Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics

Star Surveyor devlog

A topic by slimefriend created Nov 30, 2015 Views: 4,443 Replies: 82
Viewing posts 1 to 32
(6 edits) (+4)

UPDATE: this project is on steam greenlight now :) upvotes greatly appreciated!

I'm making a game about exploring and surveying a foreign planet called STAR SURVEYOR. You start with a limited amount of equipment and oxygen, but as you discover more creatures and plants you can upload them to your home planet to gradually gain more abilities which will allow you to explore the planet further.

All I've really got implemented right now are the player, some creatures, some flowers, your ship, and the system for building the world.

My plan is to build a small proof of concept and release it for free in the next few weeks or months (depending on how big I decide to make it) and then if there's enough interest, make a bigger game.

I like the idea, I'm a sucker for upgrading things and exploring worlds :) I'd like to see where this goes.

This is pretty adorable. Although, for an alien planet, the plants seem a little, normal XD

Will the game have any sort of challenge to it (ie, pits, spikes, bad dudes, anything that causes game over) or will it be just a casual relaxed exploring type game?


the plants are just quick little things i made for testing, they will get more elaborate later on (especially since they're mostly static, they would have like one animation at most)

the game will have challenge--for example for things like that frog, if you get too close it starts jumping around madly which makes it impossible to scan, whereas if you creep up on it slowly it stands still (i havent implemented that yet, i will soon though)

it'll also have more traditional things like lava in the mountainous biome, and maybe some dangerous bugs. there's also the problem of oxygen--if you're away from your ship too long you start losing oxygen and then when your empty your health starts to chip away (this is still up in the air though, i want the oxygen tank to be an upgradable thing but if it makes the game annoying i might take it out and just let you explore infinitely)

but overall there aren't going to many 'dangerous' obstacles. i do want it to be more relaxed than most games.

Ahh, cool cool, sounds fun.

Omg this is a lot like an idea I had a few years ago (that I still want to get around to)! yay for collective consciousness!

I like the idea. How much do you plan on diversifying what's going on in each biome? Is the system for building the world procedurally generated?


The biomes are going to be as diverse as I can get them, I can't say much though without spoiling stuff unfortunately :(

Nothing is procedurally generated. I considered it (for a long time), but it can get messy if you've scanned everything in the areas you are able to travel to with given equipment, but still don't have enough to unlock a crucial upgrade to get to a different area. I'd rather just design a metroidvania-like world myself, which also happens to be something I've never done before so it'll be a learning experience too :P

Absolutely, a well designed world is important for metroidvania like that. Well good on you for having a vision of sorts already. It's always fun to do new things. I have a bunch of dumped projects, but the tools and code that I tried is always available for me to lean back on, plus the experience is invaluable. The more you code the better you get.


I like it! Its always amazing to see how distinct people can make their aesthetic within really tight pixel resolutions.

I hate it when people say "oh, you're making a [genre] game? You should check out ...". But it reminded me of this old game called Dinosaur Safari where you go back in time to take pictures of dinosaurs.

I like the puzzle of the frog behaviour interacting with the mechanics (digging holes or sneaking). I think there could be a lot of meaty gameplay in the space where behaviour meets mechanics, rather than jumping puzzles or avoiding danger. It reminds me of adventure games where you try and draw out an animal with bait, or block off exits so it can't escape. I think The Dig had some puzzles like that. You could add in multiple states to animals, so while it might be easy to collect data from a normal animal, one that was pregnant and hiding in a burrow/nest might be really hard to find or get at.

Biomes would be cool to see more of your art.

burrows/nests that creatures hide in is a super cool idea that i'm totally gonna steal for other creature types :P


new feature: don't scare the frogs

That's so cute!

Solid idea.

I love that! Awesome feature!


Flies are in the game! Flies are a little less frightened of you than frogs.

Also, finally starting to get oxygen/health meters into the game


I'm kinda torn between showing a lot to kind of incentivize myself into keeping a regular schedule / getting feedback, or to not show much to avoid spoiling the game for players. Thoughts?


