Hands-on Preview in PC Authority

SDF Team Photo - HeaderA big write-up on Objects in Space has just graced the pages of PC Authority, courtesy of Jason Imms. It’s based on Jason spending time with the game at PAX Australia, as well as a series of follow-up interviews with Rohan and Leigh. Check it out for some cool nuggets of info about the game mechanics and story!

CNet Interview with Flat Earth Games

CNet, who did an awesome short video on the PAX show floor recently, have also dropped up an interview with Flat Earth founders Rohan and Leigh Harris. Journalist Michelle Starr writes quite rightly that Objects in Space is the big passion project we’ve wanted to make since becoming an indie developer, and goes into the process of making the game, building the hardware, and crafting the experience.

Check out the article here.

Flat Earth Games will sponsor GX Sydney, Objects will be there…

FullSizeRender-3For those who don’t know, GX (formerly GaymerX) is the first expo focused on celebrating LGBTQ+ and diverse gamers. There are several events in the States already, but none down here in Australia. Until now!

We care a great deal about diversity in gaming and in all facets of life, and are only too happy to join GX as an Indie GameDev Sponsor. Having a safe space for a range of people to come together and enjoy games is a crucial part of the future of the medium we all love, and getting behind GX is our way of being a part of that.

Needless to say, Objects in Space will be on show. We’ll have the trademark physical hardware which turned so many heads (that last link includes Deus Ex creator Warren Spector saying Objects was the most intriguing game of the show) at PAX Australia, so you can come and have a chat to us, meet the team and get to fiddle with all kinds of switches, lights and buttons as we walk you through the game.

We wholeheartedly encourage everyone to donate to the GX Kickstarter and to spread the word about the event! It should be loads of fun and hopefully there’ll be plenty of other indie games on show.

Our thanks go to Joshua Meadows and Liam Esler for putting this all together, and look forward to seeing you there!

Objects in Space in Indie Game Magazine

Yet more media around what is fast becoming known as the Great Objects in Space PAX Bonanza: this time in the venerable Indie Game Magazine.

Indie Game Mag Still Objects

Indie Game Magazine has been featuring Objects in Space in its pages for an ongoing series called ‘Engine Room’ every two months throughout the back half of 2015. This round is the last time Objects will be featured as the mag moves other indies into the spotlight, so we say thank you to IGM for helping us document our progress and enlighten its readers as to the development process.

If you pick up this issue, you’ll read about the last minute calls we had to make when deciding whether or not to get all the physical hardware and Arduino functionality working in time for PAX. It was, I daresay, a photo finish. We got all the boxes you saw up and running on the show floor to finally work at around 5pm the day before PAX.

Check out this issue of Indie Game Magazine and also the September and July issues for the full run-down on the development of Objects in Space so far…

Objects in Space on CNet

Next cab off the rank for video interviews shot at PAX Aus is CNet. Leigh and our concept artist / maker of the physical hardware Jennifer Scheurle were interviewed by Nic Healey on the show floor about the game, the hardware, and the reasons why we chose to emulate submarine warfare.

Nic CNet Video Still

From the article:

“Less like World War II dogfighters, more like Cold War submarines”: That was the mantra for Flat Earth Games when they decided to create a game that got space right.

Combine open-world trading and unforgiving space combat that makes “Hunt for Red October” look like a game of Battleship and you’ve got Objects in Space.

Check the video out, and be sure to sound off in the forums. One ping only, please.

Objects in Space on IGN

Hey there, space-goers!

Here’s a 90 second video interview Leigh did with none other than IGN AU’s Luke Reilly at our stand at this year’s PAX Australia, complete with footage of the physical hardware in action.

IGN Video Still w Play Button

Check out the video and be sure to stick around for plenty more footage, interviews and impressions from press in the coming weeks.

Also, in case you missed it, the first video walkthrough of the game launched while we were at PAX. Check out the full 5 minute video here.

 

Dev Blog # 8 – Building our own Ship

Objects in Space is down at PAX Australia today, and we’ve spent the last few weeks creating physical hardware to bring down with us.

IMG_1693

That’s right – Objects is going to ship with the ability to talk to physical buttons, switches and LEDs via a virtual serial port, so if you’re the kind of DIY fan who likes to build things themselves, Objects has got you covered.

We’re going to take a quick look at the setup we’ve pulled together for PAX.

IMG_1661The demo we’re running at PAX is a combat demo where we run in a Ceres light freighter. These ships are supposed to be old junkers. They make the Millennium Falcon look finely-tuned and highly-polished. So we had to make a setup which felt rusty – like the sort of thing which could’ve had barnacles attached to the bottom of it. So we needed it to feel clunky, big and grey.

Everything was built by Rohan and our concept artist Jennifer Scheurle. We went to a hardware store and bought a whole bunch of MDF (medium-density fibreboard), but we could just as easily have used something stronger like wood or thinner like balsa  wood if we’d wanted to.
IMG_1656We bought a hot glue gun, power drill and a jigsaw, then went to an electronics store where we bought reams of wires, as many LEDs as we could get our hands on, and a cool selection of different buttons and switch types. I can’t describe how much fun it was to sit there in an electronics store pressing each button available until we found the one which was ‘just right’ for each of the main functions we wanted. We were looking for that satisfying feeling of ‘I’ve just done something big’ for the more important functions like switching the main reactor on or off, or entering or exiting EmCon mode.

