Development Update: Reworking the Eridani System
I’ve been working on improving the Eridani System. As the first system in the game, Eridani needs to be exciting, memorable, and an enticement to play the rest of the game. In short, a lot is riding on it, and I don’t think we’re there yet. In this post I’ll talk about my approach in redesigning Eridani and give you a sneak peek at the result.
What’s the Story?
Think of the Eridani System as the pilot of a TV series. We have some characters: the Pilgrim, of course; Benedict; the Raisu station master. But what’s the plot? What’s the story arc? Originally I thought Benedict’s missions, culminating in the rescue of Fiona, would be the main story arc. But that’s not a complete story. It’s only the beginning of an ongoing story.
Instead, I think the Raisu Station mission is the main story. If nothing else, it has a beginning, middle, and end. Raisu Station has been taken over by Centauri Warlords (beginning). When the Pilgrim destroys some Centauri stations, the Raisu stationmaster protests—she fears the warlords will punish Raisu. But the Pilgrim’s success convinces her to confront her fears and she tells the Pilgrim about the warlord leader, Arco Vaughn (middle). With the help of the stationmaster’s missile launcher, the Pilgrim hunts down Arco Vaughn and frees Raisu Station from warlord control (end).
This story is a good start, but it has a couple of weaknesses. First, it’s too short and doesn’t give us much opportunity to get to know the characters. Second, it offers no real choice for the player to affect the outcome.
In the new version I’m expanding the story and adding two different possible endings.
After killing Arco Vaughn, the player returns to Raisu Station and learns that the warlords have vowed revenge. Now the Pilgrim must defend the station against a concentrated attack.
The Raisu stationmaster decides that the only way to guarantee peace is to eliminate the Centauri settlement at the edge of the system. Now the player has to choose whether to help her or refuse.
Ambiguity and Complexity
One of the core elements of Transcendence is its moral ambiguity and complexity. I’m not going to claim any great philosophical insight, but I hope the game presents a more complex picture than just good vs. evil.
The revelation in the Huari dream sequence is a good example. Similarly, the player’s choice to either save or destroy the CSC Antarctica demonstrates that there is no single right answer.
The player’s choice to either destroy or save the Centauri settlement serves multiple purposes. It adds a choice with game-effects: one choice gives you free refueling and armor repair; the other choice gives you access to Centauri items. And just as important, it adds role-playing choices for the player: Do you want to play the hard-hearted realist who knows freedom is bought with blood? Or do you want to be the optimist who gives peace a chance?
The new Eridani storyline will be released with version 1.9 Beta 3, but until then you can watch a playthrough below:
Join the Universe
What do you think? Do you like the new storyline? Let me know in the comments below, or write to me: email@example.com.
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