SteamShards is a cooperative, voxel-based city-building game with followers, deep crafting, steam-age contraptions, and invading hordes.
SteamShards will be an online game, although offline, single-player gameplay will also be available. Although we expect many people will look forward to the social aspects of playing online, we know that many people enjoy the flexibility and control that comes from being able to do whatever you want to the world without the constraints that provide balance in a shared, online game. You’ll have the choice to do either. We’ll be hosting the servers for you, so you don’t need to worry about finding a reliable third-party to step in and provide our game to you; you can get that straight from us. Whether you want to play in a huge world with many players or just a small one with friends, all options are available.
The word voxels means many things to many people. Technically, it’s a volumetric picture element. But here in SteamShards, it means that the world is defined as a bunch of little cubes. But it’s not just cubes: we’ve implemented subvoxel technology to provide greater detail to the world. Instead of having to approximate complex shapes using just cubes (and sometimes stairs, and maybe fences and a handful of other things), there’s over 30 ways to slice up that cube. Plus, there’s flexibility to spin and rotate those shapes to face any axis. Then, paint it like you want it: in addition to hundreds of different textures, there’s also some extra customization in the engine that we’ll be demoing in the coming weeks!
I think at this point I should mention Shards. The game world consists of many individual shards. Each shard is an island unto itself, large enough to house several major cities plus miles of wilderness. Players can leap from shard to shard by constructing gateways. The specific formula that you use for building the gateway will determine where it connects to. In addition to hub shards where players will set up their cities, private houses, or bases, there are resource shards that are filled with different kinds of available resources — different trees, new ores, strange wildlife, or the flowers, fungi, or crops that players can harvest and bring back to their home worlds. Some shards are unstable, and won’t be available for long. Others have hostile environments, where players will need to specifically gear up to handle the conditions.
SteamShards is, at its heart, a survival game. The world is not a safe place. Although safe, enemy-free single-player games can be created, the online game has many dangers. From local beasts to underworld denizens, wandering through far regions and (especially) through the exotic, unstable shards will bring you face-to-face with serious threats. Further, you’re not the only people that have discovered shard travel: the invading Horde will arrive in waves on hubs and assault anything they find. You’ll need to work with other players to defend yourself. Cities aren’t just hubs of trade, but also of defense: there’s a reason to build wooden palisades, stone walls, or high ramparts! Luckily, your minions will be there to help build these defenses as well as to man the ramparts. When an invasion does come, you might want to visit your home town to join in the excitement of defense!
SteamShards is a cooperative game. It’s not just you against the world and its dangers, but friends and strangers will be there too. There’s strength in numbers, and the best defense against invading hordes is the centralized, well-defended city. You can also find an economic hole to fill in the city, too. Whether it’s farming, mining, crafting, collecting rare resources, or even running a trade empire — there’ll be a lot of opportunity to find your niche and thrive in it.
Followers (alternately called minions) are NPC agents that help you perform tasks in the world, as well as serve as agents for interacting with other players. The purpose of followers is two-fold: to allow players an opportunity to focus on the aspect of the game that they most enjoy; and to help casual players stay competitive in a game where some players seem like they’re online all the time. You don’t need to be hooked into the matrix 24/7 to be able to afford a house in the big city — your minions can provide some passive income to help. Minions are also being designed and balanced to help give all players a viable niche in the game.
“Tradeskills” is the term we’re using to describe the many possible activities in the game. This includes farming, ranching, crafting, collecting, and trade. Again, our goal is to help new, casual, and migrant players to fit into a game where long-term and hardcore players will have established supplies and strongholds. If you offer to ranch common livestock, or make simple dyes, or mine the ores found in low-level environments, you won’t be just producing goods for other new players. There’s always demand for those items. Long-term players will love you for stepping in and providing new items, as it gives them a chance to expand into exotic materials. Tired of new players coming in and competing with your common ores? Time for you to specialize! Or maybe you can treat it as an opportunity to start a trade empire.
The game is called SteamShards, and here we’ll focus on the first half of the name: Steam. This game takes place in an Age-of-Steam world. Many of the tradeskills can take advantage of some mechanic assistance, and the steamworks are there to help. Steam engines, spinning shaft, inter-meshing gears, grinding mills, pulleys, rope, mechanical switches, draft animals, and, yes, even some manual labor fit into the many trades and crafts in the game.
We’d like to add PvP in the future, but making good PvP requires a lot of dedication. Some other games have tried to please both PvE and PvP players, but often the downside is that one group gets the short end of the stick while the developers focus on the other group. We don’t want to do that here. We plan to add PvP universes (ie, collections of shards) with rules of their own, rules that can make PvP shine, but those features are not currently in development. We encourage players interested in PvP in this sort of world to let us know your thoughts and ideas on how to fit good PvP gameplay into our world.