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Shadow
05-04-2011, 01:32 PM
Ok, it seems people have narrowed down on the main setting at least so I'm going to unofficially announce what we are working. Let me get the disclaimer out of the way first. The project is still really early. Pretty much nothing is set in stone yet, so anything I say now might change at a later date (even the main setting). Sometimes things sound better on paper than they do when you play them and sometimes you just have better ideas later on. In other words, take all of this with a grain of salt and don't think of these as promises, think of them as our current direction of exploration.

Really quick summary
--------------------
MOO from a mercenary captain's point of view.

Short Summary
-------------
The galaxy is a rough but exciting place. The major races are all scouting, colonizing, expanding, and trying to take over the galaxy through diplomacy, technology, and even war when necessary (or when they feel like it).

As a mercenary it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget.

It's your job to pick the winning side, maybe even help them conquer the galaxy if you're being nice, but most importantly make as much money as possible and build the coolest and deadliest ship in the known universe.

Overview
--------
In each game you start in a random galaxy with several races. Each race's goal is to conquer the galaxy, the problem is the other races are in the way. This is the plot of many strategy games like Master of Orion or Civilization (well Civ is planet bound).

These races expand their territory by scouting out and colonizing suitable planets. They build up their planets with more and better buildings that enhance their economy. They go to war and attack enemy races to hurt them or take their planets. They do much of this by building fleets of starships. They also research new and better technology to build better buildings and ships.

You aren't in control of any of this, directly at least. You are a mercenary in this very dynamic galaxy. Your job is really to survive and make a good living in the meantime. You can pick the side that you feel is right and help them conquer the galaxy for its own good. You can pick the side that you think is going to win and go along for the ride. You can even try to play the races against each other and simply try to pick the winning side at the last second.

You might just be a small mercenary ship but you have a lot of influence in the direction of the galaxy. You can scout out suitable planets to be colonized. You can attack and destroy defenses. You can find and possibly even steal technology to give to the race of your choice. You can even find items and arm whoever you want, including yourself.

At the very beginning you start with a small escort ship, but every so many levels you can upgrade to a larger ship like a frigate, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, all of the way up to a flagship.

That's kind of a high level goal view. From a moment to moment view, the game will be like Din's Curse but in space with your character being a spaceship. Still basically an action RPG. You explore the galaxy, solve quests for whichever race you want, battle enemies, find lots of loot, and outfit your ship with lots of items (instead of armor and weapons it's ship components).


That's basically the direction we are taking at the moment. If you have any comments, ideas, or similar games you think we should play, please tell us.

ebarstad
05-04-2011, 01:42 PM
Sounds awesome. I recommend looking at Space Rangers 2, if you haven't already.

Aganazer
05-04-2011, 02:06 PM
Wow! There must be some kind of sci-fi virus spreading amongst indie game developers right now and its infected Steven.

This guy has the bug: http://fractalsoftworks.com/
So does this guy: http://spacepiratesandzombies.com/
Yet another infected: http://code.google.com/p/naev/

I guess my comment about it being Depths of the Ur Quan (http://sc2.sourceforge.net/) isn't far off the mark.

Plus with a new Egosoft X-Rebirth (http://www.egosoft.com/news/current_en.php) game having just been announced, this is going to be a great year!

Brian Rubin
05-04-2011, 02:13 PM
Wow! There must be some kind of sci-fi virus spreading amongst indie game developers right now and its infected Steven.

This guy has the bug: http://fractalsoftworks.com/
So does this guy: http://spacepiratesandzombies.com/
Yet another infected: http://code.google.com/p/naev/

I guess my comment about it being Depths of the Ur Quan (http://sc2.sourceforge.net/) isn't far off the mark.

Plus with a new Egosoft X-Rebirth (http://www.egosoft.com/news/current_en.php) game having just been announced, this is going to be a great year!
Don't knock it. Space games are well overdue for a resurgence.

FloodSpectre
05-04-2011, 02:19 PM
Sounds pretty cool, I'm looking forward to it. What perspective are you thinking of? Top down real-time, first person flight/space-sim, etc? I'm more of a top-down fan myself...

Another game you might want to check out is Escape Velocity Nova (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/games/evn/). I logged so much time playing this one. It didn't really have emergent gameplay like your games, but it had solid combat, travel, upgrade and trade systems, plus generally good (sometimes excellent) writing.

Castruccio
05-04-2011, 02:23 PM
This sounds really great. Is the combat going to be real time like DC or turnbased like MOO?

As for games you should look at, I second the Space Rangers 2 suggestion, and I also recommend AI War. There is no better AI in any video game (AAA or otherwise), and AI War is an indie space game. The way Arcen have programmed the AI is very innovative and clever, and you might benefit from playing the game and taking a look at the deep Wiki page they have made. The behavior of the AI is really uncanny and dynamic in AI War. Also, Gratuitous Space Battles (another indie) might give you a feel for how to go about determining how equipment should work in a slace game. The whole point of GSB is to equip and upgrade your ships in various ways (although you don't directly control them in battles).

Thanks for the update!

goodgimp
05-04-2011, 02:23 PM
Is this going to be MP like Dins Curse?

Valgor
05-04-2011, 02:50 PM
This was the only logical step the evolution of Soldak's games could have taken at this point : Depths of Peril meets Din's Curse... IN SPAAACE!

Where do I sign up?

Bluddy
05-04-2011, 02:50 PM
I think as all of these references to other games show, it's going to be hard for Soldak to differentiate its game in this genre. DC and DoP took elements that were completely unknown in the ARPG genre and merged them in. These same elements aren't entirely new in the space genre though. Even Privateer had some basic mission generation. And I think Space Rangers 1 and 2 have a real conlict taking place around you in the galaxy.

I also think that even though the current idea is to use ARPG mechanics for the space battles, inevitably they'll have to have some flavor of spaceship navigation, and it'll end up very similar to the other games listed above in terms of navigation.

I think in order to differentiate the game, one thing that can be done is to combine a real ARPG side like boarding ships, investigating planets etc with spaceship battles. I don't think anyone has done that before and it could work. You'd then upgrade your ship and your character separately.

Delilah Rehm
05-04-2011, 03:03 PM
I keep saying, "I wanna trade... I wanna trade... Let me get rich from trading..."

And he keeps saying, "That looks like what all the space games do. I want to do something different."

Then I say, "Well, as long as I can trade..."

Shadow
05-04-2011, 03:05 PM
There must be some kind of sci-fi virus spreading amongst indie game developers right now and its infected Steven.

At least for us it would be a coincidence. I didn't notice so many upcoming space games until we decided to do a space game. :)

What perspective are you thinking of? Top down real-time, first person flight/space-sim, etc? I'm more of a top-down fan myself...

Probably something similar to our other games, but we'll see.

Is the combat going to be real time like DC or turnbased like MOO?

Real time

Is this going to be MP like Dins Curse?

The current plan is to have co-op multiplayer like DC.

SharpCarlos
05-04-2011, 03:12 PM
I love the idea that I'll be playing an action RPG... while the AI is playing a strategy game all around me (that I can influence). It really is a logical evolution of the dynamic game concept.

I'd preorder now if I could.

Aganazer
05-04-2011, 03:14 PM
I think as all of these references to other games show, it's going to be hard for Soldak to differentiate its game in this genre.

I see what you're saying. The ARPG genre was very stagnant and Soldak was the only company making any effort to innovate. All of those games I listed are trying very hard to innovate as were SR2, Weird Worlds, GSB, and SC2.

