When making a large game like Worlds Adrift, with thousands and thousands of players, you need a lot of variety not only to keep things fresh, but also to cater to a variety of tastes when it comes to their playing style.
We have our ship hull shaping, which enables players to create almost any kind of flying vehicle they desire. Some people may go with a more aggressive, combat focused ship, while others may go for more of a mobile home they can peacefully roam around in.
When it comes to the parts of the ships, we also want there to be a ton of different items that can fit with a player’s style, ability, and intentions.
For us to be able to make this variety with only a small team (one Welsh man), we opted for a modular mix-and-match system, where, for example, using only 15 individual parts we could procedurally combine these to create up to to 125 unique items. The items are designed and modelled with a kind of quality level in mind; for example, some will be visibly more scrappy, others more advanced, still others more sleek – and their crafting and gameplay statistics will reflect that.
Depending on the materials used in craft them, the items will also look and play differently. If you crafted an wing entirely of gold, it would look very shiny and impressive, but as gold is a really heavy and soft material, this will mean your ship would weigh a lot and be very easy to damage!
A good example to explain the system would be the engines.
We separate them into three parts, the Body, the Head, and the Propeller: the Body is the main part of the engine and where a lot of the gubbins are; the Head is predominantly the visual sandwich filler, but can also contain air intakes or combustion internals; the Propeller is pretty self explanatory, but in addition to the more traditional propellers we have Turbine Propellers, which will be reserved for the more advanced engines.
When it comes to crafting an engine, you will be presented with four slots with which you will need to fill in order to complete the craft. The slots are for Casing, Combustion internals, Mechanical internals, and Propeller. As described earlier, depending on what materials you place in these will affect both the look and function of your engine.
Here’s an example of an engine that was crafted with Steel Casing, Silver Mechanical internals, Gold Combustion internals, and a Gold Propeller
Notice that the Propeller component in this example is not entirely Gold. This is because the main bulk of model is the casing that’s holding the propeller blades together. This means that we will have some complete engines that are heavy, with more casing and armour across the entire prefab, or may be lighter, with the essential mechanical and combustion internals exposed.
Another way to add variety to the modular ship parts is to add a small scale variation
Here’s an example of single body with varying scale with heads and propellers that are also subject to the same scale and colour(material) variation. With only 12 engines here, using only one body, we already have some quite different looking engines.
As for the Quality of the Engines players will be able to craft, the schematics that the players are likely to get in the beginning will be somewhat incomplete and scrappy, which will result in engines like this.
And here’s a higher end Turbine Engine
Personally, I really like the scrappy, more bare bones looking engines!
Other procedural ship parts are the wings and cannons. The wings are made up of four components: the body, connectors, control surfaces, and tip. Cannons are separated into the body, mount, barrel, and ammo box.
A selection of chubby cannons:
Wings! Ranging from utter garbage to super sexy.
I took a fair bit of convincing that a modular and procedural assets would be a good idea, it wasn’t until the wonderful Andy Green wrote a script for me in Unity where I could see the fruits of my labour that I really got on board with it. Here’s what happens when we generate every cannon combination possible (at this moment in time):
The modular, procedural ship part system is not without its difficulties, but to see all of the possible combinations totally makes it worthwhile.
Can’t wait for you all to start crafting this stuff!