This Page/Document relates to early game idea's for UFO Explorer 2, which is a follow on project idea from the complete and released original mobile version UFO Explorer


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UFO Explorer II - 3.5D Very Early Concept Video (Unity)

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Basic Back Story

Home solar system (with a sun and 11 planets/moons) is being invaded and occupied by an alien race.
Our home planet (nearest to the sun) is under threat. Aliens have started to occupy our territory on the outer regions of
the system and are slowing encroaching inward.

Our planet is so close to the sun that our race has developed ways to use the constant neutrino emissions given off by
the suns nuclear reactions to power our technology.

Alien machines are vulnerable to direct energy from the sun so construct force fields around each planet/moon they
invade. This force field is generated by a powerful orb placed near the center of each planet/moon.

Because the aliens are vulnerable to energy from our sun their mission is to use a special weapon that will dim the sun
to tolerable levels that the aliens can live under... They plan to deploy and engage this device from our home planet.

After an emergency meeting of the home planets council, a hero has been chosen to stop the threat that is moving closer
and closer to home. Scientists have developed new technology to enable our hero's UFO to penetrate alien force fields.
The mission is to journey to the depths of the planet/moon in search of the shield generator orb located near the center
while avoiding enemy alien machines. One our hero has collected the orb, he must successfully return to the surface and travel onward to the next alien occupied planet/moon.

Opening to the Game

Unbeknownst to our race the Aliens have sent out a probe and deployed onto the home planets moon. The probe is observing activity from our home planet. The aliens have equipped the probe with a teleportation beam weapon. When the beam is fired and it hits a target the target will be teleported to a desired location.

Our hero launches from our planet to great fanfare, and starts his journey toward the outer regions of the system where the aliens have already occupied the first planet (most outer body). As our hero speeds past the home planets moon its suddenly hit by a beam from the surface and is teleported to just outside the solar system... Our hero now has only enough fuel to make it to the first planet. He penetrates the force field and arrives at the surface. But now time has been lost the the aliens have already started to invade the next planet in. So the race to save our system begins. Can our hero deactivate every force field on every planet/moon before the aliens reach our home planet to deploy their sun dimming device.

Main Progression

On each planet, our hero must start from the surface and make their way to near the planets core. Getting down to the core requires 5 runs (level layouts)
Each run our hero's UFO needs to avoid terrain and/or alien machines, and because our hero is so far from the sun his UFO runs our of fuel quite fast. Previous expeditions to the outer planets/moon have build pockets of nuclear energy that the UFO can use to top-up. At the end of each run are landing pads what our race left behind. They act as a resting point and fuel point so our hero's UFO can fully re-charge for the next run.
After 5 runs, the player reaches near to the planets core and must find the force field generator orb, collect and land safely at the pad.
Now the the player has to ascend back to the surface in another 5 runs (speed runs). One landed on the landing pad at the surface, the player will move onto the next planet..etc

Ending to the Game

Assuming the player reaches the very last world (Lithandra), then they will play a last bonus/boss level which will take place in the Alien mother-ship that has arrived in orbit around Helios ready to invade and deploy its star dimming weapon.
The Alien mother-ship will be entirely mechanical in theme/style and the task is to get to the mother ships center to collect its energy core which will disable the mother-ship along with all invading forces that have already started to penetrate our planets orbital defenses.
Once the energy core orb has been collected a count down timer to the mother ships self destruction starts, and the player has to make it out of the ship and to safe distance before the impending explosion.


Game World / Levels

The Hydronium System

This will be the name of a singular star system that contains 7 Planets, and 4 Moons.

00 - Star = Hydronia
01 - Home Planet = Helios - City / Mech (Surface) (Cut Scenes Only)
02 - Home Planet Moon = Lithandra - Grey Rock / Neon Blue/Green
03 - Planet 6 = Beryllino - Volcanic / Rock
04 - Planet 5 = Boropia - Brown Earthy / Rock
05 - Planet 4 = Carbonawx - Dark Rock / No Light
06 - Planet 4 Moon = Nitronix - Dark Rock
07 - Planet 3 = Oxygemin - Under Water / Rock
08 - Planet 2 = Neonodris - Neon Mineral Rock
09 - Planet 2 Moon = Sodiuminia - Grey Rock
10 - Planet 1 = Magnesotta - Ice / Rock
11 - Planet 1 Moon = Alumiqi - Grey Rock