BUT, I am not going to jump the gun here until I hear more about Steven's ideas. I would assume he has been down this thought path and has a very cunning plan forming in his head already. :cool:

And yeah, I wanna trade to. And mine. And build. And smuggle narcotics. But I'll be open to anything Steven has in mind. :)

getter77
05-04-2011, 03:15 PM
Well, might as well mention these two here as well then----the former often gets mentioned as an old war horse of sorts, the latter almost never despite being rather similar, yet different, and still a long running project. To this day, I've never been able to find out how one might have influenced the other, or even really any proper commentary examining the pair for good or ill...

http://www.neurohack.com/transcendence/index.html Transcendence Free

http://www.lostinflatspace.com/ Lost in Flatspace II: Rise of the Scarrid Only available on Impulse last I checked, as that was where I bought my copy many months ago.

Soldak's biting off a big thing here, but I honestly think a distillation of the good from the above games and Space Rangers II, plus some unique Soldak sensibilities added into the mix, should result in a rather high quality game that the sci-fi folk should respond favorably to.

Manumitted
05-04-2011, 03:26 PM
I think in order to differentiate the game, one thing that can be done is to combine a real ARPG side like boarding ships, investigating planets etc with spaceship battles. I don't think anyone has done that before and it could work. You'd then upgrade your ship and your character separately.

Au contraire. See Universe 2. Actually, don't. The mainframe-esque interface is painful. The first two Universe games were so cool, but the interfaces were bad even by early 80s standards.

I never got Universe 1 working, and U2 had such ugly graphics on the IBM port, combined with the overly modal interface, that I didn't last long. It'd be great to have an updated Universe, even if I had to fight in realtime instead of turn-based. Please to be skipping the original $100 price, though.

Bluddy
05-04-2011, 03:52 PM
Au contraire. See Universe 2. Actually, don't. The mainframe-esque interface is painful. The first two Universe games were so cool, but the interfaces were bad even by early 80s standards.

I never got Universe 1 working, and U2 had such ugly graphics on the IBM port, combined with the overly modal interface, that I didn't last long. It'd be great to have an updated Universe, even if I had to fight in realtime instead of turn-based. Please to be skipping the original $100 price, though.

Never ever heard of those game, and I've heard of quite a few games. :) If that's the last game that did this, I think we're safe.

Fleshing it out some more, I think that the game could go more in the direction of Star Trek than Star Wars. ie. Large ships having laser beams and torpedoes used mostly for disabling the enemy. The main attack would take place by boarding. You could have a covenant aka your team of hired guns. Imagine meeting an unidentified ship. Could be an enemy, could be a really good abandoned treasure. Turns out it was pirates, and you fell into their trap. They invade your ship. You have to fight them to the bottom level, then use the teleporter to get to their ship levels and continue fighting until you defeat them. Perhaps you'll even convince their boss to surrender and join you.

Bluddy
05-04-2011, 03:59 PM
Soldak's biting off a big thing here, but I honestly think a distillation of the good from the above games and Space Rangers II, plus some unique Soldak sensibilities added into the mix, should result in a rather high quality game that the sci-fi folk should respond favorably to.

Yeah well, just recreating the good parts of Space Rangers II is a monumental effort. Space Rangers II was not created by a ~1 man team. It's considered one of the best, most dynamic games ever. That's what Soldak is up against.

gornova
05-04-2011, 04:06 PM
NICE NEWS! :D

And like many other have played Portal 2: "I'm in SPAAAAACE " :D

First question: a big step, are you sure? Three fantasy games seem to be ok to try something different? Cool!

Tip: put interesting characters in! Not all npc must be scripted but at least important one :D

Delilah Rehm
05-04-2011, 04:46 PM
I'm thinking about doing a lot of game writing since I was happiest writing for Depths of Peril.

udm
05-04-2011, 05:36 PM
Really quick summary
--------------------
MOO from a mercenary captain's point of view.

Hey Steven, there's a bug on your website. Apparently there's no "Super Early Preorder" button.

Bluddy
05-04-2011, 05:58 PM
I'm thinking about doing a lot of game writing since I was happiest writing for Depths of Peril.

Looking forward. I really enjoyed the stories in DoP. Too bad you didn't write any more for DC -- I would have loved to read about the plight of the humans.

I still can't figure out which kingdom DC took place in. If they worshiped Din they should have been Krieg, but then why weren't they awesome fighters?

abomination5
05-04-2011, 05:58 PM
One of my favorite games of all time is Space Rangers 2, which sounds quite similar to what you are going for.

It would be nice if our characters could persist between galaxies as they do now between towns in DC.

getter77
05-04-2011, 07:04 PM
Yeah well, just recreating the good parts of Space Rangers II is a monumental effort. Space Rangers II was not created by a ~1 man team. It's considered one of the best, most dynamic games ever. That's what Soldak is up against.

Well, the way I figure it they can perhaps not deal with the RTS and text adventure parts---so that's something right there. Besides, it isn't so much recreation as it would be understanding the spirit of what the SR II team was getting at, then applying that notion forward.

Though, I hope they add in some nice "shmup" segments to throw people for a loop that might only be expecting the usual Racing/Arena Tournament fare as a change of pace. ;)

ALSO: Space Monsters Please~

Delilah Rehm
05-04-2011, 07:21 PM
Looking forward. I really enjoyed the stories in DoP. Too bad you didn't write any more for DC -- I would have loved to read about the plight of the humans.

I still can't figure out which kingdom DC took place in. If they worshiped Din they should have been Krieg, but then why weren't they awesome fighters?

I think I used town names for all of the human kingdoms. And then made up hundreds more. Lists of names make my brain mushy.

Brian Rubin
05-04-2011, 07:24 PM
I hope it's not too much to ask, but the holy grail of most space games is combining space and planetary operations. Games that did this well, IMHO, are games like Starflight, Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic Volume 1, Starfleet 2 and others.

If some even simplistic dual-nature system, in which you can land on a planet and in a rover on or foot, harvest resources, fight monsters, find ruins, trade and so on, be accomplished even in a simplistic manner (planets surfaces are like large, one-level procedurally-generated dungeon levels, for example) that would make this game even that much more amazing.

I also think if the random quest/mission system is as at least as varied as that in Din's Curse, it would be that much better. I do love to do some trade, but I mostly love missions in games like this, from ferrying passengers and mining ore to spy and assassination missions, and everything in-between.

I'm a space game nut, have played most of 'em for the PC since the mid 80's, so I'll likely have more ideas, if you don't mind. :)

Bluddy
05-05-2011, 05:26 AM
I hope it's not too much to ask, but the holy grail of most space games is combining space and planetary operations. Games that did this well, IMHO, are games like Starflight, Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic Volume 1, Starfleet 2 and others.

If some even simplistic dual-nature system, in which you can land on a planet and in a rover on or foot, harvest resources, fight monsters, find ruins, trade and so on, be accomplished even in a simplistic manner (planets surfaces are like large, one-level procedurally-generated dungeon levels, for example) that would make this game even that much more amazing.

I also think if the random quest/mission system is as at least as varied as that in Din's Curse, it would be that much better. I do love to do some trade, but I mostly love missions in games like this, from ferrying passengers and mining ore to spy and assassination missions, and everything in-between.

I'm a space game nut, have played most of 'em for the PC since the mid 80's, so I'll likely have more ideas, if you don't mind. :)

I think the planetary missions should be the focus here. The space portion has been done over and over -- it'll be very hard to innovate there. ARPG planetary missions and making space battles depend on direct invasions of ships on foot -- that would be different! Most space games spend all their development resources on space battles, trading, missions etc. By the time they get to planetary actions, they have almost no ideas for gameplay left, so they make mini-games. Star Control 2 had you move a lander on a tiny map collecting resources. Pirates made up a bunch of silly mini-games. Even Space Rangers 2 had repetitive RTS segments. This is where Soldak could really shine because it HAS the gameplay for those segments.

