17 Replies to “Why I’m Letting Heat Signature Get Bigger”

  1. Nice Blog! thanks for explaining how you feel and where heat sig is going. I love Gunpoint and thought it was really clever (those guards never stood a chance) and im really looking forward to where heat sig is gonna end up. Ive seen way too many games on steam die because they would either have empty promises or would set a release date and then continually delay it. PLEASE dont let heat sig die XD

  2. Hi Tom, I’ve always wondered if these video-blogs are you talking about things you’ve already thought through or just thinking out loud to a camera.

    Regardless, I enjoy them.

  3. (I posted this on the youtubes as well)

    Personally, I like the idea of having a single, definite goal for the player. It makes the whole game into one big puzzle to compete one thing.you should know exactly what you want to do, but be left to your own devises to figure out how. Armchair Game Design!

  4. From waaay back in the day, I’m sure the particulars couldn’t be more different but just from what you wrote HeatSig seems to be converging on Agent Alpha with a different camera.

  5. Hey, I’m also working on a passion project, and what I’ve realized about getting sick is that, it doesn’t necessarily persist. As Keats said, a thing of beauty is joy forever. If you do get sick of working on the game, take a small break. You’ll regain a little of your lost objectivity, forget some details, and the magic of the art, the music and the gameplay will draw you back in as you rediscover those little touches. I understand the feeling of wanting to get it out, but the way I think about it is that the core idea is wonderful, and I have a duty to make it the best I can, and I’ll be doing the work a disservice if I rush it.
    As for adding things like a story, after the project has reached a certain stage, it has a personality of its own, and you can kind of have a conversation with it(I know this sounds creepy :P) on what fits and what doesn’t.

    One thing I believe is important for open world games without preset stories is the pacing or the rhythm of the game. I’ve seen many space games suffer because there was “too much monotonous travelling” (Elite: Dangerous, Void Expanse, Cosmonautica etc) and on the other side, some games that absolutely wouldn’t give you a break from the random encounters.
    Obviously, this is just a random person’s opinion on the internet, so take it with a pinch of salt. ;)
    I love your work. Best of luck. :)

  6. I’m sure there are tasks you think are going to take a couple of days and you get it done in a couple of hours. Might be less common, but the point is that your list is not 4 times longer than you estimated, some tasks balance it down and, worst case scenario, it might be twice as long as you estimated. That’s not so bad. Specially if you are taking the deadline weight off your shoulders, anyway :)

    And scope expansion is a thing that can happen. Game design is an iterative process, if you decided for scope expansion because the original idea didn’t work as well as you expected, expansion is the natural next step. If the expansion direction you chose turns out to not work as well as expected too, then you can worry (nah, just back up a few steps)

  7. Yyyeargh, no write up? Thirty minutes of video takes me five hours to download. But I guess it’s an uncommon problem these days….

  8. With regard to faction choice and motivation, what I often think of when I think of Heat Signature’s persistent universe structure is those sci-fi anthologies that Baen or Tor would put out back in the day, where each writer would contribute a story that took place within the same universe. I think it would be very compelling for each life in the game to be a short story within the larger anthology of overall gameplay. Each time you restart, you’re given a choice of characters within a randomly assigned faction, so each time you play you’re exploring a different element of the universe.

    The idea that a game should necessarily reflect the player’s preferences in every single option is a bit of a bugbear in my opinion. Much better to provide a selection of randomly generated characters with their own internal motivations. Rather than trying to figure out how to get players to choose one faction over another, instead you allow them to choose what their character’s relationship with a given faction is. To me, that’s a much more meaningful and interesting choice. If I’m landed with the bad guys with clearly imperial goals, do I want to be the ex-smuggler whose family is being held hostage, or do I want to be the fanatical commando trained from the birthing-pools?

    My concern with trying to get a player to consistently pick a given side is that the sense of dynamism in the galaxy might be reduced if the player’s hyper-competence is restricted to a single faction. Unless there are AI breachers taking territory away from you (which sounds like a complicated solution), I’d fear the game would become a story of one faction endlessly conquering all the others, rather than a more interesting emergent story of attacks and counter-attacks between multiple warring factions. Much easier to just make the player switch sides!