We also bought several Arduinos (very small computers-on-a-chip you can program), which we planned to use to interface the LEDs and buttons with the game.

Last stop was an art supplies store where Jennifer bought all kinds of paints and brushes and some stencil lettering. We also grabbed some sponges so we could add a kind of rust finish to each of the panels to make them really look decrepit.

IMG_1696Firstly, there’s the engineering panel. This is the largest of the three consoles we’ve built, and replicates the functionality of the engineering room display. From here, we can see which of the modules is currently active (green), and when we take a hit from an incoming missile, which is damaged (yellow) or completely destroyed (red).

IMG_1712Next up is the weapons panel. Our favourite panel. You select which of the Ceres’ four missile tubes you want to be operating with the numbered buttons on the left. The three lights across the top of the screen tell you whether the missile in question is an EMP, explosive or a probe. You can then press ‘spin up’ to ready the missile for firing, and at any point you can stop the missile from heading towards its current target by pressing ‘unlink’. Then there’s the grand-master button – the fire button. Complete with safety catch. Nothing is more satisfying!

IMG_1694Lastly, we’ve got a small box which has the reactor on/off button and the EmCon button. EmCon (short for Emissions Control) is your stealth mode. You hit that button the second you detect danger and it’ll automatically power off all unnecessary systems so that you’re as close to undetectable as possible. This is a very important button, and one which will be used often.

For the next three days, we’ll be demonstrating this hardware in action at PAX, but we’ve also just released the first video showing the game in action. Expect another video soon which shows people interacting with the physical hardware, but for now, check the video on our YouTube channel to see the game moving.

Be sure to check out our previous blog posts covering the development of the game so far, and join the mailing list if you want updates on when Objects in Space is coming to life.

Dev Blog #7: From 2D to 3D – An Artist’s Perspective

Following up from Rohan’s previous post on moving from the 2D prototype through to the 3D game we have now, Matt talks about the challenges of completely retooling the games graphics.

Bridge_old
The original mockup for the bridge of the Ceres class freighter.

While Rohan was facing the imposing task of hand coding every interface in each of the ships, I’d begun to realise that the task of building the graphics for each of the ships was going to be equally monumental.

Each room of each ship required several hand drawn versions, clean, dirty, damaged and a plethora of switches, each with their own set of states. With Photoshop, the task of producing each state wasn’t particularly difficult in and of itself, but it did require a fair amount of patience and organisation to maintain. It was when requests to modify small sections of the rooms came in that the whole thing started to get complicated. It meant reworking all states of the rooms to accommodate any of the little pixel by pixel changes that I’d made.

Bridge_prototype
The bridge after Objects in Space first began production in 2D

A large amount of game development is about iteration, being able to quickly and decisively make changes to features, visual or mechanical. The hard coded, completely hand drawn aesthetic that we’d gone for looked beautiful, but were impossible to iterate on in a timely manner.

Read Full Post…

Dev Blog #6: Interfaces and Data

This development blog is going to focus on the re-design that happened when moving the engine from 2D pixel-art to a 3D view. It’ll be a bit technical, rather than mostly design problems. We suggest a strong espresso before continuing.

Moving Objects from 2D to 3D was a fascinating challenge. Some parts of the rendering code I could keep – some of the ship screen interfaces I could keep, but the major difference would be that I was not rendering them directly to the screen like this:

commanddeck

But instead rendering them to a texture as required and switching the texture of the monitor object in the rooms. Now, the previous way the game worked was that you could switch most screens to fullscreen mode (with the kludgy temp button you can see on the top-right above). This caused an issue in 3D.

Rather than going fullscreen per se, we did the (we felt) natural thing of simply letting you left-click on a screen to take control of it, and then animating the camera in as if you were moving closer to the screen to use it.

It ads a nice fluidity to the controls – left click always takes you into a screen or uses a UI element on said screen, and right-click takes you out. This way, almost the entire ship can be controlled using only the mouse – with keyboard shortcuts or interfaces for text terminals being the only exception.

Back to the point of this blog, though – I began to realise that my 2D prototype, unshockingly, was a terrible bit of code for building UIs. Really bad. See, being a prototype… it was all hard-coded. Each button you see above, each nav element, was a manually constructed bit of code. Read Full Post…

Feature on Objects in Space in this month’s Indie Game Magazine

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.32.36 amHi space cadets!

Aside from the various dev blogs we’ve been posting here, if you’re keen for the latest update on what’s been happening with Objects in Space, check out this month’s issue of Indie Game Magazine, where a two page feature discusses where we’ve been so far, where we’re going and how we’re structuring our team.

You’ll also find the latest screenshots and some progression shots showing the progression of the art style.

As an added bonus, you’re supporting a great little digital magazine that you can grab as a PDF for cheap, so give it a shot! There’s a heap of other great indie games in there, many of which are very much worth your time and attention.

An excerpt from the article:

“It’s certainly a unique take on video game storytelling to keep writers on their toes, having to react to sudden events which affect their own plot threads. It’s almost like the writers are each playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons in the same universe, crafting a baseline story before adjusting it on the fly in response to outside influences.”

The latest issue can be downloaded here.