Space Vacation

Hey Folks! I woke up to a bit of disheartening news this morning. Despite mobile's early success on the market, and the welcome reinvigoration of Steam sales, it looks like the party was short lived. Mobile sales took a hit a few days ago and are holding at the new low. And worse, the Steam boost appears to have run its course, as well.

It's not a crisis or anything yet. It's still paying the bills, and I think it'll at least break-even as a project. But it's a clear indicator that I need to get moving on whatever's next soon, as that runway is maybe shorter than I'd like. And since Tiago's still got a bit more work to do on his save file fix before we can launch a mobile patch, I decided to take a mental vacation day.

In space.

I've sort of been working on this whenever I had downtime, but I've been limiting my discussion of it to text-only until mobile was out (so as not to create too much confusion/noise at launch). But now that launch window is behind us, I think I can safely share a sneak peek without crossing my channels.

The image at the top of the post is the orbital plotter UI, which is also turning into the flight planning UI for the ship. I'm hoping the player can direct their pilot to a terminal where this UI comes up, and they start fidgeting until they get a course they like. Then, they "engage," and walk away to continue drama-ing on the ship with crew.


Right now, the user just moves the orange crosshairs around the system map, and can zoom in/out to see orbits of planets and other bodies. On the right, we have some buttons and readouts to control and display course info. In this case, I've used "Snap" to help me snap the crosshairs to the nearest body, which is Venus. Then, I can increase the number of "N Steps" to show what a trip to that location would look like if divided into equal time slices.

The indicator to the right, "per Step" is telling us that each time slice represents 7.79 hours of travel time, while the orange triangles show where the ship would be at each slice (green triangle is current position), and its orientation. It's basically a two-stage trip burning at max thrust towards halfway there, then reversing thrust for the remainder.

You'll also note that the crosshairs are pointed at the head of a "snake" or orange dots around Venus. Each planet also gets orange time slices drawn, to help the user visualize where everything might be during the trip (and hopefully avoid fatal collisions).


When the user hits "Engage," the course is locked-in. (Note: the "Lock" button is confusing, but is there to lock the crosshairs if you want to hold a spot and browse away from it.) Engaging means that the ship will begin executing the plotted course, but only if you adjust the rate that time passes in-game, using the "Rate" buttons. Here, I've adjusted the rate to 16.67 minutes of game time per second of real time. And we're nearing our destination, Venus (the blue dot at the bottom, below the crosshairs).


Finally, our green triangle ship has reached the end of the plotted course. And as you can see, I've missed by almost two "dots." (~15 hours before Venus gets there.) This is the bug I need to solve next.

Also, it was supposed to arrive at a velocity that matches Venus's, but is currently sitting at a dead rest (which is very bad :).

So this was my mental break day, and the thing I've been keeping under wraps for a few months. Hopefully, some of you who've been patiently awaiting news on the space prototype will find some cool stuff here!


Marc13Bautista's picture

This looks pretty amazing! I hope Space Prototype will be more text heavy though.

Free Elusive Skill = Athletic x4 in ATN Enclave encounter

dcfedor's picture

Thanks! There will definitely be more to the SP than this screen. This is basically just the UI for plotting and executing a course.

The rest of the game is more akin to Rimworld, FTL, or Prison Architect: a crew of characters going around a tile-based ship doing work, sleeping, and interacting with each other. Those interactions will probably still be somewhat abstract (to avoid writing a million lines of dialogue), but it should still make for interesting watching/reading.

And I haven't yet decided how to handle more special events, like choices, discoveries, or other encounter-like things. Or even back story/headlines/lore.

One thing I'm trying to avoid, however, is the problem with NEO Scavenger localization. Namely, it would cost a fortune to translate NS due to all the text, plus the UI rearranging to accommodate different word sizes in languages.

This game should hopefully have less stuff to translate. Or at the very least, more support for fan translations than NS, so I'm not bankrupting my company trying to provide a handful of translations :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Malacodor's picture

It's a pity NEO Scavenger isn't more successful. Is there a chance that sales will go up again when people get their August paychecks?

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

dcfedor's picture

@Malacodor, hard to say. It already increased a little today from yesterday's status on Android, and a tiny bit on Steam, and down a tiny bit on Apple. So day of week matters, as likely does PAX, Gamescom, and other stuff.

I should also point out that NEO Scavenger as a whole is actually pretty successful, if I'm being honest. It paid the bills for 6 years since I quit my job, and seems to still be doing so (just). Plus, there's maybe another 6-10 months of funding cushion in the coffers.

I think I was maybe just spoiled by Steam's previous (and frankly bonkers) launch performance, which was naive of me. Steam loves a premium, crunchy details game. Mobile isn't really the market for that. (And, since I'm being honest, not the best input controls for a UI-heavy game like NS.)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games