As a player, if I'm following a devlog, I'm aware there's probably going to be spoilers and I don't really mind them.

But it might not be the same for everyone else, so I'm not sure!

I'm kinda torn between showing a lot to kind of incentivize myself into keeping a regular schedule / getting feedback, or to not show much to avoid spoiling the game for players. Thoughts

I would say that if someone reads a devlog they are aware that there may be spoilers. Also I think you should reveal new mechanics, but not your story.

There's no story, so that won't be a problem :P. Not yet anyway....there probably will be suggestions of a story in the environment, I probably won't share that stuff though.

I agree with the other posters. Reading a devlog pretty much means you should expect spoilers. However, if you want to be considerate of those who don't think of that, is there a spoiler tag you could use to hide certain things? If not, you could just make it apparent in your first post that spoilers will be in this thread and/or post a big SPOILERS warning at the top of new posts with spoilers.

Personally I'd love to see more of this as it develops, and I think it'll be fine to just show us new creatures and features without spoiling the game. Since it's Metroidvania there will still be a lot to be revealed through actually exploring the levels and whatever data you get from scanning. You may also get a lot of helpful feedback you'd otherwise miss out on.


this probably isnt a huge deal for anyone else, but last night i found out that one of my major issues with haxepunk (no way to manipulate bitmaps directly) isnt actually an issue. so now: lighting!!!!

im not gonna use darkness tooo much, mostly for underground biomes. but now i can have another thing you can upgrade: your scanner's flashlight!

(you also may have noticed the presence of water. water probably won't be in that specific biome, im just reluctant to show other tilesets for fear of spoiling too much.)


related: variable distance means i can scale the darkness depending on how far down you go. entering: the caverns!

gonna start making new creatures/plants for this biome :)

That lighting is simple, but it looks really nice!


yeah! i wanted something super-simple. ever since seeing how nuclear throne did it ive wanted to do that kind of lighting for my game.

I love the look of it, though it's a bit weird that the player and cursor have separate light sources rather than a light shining from the player towards the cursor. Is it intentional that there's actually two light sources or is that just the limitations of the lighting right now?

i was considering that, and i still might try it out because it would probably look cool.

the lighting is only limited by my intelligence :P if i do too many calculations when i go thru all the pixels the game can lose a lot of frames very quickly. i dont think that should be a problem here, but we'll see.

Ah, as a fellow programmer, I understand. Good luck!

(1 edit)

update on the light thing: i did the 'check if pixel is between the scanner and the player and light it up if its close' thing and it looks...much worse than expected :P

what i had pictured in my head was basically a triangle facing the scanner with the tip centered on the player which would probably take a lot more time to figure out in my lighting system, so i think im done with this idea

Oh wow, yeah that does look weird, haha. Oh well.


i didnt really want to show other biomes or their creatures, but i'm just too pleased with how this lighting worked out that i had to show off the firefly.

It looks awesome :D

Just curious: what is the purpose of the blue bar ?

its for oxygen, but its totally not being implemented in any way yet.

I love the little firefly! I can see that being a useful game mechanic too where even if your own light source isn't enough you can take advantage of the fireflies (which may be able to reach places you can't) to see more of the level. Some great level design potential there.


so as you might be able to guess, 'space research game' is kind of a working title for this project. i'm having real trouble coming up with an actual name for this game though. any ideas?

and, because i'd feel bad if i posted something without a gif, here's a spider


Maybe you can just find a name for this planet, and give the name of the planet to the game :P

All legs might need to be the same color, the spider is reading more like a crab XP


all the legs are the same color. do u mean the body also needs to be the same? i tried that but i worried that it would make the sprite look uninteresting

I assume this post is outdated given your thread is now called Star Surveyor devlog. Regarding the spider though, you could try adding some kind of design to its back (like a black widow) to make it more interesting if you wanted to keep the legs the same color as the body. I personally think it looks fine, and I like how it pulls itself up to retreat from you. Love how all the creatures feel so organic, I've wanted to do similar for my own games.

