Voyageur » Devlogs » 9. Q&A

2016.8.12

9. Q&A

Welcome to our ninth dev diary! Development on Voyageur continues, and soon I’ll be getting into more detail of what is going into the game when in future dev diaries. But this week, I promised a Q&A.

In Voyageur, you’re never asked to pick a side. The alignments aren’t really factions in the way we’re used to from video games – they’re disparate worldviews and ways of life, but they’re not really sides in a galaxy-spanning conflict.

I think most players will end up choosing their favorite. But part of the design philosophy here is that the game gives you choices while letting you interpret your character’s motivations however you like; so asking the player to explicitly pick an alignment and stick to it felt wrong.

If I were to name a science fiction story/setting that is influential on each alignment, it would be:

  • Chrysalis: The Culture series
  • Hammer: Red Faction
  • Star: Star Trek
  • Dome: The Mars Trilogy
  • Ladder: Neuromancer

This is kind of a flip and reductive way of putting it, but it gets the picture across, I think. There are a lot of other influences that you might spot in Voyageur, though; but I’ll leave that for players to find when they get their hands on the game.

As for procedural generation, Voyageur is really a hybrid of procedural and authored content, and the procedural text is created by recombining authored text. The goal is to create a sense of surprise and possibility, to have a game where the experience you’re having and the things you’re encountering are particular to your own game, and to bank on the feeling of serendipity that I always loved in the space sim genre.

For people who are interested in the nitty-gritty, I wrote a pretty extensive article about it on Gamasutra. To sum it up, the procedural generation in Voyageur is based on a pragmatic approach. The goal is to create experiences that are unique to your playthrough, and to surprise you with what you find. At the end of the day, all the content you encounter is hand-authored, but it’s been recombined into a form unique to your playthrough.

I have – Parrigues, if you don’t know, is a procedurally-generated novel that Emily Short wrote last year. It also doubles as a treatise on procedural prose. Voyageur incorporates a lot of techniques from that, along with some of my own work.

Other influences I haven’t brought up yet include the Foundation series, and the tabletop RPG Eclipse Phase.

I don’t want to spoil anything yet. But my “favorite” moment so far was when I was just putting in cargo into the game, and I spent nearly half an hour failing to check that the pricing formula was working as intended because I kept being attacked by pirates and having to drop my cargo.

That’s all for now - feel free to keep sending questions to the Twitter account.