  9. Holy sh*t, just realized Heat Signature is just like futurama, when farnsworth jr. realizes that the ship moves space, not itself.. awesome!

  10. Suddenly three things I feel like responding to.

    @Jabberwok: I suspect you already know that having a bit of a chat with yourself about a problem with a webcam turned on is basically free in terms of how much of a day it takes up, while doing so, then going back to transcribe it, and then maybe edit it to better suit text isn’t.

    In this very specific instance, where the content is the words and you’d be willing to toss the gestures and facial expressions anyway, you may want to look at YouTube Video and Audio Downloader. I have three content capture extensions installed but for YouTube it’s the most capable and convenient. One of the capabilities it offers is downloading audio-only video files – last page of the list behind the “download links” button – which cuts this particular file size by a factor of three. Not a solution, but hopefully it would help.

    @Kirk: Your last bit made me think of a session of the Crate and Crowbar where they were goofing around with how to make Far Cry 3 just offer infinite outpost missions. I haven’t tracked it down but it may be in this one, the only episode actually tagged for FC3. The solution they finally semi-seriously proposed was a line of dialogue or a ten-second cutscene causing the player character to realise ‘Oops, the pirates with the… RED… headbands are even bigger jerks and were the baddies all along! Now I must claim these islands for the pirates with the… YELLOW… headbands for great justice!’ Repeat until a new OS renders the game unplayable.

    @Jacob: It’s actually a very common technique, in space and sim games but even in FPSes. Although they fake it well enough to give us a hobby and industry, computers actually don’t like it when things move. They want things to BE in a given place, and have to fake it by putting them in a lot of different places quickly. An inverted universe puts the warping and jiggling this causes far enough away to hide it, rather than dumping it all straight onto the camera.

  11. @Jason L

    Yeah, basically that! Except I think it would be fine to have you play for the bad-guys for a bit, too. What makes this interesting to me is that unless there are non-lethal “retirement” options for finishing playing with a character, you’ll probably only be switching characters when you die horribly. Having a stable character switching sides constantly would get obnoxious over time, but switching viewpoints makes more sense. Particularly when you have such a tidy and inevitable end-point to your story.

  12. Really good talk. Hearing you talk about game design, and Heat Sig in particular, really inspires me! :)

  13. STEAM EARLY ACCESS IS PERFECT for a dev like you, use it! The cries of what players need would help you narrow down what they’re looking for, the code can also be used to make DLC/Expansions/Sequels later while profiting off of your very first title (HeatSig) and the game could use some funding no?

  14. Really interesting insight into a game that I’m extremely excited about.

    Question: Is there going to be any way to upgrade one’s pod (Maybe into a full-on ship)? And if so, will there be any sort of ship-to-ship combat, or will boarding remain the only feasible form of aggression?

    As a big FTL fan, this game has really grabbed my attention, but I’m afraid I might get tired of running around all the time, manipulating the systems on these badass ships, instead of getting to build or at least control my own badass ship. But then again, maybe that’s just not the game you’re making.

  15. Current state at least is ARPG-style randomised loot drops – some for you, some for your pod. Off the top of my head I recall engines and cooling being upgradeable. That seems unlikely to go away.

    Just to be sure you know, you can hijack ships and use their weapons against other ships – it’s been demoed as a valid way to fulfill some objectives. Nothing in theory stops you from hauling that ship around with you indefinitely, but to overstep my status as someone who’s been following from the beginning, I agree that that’s not the person you’re going to be in HeatSig’s main focus. Space Rangers 2, Captain Forever and if you can tolerate an MMO Elite:Dangerous spring most readily to mind as shoot-n-upgrade spaceship games.

  16. I would love it if you could make it free and put it on chromebook or chromewebstore for free either that or just send it to me for free through gmail and i will test it if you would like my gmail is: Dward1304@gmail.com

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