Over 8 years with Dreamgate Studios, we had many opportunities developing games for release on mobile platforms. One of our most ambitious titles to take through to development was NOVA our sci-fi mobile MMO adventure.
The project kicked off in early 2015 with a planned release for 3rd quarter 2017.
First things first we had to identify our future technical limitations.
By studying device update patternsI charted a trend in mobile hardware development to predict what our memory and GPU requirements would most likely be close to our release schedule.
Now that we had our hardware limitations mapped out, I needed to get my head around the project in its infancy and what the core design pillars were.
The player had four main gameplay states available to them: the main hub, exploration, combat, and mining. We worked out that at most, we wanted the player to have 200 other players in the area near them and identified that the worst case scenario for memory complications was combat. Knowing this, I created a sheet that outlined a memory budget for ships and how they would be displayed to the player in the environment. Now that we had identified our restrictions, we could begin asset development!
Colourful, fun, awe-inspiring space environments with semi-realistic details that werenot gender specific and felt inviting to both casual and hardcore users. This was the brief to meet and after many many moodboards and mock up images, we settled on a seed image that captured the universe we wanted to portray.
With our environments I experimented with adding more colours and unique ideas to the darkness of space, re-imagining more commonly used and established space environments like shipwreck areas and asteroid belts to introduce new and creative takes on what alien environments could be. Examples included giant space life similar to sea creatures on Earth soaring through the void, or ancient floating cities long abandoned. One of my favourite areas was a simple asteroid field littered with sentient rocks, as the players approached these rocks they would glow blue and shift around in herds. The player’s ship would have a flurry of little blue streaks trailing in their wake.
Players would warp into a themed environment with around twenty Points Of Interest (POI) scattered about the area. The player could then select POIs in range and travel between them. Each POI is one of several gameplay types, whether mining, construction, orcombat!
Players could form online fire teams and tackle objectives together or jump in on ongoing fights in the universe.
Our players were split into three factions that governed the visual design of the ships:
The Conglomerate - The “Apple” technology of space.
The Outcasts - Pirates using whatever they can get.
The Technocrats - Obsessed with alien tech.
Combat was isometric dogfighting, with players attaching “modules” to their ship to use abilities during combat. The fighting style was very similar to the combat in the Teen Titans app.
The design of the modules had to reflect the abilities the player could use as well as the faction that created them.