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Member Since 05 Oct 2010
Offline Last Active Jul 31 2014 01:45 PM

#5076164 4X Spaceships innate special abilities

Posted by on 08 July 2013 - 10:46 AM

Economy Driven

  • Terraforming
  • Mining with either very large drills or lasers.
  • Cargo Space Modifiers +/-
  • Planet Smasher 
  • Orbital Bombardment Bonuses / Capabilities
  • Broadcast / Advertising Ship (Space Radio of sorts, or perhaps supplies goods too?)

Movement Driven

  • Standard Impulse Speed Modifiers +/-
  • Warp to and from locations +/-
  • Turn Rate Modifiers +/-
  • Warp 'Network' to warp to and from predetermined locations.
  • No engines at all (Immobile Stations)
  • Warping to specific units (Perhaps a scout with a Warp Signature Module or something for ambushes)

Defensive Driven

  • Sensor Boosting Modifiers +/- (Improved/Lower Accuracy)
  • Sensor Range Modifiers +/- (Improved/Lower 'Vision')
  • Weapon Capable Cloak (Weaker/No energy weapons, some sort of flickering)
  • Non-Weapons Cloak (Standard)
  • X-Weapon Type Hardened Shields/Armor/Hull (Resistance to X type)
  • X-Weapon Type Weakened Shields/Armor/Hull (Opposite of above)
  • Defensive Point Defense Systems (Flares, Weak AM lasers)
  • Offensive Point Defense Systems (Space-Flak, can be used as a 'real' weapon too.)
  • EM Burst (Takes friendly / enemy modules offline. Deadens combat for a while?)
  • Repair Crew Skill Modifiers (Repair Rate +/-)
  • Repair Shuttles (Repair of friendly ships)
  • Shield Transfer 

Offensive Driven

  • Unique Ammo Types targeted at Shield/Armor/Hull
  • Missile Velocity Modifiers +/-
  • Weapon Type Damage Modifiers +/-
  • Reload Speed Modifiers +/-
  • Effective Weapon Range Modifiers +/-
  • Ramming Modules (Mentioned, and a great one)
  • Multi-Module Ship (The Clustership idea mentioned above. I think they're referring to  where a single ship can split up in to two functional parts and combat the enemy on its own.)
  • Drone and Drone defense modules
  • Drone Damage, Drone Speed, Drone Accuracy Modifiers +/-

Types of Weapons

  • High Speed Mass Drivers
  • Lasers
  • Missiles and Torpedos
  • Tractor and Repulse Beams
  • Kinetic Projectile Weapons (Ala Space-Chaingun)
  • Scatter-cannon (Ala Space-Shotgun)
  • Bore Drill (I personally haven't seen anything like this, but if such a missile could get through shields, or even a Shield Bore variant it could hurt. (No idea how that would work))

#5075798 Merging Simulation and 'Social' Gameplay?

Posted by on 06 July 2013 - 03:42 PM

if the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?
Sorry, I did not want to go in to detail about what 'sport' I was trying to simulate, and in turn, pretty much made it impossible for others to imagine what I had in mind. This is not exact, but the closest thing I can come up with is the player is running a Speedball Arena. (Paintball if you would.) There can be multiple areas that can hold a game each at a time, each the same, or potentially serving different purposes (Attack & Defend, Deathmatch, whatever)

Players will be paying to use the field, borrow equipment, membership fees for services, things of that nature, while expecting the owners (The player) to cater to their needs, make sure the playing area is fun and interesting, and offer them a pleasant experience for a reasonable price.

If the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?
Unfortunately in the real world, the sport I had in mind is probably not truly a spectator sport at all, but there are lots of simulation games of things that aren't necessarily true. (Space Sims, for example) As long as it's believable, it should be okay. This is something that I haven't pinned down as being concrete, but for a realism factor, should certainly exist in some factor. With almost any sport, kids can play as well, and just because the parents bring them there does not mean that they would want to participate as well. This aspect I envisioned being something the player cares about late game, after their customer base is large and already profitable.

The overall concept sounds interesting. as long as the "games" played at the venue are entertaining, there will be some human players who watch every game. I can spend hours just watching others play NBA2k, single or multi-player, 3 minute quarters. 

 There will also be those who couldn't care less about the "games" and just want the "games" to end so they can pickup the box office receipts and go shopping for that next improvement.

This is probably where I worry most, with some players desiring to speed up the game to skip past the simulation aspects and others wanting to play the game at 1x speed the entire time. Not that I have a problem with allowing for increased simulation speed, but it certainly conflicts with the 'real-world' nature of the project that  had in mind. I'm leaning towards dropping that aspect of the game, but keeping the minor social ties. Perhaps my original idea of having true simulations between players might not be feasible without either removing the option for simulated time (Which simply puts artificial waiting periods on the players), or not having the 'realistic' connectivity between games.


