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ALIEN PLANET - Wayne Barlowe's EXPEDITION (Demo)

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Expedition Screen23 Titlecard8c4.jpg


Here it is, finally:
Based on the book by Wayne Barlowe, in this open world type map you will be part of the 2358 A.D. Expedition to the alien planet of Darwin IV, exploring the planet in your trusty Hovercone aircraft as you see fit, while observing- and gathering data on local lifeforms.

The demo features:
  • the full geography of the planet's northern hemisphere
  • 34 alien species represented by Custom Models, with their own behaviour patterns to study and collect (32 needed to "win")
  • Virtual Archive to review the lore discovered on each lifeform

While you can certainly speedrun the game, the intended use is for meditative exploration at your own pace, diving into the scenery and the lives of the different creatures playing out before you.

Mechanics:
While I made an effort to ensure all you need to know to play will be explained by the game itself as you move along, to be on the safe side, here are the main points again -

1) Movement
You control the Hovercone aircraft (a Hero Unit) and can fly it anywhere on the planet you wish to explore by selecting it and using right click on whatever point you want it to go.

Advanced Movement:
With the "Adjust Altitude" Hero Ability (unavailable by default, needs to be learned), you can make the Hovercone fly higher or lower. This is important because some flying creatures can only be observed higher up in the sky, while forests can only be explored on lowest altitude (-1). Also, your flying height affects your speed, at ground level you are slow, high up you are fast.
Your inventory contains an item which tells you your current altitude and what you need to know about flying at that specific height.
NOTE: be careful, flying low for too long or too close to big animals damages your Hovercone. This will be less severe the higher your level, so you can plan your exploration accordingly.
Destruction of the Hovercone is your Defeat condition.

2) Studying alien lifeforms
The core tool you will have to use is the Hovercone's "Analyze" ability, a spell based on Mana Drain which you will use on a specimen (Unit) to drain it of its Mana, representing the Information that can be extracted from it.
A species (Unit Type) shares their "Mana", so you can use the ability on any member of the same species, any time, to make progress.
Once all Mana is collected from the species, you will gain Hero Experience and potentially level up.
For each species fully studied, one unit slot will be filled with a hologram ("Food Used", in Warcraft 3 terms) once you update the Virtual Archive (see point 3 below). That is your counter to Victory, fill up at least 32 slots and you win the game.

The "challenge", to the extend that it exists, depends on how much "Mana" a given species has, how common it is and how easy its members are to target with the ability (very small and fast critters are harder to scan, for instance).

3) Virtual Archive
Besides the Hovercone, you control a Hero Unit representing the Virtual Archive. If you unselect your Hovercone and select the icon of the Virtual Archive, represented by a Book, your view shifts to a virtual avatar in a digital space, where you can find selectable holograms of all lifeforms studied so far, and read their Lore (triggering floating texts with their "Species Summary" and "Species Dossier" Unit abilities).

Whenever you level up, your "Analyze" ability is locked and a visit to the Virtual Archive becomes mandatory to unlock it again.

To leave the Virtual Archive, select the Hovercone again through its icon (The Map with the Dagger).

4) Other Mechanics
Other Hero Abilities you can unlock are an Attribute bonus that makes your Hovercone harder to destroy, and a "Clear Sight" ability for discovering camouflaged critters.

Have fun, and tell me what you think!

What's next?
Depending on feedback, I will make the full version with at least twice as many lifeforms to study and both hemispheres to explore, transitioning to a 480x480 map using a newer version of the World Editor.

Sneak Peak
Expedition Screen7.jpgExpedition Screen23.jpgExpedition Preview Skewers.jpgWC3ScrnShot_012923_003028_05.jpgExpedition Preview Hook-Tail 2.jpgWC3ScrnShot_012223_182845_01.jpgWC3ScrnShot_012923_000740_04.jpgExpedition Arctic Sliders preview.jpgExpedition Screen12.jpgWC3ScrnShot_020523_184458_06.jpgExpedition Preview Flipsticks2.jpg
 

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  • Darwin IV Safari Demo v1.w3x
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Update: I re-tested the map myself again a couple of times and besides a few cosmetic changes, I also improved the trigger for experience gain. So the download above has been updated to "v1".

(However, I now wonder if the map now runs less "smoothly" than before. Maybe it's just paranoia because I have been testing it so much, and I've started seeing things, but if someone who tested the previous version could test the new one and tell me if there is a difference in performance, that would be swell.
Either way, thanks to everyone who's given it a look so far.)
 
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Well this is something else haha.:thumbs_up:

Really needs an ambient track of sorts, for better atmosphere.
No one sleeps on this planet?
What about caves that require a specific altitude to enter and navigate? (And/Or under water area)
Experience gain seems quite low, i'd add some exp for zone exploration alone.

Plays smoothly btw, don't worry.
 
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No one sleeps on this planet?
I got one species that travels during the night and kills during the day if that counts :p
Life cycles can definitely get more detailled.

caves are something I want to add in the bigger map (in the mountains; in general for the mountains I need to figure out either a better flying camera system or creatively build them in a way the camera will cooperate better), right now I just have the forests as proof of concept

Water areas would be fun considering Barlowe did not develop them at all
7f545b96c7e2a5e2b139a7be886a7546.jpg
So I'd kinda have free license...
 
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