As we get closer to ASTRONEER launching on Steam Early Access later this year, we felt the website (click!) and blog (click here too!) needed a fresh coat of paint. We swapped platforms for our blog and reworked the main Astroneer website so both are more future proof (and sexier!). This update, while mostly visual, will allow us to grow those outlets as the game and the Astroneer community grows.
We knew that getting the right music for Astroneer was going to be a challenge since our artists set a high bar with a striking visual style. Creating an aural soundscape to match the visual landscapes is a tall order, and fierce debates were had on the direction to take!
Future Astroneers! We have two pieces of news to share with you. On October 7th 2015, when we launched our website and released our first trailer, our team was in a very tight financial situation. We had no external funding, and had made plans to have only three full time partners on the project, living from savings and bearing all development costs out of pocket. Given that unsustainable situation, we had made a deliberate choice to rush the game, in a very early state, to an Early Access launch in late March or early April, because without the early revenue to fund further development, we would be unable to continue.
Hello readers, I’m Paul Pepera, one of the artists working on Astroneer. “The Art of Astroneer” will be a multi-part series that will discuss the visual design of Astroneer. We hope to cover a wide variety of topics – from influences and inspiration to technical details and challenges that arose while creating the game.
For Astroneer we wanted an art style that was both visually striking and fast to execute. For a small team it was important for us to make decisions that we felt were realistically possible to achieve – one of those considerations was reducing content overhead. To that end we decided against an art direction that we were used to working in with our full time “AAA” jobs in favor of something much more minimalistic. We felt low-poly art direction was a good choice because it offers us the ability to execute content relatively inexpensively while still achieving a visual style that makes a strong statement.
The last two weeks have been incredible for us. We certainly did not expect the kind of positive reaction to Astroneer that we saw in hundreds of comments, tweets, and emails. The day we revealed the trailer, website, and blog was one of our best (if not the best) days as game developers. We always felt Astroneer was special, but now we really feel like we’re working on something that will be special for a lot of people.
In the not-so-distant future, the sudden development of technology for rapid space travel enables fast and inexpensive journeys to the stars. The dominant conglomerate in this venture, EXO Dynamics, has opened long distance travel to private citizens. Like the Yukon gold rush of old, the result is a flood of people signing up to launch themselves into a new frontier. Reckless adventurers risk everything to seek their fortune in the far reaches of the galaxy.
You are one such adventurer, Astroneer. Insufficiently trained and equipped by unscrupulous outfitters, you must use your wits and hard work to thrive on distant worlds yet untouched by mankind.
Astroneer is game about wonder, discovery, power, greed, mystery, and grand endeavor in a new age of expansion on the fringes of humanity.
You will land alone, or with a small crew of friends, on a planet to call your own. Harsh but bountiful, infinite worlds will beckon you to explore, exploit, and ultimately to reshape to your desire. Excavate and deform the land, uncover precious resources, jury-rig equipment to suit your taste and needs, create industrial scale extraction and manufacturing facilities, and locate rare items and artifacts. Contribute to the survival of Earth-based humankind, and get rich along the way.
The worlds in Astroneer are diverse, from huge spherical planets with atmospheres and vast landscapes, to strangely shaped small asteroids floating in the rings of gas giants. Each world is procedurally generated, unique to your experience, and can be totally reshaped by your tools. Excavate vast underground tunnels or create megaliths on the surface; the world is your Play-Doh.
MA, WE’RE GOING TO OUTER SPACE!
Astroneer is being assembled as a labor of love by a small team of North American veteran game developers, and represents our own passion for human space exploration. We aim to craft our dream game for you to play, one that is inspired less by Star Wars and more by Cosmos, the Space Race, the Apollo program, and SpaceX.
We grew up idolizing astronauts, hoping to go into space ourselves one day. We were moved as great teachers like Carl Sagan spoke in reverent tones about the beauty and wonder of the galaxy. We bore witness to the triumph and the heartbreak of the space program. We listened with excitement as our parents recounted the Apollo 11 landing. We watched with awe and pride as the ISS, piece by piece, was built. We felt the horror when Challenger and then Columbia were lost.
These are all feelings we want to recapture by making a game that is about the dangerous beauty of our universe and mankind’s unceasing desire to tame it and put our mark on it, all while giving you tools to be boundlessly creative in how you do that.
Astroneer has spent a considerable amount of time evolving through prototype phases as we tested gameplay ideas, explored new technologies, evaluated game engines, and established an art style.
The game is now taking form in a direction that we’re eager to bring to you. All of the images and GIFs posted so far are in-game shots straight from Unreal Engine 4. That said, there is a vast amount of work yet to be done. Many of the details of the design require fleshing out, there is a ton of art and sound content to be produced, and many engineering systems must be stood up and properly tested before the game will be finished.
Our team acknowledges that in the modern climate of making games, successes rarely come out of a vacuum. With a game this ambitious and a team this small, we will need tremendous amounts of feedback from a community of supporters. For this reason, we’ve chosen to embrace Early Access as a means to allow excited early adopters a way to play and give us the information we need to adjust designs that are still in flux, balance gameplay, and smoothly scale up our systems and infrastructure.
We’re aiming for our first Steam Early Access early 2016. This early build will focus on our exploration sandbox and balancing its elements with the world-building power players can wield. Multiplayer gameplay will be limited to small cooperative sessions with friends and expanded on in future updates.
From here we will work towards the full 1.0 release of the game, which will flesh out narrative elements, polish the survival and base-builder sandbox, and expand multiplayer capabilities.
THIS IS EXO DYNAMICS. DO YOU COPY?
We’re extremely happy to introduce to you Astroneer and are excited about this adventure we’re about to go on! Along the way we’re going to be sharing as much about the game’s development as we can: The successes and failures, break-throughs and redos.