I am ATM about 2 years into the development of my personal dream/pet game project, and now that I have met the major design goals I had at the outset I have run into a wall as to how far I should push the games complexity.
First off - Design Touchstones:
1 - I wanted a game were you truly created the ships in your fleet...That means being able to roughly recreate essentially any ship in sci-fi history should you choose.
2 - In turn I wanted the freedom to truly tear ships apart, not go to pre arranged chunks (ala Gratuitous Space Battles).
3 - For simplicity sake(and my lack of skill were 3d is concerned) this a 2d overhead type game.
Lofty goals to be sure, especially since my programming experience had stopped about 15 years prior playing with Borland 3.0 for DOS. To make matters worse, I decided the game would be targeted at tablets with their comparatively puny resources.
So to reiterate, I have an incomplete game were you can design, build and destroy ships....It's pretty fun as the pure sandbox experiment it is now... But Where to Go From Here?
I found myself scratching my head. This is not a complete game yet by a wide margin. My personal circle of space RTS games extends from Master of Orion series to Homeworld and Sins of a Solar Empire. Its got to be 4x or go home!
Large scale map experiments have been only mildly successful to date given both play speed and processing requirements. Exactly how long is someone going to sit and play on their tablet?.. Certainly not the length of a large scale SINS or Orion game. I have experimented with gravity wells ala SINS and trying to implement a jump/hyperspace system, but being able to issue the command quickly on a touch pad proved cumbersome...ideas?
I find seemingly simple decisions like resource gathering and management setups have to be looked at in a new light in terms of how much direct interaction is safe to ask the players for...To say nothing about acquiring new tech and build tree options...Thoughts?
Planet capture and orbital structures - Do I make these absolutely minimal as to only show ownership of a planet , or do I allow for complex infrastructure the player has to maintain? How much cpu time am I willing to put aside for this? Hmmmm
UI - How many buttons and tabs can I really make use of before the screen becomes over cluttered? Many strategy games have died on poor UI...
One solution seems to be to make large scale usage of fleet behavior, thus removing the need to control too many individual ships.
Another method though that popped into my head of late is to allow multiple devices per game session. I'm not talking about multiplayer here, I mean using both a phone and two tablets and perhaps a PC all in a single session with control and monitoring interfaces distributed across and communicating over local network. (Picture Supreme Commander's multi monitor mode taken into separate devices). The extra displays would have a selection of dedicated interface mode options such as strategic view, full interface, Ships/fleet status readouts, research UI , economic readout and so forth. I am confident I can make this happen, but is it even a good idea?
Trying to squeeze a 4x RTS onto tablets has proven to be very delicate balancing act between UI and expected play time share. The existing games on the mobile markets all had to make generous concessions to the medium. Most of the time(for me personally) this made them not worth large amounts of play time and indeed, their designs seemed to encourage this. This is not how I want my game to be, but If I ever want to succeed in any commercial form I may have to set aside my own preferences.
I thank you if you are still reading this, two years in and I have spent the last few weeks staring blankly at my IDE hoping for some inspiration... Any thoughts on the subject matter or over my ranting welcome. I decided to post this here on this community because reading over the threads I see many good minds and genuine peer design sprit. I look forward to discussing the genre and design merits of any such game.
If anyone cares, here is some test footage running on PC - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEpr--Rti1A
Edited by LordVTP, 15 July 2013 - 10:02 PM.