April 26, 2013

Kajaani Pelaa!

Coming to the most awesome bookstores soon!

This week's blog post has a little less to do with Interplanetary, but it's great news nonetheless! 

”Art Unknown: Raw Diamonds from the Frozen Wastelands” is finally released. Created by Marita Paldanius, Marko Keronen and Aki Savolainen with support from Kavio Cluster, the book contains game art of the young and talented game developers of Kainuu region. (That includes us, yay!)

From our part in “Art Unknown” you can find art from some of our earlier projects, such as Spiritual and Ouroboring Life, as well as some the earlier concept art from the upcoming Interplanetary. (There’s plenty of more to come as well.) Though Interplanetary has developed dramatically both as a concept and in practice since the material for the book was gathered, Jukka Kivij√§rvi's illustrations have stood the test of time very well. There are even a couple of never before released concept images from our adorable mobile game concept Hedge Hop,  by Tarita Tammela. 

The release and the press conference with the books authors took place last Wednesday, April 24th, at the Kajaani Pelaa!- event in Kajaani. The event also included presentations of some of the games created by the Kainuu developers, BeaverKarts tournament (which was a lot of fun, thanks Rust0) and the screening of short movie The North, which is to be shown at the upcoming Cannes Festival. 

By the way, there will be some fresh graphics from Interplanetary tomorrow at the Screenshot Saturday. Don't miss it.

April 19, 2013

Designing the Laser installation WMD

Giant Death Laser (work title) preying upon the enemy planet.

Hello to you, dear readers! I’m Jukka, one of the two artists working on Interplanetary. I will be responsible, for the most parts, for creating concept art and illustrations for the game.
In this post I’ll be talking a little about visual design, this time focusing on the "Laser installation" concept.

Our goal in Interplanetary is to make the technologies seem as realistic or feasible as possible without letting the gameplay suffer, so a big part in creating concepts for them is the hunt for applicable technologies that already exist or have been theorized. Luckily our team lead & designer Niklas is something of a "tech nut" so usually he already has some ideas to what might work.

The first step in starting designing the Laser installation, was to type "world's most powerful laser" in Google and hit the search. Quite fast I ran into the National Ignition Facility in US where they conduct research on nuclear fusion with lasers. They use 192 individual lasers all targeted to a small fuel pellet in order to reach the temperatures they aim for. 

So I thought that instead of using a single laser to create a powerful enough beam, it would be more feasible and interesting to have multiple lasers and have some kind of lenses to converge the beams into one. My thinking was, that a tower-like structure could be useful, so that the lasers could be arranged along its length along with the lenses so that theoretically the lenses wouldn't need to bend the beams too much. From that I made the quick sketches below, and later the one on the top.

Earlier GDL concepts. The idea of how they might work has remained pretty much the same.

Another thing to consider was the immense amount of energy needed to fire the lasers. While having it's very own nuclear power plant could be fun, I found out about SMES (superconducting magnetic energy storage), which besides sounding very sciency just might be a feasible way of storing the amounts of energy required... I'm still pondering what I'd do with the design to make it bit more interesting without making it look too unrealistic.

That's it for me this time, but I just might be back writing more of these posts in the future, and once the final concept is done for the Laser installation we'll no doubt be posting it to our Facebook concepts album.

- Jukka

April 12, 2013

Inside Interplanetary: Resources

A concept sketch picturing a mining operation.

We thought it would be interesting for many of our followers to learn a bit more about Interplanetary's inner workings, so here's the first of a series of posts that should shed some light on the content and mechanics of the game. Please do keep in mind that some of these are more than likely to change during the development. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, you don't need to be logged in to do so anymore!

Resources are key elements in many strategy games, and that's also the case with Interplanetary. There are three main resources in the game, each one pretty different from the others. Here's a more detailed breakdown:

The basic function of Power is to determine how many actions player can commit in a single turn.  Available Power is calculated in the beginning of each turn by adding up the output of all active power plants the player has built. Small amount of Power is also generated by cities. Nearly all major actions, such as firing a weapon or building a building, consume some Power. There are also buildings that use a small amount of Power each turn. Any extra Power the player might have at the end of the turn doesn't carry over to the next one.

