Sydonis Sydonis

BOOM 2006 Project

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We will be doing a presentation on Sydonis at Cornell's Bits On Our Minds (BOOM) Research Conference on March 8, 2006 from 4-6 PM. It's hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since we finished Sydonis, and it's good to know that our game impressed people enough that we've been asked to participate in the conference.

posted by Will Roberts

Downloads, Downloads, and more Downloads!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

I felt it was necessary to let you all know that Sydonis has been downloaded over 5000 times since we released it in early May. While that is no match for commercial games it is surely more than I ever expected or could have even imagined. A large part of that success was due to its listing in the eDonkey Download Center and the random listings it then got in the client's homepage, so thanks to all of you who have downloaded Sydonis and hopefully enjoyed it as much as we did.

posted by Will Roberts

Website Updated

Thursday, September 1, 2005

I've revamped the website a bit and fixed some links that were broken when we transitioned from a php based site to a static html site. For the most part things should be roughly the same, and for the time being I see no reason why this site will be modified again.

posted by Will Roberts

Sydonis Released

Sunday, May 8, 2005

The final build of Sydonis has been released and will be presented at the GDIAC showcase on Wednesday, May 11th.

posted by Alex Chao

Website Fleshed Out

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The rest of the sections of this website have been filled with content. Obviously, we cannot release a downloadable version of our game yet, but the gallery has a few screenshots from our pre-alpha build, and the about section has all the story and juicy plot details you could ever want.

posted by Alex Chao

We love CSUG.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

As I write, the second prototype of Sydonis is complete and is ready to be presented. We're still clearly in the alpha stages of development, but the game is starting to take shape rather well. For this build, we've implemented lazers, level transitions (with map reading), and a menu, as well as a bunch of other tweaks that ought to make the game more playable (e.g. player movement issues).

We also ran into our first wave of "real" bugs, such as run-time errors occurring in certain specific gameplay situations (blocks and items being in places they shouldn't be, such as halfway across the level).

For the next build, we're definitely going to have to implement the save/load game feature, as well as include at least the most basic type of Tracker. By the end of the week, a preliminary version of our website will also be up.

posted by Alex Chao

Well Underway

Friday, March 04, 2005

I think it's safe to say that our first prototype of Sydonis was a success. The game is in a playable state, complete with the most basic of features, but it lacks level transitions, enemies, and lazers (just a few of the upcoming goals for development).

In making the first prototype, we indirectly ran into a few issues with the way different types of game objects interact with each other, such as the way an item (e.g. health pick-up) should react when it is struck by a projectile (e.g., lazer or rocket), or rather what should happen when a projectile enters an item's tile. The lazer would normally fly right over the item leaving it unscathed, and although we considered allowing a single tile to hold more than one object so that this could be possible, we also knew it would be simpler to implement if the lazer just stopped at and destroyed the item (effectively, allowing each tile to hold just one object).

Issues like this were secondary problems for the first prototype since we didn't end up implementing lazers anyway, but I think it's important we discussed them at an early stage so that we will know how to proceed should they arise in the future, which is almost certain.

A few potential goals for our next prototype include level transitions, sounds, more fluid animations, lazers, and a fleshed-out Enemy or similar class with simple AI control.

posted by Alex Chao

Concept Document

Friday, February 18, 2005

In the eerie corridors of the Sydonis, Resident Evil meets Bomberman in an action-packed thriller. At first glance, a game like Sydonis might appear to be a completely action driven game given the suspenseful nature of its plot and the dire circumstances the player must face. It also caters to an audience that enjoys solving puzzles, however, due to its central game play elements that aim to steer clear of the traditional point and shoot action genre. What makes this game so dynamic is the fact that the player must navigate puzzle like challenges while keeping track of enemies chasing after them. This mix of play styles will attract gamers who love action game play and also those who enjoy a little critical thinking. Although many gamers are accustomed to the kind of scenario that allows them to plow through obstacles with their guns blazing, Sydonis gives the player the opportunity to face different types of obstacles that require strategic thought and planning. The game mechanics are also greatly influenced by the fact that it is a survival game. Suspense is evoked through the player's own frailty, and their ignorance of where the enemy may next appear. Sydonis does not succinctly fall into any single genre because it is a hybrid of the elements typically found in action and puzzle games; it is more accurately described as a survival game. Therefore, the likely audience for this game includes core action gamers and puzzle solvers.

