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Developer Diaries No1

Urgent transmission going out to all colonists! We have finally managed to grab one of the masterminds behind the expedition disaster, a man responsible for the chaos in the system of Hellion. He was restrained and made to answer a series of questions.

 

Dear colonists,

We are starting a series of posts called Developer Diaries and we are thrilled to introduce to you Zero Gravity staff. Today, our creative director and game designer in charge – Marko Smiljanic – will share with you his ideas about the game of Hellion. If you have any questions for him feel free to leave a comment and he’ll be glad to answer them.

 

We can start with the simple question: What is Hellion?

 

Hellion is a first person multiplayer space survival game. The surroundings are very unforgiving. You are harassed by other players while suffering extreme conditions of space and your only goal is to survive.

 

Why space? Where did the idea come from?

 

Well for me at least, space has always caused a mixture of fear and awe. There is this endless frontier right above our heads that we know next to nothing about. Since I was into gaming I felt compelled to try and transfer that feeling into a game. I have always found inspiration in sci-fi books and movies but what I wanted was to be a part of that action, part of the adventure. If it was possible to share that adventure with my friends, there would be no end to excitement.

 

In Hellion you insist on realism. Orbital mechanics, large star system, celestial objects with all of their physical characteristics, craft propulsion… But is all of that really necessary in a game?

 

I believe realism adds a lot of immersion to the gaming experience. When playing DayZ and you get wounded, sometimes you are forced to crawl 2km with a broken leg in order to get to the hospital and take a shot of morphine. Someone might think it boring, but for those that play the game, there is only one thought on their minds “I have to do this or I will die”. This is the moment when you are completely immersed into the world and connected with your character. In Hellion the entire world is moving, everything is subjected to the laws of physics. You may “feel” standing still near the station but then you turn around and see the sun rising from behind the planet. You suddenly realize that everything is in motion, the ship and the station are orbiting the planet and the planets orbit the sun. When you suddenly become aware of this fact, the feeling is incredible. On the other hand, you do not need to be a “rocket scientist” to play Hellion, but those with some basic understanding of physics will be able to use that knowledge to their advantage against other players. We believe this creates a unique and thrilling gameplay that leads to a fun and memorable experience.

 

Immersive gameplay experience based on realistic physics

 

How do you plan to handle the mechanics of ships, stations and their systems?

 

Well the basic idea is to upgrade your space station (or base) with additional modules that shape and focus its functions towards the style of gameplay that you prefer. The same is also true for the ships that you pilot. As a simple example, you can choose to upgrade your ship’s scanning systems if you prefer to scavenge for resources and want to be aware of potential threats or you can upgrade its combat capabilities if you would rather raid others for supplies. The game “FTL” did this in a very unique and interesting way and Hellion offers many of those elements but from the first person perspective.

 

Creating a game like this must certainly be complicated. Why not place the game into a simpler environment like an island, city or a desert? Or maybe at sea?

 

Many such games already exist, more or less successful. Creating a solar system that contains all the elements of a good survival game is indeed a challenge. Fortunately, the Zero Gravity team is mostly comprised of geeks (giggle) obsessed with sci-fi, physics and math, who find inspiration and motivation in such challenges. On the other hand, we’ve all played Kerbal (laughter).

 

In the end you decided against a single player game with goals and missions. Why?

 

I see games as a space where individuals can express their creativity and resourcefulness, if provided with the right tools. Therefore building and crafting represent very important gameplay elements. On the other hand, the multiplayer setting features a specific social interaction that transforms the game into a complete experience that no single player game can hope to match. If, when playing Hellion, you come across another player who’s mining the asteroid that you had plans of harvesting, you have a choice. You can decide to talk things through or attack him outright. You essentially get to choose between cooperating and making an enemy. Situations that require split second decision making are common in multiplayer games and help create a memorable experience that you will later tell to your friends.

 

Multiplayer action

 

How do you win the game? Is there a winner in Hellion? (laughter)

 

No. There are no winners and losers in Hellion. We see the game as a place where players get to experience a fun and exciting adventure, based on their own choices or as a consequence of someone else’s actions. We want our players to experience thrill and fear of fighting for survival as well as the satisfaction of a job well done when they manage to overcome their surroundings or other players. Winning here means surviving to fight one more day.

 

Who will play Hellion?

 

The game is intended for all gamers that enjoy a good challenge and don’t mind diving head first into a serious multiplayer adventure. Such games have definitely become more popular over the last few years and we are convinced that Hellion will be interesting for those new to the genre and also represent a significant challenge for the existing community of survival players.

Posted by Zero Gravity team