Thanks for your feedback. I am really interested about your game, especially about the NPC fleets. These ships are conventionally controlled (click somewhere to move there and attack) or they have an advanced AI? Just because Im thinking now about AI controlled NPC ships.
Actually, the ships are player-controlled. So there will be 2 (or possibly even 3) different interfaces which players can play, most will be starship pilots controlling a single ship. There will be 20-50 live players on each team, and the leader (the Admiral) will be a special kind of player.
The Admiral won't have your typical starship tactical combat interface, but instead will have a view that is the strategic map. I'm still working on the design for the Admiral interface, but the basic idea is the Admiral will mostly be pinging players (or maybe particular sectors) to move from one sector to another and to attack bases or retreat. The Admiral will also do some limited resource management (nowhere near as complex as say Starcraft 2), perhaps as simple as clicking the top 3 sectors to prioritize mineral mining, and occasionally granting a bonus upgrade item to particular starships.
The individual starship players will receive icon notifications on their mini-maps indicating their Admiral's orders. The starship pilots can of course ignore their Admiral's ping orders. That is totally fine and newbies will probably do this a lot. More experienced, higher ranked players would be more likely to follow their Admiral's orders. You can think of the Admiral's commands as more like suggestions that nonetheless can significantly influence a team's overall strategy and thus the game outcome.
Where NPC's come in is more as placeholders for starship pilots until each game instance is filled up with live players. Eg let's say each game instance will support 100 live players, and there are 550 simultaneous players. Then you would see 5 full game instances of 100 live players, and the 6th one would have 50 players and 50 AI starships.
Also, there will be NPC bots such as resource mining ships. There may even be NPC minions to fight. But really the focus is on real-time tactical warfare between players, combined with some strategic elements.
In the Unionline there are 2 types of fleets. The first is a free cooperation of independent players whos control directly their ships and try to make actions together. It will be likely pretty chaotic but I think it can be a very good gaming experience to be a part of a big fleet battle such this together with hundreds of your faction members. The second type is a faction fleet with NPC ships found by faction income. The military commanders get access to guide AI controlled fleets and if their rank is rise up they can guide bigger and bigger fleets. Otherwise a faction fleet contain not just NPC ships but also the player's ships who serve in military service and assign their ships control to the commander and the AI steer them in the formation. Firstly they get money for the military service and secondly the service time is the key to rise the military rank.
Sounds really cool.
It is necessary an advanced AI system to perform various fleet actions: attack or defend in formation, patrol around the trading routes which are endangered by pirates, exploration, scouting, and other things.
Yeah, unfortunately I don't have much experience with AI's. I've written a couple of very basic AI's before but nothing that advanced. For my game, I should be ok because the AI isn't really supposed to be that advanced as PvP combat is the focus.
I absolutely agree with your feedback. Im just making my presentations, write the handbook, but it comes a point where I am not enough and have to be a developer team to continue the progress. Do you know that where are the developer teams which are looking for MMO concepts?
I don't know any offhand, but you might want to start with looking at existing successful MMO's such as Planeshift and ask them for help. It is probably bad form to try to just poach people indiscriminately
but I'm sure there are always people sort of ready to take a break and work on another project or who might have friends looking for something new.
Also, I recently went to a Meetup[.com] for game developers that was awesome. My local group is probably much bigger than most, there were 50 people or so present half of which were part-time or full time professional game developers. Most of them already were involved in their own projects, but what I found is a lot of them seemed to float between 2 or 3 projects at once. Some of it was a bit like trade: "maybe you help me with my game engine and our lead artist helps you with some of the art you are missing" etc. Local high schools and colleges can also be good resources for finding team members as they can in some cases get class credit.
I think the status of the Unionline now is not enough to seem as a profitable investment but in your opinion some other similar presentation about the game sub-systems and a really detailed handbook can be enough to try my luck at a game developer studio?
I'm not a professional game developer, so can't really speak to this, maybe others will chime in. From things I've read though, it is very rare for that kind of big break to happen. The kickstarter.com investors and game companies want to see a track record of successfully completed, progressively more challenging projects. They might look at your work and want to hire you for a junior, full-time position though, which in some studios, if you have star talent and a little luck, can lead to rapid promotions. A highly talented college classmate of mine went from junior(no previous professional experience) programmer to lead programmer for a top-selling commercial game in under 3 years.
But in terms of working on your game now, you can try to build up your own team. It's definitely not easy finding dozens or more people to work on it at once, but it is possible at least. I'm not sure the best structure, perhaps it would be something like starting by finding 3 key positions: art director, lead server programmer, and lead client programmer. The kinds of people who would be really helpful probably won't join unless they are partners, perhaps not equal partners but people who have significant input. You want people who not only have the talent, but share the same game-vision and have the right personality to build and lead and be in it for the long haul.