Introducing Skylight


A few days ago I announced Skylight to the world. Skylight will be my third VR game, after Darknet and Tactera. I already wrote a bit about how this project started on Polygon, but I think it would be useful to describe the game in my own words.

In brief: Skylight is a VR turn-based tactics game in which you command a fleet of ships, ranging from hulking capital ships to tiny starfighters. It’s like a giant Star Wars battle if the protagonist were Admiral Ackbar instead of Luke Skywalker. The details:

Gameplay

Skylight is designed to combine chaotic action with thoughtful strategy, and it does so through a simultaneous-turn structure. The game alternates between two phases. First, you issue orders to your ships (where to go, what to attack, when to use special abilities, etc.) while the battle is paused. Your opponent gets to issue orders to their own fleet at the same time. Then, once your master plans are complete, you sit back and watch the fleet follow all those orders for about 15 seconds of real-time fighting. After that, the battle pauses again and gives you a chance to issue new orders.

There are 12 ship types in the game, which are evenly divided among three classes: capital ships, frigates, and fighters. The capital ships are the most important and the most powerful. You only get a few of them in each battle, and the battle ends when a player loses all of their capital ships. That produces one of the game’s common dilemmas: do you send your capital ships forward to fight, or hold back to protect them?

There are other key tactical choices to make. Do you group your ships up to focus your fire on certain enemy ships, or keep them spread out to avoid area-of-effect attacks? Should you try to strike an early knockout blow, or aim to survive a slow battle of attrition? Do you focus on the enemy’s front line, or do you try to sneak bombers through and destroy the enemy capital ships first? You’ll have to answer these kinds of questions as the battle evolves around you.

Presentation

Skylight depicts the battle through a futuristic holographic interface, with glowing miniature ships floating in the bridge of a spaceship. I loved the look of my previous game, Tactera, and players of that game will recognize the similarities.

With that said, there are some key differences too. While Tactera took place on a virtual tabletop with essentially 2D game logic, Skylight’s battles take place in a fully 3D volume. As a result, it makes much greater use of virtual reality than either of my previous games. The extra depth cues of stereoscopic VR are critical to understanding what’s happening in the game visually, and I find it very difficult to play the game on a flat screen (as I sometimes do during development).

On the audio side, the music is a treat. In keeping with the slower, more thoughtful feel of the game, the planning phase of the game features slow, space-y ambient music. However, when the turn is finished and the action starts up, this music transitions into fast-paced Drum & Bass electronica. You can get a sneak peek at the game’s soundtrack here.

Plans

Although the schedule is ambitious (read: crazy), I’m currently planning to release Skylight before the year is out. As with my other games, I’ll be launching on Gear VR only to start, but I aim to bring it to other VR platforms later on. (I suspect it would be great for the Vive or Oculus Touch!)

I haven’t fully decided on the price, but I’m currently thinking about doing something a little different than the straightforward price tag that my other games had. In any case, it definitely won’t be any more expensive than they were.

Skylight has been a blast to work on so far. I’m looking forward to fleshing it out over the next several weeks, and I can’t wait to get it into the hands of real players. Keep an eye out for it!


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