...have a sports-centre where the local skilled player could just do his basic-training and take the bus to a bigger city twice/week to attend his games there)
This answers a problem I've been having with "Why should the player care about their 'smaller' locations at all once they've set up shop and have a gigantic place with lots of space and business?" The rest of your comment that preceded that though, yes, I was planning on constraints by the population and the physical space the player has available to them to change what kind of business they run in that location.


It wouldnt bother me, i m thinking something about balance, but i suspect the difficulty-rating won't be realy high anyway and this specific feature(sharing customers)  doesn't sound overpowered(off course, if, for example, there are no limits to how many customers you can get from friends, the game would become unbalanced, but that would be a mistake on balancing/fine-tuning the game)
The actual numbers could always be tweaked to not ruin player experience in either direction, but I was imagining more that the actual customers who do show up are less random and are more selected from a pool of those who have been referred. (Instead of choosing 100 people out of 10000 to visit, choose 95 out of 9900 and 5 out of the 100 who were at your friend's place.) I definitely wouldn't want that feature to be a detriment to 'friendless' players by starving them of business, nor would I want to make the game a cakewalk for someone new who has friends who've already established themselves in the game.

Archbishop, on 05 Jul 2013 - 1:05 PM, said:
What if a player doesn't care about the games that are being simmed and just wants to make tons of money? Is this not a game for them? Should I try and cater to those players anyways? Is it feasible to please both groups at once?
both groups(what is this first group, btw?) are stereotypes, most players will fall into both groups simultaneously, though not all in the same ratio.
So yes, cater them both, make sure the player who makes a lot of money can't buy up the other guy's town or something, and make sure there are much more interested goals in the game then to make a shitload of money.
In hindsight, I'm not quite sure I was coherent when writing that bit there, that or I can't even figure out what my concerns were now when writing it. I think the fear was more, "What if players get bored?" Perhaps my real question is, what makes a game like Roller Coaster Tycoon so entertaining? In the newest one, you could ride the coaster. That was kind of cool! But in the older games, ones I certainly loved as well, what was it about building coasters (And I was terrible at that) and watching people ride them that was so exciting? It's essentially the same thing is it not? You watch them ride when you make money, occasionally plop down new attractions (Some which you don't even get to mess with, like merry-go-rounds.) and build some paths, hire nameless people and put them in an open field to mow the lawns. Why was that enjoyable? With me having expanded on the type of things a player could do to the game space (Paintball arenas can be arranged in many ways, landscaped, all kinds of neat stuff, different game types can be played, etc etc), is this akin to how the roller coasters are built? Does that seem like a reasonable connection from. "Hey, this coaster I built is really cool! I would ride this, it's the best!" to "This paintball arena is awesome, I would play here." even if you don't play the game or ride coasters?

A game where you spend significant time not interacting, just passively watching could get old. but the randomly generated nature of the games may keep it interesting. its not like you're watch the same "mount horse" animation in Oblivion for the thousandth time.

 If the player can do stuff while a game is being played, that's one thing, but just waiting for the game to end? in that case, the game is basically a cut scene. and like any cut scene you should be able to skip it with any mouse click or keypress or ESC at the very least.

Not to reference RTC for the thousandth time, but that game did such a thing with no fast forward options and did so quite well I believe. 'Watching' the games would be in the same format, where there are other things to do in the mean time. Upgrade existing services you have, set prices, change options about your business, do silly customization things, design the next area for customers to play in, that sort of thing. I had no such intentions of locking the player's view or 'switching the game mode' so to speak on them and forcing them to watch the game. It simply happens while they continue standard play. Who didn't drop what they were doing to watch the coaster they just built go around the tracks one or two or five times, just to see how it was performing for a new crowd?


Can human players online interact with each other in a manner which requires them to be on the same "timeline" ? IE something like a season of play, where the teams must stay on the same game day so they can play each other without one team "moving ahead " in time because that human player runs the sim at high speed and skips game cut scenes? or one human player's team playing an away game at another human player's venue, where the game is displayed to both human players in real time?
I briefly talked about removing such a high level of connectivity between players, and I'm still not dead-set on what the solution would be. On one hand, I don't want to punish players for not attending to the game (ala a lot of social games) where crops rot in farm games, or your city falls in to disrepair or something of that nature. Here the equivalent would be you weren't making tons of money, and something changes in the simulation and your business drops even further,and you as a player can not react and return to game failure because you ran out of funds. That's not the kind of game I would like to create. On the other hand, I think that would be really fantastic. I'm going on a mental tangent here, but perhaps it would be interesting to also pull in the map data from the player's businesses. That way, the simulation aspects of it won't be ruined. 
  • Player A and Player B both have teams. Both games 'know' about the other team and the business map. (Ignore technical issues for the moment, although I don't think they're that numerous besides where the data is stored and how it's transferred. Well, kind of big, but whatever.)
  • Player A schedules a tournament to be hosted at his place. His game searches the customer database for some teams, and finds Player B's.
  • Player B's team arrives in Player's A game. Player B's experience is not effected by this at all, other than perhaps a notification of such? "Hey, your team is being used in a network game!"
  • Player A's games sim normally, and everything plays out as normal.
  • Player B is notified that the game has concluded, and has the option of 'watching' the game if they wish, through the power of seeding random number generators. (I believe this would be possible if all customer variables were stored along with separating any other random game logic from the actual sport simulation logic, along with map data as well).

