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ryleyra

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Here is a preview of a new game I am working on called "Artemis Away Team". It is still in the early development stages, so I have nothing to post for playtesters to download, but you might want to keep track of my progress until such time as I do. I actually came up with this idea while Artemis Armada was going on, and it was based on posts that discussed a planned LARP or an Away Team app that never came to fruition.

 Screenshot_20170419-114527.png  Screenshot_20170419-114536.png   MarineScreenshot.png       

The game will be written for Android at first, designed to be played on up to 5 phones or tablets. The basic structure is based on Artemis, with a large dose of Spaceteam, which I checked out for networking and gameplay ideas. The idea is for a group of Artemis players to be able to pick up their phones and emulate an away team mission either while playing Artemis, or as a break between games. Naturally, I am planning on including some of the ideas we have discussed for away team missions at conventions, including Armada.

The gameplay area will consist of a radar map, at the top of the screen, which will take up about half of the available area. My inspiration for this is the motion detector from Aliens. The arc of the radar is limited, so the players will constantly be having to sweep their phones in a circle to get a reading of all of the environment around them. The idea of the enemy being hidden in plain sight, where only the radar can detect them, should build suspense while keeping up the immersion. Other objects such as foliage, computer equipment, mission objectives and so on will also be visible.

Similar to Artemis, there will be five roles the players can choose from, and they will have to work together to achieve mission objectives. They are as follows:

Leader - Coordinates the actions of the other members, and communicates with enemies, native life forms, and if necessary the ship. This role is optional, as there won't be many scenarios where communications is required for success.

Surveyor - Responsible for scanning the surrounding environment and reporting the location and purpose of all important objects, including enemies. Finding a mission objective will be much harder without the Surveyor.

Marine - Carries a blaster (or blaster rifle, if you want to build a custom prop) that is the primary defense for the team. Other players get a much weaker blaster, but a Combat scenario will be all but impossible without the Marine.

Doctor - Treats the other team members, including the Marine, for injuries suffered in battle. Can report some information on enemies normally conveyed by the Surveyor. Required for scenarios involving a Plague or Combat, but optional for others.

Technician - Operates consoles, which are special objects used in Repair scenarios, or to open doors or otherwise manipulate the environment. This is where the "Spaceteam" inspiration comes in. The Surveyor and Technician will have to work together to repair the system before it explodes. All while the Marine and Doctor are holding off hordes of enemies. [biggrin] The Tech also can recharge blaster power cells, giving him a secondary role in combat.

The scenario I'm going to be starting with will be a simple Combat scenario, with the players defending the bridge. There will actually be several movement modes, but I'm starting with Stationary, which will be a mission where the players don't move. Enemies will be charging at the players from all directions, and it will be up to the Medic and Doctor to fend them off. The Surveyor will be scanning the enemy, watching for Torgoth (who will insta-kill everyone if they get in melee range) or suicide Kraliens carrying bombs. The Technician will have several consoles which will enable him to set up force fields around the bridge, and repair them when they get knocked down by blaster fire.

I'm hoping for proof of concept to have the Medic and Doctor. From there I will expand to the rest of the team, and then other scenarios. There will be three types of scenarios, Combat, which depend on the Marine, Research, which require the Surveyor or Doctor, and Repair, which obviously requires the Technician. I'm hoping that the variety of different scenarios means that you can cover almost any kind of away team mission you might think of for a conference. And there will be a Game Master mode for the rest. [biggrin]

Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #2 
You are starting out much as Thom did. In his original proof of concept Thom had just Helm and Weapons connected to the server, plus of course Captain and the main screen.

You might consider contacting Thom to make an arrangement to sell your software under the Artemis name. It can't hurt to discuss it with him.

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ryleyra

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny
You are starting out much as Thom did. In his original proof of concept Thom had just Helm and Weapons connected to the server, plus of course Captain and the main screen.

You might consider contacting Thom to make an arrangement to sell your software under the Artemis name. It can't hurt to discuss it with him.


I definitely plan to, although I want to have something working before I take that step. But I definitely want to use the Artemis name, as well as the logo and look and feel. This isn't really intended to be a standalone product, although it will definitely be possible to play it without Artemis. But I'm designing it as part of the Artemis universe.

I'm afraid I'm taking a crash course in Android with this, though. I'm sure there are much better ways to write it than what I will end up doing, but I have far more experience on the PC than on phones. So it may get re-written from scratch a few times before it gets to the point where Thom has Artemis these days.

