Orbit.industries is an economic simulation game with strategic elements set in space where players build and manage their space station in orbit of a planet or other astronomical phenomena. Its 3D graphics and fully 3D gameplay create an atmospheric Sci-Fi setting. This is Laura writing, co-founder and project manager at LAB132, and I wanted to talk a bit about where our ideas came from, what inspired us to develop our new game!
The initial theme for the game came from the personal interest of the Lead Designer. In his spare time, he is fascinated by astronomy and is very interested in all topics revolving around space exploration, Science Fiction movies, tv-series, and books.
“That is why a lot of the game's inspiration is drawn from classic Sci-Fi literature and cinema, like Babylon 5, but most importantly the Star Trek franchise”
This tv series has the most influence on how the overall game looks and feels to players, especially regarding the technologies used and referenced.
Other than that, orbit.industries is, of course, also influenced by other games, from the looks as well as from a gameplay perspective. So we also got some inspiration from city building/city simulation games as well as (real-time) strategy games, like the Anno franchise for example. These games also happen to be all-time favorites of our Lead Designer. So if those are areas or games of interest to you, then you might just have a lot of fun with orbit.industries!
Then, the basic game idea was built onto that in a mixture of, again, personal interest and market analysis. We wanted to do a space simulation game and then realized that there aren't many simulation games set in space where players build and manage space stations. Similar games mainly focus on flying space ships or building a base on a foreign planet. But building up and managing a space station in orbit of a planet as the critical element and setting of the game is not as widely spread.
Especially not on consoles, where the genres simulation and strategy aren't as present as on PC platforms, like Steam, anyway. But since our team at LAB132 had mostly done console games until then, we wanted to take on that challenge. Additionally, space station simulation/building games are often in 2D and/or offer a topdown or isometric view, and a lot of times, they are also kept in a comic-like style. Whereas orbit.industries offers 3D graphics, aiming for a realistic style, as well as fully 3D gameplay.
“Another uniqueness of orbit.industries is the separation of the two main gameplay views – the Exterior Station View (ESV) and the Abstract System Layout (ASL)”
These will be covered in other blog posts if you're interested in more details here. Early on in the conceptual phase, we realized that the management of the space station would get highly confusing if we wanted to keep it in the 3D outside view of the station. With the specific size and complexity of the player's space station, it would have gotten very chaotic to include all the production circuits and resource flows. So the task was to figure out somehow how to connect the outside view, where the station is built and extended, and the management part of the game, where players have access to the production circuits, transparently. So during the prototyping phase, we spent a lot of time testing how to simultaneously render and visualize two separate game worlds inside the Unreal Engine.
So one of those worlds would be the outside view for building, and one of those would be the inside view for management. Players needed to be able to manually and quickly switch between those views.
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