Developer Update #1 – The Vision

Welcome to the Core Decay devblog! Since this is the first developer update, I figured I’d start off with the background behind the game and what the general goals of the project are.

Core Decay is a one-man project and a celebration of the DOS games of the late 90s. Growing up with games such as Quake, Descent and Doom, I wanted to return to this era – in particular on mobile devices, since aside from a few ports of PC games there is not really any way to experience this genre on mobile right now.

Base Mechanics

Screenshot of starting level.
The beginning of the game, designed to convey the amount of player choice present.

The game itself is a first-person shooter in an industrial sci-fi setting, where the goal of the player is to progress through 11 distinct levels (with some choice regarding level order), finding and destroying the reactor core in each facility before moving onward. Levels consists of several sectors of varying security, and the player has to find appropriate keycards to progress. Once the reactor core is located and destroyed, there is a limited time to find the escape exit before the facility is obliterated.

Although the main gameplay loop is highly rooted in classic shooters, there are a few more modern elements as well. Core Decay features a leveling system where each time the player levels up they get to pick from a random selection of unique perks, each granting some sort of bonus or benefit. This adds to replayability and makes every playthrough more unique.

The Art

Power Saw melee weapon.
The Power Saw, the starting melee weapon.

With Core Decay I wish to recreate not necessarily full-blown pixel art but more of a “DOS-era” aesthetic. Blocky geometry, un-smoothed textures, a MIDI-style soundtrack and a darker visual tone all contribute to this and should result in an experience much like the 90s PC games it draws its inspiration from. In addition to this there are some more modern features incorporated to add extra detail – ambient occlusion, bloom, lens flare and CA comes to mind – but all of these can also be turned off if you prefer a more “authentic” look.

Ultimately I’m hoping to have the various facilities quite visually distinct from each other. The facilities explored by the player stretch across the world, and a storage site in the Arctic should after all feel quite different from a biological research lab in South Africa! While all levels are indoor-only, there are still plenty of ways to convey a different location such as unique props and color grading.

The World

Core Decay takes place across a series of mysterious facilities across Earth – they are somehow all connected to a world-altering design, and the game plot focuses on uncovering the nature behind these sites and whoever has been behind creating them. The game explores themes of post-humanism, cybernetic augmentation, environmental disaster and corporate power.

Mission selection world map.
The player can choose which mission to play next!

The degree to which the player interacts with the storyline and world is very much up to the player. Datalogs and NPC dialogues provides an in-depth look at the story and lore of the game, but can also be entirely ignored if more interested in the gameplay.

Platforms & Distribution

The current plan is to first release the game on mobile platforms, with a PC version to follow. On mobile platforms, the game will be a single $5 purchase with no micro-transactions, allowing the game to be designed with all the old-school style of mechanics intact.

Schedule & Roadmap

In the interest of transparency, be aware that the game is currently in pre-alpha and is still a long way from being complete. Any contributions help making the development time shorter and are hugely appreciated, but much remains to be done and a public beta is quite far away. As I am a sole developer it is also difficult to provide an accurate development roadmap, but it is still my goal to get one out as soon as possible. Thanks for understanding!

What’s Next

The reactor core.
The reactor is the final goal of any level, though the design varies from site to site.

I’ll be aiming for weekly dev updates, giving an in-depth look at what is being worked on at the moment. As the game is so early in development many interesting design choices remains to be resolved, and hopefully this will make for some exciting updates. Until next time!