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XTC - Making plans.

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By now you should have read my original post on the beginnings of XTC and how it almost didn't happen. So what happened once we did actually have a new mod to plan?

First of all we had a few decisions to make. Did we want to port XTM exactly as it is and to continue to develop it from there, or did we want to use the assets from the old mod to help create something completely new?

XTM added a lot of new ships to X3: Reunion, and most of the functions, plots and missions were centred around these new ships. But TC already included a huge amount of the older XTM ships, and spaces for new ships was becoming scarce. With this in mind we decided to change the focus of XTC from creating new ships, to creating a more general and complete mod than XTM had been.

We would add in the missing ships from XTM that did not make it into TC, and while we would create new ships for XTC, they would no longer be the driving force in the mod for new content.

If ships were not going to be the driving force, then something else had to be. Right at the beginning of XTC's development, even before we had a proper team, Moko and I decided we wanted to focus more on story telling and decent plots that had depth to them. We wanted something that felt like a really good and complex book rather than the weak plots that most games seem to think is acceptable.

Both of these things helped our currently small and new team (at the time) to decide to create a new mod from scratch that used XTM's assets, but apart from that really had no connections with the older mod.

Our next decision was apart from ships, what should we keep and what should we loose? First thing to look at was the universe itself. Could we port over the extra sectors from XTM into the TC map files? The answer to that was no. We could have added a few, but there was very little room left in the 00749.bod for new sectors.

So we started to think about creating a new universe map from scratch. While we were unsure how well that would go down with the community, we felt that there were a lot of advantages to creating a new map. We wanted to create something with depth, and new sector descriptions would be one element that would help us do this. If we are going to create a new map, the player will have a completely new universe to explore instead of the universe that has pretty well stayed the same, with a few new sectors each game, since X: Beyond the frontier. And if the player is going to do that, we had damn well better make it feel like that is exactly what the player is doing.

This caused weeks of discussion and back story development. Where was the new universe, how had it been found, why could you not go back to the old universe (which we couldn't include because of already mentioned engine limitations)? Lots of ideas were given, discussed, and discarded or improved upon. Our main focus was on making it believable. No giant one-way wormholes and the like would be allowed thank you very much. Everything in the back story was pulled apart, and if we couldn't come up with a logical explanation of why something happened, then it was discarded and we had to come up with another reason.

With a rough back story worked out, we had a direction to head in. The next thing to look at was the old XTM plot. Should we adapt it and add it into XTC, or should we discard it as well and start a new plot from scratch?

The biggest stumbling block here were the Sohnen; They were real balance killers. What should we do with them? If we add them in it would be a real nightmare to balance the mod. We didn't like the idea of a race/set of ships that were so powerful it was an instant 'game over' moment if the player owned one, or alternatively a set of ships that the player could not own.

The only real solution to this was to discard the Sohnen as a race, and as the XTM main plot was centred around them, it had to go as well. The old plot really didn't fit into the new universe and plans we had already made, so letting them go was not as hard as it could have been.

This meant we also were not tied by what had gone before, and could write a new plot from scratch that took on the elements of a new universe being colonised and explored by the races, with the accompanying tensions and squabbles between them coming to the fore in the 'Land grab' scenario we wanted to set up.

While discussing all of these different elements, I said I would like to make the universe feel darker. More tense and on edge than the normal game. It would be more like having a set of nails scratched down a black board rather than the flower filled meadows we currently have. Akin to the feeling you get from watching Blade Runner or Equilibrium. The team agreed to this, and in fact seemed to really like the idea - which was good because it wasn't an option.

This threw up a new problem, the atmosphere created by the music in the game. Frankly it wasn't dark enough, which meant we needed someone to create new music for the mod to fit the style and feeling we now wanted. But this is another story altogether, and not one I am going to go into here.

OK, so we have a rough back story, a new universe to design and make, a new plot to be planned, and new music that needed to be created - and Terran Conflict hadn't even been released yet.

As you can see, even from this brief description, we had already spent a lot of time planning things before we even started to mod the game. I am going to stop here as this is already a long post, but I will cover some more about the development of XTC in the future.
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Comments

  1. moonrat's Avatar
    So now I know....all very interesting. Thanks mate and well written.
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  2. Locsley's Avatar
    Sounds very intriguing. A universe with great depths of fear and heights of profound bliss is in the end very rewarding - that's why run of the mill Fantasy books sell so well (at least to white middle class....)

    Cheers!
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  3. lordmuck's Avatar
    Nice read, now I cant wait even more, now I cant wait to read more too
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  4. Aragon Speed's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by lordmuck
    Nice read, now I cant wait even more, now I cant wait to read more too
    I suppose I should count myself lucky that I wasn't asked when it will be ready. XD
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  5. lordmuck's Avatar
    ROFL you shouldn't give me ideas like that ! ..

    sooo.... when wil......never mind *runs away*
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  6. NovaCatt's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by -AS-
    I suppose I should count myself lucky that I wasn't asked when it will be ready. XD
    Hiya Peeps,

    Hey -AS-, when will it be ready? (You just had to go & dangle that comment in front of us, didn't you? Knowing all the while, one of us would rise to the bait..... Shame on you -AS-, shame.....)

    Glad to know the backstory of what's caused the massive upheaval around here that has culminated in the ongoing creation of ...

    Cheers & Thranx

    {Phooey... I wants to use more emoticons in here, but it won't let me.... Waagh.... I'm suffering emoticon withdrawal symptoms..... I's needs to use emoticons..... Must.. use.. more.. emoticons.. in.. my.. comment.. up.. there,.. four.. emoticons.. per.. post,.. not.. enough.. for.. me,.. must.. use.. more... waagh... }
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    Updated 13-05-2010 at 04:38 PM by NovaCatt (added humourous comment... NC)
  7. lordmuck's Avatar
    NovaCatt umm you did use four EMOticons

    Got any videos displaying some fights or ships for XTC? (I can easily miss these things ... I do have my blond moments)
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