The Eternal Cylinder: Designing Survival Mechanics for a Planet Being Destroyed

Summary

  • After a massive Cylinder destroyed the game’s entire world, we had to modify some things that you would normally see in survival games.
  • To avoid hitting the Cylinder the player must always move, so building and gathering are not limited to stationary structures. Instead, they can be applied to you moving Trebhum family members.
  • Players can perceive danger more easily in games. This helps them to be more curious.

Good morning, my dear readers. Edmundo Bordeu, my name is and I’m one of the brothers that created ACE Team. I am also one of our designers, and was involved in the creation of this latest project. The Eternal Cylinder — available today on the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S Today’s topic is about how we had to adapt survival gameplay mechanics to the rules of an alien planet.

First, you should know that the Eternal Cylinder is the greatest threat to the game. This is a massive structure which rolls over landscapes and crushes everything it touches. Trebhum, a small and resourceful creature, is your character. You start your life on an exotic, dangerous planet. 

You would not expect the Cylinder to change many things in survival games. The Cylinder will crush everything, so it is worth gathering supplies and building your home base.

The Eternal Cylinder

Maximizing your potential and being more resourceful.

Because of the unique personalities of our characters, we were able to find a solution. This game does not require you to build a base camp. You will be building a Trebhum family. Trebhum are able to mutate from their natural environment and gain new skills by eating them. While in a typical survival game you might build a chest to store more items,  here you might mutate a Trebhum into one with a bigger body who can store many items in its belly. One Trebhum may be able to process minerals while another Trebhum can scare away predators. Your chest, refinery and tools do not reside in buildings. They have legs and can travel with you, a nomadic team.

Encourage exploration of a world that is constantly destroyed irreversibly

We faced a more complex problem when trying to find the right balance between exploration and facing danger.

The Cylinder’s size and speed were a subject of much experimentation. The Cylinder’s unstoppable speed made it extremely stressful for players to run away. However, we noticed that even if we slow the Cylinder down, it would still move at a very fast pace and players wouldn’t stop looking at interesting things or trying to interact with them. The constant pressure of the cylinder moving in an unstoppable direction to crush you makes it difficult to stop and look at things.

The Eternal Cylinder

We created Zooshgarg to stop players from moving too quickly away from the Cylinder and leaving it behind. The Zooshgarg would be a flying creature, which patrolled the Cylinder’s landscape and ate any creature who moved too close. To manage tension between these two threats, we experimented with the distance between Zooshgarg & the Cylinder.

The edge between safety and danger was too unclear for us to be happy with the solution. The typical survival game structure is to have resources available during the day, and then be anxious at night due to nocturnal animals. This is an indication that there is a change in tension, so players can know when to go exploring is safest.

An anchor tower was chosen to help create an immediate stop to the cylinder. These towers were created by Trebhum from earlier times and could temporarily stop the Cylinder. These could be added near towers to provide more objective-driven or slow-paced areas. This allows players to take their time and explore the area. The Cylinder would destroy the tower after players have left the protected area. For maximum impact, Cylinder’s music will change as it moves. It also lights up fiery red when it goes faster. You can tell if the Cylinder appears close by if it lights up the area with a fiery hue.

The Eternal Cylinder

This does not mean that safety must be assured. Sometimes it can be good to throw something unexpectedly at the player. It was actually about making it easier for people to recognize the dangers. It allowed players to be more curious and exploratory.

Aliens should be full of unexpected and dangerous things! It’s a great experience to figure out the unexpected in games and one I hope our players enjoy. 

The Eternal Cylinder

Xbox Live

The Eternal Cylinder

Good Shepherd Entertainment


4.

$29.99

The Eternal Cylinder lets players manage a group of cute creatures known as Trebhums. They must navigate a bizarre alien world full of exotic life forms and strange environments. While all this is happening, the Cylinder, an enormous, ancient structure which crushes anything in its path, lurks. This unique ecosystem combines animal AI, puzzle design, and real-time destruction of the world.

Trebhums start at the bottom end of the food chain but can evolve and mutate new abilities and attributes by eating different flora or fauna. There are many mutations you can learn and adapt to, such as flying or swimming, new ways to traverse new terrains and the ability to sense dangers. You can have multiple Trebhums with different mutations. This allows you to build a distinct herd. Every mutation can also alter the appearance of Trebhums, creating new designs that players will discover organically as they travel across this alien planet.



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