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Dev Diary #3 – The Jumpgate

by on March 28, 2014

showcase jumpgate 01

We want to keep a steady pace with our dev diary, so here’s our second entry this week! After showing off some exciting combat last time, this time let’s focus on some relaxing space travel with the Jumpgate.

It was clear to us from the get go that we wanted Stars of Icarus to have a wide spanning, engaging world. We wanted players to have a sense of wonder as they explored it, impressed by the size and variety. One important fact about space however is that it’s… well… mostly empty and we also wanted to give players a sense of realism. So we made the decision to have our game take place in a number of different galactic sectors. Since these lie so far apart their backdrops and environments largely differ from one another, giving adventurers new varying areas to explore every time. The conduit between these sectors are the Jumpgates.

Each gate can accelerate spacecrafts to incredible speeds, allowing them to travel large distances in minutes that would otherwise take months or years to traverse. They are of exceptional importance for all space-faring races, and so they are hotly contested. This also makes them valuable for the player on his journey.

showcase jumpgate 02

The ingame appearance of the Jumpgate had to communicate a sense of speed and power. Initially we intended it to resemble some simplified form of a cannon barrel or slingshot. It was split into two halves which were unconnected, looking inviting to players and giving them a clear path through. On the way through, the ship would be accelerated drastically and shot out of the screen, which would fade to black. In the next system the player would simply reappear.
The design worked, but was too simple for our taste. There was no physical explanation as to why the gate’s two separate pieces were sticking together and not simply drifting off into space. Additionally the transition between systems was not spectacular enough.

showcase jumpgate 03

The next design had the from of an archway and definitely looked impressive but it wasn’t immediately clear where the entrance was. The closed-off form roughly resembled a cage rather then a gateway. Other designs included triangular and circular forms, which did look like portals, but where confusing, since they looked like they where leading down, while the player was to travel straight ahead.

In the middle of a brainstorming session, we had the idea to combine a circular form with the arch. The result was an instant favorite. The arch gave  the Jumpgate direction and had the desired cannon barrel resemblance. The circular form, stuck neatly at the front end of the arch, gave the player a clear understanding of where to enter and had a definitive portal look.

showcase jumpgate 04

The gate model was completed, but the effects were still not as good as they could be. We decided to give the Jumpgate a constant glow, to show that it was functioning and ready. In early stages of the game this glow would only appear after a sector had been cleared of enemies. Later on we decided not to limit players in such a fashion and rather let them explore the galaxy at their own pace.

showcase jumpgate 05

The player ship was no longer simply shot from one place and didn’t simply appear in the other. Instead, when it was accelerated an elongation effect was added, making the incredible speed apparent. Also the ship actually entered the target system, meaning it would arrive from off screen, trailing speed-lines. The feel was one of thrill and adventure, meaning we finally had our interplanetary space-cannon and it looked even better than we had imagined.



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From → Stars of Icarus

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