Imagine the possibilities: the game could keep track of planetary temperature and oxygen levels. Without oxygen, you'd need to upgrade/buy life support and explosive weapons wouldn't explode! Planets would consist of overland maps, perhaps even infinitely expanding maps in some cases. They could have buildings with more maps or dungeons with levels. Some planets could have remains of ancient civilizations. You'd go in the dungeons to get resources to power your ship or artifacts or help your chosen allies, fighting aliens in the process. Some maps could be inside huge aliens a la The Empire Strikes Back. Some you could only survive for so long on because of the harsh conditions, and need to go back to your ship every once in a while. Once in a while you could have a base taken over by aliens, where the only solution is to plant a bomb in the midst of it and destroy it. Some planets would be desolate, and the goal would be purely to survive long enough to collect fuel material for your ship to just get out of there. You never know though when an alien might just jump out at you. The possibilities are mind-boggling. It's like DC's towns, except with many more variables, and every mission takes place in a different one (though you could also have several missions for one planet). The down side is that you have to save every planet you've been to, so the save files will get large. But many games do this.

More random thoughts:

- One issue with making a sci-fi ARPG is that ARPGs depend a lot on melee, whereas the present or future sci-fi setting is dominated by guns having more firepower. All RPGs that aren't medieval have to deal with this issue somehow. ARPGs in particular tend to be too hectic to manage the long-range attacks of guns all the time. One solution is to switch to pausable real-time. Another is even cooler: lightsabers! Lightsaber axes! Lightsaber maces! Guns could have long cooldowns and limited ammo.

- The reason that space battles can't be pure ARPG is that in ARPG fighting, you can move as you please. You can turn to the monster that you want to attack and just bash it. Space battles (or any ship battles) are dominated by turn rates, accelerations and velocities. If you had a ship just walk over to another ship and blast it, that would feel strange and incorrect. But once you limit your movements by turn rates and such, it becomes like all other space combat games that have been done before. This is just inevitable. That's why it's not worth investing too much effort in the space battles. You'd just be retreading what others have already done.

- Mixing 2 types of gameplay, ie. space fighting and on-foot fighting creates another issue -- the mini-game issue. Some players will be better at one type of gameplay and not so good at the other. Also the 2 gameplay types might not be balanced. For example, in the modern version of Pirates! (at least the PSP version), you can both fight ship to ship and invade enemy ships, dueling with the captain (as you could in earlier versions). However, the duel with the captain is easy to win even on the hardest level -- the AI isn't good enough and you can just spam a block, block, attack sequence over and over. That renders the ship fights useless, since you can just head for the enemy ship and duel them. This is why I think space battles should be minimal -- Star Trek style. In general, most ship encounters should lead to ARPG segments. Lasers beams will attack and meet shields, back and forth. There might be an edge to one side, and that will give you the countdown of how long you have to finish your on-foot invasion (or retreat) before you're destroyed. In case your ship is stronger, you could just trade lasers until you blow them up, but then you'd be missing out on any resources/optional quests/people to save/upgrades that you might find if you board their ship. The exception would be when a really weak ship meets a huge hulking destroyer. In this case the weak ship better get outta there ASAP or face being obliterated.

- I think it's worth reconsidering being a mercenary. Most games where you're a mercenary just say "you're a mercenary, now go do what you want." Even in the case of Pirates!, where you were given you an initial allegiance (French/British/Dutch/Spanish), you could then go and do whatever you felt like. The problem is, this doesn't work so well with the event systems from DoP and DC. In DoP, you care about Jorvik. You care about your apothecary getting petrified because she's your source of quests. In DC, your whole goal is to save the town so you care when the bad guys invade. If you didn't care, the game would lose much of its pull.

Making the player into a mercenary gives her no emotional involvement in the events around her. If one source of goods and quests gets killed/destroyed, you can just go to another one on the other side. How much better would it be if you started out with an allegiance to one of the factions? The first few missions, your buddies would be from that faction. They'd babysit you since you're too weak to handle things on your own. You'd form a connection with them. You then have the choice of becoming a freelance mercenary, but that should be a choice with emotional consequences, as it would be in real life. Your previous faction will resent you for abandoning them. Every time you encounter someone from your old faction, they'd ask you how you could have betrayed them. And if you should choose to work for your original side, you'll get the emotional satisfaction of seeing YOUR side winning, or the sadness of seeing them losing. You could do the odd job for another side, but that shouldn't affect your allegiance rating too much.

- Another idea: each faction could sometimes do bad things, like massacring a planet of the other faction who didn't do anything. They'd turn to the dark side. You could accept that your faction did that, or you could get pissed off and go renegade/mercenary/pirate, getting a 'righteousness' rating in the process.

- In general, I think it's really worth taking a look at Pirates!, both the old and the new version. It's very similar to what you're trying to make. The nationalities fight in the background dynamically. If you attack a fort, you can conquer it for your nationality. You can join the other side if they're more successful. It's worth seeing what Sid Meier did right, and what he did wrong, and learning from his mistakes. One thing he did wrong is that it's pretty easy to have all the nationalities like you. You do each a favor and they'll admire you, even if you occasionally destroy a couple of their ships. One thing that's actually pretty cool is that when you dock in a port, you go to the pub and hear about what the dynamic world has been up to while you were at sea. You learn about which country declared war on which other country, which port got sacked by pirates, which port is rich etc. I think this would be a cool thing to copy -- go to space bars to find out what's going on rather than just being informed by the game DC style. The problem with this game mechanic in Pirates! is that you didn't care much about the dynamic world or who was winning. Also the world wasn't dynamic enough -- it's not like you'd get special quests if you paid attention to the news and made use of that info.

Bluddy
05-05-2011, 05:39 AM
I think I used town names for all of the human kingdoms. And then made up hundreds more. Lists of names make my brain mushy.

Yeah it's amazing how something like making up names can be so draining. Rote creative work almost feels like one is abusing one's creative faculties, whose only desire is to get carried away and do something they enjoy.

Castruccio
05-05-2011, 11:37 AM
Another game to check out just to get the feel for topdown realtime space combat: Armada on Dreamcast. If you don't have a Dreamcast, just watch some Armada videos on youtube.

DeathKnight1728
05-05-2011, 11:40 AM
Ive got a question shadow. If this is going to be an action/rpg, that is set in space, how will roleplaying aspects factor in?

Will there be classes, different bonuses?

Aganazer
05-05-2011, 12:42 PM
Steven, have you gotten far enough into the design to answer a few specific questions? Before everyone lets their imaginations get too far off the deep end it would be good to know what might be within the realm of possibility.

Can I assume it will use a 3D engine? (this alone could set it apart from all the Weird World/GSB clones coming out)

Is the galaxy a 2D map or are you going to make it fully 3D?

Is the point of view top down with the player ship centered on the screen?

Will it have physics? (loved the ballistic weapon knockback in SotS)

Will we ever control more than one ship? If so would it be like an autonomous pet or something more directly controlled.

Will the combat pacing be similar to an ARPG or slower to emphasize the size and scope of enormous space ships?

How long would you like a game to last? Would they be one sitting scenarios like Din's Curse?

What kind of win/lose conditions might we expect?

Shadow
05-05-2011, 01:07 PM
From an actual roleplaying standpoint I think it will offer more real roleplaying aspects than DC does because I envision most of the same types of things happening except you also get to choose sides.

I don't think there are going to be classes. I like classes in general, but I haven't thought of anything terribly interesting to do that fits with this particular game.

I am thinking that you will have lots of "attributes" that are likely to be crew related.

It's going to use the DoP/DC engine which is 3D. I'm leaning towards some kind of top down viewpoint.

I'm thinking that the galaxy will be a 2D map. I've never seen a 3D map that didn't just make things unnecessarily more complex.

I'm not sure about physics.

I don't think you will control more than your own ship. Temporary friends or pets, maybe.

