A Bounty Of Blood: White Space

Curve Digital have just released the first video of White Space, a procedurally generated bounty hunter game, in which spaceships skim across the surface of colourful planets, evading and fighting in the trenches of alien canyons. The procedural planets will no doubt draw comparisons to No Man’s Sky but my brain went to Captain Blood first. Sure, that was a game mostly about communication, whereas White Space seems to be about hunting and pew-pewing, but the geometry of the jagged terrain has echoes of Blood’s glorious fractals.

Whenever I look at No Man’s Sky, I wonder what I’ll actually be doing minute to minute when I play it. I’m perfectly happy just to fly around but the videos have shooting and I think there are goals and I’d like to know more about what those goals are. White Space has very obvious goals in the form of bounty targets and hunting them will involve exploring planets, pursuing and then engaging with rockets and guns.

There’s no evidence of procedural flora or fauna in the video, but the planets themselves look magnificent. The video demonstrates how changing the colour of the sky can create a whole new atmosphere but it’s the beauty of those skies and the angular desolation of the ground that really sells the aesthetic. Colour me intrigued (it’s similar to fuchsia).

27 Comments

Top comments

  1. onebitbeyond says:

    Hey, there. That's me you can barely hear mumbling in that video above. :)

    Yeah, I think you've actually got it spot on there. I'm really not trying to use procedural techniques to create amazing things to see, rather to create a playground in which to set many amazing things to do. I'm more Spelunky and Binding of Isaac than No Man's Sky. Think of it as a strategic action game, definitely not an exploration game - the environment is a means to an end.

    It's no accident that I've gone for this visually abstract style either, since I'm trying to achieve the opposite effect that the Uncanny Valley has, by going *away* from realism. The less realistic I make the environment, the less people will expect from it. No one's asked why there's no trees, rocks, wild-life; why you can't see other people running around, or whatever. Hazel's (from Hello) talk kind of underlines this really. The extent to which they have to go to create a believable world is amazing, and certainly way beyond my skill, and that's why I'm specifically heading away from it. The goal of their game is nothing like the goal of my game.

    I'm interested in creating a limited space (currently about 40Km square) in which the player can explore the systems the game has to offer, and then to make the systems interesting, varied, complex when considered together. I really just need a compelling space to set all of these things in, one that can be varied enough to provide visual diversity across the course of the game. The systems are the game.

    This is also why I've used the title White Space. It's a term in visual design that describes how the absence of elements is just an important part of an image's composition as the elements themselves - that what's not there is just as important as what is. I'm using it as a kind of design guideline to keep myself in check and focus only on what's essential.
  1. tumbleworld says:

    Captain Blood was a very strange game. I still kinda miss it, even though I was always hopeless at it. Death by Virtual Parkinson’s is a horrid way to go.

    This looks rather lovely. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops.

  2. Stevostin says:

    At a point he says “very diverse”. Well, actually it’s not. It lacks a heap of diversity. The idea rather seem about good look’n’feel rather than boldness in the procedural engine or gameplay. Which is OK, but as far as exploring new world goes, this one doesn’t really seem a contender to anything.

    • Caiman says:

      I think he was just giving an example of how simple palette and effects changes can alter the look of a planet in interesting ways, but I think it’s safe to assume a lot more variation is likely with continued development, especially as they’ve mostly been concentrating to date on the feel of the flight and combat.

      • Stevostin says:

        Again, there is nothing wrong with that angle. It flies smooth, colors are indeed very well put no matter what they are. Skies are great. Each things handled is handled well, which is commandable. But when you go for the procedural those days some games really seem to provide a pleasure in diversity and exploration and this drives the expectation. This is not what we have here yet. I am just suggesting to deal with expectations. Either it’s “procedural” as in roguelike, create a new playground every time, or it’s procedural as in exploration of brave new world, something a lot of “space” games have their eyes set upon those days. It can even be both but for now it seems we’re more into an action game that is happy being just that.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I think procedural is hard to do well. The issue with algorithmic content is that humans are great at seeing patterns, so you can easily get jaded by yet another Perlin-noise-generated heightfield once your eye has spotted the pattern. I still think we’re at the point where humans have to at least direct most of the content, and use procedural generation as largely a controlled design tool rather than rely on it for infinite content. No Man’s Sky is going to be very interesting from that point of view, and even it ultimately fails as an experience it’s a bold experiment (incidentally, here’s a talk from this weekend by one of the designers: link to youtube.com)

        • gwathdring says:

          Procedural just means it uses procedural rather than personal-touch generation of various elements of the game.

          I don’t understand why you would say that a game shouldn’t make reference to a term with growing awareness–procedural generation–that is completely accurate and that applies to a wide variety of games simply because the game isn’t about exploration. That seems willfully obtuse to me. Your point about it not being very diverse is fine but you’re taking that some weird places in your second post.

