Explore a universe steeped in celestial horror and ravaged by Victorian ambition in this literary RPG for PC, Mac and Linux. The successor to Sunless Sea.
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Release Date: May 2018

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Available: May 2018

 

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May 23

Sunless Skies Closed Alpha

In order to help us find and fix bugs during Sunless Skies development, we will be holding a closed alpha, beginning 5th June!



GOALS
This alpha will help us find technical bugs and discover initial player experience within the framework of Sunless Skies.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
If you are interested in being involved with the development of the game and aiding the production of Sunless Skies, we'd love to have you join our alpha list. Joining the alpha means experiencing Sunless Skies in a very unpolished state, without all features implemented, and plenty of bugs.

If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s best to wait for Early Access, which will begin this summer, where players will be able to experience a more complete piece of Sunless Skies while we’re still in development. Early Access will start with a single region available to players in a close-to-finished state.

TIMELINE
Alpha testing will begin the 5th of June and run until the end of July. During this time, we will invite people from the alpha list in batches to help us test Sunless Skies, so it’ll be important to keep an eye on your email for your invitation link.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Must have a Steam account you can use
  • PC/Mac/Linux operating system

WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
We’re looking for a variety of people to help us test the alpha!
  • People who have played Failbetter games before
  • PC gamers who haven’t played our games before (especially RPG fans)
  • Players with accessibility requirements, so we can build Sunless Skies with specific accessibility feedback in mind
  • People who have QA or previous testing experience (though not required!)
For those invited, we'd of course ask you to install and play the Sunless Skies alpha. Each batch will be involved for at least two weeks, though you are free to help us test until the alpha ends! We will be looking for you to report any bugs you find, along with your general thoughts on the game so far.

If all of that sounds good to you, we’d love to have you help us test Sunless Skies! We expect to be inundated with requests, so it’s important to note that joining the list doesn’t guarantee being invited to the alpha.

Join our alpha signup list!

TL;DR Summary:
  • This is a closed alpha, so not everyone is guaranteed to get in
  • Only join the alpha if you don’t mind an unpolished state of play full of bugs
  • You need a Steam account to help us test
  • PC/Mac/Linux alpha will start 5th June
    alpha will close at the end of July
  • You will not be able to carry through your character into Early Access

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May 23

Populating the Reach: EXOGENESIS

Our EXOGENESIS sprint is our first specific pass at populating the Reach, which means working on its denizens from officers to the agents you’ll encounter in the skies. Our art team, which has recently doubled, continued their work on ports, brought some agents to life, and created our first pass art pass over the UI. Content also continued work on various ports, while also creating a magnificent spreadsheet that will help keep track of Sunless Skies’ officers. Meanwhile, tech busied themselves with expanding on the pathfinding discussed last sprint, along with implementing tooltips (hugely important for our wordy games), balancing survival mechanics, and implementing agents.

ART
While Paul is busy tackling Titania, one of our more complex ports so far, we’ve wasted no time putting Toby to work. His first job was Hybras, a rather fungal settlement with a dark secret.



Toby also created one of our agents, a Tackety Scout, while Paul tackled the Scrive Spinster. During the Sprint Review we all oohed and awed over both, though the Tackety Scout stole our hearts. In James’ words, “It looks like it might explode at any minute....it's perfect.”



Meanwhile the art team has been giving Liam’s initial UI wireframes an Art Nouveau-influenced facelift. Below you can see some initial designs on how they might look, though we’re sure they will go through a few iterations.





CONTENT
The writers tackled two more ports this sprint. James fleshed out the London stronghold, Port Prosper, where London Loyalists (or opportunists) can accept bounties for hunting pirates and Tacketies. Meanwhile Cash designed the Leadbeater & Stainrod Nature Reserve, where a research outpost conducts investigations into the secrets of the Reach.

