Concepting for the Extradimensional Planes!

Hello, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done anything big on the Discourse, so I figured I’d drop another Suggestion post in the meantime. Once Alpha 12 gets a little more reliable, I’ve got some projects in mind I’d like to try out (once I have more free time!).

So, I figured I’d open up with something that’s definitely on the backburner on Radiant’s side at the moment: that of the nature of the Extradimensional Planes. For those that don’t remember, this was one of the stretch goals in the original Kickstarter that was met. However, unlike the different human kingdoms/factions, the Dwarves, and the additional Classes, this is a concept that almost nothing’s been hinted at! What exactly is it??

I figure most people (like myself) immediately think of something like Minecraft’s Nether and the End (as well as numerous mods, such as the Aether) when this comes up. While this would open up some neat playing opportunities, I can’t help but feel it’d just end up being more of the same–building another settlement (or transplanting your first) to a separate world, where you build, explore, and fight. Unless the new plane is entirely different or incredibly unique in its features, I worry it’ll just feel like more biomes in the gameworld, instead of an entirely different dimension, offering new ways to play (and struggle!).

Allow me to use a modified version of the world generation mock-up image from the Kickstarter video:

The Extradimensional Planes Explained

My interpretation of the Extradimensional Planes is thus:

Your settlement realizes a method for planar travel–what mode this is, I leave it open. For the example, I’ve resorted to the typical “Gate” style. When Radiant approaches the issue themselves, for all we know there could be multiple ways to achieve this (ruins, magic, technology, etc.–I’d actually prefer this!)

The planes are essentially microworlds themselves, floating in a void. The player begins on a relatively decent-sized “continent”, giving them a bit of room to settle and gather basic resources. However, they’ll quickly realize there’s not much else going on–they’re stuck on a single plane!

This is where the unique function of the planes comes in: the planes normally phase in and out of existence. Looking at the diagram, the player will commonly find “pocket dimensions” appearing around the void near their starting isle. These can range from empty land chunks to miniature mountains, some of which have enemies or treasures to claim.

How do you get to these Pocket Dimensions across the Planar Void?
This is the tricky part, especially at this development point of the actual game. Early on, the basic way will be to build bridges to cross the spans; some might just be a few voxels, making a “patchwork” of planes to jigsaw together. But more convenient means of travelling elevated distances may be in the works, such as basic tram baskets on ropes or teleportation. I’m a bit hesitant to say just go the “make another portal” route, since it takes away from the challenge and reward reaching these new places could offer. Plus, we’ve got a building system with very limited restrictions as of now (and @Tom’s mentioned previously a desire to keep it like this to some extent for creativity and fun)–why not challenge the player to use it?

But what about the…phasing out…of these dimensions you mentioned?
This is the big challenge behind the idea to give a unique playing style from the normal world–it’s always changing. With their discovery of the Extradimensional Planes, your settlers will quickly learn a way to tell generally how long a dimension will stay in your realm of existence. The player will only have a limited time to explore these dimensions before they disappear again–watch out, because if any of your hearthlings are on them when this happens they’ll be gone too! Essentially, it’s as if the chunk of the world is removed from the game, cleanly destroying any player-made structure and entities in its area/vicinity. Imagine looking at the end of your old bridge, cut straight in half due to the phasing, with nothing left past it but the void…

Over time, you’ll find better ways to tell just how much time is left before the phasing occurs.

But what if you like a particular dimension?
Fear not! Through the power of magic/science/wombats, your settlers can learn the secrets to dimensional stability! Again, I’d like to see numerous feasible ways to achieve this, but let’s say for now it’s a voxel that occurs in the dimension that acts as the “core voxel”: this is the piece of matter that ties the rest of the island to your realm of existence (don’t let it get destroyed!). In order to keep it active, you need to feed it energy in some form or another (magic, mechanical, etc.). The larger the island, the bigger the core and the more energy needed to maintain stability. (Though, if you look hard enough, you might be able to find an incredibly rare device of infinite energy, specifically designed to permanently fuel the core of a dimension…)

Also, the destruction of a core wouldn’t immediately phase the dimension–you’d have a short amount of time to escape to stable planes before the whole thing just *-nothing-*s itself. Just imagine the ending of Super Metroid with Planet Zebes.

The starting plane has a core, but it is within the means for your transport. If this gets lost/destroyed, there goes that planar field altogether! You’ll have to start from scratch in that event, so keep it safe (whatever it is)!

Other important points…

  • As many people have suggested, the possible biomes should vary significantly from the ones we’re used to seeing (though perhaps a few “normal” planes exist). Skilled players might even be able to manipulate it to create a world solely out of certain biomes, and make the world they want.

  • The reason I designed the concept the way I did was to avoid just making another whole world like the overworld. This was both a gameplay/aesthetic choice and a functional one–Imagine what having two worlds trying to generate everything in the current manner! This way, the Extradimensional Planes are more of a “challenge” feature in addition to the normal game, with lots of potential rewards and unique experiences.
    (also, in-game microworlds!)

  • I’m not sure what’s the best option for eventual multiplayer. I’d like to have unique planar fields per “device”, but this could get expensive calculation-wise. It’s definitely a late-development concept!

Anyway, I hope you guys liked the little(?) presentation! I’ve been meaning to bring up the Dimensions more, since it’s something that–to the best of my knowledge–the team isn’t exploring at the moment. let me know what you guys think, or if there’s something you think could be added or expanded to the concept. I’m interested to know what Radiant thinks of the idea!

EDIT: I forgot to mention another obvious perk to the planes in this fashion; unique Titans! Think of the great flying Cthulhu monsters you can find in the warped planar void. Maybe even a living “plane”, a whole world you have to actually fight!

That’s it for now–See you all later!


what if the “core” of your plane had something to do with the cross-plane travel?

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That’s not a bad idea. Maybe the starting island had something done to it, and that’s why it’s both a means of travel and the “core”?