Looks really awesome! How long have you been working on this?


about 3-4 weeks at this point? but almost all of that time i was also in school so its been a little slow.

Hey, this looks rad! I loved Metroid Prime's scanning mechanic so it's great to see something like that here. Keep up the good work!

thanks! i dont know if you know or not, but this game was totally inspired by space gardener :P


Haha, yep! I saw your post in that other thread. I'm really glad my game inspired you like this

(2 edits)

sorry its been so long!! between ludum dare and various other things i havent been able to work on this game since last week. development is probably going to be slow for the next little while but i found some time to implement some little fishies

its kinda tough to see whats going on in a gif, but basically unless ur moving ur cursor very slowly when u go to scan the fish, it'll get scared and go hide in its lil hidey-hole.

the basic idea of the game is to have all the biomes correspond to different tools, and all the creatures are little 'puzzles' that you have to use the tool of that biome to solve. the tool for this biome is the FLASHLIGHT. the fish get scared of the light and run away.

right now i have four biomes planned for the demo, and ive finished the visuals / theming / corresponding tool for all of them. i also have the monsters mostly made or planned out for all of them.

ALSO: still totally struggling for a name for this game. nounoursheureux made a good suggestion with finding the name for the planet, so i tried to find a roman/greek deity name for it but none of them are really grabbing me. so the thread's still gonna be called space research game for the next little while, unfortunately :(

EDIT: what do you guys think about Terranaut?

Terranaut is a great name, but it seems a little too similar to Terraria. I think that people get irritated by all that 'cloning' thing and even though your game is not a clone, people will think what they want to. :P And great progress so far, I am a fan already. :)


So I've finally started to implement the final 'tool' that's going to be in the demo. This tool is the GRAPPLE, and it works something like this:

as you might be able to guess from the gif, the grapple is primarily meant for use in traversing tree branches, but it has uses for getting out of underground areas quickly as well.

It looks great !

Great project, can't wait to play this. ;) What engine are you using - Unity, Unreal, maybe something else?


something a whole lot simpler than either, but also a lot harder to explain :P it's called haxepunk, it's a port of flashpunk which was a library built on top of as3. haxepunk is built on top of openfl, which is an open source engine built on top of haxe meant to replicate flash (while also providing a LOT of portability and performance improvements)

bored yet? :P

Hahah, not at all, I'm actually hugely interested in this stuff. I'm currently developing a pixel-art game as well and was curious, which engine do you prefer. ;)

(4 edits)

ALRIGHT. im back.

i edited how the grappling works so you have a bit more control over it (you can now right click and the grapple will fly towards wherever the mouse is). a gif of that here:

this took me longer than i care to admit to get working.

the next step is gonna be to (finally) add some creatures to the fourth biome. im probably gonna have to redesign them because looking at their design with the benefit of time i kinda realized they're...not that exciting.

but!!! what is exciting is that this game FINALLLYYY has a name!! and the name is....

flows kinda nice doesnt it?

(1 edit)

I've also just launched the page for the game here with a bunch of gifs and a description of the game.

Star Surveyor update!!!

Featured: birds, beetles, and bulbplants!

So I'm almost done filling out the creatures and plants for the different biomes. A bunch of them still need to be updated with their new designs (as I mentioned before, I want each creature to be a little 'puzzle' that requires using a specific tool--still haven't programmed a lot of that yet).

I'm noticing that I'm starting to lose momentum on this project, so I think the next few things I'm gonna do on it are going to be a little bit...different. Adding environmental details and storytelling is something I've wanted to do for a while, so I might try to start mapping that out. The plants also need a bit of love, I want them to have some effects on the player (ie some spray out poisonous gas, some slow the player down when she steps on them, some shoot projectiles, stuff like that). My goal was to make this game mostly a relaxing experience, but I think it could use a little danger.

Awesome man! Reading this all got me excited, thanks for pointing me over to your blog.

