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Space RTS design quandary!


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#1 LordVTP   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:05 PM

Hello, posting again after a long time working on things!

 

< New combat footage

 

My game has advanced nicely,   but now I come to a quandary (after almost 3 years of engine building)-

 

 

Currently the game is played(or will play, as the mission player is still WIP) on a procedurally generated galaxy with 81 playable solar systems with story missions distributed amongst them(ala Space Pirates and Zombies).   The player is primarily concerned with his mothership,  which has the ability to store ships in a pocket dimension after construction in order to carry them into other regions (the built ships do not have independent interstellar jump capability).    

 

My problem is this.... other then  holding a construction base or resource base....  What should I do in order to make planets truly valuable?   This isn't an empire building game-   The plot actually has you as the last human alive!  So the fundamental issue of territory control  arises(since ships can jump anywhere on  a map)...And with the ship repository the player does not need a forward base within a region to actually assault it (he can build up a fleet and take it with him)  I've been beating myself over the head with this dilemma for several months now and it keeps me up at night.   In order to make territory valuable,   and give the player something to lose when he ignores his holdings, there must be something more.



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#2 RnaodmBiT   Members   -  Reputation: 565

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 04:41 AM

Hi,

 

Might help if we know what challanges the player has to test themselves against.

 

My first thought is that building ships takes resources... metals, plastics, fuel, electronics etc. So you could dispense robot mining facilities to send you these resources at some rate. This would mean that in order to make better ships you either have to capture more systems or wait longer periods of time.

 

If we strip the thematic elements it might make this a simpler problem. You are essentially looking for a reason for the player to care about their territory on a map. Simple answer (as stated above) is to restrict their resources used to progress based on the number of territory they have. If they want to progress faster, they must then get more territory. Something along these lines might just suit your game.

 

Goodluck



#3 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1298

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 02:43 PM

I agree with RnaodmBiT, i recall you posting earlier but have forgotten the details.

 

Giving a planet value is quite easy, making a planet worthless just as easy.

The question is why you need planets to be valuable in this game.



#4 foxcode   Members   -  Reputation: 233

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 09:52 AM

First of all the game looks great, you have really put alot of effort into it, I wish I had that kind of patience.

 

I also agree with RnaodmBiT. Planets must provide some sort of resource to make them valuable. One possibility is ship maintenance. To maintain your fleet you need fuel, replacement parts, maybe a planet with a robotic facility would only produce enough resources to maintain x number of ships at a time. This means that a player has to capture territory to produce a larger fleet.

 

If the player loses territory, his fleet could start losing combat effectiveness, and ships could break down all together. This allows the player some time to recapture territory or acquire new territory as a lack of spare parts wont instantly stop his fleet, but it will give planets value and make the player think about conquering territory in a smart way so he can defend his borders.



#5 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2671

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 12:36 PM

You might think of it from outside the perspective of physical resources that serve a purpose and instead regard it from a literary perspective.

 

For example:

 

The ancient alien device requires the power of 81 systems in order to activate it. Said outcome being the possibility of the human race's restoration or some other variant.



#6 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1002

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 03:42 AM

  • Limit travel to only be possible between planets. In order to move you need to control planets. 
  • Organize planets into networks, to travel you need the nodes. 
  • Add a political factor. Your ship functions without planets, but you can't win unless you control planets. This gives some flexibility: you can loose and then recover. This rubber-band mechanic would be similar to Halo (jump into battle, loose shield, take cover, wait for shild-reload). It's a fun pacing. 
  • Even if you don't need the planets, perhaps you don't want your enemies to take control of them. Then the enemies might build bases and restrict movement. Controlling planets would thus be a weed-control task.


#7 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2516

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 12:13 PM

  • You can simply make the planets valuable for enemies, for a number of reasons. They could be building and defending empires even if the player's character is a lone wolf, making distribution and movement of enemy forces meaningful and important enough to make the player care and adapt.
  • Battles can take place on planets rather than in empty space. You can simply postulate that the player's ships (maybe not all types) are capable of operating in a planetary atmosphere to obtain meaningful maps with obstacles (like mountains) and objectives (like cities).
  • You can require the player to extract resources from planets, with a low management effort (to keep the game focused on combat) but taking the appropriate time: enough to force the player to defend planets but not too long because the player needs to remain a nomad.

Produci, consuma, crepa

#8 LordVTP   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 06:53 PM

Nomadic concept Is something I been playing at.   The fundamental issue is what justification  enemy strong-points/defends an area beyond it's simply a base location(kinda circular reasoning there) .  With instant travel one patch of space is as valuable as the next(or planet for that matter)  I had been keeping the resource/economy  aspect to a min as long term settlement/control of area outside the immediate solar system would require more planning(systems) and system resources(CPU/RAM) then any tablet will have anytime soon.     