I imagine it could work in the opposite direction as well, using other player's business maps for when your team travels (and having the option to watch the game if you so choose).

I really appreciate all of the feedback. It's been immensely helpful and productive on my end!

#5075535 Merging Simulation and 'Social' Gameplay?

Posted by on 05 July 2013 - 02:11 PM

Would there be a geographical element to the game? (travelling, etc.)
In this vein, I would imagine that two competing similar businesses could exist if only because a portion of the users wouldn't bother going the distance to the "best" of these places and settle for the closest one... this is a decision a lot of us do on a daily basis

I had the original idea that a player's physical location would determine their 'in world' location, but the more I think about this idea the more limiting and less fun it sounds. Forcing the player to physically move to a new location to progress in a meaningful way is not only irritating, but seems more targeted for a mobile game...

That was something I forgot to mention ( I know, scope, I know. ) in my previous post about tie ins with mobile devices, but I think I'll leave that for another day and another post.

Back to the topic though. I was more focused on the aspect of having multiple locations of business. Since this is a fantasy world, new locations for players to 'settle' can be spawned at will so that players generally have the option to settle in a similar, but unpopulated location. To avoid frustrations, I think modifying the core of those locations would be a bad idea though. (You move in to a little village. It grows in to a gigantic city and your business flops for whatever reason. Don't want that.) I think dynamically allocating space for players is another problem in and of itself again though, but in my head, I like the sound of it personally.



We still watch football don't we? Besides, I've seen fully asynchronous games where you get to play "a turn" once per week, and they still do good.

If your concept is sound, and if you have a subset of users in mind, some will survive these limitations for sure...
If you can make the outcome of matches played uncertain, keep a level of competition, and make it very hard to break ahead, games will remain fun to watch, and will provide entertainment while money comes in.

I know I haven't said it, but the random nature is almost a function of the sport I plan to model, so as long as my AI and handling of the simulation is at all accurate in any way, the results should not be predetermined. I think I am worrying about nothing in this regard, and you bring up good points with just 'watching' a game. Granted, how many people sit down and let the CPU play out a game of Madden and watch? I think I've heard of some very specialized leagues that do just that, but that's certainly not the norm. Regardless, hopefully it would be entertaining to watch.



Over the last couple of years, we've focused so much on Soccer-mums, that I don't think soccer-mums have anymore time left to play games. They're so busy on Farmville they can't even raise their kids. Might as well focus on somewhat busy adults with limited gaming time and build an experience suited for them.

 This is a terribly amusing point. I certainly wasn't targeting my game at that level of casual, but simply more of people who tolerate social-multiplayer aspects in their game. I wasn't imagining forcing you to advertise your business to your friends to progress, but doing so enhances the experience for both you in a tangible way. More so how games with co-op are generally more enjoyable when played with others.


For the rest of the post, I'm affraid that you've been very unclear about the exact nature of your concept, perhaps because even some of it remains unclear to you. I don't come out of this lenghty reading with a precise understanding of what you're trying to achieve, which makes it hard for me to comment efficiently on your questions...

This unfortunately does not surprise me. The entire time writing my post I could only think about how muddled I was making it out to be. I have a clear picture of what I want in my mind, and I'm still working on making it sane (In scope). I think if I were to sum it up in a single phrase, it would be something akin to Football Tycoon Manager? Football Manager Tycoon? But, just replace Football with another sport. You run the business, you appease the customers, you give them a place to grow and develop their talents. That is effectively phase one. You then grow as well, making deals with good players to promote your business, acting as a host for events, developing leagues, and expand, each location unique (or the same I suppose) to increase your influence and popularity. It's key though that for a 'connected' user, their accomplishments are known, or felt, even if they are in minor and non-detrimental ways. 

For example, say you have a group of customers who you've officially sponsored and have a manager to help them acquire games. They find a game, and you're the home team! Hurrah! On the bus that shows up days later could be someone else's (Another human player) team, that they have built up and developed over time. That other player will experience the exact opposite situation. If there aren't suitable human teams for yours to be playing against, it's a simulation! Generate more players, a team name, and a silly logo or something and ship them to the player. No big deal. The game would have to be intelligent enough to not pitch max-ish stat players up against rookies, but that's a technical problem, not a design one.

Also, simply typing it all out and re-reading it is a very helpful exercise sometimes.

#5075451 Should RPG mechanics/objects be mysterious or have easy/clear expanation?

