It took 5 people less than two years to make a domestic game that was released for 1 hour and topped the Steam global hot list.

The domestic indie game “Dyson Ball Project” was released on January 21 within one hour, and it rushed to the top of Steam’s global hot sales list.

At present, this Galaxy-themed simulation business game has received rave reviews, and has received 95% praise on Steam. Many players in the domestic and foreign communities are deeply trapped in the infrastructure of the “Dyson Ball” because of the “Dyson Ball Project” operating across the interstellar galaxy and cannot extricate themselves.

Comments from domestic and foreign players on Twitter and Steam

Many players built factories all night in the game on the night of the release, and almost the entire planet was built with resource-gathering factories overnight. In order to maximize the efficiency of the production line, the sophisticated players also used CAD drawings to design the layout of the refining pipeline in the game.

Intercepted from “Dyson Ball Project” QQ player group

Intercepted from “Dyson Ball Project” QQ player group

“Dyson Ball Project” was published by “GameraGame”, which was in charge of independent games such as “The Great Simulator of Immortality” and “Hong Kong Conspiracy Record”. The development team is Chongqing’s independent game studio “Grapefruit Cat Game”. This is also the second game of Yuzi Cat Game Studio.

Grape King learned from Ye Qianluo, one of the founders of GameraGame, who is in charge of game publishing, that Yuzi Cat Game currently has 5 team members, and they only took 1 year and 10 months to develop their own project “Dyson Ball Project” until the game was released. .

However, the current 0.6 EA version of the game has shown players a complete gameplay, excellent optimization, and quite exquisite art details, so that many players who are new to the game, it is difficult to even imagine that this is a domestic independent game .

On the whole, “Dyson Ball Project” adopts the “factory construction gameplay” similar to “Alien Factory” as its chassis, combining the R&D team’s interpretation of the science fiction theme of “Dyson Ball” and realizing the expansion and innovation of gameplay. Grapefruit Cat game gradually splits the game goals that hardcore science fiction fans can understand into small and medium-sized goals that can be closely connected, so that ordinary players can find their own comfort zone in many gameplays without being affected by the huge simulation management system of the game Persuade.

The friendly interaction between “Dyson Ball Project” and “Alien Factory” and “Happy Factory” on Twitter

Combining the interviews with Mr. Putao and Ye Qianluo, let’s take a look at the secret behind the work of this 5-person independent studio.

“Mecha growth + technology tree” expand factory gameplay

The team members of Yuzi Cat Game are a group of science fiction fans. They conceived a PC stand-alone game combining 3D automated factory/simulation management/space exploration and other elements. The player’s goal in the game is simple: build a “Dyson Ball.”

Dyson Sphere is a hypothetical artificial celestial body proposed by American physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson. He proposed that the limited energy of the earth is not enough to support human development to advanced civilization. An advanced civilization needs the energy of a star (such as the sun), then we can build a spherical structure that can envelop the star and capture all its energy.

Although this idea is unlikely to be realized due to excessive resource consumption, the idea of ​​wrapping stars with huge devices has satisfied many audiences of space opera science fiction themes, and the grapefruit cat game is also one of them.

In order to allow players to build a huge “Dyson Sphere” step by step, the development team gradually dismantled the player’s goal from a single exploration unit to form “mining -> basic construction -> mecha + technology tree upgrade -> automated construction -> Cross-planet resource supply—>Dyson Ball” phased game purpose.

Deconstruction of gameplay released by Yuzicat game

Each game stage can accumulate and integrate new gameplay sections on the basis of the previous stage, forming a game experience different from other stages.

The first stage of the game has a goal similar to a sandbox game: collection & construction.

At the beginning of the game, the player controls a mecha named “Icarus” to collect resources on a small planet of the reduced version of the earth, and builds a “Dyson Ball” that provides energy for the “master brain” of dispatching mechas.

But after all, what the player wants to build is a celestial body with a constant star rating, so digging with bare hands is definitely not enough. In order to improve collection efficiency, players first need to use the collected resources to build automated resource collection buildings at various resource points, and build wind power generation facilities to supply the energy required for collection and transportation.

Of course, efficient resource collection does not stop at a single site. In order to further improve the efficiency of player resource collection, the game introduces the performance growth system of mecha and the technology tree system similar to “Civilization 6”. The two systems are vertical and horizontal respectively, broadening the player’s resource collection gameplay.

On the left is the mecha performance enhancement system, on the right is the technology tree system

Let’s start with the performance of the mecha. There are many upgradeable options for the mecha. The overall design is to improve the efficiency of the player’s personal operation level, and can be roughly classified into three types of sections: resources, exploration, and efficiency.

The unlocking of resource performance allows players to locate planet resources more quickly; the exploration category improves the speed and endurance of the mecha, and after research can improve the mobility of the player to operate the mecha; the efficiency category mainly involves the buildings built by the player. The addition of this part can bring about changes in production line efficiency such as increased resource reserves and increased transportation speed.