Our story begins far in the future, after mankind has mastered the art of traveling between distant stars. A ceaseless galactic war has been raging for centuries between the Galactic Planets and the Black Sect. It has become a stalemated war of attrition, with horrific attacks and counter attacks. On a constant quest of undermining the Galactic Planets, terrorist acts carried out by underlings of the Black Sect have ripped through the home worlds of the Galactic Planets. To counter the terrorist threat while guarding against Black Sect military maneuvers, the Galactic Planets' scientists have been toiling over the development of an artificial intelligence to monitor all interplanetary activity and coordinate all military forces. After many years of research and failed attempts, the planetary defense system, Panopticon, has been perfected and is being sent out to the once majestic planet of Sigmarta aboard the starship Sydonis. If the prototype aboard Sydonis works, the Galactic Planets will be nearly invincible and may finally have the advantage they need to finally turn the tide of war in their favor. In the hopes of preventing the system from falling into the hands of the Black Sect, the prototype is being deployed by a transport ship with no convey to hopefully keep attention away from the deployment.

Aboard Sydonis is everything that is required to deploy Panopticon and get it fully operational. All starship crew members must undergo several years of military and basic engineering training before being allowed on active duty, and with the added contingent of engineers supporting the deployment there should be no possibility of failure.

In route to Sigmarta, the Sydonis is attacked by ships of the Black Sect and boarded. The Trackers move throughout the ship killing everyone they see and dumping the bodies in the cargo hold. They make sure that all crew members are accounted for in the cargo hold, and then proceed with their plans to reprogram Panopticon and deploy it for use defending their planets. However the Trackers weren't very thorough in checking all the bodies. You manage to survive because you were knocked unconscious during the initial fire fight between the Sydonis and the Black Sect ships. You awaken to find yourself in the cargo hold, surrounded by the bodies of all your fellow crew members. At first it seems unthinkable to you that anything like this could have happened, but then you remember the fire fight and realize that the Sydonis must have been hijacked. You instantly know what you have to do. Panopticon cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of the Black Sect. Thankfully it is too large to be safely transported from ship to ship without space cranes, so the Black Sect must take Sydonis back to their territory in order to get Panopticon. The only way to prevent the Black Sect from gaining control of Panopticon is to retake the ship... or to destroy it.

As Sydonis makes its way towards the planets of the Black Sect you realize that your only option is to destroy her. As the sole survivor there is no way for you to retake the ship from the thousands of Trackers that are now onboard, but thankfully you have the element of surprise; the Trackers think that they have killed everyone. Trying to stay out of main corridors so you won't be spotted, you begin to make your way through the maze of crates with only the energy gun and plasma bombs you were able to find on one of the bodies.

Sydonis has an action/puzzle style of game play. The key elements in the game are the player's avatar, crates, Trackers, items, and objects. The main focus of the game play is moving or destroying crates while avoiding or killing Trackers. The player's goal is to reach the end of each section of the cargo bay after finishing any objectives the level requires. The sections of the cargo bay are tile based with all objects occupying the full space of any tiles they are on.

The player is equipped with an energy gun and plasma bombs. The energy gun shoots lasers at enemies, while the plasma bombs explode after a countdown. The explosion from the plasma bombs affects all the tiles adjacent to the one where it is placed, and the bombs inflict significantly more damage than the lasers. The player can also grab and push certain crates to create a passageway through the cargo bay.

There are three types of crates, and each will feature unique markings in order to allow the player to plan their moves across the cargo bay. The movable crates cannot be destroyed, while the destroyable crates cannot be moved. The indestructible crates can neither be moved nor destroyed; they form impassable obstacles in the cargo bay. When a destroyable crate is destroyed, it can leave an item, spawn an enemy, or explode, causing nearby destroyable crates to be destroyed. The crates form the puzzle element of the game, as the player needs to find a way to reach the opposite end of the cargo bay by moving and destroying crates.

The enemies the player faces are Trackers, which are robotic killers. There are three main types of Trackers, each with their own unique abilities. The first type simply chases after you and tries to capture you. The second type is equipped with an energy weapon similar to your own that allows them to fire lasers. The final type is equipped with rocket-propelled plasma bombs that create damage patterns similar to your plasma bombs.

Items function like power-ups in other action games. Sample items include the standard medical kit, more advanced weapons, and temporary energy shields. Items do not take up a tile and are automatically used when the player enters the tile.