Officers

Another beautiful spreadsheet has also been created, this time it’s all about officers. While the writers are currently pitching their content ideas for officers, this spreadsheet details which slot they’d go in (First Officer, Signaller, Quartermaster, Chief Engineer, and - of course - Mascot), where players would recruit them, which bonuses they’d provide, and how bonuses would change when upgraded. This lets us ensure that officers provide an even distribution of bonuses, and ensure that there are satisfying choices to be made for each slot.

Non-Player Locomotives

Meanwhile, we’ve started turning our Kickstarter backer survey responses into locomotive names! We’d like to note that no fewer than three people recommended “HML Ubiquitous” and we feel strongly that all three should be entered in the game.

In Sunless Skies, when certain non-player locomotives spawn in the game, they're given unique names. So instead of seeing a generic Tackety Scout, you might see the 'UCE Vagabond'. These names are drawn from a list of six hundred entries inspired by our wonderful backers. Our task has been to take information provided by them and turn it into names that fit the period and tone of Sunless Skies. Six hundred times. Six actual hundred.

If you haven’t filled out your Kickstarter Survey, please do so at your earliest convenience! And if you know someone who hasn’t, poke them!


GAMEPLAY & DESIGN
Continuing the pathfinding work for combat, Barry has focused on long-distance pathfinding this sprint.



Some background on this: pathfinding in Sunless Skies will be based on nodes, points on a mesh. When an AI agent needs to get somewhere, it looks for the best (usually, the shortest) path from its current location to the destination node.

The world of Sunless Skies is very large, and pathfinding between nodes that are very far apart is computationally expensive. We could solve this problem by making it so that AI agents only move around when the player is nearby. But in Sunless Skies we want agents to sometimes remain active and pursue their own agendas at distant locations. So we need a more efficient method for them to find their way around.

The solution we’re using is to group all the nodes in a given area together, and treat them all as a single point on a larger meta-mesh that covers the entire map. Even though it covers the whole map, the number of nodes on it is manageable. So the AI can use it efficiently for long-distance pathfinding, and then switch to local pathfinding to deal with obstacles in its immediate area.


Our next FBG Podcast will be this Friday 26 May, at 16:00 BST! This week will be focused on art, to answer any questions you may have about the art process, especially now that we have multiple artists!

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About This Game

It is the dawn of the 20th century, and London has taken to the stars! As the captain of a spacefaring locomotive you'll behold wonders and battle cosmic abominations in the furthest heavens. Stake your claim. Fight to survive. Speak to storms. Murder a sun. Face judgement.

Ten years have passed since Sunless Sea, and Queen Victoria has led an exodus from London to the heavens. There, a revitalised British Empire - ambitious and authoritarian - begins to expand across the skies.

The stars are alive. They are the Judgements: vast intelligences that govern all things. But they are dying. One by one, something is snuffing them out, leaving their thrones empty. An opportunistic Victorian Empire is colonising the domains they leave behind, painting its industrial vision upon the fabric of the heavens.

  • Travel between distant ports, unravelling stories, bearing passengers and news, and trading in exotic celestial cargoes.

  • Your every foray into space is as precarious as a Polar expedition. You’ll need to balance your resources carefully and keep an eye on your crew’s Terror to avoid mutiny and death.

  • Your captain's actions could tip the precarious political balance of a region. Will you run guns for the Independents? Or spies for the Empire? Choose wisely – your decisions will affect the story; not just for yourself, but for your future captains as well.

  • Leave your mark on the universe, and be marked in return. When you are creating your captain, every decision is a story, and every story has a consequence.

  • Equip your vessel as you see fit. Would you benefit more from reinforced armour plating, or the additional manpower allowed by external crew pods? ("Soundproof! Cosy! Detachable!")

  • It is not safe in the skies. A captain will need to defend themselves against pirates, scorn-flukes, the Cyst of Faces, and worse.

  • Recruit a gallery of unpredictable characters to crew your locomotive as First Officer, Chief Engineer, Signaller, or Surgeon. Each brings their own skills and stories to your adventures.
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