Look at the technology tree system of “Dyson Ball Project”. This system is different from the tactical decision of the “Civilization 6” technology tree, but belongs to the horizontal expansion of the player’s production line richness, and forms a time axis similar to the division of production stages.

Some technologies in the early, middle and late stages of the technology tree

For example, after players build discrete resource collection stations in the early stage, they can unlock the “basic logistics system” to build a conveyor belt, and transport materials from each resource station through the conveyor belt to form the prototype of an automated factory; and when the game enters the middle stage , The “Solar Sail Orbital System” can build a “Dyson Cloud” structure to absorb stellar energy, representing the player’s formal entry into the construction process of the “Dyson Sphere”.

Growth system + technology tree system, the two serve the game purpose of players mining resources from different perspectives, and at the same time provide guidance for the current development direction for different game stages.

In the end, the “Dyson Ball Project” constructed a model: the game phased in to reduce the player’s low-efficiency repetitive labor, increase the positive feedback of the diverse construction of the factory, and the two experiences finally converged to the player’s ultimate goal of building a huge “Dyson Ball”.

In fact, the fascinating “factory building” environment is only part of the game. Cross-planetary and interstellar exploration and design is the most interesting part of “Dyson Ball”.

Target upgrade brought by the theme of “Space Opera”

Space exploration has always been a sci-fi game with the theme of the universe and galaxy. It is the key to measuring whether it can rise to the level of “space opera”.

In the field of science fiction works, the subject of “Space Opera” has a lot of fans, and it is also an area where related creators are keen to use their imagination. There have been works such as “Star Wars”, “Macros”, and “Star Trek” in the field of literary film and television, and the well-known Asimov base series also belong to this theme.

Whether the character can shuttle freely in the unknown space is one of the core charms of this type of game. “No Man’s Sky” and “EVE” have a good performance in this regard, and “Star Citizen”, which launched a crowdfunding project in 2012, has obtained nearly 3 million players to participate in crowdfunding and fundraising by digging into the core gameplay. Over 300 million U.S. dollars in development funds.

Similarly, “free shuttle in space” is also the key to “Dyson Ball Project” being able to stand out in the factory-type simulation business game.

The official live broadcast of “Dyson Ball Project”

Players are driven to explore space in the “Dyson Ball Project” in two stages: the expansion of planetary resources and the liberation of space displacement.

In the first stage, after the player has established a large-scale collection factory on the initial planet, they can carry the basic construction resources, leave the initial planet, and go to other planets around the target star to continue the work of resource mining and factory construction.

The construction of factories on these new planets does not start from scratch. Players can build resource transport belts across planets to quickly provide resources for the new planet.

In the second stage, when the player unlocks the curvature flight in the growth performance of the mecha, they can fly to other galaxies that were difficult to reach and light years apart in the past. The game can also establish resource transportation channels between galaxies.

In addition, in order to ensure the diversity of space exploration, the terrain, resources, and ecology of each planet in the game are randomly generated by the system. Stars include neutron stars, white dwarfs, black holes and other celestial bodies of various magnitudes. Planets will also form lava, pure gas, ice, life and other environmental forms according to the distance from the star.

Most of the traditional factory simulation business games integrate discrete resource sites, and finally form a joint whole that gradually expands in scale. To put it simply, it is the process of forming a line and forming a surface. As mentioned above, this is the case with the automated construction process when the player just arrived on the initial planet.

And the space exploration function of “Dyson Ball Project” after this goal is achieved, by liberating the player’s space constraints to let his perspective rise from “planet” to “galaxy”, the entire planet where the automated factory was previously established becomes a point again. . The player thus enters the process of connecting the planet and constructing the new face of “Dyson Ball”.

The addition of space exploration gameplay not only brings progressive goal upgrades for simulation business players, but also has a rich enough planet design to meet the needs of “space opera” fans.

Unlike the optimization and details from the independent game team

In fact, the rich gameplay is on the one hand. What impressed Mr. Grape was the excellent optimization performance of “Dyson Ball Project”.

Sandbox construction games As time goes by, more and more building resources and loading materials in the map will gradually increase the burden on the computer.

In the “Dyson Ball Project”, in the mid to late stage of the planet’s construction, there will be more than a thousand transport aircraft flying, covering the entire planet’s facility operations, and transporting countless cargoes. This is only the resource loading of a single planet. There are also interstellar transport ships outside the planet, the operation of celestial bodies in the galaxy, and the operation of light from stars.

But from the actual performance point of view, in the middle and late stages of the game’s development, players can still run smoothly when walking through many buildings:

The turrets that continuously launch “Dyson Cloud” construction materials into space:

A large number of drones are transporting supplies:

At the same time, the art resources of each building, vegetation, and planet in the game did not reduce the quality. Each building in the game has its own characteristics, and most of them have corresponding special effects:

Vegetation that is not just a simple decoration, the leaves will slightly swing:

Make the stars of the corona details:

Before the game was released, Yuzicat Games shared their game performance optimization ideas on related platforms.

