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iPad: Aliens of Earth--3D 3rd person Action/Adventure with Destructible Environments

06-02-2011, 01:57 PM
#1
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 37
Aliens of Earth--3D 3rd person Action/Adventure with Destructible Environments

There is already a thread for this game under Upcoming iPhone and iPod Touch Games, but it will universal so I think it's appropriate to post about it in the Upcoming iPad Games section as well.

Summary:
Aliens of Earth is a 3D third-person Action/Adventure game for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad with destructible environments and gameplay that is inspired by games such as Super Metroid and The Guardian Legend. You control a transforming mech with both flight and humanoid forms with the ability to transform whenever you want - though flight mode is only really usable in larger, open areas. What this means is that you will be running around in humanoid form when exploring smaller caves, corridors, rooms and other smaller environments. These areas will consist of slightly slower gameplay with an emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving, similar to a game like Super Metroid or Metroid Prime. Larger, more open areas will consist more of action and exploration and will be best experienced with the faster and more agile flight mode. But at any time, if you want to get a closer look at something, you'll be able to transform back to humanoid form and walk around.

But there's a couple of additional elements which serve to make the experience more unique:

The first is that the environments are destructible. However, these environments are made up of different materials which take different weapons to destroy. Basically as you progress through the game, your ability to destroy the environment grows as well. In addition, through most of the game, you'll be able to re-visit old areas, allowing you to more fully explore those areas and find things you may have missed. This is accomplished using the custom voxel engine, as described below.

In addition, there will be some "Cellular Automata" based physics, allowing for limited amounts of flowing water, lava, even for parts of the environment to fall once support is lost. This will allow you to use the environment to aid you in battle, such as destroying enough rock to cause a stalactite to fall onto an enemy.

The voxel engine is being used to allow malleable environments and for volumetric physics using Cellular Automata but also to further the aesthetic of the game. The goal is to produce a game created using a combination of 3D pixel art and controlled procedural environments. Even the menus, text, HUD and so forth is drawn using voxels - with some subtle animation to highlight the 3D nature.


Story Synopsis:
This is a rough draft and will be modified and improved in the future.

The year is 2050.

Humanity has been actively seeking intelligent "alien" life for nearly 200 years. When it is finally discovered, the alien life is unlike anything we ever expected . . .

You are a pilot of the new VR-1X3 transforming battle mech, based on technology just "discovered" within the last decade. Being the first, and currently only, prototype unit you've not seen any action yet. But this time it's different, strange giant - alien - machines have been crawling out of the Earth. Only a few have emerged so far, but they destroyed several cities in the area before finally being taken out. Most feel that a large, concentrated attack by these creatures could not be stopped by humanity. That their final goal is to invade the surface and eradicate the human species.

The aliens that have emerged are coming from a giant cave in New Mexico that suddenly appeared within the last decade. All explorations within have failed. All attempts to blow up the material or alter the cave in any way have failed. Now you're going in there to find out where these alien creatures are coming from and to stop them from invading the surface.

[Excerpt from the other thread, showing screenshots and a video]
I've been working on the "Marble Caves," the first area of the game. Note only the flight mode is shown, thus you see only wide open areas so far. The ship shown is not complete and will look more interesting when it's finished. While it still has a long way to go, I'd like to show some work in progress texturing experiments:











Note that you see the ship flying around inside the caves, the mipmapping is working without holes or gaps.

I've also recorded a short video of a test flight through the caves. Note that enemies are still disabled, I'll be showing off combat soon. For some reason the recording software caused annoying pauses in the video, because those pauses aren't there normally. This was recorded from the simulator because I thought it'd be easier but I'll do a video off the real device soon.

Anyway it's recorded at iPad resolution, please ignore the pauses. Also note that camera collision is not currently implemented but it will be of course.

(Uses the older lighting, generator, surfacing and ship control/camera. A new video will be coming soon)

Youtube link | Pop Up


Please note that this is still all work in progress, expect big improvements as the project progresses.

Last edited by voxelate; 06-06-2011 at 03:56 AM.
06-02-2011, 04:01 PM
#2
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
your tech is really cool.. the project name is not.. :/

the planes movement is also pretty "stiff" and does not feel really like a plane flying.. looks more helicopter-ish..

i know its all very early .. but for an arcade flight game i would take a look at metal storm.. i think they did an good job on the "feeling" of flying..

