Building a video game is hard work, as most of you know. Years of work, hundreds of art assets, tens of thousands of C++ lines : Helium Rain is hardly a small project. As a realistic space sim, it tries to offer a good spaceflight experience, a realistic economy, and decent empire building.
But sometimes you still need to turn the project around, no matter how big. In our case, private testing sent us a clear message : the game wasn't fun. How do we move on after that ?
Upgrading the core experience
Most of our work in the previous months has been about the core spaceflight experience. People didn't like the 3D cockpit, too intrusive and bulky, so we've built another for fighting ships, and upgraded the old cockpit for freighters so that they have a better field of view.
Immersion wasn't our strong suit. People concentrated on empire-building from the menus, without even flying a ship in the first place. We've made sure these aren't mutually exclusives : you can now fly your ship, travel from station to station, from sector to sector, while trading. We're adding new environments and ships, we're upgrading stations.
Graphics are obviously a big part of the first-person gameplay, so we thought we'd improve that as well. Better sky, rings around the planet, better effects, better lighting - and better menus, because who wants to navigate cumbersome menus ?
Long-term gameplay matters
People felt they were lacking long-term objectives and guidance. There is a string of improvements coming in day after day, with more to come. here's what we've planned for the game's release :
- A quest system, giving the players small jobs to take care of.
- Much more powerful economy tools. You can plan complex trade routes with extremely customizable steps : send fleets traveling from sector to sector, selling your production, buying resources...
- A realistic AI system, with a dozen different companies vying for world domination. Each company will have a specific AI, a base somewhere in the planetary system, unique colors and behavior. Pick your enemies carefully.
- You will need to build a research program to discover new sectors or new technology.
All of this is long, but fascinating work. We want to player to navigate a complex world with freedom : not everyone needs to be a military chief.
The game's code is now open-source
That's right. The game itself isn't an open-source project - we're not releasing the art assets or the gameplay data, and we're still planning on selling the game on Steam. But we figured other people might want to check out what we're doing and how. We're working with Unreal Engine 4 - the best game engine available today to indies - so our game depends on the latest version of the tool.
The sources are available on GitHub. Check it out !
At this moment, we hope the game will be done by the end of the year. Check out our project for more, or our website directly. We also post a lot of stuff on social networks.
Thank you for reading !
There's going (I hope) to be a bunch of people who want to mod it.
Can they at least have _some_ of the art assets sources as working example?
We want people to mod the game so yeah, we will release at least some of the assets. Some of them we just can't - they are commercial assets that we bought, so it's not up to us to release them - but others we can.
Do you have any plans for A mac version? Because the concept of the game looks really cool. I wish you the best of luck.
We don't have a pan to support Mac OS. There is an array of reasons we are not planning Mac support :
- I believe most Mac models wouldn't run the game smoothly at full quality, due to the sub-pars GPUs usually used.
- Some Mac users run Windows or Linux as well with Bootcamp, both systems are supported.
- We don't have one to test it on, and it's quite an investment. There is no way to cross-build Unreal for Mac OS, and Apple forbids using Mac OSX in a virtual machine, making testing only possible on a Mac.
Doesn't mean we won't ever do it, but no promises.