A Long Screenshot: Chillin’ in the Desert

Tanya here. Yesterday, I was working on the game, fixing up some spreadsheets and texts and so forth, and realised that I had been listening to the same cool song for about 30 minutes. I went to find out what it was… and it was Shattered Planet!

So here’s some flutes to make your day (or evening) more mellow, and maybe more mysterious? All praise for the music, of course, should be directed to Ryan Roth. The soundtrack will go on sale simultaneous with the game, so keep a few bucks earmarked!

Field Report: The Life of the Crablet

Dear Galactic Union Science Whatevers,

I heard you are paying frontier explorers in crystals for information on new species and technologies. As the only human to set foot on the shattered planet in sector K, I submit the following:

 

The Crablet

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Suggested species name: Homarus cyclopea

Adult size: 40-60 cm

Adult weight: 10-15 kg

Lifespan: ???

 

As you can see, the adult crablet seems quite harmless. But don’t be fooled! Crablets appear to despise humans and I have the claw-marks to prove it. They aren’t as aggressive to the indigenous tribes, despite the fact that the tribes kill the crablets on sight, even by the dozens. Perhaps the locals have discovered some way of masking their scent, which I haven’t learned yet.

The hard exoskeleton is actually rather fragile, and in fact is no tougher than animal hide — even less, when using weapons that smash and crunch. I wonder whether a crab mallet would, in fact, be a feasible weapon…

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The “crablet” begins as one of dozens in an egg sac. A single egg sac appears to be capable of creating hundreds, possibly thousands of crablets. The sac pumps eggs out at a steady rate, almost like a caviar factory. I suspect this (along with their delicious insides) is a reason why the local folks kill them on sight; otherwise, they’d fill up the whole dang planet!


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Crablet eggs complete incubation in cooler temperatures, signalling to the crablet inside that it is time to hatch. If an egg is picked up and carried, it will never hatch, as if the crablet inside has become lazy from the warmth.

No time is needed for a newly hatched crablet to adjust to its environment — it hatches fully-formed and ready to fight. In fact, I have attempted to surgically open one of these eggs, and the crablet inside nearly took off my nose!

Crablets, like most other native species, are fiercely loyal companions once befriended. I have occasionally persuaded one or two to follow me, usually through the use of food. These often refuse to listen to my instructions, and rush out to defend me against attackers! Despite this adorable ferocity, they do not appear intelligent enough to train.

I haven’t seen a crablet die of natural causes. It’s possible they are immortal, or very secretive when they get older? Perhaps they transform into another creature entirely. Perhaps I’ll discover a massive crablet graveyard. Only time will tell.

 

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On the other hand, if the Blight is permitted to spread unchecked, it appears to occasionally build nodes of power, and these evil-looking crablets crawl out. They appear to want to kill me as soon as they start to exist! There’s no befriending to be done here.

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I have occasionally glimpsed a rarer type of crablet that is capable of spitting a highly caustic venom, perhaps due to a unique diet or environmental factor. Luckily, their distinctive bright green shells make them easy to spot and avoid.

For now, my suggested Galactic Union datalog entry for the Crablet will read:

“Delicious, territorial crustaceans that are highly social, traveling in groups. Rumored to be immortal — the population must be controlled with regular culling. Sensitive to Blunt damage.”

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I’ll be waiting for my crystal payment to be transferred.

– Captain Aurora

Painting “Jump-Shot”

The Design

All of the environments, characters, concepts, and backgrounds in Shattered Planet are created by Xin. After creating the “Just in Time” piece, we knew we wanted to also showcase the female character. Where the Renegade was inspired more by Han Solo and Mal, the Assassin’s design is more Commander Shepard and Tron for a different flavor.

We also knew that the first piece communicated the core experience of exploring a shattering alien world, but was lacking the urgency and action of the game. So, Xin aimed for more of a “comic book cover” feel, with heavier stylised elements and a foreshortened action pose.

The Process

For more insight into how Xin goes about painting, check out this video that goes from blank page to finished design.

The Finished Piece

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Xin will be attending the Massive Black concept art workshop in L.A. this week to increase his skills further!

For those of you out in the interwebs… any comments or questions?

