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Video Game / From the Depths

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Aavak: But I'm fairly certain, with the right motivation, and also stupid amounts of tea, I could get the Nautilus into space. From the bottom of the ocean.
EnterElysium: ...

From The Depths is a voxel-based 3D vehicle combat/real-time strategy/simulator made by Brilliant Skies Ltd. It has similarities between other voxel-based custom vehicle games like Robocraft, Space Engineers, and other similar games.

The goal of the game is to design, build, and fight an array of vehicles using the 250+ components provided by the game. Players can build anything from orbital kill sats, cruise missile subs, aircraft carriers, various aircraft, battleships, helicopters, hovering fortresses, and even land-based vehicles. The player not only designs the vehicles, but also the equipment, like the AI for the vehicle note , engines, and weapons it uses. The game provides some prefabricated vehicles and weapons, but it is far more effective for the players to design and build their own weapon systems.

From The Depths uses a physics engine, so players have to take into account not only the constant pull of gravity, but other forces as well, such as drag from water and air against certain surfaces. The vehicle's center of mass and balance also has to be accounted for otherwise players designs may tip or flip over when the engines are turned on. The various blocks not only have various shapes note , but also come with their own unique properties. Other factors like fuel, ammo, buoyancy, and weight matter as well. The players have to tweak their designs to get the best performance possible accounting for the various factors involved.

It currently has five general weapon categories that loosely break down into other weapon types: missiles, CRAM cannons, advanced cannons, lasers, and a melee-type weapon set. All the sets are customizable, and require the player to build them according to what they want the weapons to do.

  • The missile category currently includes torpedoes, bombs, rockets, mines, and depth charges. While the launch mechanisms are relatively simple and compact (making them easy to spam), the missiles themselves are hard to set up and easily intercepted.
  • CRAM cannons are massive mortars which slowly fire slow projectiles capable of dealing massive damage and are effective against deflector shields.
  • Advanced Cannons are more complicated than CRAM cannons, but they make up for this with versatility. railguns, AA cannons, and plain old cannons are all fair game. Like missiles, they require custom ammunition.
  • Lasers include precise beams of continuous or pulsing energy, Particle Cannons that become more inaccurate at long range but use multiple damage types note , and laser defenses to destroy those pesky missiles.
  • Melee weapons include rams, smashing arms and even grinders and drills.

It also currently offers four game modes for players to choose from.

  • The first is the sandbox/build mode which allows players to design, build, and test their vehicles in a controlled environment with infinite resources. This allows the players to endlessly tweak their designs or create new ones from scratch. They can also pit them against any of the game's factions under AI control, or even design their own opponents. The designs made in this mode can be blueprinted for later use in the other two modes.
  • The second mode is story mode. Story mode is currently a limited set of missions designed to challenge the player. The game mode limits players to a certain amount of resources, and often requires that at least one vehicle contain a heartstone block. The heartstone block keeps the player's character alive, so if your ship gets too badly damaged it runs out of energy and the player slowly dies off. The missions are usually built around certain factions in the game. You also have limited resources, so creations made in Sandbox mode cannot be built outside of the limited resource pool provided for in each mission.
  • The third mode is adventure mode. The players get a starter ship and some resources, and they must navigate the world searching for warp zones and portals that change the difficulty while fighting enemies. The main difference from Campaign is that you are heavily encouraged to build only one ship that you constantly improve as you go through higher difficulty zones.
  • The last mode is the Campaign mode, where the player is competing against eight factions for control of the world called Neter note . Players are put into a conquest-style map on top of a resource zone as their starting point. The themed AI factions occupy various other locations on the world map and the player can choose who to take on and with what units. The player's forces must conquer territories and resource nodes, allowing them to expand their influence and build increasingly more complex and powerful vehicles. The general goal of the campaign mode is to eliminate all the competition. This mode also limits players' resources by how much they can gather from various resource points. The more points the player harvests from, the more quickly the various resource stores are built up. Similar to Story mode, even if a player has a mighty ship design, they can't build it if they are lacking in any of the core resources.

