Deep Space Noir Development Diary 1: History Repeating

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Hint: there is a download link at the bottom of this story

It all started 4 years ago with an Elite: Dangerous cinematic feature. Before it got a second part later the same year, I had this interesting idea — why not do a proper game machinima, combining two of the things I really love — space and noir. At that point I was so pumped, I was planning to do a whole season of miniseries. In the end however, only managed to do episodes one and two.

Two things put spoke in my wheels:

1. I reached the technological limit of all three games I was filming at — Elite: Dangerous, EVE and Star Citizen;
2. Amazon discontinued Ivona TTS and its new incarnation Polly was lacking the protagonist voice.

So much for Deep Space Noir episodes.

Back to present day, or about three months ago, to be precise. It’s the corona madness and I’m struggling real hard to keep my cool with everyone going ballistic in their psychosis. So I went on playing games I’ve been keeping for 10 years in my Steam and never got to play for one reason or another.

And shortly after I finished Gemini Rue and found out it was made by a single chap over the course of 2 years, one of these “hmm” moments occurred and something clicked somewhere deep inside me.

And as it usually happens, one night I just woke up with certain thought in my head. The thought that Deep Space Noir really had something in it and should not go out in vain. Couple of days later decision was made.

Let’s do Deep Space Noir — the adventure game, while the world is going to shit.

Laying down the foundations

There were few paragraphs explaining why I chose Unity along with retrospection of my programming experience, but in the end decided to cut them out and wrap all up in a very simple checklist for everyone to understand.

✔️ Experience with Unity: zero
✔️ C# knowledge: zero
✔️ Industry experience: zero
✔️ 3D software used to create assets: Sketchup

People laugh about Sketchup, but it is actually an amazing and really usable platform when equipped with proper extensions and used for the proper environment work. And while it doesn’t have many of Blender’s amenities and sometimes it’s really complicated to do simplest of things, it has something really important — my 10+ years of experience. And most of all, Unity now has native support for it, which is a huge step forward and a total game changer as compared to my last attempt at game dev 7 years ago.

And so, out of the blue, our zero-experience hero starts the development of complex adventure game.

Wait a second, did you just drop Zenith:Unknown and move on to something completely different?

Not at all. Z:U is still a go and it’s really that close to tangible prototype. I’m just not in the mood to work on it at the moment. Been postponing the diary about miniature painting since November, and frankly it may actually benefit greatly from this focus shift, because there was some stagnation present already and exchanging ideas between the two projects may only do good to both.

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All Z:U miniatures are painted, all it still needs is the board

Being the lazy chap I am, I decided them thousands of hours already spilled into Z:U would help greatly reduce the amount of work that needs to be done for DSN. Especially considering it needs spaceships too…

So I decided to repurpose Z:U ship models for the needs of DSN and make both games part of the same universe that has already been shaped to certain extent.

So DSN and Z:U will be two stories set in the same universe and will most probably share part of the plot.

Both shall share one more distinct feature — the vicious mockery of every human flaw, weakness and frill there is.

Apart from that, Z:U is a game about space survival and DSN remains a game about exiled investigator with crooked past, his AI helper, a femme fatale and a conspiracy plot.

You can say it sounds like a typical sandbox cyberpunk-dystopia-cybernoir-space opera and you might be just right. I’m not trying to make something revolutionary here. I’m just trying to get a game finished and published.

And how is it going?

At the time of writing this story, I have put roughly 220 hours in the “game” or more likely into the proof of concept that may one day turn into a game. I mostly wanted to convince myself it can actually be done on my own and the more time I spend working on it, the more I see it can be done, but I’m too old and experienced to be wildly delusional about the odds and effort it will take to even get close to release.

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Early version of Lokomotiv Universal’s cockpit

The initial idea was that the game will be split into 5 episodes, of which the first two will be launched in the beginning and the rest will be gradually developed over time. But it’s way too early to even try and envision how things will roll. Currently it’s going all right and I’m pretty focused on it, but as we all know, motivation is but a fragile thing and it only takes that much to be broken. I haven’t set deadlines or goals, I’m mostly adding stuff on the go and my attitude towards the project is pretty much the same as it is towards Z:U — a spare time project I don’t expect to make me exorbitantly rich and therefore shall not take over more lucrative projects and with utmost certainty would not become job replacement.

Because let’s be honest here. Everyone is in this for profit. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called an industry. And making biased bold fucking statements or pretending to be fighting for biased bold fucking causes, as it is popular lately, is fucking hypocritical. Jesus fucking Christ, just listen to your own pathetic crap, you pieces of shit!

All right, enough talking, here go the visuals.

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Still frame from the first DSN ASMR build, about one month in
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The same scene about one more month later
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And again, as of current build, roughly one more month later

You said there would be a download link at the bottom?

Sure thing. A word of warning first, though. Since there is only one quality preset — Ultra, integrated and low-end video cards will be decimated and you will get mere 7-10 FPS. Mid-end desktop GPU’s, even old ones, on the other hand shall perform at 60–200 FPS easily.

What’s in it?

This build is split into two parts— experience and ASMR. In experience mode you can explore Zenit/2 with one of the maintenance drones and abuse its laser scanner in particular, which while useless, is pretty cool. In ASMR mode there are 12 preset camera views and no interaction, so you can relax and unwind, while watching the stars and sun move and listening to cosmic ambience. You can use this mode even as a screensaver, if you will.

💾 Download latest build here

How to know which is the latest build? I’ve adopted a pretty clean versioning convention of the XX.YY.ZZZZ type, where XX is actual game state, 00 being proof of concept, 01 pre-alpha, 02 alpha, 03 beta, 05 release candidate and 1 final; YY is completely subjective major milestone indication, the higher the better; ZZZZ is approximation of the total number of hours I have wasted so far. At the time of writing, this translates to build version 00.5.220.

And while on the site, please make sure to follow all Pornstache Productions media and info outlets to keep in touch with latest shots, videos and news.

How to run it?

Open the self-extracting executable (Windows only at this time), unpack in folder of your choosing and run DSN POC.exe.

Please note, your antivirus (Avast in particular) might not like the executable during first run. Just let the bastard perform its 15 second scan upon launch or run a scan before launching and it won’t bother you again.

Yet, if you rather not download executable from sketchy site with shady name, you can either download a verified copy from Indie DB or watch some dev videos on YouTube instead. Either way, I’d be thankful if you like what you see and spread the gossip.

Deep Space Noir
a noir adventure in deep space

Written by

Creator of Zenith:Unknown, Deep Space Noir and a metric shitton of popular media

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