Free Game: GravCore

What is it?

GravCore is a co-operative game made by 2 people in 7 hours. It looks like a beautiful pong at first glance, but without communicating to the other player, you’re sure to lose! Be sure to invite a friend over to play it with you!

Goal: Work together to guide the ball and collect all of the pieces of your broken space-ship before time runs out!
Player 1 Controls: W and S to move your paddle, Space to change gravity push/pull
Player 2 Controls: Up and Down arrows to move your paddle, Enter to change gravity push/pull


Click to play GravCore!
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How it came about

A couple of weeks ago, we heard about a little event called Battle of the Studios at the Montreal International Games Summit. We couldn’t resist the allure of a 7-hour game jam, so we sent Xin and Jongwoo to represent us in the arena!

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And, naturally, 7 hours later, they were crowned victorious! They won 2 free copies of MayaLT and 90-day access passes to Mixamo. Thanks to 3vis for hosting the Battle of the Studios and encouraging more game jams.

Congratulations to the Contest Winners!

As you may have seen, Kitfox Games held its first contest from October 23rd to November 7th, 2013. Participants were challenged to write an obituary for a Shattered Planet character, which we can actually use in the game!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest — we had a great time reading all of them! The decision was really tough, what with receiving over 50 entries! It took some time for the team to come to any kind of consensus.

Runners-up

  • Andrew L’Homme: Here lies Brucey B. He wished you had played on easy.
  • Guillaume Couture: Here lies April, she preferred drinking wine than health potions.

We liked them so much, we’ll be sending them both limited-edition stickers in the mail. Funny stuff, guys!

Grand Prize

We liked two… and after a long discussion… we just couldn’t decide, so we decided to award both!

  • David Fathers: Here lies Jeb. Died of a broken heart. And blood-loss due to multiple grievous slashing wounds, and a collapsed lung.
  • Rafael Botero: Here lies Eli, who found out the hard way that the pen is NOT mightier than the sword-claw-thingy.

Congratulations to David and Rafael, who will be included as Special Thanks in the Shattered Planet credits, and receiving limited-edition stickers in the mail!

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Keep an eye out for the winning entries appearing in the game when it’s released in January!

To make sure you’re invited to the next contest, sign up for the monthly newsletter on the right-hand side-bar!

Environment Design: The Shattered Desert

Hi guys! Tanya here!

Today I’ll go into some detail on our environment design, using the Desert as an example, since we haven’t shown it off much yet and it’s the first area-type the player encounters. I’m actually from the Mojave Desert of southern California originally. I spent most of my childhood chasing lizards, catching kangaroo mice, and climbing the Rocky Mountains… when I wasn’t allowed to play NES, anyway.

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An environment’s atmosphere comes from every element — the landscape, the colors, the wildlife and lighting. Xin, our artist, starts by painting the terrain we need. For the Desert, we knew we wanted basic tiles of Dirt, Sandstone, and Brush. We want the Desert to feel desolate and dry, but not lifeless.

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Now, before you think, “those aren’t very interesting! Where’s the life, the juice, the oomph?” … we started out going super-detailed, with intense painterly details on each tile…

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And yes, they were beautiful! BUT when they’re tiled all together, 10×10, it looks terrible. Dirt starts to look like meat!

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We might still sprinkle details like these throughout as a rare treat, but for now, we’ve had to forcibly tone down the contrast and details of any one basic tile, for the betterment of the whole.

Next, he paints combinations of each tile-type with another, so that the world generator can smoothly transition between regions. For example, a half-Brush, half-Sandstone tile should always buffer between Brush and Stone areas.

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The final terrain layer is composed of “crumbly bits”, as we call them, which help reinforce the idea that you’re on a shattered planet. They match at least half of the tile-type they’re generated next to. For interior levels, these take the form of metal struts and frames. For exteriors, they’re more like chunks of earth and rock.

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And then, at long last, the fun part — we can add gameplay! Bushes and rocks are obstacles that get in your way and help with the ambiance. As for enemies, you might have seen our Hatchling and Nest Guardian back when we first concepted them in July, and now they can finally romp and hunt in their natural desert habitat. Combining all of the elements together gives us a flavorful, unique Desert environment that feels significantly different from the others.

