Above all else, Outer Colony is designed to be a virtual world. This focus extends from the core of its technical innards to its gameplay features. An entirely custom engine was built to accommodate the simulation’s immense processing requirements. Worlds themselves are procedurally generated in such a way as to simulate geologic and climatological processes. Everything in the world is comprised of volumes of materials from which properties are derived. Ecosystems are modeled to the extent that even plants are true NPCs.
The articles below describe certain aspects of how the simulation work, but the main idea is that OC is built primarily as a modeled world and secondarily as a game. All of the gameplay derives from this central notion, which makes OC a bit more like a software toy than a traditional game. Combat is a prime example of this. You don’t need game-type rules and stats for weapon damage when you can calculate the kinetic energy of a projectile from its mass and velocity, and then approximate its effect on the structures and materials it strikes.
As a kid, one of the first computer games I stumbled across was Will Wright’s SimEarth, and it made me think differently about what software could be. It was a remarkable, ambitious, intricate, fascinating game, and I can’t imagine how it was made to run on the ancient PCs of 1990. Twenty five years later, OC is my take on what a world simulation game can be on modern, consumer hardware.
For details about the simulation itself, these blog posts are a good place to start.
- World Structure: Three Dimensional Space in OC
- Procedural World Generation
- Everything’s Made from Something: Items & Materials in OC
- Fluid Modeling
- Fire Modeling
- Plant Life
- Time, Days, Seasons, and More
- Viewing Detailed Data in OC
- Core Combat Mechanics: Energies, Materials, Body Modeling
- OC’s Specialized Game Engine
- Heredity & Trait Inheritance
- Metrics & Data
- Creatures & Wildlife