Blend the methodical and thoughtful creation inherent in construction simulators with the urgency of crisis management. Plan and build the colony, research improvements and efficiencies and struggle all the while trying to keep everything from catching fire.
Maintain a bleak yet dedicated atmosphere to the writings, theme and characters of the game. The player should be reminded indirectly that there are people in this colony and that they are the last humans left alive or will be soon and each of the few hundred people on the colony have the weight of Earth’s dead on their shoulders. That said, the player should be encouraged by the determination in the game’s and character’s writing in spite of the grim circumstances.
Game emotional tone should begin distressed, bleak and urgent with technological progress and end-game situations giving the player feelings of empowerment and optimism for humanity. Express humanity’s determination despite grim odds.
Empower the player with gradual improvements in the colony unlocked through research, material exploitation and political development. The colony is shaped physically and culturally by the player’s construction decisions and research path.
There should be multiple paths to victory, through focus on technology, raw industry or sophisticated political leadership. No ‘one recipe for success’.
Adhere to science and technological understanding when creating research and building options until it interferes with gameplay, if there is a struggle between science accuracy and gameplay, gameplay wins but do so in a way that maintains consistency with the game universe and lore. (and reality)
The only sources of conflict in the game are external (environmental) and internal (technical/biological/political crisis). There will be no sentient aliens as a component of the game, however microbial or extinct life is fine.
The game is single-player but should be replayable with each game being different due to planet differences, player choices and random elements such as meteors and crisis events.
Procedurally generated solar systems and planets
Limited to 50-500 light year radius around Sol
Creates solar systems with planets ranging the gamut of our own solar system with variables for heat, atmosphere, volcanic and tectonic activity, meteorological activity and meteor activity.
Ensure that each solar system will have at least one suitable planet or moon for colonization for gameplay’s sake.
Player customizable starship
Provide ‘default’ loadout
Enable player tweaking of starship contents, increasing or decreasing materials such as construction materials, colonist number and composition as well as one-off devices such as weather satellites which would normally only be available later in the game.
Should not be a situation where the player creates a 100% doomed loadout.
Should provide the player choices with clear trade-offs, there should not be any ‘must have’ items that the player is either forced to pick every time or neglects to pick and then is punished for it later.
Resources and buildings
Resource tiers that provide access to more complex buildings.
Minerals are a limited resource, encouraging the player not to wait at a particular tech level when better efficiencies are found with more advancement.
Special bonuses provide tiles with inherent benefits, improving such buildings as agricultural domes, research labs or power facilities.
Buildings are improved through research and new tiers of buildings with diverging benefits are also unlocked via research and constructed with advanced minerals.
Buildings are the cornerstone of the colony, the player spending the majority of their time planning the location of their constructions.
Buildings are capable of receiving damage and can have internal fires or external breaches.
Tubes connect buildings and can be sealed to prevent fire or atmosphere leak from spreading to other parts of the colony.
Colonists working in buildings and can become trapped in a crisis, rescuable but at a risk.
Crisis response emergency workers (CREW)
Whenever there is a crisis in the colony (atmosphere breach, fire, riot, biological hazard) a CREW squad is sent in to mitigate damage.
(Optional game element) CREW squads can be outfitted with equipment such as fire-fighting gear or riot control equipment at a resource cost equal to a building.
(Optional game element) CREW squads can improve in skills with player-selectable perks such as the ability to save a minimum number of civilians per building, or increase the speed or efficiency that they work.
When deployed to a building the CREW squad can focus on one element, for example prioritizing the saving of civilians or minimizing damage to the building or keeping themselves safe and not taking any risks to the detriment of both civilians and building.
CREW teams can be damaged (members killed, experience lost) or destroyed entirely.
The player must juggle the priorities of first determining if they should attempt to save the building at all, and then worrying about which CREW to send in, then deciding which focus to select.
CREW teams should unlock as the player progresses, starting with 1 very simple CREW with limited gear and no experience to a maximum of 3 CREW slots so as not to bog down the player with micromanagement.
Research begins with a research lab, exploring fundamental concepts such as psychology, volcanology, meteorology and metallurgy and the new form they take on an alien world.
Broad research topics branch out and allow specialized research to unlock new mineral exploitation, disaster response equipment and training, building improvements and new buildings altogether.
Research is tied to resource exploitation, requiring certain amounts of minerals to be mined before a research project can proceed, and further requiring a second tier of research building to be constructed to enable advanced research.
Research is decentralized, with each building providing an efficiency bonus. Only one research project is pursued at a time but the more research labs there are the faster all research will progress.
A component of politics, directives are colony-wide bonuses and special actions.
Colony wide bonuses include a focus on agriculture, research, population control and many other aspects. Only one directive can be active at a time. Directives will follow Alpha Centauri in having multiple categories and then having conflicting focuses within those categories, for example in Alpha Centauri when choosing government type the player can select only ONE of the following: Police State, Democracy, Fundamentalist. In Terminus, a similar category may be “Crisis Response Strategy” and could have choices such as “Building Reinforcement”, “Colonist Evacuation Training” or “Colonist Volunteer Crisis-Control”, each having a distinct impact across the entire colony.
Special actions include mineral surveys, population polls and other infrequently used actions. Special actions will often have use and cooldown timers. For example, each tile selected for survey may add 1 day to the total survey time, reduced by technology.
Crisis and opportunity events
During play different events will appear depending on conditions within the colony.
Poor morale increases risk or riot or stop-work measures.
Building placement and adjacency increases or reduces chances of specific crisis such as plagues or industrial accidents.
Crisis events are mandatory-awareness, slowing or freezing gametime to inform the player that a crisis is occurring with a pop-up explaining the situation. Example crisis events are the riot scenario, building fire or meteor impact.
Opportunity events are proposed by councillors and are generally positive with a small risk of catastrophe. Opportunity events do not slow down time or freeze the game but inform the player of their existence by a pop-out balloon or icon. Opportunity events include scientific or medical tests, mineral surveys or colony propaganda efforts.
Certain buildings will provide bonuses when placed next to buildings of a particular kind. For example, agricultural domes placed next to residences will improve happiness. All buildings receive a resistance bonus to damage and civilian survivable when placed next to a CREW HQ to represent safety drills and keeping the buildings up to code.
Adjacency bonuses are never penalties, but buildings built adjacent to one another cannot be sealed or separated so if one of them has a hull breach the other suffers the effects too.
The game is won via constructing or refueling the interstellar spaceship in orbit or terraforming the planet.
5 Responses to “Terminus”
I like the level of detail this game will bring. Look forward to its release!
This is another space game with the same name, an extremely-similar logo, and I would assume that whoever presently owns the trademark may take issue with your game; it’s a lot easier to adjust the name now before you build a lot of brand recognition.