I think the combat will be a bit slower than something like DC since we might have things like inertia and turn speeds to deal with and also likely to have more layers of health (shields, armor, internal structure, etc.)

I think how long a game will last will be up to the player. I'm thinking that you will get to choose the galaxy size so they could be fairly quick or fairly epic.

Right now I'm envisioning the win/loss scenario being related to which race(s) you have tied yourself to. If you have aligned yourself with a race and they conquer everyone else, you win. If you have aligned yourself with a race and they are destroyed, you lose.

By aligned I mean they view you as an ally. You would need to do quests for them, give gifts, etc. The problem is doing a quest for one race is likely to piss off the other races.

Aganazer
05-05-2011, 01:48 PM
Thanks Steven!

I like the crew related attributes!

The win/loss mechanic sounds like it might be a bit tricky especially if the player is trying to be more of an opportunist or is trying to play sides against each other.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on species and what makes them different from one another, how they interact, and what points of contention they have with one another.

Jude
05-05-2011, 01:59 PM
I keep saying, "I wanna trade... I wanna trade... Let me get rich from trading..."

And he keeps saying, "That looks like what all the space games do. I want to do something different."

Then I say, "Well, as long as I can trade..."

:cool:

I'd like the option of being a (peaceful) trader, too, like in Escape Velocity Override (although that wasn't the main purpose of the game). But Master of Orion 2 was a great game, so I'll most like like whatever it turns out to be.

Shadow
05-05-2011, 02:32 PM
The win/loss mechanic sounds like it might be a bit tricky especially if the player is trying to be more of an opportunist or is trying to play sides against each other.

I would like that to be a feasible option actually.

Bluddy
05-05-2011, 03:38 PM
Right now I'm envisioning the win/loss scenario being related to which race(s) you have tied yourself to. If you have aligned yourself with a race and they conquer everyone else, you win. If you have aligned yourself with a race and they are destroyed, you lose.

By aligned I mean they view you as an ally. You would need to do quests for them, give gifts, etc. The problem is doing a quest for one race is likely to piss off the other races.

Here's an idea: have the game 'look at' what you've been doing. If you've explored a fair amount of the galaxy already, and you're aligned with a particular faction that's winning, have the game generate an 'epic' ending mission (out of a list of possible missions) that can only be accomplished if that faction is winning. Just as an example, a race of semi-invisible aliens might have as their greatest desire the ability to completely enter this dimension of the universe.

If you're neutral, have the game generate an ending mission that can only be accomplished in that scenario. For example, a neutral mission might require getting the ambassadors of 2 factions to meet and agree to a peace agreement, or to assemble a device out of 2 pieces of technology possessed only by the two factions. They'd only be willing to give you the tech if you're really neutral.

Even better would be to generate a whole bunch of ending missions towards the end of the game (as measured by % of the galaxy explored and character level), each of which can only be accomplished under different conditions and alliances.

Manumitted
05-05-2011, 03:58 PM
Another game to check out just to get the feel for topdown realtime space combat: Armada on Dreamcast. If you don't have a Dreamcast, just watch some Armada videos on youtube.

I've played this game and others like it, and the combat is fast 'n' furious. Maybe too fast. The death rate is pretty high. Having to fight momentum in these "realistic" space combat games makes it mighty hard to dodge attacks, especially with a typical, cheesy Star Control AI that perfectly leads targets and while being shot at by half a dozen ships at once.

I think I prefer the MOO approach of skipping the realistic physics and just letting the relative attributes of guns, shields, and armor determine the outcome. Nobody ever dodged a space attack on Star Trek, either.

Shadow
05-05-2011, 04:13 PM
I'm not sure what our action vs RPG balance will be exactly for this game, but I suspect it will be similar to DC. You can dodge a few projectiles and timed explosions, but your stats will matter quite a bit. Although there probably will be more homing projectiles.

Delilah Rehm
05-05-2011, 04:24 PM
http://andrewhemphill.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/serenity.jpg

Yeah... this game has got me with a little Serenity on the brain. <3 that movie. :)

Aganazer
05-05-2011, 04:24 PM
Some ideas from sci-fi games I've liked.

- The news updates in Master of Orion. It really made you feel in touch with what was going on the galaxy. In Din's I would occasionally miss some of the messages in the log and lose touch with what was going on in the dungeon.

- Each species in Sword of the Stars uses a different drive technology with their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

- The Weird World quests. They were usually hidden scenario objectives with great rewards. Sometimes not so hidden. Ones that come to mind are the space station hidden at the edge of a black hole, the space monster that would eat planets, and the lost sword ship guarded by a ring of defense turrets. They were always rare enough to feel special and rewarding enough to take some risks on.

torikamal
05-05-2011, 06:41 PM
Another idea for endgame scenarios is to have an array of major/minor goals.

Major goals give you 3 points, Minor goals give you 1 point. (you don't literally see the points of course, they are in the background). Maybe you need to get to 10 points to win a game.

So perhaps a major goal would be: Have a race hold you in "Revered" status.
Another major goal could be "Max out your weapon systems"

A minor goal could be: destroyed an enemy general's ship.
Another minor goal could be: Successfully conducted at least 1 trade with all races.

I'm not sure what the point distributions would be, but this way, there is really a lot of flexibility in what an ending condition is. This would also allow the player to feel that each new game is really quite different, because the winning conditions can really be a combination of how the galaxy is set up (as in world modifiers) and how the player chooses to react to and work with those conditions.

I haven't yet given much thought to losing conditions, though.

FloodSpectre
05-05-2011, 06:48 PM
A random thought... I'd like to see hardcore mode make a return, but with a feature not normally available in a fantasy setting: the escape pod/shuttle. You'd need to pay for it and it would be total crap compared to a real ship, but hey, at least you survived (while you've lost your ship and probably most of your crew).

Not sure how well it would work if your "stats" are your crew's abilities though, but it's a thought.

darkpatriot
05-05-2011, 08:21 PM
I thought I would register and give my thoughts on the direction this new game could take since it is still early enough in the design process that nothing is really set in place yet.

I have always liked the idea of a game where you run a mercenary group. I don't think it has ever really been done that well before though. I think the main reason for that is games that have similar concepts have never really done the business simulation aspect of it well. And a mercenary group is a business.

Most games (ARPGs especially) follow the basic trend that you continually get more powerful and that is the reward and progression in the game. I think this style of game has a real potential to change that basic formula around and still be really interesting and fun.

You could have real expenses and income that you have to balance. Expenses could be things like Ship/component maintenance and repairs and upgrade costs, Fuel costs, Crew Wages/other crew expenses, Administrative fees and bribery, and investments that may or may not have returns (trading being one example). Income could be things like fees for jobs taken, Salvage, and returns from investments income.

The dynamic political situation would of course effect the opportunities and risk/reward available. When their are large kinetic shooting wars going on there would be lots of well paying mercenary/privateer work available and your ship would be configured in high expense/high combat effectiveness to take advantage of the high paying dangerous missions available. During more peaceful times you may have to make due with possible trade escort, trading yourself, exploration, or piracy/raiding and your ship would have to be configured to be cost effective for those types of missions.

If the economy were balanced with income and expenses it wouldn't be just about building up the most badass ship and the fattest bank account but instead adapting and/or controlling the situation to what you wanted it to be and being the most cost effective you can be in unpredictable situations.

Now all that doesn't necessarily go with an ARPG design very well but it does go along with the very dynamic political game that seems to be the thing that will drive the situation in the galaxy in this game. Your main progression in the game wouldn't be your ship progressing (although there would be that aspect somewhat). The main progression would be spreading your influence throughout the galaxy. This would be done through doing missions and favors for people/factions, some role playing mechanics could also feed that game system, and of course outright bribery. With your influence you would try to move the political situation to what you wanted it to be (causing wars and keeping them going if you were running a high expense/high combat power ship for example).