The game can be bought through Steam or Games Rocket. It has two general communities split between the main website and Steam, with the developers and experienced players more active on the original website.

The website for the game can be found here.

From The Depths provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Advanced Cannons have noticeably lower muzzle velocity than real cannons of the same specifications to prevent cannons from becoming nigh-hitscan high explosive death-lobbers like they are in real life. A purpose-built munition can achieve stupendous speeds, but must have little in the way of payload in order to do so.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: A few AI faction airships, such as the Deepwater Guard's Barracuda, are accompanied by sub-vehicles. Players can construct some of their own.
  • Anachronism Stew: Square-masted galleons slinging black powder cannons coexist with jet aircraft lobbing guided missiles and airborne battleships raining death lasers. A player that focuses more on capturing enemy vessels than building their own can command all of the above at once.
  • A Commander Is You: Inverted note ; while the player can use whatever they want, the enemy factions fit into rough categories. A key aspect of Campaign mode is learning how to counter the other factions' strategies.
  • A.I. Breaker: The AI has few options for dealing with orbital weaponry. While some factions have anti-orbital weapon platforms, they are rare until you encounter the Tier 3 factions like the Scarlet Dawn. Until then, a laser platform 1 kilometer up can handily defeat any enemy fleet.
  • Armored Coffins: A number of smaller ships and medium aircraft used by the AI enemies require the player to be sealed into the cockpit—if they even have a cockpit.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI's default collision avoidance settings often leaves much to be desired often colliding with each other mid air or the players vehicles as they fly around. Damaged craft can behave even more erratically as the AI fights to control the craft.
    • The Deepwater Guard Barracuda, an Airborne Aircraft Carrier, carries up to 10 fighters, and those that launch later from the back of the ship will often either plow into the carrier's engines or the other fighters.
    • Watercraft can move across land - at a greatly reduced rate - when pulled out of play. If given a target on the other side of a mountain range, they will scale the mountain if it's faster than following the coast. Of course, if they try to engage the enemy while still over land, they will spawn in a hundred meters in the air, then fall and smash into the ground, typically blowing up their ammo in the process.
    • Submarines will not avoid the sea floor unless specifically wired to do so, and ships are only capable of picking up the water depth directly beneath them, meaning that fast attack ships will often inadvertently launch themselves up onto beaches and broadsiders can clip undersea crests and tip over.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Despite the cartoonish voxel-based graphics, From The Depths is a hardcore simulator, modeling (simplified) fluid drag effects, projectile ballistics, radar cross-sections, and so on; the only game with Design-It-Yourself Equipment that surpasses its complexity is the ultra-hardcore space combat simulator Children of a Dead Earth.
  • Attack Drone: Most factions have unmanned ships or planes to bolster their numbers or harass their enemies.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: CRAM cannons. Though lobbing shells of breathtakingly wholesome forms of direct damage, these have incredibly low muzzle velocity, making it obsolete against any vessel capable of swift dodging. On top of that, all of their components are relatively expensive, making the installation of a decent array rather economically inviable for anything but capital ships of proportional investment.
  • Boarding Party: The player can leave their own ship and board the enemies' vessel. Enemy ships can be captured or destroyed from within by the player at the risk of being hit by weapon fire from their own side, or slow depletion of health resulting from being away from a heartstone too long in Story mode. A number of AI ships carry crew of sentry robots explicitly to fight off invaders.
  • Beam Spam:
    • Just like other weapon systems, more is often seen as better, and there are several designs that use massive laser fire in offense or defense.
    • The LAMS or Laser Anti-Missile System uses multiple emitter nodes to protect a ship from missile threats; the more emitters across a hull the more area the system can cover and the more targets it can engage at once. Several high end faction vehicles use LAMS Beam Spam to defeat guided missiles fired at them.