  3. Kefren says:

    I loved the atmosphere in Captain Blood. This also reminds me a bit of Terminal Velocity (early 3D PC shooter).

    • Perjoss says:

      I’ve always thought that Captain Blood was way ahead of its time, mostly because of its design, atmosphere and strange alien feeling as I had no idea what i was doing in that game, but for some reason I could not stop ‘playing’ it.

      • Kefren says:

        Same here. I never got far, and switched to randomly teleporting, on the hopes that I’d find a clue or a clone. I never did.Just endless empty planets. I would watch them rotate serenely, then land, wondering it if would be one of the planets with such sharp spikes that the fractals broke up into chaos. Then it drew in the rock. And I was alone again. I would take off, watching the rotation, wondering where life was. Should I blow the planet up? No. Time to go somewhere else instead, with my loyal Oorx.

    • MrThingy says:

      The intro music was great as well. A version of Jean Michelle Jarre’s track zoolook, I think?

      Got the shock of my young life when playing and one of aliens at the end of the trench was basically a very well rendered lady with ample boobs. Oh those heady 8 bit thrills….

      • Kefren says:

        This alien? link to mobygames.com
        And this amazingly atmospheric tune: link to youtube.com
        Perfect for exploring lonely space.

      • Kefren says:

        (Fifth attempt, it keeps saying I have entered duplicate comments…)
        The alien in question is this one, I think: link to tinyurl.com

      • Kefren says:

        And this is the amazingly atmospheric tune. It was perfect for exploring lonely space. The chord change at 0:44 is my favourite bit.
        link to tinyurl.com

        • MrThingy says:

          Wierd, the ST version is slightly different and more in sync (though alas crappier reproduction).
          link to youtube.com

          Despite being a thoroughly inferior sequel, Commander Blood had some lovely music.

      • onebitbeyond says:

        Hey, there. That’s me you can barely hear mumbling in that video above. :)

        Yeah, I think you’ve actually got it spot on there. I’m really not trying to use procedural techniques to create amazing things to see, rather to create a playground in which to set many amazing things to do. I’m more Spelunky and Binding of Isaac than No Man’s Sky. Think of it as a strategic action game, definitely not an exploration game – the environment is a means to an end.

        It’s no accident that I’ve gone for this visually abstract style either, since I’m trying to achieve the opposite effect that the Uncanny Valley has, by going *away* from realism. The less realistic I make the environment, the less people will expect from it. No one’s asked why there’s no trees, rocks, wild-life; why you can’t see other people running around, or whatever. Hazel’s (from Hello) talk kind of underlines this really. The extent to which they have to go to create a believable world is amazing, and certainly way beyond my skill, and that’s why I’m specifically heading away from it. The goal of their game is nothing like the goal of my game.

        I’m interested in creating a limited space (currently about 40Km square) in which the player can explore the systems the game has to offer, and then to make the systems interesting, varied, complex when considered together. I really just need a compelling space to set all of these things in, one that can be varied enough to provide visual diversity across the course of the game. The systems are the game.

        This is also why I’ve used the title White Space. It’s a term in visual design that describes how the absence of elements is just an important part of an image’s composition as the elements themselves – that what’s not there is just as important as what is. I’m using it as a kind of design guideline to keep myself in check and focus only on what’s essential.

    • Muzman says:

      Hey someone else remembers Terminal Velocity.
      This game actually reminds me of Terminal Velocity multiplayer. It’d probably bore the arse off anyone nowadays but it was kinda interesting chasing each other around a small planet.

  4. Rolento says:

    Did anyone ever complete Captain Blood? The furthest I got, was finding one clone. Flying down ravines, insulting aliens and then nuking planets – now that was fun:)

  5. GallonOfAlan says:

    It reminds me of Rescue On Fractalus and Koronis Rift.

  6. Alice O'Connor says:

    I dig the idea of them aiming to keep combat close to the ground, ducking through canyons and behind hoodoos to dodge missiles.

  7. Monkey says:

    Well i thought of Inferno by Digital Image Design

  8. Rizlar says:

    This looks amazing! Great name too.

  9. Ex Lion Tamer says:

    FINALLY.

    I remember RPS covering this one when it was first announced; good to see it still lives. Excited to get my hands on it eventually.

  10. Shardz says:

    Yup, this reminds me of Terminal Velocity, too. With some more complexity added, this could be great. And where is my Enemy Starfighter?!?!

  11. TaxonMaxon says:

    2015 is going to be the year for these kinds of games. There are already a few NMS-like games on Steam Early access. I’m excited for the genre to grow and mature in this coming year.

  12. SuicideKing says:

    I really like this game! Always wanted to dodge around terrain Death-Star-trench-run style.