Gears of Eden is an indie space game set in the distant future featuring a story-driven adventure that includes open-world exploration, crafting and missions. Take control of a sentient machine and search for answers to your origin as you mine, craft, and explore!
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May 30

Dev Update #82: Designing User Experience

We're going to keep this week's Dev Update brief. The biggest items we've been focusing on this week have to do with design and user experience! This is a lot of concept over practice, but we want to keep you up to date on the discussions we're having internally. The first design update is about the repair kit we mentioned last week! This is a new part that is meant to enhance the user experience by allowing you to repair parts in addition to simply replacing them. We're early on in the art design of these kits, but the implementation from a code side is rather trivial since we already have similar functions with consumable fuel cells increasing battery power levels. While we aren't considering any of our art permanent during this prototype phase, we do want to make sure it looks good. Ekah, the artist working on this task, has shared the in-progress version (seen above) on our Discord last week, and is continuing to refine the design. Keep an eye out for updated art postings soon!

The other design work we've been doing is something we haven't talked too much about: tool tips. These are quite possibly the driest part of a game's design, but as mechanical complexity has risen, so has their importance. Tool tips and notifications help make sure that your gameplay experience comes with as little clutter as possible, and we're first implementing this system to help with part management.

In the current builds, as you play and carry out tasks in Gears of Eden, your parts will slowly degrade based on their usage. This makes sense, but unless you're super on top of watching those menus (to an extent that would simply become busy work, rather than actual fun), it's very likely that you'll find yourself caught off guard when your rover breaks down. "Oops, I was just playing and having fun and now I can't drive or drill or do anything." That's frustrating and a bad user experience, and though any good game has consequences, we want to use this system to warn you before such consequences arise. Eventually we'll expand these type of feedback systems to other aspects of the game's functionality.

So yeah! Mini Update done! Check back next week for more development news! Until then, if you want to keep up with all things GoE, check out our Twitter and Facebook pages! You can also give a listen to the most recent episode of our Reaching Eden podcast! Our creative director also streams some of his own development work, so be sure to follow us on Twitch! Thank you so much for your support and thank you for reading. We hope to see you again next Wednesday, but until then, have a great rest of your week.
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May 23

Dev Update #81: Dominant Strategy

In game design, there is a term known as "dominant strategy," which describes a means of overcoming the game's challenges in the easiest and most efficient way possible. By the nature of interactive design, this is a pretty unavoidable situation. (Just checkout "glitchless speedruns" of just about any game and you'll no doubt find a lot of people playing in very similar ways.) By its own right, it's not a bad thing so long as you acknowledge it in your designs. This is why the best weapons in shooters tend to have the least ammo, why classes in RPGs tend to fair better or worse in given situations, and why certain tools have limited functionality. I've personally been playing the most recent Ratchet and Clankgame and I found the "Agents of Doom" to be vicious, efficient little killers that the enemy can rarely adapt to... unless the enemy can fly. Suddenly, my explosive little robo-dinosaurs, which once carved a hole through levels with ease, are made useless.

So much of game design is a balancing act, and the handling of dominant strategy is no exception. Recently while watching twitch streams of Gears of Eden [/ui(which is mind-blowing, by the way) we discovered an interesting strategy. To combat the Rover's battery drain, we found a player who didn't use fuel cells or their solar panels... instead they just made a bunch of  batteries and switched them out whenever they drained completely. Naturally, since this mitigates one of our ever-present challenges (rather unceremoniously too, I might add), we had a conversation about addressing this. Was it okay? Did it need a "nerf"? We came up with a number of solutions, such as limiting the player to one type of each battery, or having the battery upgrades apply to the battery instead of replacing or swapping out against the existing battery. We will continue to work on this balance and test solutions internally as well as externally with our alpha players.
Another issue that surfaced during our own testing streams was related to replacing parts. It's beneficial to carry around spare parts because, as you're playing, your parts degrading as they're used, and there are some parts where if you can't repair them before you return to the nearest SINTER Forge, it can seriously ruin your experience. Imagine having your motor die while you're on the opposite side of the asteroid. Or you wheels break. You'll still move, but that's a long way back. And if you don't have any spare parts, you might just want to shut the game down and start over (because persistence, death, and respawn are currently non-existent in our early alpha stages).