From the first development sharing point of view, the logic of random generation and simulation of galaxies, dynamic generation of planetary terrain, and seamless loading that need to be implemented in the game is almost difficult to achieve by CPU alone.

From the beginning of the project, the production team decided to hand over the heavy calculation work to the GPU with multiple floating-point computing cores to minimize the computational pressure of the game on the CPU and ensure the game’s efficient on-screen rendering capabilities.

Running screenshot of Grape King’s normal workbook

In addition, according to Kat, the main creator of Grapefruit Cat Games, in order to make the game a smooth experience on low-end computers, the production team specially uses 660Ti graphics card computers to develop games. When the game progresses to 100 hours and the middle and late stages of development, it can still ensure smooth operation.

When Gamera Ye Qianluo mentioned his impression of the Yuzicat game team, he said: “I never expected to iterate like this every time they update the art materials, but the most awesome thing is that they put most of their energy on game optimization. They really put themselves in the perspective of the player’s experience while playing games.”

Incredible execution ability

With a new team of 5 people, it only took 1 year and 10 months for the game to go from project approval to launch. Regardless of the world’s number one achievement on the Steam Hot List, the complete multi-dimensional gameplay and excellent optimization technology of “Dyson Ball Project” are amazing enough.

On November 7, 2019, when Ye Qianluo saw the game video of “Dyson Ball Project” for the first time, he felt “It’s so cool! I’m going to post this game.” I remember this clearly because it was his birthday, and he stumbled upon it when he went to the independent game production team on Weibo every day, “This is also a special kind of fate.”

After developing small demos of planets and galaxies at the time, Yuzi Cat Games opened an account of the “Dyson Project Game Production Team” and updated the game videos.

After Ye Qianluo contacted Yuzicat Game by private message, the two parties had a good chat and soon reached a cooperation. Ye Qianluo said that Zhouxun, the producer of Grapefruit Cat Game, was also a practitioner in the game industry before. He recruited 4 like-minded developers and formed a game team with 2 art, 2 programs, and 1 planning. The team is a combination of practitioners and sci-fi enthusiasts. They worked out the overall game development plan in detail at the time of the project.

Because Ye Qianluo himself is a veteran “Alien Factory” player, he will often chat with the development team about the game experience of each version, pull the factory, science fiction players to give suggestions to “Dyson Ball Project”. During the development of the game, some players in “Happy Factory” and “Alien Factory” provided a lot of help in the game to the production team, and this help even continued after the game was launched for other players in the game group. To answer the question.

There are not too many stories about this process. Basically, all the members of the development team burst their livers. Ye Qianluo said frankly: “Their success stems from the vulgar “love”. I even often persuade them to rest. “

Mr. Grape understands that the Grapefruit Cat game has hardly encountered major version changes during the development process, and each step is proceeding in the direction they originally expected.

For example, for the optimization of games, the development team considered the problem of excessive game resources at the beginning of the project, and decided that this is a GPU game at the beginning; and in order to make the universe exploration in the game meet the real situation, it will not be The large celestial bodies brought a lengthy process of exploration. They investigated the literature related to celestial bodies in a short period of time, and used this to fine-tune the proportion and composition of the universe in the game.

“Dyson Ball Project: How to Generate a Universe Model” shared by Yuzi Cat Games

Different from independent game development or commercial game development process, Grapeman discovered that the design of “Dyson Ball Project” realized the dual driving force of “game design” and “self-expression”.

The past game work experience of the production team members allowed them to accumulate enough experience in project management, research and development, and optimization. They almost anticipated most of the key points of game development before the project started. The development process of the game is almost the pipeline method of “development is optimization itself”, so that the game is finally presented to players with a fairly high degree of completion.

At the same time, the Yuzi cat game also has enough in-depth understanding of the theme of “Space Opera”, so that the theme itself provides a blessing effect for the gameplay, and uses the higher-dimensional “Dyson Ball” goal to open the simulated business gameplay to “Planet-Galaxy” “Two floors above and below.

In this little-known team, it is easy to see such characteristics: seriousness and patience, idealism, strong execution, and the ability to solve problems from the perspective of the player.

It can be said that the reason for the “Dyson Ball Project” reaching the top of the hot list can hardly be attributed to luck. The creative method of team ideals and reality is the answer itself.

And next, what they have to do is clear. After the completion of the game factory gameplay and the establishment of the universe ratio, subsequent versions of the game will also add monster systems and richer universe presentations. Of course, at this stage, they give priority to dealing with various problems encountered in the game public beta.

Yuzi Cat Game made a voice call during the interview with Ye Qianluo about the repair of some game bugs. After finishing the voice, he chatted with his colleagues in charge of community operations about how to send the announcement. In the past two days, “Dyson Ball Project” has been frequently updated with small patches, and two small versions were updated within one day.

“BUGs are small problems, but small problems are also problems. The Yuzicat game team and I are both players. We know that the player’s experience will be more important.”

Source: Game Grapes


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