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Shadow
06-09-2011, 03:06 PM
I thought I would talk a little about the item system in our upcoming space game today. First off I think this game is going to be pretty heavily focused on items, more so than our previous games. In our other games skills are also pretty important. Whether or not you should invest in or use Fireball as opposed to Ice Storm is an important choice. In a space game choices like that are more item focused. Do you want to use your tractor beam to immobilize them and then shoot them with your disruptors or just launch anti-matter missiles at them? Those aren't skills. Those are ship components you either have installed on your ship or you don't. Since items are going to be pretty important let's talk about them a little.

Requirements:

Items are going to have 4 types of requirements. First your hull is going to control how many item slots you have access to. Upgrade to a better ship and you will most likely get more slots to play with.

Second, each component will only fit in a specific slot type (see below).

Third, your ship has to generate enough power for all of your components. Most components will use power, some will generate power, and a few will be power neutral. So you are going to have to balance your power generation with your power usage. An interesting part of this is that this is a soft limit. You can actually exceed your power load. Right now for every 10% above your max you currently are, you get another penalty to things like ship speed and most of your regen rates. There might be situations where going over you limit is beneficial, but I see this happening more when one of your power plants is destroyed.

The fourth requirement is crew related. Most components are going to need a minimum level of crew to install and maintain. For example, an anti-matter engine might require a lvl 20 engineer.

Right now I'm thinking there will be no weight requirements. I have seen this done in a lot of space games, but I would like you to be able to find a decent amount of loot. Having weight limits really gets in the way of loot and loot is fun.

Slot types:

Fantasy games tend to have a lot of slot types (chest, legs, rings, left/right hand, etc.) and most items can only fit in their specific slot. Some space games do a similar thing also, but we are going to generalize the slots a bit more. Currently we have 3 slot types and many different types of items can fit in each type. So you are going to have to make some hard choices of which kind of components to equip. Should you equip another weapon for better fire power or equip a 2nd engine for speed?

There will be a bunch of similar types of components that get split across multiple slot types though. For example, power plants and power collectors both generate power for the ship, but plants might be restricted to heavy slots and collectors are in medium slots. In this case collectors would probably generate less power.

Durability:

I talked about durability quite a bit in my health post (http://www.soldak.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3921). In general, all components will have a limited amount of durability (health). They will be relatively safe until an enemy gets through your shields and armor. After that point though your ship components are going to start taking a lot of damage. If the durability of an item gets down to 0 it will no longer function until repaired. This can be a really big deal depending on what kind of component breaks!

Number of components:

I think this is one thing that I like better about fantasy games than typical space games. It seems most space games have a fairly limited number of potential items. Not so in this game. Right now there are a ton of base items (over 200). Then each of these has 5 separate tech versions. This represents technology advances within the same type of tech. The next technology version will usually have a nice increase in its normal functionality and use less power. Each of these 5 tech versions will also have 5 minor variations like Cheap and Excellent.

On top of all of that I'm pretty sure we are going to add rarities in the mix like many fantasy games do. Instead of magic modifiers they will be something like add-ons. You might have a rare thruster that provides more thrust, uses less power, and even does something strange like add to your attack or increase your kinetic damage resistance.

Right now I don't think that we will have set items, but I do believe we will have unique items.

Component type examples:

Thrusters/Engines - provide thrust and defense
Power plants - generate power for the ship
Batteries - store energy for instant use (like weapon fire)
Armor/Structure/Shields - increase how much damage you can take
Computers/Sensors/Radars - increase your attack
Beam weapons/Ballistics Weapons/Missiles - make things go boom

This is just a small list of the different types of components. There will also be specific use stuff like tractor beams, EMPs, and cloaking devices. Some of these components might also overlap some. For example, engines, thrusters, and power plants all overlap a little. Power plants generate power and thrusters provide thrust. Engines do both, although depending on which engine the engine itself might use all of the power it generates.

Ok, that's long enough. Do you guys have any thoughts?

Bluddy
06-10-2011, 08:20 AM
Looks fairly well thought out.

In terms of unique items, I think the lesson from DC and DoP is that they really need to have great modifiers. It'll probably save a lot of time to have the game generate them randomly but with only the highest modifiers. Also, I don't know if it's good to have something equivalent to unique, artifacts and legend. Each level is an order of magnitude higher in rarity, but it's hard to really make each level worth it. Adding an extra modifier doesn't seem to be enough.

