Junction Gate Dev Update 03

It's been a while since the last development update, so this post will cover an updated schedule, a dev preview, another Commonwealth Q & A, a chance to vote on the next lore post, and a shoutout to a fellow indie game.

Update Schedule & Format Change

In case you missed it on Twitter or Discord, the blog posts will be moving from every other Tuesday to every other Thursday. This is to make it a little easier to accomodate my work schedule and to relieve a little bit of the pressure on the weekends of an update.

Also, the format of the blog posts is going to change slightly. Because some of the features being worked on are larger features and may not have something new to show off every two weeks, dev updates will only be once a month. In between the updates will be a lore post, further expanding the universe of Junction Gate. This will help me as a developer so that I don't have to rush features out just to make a blog deadline and it will help me as a writer to further expand the universe lore.

Adding A Terrain Map

Because the perspective of the grid facilities broke with a Chrome update, I've been exploring rendering the hex grid in actual 3D. As a part of that, I've been experimenting with generating a terrain map upon which the grid will be placed. Below is an early prototype, without the grid.

How the terrain map will look and function is still being determined and will partly depend on performance. Next steps will include adding textures, integrating the hex grid, adding facilities, and changing the camera controls. There's a lot of work still to be done here, but my hope is that the added effort will make the game a lot better.

Commonwealth Q & A

This week's question and answer section addresses some writing and lore questions.

1. What Is Your Background As A Writer?

I have a B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing. It wasn't until after school that I realized my job prospects weren't stellar with an English degree. Shortly after graduating, I began teaching myself how to program and eventually ended up changing careers entirely. I did a lot of creative writing during school and a lot of business and technical writing since, but Junction Gate will be the first opportunity I have had to really put together a lot of creative and technical passions into a single project. I'm very much looking forward to writing the eventual plot and dialogue for the game and the lore posts are a great warm-up for that.

2. How Representative Are The Lore Posts For The Writing In-Game?

The Junction Gate lore posts are written to be like history lessons. There will be some historical overviews in the game as well, but there will also be scientific briefs, news reports, dialogue, exposition and more, so there will be different styles of writing throughout.

There are a few goals for the game's writing:

  • Create the feeling of a living, breathing world that has a real and deep history. This means grounding the setting in a hard sci-fi universe and taking the time to fully flesh out the lore.
  • Craft believable characters with rich backstories that make decisions that make sense within the bounds of their personalities.
  • Present the player with interesting scenarios that aren't just the common tropes of standard sci-fi.
  • Tie the story into the gameplay and vice-versa. I'm looking for plot points that can be directly integrated into the gameplay so that you have the opportunity to do in some situations rather than just read.
3. How Linear Will The Plot Be?

I have a lot of plans in this area, not all of which I'm ready to share because I'll be delving into some experimental territory and it's still a ways off before I'll even be able to begin working on it. However, I think it's important for player choices to mean something. Replayability is also important, but the appeal diminishes if the plot is too linear. My great hope for the play and plot of the game is that each journey will be a unique experience even though there are canonical story arcs that will be experienced by everyone.

4. I Think X Should Be In The Game, Why Isn't It?

World-building is a careful thing to construct and it's a responsibility I'm taking seriously. I'm open to a lot of suggestions from players, but anything that makes it into the game will need to fit into the context of the universe being built. Lore needs to be consistent, especially when it's hard sci-fi. I expect the community will point out any inconsistencies (and please do!), so I'm going to be cautious about how I add to the lore.

5. When Will The Story Be Added To The Game?

Bits and pieces of the story will be added throughout the development, especially those parts that are background or generated. However, the bulk of the story and dialogue will be some of the final parts added to the game. It's scheduled this way so that the core mechanics can be tested repeatedly by testers without spoilers. Writing the story all at once will also make it far more consistent and cohesive.

Choose Your Next Adventure

Every development update, I'm going to let the community vote on which lore post you'd like to see next. Here are this week's options:

  1. The Fall Of Mars
  2. The Phantom Cache Of The Einstein
  3. The Fate Of The Avant Garde

Let me know in the comments or on social media which lore post you'd like to see next update. The remaining choices will be recycled for the next vote, along with a brand new option.

Check Out AI War II

Starting with this week's post, I'll be sharing interesting games from other indie developers. These aren't paid endorsements or ads and I don't know the developers personally, but I want to help support my fellow indies by highlighting their projects when I can.

This first game is a sci-fi strategy game called AI War II and is being developed by Arcen Games. They are doing some interesting things with their game AI that I can't wait to see in action. AI War II currently has about 11 days left in their Kickstarter, so you should check out their project. They've already made their initial funding goal and are working towards their stretch goals.

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