It would also allow for more dynamism in the gameplay where you would have more peaks and valleys instead of the inexorable climb to ultimate power. Sometimes things go well by luck or design and you do well and prosper and sometimes things do not and you are forced to make hard decisions to keep yourself out of bankruptcy.

This also relates to the next thing I would like to see which may already have been thought about based on the comment about crew as stats. Crew should basically be your experience. Or to say more accurately there wouldn't be experience for the ship just the collective experience of the crew involved in certain tasks. More experienced engineers cause your ship to generate more power or do field repairs quicker/better. More experienced gunners makes your guns more accurate/more powerful. Other things such as that.

Crew would die in battle and you would have to replace them. So a battle that doesn't go very well could effectively set you back in experience. What race the crew is should also matter. Race could be a little like classes. Certain races would be better/worse at different things. Perhaps they could also help determine what special abilities your ship had. It would make sense to try and minmax the races of your crew assigned to what components of the ship but their would of course be penalties for that as well. Some races wouldn't like each other that well and could have penalties working together or might get along well. These relationships could be at least partially determined by events in the galaxy.

Your main officers (such as your Weapons officer, Head Engineer, Security officer, Navigator) could also be actual characters with stats and bonuses. They could also be dynamic and level up and also have morale and loyalty ratings. In some situations some may try and turn on you and you could have mutiny situations. You could go so far as making the captain himself just another character and in the case of a mutiny succeeding it just replaces who the captain is and you continue playing and must deal with the residual crew morale effects and political fallout from the mutiny.

Crew wages would also have to be paid and in general more experienced crew would have higher costs so in some cases it would be more cost effective to fire older crew and higher cheaper less experienced ones.

I was probably rambling a bit in this post so I'm sorry if it is difficult to read and understand. I also don't know how well any of this fits in with the overall design goals and resources of this game but I know it describes something that I have wanted to see in a game for a while.

Manumitted
05-06-2011, 12:37 AM
I have always liked the idea of a game where you run a mercenary group. I don't think it has ever really been done that well before though. I think the main reason for that is games that have similar concepts have never really done the business simulation aspect of it well. And a mercenary group is a business.

Strike Commander simulated running a mercenary company after its first few missions, but I wasn't good enough at the game to get to that part. Apparently, the management was limited to selecting missions, using the cheapest ordnance that would do the job, and not ejecting from too many airframes.

X-Com had an economy for its pseudo-mercenary gameplay, but it was hopelessly broken, even if the player didn't farm laser cannons.

The Jagged Alliance series has only limited economic elements, being more focused on small-squad combat.

Economics-focused games haven't been seen much since the late 80s. No one seems to miss the Millionaire / Tycoon / Baron line of financial simulations, nor Chris Crawford's efforts in that field (Guns and Butter).

More recently, Recettear has gotten a bunch of sales for an economics-focused game with a painfully consolish interface, but like X-Com, it has an exploit-heavy One True Way to play.

OK, that's enough flossing my knowledge of old games.

Bluddy
05-06-2011, 02:07 AM
Shadow, other than there being multiple factions fighting each other in the background, how do you envision the game experience differing from the other space games mentioned here? For example, other space games randomly generate missions like "go to sector alpha and destroy the enemy forces" or "go to sector zeta and patrol for bogies".

Delilah Rehm
05-06-2011, 09:06 AM
I have to throw it out there: BARBARIANS! Like in Civ 3 (I liked 3 better than 4), but space worthy. That way you never know what you'll run into out in the wild black yonder. :cool:

Shadow
05-06-2011, 10:23 AM
Well for one thing like Delilah said I don't think it's going to be empty space like many games. Right now I plan on most zones starting off with a lot of enemies a little more like fantasy action RPGs.

I don't know about other games but many of our quests when solved will actually impact what is going on in the galaxy. Scouting or colonizing a planet or finding some tech for your race will impact the war.

Also I've never seen a space game have a very interesting loot/item system.

Aganazer
05-06-2011, 10:31 AM
No one seems to miss the Millionaire / Tycoon / Baron line of financial simulations, nor Chris Crawford's efforts in that field (Guns and Butter).

I miss Railroad Tycoon 3, but mostly for the complex manufacturing and flow of goods. Most of the financial simulations are in the games like Anno/Dawn of Discovery and Tropico types of games.

It wouldn't surprise me if we needed to pay the crew in Steven's Space Game, but I'm not expecting any kind of financial simulation.

As a mercenary it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget.


Different topic but I wonder if Steven is going for more of a simulated universe with lots of transport and civilian traffic, or more of a military dominated universe (which would make sense given the hack'n'slash roots).

Aganazer
05-06-2011, 10:39 AM
zones

That's news in and of itself. I guess it makes sense to have things divided into zones.

Shadow
05-06-2011, 04:20 PM
That's news in and of itself. I guess it makes sense to have things divided into zones.

Well I'm calling them zones but technically they will be closer to systems.

torikamal
05-08-2011, 10:38 PM
What are people's thoughts on having a joystick control option?

As far as I can tell, of all Soldak games so far, this feels like it might be the easiest to have the option of joystick control--which would also make it possible to have on consoles.

I wouldn't want game design to be compromised of course just to accommodate consoles, but it is something to at least consider.

Aganazer
05-09-2011, 10:07 AM
What are people's thoughts on having a joystick control option?

As far as I can tell, of all Soldak games so far, this feels like it might be the easiest to have the option of joystick control--which would also make it possible to have on consoles.

I wouldn't want game design to be compromised of course just to accommodate consoles, but it is something to at least consider.

I wouldn't mind support for a console controller, but I can see how it might constrain the design. A hotbar of special abilities like Din's Curse has would be especially difficult and I like my hotbars full of abilities.

Bluddy
05-10-2011, 04:17 AM
I'm having trouble seeing how Soldak's trademark event system is going to make a big difference in the game. If I'm a mercenary, I just look at the quests available and which one looks best. I don't really care about the consequences so much because I have no interests except money and ships. From that perspective, the game ends up being the same as other dynamic space games, except there's stuff happening in the background... but if I don't care about that stuff, then it makes very little difference to me. IMHO the player has to have a stake in the dynamic events to care about them and for them to make any kind of difference.

One options is for the player could choose his allegiance to begin with. Getting rid of this allegiance would be near impossible. You could trade with the other side sometimes/do missions for them, but it'd be very dangerous. Then, you know how in most space games, you're a pilot for the side that's winning and the bad guys slowly invade throughout the game? Well because of the randomness, you could be in this scenario or in the opposite one, where your species is the underdog, being hunted down throughout the galaxy. Or you could have a cold war with the other side(s) and be about even.

But perhaps your goal is not to see your side obliterate the other side -- if that happens, there's no money to be made as a mercenary. The army is involved, and they don't need lone mercenaries. Also, there's no room for lucrative trade. The best deals happen when the war keeps going...

So maybe your goal is to keep the war going for as long as possible, so that there's room for a mercenary/pirate/trader like yourself to benefit. So what you play in the game is... an profiteering agent of destruction! You benefit from war, and you try to cause it wherever possible. Someone may give you a treaty to deliver to the other side. You could deliver it, and the war will end. But it's much more profitable if the treaty never gets there. The worst thing that could happen for business is that one side takes over the entire galaxy. THIS is your stake in the dynamic engine.

The best design would incorporate both these strategies, but I really think it has to be chosen from the outset. If you leave the player to dynamically choose which role he wants to play, then again you're reducing the importance of the dynamic engine. I think there should be a choice of role in the very beginning: do you want to play as one side, trying to get your side to dominate? Or do you want to play the neutral role, whose main desire is to get war going so that you can make your profits?

ColinHeico
05-10-2011, 06:02 PM
I'd like to chime in that I enjoy the multiplayer aspect of your games immensely. Din's curse has provided many hours of enjoyment and this project could be more ambitious still.

