Aetherius is a voxel based game experiment being written in Java with LWJGL. It provides a procedural universe that runs infinitely in every direction across infinite worlds, with thousands of materials. All the non-procedural content is made with a suite of software that ships as part of the game. Aside from the pre-baked content and the modder, the game also procedurally generates content from mixing and matching an abundance of components that the player has the ability to add to or remove from. This content includes NPCs, Quests, Machinery and Materials. Aetherius is a true sandbox. The player can toggle every single aspect of vanilla gameplay, and construct their own game rules to suit themselves. It is fast approaching a viable alpha test phase.

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2 comments by JustSuds on Dec 7th, 2012

The Future of Aetherius

Current state:

I planned to release a super early alpha last week. To give you guys a taste of Aetherius. But then I realised wandering around in a plain voxel world with no actual features would not really interest anyone. So I made a list of everything I wanted as a bare minimum in a release. We're almost finished;

  • Infinite world generation (95%)
  • Block destruction / placement (DONE)
  • Inventory based material collection (DONE)
  • Inventory interface including wiki-like reference of materials (DONE)
  • Modeller interface with material and colour selection (95%)
  • Modeller rotating 3D model preview (DONE)
  • Model exporting to file (DONE)
  • Model loading from file to modeller (DONE)
  • Model loading and rendering into actual gameplay (DONE)
  • Active object system for gameplay world (DONE)
  • Subtle gradient for the sky (DONE)
  • Gallery interface to display all player made and vanilla models (30%)
  • Animated object pickups in gameplay (95% - just need to actually pickup)
  • Scenery import into gameplay (DONE)
  • NPC interaction and speech dialogue (75%)
  • Animated NPC models (15%)
  • Ability to help (quest) or kill NPCs (0%)

At this point, I'm not sure whether to rush a pre-alpha (free) release ASAP, or to bide my time and get NPCs up and running first. At the absolute minimum, I can make a release as soon as pickups get sucked into your inventory.

Recent Graphics Improvements:

We've been tweaking some of the visual styles of Aetherius this week, trying to hit a perfect colour scheme that doesn't feel too dark, or light and fluffy. The initial skybox gradient had a dash of pink towards the bottom, the logic being that a gradient of any kind is nicer to look at than a flat blue sky. It looked nice for a time, but it had some artefacts towards the top corners of the skybox that bugged me to the point of rewriting the skybox from scratch. Now the gradient is much more subtle, from blue to light grey.

(left: old graphics, right: newer tweaked graphics)

With the addition of the modeller application, I've had a lot more ease in tweaking world-material colours. This lead to darkening the grass, leaves, and dirt, and lightening the standard wood material. These improvements led me to notice a major flaw in my SSAO shader; it wasn't affecting the back edges of voxels, so it appeared that a ledge would simply appear as you walked. I tweaked the ranges and tolerances and came away much more pleased. :D

An introduction to some models:

Shovel (Tool), Coin (Currency), Point of Interest (HUD-like):
The shovel is as you would expect; designed to improve the speed of digging soft earthy materials. The coin is a bit more complicated. I believe Aetherius needs a common currency, but I don't believe gold coins should pop out of dead foxes. I think the only ways to get currency would be to make it from raw and refined materials, to trade for it with NPCs, or finding it in apparent man-made lootables (chests, dungeons, pots, etc). The Point of Interest marker (question mark) on the right, is likely to be a non solid object that hovers above certain objects. It may be a settings toggle, or made visible by crafting a specific item.

Frankenimage: Cherrybomb (Weapon/Tool), Sword (Weapon), Flower (Scenery):
This image was cut together from several screenshots to save page-space. On left we have the cherrybomb. This sucker will create a small explosion that deals damage to anything within its (customisable) blast radius. It will destroy most materials without issue. The sword is likely to become the default weapon, received or seized from the introductory/tutorial NPC. It is made of weaksauce, not iron as it appears. The flower on the right is our first example of scenery. Scenery objects are usually not solid (but there's an option for that in the modeller), and can be fairly large. When broken they pop into your inventory as a whole object, not the materials they appear to be made from.

Materials Unique to Aetherius:

We've been brainstorming as often as possible, trying to come up with as many materials as diverse as possible for the very first release. We've come up with some that we're especially proud of:

Some notes: The woofwood and woofleaves will spawn in the world as a type of tree. They will burn almost instantly, and make for excellent fuel where fuel is needed. Goop will be treated as a super-viscous liquid, taking several minutes to spread into neighbouring spaces. Aetheria is Aetherius' manifestation of mana. Its an energy source attached to the player and equipped gear, can be used for casting spells, or fuelling aetheria based machinery. Bloodstone will leak a bloodlike particle effect, and spread by converting appropriate neighbouring voxels, similar to grass.