Posted by on 05 July 2013 - 07:19 AM

Nethack is an example of one of these games, and my experiences with it (although they were frustrating and painful for me personally) are the ones I'm going to relate to in this regard.


E.g. there is often an "Altar" that one can pray or sacrifice corpses at.


Nethack may be the very game you are referencing here, and things like this were one of my pet peeves. I should not have to go to an outside source to see what things I can do with an object. The problem with text based games is that there are occasionally a lot of actions,that players can perform, but may not be immediately obvious to the player, and thus are punished for it. (seeing as praying and sacrificing were typically good things.) Instead of simply letting their mind's wander about why this object even exists, why not let things like examine give them more information? "This altar is adorned in white marble. A small circle of blood can be seen on the stone, along with a prayer (Let's assume the player-character can read) etched in to its surface." Perhaps that's not even enough information, but it gives the idea that not only have others prayed here, but there's a reason for that circle. I'm all for 'discovering' these actions, perhaps once you've examined it will give you a list of 'obvious' things you can do with it? Instead of just blindly typing 'kneel', 'dance', 'sing a gospel song', it'll say if you do 'interact' and have examined it previously. 'pray or sacrifice' for special actions.


Edit: This ties in with what I wrote down below, but my 'white marble' altar could be useful in hiding what alignment the altar was from the player (NH had I believe Chaotic, Neutral, and Lawful). Perhaps the white implies that it's likely Lawful, could be neutral, and is very very unlikely chaotic, perhaps a 0% chance even.) 


or know that praying can result in a bad outcome.


To be fair, the player in this instance IS playing a rogue-like, and it should kind of be expected. If it's not, it certainly will be. It would be interesting to build off the altar example if you were to include hints about different effects, rather than spell them out for the player. "Nearby the floor is singed, as if lightning struck indoors .How peculiar!" or "The smell cleanliness wafts from this altar." (Perhaps not a great idea, as it might imply that the altar always does those things, but hopefully my point is clear enough.)

magical fruits that players can pluck and eat. Different fruits do different things. Some heal you, some are poisonous etc. There is no way to tell except to experiment. I was hoping this (and other mysterious objects) would give players a sense of exploration: finding out strange things and trying them out.


Here's another aspect that I think Nethack did right and wrong. (or perhaps I missed an action I could have done, that's totally plausible too.) In that game, fruits were fruits and there was no difference between them. However, where a similar aspect applies is in two places. One: Scrolls. Two: Wands. Potions were another case but I think due to the nature of them they were reasonable in how you experimented (Drink or break it over something's head basically). Scrolls were enigmas. It might be a Cursed Scroll of Genocide or a Blessed Scroll of Wish, and as far as I knew, beyond having a curse / bless detection spell or item, you couldn't determine anything about the scroll before reading it. There were no implied relationships between a 'good' scroll and a 'bad' one. Perhaps a fireball spell and an icebolt spell would look very similar, and if you had read one already you'd know they were similar. Maybe this is for the best, I don't really know, but it certainly frustrated me. That game was hard enough, and having to restart 90% more often because the best 'strategy' was to drink / read everything you come across for the first 20 minutes (and inevitably drinking a potion of boil or fiery death or something) was just an un-fun mechanic.

Wands however, they did it right. Wands were generally 'good', in that typically pointing it at an enemy and zapping them with it wasn't an action you were going to regret (minus wasting a charge and letting them get closer / maul you again). However, one thing you could do with them on top of 'using' them properly was write with them. Granted, it was depicted as more dragging it around on the floor, but one could tell a lot about the wand by the way it interacted with the stone. Leaves a sear in its wake? Wand of Fiery Death. Sparks shoot out this way and that? Can probably safely bet it'll be shooting a lightning bolt at the next thing you point it at. There were lots of these effects, and some were immediate and obvious, but others were not. Wand that resists you dragging it along the ground? Wand of Force (Push Spell).

Basically I think there needs to be a way to 'experiment' without using the item proper, especially if there are deadly things that could come with using it. In your fruit example, why wouldn't there be an option to nibble? Perhaps you'd only get a vague idea of whether there was something wrong with it. "You nibble the apple. You feel a little ill but quickly shake it off. You eat the apple. Your stomach rumbles and burns! (Take damage) You are now immune to poison!" Or something like that. Why not also potentially harm and benefit the player at the same time? These experiments do not have to be all knowledge granting like in the wand example ( I think all the write effects were unique, don't quote me on that though ) but for food, perhaps a whole class of bad things makes you ill, but positive effects are left to the unknown. About to die in a fight and the apple was fine but the cherry was not? Chances are eating the mysterious apple is a safer bet, even if the cherry wouldn't necessarily kill you, and might even help more (If that's something you decided to do).