I'll also note that Spaceteam is free, but I'm a firm believer in the old adage that if you have something you want to give away for free, sell it for 50 cents or a dollar so you don't have to deal with people who will just harass you because it's free but never use it. [biggrin] I will probably be distributing the apk for testing, so it'll be free for some time at least.

k9lego

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Reply with quote  #4 
Awesome idea! My suggestion is make it in visual studio and you sir awesome idea! My suggestion is make it in Visual Studio with the Xamarin cross platform tool. It will allow you to port your code iOS, Android and the rarely used Windows Phone. All from one set of code! [smile]
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #5 
I'm currently working in Android Studio (I tried Eclipse but my system refused to cooperate) but I have considered switching to Visual Studio for the Game Master interface on the PC. It really isn't intended to be a desktop game, though, its native environment is a phone OS.

I'll admit the learning curve would be a heck of a lot easier with Visual Studio. [shrug]
k9lego

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Hmm, I see. What code are you making it from? Btw Visual Studio Community Edition is free. [smile] Visual Studio is actually a full-blown mobile developing tool. The biggest advantage would be to write it once, and use Xamarin so you don't need to write it two times. One for iOS and one for Android. If possible, I would do it completely with Visual Studio. Using multiple developer tools will make it more complex. Just using Visual Studio will reduce complexities down the road. I believe it's also what Thom uses. (Please don't quote me though [wink])
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #7 
In Android Studio I'm working in Java. I have plenty of experience with Visual Studio, though, and usually work in C#. I'm trying to throw something together very quickly, though, so I need to ability to just slap something into the design editor and test it on my phone.

Probably once I've got something that people can actually play and test out I will switch to Visual Studio so I can develop for the iOS as well.
k9lego

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Hmm, interesting thought. Is your goal to quick throw a game together, then rewrite it in C#?
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #9 
Yeah. I think Java and XML is probably going to be too limited. We'll see.
k9lego

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Reply with quote  #10 
It just hit me... I cannot imagine what this would be like in augmented reality! [biggrin] (Hololens, etc.) That would be so cool!
ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #11 
Well, the base game is not going to require any kind of augmented or virtual reality. The idea (much like Aliens) is that the enemy is hidden, and you can see them on your radar, even though you can't see them in real life. That means you won't be able to see any of the objects you interact with, either, you'll click on them on your phone, so in that sense the game takes place inside the phone.

However, I want to have several movement modes, and I want to have the option to either develop a virtual display that will add on to the base game, or have someone else do it. Some one could, for instance, develop a Google Glass interface that would actually let you see the Kraliens coming at you. Or you go into a mode on your phone where you walk around inside a computer environment while still interacting with the game.

Ultimately, I want to have a Stationary mode where the players all sit in a circle and the enemies come to them. A Virtual mode, where the players don't actually move in the real world, but they can use in game controls to walk around and navigate game generated terrain. An Augmented mode, where the players move in the game by walking around in the real world, with the game tracking where the enemies are based on their location. And finally, a Bluetooth mode, where real world objects with a Bluetooth signal serve as a "beacon" that actually brings the game into the real world.

The latter could be used in conventions. People in costumes serving as NPCs could be carrying a Bluetooth beacon so when you reach that Kralien, he really WILL jump out at you. [biggrin] I want to make MarkBell's Gin du Lidel prop from the Artemis Armada 2 LARP ideally suited for use with the game. And Laser Tag hardware, as well!
Monomyth

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Reply with quote  #12 
Reading through this, a suggestion I thought up would be if you could connect it to the bridge. Hope you don't mind.

For example, planets are added to the game, so a player could pilot the crew down to the surface. Or they could always get beamed down. Once there, the app could activate. Perhaps it still won't activate until the away team are some distance from the server.

Regardless, the away team goes about their mission as normal. Maybe if the Comms Officer is still on the bridge, they can relay intel/orders. Maybe the ship still has to defend itself from attack in orbit, and if they fly away a certain distance, the game won't be able to bring them back onto the ship.

A final idea I had was that the Surveyor or Technician could find hidden items on the away mission, like minerals that could recharge the ship energy. Or there could be missions where they have to find an item/NPC on a planet, and the ship has to safely escort them somewhere else.
k9lego

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Reply with quote  #13 
Whoa! Great ideas Monomyth! It would definitely add to immersion.
ryleyra

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monomyth
Reading through this, a suggestion I thought up would be if you could connect it to the bridge. Hope you don't mind.


