We’ve been pretty open about what to expect from the alpha throughout the development, but wanted to put it all in one place and feature it more prominently so here goes.
The most important information can be found in Nomadic Journals #3, on Trello and in this blogpost from March.
We have been able to achieve all the features we planned and added some nice touches too like dynamic weather and particle effects. With one exception – the animals will not make it to the first alpha release, because we need to completely rework their path-finding AI. The voxel-based terrain presented some unforeseen difficulties, and the current version has animals pounding into obstacles sometimes and most of all it consumes way too much computing power as is now.
ALPHA BUILD IN A NUTSHELL
The alpha build is the very first playable version of Planet Nomads and compared to the version we are planning for Early Access, it could be considered more of a sandbox tech-demo.
There is only one planet in alpha, 64 kilometers in diameter so you are able to travel it whole in a reasonable time in a land-based vehicle. There are 11 biomes in it, changing most visibly when you travel south/north. The planet is completely destructible.
Building is now limited to structures and land-based vehicles, with fliers and space coming later on. There are currently around 50 types of building blocks that provide quite a few options as is, but that number is going to increase. We have not put any limits on the total number of blocks used on the planet, and we are looking forward to feedback from stress tests.
There is a day/night cycle and dynamic weather, that will later be tied to survival.
The game now features a creative mode only, so everyone is immortal and have unlimited resources.
THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE GAME
You should not approach the alpha build as a “final game with bugs”. This is not the case. The development of Planet Nomads is a continuous cycle with a lot of content to be created and added to the game. The Early Access release in Q1 2017 will be closer to the game we have in mind, and will feature survival and crafting, but we are still expecting at least 2-years of development after the EA release to bring Planet Nomads to its full potential.
PLANET NOMADS ROADMAP
The vision we presented on Kickstarter still stands, and the stretch goals such as multiplayer, space flight, modding and orbital building will be added to the game during the EA phase. Given the amount of preorders and the general good reception of Planet Nomads, we are expecting to be sufficiently funded to finish the game. We will certainly have a better idea with the alpha-version feedback.
We know you are keen to hear roadmap details and upcoming features and what is going to happen in the time leading to the Early Access release on Steam (Q1 2017). In the past weeks, we got some new ideas and heard a few good ones on PN forum, but had iced them to be able to completely focus on preparing the alpha build.
After the alpha release however, we are going to have a looong meeting on the topic of future steps and will have a clearer picture for you. Still, the details change all the time, based on feedback within the team and from our Nomadic community and will change even more with people playing the alpha. Given the approach to PN development, don’t expect detailed plans spanning more than a few months into the future. Follow our blog, Youtube, Twitter or FB to hear the news when they come.
HOW TO BEST ENJOY PLANET NOMADS ALPHA & HELP IMPROVE THE GAME
You should focus on the things that can be done in the alpha – try building what you’ve always wanted to build, put PN physics to all kinds of tests, work with the terrain by digging and building underground, chop down trees and rocks, explore all the eleven biomes by crossing the planet from pole to pole.
Discuss the alpha, ask for help and share your tips on the Alpha forum. Report bugs here.
Planet Nomads doesn’t exist in vacuum, so it’s only natural people are comparing it to other games of the sandbox genre. There are many sandbox games out there which have done things right and boast features we love. When playing these games we always had this “if only I could…” feeling and we thought combining building with exploration and survival features, bringing all the three together and putting them on the same level of importance and complexity, would make for one hell of a sandbox game, which is how Planet Nomads came to be.
PN gives you total creative freedom to build anything you want, to organize and live your nomadic life the way you want, in a world that changes around you as you explore each planet’s climate zones with their unique biomes.
We believe no other game combines the massive scale lego-style building with having a purpose and multiple environments to interact with the way Planet Nomads does.
How big of a dent we’re going to make in the genre of survival sandbox games remains to be seen.
Here’s our vision for Planet Nomads:
Space exploration gone bad, you’ve crash-landed on an unknown planet. The first hours will be crucial as you only have limited supplies. With the help of a handy space suit and basic tools, you will need to secure food, find fresh water, build a shelter. The clock is ticking.
Once you’ve secured your basic needs it is time to focus on the long-term goals to avoid going mad. After all you are a castaway with zero chances of anyone doing any rescuing. Things look pretty grim. You’d better get busy.
