A crossover between a city builder and a card game, set in a visually stunning Steampunk universe where smart urban development is key to building a new sanctuary for humanity under the searing sun.
Goals & specifications
When developing Helios, the team defined three design goals. First, the core mantra was that it should be easy to learn but hard to master. That meant linking buildings and environment in a way that creates an organically increasing difficulty curve. Secondly, Helios should be a visual delight that spurs players to create a giant piece of art floating in the sky. Lastly, the game should be highly motivating by evoking a strong flow state through a tight feedback loop, where players always know their goal and the tools that enable them to succeed.
|Input||Mouse + keyboard|
|No. of players||Single player|
|Commercial release||No (free download)|
|Team size||6 developers|
|Development time||8 weeks|
|Project type||Student project|
Planning: Defining and evaluating the project scope.
Administration: Managing the product backlog using Trello.
Leadership: Setting sprint goals with the team.
Communication: Moderating Scrum meetings.
Presentation: Presenting milestones to the jury (stakeholders).
Guarding: Keeping the original vision throughout development.
Organizing: Finding an external voice actor and a recording studio.
Testing: Conducting a two-month public early access.
Analyzing: Evaluating metrics and handling player feedback.
Marketing: Managing social media pages and building a community.
City building for all
Traditionally, city builders are highly complex games that take a long time to understand. Helios introduces the genre to new audiences through a marriage of card game aesthetics with the accessibility of a puzzle. Upon starting their journey, players are offered a simple choice of two thematic decks. Once a decision has been taken, the buildings contained fly into the inventory and are ready to be placed. That’s it!
At the heart of Helios lies its dependency system. It causes each building to exist in relation to other buildings and the environment surrounding it. In practice, this means placing a winery next to a pond makes sense, whereas putting a factory in the center of an exclusive residential district doesn’t. Players must react to changes smartly and make good use of the limited space the islands offer in order to maximize their score and keep on colonizing.
A new age of discovery
Of course, colonizing the skies does not end with a single island. Helios is an endless game that allows players that master their craft to expand their reach by discovering new islands and growing their empire even further. For added sophistication, they can choose three of their favorite buildings to transfer and start off anew with an advantage - if chosen wisely, that is.
The main protagonists of Helios are the flying islands carrying beautiful steampunk cities on their back. That’s why we’ve doubled down on details to ensure that the world feels coherent and well thought through. Buildings follow a clear color code that reflects both their function as well as their social affiliation. Tiny little details like billboards or painted murals encourage players to have a closer look and take pride in what they’ve built.
When putting players in a deep flow state, having music that supports concentration is essential. That’s why we partnered with professional electronic artist Phrantic, who loves making video game music in his spare time. His miraculous piano compositions go hand in hand with the aesthetic visuals of the game. All of these dreamy soundscapes are available for download as part of the free Helios OST.