Welcome back to the Project Orion dev blog! The past month has been a bit slower than normal with a number of team members enjoying the last few weeks of summer with some much-needed vacation. However this month has still seen some big changes to the game and one of our most important art assets.
If you’ve seen any raw gameplay from Project Orion you may have noticed that death is not the end. Or rather, upon death you would respawn in a shiny new ship and launch back into combat as if nothing had happened. The obvious solution is to just add checkpoints, and load them when the player dies. I mean, what game doesn’t have a save system? Should be easy, right? Unfortunately not so much.
Project Orion started over two years ago as a student project with our team essentially having zero experience. So as time went on most of the original design, code, and art from those early days started to make us cringe. To fix that we’ve spent a lot of time redesigning and replacing old content to bring it up to our current standards. However some things are not easy to fix at this point, and one of them was a proper checkpoint system.
Saving in games can be done a number of ways, but at it’s core it involves saving the game state in some way that allows you to reload it with as much persistence as required. Usually the core of the game is designed with a system for this from the start and each object/unit in the world has, in some capacity, the ability to save itself at an instant. Unfortunately Project Orion was not (we were already in over our heads trying to figure out much more basic concepts at the time), making it very difficult to add such low-level functionality now, over two years later.
But that really didn’t matter, the game needed it so it had to be done. As of this month we’re very happy to say goodbye to respawning and hello to death! Yes, death, the thing that brings significance to survival. We can’t emphasize enough how much this changes how the game feels – it makes everything matter. This is especially significant from a story perspective. Checkpoints give you the chance to learn from your mistakes and make real progress, instead of just grinding away, respawning until you eventually move forward.
The Orion – v3.0
The Orion is a very important part of the game (hint – it’s in the name), so we want to make sure it’s exactly what we envisioned when we began. To that end we completely redesigned the ship several months ago and the result was fantastic.
So, a few weeks ago we said let’s finalize the design and move on; make any final tweaks and that would be that. The artist responsible for the Orion to this to heart and made a few more significant changes than we expected, to put it mildly. Not all surprises are bad however, so here it is – the new Orion!
Of course this is still a work in progress, but we really wanted to give a preview of what’s to come. It’s less bulky and more streamlined, giving it the appearance of speed and maneuverability to match its capabilities.
The alpha testing is ongoing, however we haven’t released an update in some time. The reason for this is the new checkpoint system and the complete rework required for it to integrate into existing missions. We’ve been working through existing content, in some cases significantly modifying events in missions to better suit the checkpoint level flow. Once we’re confident everything is once again playable and working well we will release version 0.4 for testing.
In short, everything was very broken, it’s almost fixed now, and there will be a big update once it’s completely fixed.
And that’s all for August! As they say it’s not quantity but quality that counts, and the updates this past month are big in quality. A final note on that new gameplay trailer we keep mentioning – it is coming. It takes quite a bit of time to assemble enough quality footage and edit it together well so we want to make it worthwhile by having as much new content in as possible.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next month!