Fortunately, only exceptional and highly skilled individuals were accepted for the space exploration mission with years of training to come and you are one of them – you have the skills to build wonders. With the right materials, any concept can be built into reality.
Without crafting you won’t get too far – literally and figuratively speaking. You will need to build some kind of vehicle to explore the vast planet surface and get to places of interest. You will need harvesters to dig and transport advanced materials. Processing the materials will require a lot of energy, so having powerful generators is a must. You will also need them to power your base of operations, your defenses and other facilities necessary for survival and progressing further.
Advanced materials will be rare, scattered across the planet and will require you to go on search missions. They could be hidden in a pitch-dark, possibly dangerous cave, burried deep underneath, or hard to reach due to life threatening environment. If you decide to go nomadic in a mobile house you will need to constantly check for food and water (that is until you progress far enough to craft self-sufficient facilities). Strange alien monuments visible on the horizon may also be worth exploring.
You already know about the food and water. You will also need to defend yourself against hostile alien life forms. Be able to survive extreme conditions – think radiation, severe temperatures, poisonous atmosphere… Live through power shortages.
Eventually, with enough work and wit, you will get to a point where a lot of your everyday worries will be automated and you may fully focus on the first big goal – building a spaceship to fly off the planet. It will take time, but we promise it won’t be time wasted and spent in frustration.
We’ll be adding more ways to play and things to do after the initial release. Expect multiplayer with player interactions, be that hostile engagement or cooperative play, to begin with.
Alpha-tier backers and people preordering the game with alpha access will start playing on 25th August 2016.
Planet Nomads go to Early Access on Steam in Q1 2017 and on GOG and HUMBLE Store around the same time.
Planet Nomads will have realistic physics.
Light vehicles will be faster, fit for drifting fun, prone to tumble over and generally more agile than heavy transports, tanks and harvesters that will carry the mass of their weight – when you hit something with them, it will make a big bang.
Your creations will get damaged when attacked or when colliding with the world or other objects, and may fall apart.
Optimization is a big priority for us. We are using Unity to its full potential, utilizing multiple CPU threads and have written our own procedural terrain generation engine in native C++ speeding up the algorithm calculations and providing a seamless game world with no loading screens. The planets of our sandbox game can be up to 120 km in diameter.
Our current (alpha) version runs smoothly on the following specs:
Minimum Requirements (Medium Details, around 30 FPS):
CPU: i3 – 6300 / AMD FX 6300
4 GB RAM
NVIDIA GTX 550ti / R7 260x
Recommended Requirements (Ultra Details):
i5 4690 / AMD FX 8370
8 GB RAM
GTX 960 / R9 280x/380
The game will allow customizing the graphic settings and level of detail to fit your rig.
Weather will have two roles to play: aesthetic one – to emphasize the unique feeling of each planet and biome; and functional – we’d like to tie weather to survival as much as possible.
One thing, naturally, is the day and night cycle: dangerous creatures emerge after sundown, and some of those that were nice and timid during the day become more aggressive; solar power doesn’t work during night; temperatures fluctuate, etc. Players will have to deal with solar storms, blackouts during electromagnetic storms…
Weather will be based on particular biomes (desert, forests, tundras, etc.), affected by height (colder in mountains) and the general setting of the planet (how many suns, planet type).
Unless they are extreme fiery planets or planets completely covered by ice, planets will have climate zones with changing biomes as you travel from pole to pole.
At first Planet Nomads will not have multiplayer, but it will be one of our main focuses after the initial EA release.
We have experience with mutliplayer protocols from our mobile games and will be using different 3rd party plugins with heavy customization and tailoring to fit our needs.
We don’t have much experience with modding, so it’s hard to promise anything. BUT! We’d love to have a modding community, so we will work hard to find out about how to do this and eventually support modding. It will come later down the road though.
We are primarily making the game for Windows and Linux PCs and MACs. Additionally we plan to explore and add VR support later on (we have Oculus Dev Kit 2 available in our office and HTC VIVE). Once controller support is in, we’ll look into consoles after that. The availability of VR and console port depends on sales of the Early Access version on Steam, GOG and Humble Store.