This is where we come to another way to handle dominant strategy: create your own. There are plenty of games that give you a wide array of options, but very clearly want you follow certain paths for one reason or another. In Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, for example, you're given a whole bunch of cool weapons... but the game knows you'll only want to use your lightsaber, so the developers made that system as fun as possible. With this design strategy in mind, we've decided to implement repair kits. Sure, you could spend your time replacing parts over and over again even though you've already reached the top tier, but that's not very fun nor does it feel very realistic. It also, as described above, leaves a glaring hole in our design.

Repair kits will be inexpensive consumables designed with emergency situations in mind! Sure you could use them to keep yourself in tip top shape at all times, but we want them to be available when you'd be otherwise stranded or inconvenienced. Our very own, developer-made, dominant strategy.

And that's it for this week's Dev Update! We'll be back next week with more! If you want to keep up with all things GoE, check out our Twitter and Facebook pages, or give a listen to the most recent episode of our Reaching Eden podcast! We mentioned streaming in this article quite a bit! If you want to catch our stream, be sure to follow us on Twitch! Thank you so much for your support and thank you for reading. We hope to see you again next Wednesday, but until then, have a great rest of your week.
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About This Game

In the distant future, the dawn of an intelligent machine civilization is taking place in a remote star system. Humankind is remembered only in myth and legend.

You awake alone, afraid, and disoriented on an abandoned asteroid in the depths of space. Wait. Awake?

You were never meant to be awake… you were never meant to experience the confusing phenomenon of self-awareness. You are a machine after all, programmed for the express purposes of deep-space surveying and exploration. How, then, did you come to be alive? And what is the purpose of this newfound sentience? There must be answers out there… somewhere…

Let’s find them! Gears of Eden is an open-world role-playing adventure game that features exploration, mining, crafting, missions, and more! Set in a gripping story that explores the hidden past of a machine world and the dangerous implications of its future, Gears invokes a slowly unfolding narrative that reveals itself through gameplay.

Your journey begins on an abandoned mining asteroid in deep space. Gather resources, repair and upgrade your components, and start searching for others as you seek answers to the mysteries surrounding your creation.

So, how are we making this happen? We are starting with a very light proof-of-concept demo version of GoE. This showpiece will give only a small taste of what the full game will offer. Our aim is to complete the demo, reach a wider audience, grow and develop the full game. But we can’t do it without your help!

Here’s what we're working to provide in our first full demo and full release. If this sounds like a game you might be interested in, please add us to your wish list, follow us, and visit our website to see how you can get involved in Gears!

GoE Demo Version

  • Take control and play as a sentient rover
  • Open world exploration of one location (small asteroid)
  • Resource discovery and mining
  • Power and inventory management
  • Crafting and upgrading of tools/parts
  • Base interactions and upgrades
  • Drone deployment (make your minions mine for you)
  • NPC interaction
  • Story driven mission (limited in demo)
  • Narrative Content (limited in demo)
  • End game conditions/story

GoE Full Version

The features in the full version will depend on the success of our demo, budget, feedback, and a lot of interaction and communication with our fans. These are some of the features we already have in mind to get you started!

  • Character customization
  • Modular ships with customization
  • Base building (power stations, solar arrays, communications, defense, etc.)
  • Alien life mechanics (combat, resource trading, etc.)
  • Markets and trade economy
  • Multiple locations with unique challenges
  • Richer story with an unfolding narrative
  • Mini-games
  • True multiplayer interaction
  • And much, much more!

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP SP2+
    • Processor: X64 Dual Core CPU, 2+ GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Discrete Non Mobile GPU with 1 GB Ram
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Any
    • Additional Notes: Requirements subject to change during development
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