Yesterday, after a long wait on my part, Failbetter Games announced the first crop of Fundbetter projects, including Voyageur. I’m enormously excited to share more details in the coming weeks, as the game comes together; this is the first of a series of weekly development logs. You can keep track of them by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or signing up for the Voyageur email list.
A voyageur (small v) is a an 18th-19th century fur trader in French Canada and the upper midwest. Voyageurs would travel mostly by canoe, travois, and portage, carrying bundles of fur overland from the beaver trapping hinterland of North America out to ports where it would be loaded onto ships for sale to Europe. A few men got rich doing this; many more didn’t.
Voyageur (big V) is a literary, spacefaring RPG set in a procedurally-generated galaxy. In it, you’re always moving forward, carried “downriver” by a form of propulsion that only goes one way. The descent device is an alien black box that snaps the laws of physics like a twig, propelling a small vessel at superluminal speeds, too fast, for too little energy.
But all your trips are one way; a terrible price, or an added bonus, depending on how you look at it. You’re always circling the gargantuan drain that is the galactic core. Maybe gravity is what is pulling the device on its way. Maybe something else.
In Voyageur, you travel from planet to planet, visiting different regions of space. There, you can trade, explore the game’s various stories, and recruit people for your ragtag crew. The game tells its stories by constructing and assembling prose as you go along, giving you richly described worlds and evocative stories in the vein of Failbetter’s own Sunless Sea and Fallen London.
Voyageur is more about culture and society than other space games. You will find monarchies obsessed with biosecurity, bodymod-mad anarchists, hypercapitalist carbon miners on Titanian moons, radical ARscape art, and everything in between. If you’re lucky, you will find alien superstructures and other anomalous phenomena.
Next week, I’ll share more details of the game’s procedural generation engine. Until then, I’ll leave you with a procedural world description generated by the current (pre-alpha) build:
From up above, this planet’s capital looks like a moss-covered ruin; when you approach cautiously through the thick air traffic, you realise its buildings are covered in intentional, sun-dappled greenery. The silver and black star of the Recep Traverse is a frequent sight on the façades of buildings here, often jutting out of them texturally or visible only from a specific angle. The crowds wandering the roads are colorful and strange; you spot a man sporting mismatched, cat-slit eyes.