If you can make a game that allows me and a buddy to play as a merchant and security, hauling questionable cargo across a hostile galaxy, bribing and fighting to get our way, playing one side against another, and ultimately working together to stay safe and supplied with a tidy profit at the end of the "day" then I will gladly open my wallet to Soldak again.

pnakotus
05-10-2011, 06:23 PM
I'm having trouble seeing how Soldak's trademark event system is going to make a big difference in the game. If I'm a mercenary, I just look at the quests available and which one looks best. I don't really care about the consequences so much because I have no interests except money and ships. From that perspective, the game ends up being the same as other dynamic space games, except there's stuff happening in the background... but if I don't care about that stuff, then it makes very little difference to me. IMHO the player has to have a stake in the dynamic events to care about them and for them to make any kind of difference.

I guess you never thought about where those quests came from, then. The galaxy could concievably be driven from the ground up by a similar system to that used in other Soldak games (although with many more factions, more interaction than 'chop zombies' etc).

I'm very curious about what kind of multi is considered. In existing games all players are on one faction, and against one faction. In a game of this type, players could concievably be on different factions, have different attitudes to different factions, etc. If it's a cruiser officer's take on a MOO game, at very least they'd be some scope for your friends to screw stuff up elsewhere in the game world, but if the players coudl be on different (or flexible) factions, that would result in both direct and indirect conflict.

pnakotus
05-10-2011, 06:26 PM
I wouldn't mind support for a console controller, but I can see how it might constrain the design. A hotbar of special abilities like Din's Curse has would be especially difficult and I like my hotbars full of abilities.

People who don't know what they're talking about probably shouldn't make declarations like 'console controllers are no good for Diablo games'. Sacred 2's console control system was BETTER than the PC version, with more available skillslots. It's not like a spaceship game is going to need three different versions of 'chop man' like a fantasy game, anyway.

Din's Curse (for instance) is very playable with a controller, and throwing in a 'grab area' control (like modern Diablo games) basically removes the only remaining need to actually point at anything beyond healing (which sucks UI-wise in Din's anyway).

Castruccio
05-10-2011, 06:52 PM
People who don't know what they're talking about probably shouldn't make declarations ...


Maybe don't tell people who have a different view of a matter than you do that they don't know what they're talking about. There have been plenty of console ARPG's that play horribly with controllers. Diablo on the original Playstation comes to mind. There have also been ARPG's with great controller support, such as the recent Torchlight port on XBL. It's really a mixed bag.

pnakotus
05-10-2011, 07:04 PM
Did you really just say that Diablo games not working on controller was a 'view' and then demonstrate why it's flat out wrong with examples?

Protip - bad ports have bad controls. Games with UI designed for controllers work fine, Internet ignorance notwithstanding.

If I said most PC UI had so many buttons due to sheer laziness, you better not disagree! A spaceship game likely has little need for lists of chop 1 and chop 2 and health pot anyway, unless it has the complexity and sophistication of EVE - and even then most of it is window dressing anyway.

Castruccio
05-10-2011, 07:39 PM
Did you really just say that Diablo games not working on controller was a 'view' and then demonstrate why it's flat out wrong with examples?


No. That's not what I did.

pnakotus
05-10-2011, 08:30 PM
Thanks for the +1 post, pal!

I'm curious what intended focus for the game is considered. Dop was sp only and DC is coop only, but space games have much more scope for team interaction. Even simple things like players driving motherships, fighters, whatever lets groups interact in more meaningful ways than 'click a bunch'.

It sounds like within the high level framework there's space for colony defense battles, space stations and stuff, which means everyone doesn't have to he stuck in a ship with leveling up pew pews and different art. I wonder if Shadow has decided how space will work? Some games instance (like SPAZ), some compress (like SR2 and EV) and traditional Diablo approach would work.

Shadow
05-11-2011, 09:54 AM
Right now I'm thinking it will be co-op. That might have interesting consequences though since you might not choose the same side.

I'm envisioning space kind of like SR2 where you fly around in systems and do some kind of jump between systems.

Bluddy
05-11-2011, 09:58 AM
I don't know about SR2, but I really like that death is not the end in both DC and DoP. It removes the need to reload continuously. I was wondering if you had any ideas how to do a sci-fi resurrection mechanic. The easy thing would be to have an escape pod that saves the crew, but then you lose the ship.

Aganazer
05-11-2011, 10:00 AM
People who don't know what they're talking about probably shouldn't make declarations like 'console controllers are no good for Diablo games'.

The personal jab was entirely inappropriate. Why did you even put quotes on something I didn't say? I never said controllers are no good for Diablo games. I said "I can see how it might constrain the design". And I tried Sacred 2 with my controller and I didn't like it.

Protip - Don't be a douche.

Shadow
05-11-2011, 10:07 AM
I don't know about SR2, but I really like that death is not the end in both DC and DoP. It removes the need to reload continuously. I was wondering if you had any ideas how to do a sci-fi resurrection mechanic. The easy thing would be to have an escape pod that saves the crew, but then you lose the ship.

I think we are going to do save/exit stuff like DC and death won't be permanent. I'm not sure what the penalty or justification will be though.

I'm sure we will have at least one type of hardcore mode though.


For everyone else, please be polite to each other. We all have different tastes in games which is ultimately a good thing. There isn't any need to argue (discussion is good though) and certainly no good reason to get personal.

Bluddy
05-11-2011, 10:39 AM
I think we are going to do save/exit stuff like DC and death won't be permanent. I'm not sure what the penalty or justification will be though.

I'm sure we will have at least one type of hardcore mode though.


For everyone else, please be polite to each other. We all have different tastes in games which is ultimately a good thing. There isn't any need to argue (discussion is good though) and certainly no good reason to get personal.

OK so here's my idea for a continuation mechanism: since we're dealing with heavy sci-fi, when you die, you could be pulled through time by a mysterious entity, who will then deposit you and your ship nearby, albeit with the loss of experience/some other resource. The first time, you could be transported to meet this 'Time Master' entity.

As a bonus idea, you wouldn't know why this entity is rescuing you, except that there's something important you're going to do for him in the future. Depending on how the game ends, it could be that the Time Master was evil and wanted a race exterminated, or that he wanted peace in the galaxy, or that he wanted a certain tech created that could only have been created due to your efforts etc.

A less 'sentient' and involved resurrection mechanism would involve your ship having weird time anomalies that just happen to restore you to full health if you die, but change something about the reality you're in aka your powerups or resources.

ebarstad
05-11-2011, 11:07 AM
Re resurrection: You could also do something similar to m&b where you get taken prisoner by whomever defeated you and then have to escape. You lose a lot of your stuff and your companions and have to rebuild. In m&b the escape is automatic; in this game, it could be actual gameplay.

udm
05-11-2011, 05:26 PM
Agree with ebarstad, that's a good idea. You will escape in an escape pod, small enough with special cooling systems to escape detection as anything other than a random floating celestial object, so no one will bug you as you make your way back to greater fortune.

Bluddy
05-11-2011, 05:39 PM
Agree with ebarstad, that's a good idea. You will escape in an escape pod, small enough with special cooling systems to escape detection as anything other than a random floating celestial object, so no one will bug you as you make your way back to greater fortune.

Problem is, in a game where your ship is your main possession (and in fact you play as a ship), losing your ship is a huge loss. That's why you need some kind of trick that preserves your ship as well.

Shadow
05-11-2011, 06:05 PM
Yeah, a hardcore type of mode might have an escape pod type of thing, but for the main mode I probably need to preserve your ship somehow.

udm
05-11-2011, 08:55 PM
What about the idea that your ship will never be destroyed, only just disabled. To add that touch of believability, enemies will bring your ship down to 1HP, then fire a tractor beam or something of that sort to "capture" you, then hauling you around until you manage to escape somehow.

