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Author Topic: The future of Ascii Sector  (Read 3829 times)

Christian Knudsen

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The future of Ascii Sector
« on: August 02, 2010, 08:45:19 AM »
Don't worry, I'm not stopping development of Ascii Sector! I am, however, beginning work on another, different game...

For the past 5 years I've been working on Ascii Sector whenever I could squeeze in some programming time. There's still a lot of work left before the game is complete, but I'm beginning to approach a point where the completion -- or at least v1.0 -- is no longer a far off dream, but actually somewhat within my grasp. This has set me thinking about what projects I'd want to work on when I finally reach that point. My big dream is to take the engine and underlying game logic that runs Ascii Sector and make a graphical, commercial game from it. But that's a big dream and an equally big project, so what I'll be doing before that is make a smaller, commercial game that'll have some similarities with certain aspects of the graphical, commercial Ascii Sector game (which, for obvious reasons, likely won't be called Ascii Sector!).

That's where this new website comes in: Laserbrain Studios. This is the banner I'll be making my commercial games under. I say games in the plural as I hope to make more than one, and also hope to one day be able live off these games. I'm not the only person that dreams of making successful indie games, of course, and it's very likely that I'll crash and burn (or never finish my first commercial game), but I've got to at least give it a shot.

So, what does this all mean for Ascii Sector? On the one hand, not a lot, and on the other, a lot.

Development on Ascii Sector will probably continue at the steady pace it's been going for the past years. I've actually been working on my commercial game on and off for about half a year's time now, making graphics tests, finding programs for creating pre-rendered 3D sprites, and programming the beginnings of an isometric ground combat engine (you can read more about this new game on the new website). So you probably won't notice the development of this other game impacting Ascii Sector very much, as it's already been going on for a while now.

How this all will impact Ascii Sector is with regard to Ascii Sector's story, universe and setting. As I now hope to some day make a commercial game based on the thousands of hours I've put into Ascii Sector, I can no longer use an IP I don't own the rights to. That basically means the Privateer name and everything related to the Wing Commander universe. So what you'll be noticing after I release the first 0.7 version is that I'll be phasing out these elements. The first thing is that the game will no longer be called Privateer: Ascii Sector, but just plain ol' Ascii Sector. That's not much of a change. However, I'll then be changing the setting of the game. Stuff like the Kilrathi and Retros will sadly have to go, and I understand if players and fans of the game will become upset over this. What you'll be getting in return, though, is an original setting and game universe that still feels like the game you all currently play, but is able to go in new and different directions. I've already written out design documents that detail the new factions that'll inhabit this "new" Ascii Sector -- all tied into the story and main arc of the game I have planned. These changes will not only mean that I'll no longer be infringing on the IP that Electronic Arts currently owns and Origin and Chris Roberts created, they also mean that I can already start building the original universe and story that I'll use for the future commercial graphical version of Ascii Sector.

How far these changes will go is hard to say at this point. I'm not sure if calling a ship a Tarsus in a freeware game is infringing on the Wing Commander IP, but I hardly think an ASCII representation of such a spaceship is. So the ship layouts will probably all continue to look like they do today. Ascii Sector has already moved far beyond what the original Wing Commander: Privateer game was, and this new direction only means that it can grow and become its own thing even more.

As to the near future of Ascii Sector, I've decided to release v0.7 when I've implemented everything related to fleets. I'll then implement persistent ships, bounty hunters sent after you, and all the other stuff on my development list for a v0.7.1 and forward. It'll probably just take too long if I wait until everything's implemented before I release, so I'd rather just release in smaller increments instead of one big new version.

So, there you have it! The winds of change are blowing! Well, solar winds in space, I suppose...

I'm excited about all of this and I hope you are too! :)