By gorkamorkaorka 1 Comments
Everyone was really receptive to my first post about this idea so here is some more information, mixed with some additions from comments I left. These are my ideas about a xenobiologist game that I have no plans on making, or ability to make, currently.
The game would take place 200 - 400 years in the future. I want to set it farther out in the future that what is normally dealt with in science fiction to avoid the "It's the year 2000 and where are my flying cars?" situation. This is supposed to be a hard sci-fi universe so there is no warp drive. I have to make the concession that a nearby star has two Earth-like planets orbiting it. Let's just say they were hard to spot at this current time (they ARE hard to spot). A large sleeper-colony ship is sent from earth to one of these planets for some reason. The trip takes like 100 years using a fusion rocket. Why did everyone leave? I don't have a good reason yet but we can go with "Earth is not a great place to live anymore and a bunch of rich people want out, so they take their chances somewhere else." The colony is formed on the new planet and is successful. Years later, after they are settled in and get their own space program set up (they need one for satellites anyway), they send explorers out to the nearby planet (think of it like a life filled Mars or Venus) to see what they can find about the alien biology. You could send out robotic surveyors to find minerals but you really need humans to do complicated things like deal with living organisms. You are one of those biologists.
Everything will be grounded in reality while trying to guess the future. Like I said earlier, we have usable fusion rockets and sleeper pods. I have to assume this would be done by replacing your blood with some kind of antifreeze and chilling your body and doing something to your brain. I have to work on this part. The interstellar ark also carried numerous Standard Template Constructs (like from WH40K). These are small, automated factories capable of producing whatever a colony might need using simple ingredients until a proper industry can be set up. Battery technology is much improved. Maybe some kind of nuclear battery? This is just non-essential back story though.
For actual game play, you have a normal video camera that can also take pictures, but you also have some kind of Kinect like 3D camera that can "scan" whatever you are looking at. This gives a logical reason to have a model viewer in the game world. You also have your night vision, thermal vision, x-ray vision, kind of camera. You would also be able to get camera drones able to view flying/floating organisms, or watch dangerous ones from afar. This isn't a game breaker though. They aren't invisible and they aren't completely silent. One would assume that these organisms can hear better than us, just like they do on earth. Also, you're going to miss out on ground level shots, or situations where the organisms don't know something was there.
Guns have changed a lot though. Gun powder has been phased out for something better, and more futuristic sounding. Other types of weapons use magnetic accelerators. Humanity has perfected a man-portable laser weapon. No laser beams though. Just a bright light (sometimes) where it hits and a lot of smoke. Maybe a clicking sound. Kinetic weapons can have steerable bullets meaning you just need to paint a target and the bullet with try to change its path to hit where you want it to go. This is just as well because combat isn't a big focus. If you need to defend yourself against an aggressive animal it becomes either a stand off where you can just take your shot (it doesn't know what you're going to do remember) or you get pounced and never saw it coming and have a struggle.
The game is completely first person, Half-Life style. Radio lag for this planet is probably 1-20 minutes so you can't have instant communications anyway. The game starts with your capsule descending from space, onto the planet. During the ride, you are introduced to any characters through your radio. They have since figured out how to get around that dead air time during re-entry. On the way down, your capsule hits some floating plant-animals. Someone on the radio says "It looks like you had a minor impact with something... nothing serious it seems." then an achievement pops up "First catch of the day! You have captured your first organism." Your capsule lands on the planet and you step out. Those things are stuck to it but they are dead from the impact. It gives you a free animal for a science tutorial. Then you have to set up a simple camp which is a logical, and non intrusive way of familiarizing yourself with the controls. Real simple stuff. Basically just self-assembling spring-loaded tents (FLOOFWP and they're up), plus a half sphere, perimeter wall that folds out and you secure it to the ground.
Beyond the opening of the game, your main goal is to photograph animals and collect samples. Photography can range from photos, video, to thermal and x-ray. Samples can be soil/water samples, to animal droppings, or whole animals that have to be dissected. Missions are mostly in your control. You are told in the beginning to have a look around and see what you can find. The scientists back home only have a vague idea of what's on the planet from the drones they sent ahead of you. They did not survive. For example, if you take a picture of some alien, they might say "Hey that's really interesting. Go study that one." and you get missions from that. If there is another alien in the back out of focus, they might want you to focus on that instead. Data is graded based on scientific value, but can also have artistic value. Action shots can be good to send back home to show the rest of the populace. Propaganda for the expense paid to send you to this planet. It is a good idea to return to your ship at night time to sleep, and to stay safe. Nocturnal predators come out during the night. I had a lot of fun playing Hardcore mode in Minecraft and realizing that I had been out longer than I thought and the sun was almost down. Then I had to run back to my house.
The data you sent back is a show of how worth it this trip was. Things brings us to the cargo drop system. They didn't want to send you on this trip with a bunch of stuff you didn't need/wouldn't survive to use! Space travel is expensive still but not as bad as it is currently. Basically, you get space-money that you can spend at the computer in your console to order new equipment. This feels a bit odd to me though. Shouldn't they just give you what you need? I will need a better in-universe reason for this system. It might make more sense if this is a commercial venture instead of a NASA-like organization. You might get monthly cargo drops anyway, meaning you get to pick what new stuff you want for that month. Things you can get might be a camera drone to study some of those floating plant-animals you ran into. Scuba equipment to study underwater life. Rock climbing gear to see "bird nests". A snake-bot to look through tunnels.
More ideas later.