NovaSilisko

Science of the Spheres - development

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PSA: This first post is currently hideously out of date, and the thread will eventually be rebooted. For now, check the last few pages of it for the most recent stuff!
Also, the forum switch totally blew the formatting here and I don't feel like fixing it anyway.

 

FwiDINa.png

Things are slow at the moment, see this post

Visit the dev blog

Official twitter account

Very early playable prototype available here.

As a small number of you may know, myself and r4m0n have been working on a game on and off (mostly off...) for a few months now. It's gone through 2.5 prototypes, and has now been refined enough to enter a proper development phase.

To begin, refer to the first four items of concept art:

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Here are a few screenshots of the game's current state:

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What is this game about you ask? The massive wall of text past-me already wrote up for the game info page on the site can explain better than present-me ever could:

(Note: this section is very out of date, and will be rewritten in the future)

 


General

Science of the Spheres is a game in development about the exploration, documentation, and exploitation of a newly discovered universe with its own set of unique and unusual physical properties. The player takes the role of Dr. Tony Pistachio: former physics professor from the University of Queensland, now main operator of the United States’ top secret and severely underfunded Multiversal Exploration Agency.

Established in early 1956, immediately closed down after nearly causing an outbreak of plague, and finally reactivated in 1974, the MEA is the executor of two broad goals: explore this new universe with a fleet[1] of unmanned spacecraft, in the hope of finding out if anything about these strange and surprisingly small new worlds can benefit life on Earth[2], and, most importantly, find a way to make money from what it does.

Despite being situated in a flimsy warehouse just outside St. Louis, the MEA has some impressive technology at its disposal. Or at least one item of impressive technology – the Universal Transference Catapult. A large, ungainly device constructed of vacuum tubes, rough steel, and an aircraft carrier-style launch catapult, the UTC is how all the MEA’s spacecraft enter the “Microverseâ€Â, as it’s come to be known. From there, the interesting part begins.

The game is currently in the prototype and concept phase. As time goes on, this page will be altered and refined as the ideas behind it have the same done to them, but it’s generally a safe assumption that most things mentioned on this page will inevitably end up in the game in some way, shape, or form…

[1]Not really a fleet, more a haphazard collection of spacecraft assembled from surplus NASA parts, metal tubing, and (on a good day) in-house, specially-made equipment

[2]Just don’t bring back a disease or something because that really wouldn’t help

Exploration

The Microverse is populated with a wide variety of things to explore: Galaxies, stars, planets, comets, asteroids, algae, ferns, ruins, gold, diamonds, pulsars, three-legged brachiosaurs, living assemblies of spacefaring crystal and god knows what else. All of these things can be studied and interacted with by means of the unmanned spacecraft mentioned earlier, controlled remotely from the safety of the MEA headquarters via a radio transmitter poking through the UTC portal.

It’s important to note that “planets†and “stars†in this context are only holdover terms from our universe – the biggest planet that can be found might stretch to an astounding two hundred meters in radius. At the center of all planets lie the poorly-understood[3] objects known as “Static Gravitational Cores†– immobile and solid black spheres, fixed like thumbtacks on the fabric of spacetime, each one generating enough of a gravitational field to accumulate matter onto its surface to form a small planet. Stars are simply large SGCs that emit heat and light[4].

Other than these quirks, though, things in the Microverse are quite similar to things here. Both are made of the same stuff, and gravity works very similarly (the main difference being that the Microverse has all the added weirdness of immobile gravity sources as well as the intense gravity gradients brought on by the small size of planets).

The immobility of all gravity sources brings about interesting possibilities – one can imagine a sampling mission being undertaken by fastening a rope to a small rocky planet, and then simply winching a vehicle down into the depths of a nearby gas giant to study its murky atmosphere. A long enough tether, and you can dangle a communications satellite in an area of open space, allowing wider control accessibility. Two planets can be found close enough to touch – each one with its own gravity field, and a permanant bridge of rock and dirt connecting the two.

This is only a small portion of all that’s planned/imagined for the future… time will tell how many wild fantasies become set in stone!

[3]As in, just roll with it :v

[4]Enough heat and light to prevent significant amounts of material from accumulating on its surface – smaller, dimmer “stars†may become lava planets instead as the material on their surfaces melts

Documentation

Beyond simple observation of the Microverse comes directly studying it. A notebook system allows the player to document anything and everything that they find, be it via data, photos, or simple written anecdotes. Results from instruments, as well as returned samples, can be sold to the highest bidder for a hefty profit. Many scientific and government institutions would pay a fortune for a sample of an alien world.

Native creatures, too, can yield a plethora of scientific results, ranging from studies of wild behavior to observation of captured and returned individuals. If you’ve ever had questions about how a chicken might react to a predatory orange cube, you’re in luck…

Exploitation

It’s commonly-accepted fact that the two best methods to get at a given deposit of sweet sweet mineral wealth are tunneling and blasting. Given the fullly destructible terrain on all planets, both are possible. Although lacking in things practical for spaceflight, the Microverse has been found to contain a conveniently unusual amount of one thing in particular – gold. Seeing as gold is generally considered to be valuable, strip-mining entire planets can prove to be an extremely lucrative venture, assuming you can set up the necessary infrastructure for a large-scale operation. Beyond gold, many other elements common in our universe can be found, with varying levels of profitability[5], as well as native ores unique to the Microverse.

