• Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

Spacelines from the Far Out


Aug 28, 2021

Spacelines from the Far Out has you running your own travel company in space and dealing with all the chaos that comes from managing the needs of your alien passengers. Intrigued? So were we, so we reached out to Coffeenauts’ co-founder and head of studio, Fábio Rosa!What is Spacelines from the Far Out?Spacelines from the Far Out is described as “a heavily comedic sci-fi party, co-op, rogue-lite, tycoon, space sim, almost an action RPG” in which you and your crew run your own intergalactic Spaceline. When does Spacelines from the Far Out launch?As we found out just yesterday, Spacelines from the Far Out launches on November 4th, and preorders are live now!What’s it about?In Spacelines from the Far Out, we’re in charge of our own Starliner, tasked with taking care of alien passengers, and trying our best to become a successful Spaceline — all while dealing with the hazards of the job, including asteroids, gravity loss, the ominous Health Inspector, and a whole lot of intergalactic chaos.What’s the Spacelines from the Far Out gameplay like?”In terms of game feel, we want players to feel like they are exploring a universe like in Rick and Morty or Futurama, with all these wacky characters, unexpected situations, and funny sci-fi premises,” Rosa begins. Given that the description for Spacelines from the Far Out covers everything from dance-offs to vomit puddles, it’s a fair guess to assume that we’ll have our hands full running our own Spaceline. “There are tons of challenges, which are procedurally generated in ‘runs’ we are calling trips,” explains Rosa. “In a trip, your main goal is to safely traverse all routes, hopping from connection to connection in order to reach your final destination. Along the way, you will not only have to watch out for space hazards such as asteroid fields, comets, and cosmic rays, but also keep an eye on your ship’s fuel tank and hull integrity. And, of course, we can’t forget the main challenge: your passengers.” Your passengers, it seems, will cause as much havoc as possible, with “complex needs and behaviours like getting bored, getting hungry, needing to use the toilet, getting plane-sick,” and so on. Rosa adds that these behaviours interact and influence the environment and the actions of the player. “Extremely bored passengers might start meddling with the ship, which might cause them to disable gravity, which might cause other passengers to feel sick, which might cause them to vomit.” We’ll be in charge of all this chaos — and it will be chaotic; when we asked Rosa we’ll be up to in the game, the response mentioned “piloting, fixing, cleaning, navigating, feeding, refuelling, dancing, healing, docking, managing power,” and more. On top of all that, there’s also a “strategic element” in play with decisions such as which route to take and when to spend your money. There are ways to ‘lose’ the game by crashing your Spaceline or running out of fuel, but there’s another way too: the Health Inspector. “Having the game actively give you feedback on how well you are doing your job is vital for a non-violent game based on customer service,” Rosa begins, recollecting that RollerCoaster Tycoon has customer satisfaction graphs, while restaurant simulators might make use of timers. “However, we wanted to do something different. Spacelines is a hop-in/hop-out party game, so we can’t have complicated menu windows and sub-menus. Also, we wanted to make losing the game due to bad service as immersive as possible.” The end result was the Health Inspector, who will visit your ship if there are too many complaints about vomit or dirty toilets and so on. The Health Inspector will respond by zooming on board and commencing a search to find out everything that’s going wrong on your ship. “The fun thing is: since this is a character inside the game, not something like a timer, there are ways you can distract or mislead him. But I’ll let people figure out how to do that when they play the game!”What’s the world like?Spacelines from the Far Out takes a lot of inspiration from the Sixties, from sci-fi influences to music and architecture. “It was a ground-breaking decade in almost every sense. Everything from music to literature, technology, culture, world views, architecture was going through a phase of incredible experimentation and innovation,” explains Rosa. “In a way, we didn’t decide to take the Sixties into space, the Sixties took itself to space, not only in pop culture and science fiction, but also literally, culminating in the moon landing.” Rosa compares the “dark, fear-mongering stories” of Forties and Fifties sci-fi to the Sixties, when “space became something to aspire to: a colourful, atom-powered, plentiful and eccentric future utopia.” This, combined with the fact that “the Sixties is considered to be a golden era of air travel,” gives you the sci-fi Sixties-style glamour of Spacelines from the Far Out. Another major influence for Spacelines from the Far Out was the music of the Sixties. Coffeenauts is based in Brazil, and Rosa notes that “America started to fall in love with Brazilian music, especially bossa nova. Rio de Janeiro, a city that embraced the harmony between modern buildings and natural beauty, a staple of the architecture of the time, became this iconic symbol of the look and sound of the Sixties. Musicians like Tom Jobim, João Gilberto inspired countless famous American composers like Stan Getz,” Rosa continues, adding that “Brazil in the Sixties was the source of some of the most globally respected modernist architects in history like Artacho Jurado or Oscar Niemeyer, who designed Brasilia, our country’s sci-fi looking capital. So it’s safe to say Brazil was extremely influential to the aesthetics of the time, which remains a great source of pride for us Brazilians,” Rosa concludes. Retrofuturism, Rosa explains, has been covered before in video games, such as the Fifties inspiration in Fallout and the Dieselpunk of the Forties with Bioshock. “It stood out to us that we couldn’t really find any title that fully embraced that colourful Sixties-inspired retrofuturism,” Rosa says, adding, “Other media has fully embraced it, especially animation… We don’t know why this kind of sci-fi is not more popular in games but, if we were to guess, we think it might be because games usually need enemies, and sci-fi games need monsters you can kill/shoot/defeat and, in the Sixties, space was not about monsters, it was about fun and exploration. Spacelines from the Far Out is a completely non-violent game, all about cooperation, laughing, and discovery. So we saw this gap and decided to try our best to fill it.” Any news on Spacelines from the Far Out achievements?We don’t have the full list yet, but Rosa did give us an insight into how Coffeenauts approached the challenge of designing achievements for Spacelines from the Far Out. “In general, we want our achievements to do one of two things: either to make people feel proud of some awesome milestone, like reaching their first destination or buying their first upgraded ship; or, alternatively, to make people laugh,” Rosa explains. “We want players to feel that failing is part of the fun and, if there’s an achievement for an outstanding amount of ship explosions, they won’t feel alone when they experience this. It is, after all, a roguelike game, so you’re meant to try again and again.” Rosa expands on this, saying, “we will have as many achievements for when players win as for when players fail. These crazy chaotic situations are a key part of the game’s experience and to have the meta game reinforce that is great. One thing is to lose when the Health Inspector sees some alien puke inside your ship, another thing is to have the game award you with the ‘Sir, I can explain it’ achievement when that happens.”Spacelines from the Far Out can be played either solo or in co-op, but this won’t affect achievements. “We are not really considering having specific achievements for either solo or co-op play, and the reason for this is that we are trying to make the transition between those as seamless as possible,” says Rosa. “Since the game is procedural, without scripted levels, we went through great lengths to develop an AI that dynamically controls the events of the game in real time, which we are calling Game Director… essentially, there are no different game modes. It’s all one game, with one procedural engine, controlled by an AI that constantly adapts in order to keep the challenge inside that perfect spot between challenging and fair.”

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