As some are probably aware, I have full-time work that eats up enough time to choke out potential progress to Astraverse’s development.
However, thanks to some help that I’m getting from my supervisor, I’ve been able to work more on Astraverse-related stuff during downtime–that’s how I was able to rebuild the site and go back to providing updates as well as reestablish the Discord channel.
Anyway, today I continued to work on the narrative event system that will play a big role in the gameplay structure and flow as well as the story. I haven’t explained this yet but that’s because the last update was about 3 years ago and, well, things have changed a bit since then. Not TOO much. Astraverse is largely the same game but it’s overall concept and narrative approach has grown since then.
Back in 2019, during E3, they announced that Phantasy Star Online 2 was coming to the US. Now, this made me think about the future of Astraverse. Astraverse was originally supposed to “fill” the void that Phantasy Star behind in the past decade but in it’s own way. So I thought to myself–“If PSO2 is coming out, should I continue working on Astraverse? And if I do, is it just going to forever be in the shadow of PSO2?”
Well, the answer is that it doesn’t have to be. Astraverse can be it’s own game even if it’s heavily inspired by Phantasy Star. So, I brainstormed on ways to make it stand out. Honestly, I think I was overthinking it–there are many games out there that are heavily inspired by the devs’ favorites and that doesn’t usually take way from those games but in some ways it adds to them.
But, I still wanted to explore ideas that would add to the experience and at the same time create an entirely new experience.
That’s when I came up with the narrative adventure system. Basically, it works like a choose-your-own-adventure game but with the real-time side-scrolling beat ’em up gameplay in-between narrative events.
Basically, a player will read flavor text and dialogue that will include descriptive scenarios that the player can imagine–like in a tabletop RPG. Then there will be dialogue options or choices that the player will choose from to progress through these events which may or may not alter the path the player takes while adventuring on a planet.
In between areas of a planet’s “stage,” players will encounter these events. And they will work for up to 4 players, with each player taking turns to interact with scenarios.
This not only allows for the game to become much more immersive with it’s storytelling but it also lifts a bit of the burden that would come with other styles of storytelling such as fully-voiced or non-voiced cutscenes. It also helps the game to stand out. On top of that, it makes it far more reasonable to implement “user-generated” experiences such as a party’s ship crash-landing on a planet or a quest popping up out of nowhere due to certain conditions being fulfilled through previous quests. This also allows for me to explore more options such as unique decisions/options in quests that depend on certain stats.
Anyway, I’ve been working on that lately as I’ve completed most of the other in-game systems and I’m getting closer to being able to build a playable demo. Once I’m done with the narrative system this week, I’ll be trying to test it out and then I’ll be moving into working on building out the gameplay loop of a typical session in Astraverse. Stay tuned for more of the finalized info on the game and more updates as I’ll be pumping out more soon.