Developing a first game is a lonely journey.
Knowing that the Tau Station team is currently more than 20 people, it might come across as a surprise to talk about loneliness.
Our dream for Tau Station is to create a world you can explore and escape into, the way that we escaped into books as children. A world that you can picture yourself living in. But with more than two hundred stations to visit and explore, NPCs to talk to, missions to take, careers, combat, trading, politics, and more, how can we translate that onto the screen while also making it accessible to all players? It’s a challenge, but we have a team of very talented people working on it. By following web standards and design best practices, they’re building a user interface (UI) that is both good for gameplay and supports our overall vision for the game.
• Ties all the elements of the game together
• Is easy to use
• Provides you with information when and where you need it
• Contributes to the immersive atmosphere of the game
• Is accessible to all players
• Follows the principle of designing for mobile first
You’re exploring the shipyard of København Station when you bump into Kane, the distraught owner of Citizen Shipbuilders. He’s recently challenged his rival, Chamberlain, to a contest to prove who can build the fastest ship, but now the day of the race has come and he knows he’s going to lose. He doesn’t really care how you do it, but he needs you to get the race called off and will pay you a reward to make it happen.
As you navigate Tau Station, your character will be offered missions. There’s nothing really unusual there; missions are pretty common in MMOs. A non-player character (NPC) has a problem and hires you to solve it. You do the work, get your pay and experience points, and move on. But we see every mission, even the short ones, as a chance for the player to interact with the game world and make meaningful choices through their character.
A mission is a story, and Tau Station is a game built around stories.
Mission Builder is one of the most important components of Tau Station and yet, ironically, it’s one that not a single player will be directly exposed to at any point in time. So what is Mission Builder, and what makes it such a valuable part of Tau Station? It’s the most heavily used content creation tool in the game, used by our narrative designers to create jobs, missions, NPC dialogues, and more. While Mission Builder isn’t quite one-stop shopping for the narrative team, it’s the equivalent of a Swiss Army chainsaw hanging in the team’s toolshed.
Welcome to the first edition of Tau Station: Status Report. We’ll be posting an update every month to share what we’ve recently accomplished and what we’ll be working on next. We appreciate everyone who supports our game and want to be transparent with you about how the development is going. Also, it can’t be denied that knowing we’ll be going public with our progress every few weeks is a great motivator! This is our first post of this kind and it’s going to be a long one, so grab a beverage of your choice, find someplace comfortable to sit, and come along for the ride.
The importance of a good logo really can’t be understated. It’s often the first part of the game you see and it gives a visual impression of what you’ll experience. A good logo can attract you to a game and a bad one can turn you off to it completely. So it’s no surprise that we put a lot of work into designing one for Tau Station. We wanted to get it right, and it was worth the effort because we came up with a logo that we love.
The inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, famously said:
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
We share Sir Berners-Lee’s vision. As we design Tau Station, we’re making sure we meet level AA of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and are developing the game to be playable across a wide range of devices and browsers. We have some passionate developers on the team to help us reach our goal, and one shares their thoughts below.
Every adventure starts somewhere. Your first steps into the stars will take place on Tau Station.
The game’s starting location and namesake, Tau Station, is the capital of the Consortium and one of the safest places in the galaxy. The Catastrophe destroyed many of humanity’s space stations and left the rest in various states of collapse. Tau was one of the rare exceptions, surviving with most of its critical systems intact despite the extensive physical damage that left much of the station in ruins. While many of their Sol System neighbors would spend years struggling back to stability, the survivors on Tau Station climbed out of their pit far faster.
Words are awesome. Given a dictionary and enough time, a good writer can produce stories of limitless scope and grandeur. Dune, Foundation, The Laundry Files, John Carter duking it out with the baddies of Barsoom – we owe all these stories and more to authors spending massive amounts of time stringing words together. Tau Station is a text-based game, so believe me when I say that we like words. But we also like the richness that good art brings to a game, and the way it can give players some insight into the world and plot before they’ve begun to play or even read a single word.
People have been asking about our technology stack, so this post will be a bit “tech heavy.” Further, it will be opinionated tech-heavy. You’ve been warned!
When I started Tau Station, I knew that I was primarily looking for a robust Web framework, a flexible ORM (object-relational mapper), and a strong database. Due to my having been heavily involved in open source for years, only open source products were considered.