  • The Battle Star: The Deepwater Guard Barracuda is a flying battleship that launches its own fighters. They also have the Falkenheim, a zeppelin that carries a pair of fighter planes. Of course, the player can build their own.
  • BFG: Advanced Cannons can fire truly massive shells, up to 0.5 x 8.0 meters. In comparison, the largest combat weapon ever made—the Schwerer Gustav—-fired 0.8 by 4 meter shells, and was so large that it could only be mounted on a massive purpose-built railroad car.
    • CRAM Cannons are able to fire shells up to 2 meters in diameter.
  • Charged Attack: Railgun-assisted Advanced Cannons can be fired at any time, but the railgun is more effective when its batteries are fully charged; more chargers per batteries will increase the charge rate, at the cost of significant engine power drain when charging.
    • CRAM cannon shells get more powerful the more time they are spent loaded, but diminishing returns set in almost immediately.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: While it is possible to control things from your starting base, forward operating bases are a must for long-range campaigns.
  • Crew of One: You are the only "person" on your side, the rest are integrated A.I.s.
    • Player-crewed vehicles can be driven by only one AI, or crewed by just the player. However, this is extremely disadvantageous, as redundant systems are much safer/better at keeping systems online.
    • Several of the AI faction ships are run by exactly one AI unit.
  • Critical Existence Failure: While player-controlled ships are generally capable of fighting until they've been reduced to flotsam, there's a few conditions that will cause AI enemy ships to automatically be destroyed. Losing all AI modules, dropping below 40% health, and dropping below 80% health while sinking will cause the game to destroy the ship if it is not rectified in under ten seconds. Below 80% health and sinking has been the death of many submarines, which are by the game's definition 'sinking' 100% of the time, and many subs are still completely functional with 80% health.
  • Deflector Shields: Rather than the typical all-encompassing bubble shields, ships use planar shields with customized size and angles. They can reflect or deflect incoming missiles and cannon fire, though have no effect on missiles and ramming attacks and drain significant engine power when large and at high effective resistance. Of note is that an improperly set up shield array can make incoming damage worse, by creating ricochet traps that funnel incoming fire into one point.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Pretty much everything can be configured or designed by the player. Beyond the basics of building a hull block-by-block, one can custom build cannons using different types of barrels, swap out modules on missiles and lasers, tweak engine configurations for efficiency and power, adjust the AI behavior, and so on.
  • Destructible Projectiles: Missiles and CRAM cannon shells can be destroyed by the Anti-Missile Laser systems, missile interceptors, and even explosions caused by other weapons.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Scarlet Dawn is what's left over from an alien invasion; weakened from centuries of cryosleep while traveling to Neter, they were totally unprepared for Neter's extreme weather. To make matters worse, the factory ships they sent down to the surface went rogue, forming the Twin Guard that allied itself to the governing body of Neter.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Need a ship but don't have time or resources to build one? Board a semi-functional enemy ship, shoot out the A.I.s, and put in an AI of your own! Be careful; your units will keep firing until you get your AI in, and if you destroy the AI but don't install your own fast enough, the ship will be destroyed.
  • Epic Ship-on-Ship Action: The players and AI will engage in intense naval battles with missiles, shells, torpedoes, and other weapons zipping around the battlefield, with everything from mighty battleships to micro vessel designs maneuvering past and around each other.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Hull-mounted weapons can be made far more powerful and durable than turrets, but are restricted to a maximum of 45 degrees of traverse. The Onyx Watch Catapult carries nothing but a BFG CRAM Cannon fixed to the hull. The Deepwater Guard Marauder likewise uses a hull mounted BFG, but isn't completely defenseless from the sides, mounting a dozen simple broadside cannons.
  • Fog of War: Campaign Mode features this, although you can build fixed or mobile radar antennae to reveal the map.
  • Gameplay Automation: Manually controlling an entire fleet's subweapons is near-impossible; after all, you can only be in one place at any time. As a result, ships can install AIs that handle fire control and movement automatically. Just be careful of Artificial Stupidity.