A strategic decision player has to make concerning Power might be, for an example, whether he or she wants to go all out at the enemy by firing as many shots as possible, or leave some energy in reserve for defensive actions when the enemy projectiles come flying towards the home planet at the end of the turn.

All non-renewable resources on home planet are represented by a single indicator, Material. There is large, but limited, amount of raw material available on the player's home planet when the game starts. Mines need to be built in order to extract the raw material and make it usable. Unlike with Power, unused Material will carry over when a turn ends. After the home planet is eventually depleted, the only way to get more Material is by launching a successful colonization project, which will still provide only a relatively small amount of Material each turn.

Large amounts of Material are generally consumed when the player builds something. Some other actions use smaller amounts of Material. For an example, a nuclear power plant turns a small amount of Material into a relatively large amount of Power each turn, and shooting a railgun requires much smaller amount of Material than building one.

Just like Power, limited material forces the player to make strategic decisions: It's possible to build a powerful, yet primitive, attack force early in the game by aggressive mining and building early power plants in a large scale, all in order to eliminate the enemy as soon as possible through superior firepower. Another viable strategy would be to develop the planet gradually and wait for more efficient late game buildings, gaining access to advanced weapons with some material left still.

One of the Power/Material bar UI designs from a year back.
Population is a bit of a sneak peek here. It's tied to many other mechanics that will be presented (and hopefully discussed!) later, but let's lay out the very basics:

Population is the number of people living inside the cities of the home planet. Most of the population is concentrated in megacities, that work much the same way as cities in Sid Meier's Civilization series of games. The biggest difference is that other buildings are built outside the cities, not in them. City's population (along with some modifiers that will be presented later) will determine it's productivity and scientific output.

Population of cities is restricted by a global population cap, which is essentially the amount of people the home planet can sustain with current level of technology. As the game progresses, the player is able to research technologies that raise the global population cap and allow the cities to grow larger, allowing the player to more with the city.

Thank you for being interested, more to follow!

April 2, 2013

It's alive!

Good news everyone! TJR has awoken from its slumber of outsourcing and school related stuff. Now that we have also been reinforced with a band of new members, the team is stronger than ever.

First and foremost this means we have been able to finally resume the development of Interplanetary. The project was quietly moved to the notorious slow lane at first last spring and ultimately shelved for a couple of months. This was not something we wanted to do, but by switching to outsourcing for a while we managed to ensure steady supply of ramen while having some time to focus on the remaining school related things and smaller projects. Some of us even managed to graduate while we were flying under the radar, so, success!

Interplanetary has evolved quite a bit when we paid less attention to it; the game is now 3D and based on Unity engine instead of the slowly fading XNA. This should allow us to make the game even more beautiful than we originally planned with the option to go multiplatform with relative ease. Here's a bit of a sneak peek to a description we wrote for the upcoming Kavio cluster website. If you are all "what the heck is Interplanetary??" at this point, this should get you on track of things:

Interplanetary is a turn based strategy game about warfare between two planets. Setting of the game is a fictional planetary system where two planets have evolved intelligent life and ultimately become planetary civilizations. These two planets have fallen into a conflict for the natural resources of the planetary system they share. 
Technology level in the game is not too far from ours, and instead of stereotypical sci-fi starfleets, war is waged with massive, planetary weapons and other megastructures, built right onto the home planet. As the game progresses, technological advances allow more and more options to protect your people and defeat the enemy.
Main part of the game is managing the limited natural resources of player's home planet, developing its infrastructure and researching new technology. Each turn ends with action phase where player gets to target the weapon systems at the enemy planet and unleash his military might. The game supports various different tactics from a planetary broadside of railgun slugs to few, but deadly precise strikes of interplanetary lasers.
If you enjoy games with similar elements, like DEFCON, Civilization series or even the old artillery games, we will definitely have a game for you! Interplanetary will be available in most digital distribution channels.

While actual gameplay screenshots still have to wait a bit, we are proud to present some concept art. Stay tuned, there will be more to follow regularly now that we're back in business.