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Solotra.B Development Log

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SCAREKRO
(@scarekro)
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Hi everyone. I will be posting my development log on SpaceSimCentral.com from now on! Thanks guys!

My name is Ricky and I am creating a game called Solotra.B.

Solotra.B is an open world, 2D, top down shooter/trader/resource management/tower defense/strategy game. Imagine a top down Elite, fused with Pirates!, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Fragile Allegiance/K240.

I have been developing this game a bit over a year and have been slowly learning about all the elements of creating a game. I am completely new to the world of video game development, I have no past experience in the development industry. I am however, an avid gamer and love all manner of games and have played an innumerable amount of games over 30 years.

I am a high school teacher by profession and was exposed to game development through being allocated an Info Tech class where I was charged with teaching students the basics of programming using tools like GameMaker and Unity. I found that I was perhaps enjoying learning about programming and game making more the some of the students!

I had dabbled as a kid with programming, using my trusty Commodore 64 and a bit of encouragement from my Dad and Uncle but that was my first and only foray into game making. I had always talked about wanting to make a game throughout my life but just never got around to doing it.

I decided, just over a year ago, to make some changes in my life and actively pursue my dreams instead of always saying "one day...." Thus Solotra.B was born.

THE GAME

The concept/story behind my game is that you, the player, have been sent out into an unknown sector of the galaxy in order to scavenge, collect and mine resources needed to save your home world and/or help build an exodus fleet.

In the sector of the galaxy that you have been sent out to, there will be a number (24 or so) star systems that you can visit, each with their own unique planetary systems and alien races that you will interact with.

You fly around each solar system and can collect resources from space - minerals/rock from asteroids and metal from scrap that is floating around, alien items from alien ships and trade goods from attacking merchants - which you can use to build & defend mining bases, upgrade your ship and develop weapons.

You can establish small mining bases on planets which will enable you to harvest more minerals and particular elements, that you can either use for yourself or that you will send back to your home world.

You can sell these items to alien civilizations to purchase technology, weapons, schematics, ships etc. but there is the risk of not supplying enough to your home world. You will need to constantly decide on spending on yourself at the expense of those people who live on your home planet. Be selfless and help your people but risk failure in your mission as more aggressive aliens will destroy you - or be selfish and risk the lives of others.

You will need to defend each of your mining operations from attack from aliens and pirates who will attempt to steal from or destroy you. This will work in a space invaders styled game within the main game.

This is the main concept behind the game. As I develop this game further I will update you all here, as well as on my website www.scarekrogames.com (where I have already began a developer diary/blog.)

I am expecting to continue development of this game for at least another year - I think it will take that time (and perhaps more) to develop this game to my full vision.

I am hoping to try for Steam Greenlight and perhaps a Kickstarter later on this year.

Can check some videos out if you want

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrieMb-x2ePbBe8S8TTU_CQ

Follow me on Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScarekroGames

Facebook:

Anyway, will be posting progress here from now on also. Hope to get some feedback on any aspect and am happy for any questions, comments or criticisms. Thanks guys!

Here are some screenshots (all early development stuff):

 

 

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Here are some of my handwritten notes (maybe interesting to those of you who are developing stuff, maybe not!):
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Pinback
(@pinback)
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Nice update Scarekro your graphic style is some what similar to a 2D version of Elite on the Amiga which I think you mentioned as being one of the influences on your game.


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SCAREKRO
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Worked on a new surface today:

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DarkOne
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This looks great, the colors don't clash. Do you have plans to include any atmospheric or planet side events?


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SCAREKRO
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Yeah there will be a few different events, alien attacks, crashed ships, alien cities, meteor storms etc...

Will be adding a lot more environmental details when the time comes around for polishing.

Have a new dev log video where I have added the player character who you can control to help defend your base:
 


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DarkOne
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Nice video (heh missile command style combat). Will you be able to see live the status of your station or other units on the planet during the attack to see how much damage the structure can take before destruction? Do you plan to put intelligence behind the aliens attacking to try to take out specific asset or target the offensive or defensive units (like yourself)?


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Pinback
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Some classic sound effects there.


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SCAREKRO
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@D1 I was thinking about having a couple of different building damage sprites to indicate the different damage levels - but I might also put a small health bar for each building that is displayed if you hover the cursor over it. I have to start work on more turrets and buildings (power, shield generators, mining drills etc.) I have been trying to focus on landscapes and getting the whole planet part of the game into a meaningful game. Have a few different ideas. I think I will make it wave based (wave 1,2,3 etc) with more waves/higher difficulty the higher your current system alien hostility level is.