(1 edit) (+1)

One last back-to-back update before I get swamped with work.

So for a long time I was going to have an oxygen and a health bar, and oxygen would just slowly trickle away until it reached zero, at which point your health would start chipping away. And other things could do damage to your health like fall damage, plants,etc. And both your oxygen and health would get restored if you went back to the ship

But that system is a bit...convoluted, for a game thats not really supposed to be focusing on 'survival', at least not mainly. So I've simplified that system to just the health meter, and I've eliminated oxygen entirely.

I've also worked on some of the damage-dealing plants that are gonna be in the game:

Since creatures already have this system of movement puzzles focused around specific tools in the game, I figure I'd give plants a different kind of variation...a deadly variation, if you will :P

Some great stuff going on here. Your color palettes are A+. Animations are perfect, especially for a minimalist pixel feel (That crawl animation...phew...had me giggling over here).

(1 edit) (+1)

Now that I've settled on some nice rules for how creatures / plants are gonna work (plants are dangers, creatures are puzzles) I've gotten myself very excited about this game. I found myself some time this weekend to work on finally implementing the spider's behavior:

So to give you an idea of whats going on here:

spiders are going to be totally impossible to scan if theyre on their line of silk. if you get too close, they just go back up to a spot just above the level geometry so u cant scan them. so what u have to do instead, is dig down from above and cut the line at the source. at which point the line snaps, the spider falls, and then just sort of ineffectually walks back and forth. (don't worry about how the spider doesnt really stick out against the background, its outside its natural habitat in this gif)

im gonna try to get all the other creatures up to the same level of intricacy, its just gonna take me a little while.

Given your new rules, does this mean that plants can't be scanned and creatures can't be dangerous?

plants can be scanned,it's just sometimes challenging BECAUSE they're dangerous. I don't think any of the creatures are going to be dangerous, at least not for the demo.

Okay. It feels a little weird that only plants would be dangerous, so I'm personally hoping for some dangerous critters too. Looking forward to the demo regardless.

its just kind of a way to maintain consistency. creatures can move and dig and do all sorts of things so they can use those actions to evade you--but with plants they cant do a whole lot, so they compensate by defending themselves with deadly weapons

Ah, I understand. I like that you consider the reasons for why they developed that way. I eagerly await being able to play the game myself.


The art-style is really cute. I also like the fact that it's a rather different game than the common shoot-n-destroy we see so often.

Keep up the good work! :)


sooo if you're wondering why i havent updated this in a while its because...well im kind of stuck.

some of the stuff i've made for the game is really fun (namely, the grappling hook and the creatures it interacts with), but a lot of the early gameplay without all the tools is super boring, and i'm not sure what to do to fix it yet. at the start its basically just a lot of jumping and crouching and scanning and theres not a lot of really interesting stuff to do with those abilities.

and if i go down the territory of making this a more platformer-y game thats okay but id want to do it in a way that isnt super derivative of other platformers, and keeps with the themes of exploration and survival. and i have noooottt come up with any good ways to do that yet.

i still have a lot of hope in the game, this is just kinda one of those things that comes along when you havent thought through the design completely before starting to make the game :P

I'm brewing an idea of a game very similar to yours for quite a few months.. but never get started because I can't get past that block of "need more ideas for gameplay and to make it fun". I appreciate people who can just get started on it.. I'm too much afraid of investing loads of time and then giving up due to not being able to find the ideas I need to finish it :(

(1 edit)

I think a story element would really give it that push forward. Perhaps something about scanning / mapping out the area and once you scan a certain amount of creatures/plants, another story scene would occur which urges you to explore deeper/farther. Just thinking out loud!

i think that could be interesting as well, and i have some ideas...but i still feel like theres something missing in the core gameplay that i need to figure out. its just not fun to run around and scan things in the first biome of the game

(1 edit)

Maybe you could add other interactions with the animals ? Maybe you could befriend them ? And you could also get seeds/materials from the plants, and make food with that for your animals ? Or potions ?

