The reason it’s been a while since I last showed off my space stealth game, Heat Signature, is that I want to use the next video to put out a call for artists and musicians to hire. So it needs to show enough new stuff that the press might cover it, people might share it, and it might get seen by more people.
Don’t apply for either of those jobs yet, though! The other thing I need to do before then is nail down enough of the game’s underlying tech to be sure of precisely what kind of art and music it needs. The way it’s coded right now is rather glitchy, so now I have to investigate whether it’s the fixable kind of glitchy, or the “Fuck this and try a different method entirely” kind of glitchy.
So I’m not going to show much of its current state, but I did put together a time-lapse of everything I’ve done so far: Heat Signature’s five month development in 2 minutes.
The jetpack thing you see early on there felt horrible, made your character feel more like a vehicle. The boarding drill was a technical nightmare I never got working, and would have broken most of the infiltration game design anyway. In general, stuff I cut made the game worse.
Here’s what stuck!
New things since that last video
- Ships now have individual turrets and thrusters you can hijack or destroy.
- You can hijack the cockpit to take control of the ship, fly it around, start fights with others.
- Ships fire heat-seeking missiles, accelerate to outrun them, then cut thrusters to cool down and lose them.
- Christ, did I not even have modular destruction in that video? Modular destruction! Missiles destroy any module they hit.
- If blowing up a room on a ship splits the ship, the fragments spin off independently. This caused insane complications with ship IDs and contents that I don’t want to talk about.
- Sexy hot vapour trails on your ship. Trail thickness and brightness proportional to thrust when it was made, fades smoothly over time.
- Loot! Find bits that upgrade your ships thrusters and cool rate.
- Missions! Actually that’s the main thing I want to talk about, so I’ll break out of this list.
Previously, the idea for Heat Signature would be that you would start the game with a single target to hunt down and eliminate, however you like. But, as I discussed in a dev log video, the business of actually searching for your target was inherently unfun. I replaced it with a system where you get progressively closer to finding them almost regardless of what you did, which was better, but weird.
Now I’m thinking that you’ll choose a class at the start, then be given a series of shorter missions of that type, forever. Assassins will be assigned to kill specific crewmembers on specific ships. Thieves to steal particular bits of tech from particular ships. Interceptors neutralise hostile ships. Exfiltrators capture and retrieve their targets alive. And you do as many of these missions as you can without dying.
I have the beginnings of that working: randomly generated assassinations and thefts that feel cool to pull off. But I haven’t entirely settled on whether the game will have permadeath or autosaves: I hope permadeath, but certain frustrations need to be solved design-wise before I can do that without causing bad situations.
As you can see, the “Who are you and what are you trying to do?” part of Heat Signature changes a lot, even as the game mechanics stay roughly the same. So these are just my latest thoughts, we’ll see what I settle on by the time I come to make the next proper demonstration video. It’ll be a while though, lots of basic tech stuff to redo first.