Nov 30, 2006

Underground tunnels and Mission Scenarios

moon explorationWe've been thinking of changing the designs to support many of the ideas people have commented on below.

(check here for some moon facts:

I'm thinking that we should maybe change the ideas of the "sun damage" for two reasons: it's very hard to program to look realistic, and it might not be technically accurate. We might either ignore the 2-week day-night cycle, or have a countdown and force the player to go inside during "day" periods. Another option is to just assume that the equipment made is tough enough to survive the 500 degree F difference.

Underground Tunnels
Another option is to have much of the construction be in the form of underground tunnels and rooms, which will offer the best protection from radiation, micro-metiorites and temperature damage. When the day approaches, the astronaut would have to be in the tunnels or get to them before taking too much damage.

Mission Scenarios
I think the best idea would be to have "scenarios" and missions that the player gets. When playing, a random mission will be given to the player, probably in the form of a sound file... a voice transmission from Earth that gives the player their task. Any ideas for missions? I'm thinking things like:

- Go find a meteorite that just landed at X,Y and take a core sample
- Go repair a malfunctioning piece of mining equipment
- Build a new tunnel somewhere
- Get a certain amount of various types of minerals
- Dig a hole
- Fight martians? :)


David Sprague said...

Rather than martians, a competing corporate sponsered moonbase would be interesting. The corporate one could even be sneaky and steal/sabbotage the NASA stuff.

Splinter Cell's lock picking/bomb diffusal minigames would be perfect for an easy way to both visualize the repair process and make repairs fun - it was really interesting trying to keep the dissarming tool steady to defuse the bomb at the end of Double Agent with 40 seconds left before it exploded.

For sun damage, you could just have going out during day time do extremely slow steady damage and risk some serious equipment failure. This would make a daytime buggy excursion especially risky since say there was an engine failure or something, by the time you managed to get repairs to it, it could be irreparibly sun fried. You wouldn't need any effect to show this, just the health bar slowly dropping and maybe a sun icon to show why.

Oh, and time limits ruin most games, especially one like this that should encourage exploration rather than rushing to finish objectives. I think it'd be coolest to have a more or less open ended game world where you are given missions and are free to choose where you go and which ones you do, GTA style.

If you really want it timed, one game pulled it off perfectly, Dead Rising for the 360. In that game, you had 72 hours to uncover a conspiracy in a zombie filled mall. After 72 hours, a helicopter was going to come in and rescue you. You were given missions in the form of scoops (you're a reporter) from the various friendly npcs you come accross. Each scoop had a certain time it was revealed and a certain time it would expire. Some scoops were required to uncover the conspiracy and missing them meant that you could no longer uncover it and you could either continue and beat the game and get the sucky ending or reload your last save. Some were optional, but completion of them often gave you rewards such as better weapons or more insight on the main plot. To encourage exploration despite the rush (it is impossible to beat all the missions in one go, you simply have to fail some - adds replayability), some scoops could be stumbled upon, or sometimes you'd find some great item that could help you with some other scoop. A system like this could easily be adapted to your game, though it'd be a lot more work to implement.

Just some random ideas.

Jay Crossler said...

I like these ideas. Others have commented that rather than having our players be NASA astronauts, have them as members of various corporations that are working on the moon as well. We might even be able to turn that into some real-life corporate sponsorship.

Using minigames is a good idea to effect repairs, mine for minerals, or test for chemicals... we would just need to build those minigames and have them well designed. I welcome any ideas (especially fun though simple ones).

The Dead Rising idea is a good one. I enjoyed the game as well, especially the concept of being a phojournalist that gets rewarded for picture-taking as well as pure zombie slaughter. We could use this concept to have an open sandbox game, with missions coming in randomly.

What missions should we have? I'd like to put together a list of 10 or so and then figure out what assets we need to make those missions happen.

David Sprague said...