A = Alien Mother-ship level (Similar to a small world but mechanical/tech in theme)
B = Asteroid Field level (Traditional auto side scrolling level)

The only inhabited planet in the system and closest to Hydronia. Helios enjoys a pleasant spot in the system right in the middle of a Goldilocks zone driving its diverse geology and life.
Helios's moon Lithandra is by far the biggest moon in the whole system. A barren dry world with no atmosphere and prominently comprised of rock. Lithandra was mined for many eons for its minerals and metals.
An extremely inhospitable world and Hydonium's most geologically active. Much of its surface strewn with volcanic oceans and flows with a very thick and toxic atmosphere. Beneath the surface there are networks of solidified volcanic rock passages made from volcanic flows and mined by brave Helionians in the hope of acquiring some of Hydronium's most rare minerals.
Boropa is a large world, Hydonium's second largest. Extensively mined for its valuable minerals and metals.
Carbonawx is an unusual, It's a completely dark world because of it's locked orbit with Boropa meaning its constantly riding in Boropa's shadow.
A highly prized world by ancient explorers seeking its valuable minerals.
Another completely dark world, Nitronix is Carbonawx's moon. Compositionally similar to Boropa.
The largest planet in the Hydonium system. It's surface exclusively made up of liquid water. While its center is comprised of a rocky network of flooded passages.
Little is known about this world. Often called "The Emerald Star" because of bright green light that it emanates. Scientists have predicted the presence of bio-luminescence or mineral-luminescence on the surface. Never explored due to its high radiation emissions.
Neondris's moon. A rocky world.
The furthest planet in the Hydonium System with one moon. Magnesotta is an extremely cold. On its surface lays a thick crust of ice, its caves prominently made up of compact ice / rock and mineral deposits.
The furthest most world in the Hydronium System. Magnesotta's moon is a cold and rocky world.



The Life Bar Mechanic

Since the game progresses differently to the mobile version we need some system where the player loose lives and may die before completing the game, meaning they will have to start from the beginning of the game. This is a pretty simple system that is a good solution to this.
The player start off the game with a life bar (separate from fuel)... as player progresses through the game the life bar decreases every-time they crash/die. Special orbs can be collected on the way in order to keep the life bar topped up.
When the life bar reaches 0 its game over, and cut-scene of game end scenario starts. The orbs might be in off route areas, and there might be mega orbs that give a lot of life energy back in hard to reach places.
So for example the player could start the game with a life bar that has 100 to 200 increments, so just like the mobile version the game will be just as hard and people will die a lot, so that number is good to start off with, and of course the player can top-up when they see life orbs on their journey.

Gravitational Strength Mechanic
Each body could have differing gravity strength according to the size/mass of the body.. but in terms of game play the difference could be only very slight, but just enough to notice. Each planet/moon could have value set according to its mass (size). It might take away from the core game play so its just an idea, but it would only be a very slight effect.

Game Modes
Once each world is unlocked, there will be alternate mode so the player has as much re-playable value outside of the main campaign mission, and they can go back to play unlocked worlds but different game modes.

Some examples of game modes could be
(These modes are outside/separate to the main campaign game-play)

- 100 Orbs
World has 100 orbs the player has to find and collect and no Aliens and unlimited fuel. The task here could be to collected them before a timer runs out (NOT RECORDED FOR UFOXNET), or to collect them in the fastest possible time (RECORDED FOR UFOXNET)

- Speed Run Mode:
Simply a mode where you have long routes to follow (with checkpoints you must pass in correct sequence). This mode could be done in 3 ways,
1. a simple timed run that is recorded and can be synced to UFOXNET.
2. same as before but with a ghost ship of your last best run, or downloadable ghost runs from other players.
3. An online race where 2 or more players can race each other at the same time.

Collectibles & Achievements (Outside of core game/missions)
During the main campaign have something that has to be collected to add to a trophy record. These things could be artifacts left over from ancient explorers, or simply an orb of some kind. There will be one of these trophies on each world, they will be in hard to reach places, or off the main route but they have to be possible to collect in terms of route/fuel. Player must land safely after collection of a trophy otherwise it wont count. Collecting these trophies is not required to complete each world or the game itself.

