Rogue Machine – Universe
"Armed with two laser pistol / laser sword combo weapons, you're a rogue machine in a fascist universe."
When first I wrote the blurb for Rogue Machine I wanted something simple: “Third person action sci-fi roguelike”. However, this didn't meet the minimum number of characters required by IndieDB which is how I ended up describing the game being set in a fascist universe. The only problem is that it was pretty meaningless as I had no real idea what the game was about and I had every intention of changing it as I developed the game. However, I grew to like it and then set about the challenge of actually showing this.
One of the things I realised was that the player would have no sense of the world / universe the game is set in, with no context for the action. For a fantasy style roguelike this isn't much of a problem as the player can just assume any kind of Tolkienesque fantasy world outside the dungeon the game is set in and that the player character is treasure hunting. The sci-fi world of Rogue Machine is more difficult to imagine and the motivations of the protagonist more difficult to understand.
So the opening sequence is my attempt at portraying a fascist / oppressive universe and to put the game in to some kind of context. How the player interprets the details of the opening sequence is pretty much up to them.
Whilst there are other cut scenes, it's not my intention to tell a detailed sci-fi story but to give just enough of a narrative to give the player a sense of a wider universe outside the grey corridors of the main game and that they're actions do have consequences across multiple galaxies.
The universe map is split into galaxies, each galaxy contains a number of star systems, each star system contains planets and each planet represents a stage of the game, with each stage being a number of levels. So far there are seventy three planets but I've not yet figured out the last galaxy.
During the game the player will visit the various galaxies, star systems and planets but Rogue Machine is not a open world or sandbox game. The player cannot travel between galaxies as they see fit and the game progresses in a fairly linear fashion. I say “fairly linear” as the player can make a few limited choices and the order in which they visit galaxies, star systems and planets is not entirely fixed. However, I have to admit that these choices will be pretty uninformed. For instance, the player will know how many planets are in a star system but won't know any more about the individual planets before travelling to the star system. On the map screen there is a bit of space to add some detail so I might add some more detail. Travel is also one way, once a player has gone to a particular galaxy they need to go to all the planets in all the star system before they can leave the galaxy. Whilst this may be restrictive it makes it easier for me to set the difficulty curve and to tell the story.
Earlier I mentioned that there are seventy three planets. As it turns out this works out to be over two hundred levels. When I first started making Rogue Machine and writing these articles, I mentioned that I didn't want this many levels as it could lead to the game being too repetative. I am now currently trying to add more features, more npcs and styles, the challenge for me is to make sure that the game has enough going on to keep the player interested.