Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Portugal Stew

Survival Sim, inspired by Robert Reed novella

This topic is 3174 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Although I generally don't like to think that literary themes can necessarily be translated to gameplay, every once in a while I find a splendid example of a story that could be made into an excellent game. Not long ago I happened upon the novella "A Billion Eves" by Robert Reed. The story is set in a not so distant future when scientists developed a method of moving between parallel universes, a machine called a "ripper". The technology has little practical application, because it's impossible to choose which universe you go to, but for theoretical purposes methods have been devised to find livable earths, so that potentially if people wanted to dimension flip they could do so without being dumped into a barren or completely unlivable environment. Without going into details on the particulars of the story, the game concept I have is a typical sim game, except focused far more on environmental resources than on civilizations and interactions. At the beginning of the game you are placed in an alien environment with an assortment of people and tools to help you conquer a sustainable base. To build a base, you must hunt animals, gather fruits and vegetables, and generally travel around to find resources. Over time animals can be tamed, plants can be farmed, and tools can be manufactured, and eventually the settlement can grow into a farm can grow into a village can grow into a city can expand to encompass the entire planet. The number of universes are infinite and therefor contain an infinite variety of plants and creatures. Some plants may be more nutritious than others, some may be toxic, some may grow better in certain environments, some may be difficult to maintain. Some animals may be able to eat anything, some may be pickier, some may thrive quickly without predators, some may be easy to tame, and some may be of particular nutritional value. Universes are randomly generated in such a way that they have a variety of creatures that makes a self-sustaining environment, without taking into account the abrupt appearance of humans. When your population gets to a certain size, unless you were very careful with resource management your world will become polluted, the ecosystem may collapse, or the world may simply prove too accommodating and dangerous to grow a civilization, whether from a deficit of certain minerals, an excessively swampy environment, or not enough edible plants or tamable creatures. When the time comes, you can opt to use a ripper and travel to a new world. When you do so, you can bring with you any resources you want, including animals, seeds, tools, minerals, wood, &c. Whenever you do, some unintentional things may come through, like diseases, insects, and perhaps just the stray bird flying through at the time you rip, but in general you can control what you bring. However, besides the supplies you bring, you are essentially starting over, and you will go to a fresh new planet and never see your old planet again. When you rip between dimensions, because you can decide what creatures you can bring, you can, if they are available to you, bring nutritious creatures that dominate land quickly and fast-growing plants that can destroy local flora, and by doing so quickly terraform your planet to easily sustain a human population. On the other hand, by doing so you lose genetic variety and your population may experience health issues or be unprepared for spontaneously emerging diseases or environment changes. Over time you may have to learn to strike a balance in convenient creatures and environmental sustainability. This concept isn't fully developed, nor do I have any plans to expand or move forward on the idea, but I thought it was a good enough concept to share and discuss. What do you think of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
It is definitely interesting. However, there are a couple of issues that I may see:

1. The scope of your game is huge. We are talking about activities as low as choosing which berries to pick, up to being grand ruler of a thriving world and making mass and sweeping geopolitical decisions. This would be a massive, massive project from what it sounds like, even for a large commercial studio.

2. I am not sure how I feel about the idea of ripping into another dimension after you have colonized a planet. Once a player has spent so much time on their creation and watched it bloom from picking cherries and taming sparrows to having sprawling metropolis as far as the eye can see, I would think one would be hard pressed to decide to throw it all away just to take some resources to a new planet. They could have almost the same thing by just saving their current world and starting on a new file. They would only be lacking the resources, but if the new world was livable anyway, they could have those sooner or later. What if they could just fill up a transport tanker with whatever could fit and then "rip" it into a new file, and still keep their old file to continue playing if they want to?

3. I am not sure about the world randomizing to the point you discussed. In paragraph 4, it almost sounded like some planets may actually be quite poor for colonization. If a player gets several hours into playing before they realize that, that aspect would really not add to the gameplay. It would likely just frustrate players. You would be punishing them randomly, and could make their work for not. How about having some kind of progression, where the worlds get continuously more inhospitable as the player goes on? Then at least the player will understand why they are having a harder time in one world than another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think your idea is neat, and I've always had a huge hankering for a decent survival game, where the obstacles are environmental challenges, like you describe.

I don't know of any current games that do it, and I'll be watching this thread and hoping someone gives you a great example. In the meantime, the two games I've played that come closest to scratching my itch are Clonk Planet (I see that Clonk Endeavor is now free, but I've never tried it) and the venerable, but intimidating Dwarf Fortress, which is in a very crude alpha state from which it may never awaken. DF is made more playable by various third-party graphical upgrades to the ASCII interface, and you will need at least a few utilities, like Dwarf Therapist to get the full experience, but it's probably my favorite video game lately, and will probably give you either some nice ideas or, ideally, a platform to mod into your game.

Incidentally, parallel universes and astral planes are on the drawing board for Dwarf Fortress, with varying rules about seasons, climate, physics etc., so it might be one for you to watch as it evolves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A very cool idea, but I think it's feasibility depends solely on a certain amount of abstraction. If you have to model, animate and texture everything down the last berry then jackolantern1's right. It will take an army.

But what if you go minimize any action elements and maximize more abstract strategy? You could have a few layers of maps and objects you can click on which have stats and options. Characters essentially have a few animations which involve walking up to something to affect it or attacking something. The plants and animals take a limited number of forms but the stats vary wildly each game. Accomplish enough tasks at a village level and the game transitions to a provincial level, which is ostensibly easier to create assets for due to how abstract it could be. This could give way to another map level which shows city symbols, connecting routes and major features like ports or dams. (You could look to cheapo MMOs like Evony or indie games like Strange Adventures in Infinite Space or Democracy for the kind of graphical depiction I'm thinking of).

Comparatively it's probably far easier to scale what amounts to a spreadsheet management game with lots of simulated effects than to try and take on something that graphically rivals Spore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!