The bomb diffusal minigame from Splinter Cell could be used for changing sensitive computer components out. It's kind of tough to explain if you haven't played it, but in the original game, you're given a side view of what looks like a jar. At the bottom is a bomb core. You are also given a "head on" view looking down into the jar from above. You hit a key and a tool slowly lowers into the jar. You have to get it to the bottom and grab the bomb core without touching the sides of the jar or hitting the core at anything other than dead on. This is made a lot harder by the fact that the tool in the head on view is constantly moving around in random directions. The real challenge of the minigame is to steady your apparently very shaky hand and lower the tool down and grab the bomb core slowly and carefully so you don't accidently touch the sides or strike the core, but quickly and carefully so that the bomb doesn't go off before you diffuse it.

For your game, the bomb core could be replaced by whatever component fails and needs replacing and the jar could simply be whatever is housing the component. Touch the sides while lowering your extraction tool and you have to start over. Touch the sides while extracting the broken component and maybe you wouldn't be able to salvage it for something else (dunno how deep you guys are going with this). Touch the sides while lowering the new component in and you damage it. Take too long and the temperature/sunlight could damage more components.

Paper mario has a good one for refilling tires with air. One of the characters' moves requires you to hit a in rythm with the character inhaling to fill a bar. You would hit the a key, and the bar would start to fill, it would fill up to about a fifth or so before it started to fall back off smoothly. So the challenge was to hit a again at the peak of the first bar fill before it started to fall off to inflate the bar another 1/5 of the way to the top. You wanted to get it as close to the end of the bar without going over as possible. So for your game you could have a view of the tire with a little pressure guage and a warning, go over the limit and you ruin the tire completely, but the more you inflate it the less likely it is to leak or maybe the better it handles. I dunno how strict you are looking to be with this game, is it easy for little kids or a realistic space sim?

Minesweeper would be a really interesting way to introduce some sort of a diagnostic tool to your game. The mines could indicate problems of some sort and each square of the minefield could represent a specific system or component. So if you are trying to figure out what's wrong with the lunar rover, pull out your diagnostic tool and start the minigame. If there is only 1 little problem with it, then there would only be 1 mine on the field meaning, just like in minesweeper, the game is practically an automatic win. Crash the buggy and the field is filled with mines, meaning the diagnostic is going to be tough. To disguise the fact that you are basically ripping off minesweeper, have the diagnostic tool have each squar of the battle field clearly labeled with what system it represents. Dunno what clicking a mine could do, perhaps just crash the diagnostics tool for like 30 seconds? This one could be pretty neat, but would probably be pretty tough (time consuming for so small a feature) to implement.

One more I'd love to see would be some form of a rewiring minigame. I used to know of a flash game that had a perfect system for it, but I cannot remember the name of it, so I'll have to look more later for that one. Mario Party or any of the other console party games could very easily be used as extra minigames for anything else. They are very varied and all extremely simple, so easy for you guys. And I don't know how deep or challenging you are looking to make this game, but hopefully some of the above ideas will help you guys in some way. As for the missions and stuff, what you already have seems plenty good. If you do decide to go corporate rather than nasa, then that'd make for some fun and interesting sabbotage/espianage/stealing missions against competing missions. Or you could make the player sponsering entity the victum of it at certain points.

Jay Crossler said...

Great stuff! Do you want to take over designing two minigames? I think one for repairing, and one for mining or chemical analysis would be ideal. Perhaps the connect the wires, or bomb defusal approach would be best.

Ideally, if these could be seperate procedures in Torque that I'd call with something like:
"if (minigame_mining(6,"Aluminum") == True) {
With "6" denoting the level of difficulty, and some sort of text for a title screen or something.

I'd like to break the programming work up into discrete chunks so we can all develop independently from each other.

David Sprague said...

I'd love to, but how do you mean that?

Steven Heffel said...

I remember a game called "Lunar Lander" from the days when I used to hang out at video arcades as a teenager in Chicago. You would try to land a lunar module on the surface of the moon without crashing. You had to land before you ran out of rocket fuel and crashed. You could also hit the abort button but that eats up alot of rocket fuel.

Steven Heffel said...

Also, from what I understand about the design of any future lunar base, only the initial stages of a lunar base would be comprised of prefabricated modules launched from Earth, but over time the astronauts would use resources found on the moon to make adobe-like structures out of lunar cement. And most facilities would be set up in underground lava tubes. The Moon Society and the Lunar Reclamation Society have some photographs of 3-D diaramas of these structures on their websites that you should probably look at to get some ideas.