Granted, the big issue with what I just typed up...there's no punishment for experimenting. Why not nibble everything? That I can't answer at this very second because I haven't thought of a solution! But having that element of randomness I think is always a little exciting, I just hated having no way to determine what things were other than blindly using / drinking / reading them. I loved wands for this reason. It was always exciting to not look things up, but feel like I had some semblance of knowledge in the game. That is of course, after looking up that I could write with them in the first place. Figures~

#5075317 Cost of area transitions

Posted by on 04 July 2013 - 03:00 PM

CAVEMAN is continuous, 2500x2500 miles in size,  at 1 foot = 1 d3d unit scale. although continuous, it still draws the world terrain in 300x300 "chunks" generated as needed on the fly


I can't tell you how annoyed I've been when I've had to exit/enter a building in a city in Skyrim twice in a row, spending nearly five minutes just because I forgot to leave some random item.  Something that should have taken me a minute tops, suddenly took about five times longer.


Similar to that, Minecraft does a very similar thing, and I'm willing to bet Dwarf Fortress (Adventure Mode) does something akin to that as well. (Although to be honest, that game is a scary scary enigma. Toady probably doesn't even know how it works.) Depending on your game this could be a feasible (and in some cases even relatively easy to do) option. Even if your world isn't tile based or anything of the sorts, loading the world in to multiple 'chunks' of sorts could be a good step in reducing load times if you can pre-load some of the data before you cross that proverbial boundary in to another zone. Perhaps when a player gets within a certain distance of a predefined area transition assets that are smaller and quick to load are loaded? Though, this is more of a game programming issue rather than a design one in regards to how to tackle such an issue specifically.

With the Skyrim example though, the same technique could be used, even if there has to be a hard transition because of a change of scale. Generally the world in that game is one gigantic no-load screen block isn't it? Why is there no system of detecting that the player is near one of these boundaries and make a best attempt at loading assets that they might come in to contact with in the near future? This is especially the case of shared assets. 

Player enters a town for the first time and has a quest to talk to the mayor of the town. Why not load assets like common beds, interior wall textures, things of that nature? On top of that, it's reasonable to believe the player will be visiting the town hall, so why not pull out more specific stuff while they're at it? The banners and conference room chairs could be loaded as well? (Assuming there is room in memory for all this extra stuff. Nothing trumps fast loading times like low memory and slow file read write speeds)

#5075262 Cost of area transitions

Posted by on 04 July 2013 - 09:23 AM

Milcho made some great points, and I'm going to comment with some of my own perspectives of some of them.


Obviously one cost is time. Lots of loading-screen-like transitions will force the player to spend a lot of time waiting around doing nothing, and probably getting bored. I can't tell you how annoyed I've been when I've had to exit/enter a building in a city in Skyrim twice in a row, spending nearly five minutes just because I forgot to leave some random item.  Something that should have taken me a minute tops, suddenly took about five times longer.
I think as long as you make the areas large enough, minimize the loading times

This problem really depends on the scope of your game and the size of the areas. Gigantic 3D Monsters of games like Skyrim and the like are practically forced to have these transitions for the sake of only being able to have so many assets in memory at once. Another issue that wasn't really touched on here was that of the change of scale that occasionally happens between transitions, and those being the reasons for them. This is especially common in 2D games, but I'm sure it's done elsewhere too. How many times have you entered a house only for it to be this sprawling mansion once inside? Not having loading screens (unless you use some really fancy tricks ala something I'm sure Antechamber does, which would be disorienting anyways) means that your assets have to be to scale for whatever you want to be inside of those buildings / structures / caves / whatever.

In a smaller game, loading times are basically negligible (or should be anyways), and shouldn't negatively impact the user's experience. Unless an area is very large in your game, you are quickly moving between non-contiguous spaces, or there is a change of scale (town to world map in old RPG's, things like that) user experience could probably be improved by a fancy camera switch and streaming content in to the world. I know games like some of the later Tony Hawks did this (albeit poorly from what I understand) where you skated though long tunnels that connected their zones. Bar the player cheating and giving themselves super speed, (Conjecture) the new area would have time to load and unload old assets as they moved through the tunnel.


I've also disliked how some games allow you to be in a position to affect another area (say, on top of a wall above a battlefield), but you couldn't affect the other area simply because it was 'another area' and you had to go load into it before you could affect it.

This is huge, and should be avoided as much as possible in your game. If someone is forced to use frequent transitions for whatever reasons, I would much prefer to have awkward loading transitions between seemingly connected areas than being barred off because my skill / ability / whatever can't be used at range because it's at the border of a transition. (and makes sense to use it there.) Not only is it immersion breaking, but it's frustrating, more so than sitting around and doing nothing slightly more often in my opinion. Granted, no one likes loading times, but I don't want them to get in the way of my experience as I'm actually playing the game either. For example, some of the Zelda games do this poorly at times. (I'm talking older map tile based ones). It was more frustrating than anything to exit screen left, only to be faced with an immediate, obvious, 1x1 tile of space that you can walk around in that they decided to put on the other square. This was frustrating for two reasons! One. Now I have to wait (Even if it's super fast) and go back to where I was so I can find a way around, rather than just seeing it clear as day in the last 'room'. Two Now that map square is marked as visited as well! I didn't go there, I simply got a good view and went home. Granted, that's more of a level design flaw in my opinion that doesn't fit well with the constraints of the engine. If you have ideas for your levels, and are building the level loader / transitions around this world, take such things in to account!