These are just some ideas, and I'm not sure if they are really good for your game, as this would add a more survival-ish side to your game. Let me know what you think ! :D

ive definitely thought about, and using food both to eat and to lure animals...but i have yet to figure out a way to have that work with like, a lot of different animals, since they all have different ways of moving around. and it would obviously have to be an interesting thing for the player to do...

im pretty okay with leaning into the survival side of the game, thats kinda its minor theme alongside exploration...its the thing that makes exploration kinda interesting, and kinda scary.

You could also give the informations that you get from scanning the animals to the Earth/Space Station in exchange for stuff like boots, stealth suits, ... Or they could send you new parts of your base, like a laboratory to study the minerals, or a kitchen to cook things to lure the animals. I don't know, I'm just throwing some ideas :D

hahahaaha that first part is straight up like, the original idea for the game :P you upload the data to your ship and if you upload enough they give you a new tool or upgrade

Deleted post
(1 edit)

hey! sorry for the long, long wait without any new stuff to show. ive been in a bit of a rut figuring out how to make the core of this game fun and ive been testing out some stuff along those ends.

the wood log stuff is just to add some light puzzley elements to the first area, because at the beginning of the game u dont really have any tools or cool things to use so i wanted to add some extra interactive stuff

the food system is one that ive wanted to add (in some form) for a little while, and its a bit more indepth. basically, i want each biome to have its own version of a foodsource, be it a fruit from a plant or a mushroom or whatever. then you can carry around this food and use it to either heal yourself (by eating it), or to give to animals. and obviously when animals are eating they arent moving, so giving food to them is a nice, friendly way to get them to let you scan them.

i still have a way to go in implementing the food system, but i think after that im gonna start lookin at adding more hazards to the game...just so the decision between eating food to heal yourself and giving it to animals becomes more of an interesting choice.

(1 edit)

quick star surveyor update!!

i added a sit-down idle animation because...welll...i thought it would be really cute if the astronaut took a seat and observed the planet she was on if you left her to her own devices.

i also added (a little after that other gif obviously) the first draft of a background for the forest biome. im still not a fan of it, but i worked on it for a long time today and its to a point where i can be happy with it when im moving around testing other stuff. (thats the astronauts home planet in the background there)

third and final thing, that is also pretty impossible to gif--

so before the plan was to have the treetops -> forest -> caves -> swamp biomes. but because of the kind of crisis ive had recently in realizing certain parts of the game just arent fun, ive decided to scrap the cave biome and move its content to its other two neighbouring biomes. this way i can have more diverse biomes without making a whole ton of work for myself. it also works out because having some cave-specific creatures and plants exist in the forest biome means the player gets a bit of a teaser to the kinds of things they'll be able to scan when they finally get their drill ability.

(1 edit) (+1)

hello again!

so what i really should be doing with this game is figuring out exactly how its gonna flow and if the starting area is fun, and if the fruit/wood log stuff works or is just kind of filler content.

that is what i SHOULD be doing.

what ive actually been doing is making the grapple hook much, much cooler.

now, instead of just being pulled towards it when it hits something, it can actually act like a rope and let you swing thru the treetops (u can also pull urself in by holding right-click after its been extended).

ive been wanting to figure out how to do this for a long (looonnnggg) time, so im glad i finally got around to it. BUT, im gonna go back to some actual game design stuff now :P

The frames of the grappling hook where there is slack right before it connects = awesome. Looks like it's fun. It's hard to get a good grappeling hook to feel nice.

thats been by far my biggest problem, and its one that i havent totally solved--ive just got it to a point where im not super frustrated with it, cuz i really should not be focusing on other things :P


so i've gone back to figuring out what this game needs to make it as fun / interesting as i want it to be. as i was building out some initial parts of the world i kinda ran up against the fact really lacking on the creatures. all my biomes need way more creatures than they currently have.

so ive started to add creatures to the flatlands, starting with...the rhino!