I want to try and make the planet view as fun and interesting as possible and not make the player feel like it is a chore to defend each base that you have set up. Not exactly sure how I will handle it when the player has numerous mining bases across multiple systems... I will limit attacks to the current system that you are in I think.... or maybe have an alarm and news feed that is sent from one of your colonies that is in another system - but I will definitely have to limit these - or make them ignorable (perhaps with a automatic outcome - calculated by number of defense towers on surface vs hostility level in that system.)

@PINBACK

Yeah I use an awesome program called BFXR to generate these old school sound effects. I really haven't spent much time on the SFX at the moment though - am kind of leaving this for last. I have been using the same few SFX for all explosions and lasers just as placeholders - these will be changed later on, with a greater variety of sounds.

Thanks guys! It's nice to talk about my game - helps to think through things better. I don't really have anyone in my real life that is interested in hearing me talk about this stuff and sometimes it's hard just conversing with yourself.. lol sounds like I am going mad.


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SCAREKRO
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[media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N65U6BKSV4[/media]


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SCAREKRO
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[media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_IeXLuocyE[/media]


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DarkOne
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Both of those videos are great, lift-off was simple and in step with old school games (nice) and the sound effects in both videos reminds me of playing on my C64. I did like the touch of the voices in the game for the intro and basic warnings when in combat. Adds a nice touch so someone can focus on the action instead of looking at the hud all the time.

 

Is it always going to be you against the galaxy or will you planning to add maybe AI wingmen or maybe NPC ships that tend to help fight off invaders in their home sectors? And will planets, stars and asteroids have any effect on piloting or combat?


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Pinback
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Love the 8 bit look and feel to the game. 😎

 

Similar point to D1 will their be any quiet sectors or will any station have zones around them where you can find shelter.


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SCAREKRO
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@Darkone Thanks again man. I really haven't begun to implement SFX properly at the moment - though SFX will still be all in the same style. At the moment I have just reused the same few sound effects - each weapons/turret etc will have their own SFX.

The AI computer will have a large number of dialogues (which will be updating the player on all sorts of things - like alien hostility, player status, system names, number of bases, alien attacks etc. I have also included a number of space facts that the computer will educate the player on (if they wish to hear facts about black holes, star, light speed travel, time dilation etc.) She will also provide light comical relief along the way!

I am planning on including basic diplomacy with each alien species, they will also have their own backstories and conflicts etc. You will either be neutral, friendly or hostile with them and this will affect their attitudes towards you and levels of hostility. (At the moment the Juunga (yellow) aliens are set at fully hostile'(if attacked) as I haven't set the subtleties of their aggression yet.) This is why it appears that they just attack you relentlessly.

Only asteroids will effect your flight (stars and planets are just in the backgrounds).

If aliens are friendly towards you (you can improve your relationship with them by carrying out missions for them etc.) then you will be able to issue a distress signal which will call in friendly alien fighters who will help you in combat. You will also be able to build drones that can assist you in combat.

 

@Pinback - Yes there will be a number of uninhabited systems that the player will be able to visit and collect resources in at their leisure  - but the rarer elements/resources will mainly be found in system with an alien presence. You will not constantly be under attack in those systems either. It depends on your status with them and the current hostility level (think GTA wanted stars) and most aliens will be diplomatic in their relations to you, some more forgiving than others. Some aliens will be fully hostile and as you destroy more of their craft, the number of ships sent to engage you will increase.

You will also be able to purchase equipment (cloak, emp's etc .) that will hide your presence from aliens - but generally warping out of these systems will restart the hostility scale (but not their diplomatic status towards you (friendly, neutral, hostile).

Can I ask you guys a question? I am preparing my game to be demoed at a local indie festival - and I had the thought of preparing 2 different demo's. A combat demo - which will just pit you against an alien species at a medium hostility level where you have to survive (pick your ship, pick 2 weapons and off you go) and a base building/tower defence demo which covers building and defending your base. I will let the player select which demo they want to play - they will be able to do both if they want. Do you think this is a good idea - or will this lead to perhaps an incorrect impression of the full scope of the game?

Thanks to both of you!

 


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DarkOne
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Personally if you had to create a demo let it be like one sector that shows off the combat and the landing/base functionality. Two different demos really don't make any sense from a player aspect (probably easier for you to create) but if I was looking at your game I want to walk away with a good idea of what I can expect from my short playing experience. And not saying you could have crashes... but if you had two demos you could have double the trouble 🙂

 

Plus you have to look at this indie festival as your time to shine and hopefully wow the people there and maybe those same people will write about your game or even put something on youtube. So the more put together demo you have with the features your aiming for the better. I would just scale it down so your not showing off too much and you can talk to people as what will be in the game. Just my .02 and good luck!


