Rock ‘Em Block ‘Em Robots: FPS/RTS Dysis Entices

By Nathan Grayson on November 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Am I the only one who finds those drills - at least, in motion - totally mesmerizing? I think it's something about the bouncing blocks. Or maybe the madness has finally taken me.

We’ve squirted out some brief scrawlings about Dysis using a bottle of katchup before, but it’s now free from Kickstarter’s gladiatorial arena of attention-grabbing and well on its way to completion. You might also notice that it’s voxel-based, but inevitable Minecraft comparisons don’t really apply here. Instead, Dysis is an RTS/FPS mash-up by robots and for robots. Wait, that seems off. Oh, right: it’s about robots and made by a guy who builds robots in real life. There we go. Take a new glimpse at the block-obliterating carnage after the break.

And, if that whet your appetite for both blocks and knowledge, here’s another one that delves more into the basics of building and controlling units.

The driving goal of your building and bashing is to escape the planet of Dysis, so the game’s also about exploration and research. Meanwhile, you can leap into FPS mode with any robot under your command at  any time, so method of control is a matter of personal preference. Further, it’ll launch with a robot editor, so you’ll be able to dream up nightmarish metal wrecking machines of your very own. This bit’s also quite interesting, though for now, it’s only a “future goal”:

“The Dysis engine is voxel based, so it can be used for dynamic manipulation in the game, but can also accept input from external sources – that is, the world can be scanned in from real life. Eventually, I plan on allowing robots to scan in their environments so that they can use the mechanics and simulated physics of Dysis to interact with the real world.”

Ambitious, huh? For now, though, it looks like a solid effort with some very interesting mechanical roots in real life, so I look forward to seeing where it ends up. The current plan is to launch a prototype in December and a beta in March 2013, so game-playingness – as it’s known in the scientific community – will commence soon.

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18 Comments »

  1. Squishpoke says:

    I like the looks of it so far, especially the art style and graphics. Reminds me of my childhood sessions with Lego blocks.

    As for the FPS portion, seems like it wouldn’t come up in regular gameplay much if you are the sole proprietor of the entire army. I’d imagine it would work better if multiple players can play as your subordinates, kind of like in NS2.

  2. Roz says:

    Looks like I won’t be able to RESISTor this.

  3. Harlander says:

    Are you sure that’s voxel-based?

    (All I can see at work is the picture, but it looks pretty polygonny to me)

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Yep. The terrain is “voxel” based. But nothing else seems to be. It’s mincrafty style. Even most voxel based games are not “real” voxels. They tend to be polys set in a voxel like grid. Some are though.

    • Salt says:

      Yeah, as Ben says it’s voxel-based in terms of how the landscape is handled as data, but displayed by a simple polgyonisation technique. Very much like Minecraft.

      It does have the addition of 45 degree angled blocks that help break up the grid pattern, so I suppose technically not quite pure voxels. To me such a pure voxel representation would hold that each block is either filled or not filled, rather than filled; not filled; or housing an angled block.

      Incidentally, putting it on a ring-world rather than spherical is very useful for keeping that voxel data structure. To fit it to a sphere you’d need to have all kinds of messy distorting of the grid, but with a nice simple ring you can just have the terrain loop and it all works out fine.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    So, Minecraft vs Total Annihilation FPS/RTS on an orbital/ringworld? Why did I not see the Kickstarter before it finished.

    EDIT: Oh wait, looks like you can preorder via paypal on the game’s site.

  5. MrLebanon says:

    backed this when i saw it in the katchup, looks promising :)

  6. BoZo says:

    Total Annihilation meets Minecraft meets Battlezone.

  7. BathroomCitizen says:

    Oh lord, this looks lovely!

    Why didn’t I hear before of this? Is RPS posting news while I’m not looking at the screen?
    Preposterous!

  8. MrXswift says:

    Why Robots? The theme looks 0815

  9. LionsPhil says:

    Hmm. It’s cute, but the issue that strikes me is that it doesn’t seem to currently be doing much with it: show me how this makes the RTS gameplay more sophisticated than moving masses of tanks around. Building little fortifications needs to be more than just decorative; it needs to be matched with providing useful cover, and for that cover to matter beyond “blocks line of fire completely for both sides”. (Fortifications which defend your attackers as much as you are not that useful.)

    • KDR_11k says:

      Obviously you want to make your cover just high enough to block the areas below your unit’s gun. As long as bullets have random inaccuracy that automatically works as cover.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, there are many ways to do it, but it’s important that they’re done. For example, for that to work, units have to have gun elevations that will actually fit with the amount you can raise blocks by.

        Reality has lots and lots of fun things to draw from here, from something as simple as firing holes that are easy to shoot through from close-up, and hard to shoot through from far away (IIRC Dwarf Fortress’ carved fortification blocks work this way) to worrying about things like orientation and enfilade.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Well, if you can carry multiple blocks, it looked like it would be very, very easy to build raised fortifications. Any kind of indirect fire would have an obvious advantage, and even lasers would have a better angle of attack. It seemed to me that building things would be limited by the AI difficulty and your own motivation.

      I just hope they plane to add different block types within the same map. It doesn’t have to have caves or whatever like certain other cube games, but a couple layers or randomization of stone would make exploration and digging more fun.

  10. 1DimensionGames says:

    Thanks for the support everyone, it’s very encouraging! Thanks for the great article Nathan!

    I just wanted to make sure people know that (as Gap Gen noticed), donation/pre-orders via PayPal are still open and available on: Dysis.net
    - if you checked out the Kickstarter and noticed the “stretch goals”, then you’ll be glad to hear that all PayPal pledges will be amended and count towards the stretch goal total!

  11. Universal Quitter says:

    I’m just glad I’m not the only one that looked at minecraft and said, “what if this wasn’t a survival or adventure game?”

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