Terraforming Earth is a roguelite puzzle-platformer set in the not-so-distant future when one day all life disappears from the Solar System.
The player controls three separate robots with different abilities, a' la Lost Vikings and Trine. They must work together to solve each procedurally generated level and uncover the mystery.
Terraforming Earth is the first game ever to apply procedural generation in platform puzzle level design. It is highly replayable as it puts you in unique situations every time you play. The focus is on problem-solving and planning instead of rote memorization.
A curation system similar to Mario Maker's enables players to star and promote cool levels to other players in the community.
Inspired by the amazing space and time-manipulating abilities introduced by Portal and Braid, Andras Csibi set out to create puzzles that rely on the combination of these superpowers. He reached back to the "single player co-op" format of Lost Vikings to bring together space, time, and gravity-warping game mechanics.
In Terraforming Earth, all levels are generated from a set of obstacles randomly, in unexpected ways. This results in surprising new combinations that are sometimes more interesting than the puzzles that the creators could have crafted by hand. Replay-ability is also an obvious advantage, especially in a co-op setting, where hand-crafted levels are only enjoyable if all parties see them for the first time.
Certain places call for a tight control over the user experience. Since teaching basic mechanics cannot be left for chance, we do design the initial level by hand over many iterations.
We take a similar approach with the game's music. The main score is composed with great care, designed to ellicit cerain moods and emotions. After having played the hand-crafted music several times, we turn on our music generator to avoid frustrating the player with repetitive music. The music generator is using Deep Learning to generate novel melodies and probabilistic models for accompaniment. Players listen to the tunes for days without getting annoyed about repetitive melodies.
Andras quit his job in April 2018 to focus his full attention on Terraforming Earth. His savings will last until the end of 2019. At that point, depending on the success of Terraforming Earth, he will either work on his next game, or will have to go back to get a "real" job. :)
Andras enjoys how solving puzzles make him feel smart and wants his players to experience the same. His goal is to notice when players utter the "aha!" of triumph, and replicate these moments throughout the game.
Using a play-centric approach, Andras is constantly testing the game among his friends and strangers to see whether his ideas are getting through. At first, they mostly don't. :) However, rapid iterations constantly improve the experience, which can be observed by playtests getting longer and longer every week.
Thematically the game is about self-replicating robots restoring life on a desolate Earth. Trans-humanist topics such as space exploration, the threat and opportunity introduced by Artificial Intelligence and avoiding global existential risks is very close to Andras's heart. The main attraction of the game is solving 2D puzzles, so the extent of story-drivenness is still unclear at this stage of development. Andras has a solid background story in mind, we will see how much of it will unfold in the actual game.
"The levels are procedurally generated, but they work surprisingly well and feel like they were handcrafted." - Alpha Beta Gamer
Working in a steady developer job, Andras daydreamed a lot about creating something that lasts. Say, a game that makes people feel smarter, where they can experience the joy of analyzing a complex situation and coming up with an effective solution. A game that makes players think “but that’s impossible….or…oh wait!”. Andras did the math and took a leap of faith into the jungle of indie game development. His early prototype convinced his designer friends at Noppa Design, to join the project as artistic leads. The newly minted co-creators, Csaba Kálmán and Lóci Alvégi quickly populated the raw riddles of András with beautiful sceneries and gave it a rather likable character.
Gabor Deutsch (Anorganik) is taking sound design to the stratosphere with futuristic arpeggios and satisfying multi-layered effects. He also composes the original sound track and designs the soundscapes for the Deep Learning based music generator developed at Decent Labs.
Thanks to Tímea Kőszegi for designing everything in the Tropical environment and many other pretty things.
Thanks to Miklós Szalai for the amazing space propaganda billboards commissioned by the Solar Colonization Front.
Thanks to Krisztina Berta for the lovely and deep Earth Preservation Alliance billboards.
Thanks to FunWithSound for providing the basis of the Victory score.
We are conducting at least one playtest every week. This game is built on the shoulders of playtesters, we are just synthesising their ideas into a coherent game. Huge thanks to all!
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Copyright 2018-2020, Andras Csibi. All rights reserved.