For combat, are you planning something more static or with dynamic movements e.g. dogfighting?

Bluddy
05-12-2011, 03:57 AM
What about the idea that your ship will never be destroyed, only just disabled. To add that touch of believability, enemies will bring your ship down to 1HP, then fire a tractor beam or something of that sort to "capture" you, then hauling you around until you manage to escape somehow.

For combat, are you planning something more static or with dynamic movements e.g. dogfighting?

I think the problem there is that psychology really matters in these things. Extra punctuation has a pretty good article about it here (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/8753-Extra-Punctuation-Death-in-Videogames). Players need to feel that they got killed (or that their ship was destroyed). If the ship only gets disabled, that feels wimpy -- like an edutainment title for kids.

So my ideas are either to use time travel, or perhaps to do something like what System Shock did: you go to a nearby central space station and deposit your 'nano-image' or whatever. Then, every time you die, you resurrect there. Essentially you create a game mechanic like lifestones, except you get to move them around to the place nearest your destination.

Another advantage of this mechanic is that you could have epic battles with mercenary foes that go on over time. Only really cool mercenaries with black market connections would have access to these space-age lifestones, so you couldn't just destroy your worst foes in one quick battle: you'd have many encounters with them until you finally are able to find out where they placed their lifestone and destroy that first. The converse is also true: if you see that your space station of choice is about to be destroyed, you'd better rush to protect it or you're out of lives. Again, similar to DoP but more dynamic. For example, maybe a faction that hates you might take over your space station. You then have to do their bidding or they won't let you resurrect. There are many cool repercussions and possibilities here.

Shadow
05-12-2011, 08:17 AM
For combat, are you planning something more static or with dynamic movements e.g. dogfighting?

I don't think it will be dogfighting. I'm not planning on aiming and dodging being much of the combat (kind of like DC).

Aganazer
05-12-2011, 09:52 AM
An insurance system would work nicely. Apply for insurance at a station and you will respawn at that station. It sets your rez location when you apply for the insurance. It justifies some expense in the process. Of course Hardcore players are too high risk so the insurance companies can't justify offering them insurance.

As an alternative: Salvagers find your life pod and then return your ship to you (which is essentially repairable salvage at that point).

udm
05-12-2011, 07:31 PM
Working on top of those ideas mentioned: when your ship blows up, you automatically escape in a life pod (which will never be destroyed since it is too small to be identified on radar by an enemy). Insurance is automatically calculated into the cost of the item - everytime your ship's destroyed, you will have to go to the nearest station with an insurance firm to reclaim a ship with fitting and loadout the same as the one that was destroyed. The catch is, the insurance company doesn't care about the state of repairs - it only provides you with the equipment and ship, which will be in a beaten up state, and it will fall on you to see to it that they are repaired.

In hardcore mode, you will need to manually eject from the life pod (when hull gets low?). If you don't, you permanently die. Also, instead of getting the ship handed to you on a platter, you will only receive premium in the form of cash, which is calculated based on the expected value of the loadout and fitting from your destroyed ship. This severely penalizes the value of very rare items, since their expected value will be many times less than their tangible benefits, and further discourages players from getting into a scuffle that they're not confident of winning.

Just an idea off the top of my head :)

Bluddy
05-13-2011, 01:35 AM
Working on top of those ideas mentioned: when your ship blows up, you automatically escape in a life pod (which will never be destroyed since it is too small to be identified on radar by an enemy). Insurance is automatically calculated into the cost of the item - everytime your ship's destroyed, you will have to go to the nearest station with an insurance firm to reclaim a ship with fitting and loadout the same as the one that was destroyed. The catch is, the insurance company doesn't care about the state of repairs - it only provides you with the equipment and ship, which will be in a beaten up state, and it will fall on you to see to it that they are repaired.

In hardcore mode, you will need to manually eject from the life pod (when hull gets low?). If you don't, you permanently die. Also, instead of getting the ship handed to you on a platter, you will only receive premium in the form of cash, which is calculated based on the expected value of the loadout and fitting from your destroyed ship. This severely penalizes the value of very rare items, since their expected value will be many times less than their tangible benefits, and further discourages players from getting into a scuffle that they're not confident of winning.

Just an idea off the top of my head :)

Wow! Awesome development of that idea!

I'll try to add a little. You could have escape pods of different qualities, the best one being very expensive. Your pod could never fail, but those of your crew could, in which case you'd lose them.

Also, in hardcore mode, you'd need to clear your explosion radius to survive, so it's not just about abandoning ship early -- it's about abandoning ship early enough to survive the following explosion. In regular mode, again, it's not a concern. Don't know about losing all your items in hardcore mode -- that seems a bit much :)

Bluddy
05-15-2011, 07:58 AM
BTW another issue that's going to pop up in the game design is that of money and trading. Trading is usually a big part of space games -- usually you can only get the best equipment by trading, and you make your money from trading commodities. In ARPGs such as DC and DoP, money isn't that much of an issue, and most of the best equipment is found by looting. This would make commodity trading unnecessary.

udm
05-15-2011, 07:34 PM
Mmm perhaps loot can come in the form of crafting items? These will be sold at stores of course, but to craft a Gauss Cannon, you'd need 100 units of iron and 200 units of titanium or whatever it is gauss cannons need. They still are sold in stores quite cheaply, but given enemies drop them in decent quantities, you'd have to be the judge on whether it's a good idea to buy them or not ;)

Of course there are the rare items too, but those aren't dropped by any common white/green/yellow mob.

Oh that brings to mind another idea: crafting skills. Alongside combat skills, you can also learn crafting skills - hundreds of items to craft, depending on your specialization. This also offers players the chance to craft items for others in multiplayer. I've never been a fan of the "recipes" idea that disappear in a puff of smoke after you're done crafting; I prefer that once you learn something, it's there to stay. Or, it can be that you require both the skills and the blueprint, but the latter will disappear once you're done with it.

Bluddy
05-16-2011, 03:44 AM
Mmm perhaps loot can come in the form of crafting items? These will be sold at stores of course, but to craft a Gauss Cannon, you'd need 100 units of iron and 200 units of titanium or whatever it is gauss cannons need. They still are sold in stores quite cheaply, but given enemies drop them in decent quantities, you'd have to be the judge on whether it's a good idea to buy them or not ;)

Of course there are the rare items too, but those aren't dropped by any common white/green/yellow mob.


Crafting items essentially means setting up resources other than money: titanium, iron, fuel etc. I actually think that's a pretty good idea. Killing mobs will give you resources, which you can then sell or build with. I think there needs to be a lure to trading though. Trading takes a lot of effort and is less satisfying than just blowing up stuff. You should be able to get more resources faster if you hunt down the best prices for your merchandise.

udm
05-16-2011, 04:06 AM
That's true. It's why I like Space Rangers 2's news system. Not only does it provide concise intel on what happens around you, it also lets you keep track of sudden price movements of goods.

Bluddy
05-19-2011, 05:24 AM
Just a heads up that QuarterToThree has been doing write-ups on their front page about SPAZ and its mechanics. May be worth reading through since I still think it's the closest competition to Soldak's next game.

Aganazer
05-19-2011, 11:32 AM
BTW another issue that's going to pop up in the game design is that of money and trading. Trading is usually a big part of space games -- usually you can only get the best equipment by trading, and you make your money from trading commodities. In ARPGs such as DC and DoP, money isn't that much of an issue, and most of the best equipment is found by looting. This would make commodity trading unnecessary.