Objects are anything else in the cargo bay with which the player can interact. Their role is to enhance the puzzle elements of the game by acting as side objectives, and to advance the story. Objects like blast doors appear at the end of each section of the cargo bay and the player must blast them open in order to proceed to the next section of the cargo bay. Other objects like escape pods allow the player to escape to safety at the end of the game. In general, anything that is larger than a single tile with which the player can interact is an object.

The combination of these five elements will contribute to a game that hopes to capture the excitement of games like Bomberman and Zelda. Sydonis will have enough puzzle elements to separate it from other action games, while maintaining a different mood from any other puzzle game. Sydonis is full of tense action-packed moments as the player maneuvers through the maze of crates, always challenging the player in new ways.

Besides the standard core mechanics of any action/puzzle game, Sydonis engages the player emotionally through visual and musical cues that propagate the suspense and action of the plot. The artistic vision for Sydonis keeps to the serious tone of the storyline. As the only surviving member on your starship, you are constantly reminded of your own struggle for survival as you attempt to escape. Although the ship is a technological marvel, the inside of the ship has been damaged by the hijackers as they were capturing the ship, and much of the cargo hold has become damp, dark, and eerie. The graphical environment reflects the damage through dimly lit sections of the cargo hold that allow the enemy to sneak through the darkness and surprise the player, maintaining the suspense of the game and keeping the player on their toes.

The sound effects in Sydonis also add to the suspense. In some areas of the cargo bay, there is no background music playing, no enemies to be found, and flickering lights, so to complement the eeriness of the scene all the player hears are the sound of dripping water, buzzing light fixtures, and distant machinery. This provides ample opportunity for the enemy to surprise the player and for the musical elements to help amplify the surprise.

The music for Sydonis also maintains a tone of suspense, but picking up in tempo during heavy action sequences. The music is largely done with an orchestral arrangement, making predominant use of string instruments, with very abrupt changes in the sound and texture of the composition during game play. Overall, the music is adaptive to the onscreen action, enhancing the player's experience and immersion in this futuristic world.

posted by Will Roberts

Game Script Website

Monday, February 14, 2005

I've setup a subdomain on my website so we can host the game script. Right now it's only got Emet's picture, but it's a solid start

http://www.sydonis.com

posted by Will Roberts

Title Screen

Monday, February 14, 2005

Damn them for not having picture hosting, but I guess it cuts down on Blogger.com's overhead. In any case check out the jpeg I sent out via email. The starfield currents is really bad looking since it was my first time playing around with such a setting. On the otherhand I think the text looks pretty cool. Let me know what you all think it.

posted by Alex Emmet

Sydonis

Humanity has long wished for peace, and yet we have always known war. In our quest to explore the galaxy war has followed wherever we travel.
Space is a dangerous place, and you have received a year of basic military training in order to enjoy the privilege of serving as a maintenance engineer on the starship Sydonis. Your most recent mission is to deliver the Panopticon system to the planet Sigmarta (Sigmathis, Sigmar, whatever else we want). However this mission has been disrupted by an attack by unknown mercenary forces. The Sydonis was boarded by the robotic killers known as Trackers and the crew was quickly overcome by their sheer numbers. As you wake up in the cargo hold you find yourself surrounded by the dead bodies of your crewmates. You remember taking a sharp blow to the back of your head and blacking out and when you reach feel the back of your head and feel something wet and sticky: blood. You realize that they must have dragged the bodies here after taking control of the ship. You also remember that there are a bank of starships in a hangar at the end of the cargo hold, which is probably your only way to escape this ship alive.

Title: Sydonis
Character concept: maintenance engineer (a.k.a. starship janitor) or some other crew member, has military training, knowledge of the ship
Objective: Escape ship and also blow it up
On board the Sydonis is something very valuable:
A powerful planetary defense system
A new surveillance system
Panopticon is the name of it?
We want to have the player destroy the ship to deny them this valuable item, as well as the ship itself.

The mercenary forces use the Trackers to board and take control of the Sydonis.

Anyone like using the name Sigmarta for the planet where the Sydonis was heading to?

posted by Alex Emmet

First Post

So like, World of Warcraft has consumed my life. I have 28 more levels to go until I am the greatest shaman ever.

When do we get Asheron's Call 2?

All right, yeah... everyone make sure you can post to the blog.

posted by Alex Chao

BOOM Spring 2006 Project
GDIAC, The Game Design Initiative at Cornell University
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