Building a video game is hard work, as most of you know. Years of work, hundreds of art assets, tens of thousands of C++ lines : Helium Rain is hardly a small project. As a realistic space sim, it tries to offer a good spaceflight experience, a realistic economy, and decent empire building.
But sometimes you still need to turn the project around, no matter how big. In our case, private testing sent us a clear message : the game wasn't fun. How do we move on after that ?
Most of our work in the previous months has been about the core spaceflight experience. People didn't like the 3D cockpit, too intrusive and bulky, so we've built another for fighting ships, and upgraded the old cockpit for freighters so that they have a better field of view.
Immersion wasn't our strong suit. People concentrated on empire-building from the menus, without even flying a ship in the first place. We've made sure these aren't mutually exclusives : you can now fly your ship, travel from station to station, from sector to sector, while trading. We're adding new environments and ships, we're upgrading stations.
Graphics are obviously a big part of the first-person gameplay, so we thought we'd improve that as well. Better sky, rings around the planet, better effects, better lighting - and better menus, because who wants to navigate cumbersome menus ?
People felt they were lacking long-term objectives and guidance. There is a string of improvements coming in day after day, with more to come. here's what we've planned for the game's release :
All of this is long, but fascinating work. We want to player to navigate a complex world with freedom : not everyone needs to be a military chief.
That's right. The game itself isn't an open-source project - we're not releasing the art assets or the gameplay data, and we're still planning on selling the game on Steam. But we figured other people might want to check out what we're doing and how. We're working with Unreal Engine 4 - the best game engine available today to indies - so our game depends on the latest version of the tool.
The sources are available on GitHub. Check it out !
At this moment, we hope the game will be done by the end of the year.
Thank you for reading !