  • Gatling Good: Advanced Cannons can have up to six barrels from a single firing piece. A 18mm six barreled cannon can fire well above seven thousand rounds per minute, inflicting pitiful damage per shot.
  • Hitscan: Lasers instantly hit, as they move at the speed of light. Particle Cannons fire projectiles at a significant portion of lightspeed and are likewise hitscan. Players have reported bugs causing Advanced Cannons to fire at several orders of magnitude greater than the speed of light.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Along with other vehicle types, subs frequently fight each other with any of the assorted weapons. Their torpedoes are also one of the few methods of easily knocking out enemy ships that contain Laser Anti-Missile Systems.
  • Homing Projectile: The various guided munitions will home in according to the parameters set by their components, aiming AI, and guidance systems.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: There are both player and faction AI ships that spam a lot of missiles at their enemies, and it is one of the more popular options for long-range combat or for fighting tough enemies. Exaggerated by small-gauge missile pods, which launch four missiles at a time and quadruple the number of missiles in a barrage at the expense of damage. They are easily countered by a good missile defense system, however.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Advanced Cannons can be augmented via railgun magnets, which are charged up using engine power. Railgun-assisted weapons synergize with armor-piercing ammunition, as the rails can greatly increase their kinetic energy by ramping up their velocity. Ammunition can take the form of hybrid gunpowder-magnetic launch or pure magnetic launch. Pure magnetic weaponry can have more powerful loads and has very short barrel cooldown time, but depend on the railgun getting charged back up before firing.
  • Midair Collision: A not-uncommon occurrence during dogfights, as a damaged craft can suddenly turn into an opponent unexpectedly, often resulting in something exploding. With a physics engine that reacts to a craft's shape, thrust, and drag in relation to its center of mass, this is not an uncommon occurrence for dogfighting aircraft. Usually it is caused by the damaged craft suddenly losing control and veering into another craft.
  • Military Mashup Machine: A common element in both AI faction and player designs is to build a vessel that can do a couple jobs at once. Common examples include ships that can build, dock, and repair certain vehicles as well as serving as a frontline combat vehicle. Other examples include aircraft that are both boats and aircraft and other player-derived designs.
  • Misguided Missile: Typically happens by accident when a player forgets to include "Identify Friend or Foe" components in self-guided missiles.
  • Mobile Factory: A number of larger vehicles and many of the forts are mobile factories able to build and repair your forces. The Twin Guards specialize in this, with many of their fortresses and craft containing sub-vehicle assemblers.
  • More Dakka:
    • A popular option with both players and certain faction designs is a rapid-fire cannon that can rain down a lot of weak shells.
    • Another possibility is to simply have a massive number of high-gauge cannons that all fire at once. The Onyx Watch's sailing ships take this up to eleven with broadsides carrying up to three decks of guns, each with 9 to 11 guns.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: Enemy AI craft in battles have infinite spare parts, allowing them to repair continuously so long as they have repair bots.
  • Ocean Punk: The default setting is a water planet called Neter inhabited by eight seafaring nations (and the player).
  • Point Defenseless: Deepwater Guard ships have a designed weakness against missiles, as only their top-tier units mount any kind of anti-missile system.
  • Player-Guided Missile: The player can control the laser designator for laser-guided missiles, affording some control to the player with targeting specific parts of an enemy ship.
  • Ramming Always Works: White Flayer ships are always equipped with battering rams, and many like the Flayed Soul have giant grinders on them. They are not terribly effective versus large ships, but will utterly wreck anything smaller than them.
