I am Fernando, from Atomic Kaiser studio, the Game Designer behind Astra Exodus. This entry will serve as the first of a series of dev diaries. Our goal is to show & tell you about some of the qualities of the game, design decisions taken for it and many more (hopefully) interesting tidbits of information regarding its development.
In the first dev diary we are going to talk about the main design philosophy behind the game and a bit about its story or lore, highlighted on the game’s campaign.
The game was first designed as a sort of love letter to the classics of the 4X genre, such as Pax Imperia and Masters of Orion, by trying to take the best elements out of those games and extrapolating them in the same direction a game designed in the 90s maybe would have. That means that if you played any of the classics from the 90s you will find many of the systems of Astra Exodus familiar. But of course Astra Exodus introduces many new features, like a large dynamic campaign, semi-randomized research grids, tactical ground battles, and much more!
A feature I’d like to highlight here, before moving on to the story, is real-time tactical space battles. Astra Exodus is not the first game to have them, but normally in other games they either devolve into intense high APM RTS systems or they sacrifice the tactical part. Astra Exodus aims to avoid these pitfalls, mainly thanks to two systems: A) a highly usable time dilation system and B) directional damage to defenses.
All battles start in slow mode, which is almost like a pause, here you can give your orders and speed up the battle only when ready. You can of course do this to your liking, speeding up or slowing down the game as you wish. With directional damage to defenses, position and angle of attack are paramount, as only by hitting unarmoured and unshielded ship sections can you damage the target’s hull and eventually destroy the enemy ship. In combination, these systems guarantee that you’ll have the time to make tactically important choices while in battle.
The story behind the game starts with a mysterious catastrophe on Earth, which forces humanity to embark on a massive exodus to survive. This is of course the reason behind the game’s title. Millenia after this event, the player takes the role of Commander in the Terran Republic, which is a government formed by the descendants of humanity, with the aim of rediscovering their history and most of all, their original home. You will be under the command of Marissa Garibaldi, a tough by-the-book High Admiral on the TRN, who is also an awakened: an Earth-born who was cryogenically preserved until awakened on Terra, millenia later.
I could write for hours on the story and the campaign, but in order not to spoil anything and since there will be another dev diary focused on the story, I will just close this first entry with the introduction to the game’s main campaign:
"They came out of the darkness, to the light of our progress, unstoppable and relentless; they crashed against our bravery. Then only thanks to the Keepers, the Exodus began and through the Great Eye, we found salvation from the Dark Ones.
However the curse followed us, as strife, conflict and fratricide plagued our ancestors, among the cold void. Then in a blink of an eye, lost to the stars, somewhere between the Great Eye and final salvation; our brothers were.
In the end, as our hope was almost extinguished, final salvation was found; when we set foot in what we know call Terra. Such is the tale of the Exodus, of the burning of our home, the tragedy of our brothers and rebirth of our people."
Leopold Garibaldi, First President of the Terran Republic
Extract from Terra's Exodus Legacy Archives
Come back next week, when we’ll be talking about the game’s Artistic Vision.