Inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress and SimTower, I envision this as a simulation of a small colony trying to stay alive and prosper in a dangerous environment, such as on a moon, in deep space, or on the ocean floor.
As with Dwarf Fortress and similar games, each resident will be simulated all day long, moving from location to location, performing actions, having thoughts. The player will serve as the subconscious manager of the whole colony. All player actions upon the world will occur through the residents. The residents may at times be directly controlled by the player, but will generally have a partial degree of independence, and at times might be completely uncontrollable. Relatively standard activities will be available, such as mining and harvesting, crafting and construction, researching, training, trading, and defending.
The presentation will be similar to that of SimTower, a cutaway side view of the colony and its structures, much like a traditional ant farm, rather than a top-down or axonometric view common within this genre. This will inevitably limit the space of the world, as full three dimensional arrangements of rooms and passageways will not be possible. To ease layout difficulties, multiple layers will be available, each with a specific role. Currently, the layers are as follows (starting with the layer nearest to the player camera):
- Minor Navigation: Mostly hallways and staircases which enable relatively direct and simple access between nearby rooms, without having to construct paths around all of the miscellaneous rooms.
- Rooms: All of the private rooms, labs, workshops, and other purpose-oriented areas. Major navigational structures will belong in this layer also, such as elevators or subway-like shuttles.
- External: Ships, vehicles, and other elements that the residents might interact with that are outside of the protected structures of the colony.
A simple HTML5 canvas prototype examining the feel of having a hallway layer in front of a room layer, with the mouse wheel fading between them.
It isn't always obvious to people what the fading actually signifies. Adding some perspective to the graphics would probably go a long way to alleviate this problem.