Today is the 1st of January 2021 and therefore we have decided that it’s just about time to give you some more insights about the early development of the Interlayer and what exactly was done this year.
Are you interested? We hope so :) Let’s start from the very first day…
How it all started?
The 1st commit for Interlayer was made on the 3rd of March 2020, almost 10 months ago from the date of this post.
Do you want to see how it looked like? Here is the first video made on 17 of March:
It does look completely different from what we have now, right? The thing is that many things changed within this year. In the very beginning, Interlayer wasn’t the action-survival game with a top-down view, it was thought to be a strategy game in space with gameplay like RimWorld or Prison Architect.
We’ve just started experimenting with the new Unity DOTS framework and thought about using most of its power to create a simulation of you being an architect of your spaceship, creating a spacecraft for your crew.
We’ve changed it from 2D to 3D view and started adding more and more features to see how good the idea works and if we like it.
Even though we do really think that it’s a great idea for the game, it wasn’t exactly what we would like to play as it had no cooperative gameplay and we couldn’t think of a way of adding it. Moreover, just about 2 months later the Space Haven game was released, which was exactly that idea we were thinking about.
Therefore, the idea has changed in the way of two other games that we really like: Factorio & Don’t Starve. We can clearly see that people associate our game with Factorio because of its mechanics and visual style, but we never thought of making a clone. We decided to combine the idea of having automation elements of Factorio with survival and open-world elements of Don’t Starve to create a game that we would really like to play ourselves.
That’s how the game started looking like that one shown below. As you can see, we were also experimenting with different graphic styles, such as Voxelized graphics.
Since that point in time (27 April), the gameplay changed from indirect to direct control of your character. The idea back there was to create a survival top-down sandbox game on the abandoned / dead spaceship with monsters and anomalies around. We liked the visual side of it, but it didn’t give us enough freedom in terms of the world around the player. What interesting locations and monsters you can create on a spaceship so that the new location is completely different from the previous one? You can think of a couple of ideas, but the more unusual you make the environment on a spaceship, the odder it looks to the player. Moreover, it kinda breaks the idea of an open world that we wanted to have and makes the world more dungeon-like. So we decided to move the player to an alien planet:
As you can see, we are clearly not artists. We never made any 3D model or drawn any texture. We knew that we have to create the whole world ourselves without any experience in art, so the idea was just to try using a style that is not that demanding, such as Voxel, Low Poly, or Pixel styles. Once we moved the player to the planet which has a daylight, the magic of lights and shadows in a dark scene disappeared and all the drawbacks of the art design became obvious.
However, we realized that we can do some things as developers to compensate for this: shaders & special effects. Have a look at the grass on the video. It does look impressive, isn’t it? It also makes the world feel much more “alive”. Even using simple models one can create quite a nice picture that the players will like. Take Industries of Titan for example. It does use Voxelized graphics, which looks incredible in this case. Details, animations, and effects make it feel completely different and one doesn’t even see that the objects don’t even have textures on them. Nice, right?
The next step was to add night in the game:
We liked it a lot, the gameplay and the idea. We believed that once we add a co-op mode to it and fill the open world with interesting things to explore and interact with, the game would already be quite interesting to play.
The next step was to work on the visuals to make it more appealing to players and find the style that really works for us as a small indie team. Therefore, we tried low poly graphics. It took us really long time to get into it and start making something that does look good enough. That’s what we ended up with:
While researching the art aspect of the game and experimenting with the styles, we were also progressing with the in-game mechanics. We added the electricity, storage, solar panel & batteries, miners & turrets. It didn’t feel completed still as we didn’t have a vision of how the game will look like in the end, but we were making good progress.
It took us dozens of hours to talk about the game design, the world, the idea. Finally, in the very end of November, we made a decision about the game’s name and concept: The Interlayer.
What is it about? Here is what we came up with to give you a short description but don’t spoil the whole thing just yet:
As a result of an unexplainable anomaly, the reality on the planet of Exodus has split into two parallels. In between the parallel universes appeared the Interlayer, the horrific place that houses the creatures no human has ever seen. What would you do to survive on the planet and don’t get lost in between the realities?The Interlayer
This is your story.
Once the concept was set, we started making really good progress as the whole picture was complete in our heads. That’s when Interlayer started looking like this:
We launched our Twitter account on the 2nd of December and started promoting the game, hoping that some people would like it just the way we do. What happened? We’ve got 143 subscribers in the first month! That’s just incredible!
Today is the 1st of January 2021 and we want to thank all of you guys who subscribed to us in 2020, joined our Discord server, and/or were giving us their feedback in comments. We do really appreciate it and it motivates us to continue better than anything else!
What happens next? That’s a big topic! Tomorrow we’ll share the results of December 2020 and will tell you what we’re about to work on in January. Keep tuned and Happy New Year!