Mini Guide Drone
Instead of arrows on levels, have the UFO deploy a little drone that the flies just head of the UFO showing the correct way. If by any scenario the UFO falls behind the probe to far then the probe will always hover near the right route at the next junction the player will pass. This drone might also be used in the case of very dark levels to illuminate the way forward, or to make a sound or glow in some way if its near or approaching an Alien that is off screen to the player.

Naturally lots more ideas to come as i think of them.




A key feature of the game compared to the original mobile version is each world will have a surface.
If you can remember back I made a quick example of what I mean here:


The levels will be far bigger then this example. So the player will always start each world on the surface then have to make their way deep underground then return to the surface once more.
At the time I came up with the idea I was not sure how this transition between surface and underground would work, especially with a global shader..etc

So I ignored the surface challenge and focused on getting some basic style/aesthetic working for an example of one world's underground area.

Started in max, just working some crude things out out this whole 2.5D style will work.

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In Unity now for the first time ever pretty much. Working out some seamless tile meshes for the background terrain, This might only be one example of one style for one of the worlds.

Experiments with Lighting/shadow and some early shader tweaking.
The game will have lots of lighting reacting with the terrain in nice ways.

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First practical test in Unity with early control mechanic and some early post process fx.
The world itself has improved lighting, general shader tweaks, better rock mesh and texturing.
The rock mesh is still only temporary example, as too is the UFO itself and other things.
All these things will be improved in time.

More general improvements, better (more finalized) rock piece (one of a few variations of rock pieces for each world)... and each world will have different looking rock either in mesh or material or both.
Better lighting shading some port process such as glow, blur trail, spoofed volumetric light.
Made some temporary landing pads throughout the bigger test level. Just important to note the levels will be far far bigger / deeper then this example.

And I have finally started to work in how the transition for underground to surface will work. Its still rather crude using temp models for the mountains,..etc and obviously there will be a hole so the ship doesn't fly through the ground plain or whatever. Anyway its all early stuff.

Far far better surface terrain, certainly more finalized. Again its just one style of terrain for one of the worlds, so each world (planet/moon) will have its own unique terrain for the surface.
Ignore the end of mesh off in the distance, and ignore the terrain popping in/out in the foreground.. its just a test piece of terrain. Now the surface really looks like nice vista from an alien world.

Some worlds might have wind, so you might have some post process on top of the surface such as bits of small debris flowing in the wind/storm... there might be other post process effect on other surfaces from other worlds such as lightning, cloud movement, ..etc

Some other shader improvements, and improved ship trail (softer edges , no thin bright line at the edges anymore)


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Moderate Storm effect on the surface using 2 particle emitters, I could probably use one when I understand which parameters do what a bit better. These particles might represent bits of dust and debris so ideally there might be another layer such as cloud/haze movement to emphasize a storm better. The ship ideally should be effected by the wind, as in the this example there would be more drag when moving to the right, and the wind would begin to push the ship if the ship is idling to the left..etc you get the idea.

Added a cylinder of "spoofed" volumetric light to simulate a sun shaft at the entrance to the cave/surface.. its a bit crude and simple for now, but it will be improved along with everything else. And of course eventually there will be a passage/opening at the exits to the caves so the ship wont be flying through any mesh/ground plains

Tweaked the thrusters a bit so their gradient doesn't end in black/dark hue at the tips.. now they go out to blue... I changed this because the dark tips didn't look so good on the surface and if the trail was behind in.

Regarding the trail itself, this might be built into the game mechanic such as if the more the player runs out of fuel the shorter and dimmer the trail gets... something like that.. the trail doesn't have to feature all the time and perhaps there might be some script/code we can use to tell the trail to stop when the ship is on the surface because it doesn't have that same blurred hot neon glow effect I was looking for underground.


Same as before, just added some atmospheric particles for underground. They are static dust particles glinting in the darkness (will be improved) ... Hard to make out in the screenshots since its a subtle effect. (video link below)


As mentioned in a previous post, I have added fast/violent moving clouds with another particle emitter on the surface to improve the storm effect/atmospherics. I have reduced the number of "dark" particles on the surface.. so this storm effect is using 3 emitters to get this effect.
I have set the clouds to run faster without any gravity effecting while the debris/dust is slightly slower and is slightly effected by gravity.
I am using 2 of the original emitters to simulate bright and dark debris/dust. I did this because the dark ones don't show up well behind the terrain and the bright ones don't show up well against the sky.. I know there is a way to do this with one emitter so ideally this effect should use 2 emitter, one for the clouds and one for the debris/dust.

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