#5075057 In regards to a protagonist's weapon

Posted by on 03 July 2013 - 10:26 AM

Why not equip the hero with a tool that fits him best? Or have you not decided on such a thing at this stage in the planning process. From my perspective, two characters, one who uses a rapier and a rifle verses one who uses a great-axe and a rapier are two very different characters.

Some questions to think about and ask...

  • Which of the two weapons is 'primary'? Or is this something you'll leave open to the player if there's an upgrade system?
  • What are some of the requirements for getting to new areas? Can't get to high places, why not have a grappling hook attachment for the rifle? Need to chop down trees/bramble/bone-walls/whatever to progress? An axe weapon is an obvious choice. The rifle though I think would be capable of a lot of tasks in terms of 'moving' places. What are those specific barriers that block the character's path?
  • Who is the character behind the weapon? Does it mean much to them?
  • Is the weapon plot central? Is this some ancient blade with hundreds of kills to its name, or is it some cheap look-alike the hero brought along for his little journey and fully expects to get newer / better gear? If he gets better equipment, it would make sense for them to use a hammer the whole game but perhaps it's not 'heavy' enough to hit certain switches or break certain walls down.
  • Will they be keeping and using it the whole game? If you implement weapon switching for melee, perhaps tying it to the player as a 'key' to progress might be a bad idea, unless there are only two or three different ones they can equip. (Axe for cutting down X, a hammer for hitting giant switches behind bars, a sickle on a chain for tugging objects / levers from afar?)

Maybe you're just looking for a cool weapon to fit those other things I just mentioned though.

#5074930 competitive multiplayer level design tips

Posted by on 02 July 2013 - 09:43 PM

I think people will be able to better answer your question if you elaborate on what kind of game it is. I mean, the vision that I get from what you described is more than likely very different than what you actually had in mind. I'm imagining something akin to those old zombie flash games that used to be super popular, where WASD was your movement and you'd use the mouse to aim where you wanted to shoot. Except well, the obvious different is that there will more than likely be 'interesting' terrain, which is the topic of your conversation, and instead of zombies, other players to kill.

Some questions you might want to ask first though...

  • Are the players 'equal' at the beginning of the game? If that's not the case, is it something they can change during the match, or a permanent setting depending on the match? (IE, do they select a couple of different 'classes' that determine their base stats, or can they choose from one of five starting weapons, that kind of thing.)
  • What kind of power-ups do you want in the game? Are there only weapons to be collected, or are there other things like increased speed, extra health?
  • How is your hit system? One shot and you're dead, or is it more akin to having lots of health?
  • What are the game modes? This is probably the most important question in determining what the maps should look like as a whole.

I'm just kind of speaking my mind here, but these are probably some things that you want to keep in mind for a level design of a top down game.

  • You want to focus the action in a couple of key places, much like first person shooters. I know there are heat maps online (I know Bungie did this) and since you're experienced with Halo, you might be able to determine 'why' players were dying in those places so much. 
  • Power ups are central to the movement of the players. They always want to be moving (Unless there is a sight mechanic in the game where you can't see around corners / in dark spots) to another location to become stronger, find another man to kill, or otherwise run away from a bad fight. Power ups are where they're going to go.
  • Choke-points. Sometimes funneling players into tight corridors is the way to go. Huge open rooms are only so fun and strategic. That narrow hallway which contains the rocket launcher is not only appealing, but dangerous as well. You can bet lots of players are going to die near there.
  • Bases should be defend-able. Power ups or weapons should be aplenty for players who are killed and have to respawn, and perhaps even accessible only to the team who lives out of that base. (Force walls that only let them through but bullets can pass, something akin to that?
  • With a top down game implementing Z is, in my opinion, not all that intuitive unless everything takes place in doors and there's no way to interact with another level (besides moving between them), mainly because of graphical concerns. You can't see both a man up on a ledge and the guy right below him. Pitfalls I don't think are necessarily appropriate, but depending on your game, other kinds of traps certainly are!
  • Environmental Hazards. Are they a part of your game? Saw Blades, crusher traps, shifting walls, 'random' force fields that can be activated or that pop up? These can play a huge role in where players go, where they want to go, and where they can go without being turned inside out.

#5074881 Fleet Limit

Posted by on 02 July 2013 - 05:13 PM

Looking at the mechanic of handling crew members directly I see two alternatives to tackling it, depending on how 'important' keeping crew rates high should be.

