Today I mark the start of a new year by kicking a new project into high gear. It’s always been a dream of mine to develop a space 4X game, and more specifically to develop a spiritual successor to Master of Orion II. MOO2’s own sequel was a colossal let-down, removing most of the elements that made its predecessor great and ignoring decades of 4X games from which to draw inspiration. Since then we’ve seen some great titles like Galactic Civilisations and Sins of a Solar Empire, but I don’t feel like any have really recaptured the magic of MOO2.
This year I’m now in the perfect position to make that dream a reality. I have a stable job as EVE Online columnist and contributing editor for MMO blog Massively, which pays the bills but leaves most of each week free to work on the project. I also live with two close friends, one a talented artist and the other an all-around clever clogs with a flare for planning, management, writing and social networking. Although I write for a living, I am a programmer with a Masters degree in computer science from one of the UK’s top universities.
For the past few years I’ve only put a few days per month aside for game development projects and always worked on them solo. In that time, I’ve built a procedural graphics engine able to render complex space scenes and zoom down onto the surface of planets in realtime. This year, I am kicking the project into high-gear with several days of development every week and two new helping hands. Below is a video showing off what I have so far (best viewed in 1080p fullscreen to see all the stars).
This blog will serve as a commitment device to make sure I work on the game every week; At least once per week I will write a blog update with details of the game’s progress, new screenshots, videos, or just gameplay ideas that I need to get on paper. If you’re interested in the game’s development and follow the blog, please consider commenting now and then to help keep me engaged and motivated.
Deciding on a name:
I’ve been throwing game name ideas back and forth for a long time, originally settling for the completely non-committal and thoroughly underwhelming working title of “untitled space game”. 4X games usually have words like “Conquest”, “Empire” or “Civilisation” in the name, and space 4X games sometimes sport recognisable space terms like “Solar”, “Space”, or “Stars”. Instead, I’ve chosen a name that has none of the obvious terms in it but should be in the vocabulary of any sci-fi fan: Predestination.
The Predestination Paradox (or Causality Paradox) is a theoretical event in which a person goes back in time to change something, but in the process causes the very thing he went back to change. I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline right now as it may change, but obviously time travel will feature heavily. For one thing, time travel a fantastic way to explain why each race starts the game at the same time and with the same technology level.
If you’re interested in this indie game development project, follow the blog and I’ll post updates as it progresses. There are also key articles listed on the left hand side of the page going into detail on various game mechanics like the research system and city-building concept.