i think that gif explains pretty well how that rhino works. ive kinda gone back on my philosophy of 'only plants can hurt you' because if im goin to create a bunch of new creatures, i need to start removing my limitations for how to mix them up :P

the second creature ive added i havent fully designed yet. all it does right now is walk back and forth, but i wanted to show it off anyways.

i think having a bunch of differently sized creatures really gives the game variety and makes it interesting, so i went ahead and created a (maybe) friendly dinosaur :)

thats it for creatures, for now!! i think im either gonna make one more creature for this biome or start building it out more. we'll see.

in other news, the way i've been embedding gifs on this devlog is kinda hacky and probably kinda irresponsible (i basically upload a bunch of gifs on a secret game page and then copy their links) and its starting to break down so i'm gonna try and find a better way to host all these gifs in the near future...



So, I figured out what the dino should do.

Now you can use the dino to get to higher places, and go across spiked moss and other dangers. All you gotta do is feed him some fruit!

With this I think I'm moving on from the flatlands for now. I think the dino was the missing piece of the puzzle and now I have everything I need to build a nice starting area. Gonna finish up the swamp next!

(in case you didnt notice, I also updated the tileset a little bit so it looks more natural).

A+ use of dino!


looks like a lot of my gifs are broken. kind of a bummer. oh well!

in this weeks update (im pretending i have a scheduled update time now fyi) we have:

more water life!

you'll also notice the lamp which kinda...mostly...hovers over the players head in this gif (theres no animation for swimming and holding something yet).

so the swamp's gimmick is 'light' which originally meant your scanner got upgraded to a flashlight which you could use to explore and stuff but i found that kinda....boring? and limiting? so i replaced it with a lamp you can carry around (and throw! which isnt shown in this gif). so now you can use the light to interact with different things!

secondly, something i havent implemented yet but have been thinking about a lot lately: the logs.

from just about the beginning ive known that there has to be some sort of 'log'. at first it was just gonna be a log of all the creatures and plants youve scanned, with some hopefully funny/witty descriptions for everything that kinda showed the personality of the character

in the process of making this though i've kinda come around to a different kind of log...sort of like a daily journal thing, that would correspond with an upgrade. itd go like this: you scan a bunch of creatures, you come back, you upload the data to the ship, if you've uploaded enough for that day, the spaceship opens up, you go inside it, and your done for the day. then the screen would go black, and you'd get to read a short thing that the character has ostensibly 'written' before she went to sleep for the night. and then youd wake up, and you would have a new upgrade.

its important to note: these logs aren't gonna be just like, her accounting what she did for the day. thats not why i wanted these here. i wanted to introduce a different dimension to the game, a sort of story, but not really a story. just mostly the astronaut writing down her thoughts, her history, why she took this (dangerous, deeply lonely) mission, stuff like that. hopefully it'll be interesting and not dumb! i used to be really into writing fiction, but i havent written anything in a long long time, so we'll see :P

thats it! if you've got this far: congrats! that was ramblier than most posts!


that dino is so cute tho

gl with game progress! :>


So updates are going to be sparser now because I've (finally) moved on from making the content, to actually arranging it in a way that is nice and makes sense and helps teach the player how to play etc. etc. Building out the world, although one of the more important things I need to do for this game, can't really be tracked using gifs.

I did make an intro for the game recently! That's the other thing I'm starting to do: actually polishing some aspects of the game that I've more or less forgotten this whole time.


Hey again!

So the demo's juuust about done.

I thought while a friend of mine is finishing up the sounds for the game I'd open it up to some playtesters!

If you're interested in playtesting the game reply to this with your email and I will send u the build as soon as I can.

bclikesyou [at] gmail [dot] com

Stoked to try it out!

hey again,

i posted this on the main page but it didnt update so i thought id post it here: the star surveyor greenlight is up!

upvotes are super appreciated, its kind of stalled out right now but its actually very close to the top 100, so a little boost would be awesome!

another update: the demo comes out on wednesday :P. GET READY!!!