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Survive and build on a hostile alien world in upcoming PS4 sci-fi strategy Aven Colony

A behind the scenes look at the alien menaces that'll threaten your new life across the galaxy

Aven Colony is a non-traditional city-builder. Our goal is to make you feel like the governor of humanity’s first settlement on an alien world, light-years from earth and 500 years in the future, growing a tiny, vulnerable colony on an exotic world into a massive, sprawling sci-fi metropolis.

Along with that, you need to deal with all of the survival challenges that this hostile alien world presents.

On the one hand, we designed Aven Colony to be easy for city-builder fans to pick up and play immediately, and we did an incredible amount of due diligence on the best standards across the city-builder genre. We felt strongly that we wanted to embrace and extend some of the best city-builder genre conventions wherever possible, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

At the same time, Aven Colony has a strong emphasis on survival, and taking place on an alien world that’s often hostile and works very differently from earth. This meant that quite often, traditional genre conventions do not apply – “where we’re going, there are no roads.”

Unlike any other city-builder, Aven Colony lets you collect and activate alien artifacts, pack your colonists into expedition vessels and send them exploring outside the colony, and build plasma turrets and lightning towers and other buildings to protect your colonists from creep spores and plague spores. Your plasma turrets can even shoot the weather, in the form of supercooled hailstones (“shard storms”).

Aven Colony

Time and seasons also poses a challenge on Aven Prime. As the Aven Expedition has landed on a moon around an alien gas giant, the world has a very different day and night cycle from earth, with time divided into “sols” of approximately one earth week.

Each sol is divided into seasons, and the “winter” season (night time) features cold winds, frost and snow, and dramatic lightning strikes that can damage or destroy buildings.It’s possible to counter this by building Lightning Towers that will protect the colony and shuttle the electricity from the strike into any Energy Batteries you may have.

Aven Colony

The traditional city-builder fire mechanic also posed unique challenges. Most city-builders include a mechanic where some buildings occasionally catch fire and will spread across the city of there aren’t enough fire stations to put them out.

Colonies in Aven Colony are constructed with nano-scale carbon-metallic nano-cubes called “nanites,” which aren’t flammable. This, combined with Aven Prime’s low oxygen levels, meant that a traditional fire mechanic wouldn’t work.

As a substitute, we designed an alien fungus called “the creep.” This is an aggressive alien life form that lacks sentience or consciousness. From time to time, creep spores head toward the colony, glom onto your buildings, and spread over the surface. There are several defenses against the creep, including building scrubber drone hubs to remove them using special flying scrubber drones, as well as plasma turrets that can eliminate them before they land.

We began working with concept artist Nate Hallinan to mock up the Creep and quickly arrived at a version that we loved, and the version that ended up in the game ended up being surprisingly true to the concept art.

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If you’re not careful, creep spores will quickly turn all of your colony’s structures into a big, writhing mass of nasty fungus patches and flailing tentacles.

Later in development, we also added a few “Guardians,” such as the hover guardian shown below. These robots were left behind by the species that once lived on Aven Prime, and the player will occasionally encounter them when sending adventurers outside the colony using expedition ships.

Aven Colony

We also wanted colonies to be threatened from underground. In the current version of Aven Prime, the sandworm often appears in desert maps. We designed the sandworm to be very threatening, with huge “teeth” that extend out from the sides of its mouth and an acid attack that can damage the colony’s buildings. Although sandworms rarely do too much damage to a colony, they’re a frequent reminder that we’re not in Kansas anymore.

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Aven Colony will be available on PlayStation 4 spring this year.

13 Comments
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This really does look very interesting. I can’t remember when we last had a good city/colony building game on console, as they’re usually the preserve of PCs only, so I’m glad you decided to port this one. Console style ones always run the risk of devolving into shallow, simplified, freemium mobile ports rather than real in-depth strategic releases, but this looks to have some real substance to it.

