Transcendence Game Design

What is Transcendence?

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Transcendence is a single-player, realtime game of space combat and adventure. You pilot a small starship, fighting enemies, looting wrecks, and trading with friendly stations. Your ship can be enhanced with new weapons, shields, and useful devices. The game is played in 2D top-down perspective with your ship in the center and with combat mechanics reminiscent of Star Control. The goal of the game is to reach the Galactic Core by traveling from star system to star system along a chain of stargates. In version 1.1, the game only goes as far as the edge of Human Space, but subsequent versions will continue the adventure into the rest of the galaxy.

Transcendence draws immense inspiration from Nethack and is sometimes considered a roguelike (at least by Wikipedia). For example, most star systems are randomly generated, with planets, asteroids, stations, items, friends, and enemy distributed algorithmically. Some items (such as barrels of armor paste) are randomly named, so the player does not necessarily know their effect when used.

Much of the game involves improving the capabilities of your ship. In a sense, your ship is your avatar: you upgrade it the way you might level up a character in an RPG. Armor and shield generators protect your ship from attack; weapons deal damage to enemies; the ship's reactor provides power by consuming fuel; and myriad devices and items help you in your quest.

The game contains a large set of items with complex interactions between them. For example, some items can be used to enhance other items; some can be used to place static defenses around stations; some can even be activated to become robotic followers (known as autons).

Aquila and CenturionsTranscendence is set four centuries in the future, when humans have explored and colonized much of the surrounding star systems by following a network of stargates created by the Ancient Races of the galaxy. A hyperintelligence known as Domina summons you to meet her at the Galactic Core for an unknown purpose, and you must travel through dangerous star systems to reach her. Along the way, you encounters the full diversity of Human Space, meeting everything from common pirates, to slaver empires, to inscrutable alien races.

Transcendence was designed and created by George Moromisato. The first public version (0.7) was released in November 2003; version 1.0, which completes the storyline set in Human Space, was released in March 2010.

The game was written in C++ using Microsoft Visual Studio. The Transcendence engine is scripted with XML description files and TransLISP, a custom LISP dialect designed for the game. Graphics are mostly sprite-based, using trueSpace 3D software to render models. Additional graphics (including explosions and the galaxy image) were created using Luminous (also created for the game).

Transcendence runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. A Linux port is currently under development by Benn Bollay.

See Also

About George Moromisato

George Moromisato is an American game designer and programmer. He was born in 1965 in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States in 1976. George was one of the founders of Genetic Anomalies and the creator of TranscendenceAnacreon and Chron X. He is currently the sole proprietor of Kronosaur Productions, LLC., a game studio devoted to creating deep and engaging games. He lives in California with his wife and their Schnauzer, Helo.

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