Astraverse Game Features and Design

While I was writing up the progress report for the game, I realized that I hadn’t really explained yet what features would be in the game or how it would be designed. So, I figure I should explain some of it’s features now before moving on to anything else.

Astraverse will have the same basic features of Phantasy Star Online but it will be in 2D and have a few changes to some of the systems and gameplay. For one thing–it won’t be an mmo.

For those who are not familiar with Phantasy Star Online, I’ll explain it this way–It’s a futuristic loot-grind action RPG (Diablo in 3rd person maybe?) but with a customizable button “palette” for assigning weapons, items, and skills to a GAMEPAD. It also has “drone-like” companions that can be fed/raised and equipped to bring into dungeons/areas. PSO also featured randomly generated (or more like randomly arranged) areas/dungeons.

All of that will be included in Astraverse but I’m going to try to expand on some of that stuff.

For example, the button palette system will include all four buttons on a controller instead of just 3. And since there’s no need for the left trigger to adjust the camera anymore, I’m planning on allowing for 4 more slots that can be used by holding down the left trigger/button.

Another thing I’m planning on changing a bit is with the drone companion (they call them “mags” in PSO). They’ll still be robots floating right next to players but they will be more like “pets” similar to the Chao from the Sonic Adventure series of games rather than little drones. They’ll be customizable through enemy material drops in the same vein as the Sonic Adventure games, too. We’ll be able to name them as well.

Players will be able to level up to level 200 and they’ll also be able to combine weapons with other weapons to make them stronger. No need for giving up cool-looking weapons just because other weapons are stronger–there will be a system for gathering a material (we’re calling it “plasma drops”) to level up weapons and combine them with others.

The music in Phantasy Star was one of the most defining characteristics of the game. As a matter of fact, I would say that PSO had one of the best soundtracks in gaming history. The music in Astraverse will sound like a mixture of Phantasy Star Online’s music and my own personal style. I always like to say that it’s “better for me to show than tell” so I’ll post up a sample of a track from the soundtrack soon to give a better example of how it will sound. 

Astraverse takes place in a fictional star system and so there will be 6 planets that the players will be able to explore.

While that may seem a little crazy–it won’t be an open-world game so developing this won’t be entirely unreasonable. I’m planning it out to still feel immersive, though. For example, players will have to board their ship in order to go to a planet.

Each planet will be more like a randomly-generated level. I’m doing it this way to simulate the idea of exploring parts of an entire planet. After everything’s said and done, a player should feel like they are exploring a planet whenever they play through a level–even if they don’t experience everything that the planet has to offer.

There will be “rest areas” that will also randomly generate in between the regular areas that players explore. They’ll mostly be represented by cities and while they are there, players can go to hotels to heal and gain temporary stat boosts as well as go to shops to buy and sell items and equipment.

At the end of each normal planet run, there will be a boss and then players will automatically be returned to their ships to explore another randomly generated level on the planet or fly to another planet to explore that instead.

The art style for Astraverse is currently a digitally hand-painted style. My wife and I are making the art for everything in the game ourselves. Mostly, it’s inspired by 
George Kumitani (the “mastermind” behind the Vanillaware games–Odin Sphere, Dragon’s Crown, Muramasa). We’re also taking inspiration from retro-style science fiction art.  Honestly, I’m not too confident about my art because this is my first time painting anything but my wife does great art. If someone were to help out with the art–I’d be glad to talk if they could pull off some nice stuff similar to the Vanillware games. However, we don’t have a budget for the project as of now so we’re sticking to what we can do on our own.

There will also be a few mini-games that will be included in the final game but I’ll get there when we get there as I have no plans to include any of that in the game’s upcoming demo.

Hopefully this post gives a better idea of what I’m making.

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