This week, Excalibur's Creative Lead writes about several elements of the game and how they will impact on the player.
Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact. In this short post I will be summing up some of the simple features in Excalibur that I am most excited to be finally seeing in a Star Trek game.
A couple of weeks ago we released an updated "Ship Movement Demo" on YouTube which showed that ships of different classes behaving differently because of their size, mass and engine layout. Using designs from the Star Trek team we are able to unleash the detailed design that has been put into each one of them.
It also means that each ship class will have a unique set of characteristics and while they will all share a simple control mechanism they will each take time to understand and get the most out of.
Implementing a Newtonian physics system into Excalibur was always going to give an extra level of realism. It isn't until you begin to properly implement those laws into all aspects of gameplay that you realise just what a difference it makes.
Recently we have been working on adding weapons to our latest build of Excalibur; they may not be the most beautiful of effects just yet, but they are integrated into our physics system and as a result when they hit a ship they have a physical impact. If you are commanding a ship with less mass you will have an extra dimension to consider when piloting the ship as direct impacts from weapons fire will push your ship off-course and make your life more difficult. This also gives us a good balance since ships with a larger mass will generally be far less maneuverable.
The life of a games developer involves coming up with great looking functionality that pushes the envelope of gaming beyond anything that has been seen before. The problem with this is that when you have developed that new killer piece of functionality you often end up over-doing things to highlight the awesomeness you have created.
In the case of ship damage it is all too easy to fall into the trap of coming up with a great damage system and then pumping it up until you have giant holes taken out of your hull from a single torpedo. The thing is, though; something like damage has the most effect when it is done in a more subtle way. If you take Star Trek canon as a rough basis we know that the worst damage a photon torpedo should do is cut a neat hole through the saucer of a ship (STVI) or more often cause surface damage to the hull plating of a ship (STX).
Excalibur's damage system is all about this "subtle destruction," doing the right amount of damage at the right time in a way that makes sense to the working condition of the ship and trusting your subconscious mind to pick up those little details.