I’m definitely going to be hunting out some longer videos of the mechanics in action on the PC release, as there’s only so much you can get from screenshots, a short trailer and descriptions in a game of this scope, but colour me interested, especially if one of my colonists comes back from an exploration with a Xenomorph attached to them.

The range of seasons, survival elements, and different colony threats all suggest some really tough strategic choices. It’s going to be a niche title on PS4, that’s for sure, but it will certainly benefit from literally not having any competition in ...

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This really does look very interesting. I can’t remember when we last had a good city/colony building game on console, as they’re usually the preserve of PCs only, so I’m glad you decided to port this one. Console style ones always run the risk of devolving into shallow, simplified, freemium mobile ports rather than real in-depth strategic releases, but this looks to have some real substance to it.

I’m definitely going to be hunting out some longer videos of the mechanics in action on the PC release, as there’s only so much you can get from screenshots, a short trailer and descriptions in a game of this scope, but colour me interested, especially if one of my colonists comes back from an exploration with a Xenomorph attached to them.

The range of seasons, survival elements, and different colony threats all suggest some really tough strategic choices. It’s going to be a niche title on PS4, that’s for sure, but it will certainly benefit from literally not having any competition in the console market outside of Civ+ on Vita.

I look forward to seeing more of this one.

As an aside, it’s always struck me that this kind of top-down isometric strategy would work pretty well in VR, putting the user as the commander overseeing preparations at the war table, as was attempted in Tethered. Add in the feature of me standing in some futuristic colony directors room, with the play area highlighted on a strategy table in front of me, and you have a great immersive experience that would really enhance the game.

StevenJamesHyde 06 April, 2017 @ 15:05
1.1

“literally not having any competition in the console market”

Cities Skylines on XBone?

@StevenJamesHyde. Sure, I’ll give you that one, but there’s certainly not much competition on PlayStation. I honestly did wish we had more titles along these lines on PS4, but strategy and planning genres are thin on the ground, partly due to the difficulties of creating a workable control scheme that doesn’t use a keyboard and mouse, and partly because people looking for this type of title generally gravitate to PC.

I think a lot more companies would get a pleasant surprise if they found a way to bring deeper, strategic games to PS4 as well. It may only be a small percentage of us console owners that play them, but considering PS4’s massive install base that’s still a good number of users. Personally I’d love to see the likes of Civ 6, and grand 4x strategy games on PS4 as they are few and far between, but there’s a huge unwillingness from developers to port them over.

You should also give Tropico 5 a go if you haven’t, it was part of Plus one month too.

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Ideal candidate for USB mouse support, which is much better for this type of game than moving around with the sticks. Perhaps even keyboard. Or maybe use the DualShock4 touchpad for pointer movement. Will any of these be options?

3

this does look cool but I’m always suspicious of a trailer that doesn’t actually show in game footage of the game

@dieselakita. You can see whole Let’s Plays of the PC Beta on YouTube. What we really need to see, and what will make this game sink or swim is how well they manage to convert the controls and camera for use with a controller.

Given that this has dozens of different menus, overlays, production options, spreadsheets, and information screens, as well as the need to select individual buildings and traverse what will grow into a huge colony, it will be no small task to manage this without mouse and keyboard.

3.2

Take a look around YouTube and Twitch — there have actually been a ton of streams of AvenColony’s PC beta already (though note that they’re mostly several months old, and we’ve been making big improvements in the beta!)

3.3

checked it out looks good will keep an eye on this

Just as long as they DONY make this a KIKSTARTER campaign, then we’ll be waiting literally years n years, I’m still waiting for some games I backed 3years ago , and lost count of how many didn’t make it, but certainly looks cool , I’m down:)

On the one hand, we designed Aven Colony to be easy for city-builder fans to pick up and play immediately, and we did an incredible amount of due diligence on the best standards across the city-builder genre. We felt strongly that we wanted to embrace and extend some of the best city-builder genre conventions wherever possible, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

BarryBallache 20 April, 2017 @ 12:32
6

“Aven Colony will be available on PlayStation 4 spring this year.”

So this is out next month? Or does this line need updating?

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