Not at all. I would actually like for Away Team to interface with Artemis SBS. Thom's idea to add "hooks" to the game, for instance, could be used to trigger an increase in Nukes or Energy when the Away Team does something. So Away Team would be kind of like a side mission that's already in the game, and in fact, SBS could trigger an Away Team mission, if the "hook" was two-way.

Right now, I think it might be possible to do something with ArtClientLib. I'd have to experiment with it, but I think I can build an interface between the two games.

To start out, though, this would all have to be handled manually. If you wanted to go on an Away mission, you'd have to pause SBS and start an appropriate Away Team scenario. If SBS is Game Mastered, the GM could use the results of the Away Team mission to add Nukes or Energy or whatever.

Quote:

For example, planets are added to the game, so a player could pilot the crew down to the surface. Or they could always get beamed down. Once there, the app could activate. Perhaps it still won't activate until the away team are some distance from the server.


There are currently no planets in the stock game, but mods that add planets could make use of Away Team to explore those planets. And there will be a game mode where you can explore a base station.

Quote:

A final idea I had was that the Surveyor or Technician could find hidden items on the away mission, like minerals that could recharge the ship energy. Or there could be missions where they have to find an item/NPC on a planet, and the ship has to safely escort them somewhere else.


I plan a scenario along these lines called "Scavenge". The Surveyor will beam down with a Marine and collect parts or energy canisters. Of course, the enemy forces won't want you to succeed! [biggrin]

The scenario will require some sort of movement, though, so it won't be in the first round of missions, which are all planned to be stationary.

The mission to find a single object and bring it back (because it's knocked out Nukes or some such) would be either Sabotage (if you have to break the thing) or Artifact. (if you have to fix it) Sabotage would be a Combat mission, but Artifact would use the Technician.

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #15 
I have improved on the radar display, so I thought I would replace the preview image in the first post above with the most recent screenshot from the game. The game itself is still not functional, there are no objects to actually scan on the radar map, but the radar itself now works, with the direction lines rotating around the center point at the bottom of the radar as the player turns through 360 degrees.

The blank control area at the bottom still has no buttons, but eventually that will be the controls that the particular role uses to perform their function. The two white framed squares to the left and right are information displays, and when the player clicks on an item on the radar, it will be identified and detailed information will be shown in the white squares. The right side of the right square is not cut off on my phone, but I just realized it's supposed to be indented 10 pixels anyway, to match the left side.

Right now the only thing displayed in the control area is some debugging info, the actual angle in degrees that the phone is pointing, and the number of pixels that represents the range of the blaster. Notice at the top of the screen I display a warning "Compass Unreliable". I was on my boat, and the metal interferes with the magnetometer. The indicator is cyan to indicate that it's only slightly unreliable, it would be yellow or red if the accuracy was low or completely unreliable. This is debug info too, although I may retain it just so plays know when they enter areas that may interfere with the compass.

The direction is actually a composite of the magnetometer, accelerometer, and internal gyro if present. If the phone doesn't have a gyro, it will just use the magnetometer and accelerometer, with a subsequent decrease in accuracy. The action is still very smooth, and I think different players' views will be synchronized pretty well.

The display directly under the radar, with the diamond shaped icon, is the player's health indicator. The icon will turn yellow or red as the player is injured, and the bars will empty. I think the top bar will be a stun indicator, with the screen going dark for longer periods as the bar gets shorter, and the lower bar will be health. The indicator is supposed to be reminiscent of the Star Trek biobed display, only turned on its side. [biggrin] And the diamond shape replaces the pulsing red dot. I may have the diamond pulse in later versions of the game, but that's just cosmetic, not important to gameplay.

The area the player can hit with his blaster is marked with a opaque green area to highlight it. The innermost arc is at 3 meters, the next one out at 10 meters, and the outer arc 25 meters. The arc in between is the "scan line" and it is animated to move from the inside ring to the outside ring, like the radar map in Artemis. (And coincidentally the Aliens scanner) The radial lines mark every 30 degrees, with north at 0 degrees.

The 3 meter arc will be the interaction range for devices and scanning mission objectives, so you get an object inside that range to operate it. The 10 meter arc is blaster range, so if there's an enemy inside that circle, he's shooting at you. Obviously you want to point your blaster at him and shoot back.

I will be adding objects next. Hopefully my next post will be on a playable demo that lets you fight Kraliens. (and the other races too)

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