PlayingInCanvas

Work in Progress: Escaping Earth - 3D space platformer

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Hi!

This is a prototype for a 3D space platformer game that is in the design phase. You can play it here:

http://pirron.one/escaping.earth4

We were able to develop this in a matter of days. Some features:

  • Developed using PlayCanvas.
  • p2.js is used for physics, planets create gravity fields that push objects that enter it, into orbit.
  • solar system is an accurate representation of the real one, using the orbital elements from NASA. Planets were scaled up to help with game play.
  • additional star systems can be added easily from the editor, just by inserting new (real or imaginary) orbital elements.
  • orbits and gravity fields are rendered using "lines" to help the player navigate around.
  • Touch controls are partially implemented, for the moment only to navigate around with the top down camera.

This isn't an easy game, nor does it make much "sense" right now! But we are loving how easily it turns out to prototype in PlayCanvas.

Stay tuned for feature updates:

http://pirron.one/playingincanvas/escaping-earth-3d-space-platformer-prototype

Thanks for playing!

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intro.jpg

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I just finished it. Really cool, I love the accurate ratio of orbit sizes (given my interest/hobby in astronomy, things like these are a big plus for me), the atmosphere and the music! I didn't catch that auto-pilot hint, I only see it now among the screenshots, but I wouldn't have used it anyway, where's the fun in that? :P (this is not a suggestion to take it out, just my hardcore preference)

Great job so far, will be interesting to see where this develops, good luck!

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Thanks @Entian for your nice words!

Indeed, that's a balance we wanted to test with this prototype: as we are all hard-core astronomy fans, to try and balance gameplay with the realistic nature of the forces found on space.

Game will feature exploration and travelling between solar/star systems. Combining the platformer-aspect with story and resource management features. But we would really love to see travelling being the main part of the game!

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The concept is really nice and the game is pretty well implemented, so congratz! However the inertia of the spaceship is a real pain, I can easily find a star but take ages to actually collect it, which kind of ruins the game experience. Sometimes realistic physics is not fun physics. It's too bad because everything else is really sweet!

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@Skeptron thanks for playing and taking the time to comment!

This is very much what we are trying to figure out with this prototype. The idea was to make a fun game around space travel and moving in circles/orbits under the influence of gravity fields.

Initially we were going for a top down camera, but given the atmosphere that the space setting creates we are finding the spaceship attached camera quite attractive.

But still we don't have an answer on how to make it easier or better said more straightforward learning how to move in orbits. Especially how to give visual feedback of the spaceship's orbit and its immediate surroundings, to help the player navigate around.

We might slow down the velocities and forces applied, but we are trying to avoid just letting the player move in straight lines. As then it would just be a common platformer with a space setting.

Though we might go for that at the end if we end up with nice visuals and a deep atmosphere. Some in the team would vote on this! 

And ideas would be more than appreciated!

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I completely get your point and it's true that it could be fun to feel attraction forces. The issue for now is that the difficulty of the controls does not seem to come at all from gravity fields, it just feels like the ship has immense inertia, that is, when I go in a direction, it takes ages for the ship to stop going this way. Very annoying when trying to catch a small-sized star. I don't feel like I'm attracted to planets, I just feel like I'm flying on ice.

So maybe make the ship more controllable, with better stop/brake mechanism, make the attraction fields stronger so that it's obvious that the planets are attracting you, and why not add some kind of boost that could help you get out of gravitation fields?

But obviously it's hard to fine-tune, and maybe all my suggestions are unrelevant. Play a lot with that. Annoying controls could be the death of your game, and it's a pity because it looks very promising!

 

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Thanks @Skeptron again! All that is really helpful. 

We started an iteration process to improve on this. Here is a small update:

v0.015:
http://pirron.one/escaping.earth

Change log:

- Small sized orbit lines were added for the token stars. Guidelines to help player enter a proper orbit for catching the star.
- The spaceship's speed, thrusting/braking, when moving inside a gravity field was reduced to 10% (from 100%).
- A bug was fixed that sometimes made the game misplace a star inside the planet.
- Small visual improvements (Saturn rings).