First Solution - Streaming Crew Members - Background

  • Crew is slowly regenerated over time as long as it is not in combat. Simulates people being slowly shipped to the war front via small vessels or some other means (Quick birthing? I don't know)
  • Crew is freely distributed between ships for efficiency if they are not in combat. (Perhaps a slower rate if they are, to simulate transporting some extra men to a disabled vessel mid-battle)
  • Rate of regeneration is dependent on empire morale, distance from home worlds, and ship size. Being at a friendly planet should offer very very fast crew regeneration rates.

Second Solution - Actual Crew Members - Foreground

  • Crew 'damage' is permanent on a ship to ship basis.
  • Crew can be freely distributed between ships for efficiency when they are, and aren't in combat, similar as above.
  • Ships recover their crew counts by meeting up on friendly well-established worlds (almost instant regeneration, 100 people isn't a lot when there are millions there.) or an extra ship meets up with them to distribute crew.

Something to note for both situations, (of course there might be others as well.), ships can more than likely have more than 100% of their crew, and perhaps can carry 120% of their 'maximum' loads. This would help offset not only crew members dying during combat, but would allow ships to buffer up a damaged fleet without losing efficiency themselves. (120% crew = 100% crew in terms of efficiency in this example, but it could be say 120% = 105-110% efficiency or something like that too)

#5074859 The purpose of crew when you fly the ship?

Posted by on 02 July 2013 - 03:43 PM

Hopping back to the original topic of...

Flight Support: Rather than taking over control they can enhance certain aspects to make life even easier for the captain (you).
Independent Tasks: When left to their own devices with enough resources will go about doing useful things on the side that don't directly bump noses with flying the ship.
Away Team Role: In the vain of Star Trek, you select members of your crew to accompany you on missions on the ground, forming squad under your command. So I imagined there needs to be reasons to choose different crew members with different roles.

You mentioned that you want to have somewhere between two and forty crew members, approximately. If you're borrowing from the Trek-ish style of universe, generally members of the crew are some of kind of proficient at other things than just what they're good at. If there's a hull breach and your men aren't immediately in danger, any one who has experience in engineering can go and help with the problem, even if they aren't an 'engineer' so to speak. There are lots of roles and tasks that people can perform, and depending on how complicated you want the simulation to be, some crew members could be good at lots of things, which could tie in to the independent tasks. 

Perhaps you have a small ship of five people. Obviously you aren't going to designate a crew member to be a dedicated chef, but someone could be good at it, and might in their spare time work on improving the meals of others versus them eating the gross rations out of the can. This overlap can be applied to flight tasks as well. Sure, your geologist isn't going to be an expert in the medical field, but if your medic is down, he's probably your next best bet and probably has enough training being in 'sciences' that he could figure out how to at least stabilize him if something had happened. Perhaps your crew members could have specific interests that they would like to learn or participate in. Say the helmsman always wanted to learn how to fly a ship and both him and the navigator aren't doing much (Say you're on an away mission or some such at the moment.) They might just chit chat and show him the ropes a bit, so in the future when you take a torpedo to the helm and your only navigator goes down, you might just have someone who doesn't pilot the ship like a burning blimp to take over. 

Socializing in general is something that everyone probably wants and needs to do to some degree, and would be good for morale. I might have missed whether you wanted to have fine control over your crew members, but 100 seems impossible to do so with so I'll assume so not. Perhaps they could develop relationships, synergy, likes, and dislikes, things of that nature between one another on their own. Say in the previous example you simply have a rookie navigator ready to take over, but he's never been at the helm before. Not only are you not flying as efficiently because he's inexperienced, but your tactical officer might miss a torpedo shot or two more often because of shot correction issues and the bumpy ride. (That's probably not so applicable to space combat really, but you probably get the idea that I'm going for.)

For those characters who don't have 'busy work' to do in regards to their specialization, the simple socialization aspects would probably be that. Learning new things, relaxing to keep up morale, helping others if need be. Perhaps the resident biologist had discovered a new virus and your doctor is twiddling his thumbs? Why not have the doctor help him with his task? Everyone benefits, and two characters are now being busy. Not to say they should always cluster in groups for tasks, but if one is screwing around and the relationship system is in effect, it's totally reasonable to see that happen every once in a while. If you could order people around to do specific things and you have picked up a new crew member, why not assign an old favorite (or yourself!) to introduce him around to the others to build that crew synergy up with the new guy?

#5074836 Sectors & battles (strategy)

Posted by on 02 July 2013 - 02:29 PM

I personally think there's a market for these kinds of games, but to be fair, there aren't a lot of them out there (Or not a lot that necessarily suit my needs or wants) and I'm not sure why! The biggest issue I think is that there's a lot of room for making a bad game in this department. Too much micro and it becomes tedious and deal with every little decision. Too little and you have a game that doesn't appeal to those who want to dive in to the specific aspects of running / managing whatever you're dealing with.

