Dysis developer Chris Farrell sat down with Indie Game HQ to chat about his upcoming Kickstarter-funded, voxel-based RTS. As a real-time strategy game, Dysis will feature a new “infinite terrain” generation system. A variety of biomes are currently in the works as well. Dysis is still accepting funding through Kickstarter (though it has surpassed its $5000 goal by the time of this writing) and is currently in development.
Dysis is a creative voxel-based real time strategy and first person shooter hybrid. You are given an army of robots, the ability to manipulate your environment, and the task of escaping the Dysis. The land is infinite, hostile and mysterious. You must explore, research and survive.
You’ve just crash landed; your journey begins with limited resources and the knowledge that you will be facing wave after wave of hostile enemies. You must engage or evade them to survive. You can hide your crash site and base by manipulating the world around you, block by block, or you can bring the fight to the enemy first-hand by piloting a robot and leading your army to victory!
Indie Game HQ: First off, it’s good to speak with you today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chris: Thanks Nathan, great speaking with you too! My name is Chris Farrell, and my background is in humanoid robotics. I build small humanoid robots that fight and play soccer and then compete with them internationally – I really love robots, which is why I am making a game full of them!
Indie Game HQ: What inspired you to create Dysis?
Chris: I’ve loved games ever since I was a child – especially strategy games. I’ve played all kinds of games though, and I’m trying to combine as many of my favorite elements into Dysis as I can. Sometimes strategy alone isn’t enough, even if it’s fast paced – sometimes I need to get into the action (because telling a robot to go blow something up is one thing – but getting in there and doing it yourself can be a lot more satisfying). And when an explosion goes off… I want it to change the terrain; damage and deform it. I also really love programming, and AI seems like an amazing and still widely untapped field. Plus, the best AI that anyone ever sees is hidden inside of games – which is where my passion with robotics comes full circle – I want to develop the AI in Dysis, and then use that same technology to power my robots some day.
Indie Game HQ: Have you been pleased with the response to your Kickstarter?
Chris: Absolutely! It’s really exciting to see my project being shared – people asking questions and sharing ideas! I feel like I’ve set a pretty modest goal – most games on Kickstarter go for a lot more – but $5,000 is the minimum I need to get some of the commercial software required to finish the game as a solo dev.
Indie Game HQ: What do you plan to do with the extra money if over-funded on Kickstarter?
Chris: More money would allow me to get all the software I need to finish the game – make better models faster, texture them, optimize them, plus it would give me the ability to work full time on Dysis. I could then add more content and the game would end up a better product!
Indie Game HQ: How large do you plan to make each map in Dysis?
Chris: I’ve played with a bunch of different settings, and I still don’t have a static list of map sizes – though the Dysis world itself could be considered essentially infinite: A ring around the sun at approximately 1 Earth distance would have about three million times the surface area of Earth (sorry, super nerdy). I do have a working “infinite terrain” generation system that builds new terrain as a player explores, however this doesn’t really make sense for skirmish multiplayer maps when you need to defeat other players. For these maps I’ve been looking at sizes (in terms of blocks, or meters, since that’s what the terrain is made up of): small (512×512 blocks), up to the largest setting of 2048×2048. Right now I’ve limited the depth (until you hit the ring bottom) to be 256 blocks, some of this will be floating above the ground, other parts will be caverns under the spawning point.
Indie Game HQ: Do you plan to add various biomes to each world? If so, what kinds?
Chris: Definitely! The whole idea of having a Dysis (or ring around the sun) is that it would have enough surface area to contain a large variety of biomes. Most skirmish maps probably wouldn’t contain all these biomes, but the ones I am looking at right now are: sandy desert, grass plains, forest, and jungle/swamp. I’ve got a few others (a purple, highly alien terrain – something that seems corrupted or infected), and a volcanic style map featuring ash, lava, and dangerous rough terrain. I have a bunch of different land formations I’m working towards too (hills, plains, mountains, caverns, floating islands) and at the moment these span across all the biomes fairly equally. I am also working on weather – so rain, snow, fog – and these will also work with each biome (though some biomes, like the desert, might not get so much weather – dust and dirt storms would replace rain and snow here).
Indie Game HQ: How many different types of units and structures can be created?
Chris: At the moment the selection is limited to just a few of each, that is a big reason I am launching the Kickstarter now. With the right tools I will be whipping up a ton of models (units and structures alike) – everything I can feasibly think of to get into the game. There will be advanced tech trees and I’ll be taking feedback from users so that I can get a large variety of bots and buildings into the game!
Currently I am thinking to split the units up several different ways – by mode of transportation (wheels, treads, legs, airborne), and by fighting (both offensive and defensive) and building/searching/researching/transportation/mining. So there will be a large number of units for each type and on each tech tier, plus a number of technology research tiers (some number that is satisfying without being ridiculous, hopefully!). The player will definitely be able to pilot all of the fighting and building bots, but I’m not sure I’ll let the researching/transportation/mining robots be driveable (unless there is some really good reason?). All I can tell you for sure is – there will be lots of awesome robots!
Indie Game HQ: How big of a role does mining and terraforming play in the game?
Chris: Mining will definitely be important as it is used to gather resources required to build new structures and units. My current thought is that mining drills will be placed instead of mining any blocks by hand – this will be fairly automated. There will likely be drill sites for optimum drill locations, and you’ll need robots to transport the materials mined back to your main base.
Terraforming will be more of an optional/creative/safety part of the game. So hiding your base into the side of a mountain, up on a floating island or just building walls around your base can be up to the person playing the game – certainly these things are not required (though they will definitely help for defense). Doing this will also use resources, but user generated terrain will stand up better to assaults over natural land formations. To prevent users from just spamming each-other, terraforming will likely be limited to nearby owned structures; that way nobody attempts to rush their opponents and literally bury them.
Indie Game HQ: You plan to release Dysis on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Are you considering releasing the game on OnLive as well?
Chris: I have recently been asked that question by a few people and I am looking into it – I like the sound of it, but I can’t say that I’m entirely familiar with what is required to get onto OnLive. I can say for sure (and especially so if there is continued interest in this) that I will look into it!
Indie Game HQ: Will there be continuing updates to the game following release?
Chris: Absolutely! I’m going to release the game in several stages following the release of the Kickstarter. First, the Prototype – this version is pretty similar to what I have now and includes any content/fixes I come up with in the next couple months – I’ll be trying to perfect it’s functionality across a bunch of systems.
The Prototype will evolve (through at least weekly continuous updates) into the Beta. Anyone who pledges to get the Prototype will also get access to the Beta when that time comes. The Beta should be a nearly complete version of the game. I might be adding and tweaking new units, and I’ll be working on the story mode and bug fixes – but it’ll be a really fun game that you can play with your friends at this point!
Like the Prototype, the Beta will evolve into the final game. So again, anyone who pledged for the Beta or Prototype will get the full game with all the updates I’ve made up until then. At that point I’ll still (of course) be adding continued support – bug fixes, new content, and more – and I plan for this all to be for free too!
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
Chris: Thank you Nathan – I haven’t mentioned it yet, but there will mod support and I’ll be working on a modding API. I already have a unit animation tool that works with all the characters in Dysis (full character rigging and animation from 3D models) – so ideally, people can make and insert their own creations into the game! Dysis also works with 3DConnexion’s 3D mouse in third person mode (I’ll post a video of this soon) for panning, zooming and rotating around the battlefield (it’s a lot of fun!). Stay tuned to the Dysis webpage or Kickstarter for updates!