I think set items would actually work here, but in a random way. Instead of crafting set items, you can just make a random name modifier like 'positron' or 'nanite' or whatever that creates synergy with other random items with that same name. There will be extra random modifiers applied to the item only when it's equipped with the other corresponding items, so if you have a positron engine AND a positron laser, they'll get extra random bonuses. The more items, the more random bonuses you'll get. Perhaps these random bonuses can be chosen per set type at the start of the game.

I do think though that it's important to keep the number of modifiers per item down. Too many modifiers (>4) cancels out the choices of the player, making all characters/ships 'average out'. Of course, that depends on how many slots you expect ships to have on average.

What would also be really nice to do here is to have some rock/paper/scissors gameplay. Lasers could damage shields the most, missiles would damage armor the most, EMP would damage internal systems somewhat even before shields were down etc. Some ships would be more sensitive to lasers, others to EMP and so on.

Maledictus
06-10-2011, 10:28 AM
Like it so far.
Some off-hand thoughts.

Weight is not an issue in space, mass is. More mass would make an object react more sluggish. So not implementing weight restrictions makes things easier, but implementing mass could be interesting. Choose a lighter engine over a heavier one for mobility. That is, if mobility is something that plays a role in the game.

I've played games that used item names such as "rusty armor of the armadillo". While good for a laugh, this doesn't tell me anything about the item's quality without knowing all the possible modifier names. I'd be weary of this. The use of "cheap" and "excellent" is fine because it's immediately clear which would be better.

Will fuel play a part? Like, when using collectors the energy return us lower but it's free. When using power plants there's more energy, but it costs fuel to run them.

Shadow
06-10-2011, 12:41 PM
Weight is not an issue in space, mass is. More mass would make an object react more sluggish. So not implementing weight restrictions makes things easier, but implementing mass could be interesting. Choose a lighter engine over a heavier one for mobility. That is, if mobility is something that plays a role in the game.

Will fuel play a part? Like, when using collectors the energy return us lower but it's free. When using power plants there's more energy, but it costs fuel to run them.

Yes, technically it would be mass.

Currently the mass of the hull is important. The thrust provided by your thrusters or engines increases your max speed, acceleration, and turn speed while you hull mass slows it down.

I'm not currently planning on doing anything with fuel. If we did though it would make collectors more valuable.

pnutz
06-11-2011, 02:03 AM
Do you have any corollary to one-off use items in action rpgs, things like potions, bombs, wands? Maybe something like a rare fuel additive that doubles your ship speed for a minute or so, or a crystal that makes your lasers do burning damage-over-time for a few shots, then burns out.

If your missiles and rockets are like bows in a fantasy game, could one buy or find a few "special" missiles that have additional effects or damage but are quite expensive?

Also, I love the whole concept for this. Very much looking forward to it.

Shadow
06-11-2011, 10:04 AM
I do have plans for a bunch of one use items.

getter77
06-12-2011, 09:53 AM
A big thing I'd hope for, as it would make for a good bit of distinguishment, would be a cargo notion for other entities. As in, let's have biological weapons in the form of varying Space Monsters, Robots, etc as "Summons" or "Pets" within a fantasy line of doings.

For some reason, it seems most space games that get alien races into the mix eschew the Space Monsters notion, despite how huge a thing that could add into the mix in terms of combat and gameplay possibilites. Cargo could become something more than just, I dunno, fodder for a Space Zoo or Research Station cash if you unleash something to cover your escape as but one example.

This is also a good way to sidestep the odd historical notion space/sci-fi stuff having less discernible/unique "slots" in terms of function versus Speadsheet Numbers, to say nothing of Soldak already being apt at monster doings and is surely well positioned to come up with some interesting things. Especially since Space allows you to make ridiculously huge ones that would have no place in a corridor/room based Fantasy one but would allow for MUCH in Space, especially with other players afoot.

Bluddy
06-12-2011, 10:03 AM
Shadow, are you planning on having commodity trading? If so, how will you combine that with the multitude of loot and therefore money in ARPGs?

Zengrath
06-12-2011, 01:42 PM
Cool. I checking out forums to see if you are doing anything new yet. See your working on space game which is cool. I will always love space games, ever since my first space game Elite I've always tried to seek that thrill again.

