Today we'd like to show you some first behind-the-scenes content of Star Trek Armada II: Fleet Operations, to learn more about how new features are planned, evaluated and implemented during development.
It were the days of Beta 2, as a new alien race conquered its place in the Fleet Operations universe - the Noxter. Sadly we couldn't really achieve the swarm-like and organic gameplay feeling, that would be fitting for them, as there were far to many limitations. Now, with many new features added and a lot of new development tools at hand, they will finally swarm back at you! Development on the new Noxter has just begun. In the next month I will extend this diary with new facts and features about the Noxter, as they are being implemented.
Today let's talk about concepts. First things first: Gameplay and mechanics. The Noxter are planed to have a very unique style. That already starts with 'vessel' construction: Living beings are not built, they grow up. Something similar will be done for the Noxter. Special organisms, called Breeders, may consume small Noxter eggs - called Seeds - that contain genetic information, the "blue-print" of a new species. Once a Seed has been consumed, a complex metamorphosis is triggered, completely changing the behaviour of the Breeder. It starts to constantly reproduce new Noxter, according to the seed's structure. As such extensive protein synthesis consumes large amounts of energy, a breeder can only survive within the swarm and must be fed, consuming resources.
Those unique concepts of economy give a Noxter player some very special things to take care of. Once a Breeder has absorbed a seed and begins evolving new beings, you have a constant supply of organisms at hand. But once your resources run low, your Breeders may die of hunger! The priority to hold a stable and secure home base - the swarm - is probably much more important for the Noxter, then for any race. That fits to the organic character, as the swarm contains the thing that is most valuable for a Noxter - its mother! To underline that, there are many interesting things planed for the swarm.. but lets talk about that next time.
To finish our first Creeping trip, here are some concept arts for the Noxter. There is basically no Fleet Operations model or gameplay element, that has not been drawn in the first place. Thats a very important step in order to ensure a uniform design through the whole game and to plan your models and textures in later stages. You can also predict performance issues - something that has to be thought of when planning something organic and animated.