Exploitation doesn’t necessarily have to be a destructive thing, however. Material, plants, and animals can be transported from one planet to another, either for purposes of terraforming, or simply seeing how they react[6] in this new environment…

[5]From borderline-worthless things like iron ore to amazing things like platinum ore

[6]Depending on your choice of new destination this probably invalidates the earlier statement that exploitation doesn’t have to be destructive

 


Current team:

NovaSilisko

r4m0n

Current special thanks box:

Everyone who's made fanart

ferram4

C7

N3X15

Edited by NovaSilisko

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So this is what you were hinting at with those cryptic stories ages ago.

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Looks pretty good so far. Are we going to have to buy this and if so how much? Also, will your dev and realeseing to the buyers going to be like KSPs or something else?

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Release it for early alpha tests and do it now!

Yes, I'm sure you'll enjoy the current state of the game, what with the dirt-textured sphere and a light rotating around it...

I wouldn't anticipate anything being in a testable state until (and this is assuming everything goes totally smoothly) at least the middle of this year.

That being said... there's still the original Unity prototype. It's hideous, and awkward to control, and likes to break, but it gets the idea across. Maybe I'll tidy it up and release it sometime, dunno. Lots and lots of things would need tidying.

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I remember this from the "weird, cryptic videos" you showed, and then cleared it up. I like it!

Yes, for future reference, cryptic videos usually just confuse people. So I dunno if I'll be trying that again :sticktongue:

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Well, there seems to be some interest so far. The primary response I'm getting looks to be "when can I play it", which I THINK is a good sign.

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It seems to me like something out of a Terry Pratchett book.

This is good of course :D

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It seems to me like something out of a Terry Pratchett book.

Funny you should mention that... one of the "maybe"s floating around is having the rare occurrence of a discworld in the microverse, working off the same terrain system just in a different shape (and with inexplicably linear gravity)

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Looks interesting... very interesting. Static celestial bodies is an nice twist.

So this will be Unity 3D based? Or just the prototype?

Will be interesting to see how you tackle converting notebook entries, instrument results and samples into appropriate science and/or monetary payoffs.

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Wait, I'd be able to edit planets terrain and they slowly gain new mass?

When you release this I must build dirt or stone bridges between every planet, moon, and star, and maybe even between solar systems!!

FOR SCIENCE!!!

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So, is that second picture hinting at being able to destroy planets (deformable terrain?), or is that just for a cutscene?

No cutscenes, apart from maybe a little flavor scene when you start a new game, and maybe something for a game over screen in the event you screw up bad enough. That image is the intended effect of either an excessively vigorous mining operation, or a high-velocity comet impact.

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Is that drawn or in game, cause that looks almost photorealistic.

Also, bit early for this sort of question but will you be able to upgrade your launch pad?

Edit: Whilst it is a bit early to make suggestions. I might as well do some so just incase they will be added later and the engine needs to be prepared for them.

So my suggestions is as follows:

  • The ability to manoeuvre planets by anchoring engines into them. And then the ability to move other planets via gravity.
  • Would it also be possible to build a elevator between planets?

Edited by hotmailcompany52

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Is that drawn or in game, cause that looks almost photorealistic.

It is rendered out then added onto, not in game (as much as I wish I could say it was :P)

Also, bit early for this sort of question but will you be able to upgrade your launch pad?

Yes, you will be able to fit it with better equipment, like improved communication systems.

Edit: Whilst it is a bit early to make suggestions. I might as well do some so just incase they will be added later and the engine needs to be prepared for them.

So my suggestions is as follows:

  • The ability to manoeuvre planets by anchoring engines into them. And then the ability to move other planets via gravity.
  • Would it also be possible to build a elevator between planets?

There will be free-floating chunks of rock not bound to a gravitational core which can be attached to and moved around. Not sure what you mean by "move other planets via gravity" though.

It would certainly be possible to build an elevator. Lets say you've got a spacecraft on the surface of one body, and fire a harpoon up to a nearby smaller body. If the harpoon's been upgraded with a winch, you can then raise yourself up into space without using any fuel. Or, if you go all the way to the other body, you can detach the harpoon, flip around, and land, then repeat the process to get back to the first, still using much less fuel than a normal transfer would.

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Not sure what you mean by "move other planets via gravity" though.

I sort of meant you have control of a planet and can pilot it somewhere. You pilot the planet and either through sheer-luck or carefully worked out manoeuvres you capture a smaller object and move it somewhere by you piloting the larger planet. This could be useful for manoeuvring suns into a position you like.

[Offtopic] Whilst writing this, this reminded me about the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and the Nagrathen planet builders.

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I sort of meant you have control of a planet and can pilot it somewhere. You pilot the planet and either through sheer-luck or carefully worked out manoeuvres you capture a smaller object and move it somewhere by you piloting the larger planet. This could be useful for manoeuvring suns into a position you like.

[Offtopic] Whilst writing this, this reminded me about the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and the Nagrathen planet builders.

Well, such things could certainly be done to asteroids/"comets"... with varying effects (Highly Eventful Terraformingâ„¢)

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