Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I love the Voxel Quest posts because they're demonstrating some seriously cool tech. However, they feel a lot like the Wolfire development blogs [0] - great tech demos without a cohesive vision for a game. From an engineering point of view, the end goal doesn't matter, but I would also love a 'bigger picture' roadmap of where it is and where it's going. Why would I use this engine? What do I 'get' over the competition in the current state of the engine? What should I 'get' by the end?

[0] http://blog.wolfire.com/

This is a really good question actually. This engine isn't really meant to compete with major engines, but moreso satisfy a little niche (and maybe that could be a big niche depending on how it gets used). I think the best way to explain it is "Shadertoy for large environments" - being able to quickly dynamically create stuff with pure code. To be honest a lot of this is still unmapped territory and I'm not even one hundred percent certain that these things are all that useful. My main goal is to empower individuals by creating a relatively inflexible engine - that sounds weird but if you have a totally flexible content pipeline you are giving users enough rope to hang themselves. I guess the proof of usefulness in limitation can be found in things like Minecraft - it appeals to a broad audience of not just people who want a game, but people who like to tinker. Minecraft, by many people's accounts, is not really a fun game, but a great sandbox. I'm not saying I can get away with making an unfun game, but I think there is some sort of value in empowering users in the guise of a game. I don't know if this makes sense, let me know if I can explain it better :)

I have a notion that it's possible to have a "somewhat directed sandbox" game. I'm working on a combat/survival open world game with a procedurally generated tech tree to go along with the procedurally generated world. There is a "difficulty direction" (down) and the farther you go that way, the environment becomes exponentially more difficult, while the items/powerups become exponentially more powerful. (With the environment gaining power faster than the player, of course.)

This gives just enough structure for players to escape the Second Life trap. (What happens to people who have no needs/problems in a virtual world? They go right up the Maslow Need Hierarchy -- to Sex.)

Hopefully, this will provide the right kind of structure to let players game-balance the game themselves. (And give them enough scope to invent their way into and out of corners.)

Interesting. Welp, looks like I'm going to have to resort to adding sex to the game. :) But seriously, the idea of a "direction" for difficulty had only vaguely occurred in my mind (for whatever reason, I am drawn to games where you ascend or descend to progress, most notably Spelunky).

I'd be interested in seeing a voxel game involving defensive architecture (preparing for disasters). When I started playing Minecraft, I was interested in making buildings, lighted streets, etc that would make it easier to survive at night.

It turned out to be somewhat pointless because once you know how, you can easily skip the night phase altogether. A game where you can't do that might be interesting.

Also: preparing for floods. What happens when the river overflows or the storm surge hits?

Yep, a survival type game would be well suited to the engine. It is definitely part of the long term plans. In the long run I would like to have a world with some simple towns and people can move about and raid towns and so forth and quests kind of emerge from those circumstances. Maybe a bit like Mount and Blade, but in a more seamless world.

There are lots of fighting games and I don't think that's what makes voxel games unique. The cool thing about voxels is the environment. A player-vs-environment game puts the environment front and center, instead of making it the backdrop.

Another idea: build a sand castle and see how long you can hold out against the rising tide. No bad guys involved, just waves. Almost a literal sandbox game.

Welp, looks like I'm going to have to resort to adding sex to the game. :)

Hey, it works in Minecraft. (But in Minecraft, you have to earn it.)

sex in Minecraft

I didn't expect I'll be googling that phrase ever in my life. :o.

I was referring simply to having children, but apparently, people have taken things a bit farther. (I hope in jest.)

Skyrim and Fallout 3 and 4 are basically somewhat directed sandbox games. There is a main questline you can follow, but most players just immediately take off to go exploring that cool thing in the distance. Then die because the mobs are too high level :) . And that gives you incentive to level up, which frames your interaction with the world.

> My main goal is to empower individuals by creating a relatively inflexible engine

I'm a big fan of fostering creativity though restrictions, so this makes sense to me. I would be interested in any notes on how you try to realize that goal in the engine. It would be interesting to see the difference between limitations imposed by performance v.s. limitations imposed in the name of a focused creation experience.

In general, any time you're not "simply" (not that the problems are simple) creating a system that exists elsewhere (physics, liquid, etc), it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on where you choose to deviate from the 'norm' and why.

The primary idea is that it should be easy to create, modify, and revert something in a pretty standard process. In a 3D modeling program, a user usually has to go in and create some outlines and select vertices and edges and extrude them and further push and pull things from there and deal with polygon issues and so forth. They have to do all this while navigating an interface filled with one million buttons and menu options. I am aiming for something a bit more like Fallout 4's face editor - its still quite limited, but any user can understand it and produce a diverse variety of content (of course, I am extending that to all shapes, not just faces).

For other things, if I introduce some system I'd like it to be unique and have purpose. Many games do GPU-based particle physics for water, and the ability to have this produce any significant interactions isn't that great. My system is CPU-driven, and contains things that are rarely done in games like simulating pressure and a constant fluid mass, which makes for more interesting interactions (you could pour water down the end of one pipe to raise it at the other end, as just one example). Usually people find ways to modify the system that I would not think of (someone made a roller coaster in Minecraft using water canals IIRC).

Overgrowth has been painful to follow.

Years ago, I loved to read their blog. Lots of interesting technical articles. But development has pretty much stalled for years.

IIRC, these guys are also behind Humble Indie Bundle, so money should not be a problem for them but it would be nice to finally see them ship the damn game.

I tried out the alpha or beta and I thought it was quite good for the type of game they are trying to make. I assure you they don't even need the Humble Bundle money - David has been selling copies for a long time and sold over 100k copies on Steam alone (that is around $3m USD), and I'm pretty sure they sold the majority of their copies off of Steam. His other mini game, Receiver, sold +600k copies on Steam @$5 each, which is another $3m (of course, you have to factor in Steam's ~30 percent cut and taxes, but still....)

They definitely do some interesting things but last time I tried it, it played a lot more like a prototype than a game in development for nearly a decade.

Skyrim was amazing, open world with lots of quests. Minecraft kinda sucked a bit, huge world but I spent more time on the internet trying to figure out what was possible rather than play the game. The Lego games have a nice open world with quests and stuff.

But a game needs to be fun and easy to understand. I hope VQ adds lots more fun things. Bombs. Bombs would be fun ;)

I spent more time on the internet trying to figure out what was possible rather than play the game

I think it's possible to make spending time on the internet trying to figure out what's possible an integral part of playing the game.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact