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Stellar Indie Venture: Predestination

By on March 28th, 2012 6:46 am

Predestination | 3D Space Combat?!!

Today I start a new rubric in Space Sector about independent game developers and their bold ventures on developing their own sci-fi or space strategy games called, “Stellar Indie Venture”.

My intention with these articles is to offer more visibility to these indie projects early on, so that people can know about them soon and start interacting with the devs by providing feedback (if the devs ask for it) or by helping in any way they can (by passing the word, offering services or using other forms of support). In the end everybody wins. We will have fun and more and better games to play and more talented devs will get more support, which will allow them to make a living out of their dreams. Motivated by these examples maybe other talented people may come out of the shadow and start developing their own games, after they get the inspiration and know about the “transpiration” involved :)

Do or do not. There is no try. ~Jedi Master Yoda

As we know some of the devs will not bring their projects to conclusion, that’s the way things are. But I believe that we can all make a difference by supporting exciting and vibrant new game projects as soon as we spot them.

Today I want to talk to you about Predestination, a space 4X game that I stumbled on not a long time ago. Predestination’ developer aims on developing a worthy Master of Orion 2′ spiritual successor. You can know everything about Predestination on the dev’s blog (that launched in early 2012), however I will make an introduction next so that you can decide if you want to follow the project, perhaps say hello, leave a comment or two, offer your services, have fun and make a dev happy.

Predestination is Nyphur’s dream

Nyphur (the dev’s nickname) states that he always wanted to make a space 4X game, and more specifically a spiritual successor of Master of Orion 2. Nyphur explains that Master of Orion 3 was a total let down for him and that recent 4X games don’t satisfy him fully because, in his words, “I don’t feel like any have really recaptured the magic of MoO2”.

As an appetizer just look at the 3D starmap video below. Wow, now that’s a 3D map I could learn to love.

The trouble here is that I sense that many of us are trapped in the “MoO2 hope” syndrome. The hope that we will somehow be able to play MoO2 in a new form. So, many of us can’t help but turn to every new space 4X game in the hope of finding a better MoO2. However it’s never there (of course). But that’s a story for another time, now it’s Predestination’ time.

Nyphur seems to be in a good position to bring his project to a conclusion. He says he has a stable job and lots of free time (lucky guy). He also seems to enjoy from a healthy support from his friends’. He has a friend that can help him with the art assets and another guy can give him a hand with all the management and business stuff. It’s definitely good to have friends, and more hands. Nyphur is a programmer and has a master’s degree in computer science. Looks like he’s all set! So, Nyphur, please go on.

Nyphur commits to work on his game every week writing blog updates “with details of the game’s progress, new screenshots, videos, or just gameplay ideas that I need to get on paper”.

What I could pick up so far:

  • Elaborated storyline with emphasis on time travel
  • Separate galaxy and colony views (game is not played in same screen or level/plane)
  • 2D or 3D maps still to be decided (but inclined for 3D)
  • Fuel range will be a “sphere” around objects (travel outside that sphere will be dangerous/impossible)
  • Player generated content (map editor)
  • A planet has several and distinct colonizable areas. You can found a capitol colony and several additional settlements (capitol for main structures; settlements basically for housing and to secure resources)
  • Solution to reduce late-game micromanagement: The blueprint system (all colonies using the same blueprint will produce/build the same)

In the latest developments Nyphur talks about putting together a Kickstarter campaign and about an exciting new development:  Head-tracking! I find Head-tracking to be a very interesting and exciting new possibility. The ability to turn a monitor, or a TV, into a virtual room that reacts visually to movement. Objects “can be seen floating” out in front of the screen, providing a 3D experience without the need for an expensive 3D monitor. Imagine playing space combat with this kind of technology! Or navigating through your 3D starmap, or seeing your space installations around your planets. Fascinating.

The guy in the video below is not Nyphur but Johnny Lee. John shows off his awesome head tracking demo for games using a Wiimote connected to the PC. Nyphur announced that he desires to use Head-tracking in his game (in fact it seems that he has already made good progress toward that vision).

Some early screenshots

You can follow Nyphur’s work on Predestination on his blog.

I will keep record of all early indie startup projects I write about under the “stellar indie venture” tag.

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  1. Zeraan says:

    This looks interesting! The 3D map is well done, using that plane as a reference point to help orient you on location of the stars. I especially like the transition into the system window!

    Speaking from experience, my fear is that when he actually jumps into doing the boring stuff (empire management, fleet management and movement, etc), he might lose steam. This is usually where most of the projects fail, most of them got as far as galaxy generation/rendering, then lose motivation to tackle the rest.

    Once he gets past that hurdle of setting up data framework for fleet/empire, things get better afterwards. I do hope to see him succeed!

    • Adam Solo says:

      I also like the 3D map a lot. Usually I don’t like / can’t handle 3D starmaps very well but this one is simple and cleverly thought.

      Your comments/suggestions are invaluable to Nyphur and any dev in his situation since you’re all in the same boat. Thanks a lot for your input. I’m of the opinion that having colleagues / friends is crucial to navigate through the stormy and boring moments of development. Nyphur seems good in that department.

      I’m another one here cheering for Nyphur. Hope he goes all the way.

    • zigzag says:

      Hey, the “boring stuff” is the fun part. Spending a bunch of time wading through graph algorithms only to realize that the naive algorithm you had written initially was better is the tedious part.

    • Nyphur says:

      Hey Zeraan, this is Nyphur :D.
      Thanks for the feedbakc, it really is incredibly valuable. I’ve seen a lot of projects lose steam once they get into boring gameplay parts, but I haven’t ever had that issue. In fact, this project stems from the codebase of an earlier one I developed in university, so a surprising amount of the data framework is done or at least has a solid foundation to work from. Perhaps I’m a bit of an oddball, but I really do really enjoy all the parts you call boring!

      • Zeraan says:

        I actually enjoy those “boring” parts as well. I guess that’s a good thing :) The reason why I call those “boring” is that they’re mostly under the hood, where usually you don’t see much visible progress.

        I think the hardest part so far for my game is avoiding feature creep. It’s so easy to add a new feature, then another feature, and so forth. I have to decide what’s in the final product, and what can be added later. And stick to it. Then I need to polish the existing features so that they’re professional-looking and bug-free. That’s the second hardest part :)

  2. Ivan says:

    Well, as for me, i’m not trapped in the “MoO2 hope” syndrome. I just wanna see a fully TBS 4x game. I mean including combat phase! All 4x strategy games now is in real time combat mod, it’s sad. I dont care about graphics, will be 3D or 2D does not matter. For me TBS 4x game must be TBS in all ways, that’s all.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I also want to see some TBS space combat 4X games in the near future. As you said, recently we only get RTS combat (e.g. Distant Worlds, Star Ruler, Armada 2526) and that seems to continue for the near future also (StarDrive, Legends of Pegasus, Endless Space to an extent, Sins Rebellion). Perhaps the majority of people appreciate more RTS combat? It shouldn’t be easier to code I guess. It’s a good topic for a future poll.

      I see that this is your first post in SS. Welcome Ivan!

    • Nyphur says:

      I definitely wanted to do a turn-based game, as practically every space 4X game since Sins of a Solar Empire has been real-time and focused on massive-scale fleet combat. I think when you make things realtime, it removes a lot of the strategy that makes 4X games great. I plan to have turn-based gameplay in both the main game and fleet combat, though I’ve had a few interesting ideas about round-based fleet combat that I plan to post on my blog at some point to get some feedback.

      • Adam Solo says:

        I’m glad you decided to go the TBS road, in a away I already expected that (although I couldn’t confirm it in your blog). Any worthy MoO2 spiritual successor MUST be 100% TBS ;)

  3. Ivan says:

    Thank’s, i’m old user here but looks like a dog :) i can understand, but can’t say anything :). Glad to help and give some ideas. i’m wondering, why all devs doing same games, so many 3d graphics and so poor gameplay. Maybe all this games around only one thing- huge 3d RTS battles. Is this a main point in 4x games?
    About this projet. It’s pretty cool at this moment, i hope that devs will stay on this way, i’ll keep my eyes on.
    p.s. i like your polls.

    • Adam Solo says:

      3D RTS battles are definitely not the point in 4X games. Although 3D RTS battles are great to have in space strategy games (think in Homeworld and Sins, although Sins is a bit of a light 4X).

      People love space combat, and if that’s fought in glorious 3D the better (can we blame them). The issue seems to be that the devs thought pattern is (I guess) “let’s make a 4X game but put 3D RTS battles in it to capture more players and more money. It will be the best of both worlds. You should be able to capture both the 4X and RTS fans”. True to an extent but in its core is wrong.

      4X games are not really about tactical combat in the first place. If it has some, good but it’s not really a requirement. Look at the origins (Civilization) and to some 4X hits (Galactic Civilizations). The first doesn’t offer tactical combat. The latter offers only cinematic battles. So you see, it’s not a requirement. Master of Orion offers tactical combat yes (you need to decide who attacks next, at which target and so forth) but it’s a limited one, and a good one.

      So, in conclusion, RTS combat is definitely not the classic 4X way of doing battle. I believe that Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain was the first RTS “rogue”, and Imperium Galactica II – Alliances after. So, to the space 4X devs out there happening to read these comments, PLEASE give us also TBS combat. It doesn’t need to be way complex, just fun and challenging that’s all.

      “p.s. i like your polls.”
      Thanks ;) I do try to make them interesting.

  4. Ivan says:

    I agree. but i think that tactical combat was a revolution after just a cinematic battles. And a tbs 4x game was on a peak when it has tactical combat. It’s giving total control at all (not only at main screen/economy etc, but and in a battle). And Moo2 was a best in it. I mean as a concept, as a model of game. I heard from some devs that they are a big fans of Moo2/civ and wanna do something like this, something better, but i’m sure that it won’t be better until they implement a turn based combat. Sure, it’s only my opinion.

  5. Nyphur says:

    Hey Adam,
    Thanks so much for this spotlight! The more people who provide feedback on the game, the better it will be. When I talk about wanting to produce the spiritual successor to MOO2, what I really mean is that I want to try to recapture the magic that the game feel so special. Perhaps I am trapped in “MOO2 hope syndrome,” but I wouldn’t want to be constrained in gameplay by the original game. Ultimately, I just want to make as fun a turn-based space 4X game as I can.

    You’ve probably seen that I’ve done some very different things with the system map, and with planets and colonisation. The system window is clearly MOO2 inspired, although I’ve also considered expanding it and having up to 12 planets per system. It all depends on the feedback I get from people. The other people working on the project and people who provide feedback on the blog help keep me grounded and let me know if the ideas I’m having or the gameplay I’m developing are any good. My friends are big Civilization fans but havent played MOO, so they’re great to bounce ideas off.

    We’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon to fund the production of art and sound assets for the game, we’ve been working on the campaign for weeks but it takes a lot of effort to do one properly and we don’t want to mess it up.

    If anyone has any questions about the game or suggestions, post away and I’ll read and respond to them. Feedback is absolutely essential to small indie developers.

    • Ivan says:

      I’m on your side. if this project will be tbs in combat too it will be great for me. Moo2 is not perfectly and have some things which need to be developed. Any devs have own view on game it’s good, something new or advanced in 4x strategy is needed for progress. As i said, all concept of the game for me must be tbs like a chess game. In this project i saw many new features it’s magnificent. I don’t expect a Moo2 clone, i just expect a fully tbs 4x game with new features or with new view on aspects from devs. Nyphur, thank you for your attention.

    • salvo says:

      well, you can count on my support

      btw Adam is doing a great job advertising indie 4x games, together with stardrive and endless space this is the third one on my must have list

    • Adam Solo says:

      Hey, you’re welcome. I thought that to be the case, that you intend to capture the formula and improve it and not just make a clone or similar. MoO2 stronger weaknesses where late-game micromanagement hell and tedious space combat, also in late games. You can start there :)

      I love your 3D map, I know it’s MoO2 inspired but the 3D look & feel is totally yours. Good job!

      Having friends that know 4X but not space-based ones is a strong asset indeed. As for space-based 4X friends, you should find plenty of them here.

      Good luck with your kickstarter campaign. Get it right! Talk from the heart. Put up something already to show people. A good video is critical. Capture the 4X nostalgia (you should be ok there).

      Good luck!

  6. Ionic says:

    This is the fine example of a good thing done well.
    I saw his website and heck, man he got some of ideas i always had in mind playing other games…
    I really hope he’ll bring this to life… i do have some programming skills but i do use them in my work for that sort of software that’s used to manage, mostly visual basic and heck these guys are so light years in front that i envy them because they can fullfill their dream game :D
    My vision is to make a game enriched by the community with modding, unlimited choice of factions, unlimited planet and stars textures, like a sandbox, free to be customized most, i hope that if they complete this one, does have at least one of my dreamed feature.
    Good Luck guys!

  7. Gary says:

    Predestination is now a Kickstarter Project. It started on November 21, 2012, he’s asking for $25,000, and it ends on December 28, 2012.

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Post category: Games Under Development, Stellar Indie Venture