surprising to see very different opinions in the team and we noticed that we lacked a clear vision until now. In the original idea, we wanted the game to simply “take place inside the human body”. It turned out that we can do so much more…
In the end, we came up with a world approximately 80 years in the future. Medicine is highly advanced and normal diseases are extremely uncommon. AI has become sentient and quite intelligent. Humanity managed to start colonizing the first extraterrestrial objects.
But then, an event happened which would change the world and start the story of Bio Colonies. We won’t spoil it for now, but stay tuned! (Don’t blindly trust the main page anymore, it’ll be completely overhauled within the next weeks)!
We also took a look at the asset design. Basically, how the game should feel, look, and sound like. We came up with a few different ideas and we want to portray a feeling of a highly technological world merging with the biological world. Overall, with a slightly depressive undertone, but still hopeful for the future!
We’ll be able to show what we mean by that exactly in the near future when we implement the first graphics and sounds.
Finally, we wanted to plan what the first public alpha should contain. Which elements, cells, microbes, resources, and so on. However, we’ll go into much more detail about this in the upcoming weeks. Check back in a future blog post.
We also continued with the implementation of the UI, which we wrote about in the last Research Log. In detail, all menus are finished and only the HUD is missing.
For now, we’re using the deprecated but open-source MarkLight system, which turns out to be just good enough for now. However, there’s a huge performance issue with their internal List-Views.
Adding the 10th item to a List-View can already take 100 ms, if not optimized. (In comparison, 60 FPS result in a frame-time of 16.6 ms.) We think that the system is good for menus and stuff, but, because of the bad performance, we’ll definitely have to do some own implementation later on.
This is not going to happen before the release of our demo, however!
We’ll try to finish the UI and probably start implementing a basic framework for the opponent-AI.
Until next week, see ya!