39 Days to Mars is a co-operative steampunk puzzle-adventure game.
Step into the shoes of Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter, two 19th century explorers who have chosen to pilot the HMS Fearful on its maiden voyage to Mars.
When the steam engine runs out of coal, the ship's cat shreds the navigation chart, and the tea gets cold, it becomes clear that interstellar transportation isn't a walk in the park. It will take the talents of two players working together on the problems that arise to get to Mars in one piece.
39 Days to Mars is a two player co-operative game.
The HMS Fearful is a masterpiece of unreliable engineering, therefore Albert and Baxter will need all the help they can get. Nothing can be done without the effort of both players, who have important roles to play in the adventure.
If you don't want to play with your friends, the ship's computer-controlled cat will keep you company.
The mix of action and thoughtful puzzles make it perfect for playing in short sessions. The entire adventure fits comfortably into an evening.
Be drawn into the world of Albert and Baxter by the unique illustrated artwork. 39 Days to Mars has a rich sound-scape and a beautiful piano score that is punctuated only by the occasional disaster.
The HMS Fearful embarks for Mars soon!
This month I worked on assets and descriptions for the Steam Coming Soon page, which is now live! This means you can now add 39 Days to Mars to your Steam Wishlist. I also crossed off a number of smaller tasks, and merged the main menu and pause menu into the same system.
With the in-game artwork finished, I took some new high-resolution screenshots to replace the outdated ones from the prototype.
I also spent time designing the store-front assets, and I'm excited to finally have the Steam Store Page up. You can click here to visit it (and add 39 Days to Mars to your Wishlist).
Finding, recording, and integrating sound into the game has been an ongoing task over the last two months, and I've finally finished the bulk of it. Except for the new menus, everything in the game now has sound and it really adds to the feeling and atmosphere when you're playing it.
One of the best resources I found for sourcing raw sounds is FreeSound.org. There are thousands of CC-0 and CC-BY sounds ranging from the useful ("60 seconds of a wooden table clock ticking") to the bizarre ("blindfolded octopus unwraps a cellophane-covered bathtub"). Editing and balancing the sounds before I integrated them into the game took much longer than I expected, but I'm happy with the result.
Recently, as I started implementing the save system, I realised that the start "menu" in the game wasn't going to be sufficient. I bit the bullet and took some time to implement what I should have done months ago - design a proper menu for the start and the pause screens. It's evolved quite a lot over the different iterations, so here's a brief look at why and how things changed:
Protoype : The very first prototype simply had two buttons that could be clicked by the mouse. Start, and Quit.
Inputs : When I decided to support both keyboard and controller input, there needed to be a way to choose how each character was controlled. The second iteration of the menu let you choose the input for each character separately.
Artwork : With a first pass over the artwork in the game, the menu stayed roughly the same, but took on the form of a sitting room with the characters waiting to begin their voyage. Prompts popped up to instruct you how to start the voyage.
Co-operative : With the addition of a single-player option, I expanded the scene to give options for co-operative and single-player, with the table scene staying intact, and the ship's cat curled up next to the fire. A save and load option was also added, but switching between these wasn't obvious.
Pages : Further playtesting made it obvious that a more reactive and intuitive menu was needed. I also needed options for the pause menu, and making different versions of this scene appear for different configurations of the game was starting to look like a lot of work. Re-designing this into an expandable and re-useable system resulted in the new and shiny main menu:
So here's the monthly snapshot of progress. The lines crossed out are tasks I completed this month, and everything is roughly in the order I'll be approaching it.
- Singleplayer Controls
- Main Menu
- Pause Menu
- Load Saved Game screen
Artwork for the Ship
Sound & Music
- Game Sounds
- Menu Sounds
- Record Albert's Lines
- Integrate voice acting into game
Steam Platform Integration
- Steam Store Page
- Mouse Input in Puzzles
- Ship's Cat / AI Character
- Control Instructions
Save & Load System
Gameplay & Balancing
- Level transitions
I'll be working on getting singleplayer working, and ironing out the last of the bugs for mouse control.
Don't forget you can follow @philipbuchanan on Twitter for more regular updates and development pictures!
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