  • Religion of Evil: The White Flayers board enemy ships and, as their name implies, flay anyone they find there. The priests are especially bad: they stay away from danger, let the followers do the dirty work, and keep all the spoils from piracy. Their followers are quite devout, happy to self-harm and risk their lives for the gods, but this is a result of manipulation by the priests.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Shooting out any vehicles' ammo barrels or fuel tanks causes a small localized explosion that damages the blocks around it, and deprives the ship of its precious fuel stores, possibly disabling the vehicle and/or weapon systems.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Repair tentacles can repair other allied craft with astonishing speed, but cannot repair the craft they are mounted on. To defeat an enemy boat being repaired by repair tentacles, one must either use massive firepower or simply blast apart the support craft. The Twin Guard fields attack helicopters that carry around their own little repair tentacle drones, making them especially annoying to kill.
  • Space Friction: Despite there being no oxygen beyond 1000 meters elevation and gravity being nil at the same altitude, spacecraft are still subject to 'air' resistance; a sleek craft will have a much higher top speed than a flying brick.
  • Spectacular Spinning:
    • Railgun magnets will spin around the barrel of Advanced Cannons which makes their AP shots more powerful.
    • White Flayer ships often having spinning rams even in places where they are effectively unusable.
    • Deepwater Guard ships are often based on paddleboats.
    • CRAM cannon barrels spin when they reload.
  • Stone Wall: Onyx Watch ships mount the most physical armor of all factions and typically have large banks of repair bots. However, their firepower is usually far less than their endurance, particularly on their small craft which mount only a couple piddly cannons, and even the larger craft's multiple cannons can be defeated by a few reflective Deflector Shields. Twin Guard craft typically have less armor and less firepower than the Onyx Watch, but many of their craft are capable of repairing each other and are almost always equipped with Deflector Shields, greatly increasing their effective health versus ballistics.
  • Subsystem Damage: Every part of a craft can be damaged. Blast the engine and it'll lose power, killing the propulsion. Destroy the optics on a laser and it'll become less accurate. Sniping the Cockpit can kill players in multiplayer. Gently touch the ammo cache(s) and it'll go out with a boom, taking out anything near it. Clip the wings of a fighter and it'll spin out of control. Breach the hull of a boat below the waterline and it will start to sink. Or simply peck away at the hull of a boat and it'll become slower as you ruin its smooth outline and increase its drag.
  • Super-Persistent Missile: Some of the missile designs can make multiple attack passes at a missed target depending on their construction and fuel reserves. They will even try to dive into the ocean or reach into orbit after a target.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: Almost every faction has a variety of land vehicles in addition to their naval and air fleets. You're unlikely to see them unless you go onshore or fly over land, but enemy landlubbers are far from helpless.
  • Technology Porn: The game revels in engineering. It's particularly noticeable on Advanced Cannons, where every part of the projectile from the primer to the bullet can be customized and the ammo can be seen feeding into the cannons. Firing the cannon will create a visible pressure wave proportional to the velocity and gauge, and create steam and smoke rising from the barrel.
  • Turbine Blender: The player is immune to being crushed by turbines, but aircraft and boats aren't. The Deepwater Guard Coffin Nail has massive internal and external rotors that can rip a plane in half with negligible damage. Many White Flayer craft exploit this, with turbines, spiked rollers, and hammers to crush enemy vehicles into dust.
  • Worker Unit: While any vehicle can process resources, construct/repair other vehicles, and transport resources, the enemy factions usually have at least one ship dedicated to those purposes. Some of them are armed as well.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Campaign mode features resource deposits that can be extracted and refined from offshore rigs.
    • Before version 1.9587, there were five types of raw resources: Natural (used to make wood and stone blocks), Metal (used in metal blocks, light alloy blocks, and ammunition), Scrap (used for light alloy blocks, weapons, and repairs), Oil (used for fuel), and Crystal (used to make A.I.s and other advanced systems).
    • Version 1.9587 unified them into a single "Materials" resource that is used for everything, although the old resource-specific blocks are available for decoration.
    • Refining Resources: Materials can be refined into processed resources like ammunition and fuel. Unlike raw resources, processed resources can be made on-the-go, making tankers and tenders helpful in long-range campaigns.