A lot may depend on how similar the design goals are to a Diablo-like. Steven's other games didn't stray too far from the familiar Diablo-like gameplay. We still don't know if this is going to be a Diablo-like in space or a traditional space-sim game influenced by Diablo-likes (if that makes any sense). I guess trade could be as simple as Fed-ex quests or as complex as X3, EVE, or SR2. I hope its complex, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were much lighter than those games. A lighter trade system might make the game seem more accessible, giving it a broader appeal. A lot of people don't like space games because of the perceived complexity of things like trade.

For crafting, anything better than Horadric Cube recipes would be great. :eek:

I've been playing the crap out of SPAZ lately. I'm definitely enjoying it. If anything, it has made me even more excited about the possibilities of Steven's new game. Pretty much everything about SPAZ could be improved by taking more influence from Diablo-likes and Din's Curse's dynamic quests and random environment properties.

Magitek
05-26-2011, 04:36 AM
I'm glad to see the direction taken for your next game Shadow.
I can easily see the DC engine adapted for a space game.
I really want to get to making my own space opera game but I must remain faithful for awhile longer!

As for emulating SR2:
This game is roughly the pinnacle of everything you want in a dynamic environment, I don't believe there is a single game capable of trumping this feat.

I find myself remembering names of pilots, feuds, locations and other happenings in the galaxy. It is a real living galaxy to me.
Every ship in the game is not only acting to its situation, but is playing out like a game of chess; these things are not just generated when you enter the system. It's quite possible to accurately predict what is going to happen many days ahead of time.

Most people probably don't realize just how impressive SR2 is behind the hood.

The only thing that really disappointed me in SR2 was the lack of capital ships duking it out. I've become seriously tired of being stuck in a tiny space-fighter that my dog could pilot.

My interests in the new game:

Living universe, doesn't have to be as intricate as SR2, I would like to feel involved, but not the sole force acting on it.
News system, detailing interesting events and trade opportunities, keeping the player in contact with your universe.
Simple trading, SR2 is roughly the only game I know of where trading was both easy and fun because of information right on the trade screen. At the same time, it wasn't particularly overpowered; it did however, lose steam toward the end of the game due to low volumes and cargo holds. In SR2 you never need to write anything down or pull out spreadsheets because the game tells you everything important.
Diplomacy, in SR2 you could ask anyone for help and depending on their situation/attitude toward you and the target, they would often help you in times of need: I found myself making virtual friends all over the place. The reverse was true also.

Broadside or arc-based style warfare for larger vessels, with plenty of slow moving projectiles, and powerful weapons that can be mitigated with a bit of brainpower.
e.g slow firing freespace2 style capital beam weapons/torpedoes that can be shot down/drone carriers/slow rotating turrets that can be outrun ala eve/changing subsystems and ammo on the fly to mitigate certain damage types/overloading subsystems at key moments to gain advantage etc

Customizable subsystems which might dictate your skill bar abilities instead of fixed trees.
e.g coolant systems might allow you to overload your weapons for a period of time, a deflector system let you reflect projectiles for a few seconds, weapon racks double/spread your firepower, a gravity generator pull/push projectiles or ships into the firing line. You could even swap positions with your target and have it smash into its own weapon volley.

I wouldn't be opposed to passive trees for each ship scale on top of this, carriers might be able to increase hangar size or ECM abilities, while fighters might see evasion and weapon improvements etc

All ship-scales effective to endgame, a smart fighter should be able to strip defenses off larger vessels while dodging or staying under weapons, a destroyer could offer slow-motion all-or-nothing duels, a carrier able to over saturate defenses, eve-online is really your role model here- it can also be a real bonus for cooperative gameplay while not penalizing the player too much for playing what he wants to be. Too many times am I placed in a role where I don't want to be.

A low-tech destroyer for instance ought to be a flaky but serviceable vessel, an expensive fighter something to be feared if used correctly (more so than the cheap destroyer); let players build up their hull and subsystems technologies rather than dictating what hull they should use.

Faction fleets, again in SR2, there was probably nothing more awesome than being in a randomly organized comp-stomp with your 'fellow' mercenaries or military; you're given the opportunity to not be the center of attention for once.

Player losses and sub-system rant:
Lately I've been thinking about doing away with straight HP systems and relying on disabling and draining rather than outright destroying the player.
For example, once the players hull reaches zero, instead of blowing up, every time you take damage (no matter if it is a bullet or a doomsday missile), there is a % chance of damaging a subsystem. Naturally the longer you fight like this, the more expensive it becomes, and more abilities the ship loses. As a bonus you get to watch pieces of armor being ripped off your ship. Naturally, you aren't sure just when the ship will super-nova fighting in this state.

This gives the player a chance to disengage or beat vessels he/she otherwise couldn't normally, while they are paying for the over-extension, they aren't forced to reload or rage at the defeat screen because they got hit by a stray shot.
It's also a royal joy to survive battles so close to the brink of destruction.

You can envision players detailing their war stories excitedly about losing such and such system they were relying on but still managing to pull through impossible odds improvising with what is left of their devastated vessel.

Setting
I'm purely a mechanics kinda guy, but I figure it can't hurt to throw something often neglected into the mix.

My favorite space setting is probably Emperor of the fading suns.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_of_the_Fading_Suns
It's well worth reading.
I think the premise is a lot greater than simply being a mercenary, although nothing really stops a mercenary from gaining status with faction houses. It could be fun to throw around your political power in diplomacy also. (ordering military strikes, blockades to affect trade, coercing fleets to aid you, or being targeted by assassins from opposing factions etc)

To me, setting is far more important than story in a dynamic environment. It also doesn't stop you from adding mini-stories or quests into the game of any flavor along the way.

This is long enough for now; I could probably drone on for days.
Many of the things I mentioned probably won't fit what you want to do, but at the end of the day, I'll probably be happy with a minimum effort Din's Curse turned sci-fi. (so long as we can conquer the universe, preferably with friends/foes!)

Shadow
05-26-2011, 09:36 AM
Lots of good stuff in there but I wanted to reply to the health thing. I think we are actually going to do something like you suggest. I was going to post some thoughts here but I think I will write up an actually blog about it. :)

Aganazer
05-26-2011, 11:07 AM
News system, detailing interesting events and trade opportunities, keeping the player in contact with your universe.

I love news systems in games. I forget exactly how it worked in SR2, but I remember it being entertaining and useful.

I liked the news in Master of Orion as well. The interruptions were always welcome. Whether it be some new galactic event, a star that went supernova, a race being wiped out, or even an overview of race rankings. I liked it all. I hope something like this makes it into the game.

And yes, visually devastated vessels must be the coolest thing in all of sci-fi. Even better if they become lifeless hulks that can be salvaged. :D

Bluddy
05-26-2011, 11:49 AM
Yeah really good ideas Magitek. I was also drawn to the HP thing: sounds like something out of Tie Fighter. It's common to switch from regular HP to hull + shield values in space games, but it's still basically similar to HP. I do think disabled systems are pretty awesome though. And it would slow down the fighting, making it more strategic. I do think there has to be an explosion in the end though (you mentioned supernova so I guess you agree). A game of just disabling is not exciting enough IMO.

Speaking of SR2, I've been trying to get into it. I've started the tutorial 4 times, and each time something else happens. Either a random pirate destroys me, or the game sends me to do the fighting practice by an enemy faction's planet where I'm soon obliterated, or I try to buy illegal weapons (since they're cheap, as the little thumbs up indicate) and promptly get arrested, spending the rest of my 'tutorial' in the jail adventure.

The moral of the story is, if you're going to make a tutorial, do it in a safe environment so it can actually be finished :)

Friendzie
07-12-2011, 03:47 PM
Perhaps you guys could also look to the classic Star Control 2 for some inspiration, as that was a relatively dynamic space world where different factions could become more or less relevant depending on your actions. The combat was also a blast, although assuming it's the same engine as your previous games, I realize you certainly wouldn't be remaking Star Control or anything.