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Working with Weapons & Gravity in Moon Mystery

Cosmoscouts founder Mikołaj Szymanowski explained why the studio doesn't want gravity in Moon Mystery to be too realistic, told us how Interstellar inspired its weapon artists, and shared how the team creates immersive interactions with cutscenes.


Before creating the trailer, we did a lot of research. We knew we wanted to publish it on YouTube and Kickstarter, but also on Steam. Some people might find this surprising, but most people on Steam watch only a few seconds of a trailer. They skip from one scene to another, and if the game interests them, they check the page further. If those few seconds don't capture their attention, they leave the page. Our goal was to create a trailer that consisted only of impressive scenes. We wanted to ensure that no matter when we played it, a beautiful and enticing scene would appear. On the other hand, we had to maintain some coherence and tell a story. Our narrative designer, who has experience with AAA games, wrote the dialogues, the sound designer created all the sounds, and the composer composed a great piece. All of this allowed us to create a trailer that could meet the expectations of people on these three different platforms mentioned earlier.


We have a highly experienced and talented 3D weapon designer who focuses solely on that aspect of our project. We plan to have 9 weapons of various types, along with 75 different weapon attachments such as scopes, suppressors, and more. When creating them, we draw inspiration from real existing weapons but recreate them in a sci-fi style. Since we don't want our project to be "too sci-fi," our weapons are also somewhat realistic. We won't be shooting lasers here. Our main inspiration for the art and setting is the Interstellar movie. It's a sci-fi film, but everything in it is relatively realistic. We are still in the process of internally balancing the weapons, but we also have an incredible community on Discord (over 2,600 people) that provides us with valuable feedback.


This is really challenging. It's not just about the implementation itself, which is still a work in progress for us and will undoubtedly be refined. The most difficult part is definitely deciding how and where our protagonist should interact with different gravities. Let's take the moon, which is the first level of the game. Moving on the moon is really difficult and slow. It's easier to make long, slow jumps than to simply walk, which is why astronauts moved like that in 1969. We tried that approach in Moon Mystery, and it was realistic but not enjoyable. It was slow and somewhat frustrating, so we're trying to find a balance between realistic behavior and gameplay pleasure. In our project, we'll be traveling through wormholes to different planets, which gives us a lot of room to play with gravity.


It's true that the foundation of gameplay is the most important thing. The aforementioned different gravities, along with the skill tree and weapon attachment system, give us diverse gameplay that progressively changes as the story unfolds. Our premise is that you start as a weak astronaut and end the game as a powerful astronaut/soldier. Since shooting will be the core gameplay in Moon Mystery, we're striving to perfect the gunplay. Additionally, there will be plenty of logical puzzles, platforming elements, and vehicles, but those will depend on specific levels. Just like with gunplay, we are currently in the early stages, testing everything internally, but we also rely on our Discord community. We plan to build our game based on feedback from people.


Initially, there were no cutscenes in the project at all. Now, not only do we have cutscenes but we also have animated interactions. In the past when we wanted to create interactions like exchanging batteries in the generator, after changing it, the battery would simply appear there. Now it would be an immersive, animated interaction. This has a tremendous impact on immersion in the game, and thanks to cutscenes, we can tell stories not only through dialogues and letters. Our cutscenes are written and directed by our Narrative Designer, and then our two talented animators create them in Blender. We iterate on them multiple times, and once they're ready, we import the animations into the Unreal Engine and implement them in the appropriate places.


We currently have the demo available, featuring the first level of the game. At the moment, we're simultaneously working on several upcoming levels. Our focus will be on bringing them to their final state. Additionally, we'll be working on balancing the skill tree, gunplay, and various vehicles that players can ride. It turns out that vehicles are prone to bugs. The Moon Rover, which we can drive on the moon, initially had several dozen bugs that were fixed before releasing the demo. We continuously share our progress and will continue to share our development process with the community. We'll be happy to show more progress soon!

Mikołaj Szymanowski, Founder & Game Designer at Cosmoscouts

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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