The Modeller is now complete:

This is our modeller interface. We use it to create ALL of our models that appear in game, and you'll be able to use it too - right from day one. At the moment it only allows you to define some basic features however; the size (width in voxels) and its in-game scale (1/16th of a world voxel per model voxel, up to 16 world voxels to a model voxel), whether or not the model is Scenery, Gear or Consumable with more types to come later, and a name for the model. We'll be adding more and more capabilities to the modeller as we go. Features like specific animations, attributes and physics properties (solid, heavy, etc).

Demo Version and Paid Alpha:

We don't want people to pay for a crappy product, but we do need some funds to allow development to continue to completion. This puts us in a bit of a hard spot. We think we've come up with a close-to-ideal solution however:

  • Provide the alpha at a heavily discounted price (we're thinking $5 initially, open for opinions here)
  • Provide the beta at a slightly increased price (when ready, of course).
  • Provide the full release for a price around $30 or so.
  • From day one, also provide a free demo that is consistently kept up to date with the release version, but is limited to a pre-generated world, with restrictions placed on the modeller.
  • If you buy the game at ANY point in development, the game is yours forever including all future updates.

So the only question is, would you pay for Aetherius? Let us know if you would, wouldn't and why/why not and for how much. :-)

So in conclusion; Aetherius is coming hard and fast. Keep your eyes open for an alpha release coming ASAP.

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Post comment Comments  (20 - 30 of 52)
Nilidus Nov 24 2012, 8:38am says:

looks smooth

+4 votes     reply to comment
Death9Angel6 Nov 23 2012, 11:22am says:

How tools will look ?? They will be made of little blocks ??

+5 votes     reply to comment
JustSuds Creator
JustSuds Nov 24 2012, 12:52am replied:

On that note, I have a surprise for you being uploaded for later. :-)

+4 votes   reply to comment
JustSuds Creator
JustSuds Nov 23 2012, 7:09pm replied:

Yep. Everything will. :-)

That's what the Modeler and Modder applications that ship as part of the game are for. I'll be making all the vanilla content with the same tools that are available to everyone else to use.

So that includes tools, creatures, NPCs, other items. All made with the Modeler. With quests, world weneration rules, item properties, custom NPC stories all being made with the Modder.

+4 votes   reply to comment
Death9Angel6 Nov 24 2012, 5:05am replied:

If I understand there will be way to make own "texture pack" for tools, creatures, NPCs and other items, but only visible by yourself, not by someone else :p and can't wait till that surprise :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
JustSuds Creator
JustSuds Nov 24 2012, 7:28am replied:

Well... Yes, but the surprise was that the modeler is going to ship with the alpha version of game next week! lol, we want to include it from the very start.

+3 votes   reply to comment
johnstar145 Nov 22 2012, 12:45am says:

Will, this game can run on a minimum requirements of 1.6ghz processor, 1gb of ram, 256mb GPU/video card and how large will be the disk space requirements?

+3 votes     reply to comment
JustSuds Creator
JustSuds Nov 22 2012, 1:02am replied:

It's impossible to tell this early on in development. But honestly, I doubt it. It might *just* scrape by. The goal is to support as much hardware as possible, and currently it runs fine on almost everything. But there is still a lot to be added.

+3 votes   reply to comment
johnstar145 Nov 22 2012, 8:47am replied:

ok, I understand. I have one more question: will there be creatures in this game? I mean will there be a lot of creatures rather than cows, sheep, chickens, and squids?

+4 votes     reply to comment
JustSuds Creator
JustSuds Nov 22 2012, 6:38pm replied:

:-) There will be many dozens of creatures. Variety of creatures is a staple in any RPG. The first few that I think will appear will be Rabbits, Frogs, Human NPCs, and Human Bandits (the only aggressive mobs in the first release).

Further down the road, you will have the ability to make your own creatures with our modelling tool, and apply a set of behaviours and animations to it with some of the other tools from the modder application set. But I haven't posted about those yet. :D

+4 votes   reply to comment
johnstar145 Nov 25 2012, 9:12am replied:

That will be so COOL!!! If this game can run on my pc I will create the bad-*** Monster ever!! :3 but mostly I will create the cutest and beautiful creatures as well :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
ludsoe Nov 24 2012, 7:42am replied:

You just did. :p

+1 vote     reply to comment
Death9Angel6 Nov 22 2012, 10:13am replied:

If there will be spells then there will be some magical creatures also, so the basic ones need to be ;p

+4 votes     reply to comment
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