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Alex Gryson, profile image

Alex Gryson


An idea in the hand is worth ten in the head


UX Designer / Product Management


Bordeaux, France




Codename Eureka

Codename: Eureka is an under development simulation / strategy colony construction game based on an extraterrestrial planet. I'm hoping it won't be too sci-fi and should be very accessible to anyone who likes colony construction / simulation games. It's entirely browser based, and the plan is for it to be a fully native, Chrome Packaged App (so no internet connection will be needed to play it).

Story

The year is 2068 and mankind has made dramatic technological advances. These technological advances have produced social tensions amongst Earth's population, namely amongst three specific groups: TOSSers, Hipsties and ArtIes.

The TOSSers (Terran Open Source Supporters) are facing legal troubles due to their ideological stance on copyright of one's likeness - they feel they should be able to freely make a 3D print of any celebrity they wish, though Earth's celebrities feel differently. The Hipsties, whose great great grandparents were Hippies and whose grandparents were Hipsters seek a world where there is more balance between technology and society, as well as free drugs. Finally the ArtIes are artificial lifeforms who are downtrodden on Earth due to their sentience not being recognized by the vast majority of the population. They are effectively treated like slaves.

An eccentric trillionaire, for the moment named Ms. Lovejoy, has taken it upon herself to aid these tensions and offer a better life to these groups. Her solution is to fund the colonisation of Gliese 581d, bringing 50 of each group to found a Utopian paradise where drugs are free, artificial life is given equal rights and one's likeness is free from DRM. As the colony commander, it is the player's job to make sure everything goes smoothly... good luck.

Gameplay

Codename Eureka is a turn-based strategy game, where the player has to choose carefully what to build, where and when, while managing resources and colony stats such as morale, crime etc. This is not as easy as it sounds due to the competing requirements of the colonists, the resource scarcity and the time needed to prepare terrain for construction.

Gameplay is on a procedurally generated map on 5 levels (surface and four subterranean levels). This map, its rivers and resources are all built from a seed that is either provided by the player or generated randomly (kind of). As a result, players can exchange seeds - it's the same as exchanging the map!

Technology

Codename Eureka currently only supports Chrome, though I hope to make it available for at least Firefox as well in the months after launch. It is fully HTML5, using canvas elements, lots of CSS transitions and extensive use of classList! The minimum screen resolution to avoid frustration is anything above 1280×800 and a graphics card is preferred due to the full screen canvas. I can run games quite comfortably on a standard enough laptop.

Art

The art for Codename Eureka is on three levels, UI, game art and music. I've done all of the textures and UI. Aaron Isaacs, based in Germany, has done the 3D modelling for the buildings, which I've converted into sprites that can be used in game. Clearside, an artist based in LA, who has been featured in Activision's "Singularity" viral video campaign as well as E3's 2009 combat trailer, has kindly agreed to provide the music.

The main aim for the art in-game is to immerse the player in the world and make them really feel like they're in control. This has had a major impact on the features available, with canvas-driven statistics, a terminal for more advanced commands, a mini-map for a high-level view as well as guiding the overall UI to give the impression of a control center.

Motivation

I started this project to learn JavaScript and as a result made a conscious decision to avoid 3rd party libraries such as JQuery. I've been called up on that a few times but feel that while it's cost me a lot of time, that time hasn't been lost since I find myself quite comfortable with vanilla JavaScript now. Of course, everything I've learnt can also be used in conjunction with 3rd party libraries so for future projects I'll start exploring some good ones.

Aside from coding however, one of my primary motivations has been to lead a games project from conception to delivery - something I first started learning with Navigate Fate: Envoy, bringing together all of the elements necessary, such as art, mechanics, technology and story and ensuring they mesh together to form a cohesive whole. I hope that upon delivery of this project that that work will be entirely invisible to the user, since that, for me, is the best sign that it was done well.