 

Battles on planets/inside atmospheres  is not gona happen in this game,  perhaps  bombardment ala Sins of a Solar Empire(seriously, if you own the space above the planet, the ones below are helpless).

 

All this adds up to toying with the idea of dumping 'stations' as a whole, but moving to re-purposed and scavenged civilian craft that act as temporary bases while a planet is mined/food grown or whatever-.   Perhaps a ship would redeploy, and reconfigure itself into a base/construction yard ect... 

 

Just had a thought though.....  Perhaps ships can only be built in area designated  lagrange points?  These could be rare enough to make them strategics locations away from planets themselves.    

 

More footage BTW-

 

What might not have been apparent int he other video was the player created nature of the ships themselves, and the 'solar region' setup.  Right now it's not live but the idea is that the battle space you currently occupy is one of nine  in each solar system,  but the other regions will continue to operate in a reduces simulation mode alongside the current area.   



#9 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2516

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 02:30 AM

Maybe your problem is instantaneous travel, not planets. The player might instead travel in some sort of "hyperspace", without obstacles or encounters but taking a significant amount of time: he would remain highly mobile, but location would matter. Player speed should be comparable to enemy speed, possibly improving from equal (or slower) to faster during the game.

You could also delay FTL strategic movement with arbitrary excuses to avoid using it to escape battles; it would be a good reason to avoid dangerous places.


Produci, consuma, crepa

#10 GaldorPunk   Members   -  Reputation: 940

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 03:56 AM

The most common way to add strategic value to territory is to just put valuable stuff in that territory, making the player want to control more of it to get more resources, allowing him to build bigger armies. Most strategy games link map control to resource collection in some way, I can’t tell how the economy in your game works, but would it make sense for planets to be economically valuable capture points of some kind? Are space stations your primary source of resource collection and production? If so, you might make it so they can only be built near planets. In Sins of a Solar Empire you have a limited number of resource nodes and production/tech buildings allowed per planet; it’s kind of an arbitrary limit, but it works for encouraging expansion to other planets.

 

 

I also agree with what others have said about instant travel being a possible problem. If interstellar jumps took significantly longer depending on the distance between systems, it would add a lot of strategic weight to the map.

You could also break the galaxy map into a grid or a node network and make it so ships can only jump to non-adjacent systems if there’s a path of friendly systems connecting the two (so you can’t jump directly to the enemy home world, but instead have to conquer a path through their territory to get there.) Perhaps the player can also build jump gates or wormholes in friendly systems to allow for much faster travel, (similar to the way roads work in Civilization) that way there’s more of an incentive to maintain control of territories even if you don’t need them for your economy.



#11 Plunjukl   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 11 February 2014 - 04:41 PM

Instead of planets being helpful for the player, you could make them helpful for the enemies of the player. So by controlling planets, his enemies will be less effective.



#12 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1298

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 09:53 AM

I'm just going to assume your game is in a state of "we drop the player on the map and he can go find and pew-pew enemies or he can just hang around."

Which is, if you think about it, not too bad because the player wants to find and pew-pew enemies, that's why he plays your game.

Which brings me to a score, very simply give score-values to whatever you want to motivate the player to do, and let him earn that score.

(aka bragging rights at the end of the game, if it's a multiplayer game maybe have an "ongoing" score of some sorts)

Just make sure to make clear to the player where/how to earn the most score.



#13 LordVTP   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 12:32 AM

The concept is not score, but progression.   The player will start with a fairly restrictive deploy-able tonnage and ship count(level one hull sections are rated at one ton, level five at 32 tons, this is directly proportional to their hit points).   Combined with spending tech points to unlock stuff  these limits will force players to build ships for specific usage and tactics. The reason for the ship repository is for players to build a ship, send it to repository and remove it from the field so it doesn't count against the limit. 

 

Currently the plan is to have a boss ship in each solar system and destroying that will increase the tonnage/ship count limit a bit each time. 

 

'Instant' is probably the wrong way to describe it.  The ships have  'jump power' value that grows a a speed relative to the ships engine power/mass ratio.   At max power the ship can perform 2 jumps in succession, but there is a several seconds gap between triggering the jump and it actually taking place.  This typically takes some time though...'tactical jumping'  is meant to be a key element of the gameplay...

 

The problem i'm having is finding a relevant reason to make the normal concepts of territory control work here.  One thing i'm starting to think is I've made the planets too plentiful to have any real value.   I am also thinking i need something other then planets to occupy some of that space....but what?   Stations don't really count,  I have asteroid maps but that's not really the same thing. 



#14 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1298

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:05 AM


The concept is not score, but progression.

 

Fine, then let the planets give progression in some form when they 're conquered.

Soon the player will stop using his strategic combat skills and just use the rewards from the planets to gain progress,

and you'll have an unbalanced game, because you added progress to a game that, if you made it well thus far, already has progress.






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