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So, with no photoshopping or other trickery, here’s a screenshot taken directly from the game while it’s running:

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The next step will be adding in a flavorful background for each environment. We want to keep the lonely, dark feeling of the desert at night, but something a little bit more interesting than plain black.

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Unique story encounters can also happen in the desert — finding unearthed skulls, old campfires, lost hatchlings, or even strange stones can lead you on mini-adventures into the unknown. Just like home?


If you’re interested in playtesting Shattered Planet or just receiving our monthly newsletter, be sure to sign up on the right-hand sidebar!

Shattered Planet Trick-or-Treating

When Captain Tamara went trick-or-treating on the Shattered Planet, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She handmade a crablet mask, but carnivorous plants and crabs aren’t known for their holiday cheer. With nothing better to do on Halloween, she figured it was worth a try.

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Eventually, she found some candies that someone had left lying around.. the Great Pumpkin perhaps?

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So, she ate one. Or two. Or twenty.

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In her report, Captain Aurora says the candies taste mostly like butter?

(Yes, that gif is directly from gameplay — turning into a crab is not generally recommended, but may get you some new crabfriends.)

Happy Halloween!

Joined by an Audio Hero: Ryan Roth!

Tanya here! I’m a huge fan of Starseed Pilgrim — I have a limited-edition button pinned to my bag at all times… and a big part of that is the audio, which is an immersive, dynamically generated soundscape, created by the one-and-only Ryan Roth. Maybe you know him better from Electronic Super Joy, The Yawhg, or Sokobond.

Anyway, the super-double-awesome part of the pin on my bag is, I earned this pin by hunting down and securing a lunch with the makers of Starseed Pilgrim, Droqen and Ryan Roth. All because I had the audacity to ask Ryan to work on Shattered Planet

…and he’s said yes! So, look forward to a hand-crafted, synth-tacular soundtrack from Ryan Roth himself, both in the game and likely to be for sale separately on his website.

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This information was announced first in our monthly newsletter! If you haven’t joined, consider doing so on the right-hand side-bar.

A Contest: Write Your Obituary, Clone001!

Shattered Planet is a very difficult game. You explore a hostile world, trying to survive as long as possible. Sometimes you manage to find a new friend, but most of the time, everything is trying to kill you. And that’s okay! You’ll find some crystals along the way and take them back to the lab for synthesising into new items.

But you don’t want to be forgotten! Even clones should be honored for their achievements — and the others can serve as a warning to others. We already have over two dozen possibly obituaries, but we wanted to include our fans in building that number sky-high.

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As you can see, the default obituary reads: “Here lies Clone001, who only just entered this world.” You can do better than that! I know you can!

So now’s your chance to get your ideas into Shattered Planet! If you can write the best obituary, we’ll put it in the game, plus we’ll mail you 3 limited-edition Shattered Planet stickers! Runners-up may get offers of consolation prizes such as beta test invites.

Entry details:

  • Entries must be submitted before midnight EST, November 8 2013.
  • Entries must be posted as a comment to this blog post, or on our Facebook page, or tweeted @kitfoxgames.
  • Entries may include any name you want as the subject — your friends, your family, yourself! However, long names will eat into your space (see next rule)…
  • Entries must be no longer than 117 characters, including the victim’s name, punctuation, and whitespace. If you want to include explanations for how this death/descriptor was earned, feel free to include it as well (even in a separate tweet), but make it clear which part of the entry is the obituary and which part is the explanation.
  • Don’t be hateful or, like, gross. You know what I mean.
  • Kitfox Games employees (all 4 of us) cannot win, but we may enter as many times as we want, for fun.

An example entry: Here lies Tanya, who had the reflexes of a sick cow.

We’ll tweet any cool entries we get, so you can also just follow us to get a steady stream of silly deaths. Email us at info@kitfoxgames.com if you have any questions.

Playing With Fire

Space captains can now find themselves in a tough spot if they play fast and loose with fire.

Because, you see, grass and moss and brush tend to catch nearby fires and even embers can be dangerously hot to walk on.

Watch the gif below carefully to see a venomous crablet get turned to a pile of ash!

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