I like the idea of having game very item heavy, that's good. I hope that your able to incorporated the type of random quests system like you have in Din's Curse. like ability to pick up quests at different ports to kill random things, transport items, etc. and have a very nice random universe to play in each time. Possibly with different randomized factions, etc. to play with as well. That would keep things fresh in long run. I could see you keeping it fairly simple like your previous games but could be very fun and long lasting like your previous games as well if done right.

I'll be checking back from time to time and look forward to your next game!

Shadow
06-13-2011, 10:52 AM
Shadow, are you planning on having commodity trading? If so, how will you combine that with the multitude of loot and therefore money in ARPGs?

I'm not really sure about the trading thing. It kind of opposes some of the other things that I want to do like the no weight/mass limit.

Bluddy
06-13-2011, 04:12 PM
I'm not really sure about the trading thing. It kind of opposes some of the other things that I want to do like the no weight/mass limit.

Actually I think it's a bold decision not to do trading. Trading has been done to death in space games, and IMHO it doesn't add that much to the game -- it's mostly a grind. The down side is that you can't have space pirates who raid your ship for its cargo. I think that's one of the main reasons trading is often added to space games -- just to have space piracy as an option.

Maybe instead of trading, you can just cut to the chase: have quests where you have to transport a precious/illegal cargo and there'd be a chance of pirates or the enemy stopping you. This way you get to the interesting parts without the boring grind.

Bluddy
06-13-2011, 04:13 PM
I'm not really sure about the trading thing. It kind of opposes some of the other things that I want to do like the no weight/mass limit.

Actually I think it's a bold decision not to do trading. Trading has been done to death in space games, and IMHO it doesn't add that much to the game -- it's mostly a grind. The down side is that you can't have space pirates who raid your ship for its cargo. I think that's one of the main reasons trading is often added to space games -- just to have space piracy as an option.

Maybe instead of trading, you can just cut to the chase: have quests where you have to transport a precious/illegal cargo and there'd be a chance of pirates or the enemy stopping you. This way you get to the interesting parts without the boring grind.

Alternatively, you can be a space pirate, stopping random ships, which would simply give you extra money instead of cargo.

Delve
07-05-2011, 10:22 PM
It's been ages since I poked my nose in here :)

A couple of thoughts.
Have you considering the option of hiring/recruiting additional 'captains' (as in DoP NPCs) to build a powerful mercenary company rather than only playing the lone wolf? Perhaps with a recurring fee to maintain the contract, and only hiring ships of smaller hull size than your own.
I'd love to see the return of the DoP clan as opposing mercenary ships/companies. Not so well structured as in DoP, but someone that you worry about running into when dealing with faction X because you know they usually employ merc Y, who has been getting stronger lately and last time you scanned him from across the parsec he had some shiny new attachments on his outer hull...
I've never really liked boring set item modifiers. Bigger numbers are nice, but in this context it makes as much or more sense to offer changing base functionality. As a crude example imagine you have a plasma torpedo launcher, and an antimatter power generator. If you should happen to come across an interlink component your plasma torpedoes become antimatter torpedoes which, being in reverse phase with the target's shielding, have some level of shield piercing properties. Or perhaps offer an AoE effect that plasma torps do not have. Or, insert your own ideas. Basically, something more interesting than merely bigger numbers. Then when you find a more powerful chemical explosive torpedo that does not offer the additional benefit of the antimatter torp it becomes a harder trade off to weigh. Harder to code? Certainly. More entertaining? I think so. :)


And a question. Will this be fully 3d? I don't really like flat space, it's unrealistic and guts some of the tactical options that should be available in space combat.


Edit: A better (maybe) example of set item modification that I just thought of, a thruster type that when combined with a specific generator type and a particular flight stabilizer (speed/maneuver bonus item) allows you to create dangerous plasma 'trails' a la the Thraddash Torch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BreYAsRxvyE)

Shadow
07-06-2011, 10:38 AM
And a question. Will this be fully 3d? I don't really like flat space, it's unrealistic and guts some of the tactical options that should be available in space combat.

Unless something drastically changes, it's still going to be an isometric view point. Full 3d does add some things but it also complicates a lot of stuff.