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Pinback
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A combat only demo may give the wrong impression of the game as could be easily mistaken for a shoot em up and player may never try the other one and vice verses with the base building demo could be taken for a strategy game with no combat.

 

But as you are going to be at the indie festival then two demos may make more sense as you would be able to quickly demonstrate different features of the game but if you intend to release a demo or just let people play the game by them selves then I would just go with one. 


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DARI
 DARI
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omg amiga-retro-color-goodness YAY


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SCAREKRO
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Thanks DARI.

Meeting the first low tech civilization that you can trade with.

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SCAREKRO
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Couple new shots:
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DarkOne
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Doing some great work on these updates and really like that small vid of defending the base (had a missile command feel) and your character looks to be underground mining for resources. Are these resources that you are collecting are they only for use with this planet/moon outpost or can you take it all with you to trade or use to create other outposts?

 

What is left or what happens when you loose the fight for your outpost?


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SCAREKRO
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Hey DarkOne, sorry haven't replied earlier, been quite busy, as of late. At the moment all resources are accessible from your inventory, anywhere in the game. However, I want to create a system where the player can carry a limited amount of resources on their person (backpack) and can transfer these to Silos that can be built on the planet surface.

 

Mining droids or platforms on the surface will automatically store resources collected into the surface Silos. 

 

From your Command Centre, the player will be able to teleport (if they have researched and built teleportation technology) resources to/from their ships cargo hold or other bases with teleports and silos on their surface. 

 

The main goal in collecting the resources will always be to teleport them to Earth, but the player will need to keep some for base building and for upgrading/researching and trading.

I have not decided the penalties yet for losing a battle. I am thinking that if you lose your command centre on the planet surface then you will lose all buildings on that surface and any stored materials. If the player themselves is killed, then either you will have to relaunch from Earth, as a new character, or if you have cloning technology researched you will reappear at your nearest Research Lab Cloning Vat, with a diminished overall HP (20 pts. less or something) and you will lose the base also.

Other possible ideas that I have had are that all buildings will power down - instead of destroyed and you will have to fight the invasion with support of base defences or that you just lose buildings and will have to rebuild them, if you (player) survive the invasion.

Once I have put my first idea in place - I will be testing and getting feedback on what I or players think would be a better system.


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SCAREKRO
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DarkOne
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Hmmm has Solotra.B stalled? Hasn't been a update post in a while...


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SCAREKRO
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Hi DarkOne. I've temporarily stopped work on Solotra.B. I decided (last December) to start working on a smaller scaled survival space game, similar to Oregon/Organ Trail. There were a couple of reasons for this:

a) Given that I work full-time as a teacher (to pay off my mortgage) and have two young kids (4 and a 4 month old), I know that Solotra.B is really going to take quite some time to finish, unless I can re-organize my life and start developing full-time. I don't want to compromise on my vision for the game and so I am not really prepared to cut it short or remove elements. Knowing this, I decided to take a 6 month break from the game, in order to produce something in a complete form. I am still working as hard as ever, building my development skills.

b) If I can have a finished game under my belt, it may aid me in gaining some financial support to develop Solotra.B. People can see what I am able to produce and will probably take me a whole lot more seriously if I have already completed and released a finished working/quality product. 

 

c) Finishing a game, going through the release/greenlight process and gaining feedback will provide invaluable knowledge and experience for me and will only aid me in the development/release of Solotra.B.

I am almost at a stage where I can post an alpha for my latest project "Star Trail". My timeline for completion of this game is 3 months. I am pretty much on track to meet this and am quite itching to get back to Solotra.

I really want nothing more than to be able to make the games that I want to, all day long, everyday.  I am still motivated, still working at it and still committed to developing these games.  I really want to change my life around and this seems to be the best strategy for that. Thanks for asking about the game too man!

Here is some screenshot of Star Trail:

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SCAREKRO
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Hi everyone, I know I've kind of hijacked my Solotra.B thread but I may as well continue to post here. I have a short development progress video marking the current process of my other game "Star Trail". I still have a few rough edges to work out and things that need to be added & refined but I am close to releasing a fully playable test version of the game.
 


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DarkOne
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Hey Scarekro

What might be more beneficial to getting your word out about Star Trail would be just make a new thread in your Solotra.B forum area. This way you can get some more exposure. And this way it keeps your topics separate and people don't get the games confused 🙂


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