 

0.015-star-lines.jpg

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And even then, I don't know if being from the same village gives you any right :)
Whatever, it set me of on a youtube journey, and I thank you for that.
I first thought it was Ennio Morricone. But that's low on synthezisers, so I just checked out your network traffic, and thankfully you didn't change your music name :)

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The village thing is a greek thing/joke, quite common to hear it as an excuse in Greece :D 

Space games ought to have awesome music! We like Ennio a lot, thanks for sharing him.

We are creating this prototype and sharing it for the fun of playing around in space, we will see if we can get away with a copyright notice for the moment.

Maybe we send the link to Vangelis and ask him :)

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I purposefully didn't mention inertia, because I'm in the niche that prefers reality over arcade style in this regard (remember, "fun" is always subjective: for me, breaking / getting slowed down a lot by some magical drag in the vacuum of space just breaks suspension of disbelief / immersion, however intuitive (= in line with the player's previous experiences) it might be. So I would rather use "fun for most players" in this case, which is indeed relevant for any game that needs to generate revenue - unless targeting a specific underserved niche)

So I enjoy games with realistic inertia (like Endless Sky, Destination: Sol, Babylon 5: I've found her). This of course led to some level of mastery in this skill, so for me, it was easy to navigate, but I would have expected regular players not used to this finding it very difficult (as I did when I first played such games - I did find it just as fun back then, as I belong to this minority)

In my own game (recently posted), I opted for keeping inertia realistic (no drag at all), but added flight assist (automatic thrust to eliminate any drift and to control spin) and speed limits to help out players who are not used to this, though for a lot of players it is still too hardcore I think (it is not "responsive", but more sim like, exactly what I find more fun), but only because it is a passion project and not intended to make money or reach a large audience. I would (will) make an arcade mode and/or mobile version with tweaked controls if the goal was revenue-generation.

Tweaking /assisting the controls to be right with realistic inertia is definitely a challenge, maybe you can take a look at these examples (all are free - which kind of supports my point :D). In the current version, the velocities I am entering the gravity fields were always way too high to be affected by the gravity too much for example, like @Skeptron also mentioned.

So depending on the target-audience and your goal with the game you can go any number of ways with this, I think the key is to make it a conscious decision of why you are doing it the way you do it and also make it clear to the (potential) audience. :)

On the copyright issue, there are awesome free music resources available you can find with an afternoon of search, I definitely recommend switching it out before too many people know about your game.

 

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1 hour ago, Entian said:

On the copyright issue, there are awesome free music resources available you can find with an afternoon of search, I definitely recommend switching it out before too many people know about your game.

Are you saying there's free music on the level of Morricone and Vangelis? That's Oscar/Grammy stuff you know...
When I heard this, I knew they either had an insane music artist, or it was the real thing.

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@Milton No, I'm saying "there are awesome free music resources available you can find with an afternoon of search". Awesome is more inclusive than "on the level of Morricone and Vangelis". It's more like "of surprisingly good quality, despite being free". When I was looking for sound effects for my game, I stumbled upon a lot of music that was far better than I would have imagined is available for free to use. If I were to hear a cut of Bush Week or The Water and the Well or Crux from Nihilore in a game, my first thought wouldn't be that they got it for free, but rather that this game has awesome music. Maybe I am just too easily impressed :) (these are just examples I could find now in about 15 minutes and which I could imagine as ambient music for a game like this)

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@Entian wow, that's a massive project. Coding everything from scratch! I will keep a close eye on this, thanks for sharing.

We love realistic movement, physics and everything else from space. But thinking how little we know of space actually, we see a big gap that we can fill with imagination. That's what we love in space games. You can as little or as much of anything.

Thanks for the suggestions on movement, we will keep trying!

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