Oh and I have thought a good bit about other mercs running around in the galaxy. I'm not sure what role if any they might play in the game yet. It would be cool to have some more opposing entities in the game, but I don't want the feel of this game to end up being DoP in space.

Delve
07-06-2011, 11:11 AM
Oh and I have thought a good bit about other mercs running around in the galaxy. I'm not sure what role if any they might play in the game yet. It would be cool to have some more opposing entities in the game, but I don't want the feel of this game to end up being DoP in space.

I agree with you, DoP in space wouldn't be any more interesting than simply playing DoP again. I think shifting merc contracts and a lack of direct warfare between mercs would be a different enough climate. You may find yourself on the same side as a particular merc as often as on the opposition if there's enough contract movement; at the same time the presence or absence of a particular merc in combat would be a purely tactical concern since the faction(s) involved are the primary interest.

Then again, you may decide that you can't stand a particular merc since you suffered a brutal defeat early in your career and now refuse to fight on the same side as him. ;)

Bluddy
07-06-2011, 11:28 AM
Speaking of DoP, I think one of the great weaknesses of the diplomacy system in that game is that you curried favor with the other factions by trading loot. I think this has to be avoided in the next game. It's too easy to exploit, because loot is such a plentiful commodity in this genre. Instead, becoming friendly via diplomacy should involve giving only things that are truly scarce: either doing quests (ie. giving your time) or giving some truly rare resource similar to the crystals in DoP.

Friendzie
07-12-2011, 07:05 PM
I hope you guys put on a lot of cool modifiers that are unique to a spaceship's needs - things you might not have put on gear in the other games. Like thrusters can have different output ratings, turning ratings (if turning is not instantaneous) which are also affected by the weight of your other components. So instead of worrying about which armor type you CAN wear, you worry about which you should use given your thrust capabilites and armor weight. Putting on that +20 attack giant laser might not be a good idea if it means you can barely get your ship moving. Some stats can also modify thrust power and hull weight so a high level can put on heavier stuff without becoming as immobile.

Rathag
07-15-2011, 03:26 AM
Generally I *really* like where you're going with this game. I love most of your ideas for items. A couple comments:

1) I understand where you're coming from re: ship leveling-up, but frankly one of the things that I like most about the space genre that is hard to do well but makes for phenomenal gameplay when successful is having different *kinds* of ships that are geared to support different playing styles. The way you were talking about ships in this current version, it was hard to see any other real alternative to "bigger is better because it's a linear scale and I can add more stuff". Yes, I like more stuff too, especially with all the cool item types you're talking about. But playing a trader/pirate/smuggler role on the fringes of space sometimes appeals to me more than having the leviathan battleship I cruise all over the galaxy that makes everybody run in fear. Maybe that doesn't fit into your game concept--fair. But I think the key is having very different kinds of things you can accomplish. Maybe sneaky exploratory missions require small nondescript ships but can give you powerful new technology that can help your side/yourself turn the tide of battles, production, etc. Or something. Or you can control a master space-orbital ship that sends out smaller ships for specific missions, kind of like a space-ship version of Mech Commander 2. Except your orbital ship can be attacked and destroyed, so don't leave it for too long, and don't leave it defenseless, and if you can figure out some way to hide it... etc.

2) Just getting hordes of loot can be really fun, but after a while, it's really, really hard to sort through. I loved Depths of Peril but really dislike Din's Curse for that exact reason. In DoP I have the time to actually read through my loot, figure out what's worth keeping, give stuff to my people, etc. In DC, by the time I've figured out what my loot does, my city is attacked and I'm dead 'cause I'm not strong enough to fight back (nor is anybody else). As you can tell, I like my action a little bit slower than most fans of this genre so treat me as an outlier and take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

3) I like loot. I like salvage even better! Make me work for my loot. If I want loot, then I need to target the command and control center of my enemies so I don't destroy their weapons, or their engines so they can't escape, or whatnot. And what I destroy, is destroyed. And what I don't destroy, floats off in space and I have to catch it. Maybe a magic tractor beam can be had at lvl 5/5 with the bonus space tech I discovered in a quest on some planet, but short of that... Maybe loot helps me train my crew to target specific parts of ship over massive damage to the whole thing. Barbarian club vs. fencer's sabre...

Generally, however, I love this concept, and I can't wait to see what you come up with!