Over the past few weeks we've been working hard on a new-and-improved game shell. This is a big task because Legacy of the Elder Star is structured differently than typical arcade shmups: instead of a simple linear sequence of a half-dozen or so levels culminating in a credits sequence and a high-score table, we have a wide variety of quests across multiple storylines which you can tackle in any order, plus customizable character builds, a crafting system, and more.
The basic shell progression is sort of a mash-up of Destiny and Monster Hunter. Like Destiny, you're always orbiting a planet:
By default, this is the location of the last quest you played. We've got some nice animations going on here: the planet rotates and is multi-layered, background stars twinkle, and there's a subtle camera drift.
Our quests work like Monster Hunter in that you select a quest, then prepare, then depart. As soon as you pick a quest that takes place somewhere other than where you are, we play an animated warp sequence, and then you're in orbit around the new location while you make your preparations. It helps create a sense of place and makes things a little more interesting and thematic than just a bog-standard "menu system".
Our main game features all have an NPC ally associated with them:
These allies are unique characters with quirky personalities who accompany the Cosmonaut on the quest to defend the universe from the Infinite Legion. Each has their own storyline and quest sequence to accompany the main story. They all have nice idle animations too, which adds quite a bit of life.
(By the way, that guy's not actually going to be called "Archivist". We just haven't settled on all our character names yet. We'll properly introduce the Cosmonaut's allies a little later this month.)
There are a lot more features going into the new shell, but the last one I'll point out today is actually part of your equipment selection flow:
When you pick a new weapon, ability, or perk you can access this info screen which explains its mechanics in detail. (Or at least it will once I replace the very-sparse placeholder information in the screenshot.) We've also embedded a tutorial video frame; these will be quick 15- to 30-second clips demonstrating the use of the thing you're looking at. These are totally optional, but I think they'll be a great way to get familiar with some of the more subtle features of your equipment, especially when it comes to thinks like bonus mechanics and high-level scoring.
(Also, I haven't implemented it yet, but very soon we'll see the Cosmonaut in that frame visibly change weapons as you make equipment selections.)
We're working hard to craft a shell that's easy to use, conveys theme, and keeps you immersed in the game world. We've still got a ways to go, but you'll be able to experience it for yourself in all its fully-animated glory at our showcase at Salt Lake Gaming Con in August!