06-02-2011, 05:16 PM
#3
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.Ugly View Post
your tech is really cool.. the project name is not.. :/

the planes movement is also pretty "stiff" and does not feel really like a plane flying.. looks more helicopter-ish..

i know its all very early .. but for an arcade flight game i would take a look at metal storm.. i think they did an good job on the "feeling" of flying..
Thanks for the constructive criticism. I agree that the flight movement still needs some work, I'll take a look at Metal Storm.
06-02-2011, 06:20 PM
#4
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 458
Indeed the tech does look good. It'd be super cool if the ship, which looks like it's also voxel based, could also take damage in real time and fall apart depending on where you've been hit, where you collided with a wall, etc. Sorry if you mentioned that in the description, I skimmed it!
06-02-2011, 06:34 PM
#5
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cplr View Post
Indeed the tech does look good. It'd be super cool if the ship, which looks like it's also voxel based, could also take damage in real time and fall apart depending on where you've been hit, where you collided with a wall, etc. Sorry if you mentioned that in the description, I skimmed it!
The ship is voxel based, as is everything else in the game. The basic plan is that the ship (and humanoid form) has a shield which can take a certain amount of damage based on your energy level (which can be upgraded). When the energy is gone, you can still take a couple of hits to the hull (which can also be upgraded somewhat as you play). So parts can be blown off, holes blasted from the hull, etc. - basically the last few hits of your life should look pretty brutal. If a weapon gets destroyed then you can't use it until it's repaired, if a wing gets blown off then you crash (or have to transform), etc. Similar mechanics will be in-place when fighting larger enemies and bosses. Blow off parts, blast holes in their body, etc.

Last edited by voxelate; 06-02-2011 at 06:39 PM.
06-05-2011, 12:53 AM
#6
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 37
I just wanted to drop in to provide a small update.

I'm currently working towards getting the first area playable in terms of exploration and combat - finishing enemies, combat and AI. At that point I'll post a gameplay video, which will be me playing on the actual device this time, that'll highlight environment destruction, improved ship controls and movement, improved camera and of course the aforementioned enemies and combat.

Beyond that I plan on finishing up the remaining items to "complete" the first area of the game - HUD/UI, humanoid form and transformation, the 2 unique items that you can collect from the first area (the energy shield and sword for the humanoid form), checkpoints and the initial pass on sound/music. Some of this is partially complete already but will be left alone until I finish the stuff listed above.

Once this is complete I will begin a limited closed Alpha Test (Alpha Test Phase 1) - which should be happening in a couple of weeks. I have one candidate so far, I will probably take on up to 4 more for the first round of tests.

Here is how I plan on doing the testing, at each new phase new testers will be added:

Alpha Test - Phase 1: First area of the game only, fully playable.
Alpha Test - Phase 2: X% of the game complete (X is still to be defined, this will probably be affected by the Phase 1 testing).
Beta Test - Phase 1: Game is complete but niceties still missing such as GameCenter integration for achievements.
Beta Test - Phase 2: The game is polished and ready for release. These testers will be getting Release Candidates (or close).

Note that once you become a tester, you'll remain so until you decide to stop or the product is released.

The reason to split the testing into tiers like this is to allow me to get "first impressions" throughout the testing process. This will be vital for testing things such as usability and controls. How easy are they to learn, how easy is it to navigate the UI, how hard is it to figure out what to do if this is the first time you've played, and so on.

I will be asking for volunteers for testing in about a week and starting the test a week or two after that. I'm not doing it now because I still have to finalize the minimum OS revision that I want to use, so cannot properly give out the requirements yet. Currently I'm using version 3.2.2 but I'm considering moving up to 4.3.x, which I will be decided soon.
06-05-2011, 11:33 PM
#7
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 37
As I work toward the first real gameplay video, I'll drop by to show progress as it's made.

The first thing is that the lighting has been improved. Previously the normals were based purely on the voxel faces, similar to a game like Minecraft, which causes a lot of contrast between faces up close and didn't show the overall geometric shape as well as I'd like. However I do want to maintain that "3D pixel" look and support thin, single voxel structures. So the result is a blend between the volume gradients (from which the normals would be derived when generating a smooth isosurface) and the face normals. In cases with thin structures, they will look just like they always have. For larger scale structures, the lighting is softer and the contrast between faces is lower (though still visible up close).

In addition I've also softened the camera light somewhat, changing from the standard harsh Lambertian falloff to something that allows light to "wrap" around the surfaces a bit more.

The next improvement is in the surfacing and environment, accomplished by improving the generator. Note that the "floor" and "ceilings" don't look exactly the same anymore.

Finally the ship controls and camera have undergone improvements, you can see that in the screenshots a little. Notice that the ship isn't always exactly in the center and that banking looks more natural now.

Screenshots:






06-06-2011, 08:24 PM
#8
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 823
"Aliens of Earth Adventures" will be a Minecraft clone. xD

Yes, this game reminds me of Minecraft with a plane. That's a good thing! The environment looks familiar and comforting. I'll definitely buy this game when it comes out.