Chaotic Planes

Chaotic Planes is a procedurally generated action role playing game modeled after the games from the early to middle 1990s.

Work was started on this game by one of our founders, Alan, in 1988 using the STOS BASIC programming language on an Atari 1040 ST.  The concept and design has expanded in scope since that initial prototype and has gone through a number of renditions.  The major concept for this was procedurally generated areas similar to rogue and other roguelike games.  However, it never got beyond the initial phases due to other interests getting in the way and never having enough time to finish it.  After the failing of the Atari ST platform, the project was shelved.

During his years in college, Alan ran a small mud system named Planeswalkers with the help of many of his friends including David.  While it was never popular outside of the group of people maintaining it, it helped to solidify many of the concepts that would later be a part of the Chaotic Planes game engine.  The mud was never focused on the procedural generation concept, but the story design for the areas that Alan controlled on the mud would make up the core of the universe that Chaotic Planes is set in.

It would be a number of years before Alan picked up the design again and attempted a resurrection of the idea.  In 1998 and 1999, a new design was drawn up and temporarily named ARPG for "automatic role playing game".  This version was the first one that brought together all the ideas that would form the the Chaotic Planes game design.  All the various generators that Chaotic Planes uses to build the world you play in were originally conceived during this time frame.  Upon getting a job at Hasbro Interactive, the project was put on hold by Alan to avoid any conflict of interest issues.  The original design work for this version was lost in various moves that happened over the course of the next few years.

In 2002, Alan and David decided to try to program for the Game Boy Advance.  The project they selected was a simplified version of the ARPG engine that was focused on dungeon raiding.  Similar in concept to a real time roguelike the design was started and the two started to work on the game.  However, scope creep and limitations on the platform would get in the way of making any significant progress at this point.  In 2004, Alan left to work for Electronic Arts and all work on the game stopped again.

In 2006, David and Alan formed StepWood Productions, LLC.  They decided to focus attention on the ARPG concept again and pair it with the story concepts from Planeswalkers.  They decided to brand the game "Chaotic Planes".  At the time, Alan had experience working on the Xbox 360 and Microsoft opened up the platform via the XNA SDK.  This version of the project was the most advanced version and utilized 100% procedural generation.

They realized that the entire ARPG concept was quite a daunting task to tackle, so they started to reduce the scope to a manageable level for the first version.  Unfortunately, they made a critical error in judgement.  To save money, they developed the game over the course of a year on the PC with XNA which didn't cost anything.  When they decided it was time to move it to the Xbox 360 they found that the programming concepts, while fine on the PC, did not transfer to the Xbox 360 well.  Between shader differences and dealing with a horrible version of the garbage collector, 3 months went by to "port" the game to the 360 only to have it remain unplayable.  Losing confidence in the code base, the concept was shelved yet again.

StepWood Productions moved onto other ideas.  After spending a number of years developing the Galactic Usurper concept, David and Alan found that they didn't "like" the game.  It had a number of interesting ideas, but it just didn't feel fun.  The attempts to fix it resulted in a game system that wasn't what they wanted to release.  In 2015, the decision was made to stop coding Galactic Usurper.  At this point, David started his own project and Alan's focus was shifted from game development.

However, you can't keep a concept that has been in development since 1998 down.  In September 2016, Alan got the itch to work on Chaotic Planes again.

The story continues...