39 Days to Mars is a co-operative steampunk survival-adventure game. You play as Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter, two 19th century explorers who have been chosen to pilot the HMS Fearful on its maiden voyage to Mars. You must keep the two explorers alive through the trip by attending to their needs, while at the same time keeping the ship from falling apart and solving the problems that arise.

Report article RSS Feed Artwork and Puzzle Design

One of the problems with developing a puzzle-adventure game is that much of the appeal of the game comes from discovering the unknown. So when it comes to a post about new artwork and puzzle design, where do you draw the line between showing enough to be interesting, and showing too much and giving away the excitement? This week made it difficult to decide :

Posted by surrealix on Apr 14th, 2014

One of the problems with developing a puzzle-adventure game is that much of the appeal of the game comes from discovering the unknown. So when it comes to a post about new artwork and puzzle design, where do you draw the line between showing enough to be interesting, and showing too much and giving away the excitement? This week made it difficult to decide : 

What's new this fortnight?

Much like last fortnight, there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes programming going on. However there's also been a lot of interesting artwork and design going on, and I'm excited to show some of it.


Puzzles : 2 co-op / 0 stand-alone
Objects : 10 tutorial / 8 ship

(The puzzle numbers are going up! It's going to be a slow process, but it's nice to see the puzzle count rise above one and the number of objects in the ground level rise into the double digits).

The important point being shown off in this screenshot is the range of mouse cursors. They're generally not all visible at the same time, but the change of icon based on the context makes the game much easier to navigate now. My biggest headache recently has been writing code that supports a huge range of input methods - from the mouse and keyboard through to game controllers and potentially touch support. There's a still a long way to go until it all feels intuitive, but these mouse icons are a start.

Animation


Most of the game is being developed on a custom framework layered on top of XNA (soon to be MonoGame - see below). To spend more time creating content and less time writing editors, I've decided to do all the game animation in Blender. It's a comfortable environment for me to work in, and its animation tools surpass anything I'd be able to write myself. The only catch was getting sprite data from the game into Blender, and then the animation data back out to the game again.

Last week I wrote a set of import and export scripts that allowed just that. I tested it out by loading animations from the Kickstarter gameplay trailer into the game. It was fast and painless, and now I'm looking forward to animating everything I can my hands on!

Puzzles


As you perhaps noticed, the puzzle count increased by one. I was working on some code and feeling generally uninspired when an idea for a puzzle wandered into my mind. Who said daydreaming was unproductive?. I scribbled down several pages of notes, then fired up my painting program - the GIMP - and drew all 35 assets in the course of a day.


This is the unimportant part.

At this point it's just a pretty picture, but by next week I hope it will all be hooked up and ready to playtest.

Watch This Space


Last week I talked about a small test project I was using to pave the way for cross-platform support. It's now running on the Xbox360 (details here), and I have a limited number of free keys for 39 Days to Mars Kickstarter backers. Get in touch with me if you'd like one. The next step is to port it to MonoGame to test Linux and MacOS support.

The most exciting piece of news this fortnight, however, is the announcement that I've been approved as a Nintendo developer and am aiming to bring 39 Days to Mars to the Wii U! There are a number of technical challenges involved in this, and the game must first be finished and then released on the Kickstarter-backed platforms. However, a Wii U release is now in the pipeline.

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39 Days to Mars
Developer
Surrealix
Engine
XNA
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Official Page
Surrealix.com
Release Date
Coming Q3 2015
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