New Game Academy Radio Interview

Date: April 12, 2014

Log Entry by: Max Shields

Game Academy Radio caught up with Dave once again. He talks art, intellectual property, public relations, and the state of the industry; and that’s just to start things off.

You can hear the whole interview here.

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Icon Worship – Designing the Datapad Interface

Date: April 9, 2014

Log Entry by: Max Shields

Let’s bring you up to date on some of the past week’s developments to start things off.

 

Commander’s Log

 

Dave has busily been turning his prototype procedural generation work into usable code. Adam has had his nose to the grindstone getting the major coding we need to get to our first playable version using production code. Daniel has turned his artful attention to designing ranged and melee weapon parts that you’ll be able to piece together to make procedurally generated weapons. Max has had his brain twisted into a knot trying to figure out what the inventory interface will look like. Dollar has been fighting off the forces of darkness using his techno-ninja skills to keep our network in tip-top shape. All of this means that within the next few weeks, we hope to have some gameplay footage of everything running with the new look and feel.

 

Datapad Design

 

Datapad Demo_With Watermark

The new datapad in glorious 3D – WiP Screnshot with some debug UI elements visible

As you have seen from some of our early screenshots, we want to draw you into Astrobase’s universe by foregoing the traditional graphical interface favoured by most other RTS and RPG games. We want you to feel like you are really in the station commanding the characters that make up your crew. One of the methods we are using to do this is by taking cues from the real world, and giving you something that feels physical to draw you in. We’ve designed the datapad to feel like a piece of 80’s era technology miniaturized into something that can fit in your hands.  You’ll notice that we’ve decided to go down the 3D route for the interface. This should let us do some pretty neat things that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do without a lot of effort if we had stuck with our 2D datapad.

 

Stellar Interfacing

 

We want to make the datapad as useful as possible to make sure you naturally want to use it rather than try to click around on the astrobase to get things done. It’s going to take a lot of testing to find the right balance, but it will be a lot of fun getting it right.

Datapad_InventoryUI_001Prototype inventory interface concept

Having a datapad means that we need to think long and hard about how we’re going to be presenting the information for you to understand what’s going on. The datapad allows us to run virtual cartridges that are essentially programs that run independently within the main game.

 

Iconology

 

Astrobase’s universe is not necessarily a representation of our own future. We want to loosely base our icons on the conventions we have learned as part of our daily lives to ease the learning curve. But we also want to incorporate novel design elements to suggest the weird and wonderful ways in which pictographs could have evolved in an alternate reality.

Coming up with entirely original material is also a good way to avoid getting the coveralls sued off of us, too.

Medical Lab Icon Concepts

Prototype medical lab icons

We’re sticking to a simple design aesthetic for now using bold lines and a black and white color scheme to hint at the universe’s utilitarian and survivalist nature.  It also helps us keep things moving along. At this point, we have 124 different UI icons under development, and that’s just to represent the different module types you’ll have to play with.

That’s it for now!

 

 

Remember that you can ask us your questions in the forums.

 

*Note: all imagery is WIP.
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Space Fashion – Spring 20,114 Edition

Date: April 3, 2014

Log Entry by: Max Shields

Time for another update, everyone. We’ll be reverting back to these written blog updates for the next few weeks since the video version is taking more time than we thought it would to do. We’ll keep the video coming because we are getting close to having some cool things we can show, we just won’t be putting it out as frequently.

As you can imagine, given Astrobase’s focus on character-driven stories, we are spending a lot of time nailing down their appearance.

We’re scouring through a wealth of reference material to find the right way to convey the universe’s harshness. Resource scarcity is the rule, not the exception, so everyone has to make due with rugged, utilitarian clothing that can fulfill a number of roles.

Rugged, functional, and realistic. Moebius rocks. If you haven’t checked out his work, you’re missing out.

 

Thankfully, there’s no scarcity when it comes to sources of inspiration. We’re considering everything from Moebius to to the iconic Rebel troopers, valiant defenders of the Tantive IV (trust me, cargo pants are going to be huge on Deneb this year) and everything in between.

Fashionably rebellious

 

We’re also spoiled rotten with a ton of great ideas coming out of the real world. We live in a time where the weird and wonderful of science fiction is having a hard time keeping up to good ol’ fashioned science and engineering. Witness this crazy Swedish inflatable bike helmet:

Scarves? Massive pop-up helmets? Mash the two together, and you’re suitably groovy.

 

And even NASA is serving up some retro-futuristic fodder for us to ponder with their biosuit:

NASA: To boldly sport what no one has worn before.

 

All this to say, that these images, and many like them, are spawning lots of concepts. Developing a shared picture of where we want to go takes a lot of discussion, and no small amount of sketching to ensure we can agree with what the game’s inhabitants will look like. This is particularly true with Daniel, our artist, being located light years away on the planet moon Sweden VII. It doesn’t matter how great our ideas are, if we can’t pare them down and convey them in such a way that Daniel can use the information to shape the character’s appearance, all we are doing is screaming in the void.

Kickin' it, Astrobase Style. CONCEPT WORK, MAY NOT APPEAR IN-GAME.

Kickin’ it, Astrobase Style. CONCEPT WORK, MAY NOT APPEAR IN-GAME.

 

Right now, we’re leaning towards utilitarian coveralls for the enlisted and NCO members of the Astrobase crew. This is but one of many concepts that we’re tossing around, so there could still be plenty of changes. In this case, we’re channeling aspects of the NASA space program, fighter flight suits, and modern combat uniforms.  Don’t set up us the bomb if later on they don’t appear as shown here.

The characters’ appearances will be modular, and you’ll be able to see the gear they’re wearing and what they’re equipped with just by looking at them.

We also want to allow you to modify their color schemes, so you won’t be stuck with the standard redshirt = security model. You will be able to define colors for major astrobase functions, and the character’s clothing will match the duty divisions to which they are assigned.

 

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Mining, Harvesting, and Resources – Astrobase Vlog #3

Date: March 27, 2014

Log Entry by: Max Shields

Hi everybody,

We recently filmed a team meeting where we happened to talk about how we’re going to handle mining, harvesting, and resources in general. Since Ethan asked us about these on the forums, it was a great opportunity to give you something with a little more flavour than our previous vlog updates.

Have a question for the team? Head over to the forums and ask away.

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Dev Video Update #2 – Criminals, Character Animation, and Lore

Date: March 20, 2014

Log Entry by: Max Shields

In our second update, we tackle more questions from our community:

1. Will there be random crime on the station? Will characters be able to investigate it? (0:21)
2. How animated will characters be? (3:34)
3. Who are the characters? Where do they come from? How do they fit into the galactic neighborhood? (6:36)

We don’t have enough new images to fill this long of an update. We know you’re really looking forward to seeing more, so we’re working on getting something out to you soon.

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