03 March 2014

screenshot from altera's alpha build

Been quite some time since I posted anything regarding Altera, the lego like semi-organic world inside a slightly more coloured tron like system (still cant find a proper description) anyway, here is a screenshot from the latest alpha build. 

Altera has evolved quite a lot from a tech demo into an almost playable game with poor presentation. Its current state is (more or less) a crudely presented game were you could do a couple of cool things while workers run around following your errands, denizens defend your domain, eat, sleep and look for adventure, mysterious visitors in robes bring power to your base while seeking refuge from trolls, various mobs raid settlements looking for prey  and so on. Still there are many things that need to be implemented and many to be replaced / fixed.

So what was that image all about? Let me walk you through a quick session of Altera's current alpha state while describing what each structure does.

You start the game with a "Core", a round platform with floating screens that allows you to control the domain around it and a humanoid form that acts as your avatar. Its an empty map with a grid dividing it into zones but with each passing minute the map evolves with growing plants and volcanoes that shape the land. There are also mysterious visitors wearing robes who travel this land using a transit system that resemble conveyors. These figures represent users who search the system for "content".  

You begin the game with very low resources so first thing to do is to wander around looking for things to kill and loot. Luckily there are always other domains nearby with easy to kill pests that give enough gold (its not actually gold but its a yellow coloured triangle so I call it gold) it acts as the basic resource which you use in construction of structures. Different colours like red can be used for fire based weapons.

With enough gold you build a couple of worker bots who wander about, ready to do your footwork. These bots are the ones who will construct structures. Its usually a good idea to build a vault first as workers are weak in combat but there are times they get to kill an enemy and take its loot or stumble across some resources to collect. The vault allows them a safe place to pile resources for the player to use.

altera - tech temples

The mysterious visitors with robes give tech bonus to the player. In order to attract visitors couple of kiosks need to be built. These kiosks produce content (news, social etc. ). The more visitors you get the higher tech bonus they give you. The bonus can be stored inside tech pyramids that act as a symbol of your "tech" cult. However these visitors also bring the trolls that stalk them. These trolls act as nuisance, destroying workers and killing visitors, causing various problems in your domain.

Sleeping Pods provide living space for other humanoid denizens in your base. These denizens have a mind of their own and require food, socialising, energy and morale to continue living in the domain. They also help the player defend the domain against trolls and raids from other mobs when they are not adventuring by themselves.

Altera - overhead icons

Luckily you dont have to guess what the denizens are thinking as their thoughts and status are presented as tiny speech bubbles above their heads.

altera - solar panel

The solar panels allow the plants in a certain radius around them to provide the food required to feed the denizens of the domain. Food is collected by workers and brought to a distillery where it is tuned into elixir. A type of drink (or food) that is sold in bars to act as a much more powerful item to satisfy hunger needs as long as the customers have enough money.

altera - distillery
The Forge allows you to construct items such as pistols, melee rings and shields. When building stuff you get a couple of different parts to add / remove to the weapon. If you want to build a pistol, you pick a basic chassis that will lay down its basic stats. Later you can choose to add a scope for increased range or add a larger clip for extra ammo, you can even pick the type of projectile it will shoot (flame, shock, explosive etc). Each customization requires more money and tech level to build.

Every part you add has a visible effect on the gun model itself. (as long as you play zoomed in) so if you have a keen eye, familiar with the parts you can identify (more or less) what each weapon can do before picking it up.

altera - pistol skin proposal
Crafted items can be used, given to denizens who live in the domain or sold to a market for money, where other denizens with enough credits would attempt to buy them, contributing to the domains economy.

Additional Items
Currently the items are limited to various ranged weapons, shields and melee discs which are all combat related. The item list can be increased by adding various sorts of consumables and items that boost stats when carried in the inventory. The inventory space is very limited so there wont be too much concerns about someone filling their pockets to make a ultra powerful character. The players will still need to leave some items behind and those items will most definitely be found by another creature and end up somewhere totally unexpected.

Consumables (single use per item)
ration - fills food bar when consumed
medkit (auto patching systems) - fills health bar when consumed
battery - fills shield bar when consumed
holodiscs or rubic cubes - fills fun bar when consumed
maybe morale should not be recovered by the aid of items. Various other consumables can be added to boost the users skills for a limited time. (melee, speed, accuracy etc)

Artefacts (items that provide bonus to skills as long as they are carried, can be sold for a good price)
Flame ammo, extra clip, melee gauntlets, targeting visors etc...

These stuff should be found in the wild, in ruins, in containers scattered around the map etc. The main reasons for their existence;

a) adventuring denizens find them without paying for them. so they can focus spending their money on food and other consumables while grinding for loot and improving their stats using the items they found, this feels like it would allowing a more stable economy.

b) makes the surrounding world worth exploring.

c) discovering new loot is always fun.

Economy Model
The economy model was added recently so there are still some flaws in it. There was a talk of adding a tax system so i came up with this system for shops (and maybe sleeping pods and kiosks too due to the limited number of shops)

Couple of key structures should produce tax (maybe a low percentage of sales, 1/4 gold of each sale?) and every 10 minutes a tax collecting bot should visit them to take money back to the vault. If it dies the money is dropped, waiting for someone to pick it up. Greedy / unhappy denizens (crime) or trolls (glowing stuff takes their fancy) can target these guys for easy picking. It would not be an enormous loss for the player if the tax money is dropped so you wouldnt need to guard them personally but adding a few guard posts around their path can make a fun economy mechanic and an automated way to earn / loose money.

Want more Altera related stuff? Check these previous posts full of concepts 1 2 3 4