Regardless, back to the topic!

Also sorry, I couldn't figure out how to quote properly. This will have to do.

- you build ships/form fleets FOR THE AI

- the AI use the fleets to conquer/defend the sector (which also include deciding which planet to attack next - within the sector)


So perhaps then the player has a few options that they can select for any given fleet. They have two or three immediate, and important options that I can tell.

  • What is the fleet made up of?
  • What is the fleet's current task?
  • Who is leading the fleet? (Optional)

This is just the military side of thing, and I think depending on the other points of the game really determines how much detail the developer might want to go into assuming these are all the things they can do in this regard.

Personally unless the game were meant to be ultra simple, I think simply allocating percents to each of your fleets is not particularly exciting game play. Having some level of granularity of the fleet compositions I think is almost required. Although this ties in with resources, which is something I'll also mention later. Perhaps in the most simple model let's say we have three types of ships. Scouts, Combat Vessels, and Supplies? 

Scouts can supply increased vision to the fleet, don't die easily to combat ships (but aren't killing stuff either really), and are really fast. They'll fight other scouts in combat if left to their own devices.

Combat Ships are slow and destructive, designed to kill other combat ships and bombard planets. They will kill a scout one on one, but can easily be swarmed by the smaller ships and killed.

Supply Ships are...well, I'm not perhaps entirely sure what their purpose is. If there's no energy weapons, perhaps ammunition. They can also carry materials / boarding parties / weaponry / upgrades / repairs for the other ships in the fleet. They can defend themselves against a single scout or two (Maybe) but if for some reason they're alone, they're hosed against a combat ship. 

More complicated fleet models could perhaps use the classifications I made in my previous post, but I think assigning 'units' of these ships to fleets would be better than a simple % composition. (20% supply and 20% scout is not appropriate for a home fleet so to speak if they're banging on your doors. Your combat ships are close enough to home where they can just pull back / resupply at a friendly planet, and presumably you'd have vision from planets or something of that nature.)

It would be easy to keep it simple though. Say you have 5 scout units, 5 combat units, and 3 supply. 
Fleet one with a tough aggressive AI gets 3/3/2 and the dumb passive AI gets 2/2/1 to deal with it. Each of those units though could represent X number of ships depending on the unit type. (20 scouts per scout unit per say)

This brings us to resources!

In the game there are at least two types of resources, if not a third.

  • Raw Materials - Build ships, trade, buy stuff. There can be multiple types of raw materials, but it's basically the equivilant of gold/metal/whatevers in other games. For the military side of thing, it's probably gained from conquering worlds, capturing supply ships, and simply over time from peaceful planets.
  • Ships - Use raw materials and other things to acquire these, either by building them with a time penalty, or purchasing more directly for a high cost from whoever.. Ships should be a limited resource, as there has to be some penalty for throwing a weak fleet at an obviously superior force.
  • Admirals - Optional - Not everyone can lead a fleet of ships. This is an optional component, but is important in terms of splitting your fleets if this is a resource that you have to manage. You shouldn't be gaining or losing them all that often, and it ties in with my people comment from earlier. Perhaps events can get you a new admiral, and losing them is pretty much if you suicide an entire fleet in to the enemy.

It depends on the game being developed, but one of my favorite aspects of any game is having characters I can get attached to. In this case, it's the admiral. In a lot of 4X games (Not saying this is one) you can do things like name your ship, and that ship keeps track of its kills and things of that nature. Ships are...well, fragile in a huge military, and I don't think that makes a ton of sense to have a ship level up / get stronger / have those things tabulated. Maybe it's important, but in a game like this, you won't have that level of attachment. Instead, why not those leading your fleets?

To have your armies do different things at once, you require admirals. One admiral per fleet, each with their own stats (If applicable). Even if it's just a name, it's something the player can get behind. Personally I think it helps build a story, even more so if it's kind of a procedural game that can be played many times. Who remembers when they sent fleet A against B and won a big battle, as compared to when Admiral Slackoff led a force half the size against a superior and won because he's the best admiral in your empire? Chances are more people would remember the latter event. Any sort of level up system is just a 'bonus', and certainly not required by any means, but forcing the player to make a set of decisions based on this could be an interesting choice. Only have three admirals but have four enemies that need to be dead? Oh well. Perhaps dealing with ships in your home world is always free and requires no one (but perhaps if the admirals supply bonuses, obviously your home system ships wouldn't get any, but it's not to say they'd be less organized or anything like that, just no extras. Or maybe you get penalties! Who knows?)

Back to fleet composition real quick though before I'm done posting. Depending on the style of game, and just based on what I and you have posted, I can see two solutions to 'upgrading' a fleet to tackle a specific problem. I'm sure there are infinitely many more though!

I wonder if this is fun... Or if shouldn't there be some "special forces" that could be allocated to fleets somehow (like one alien uses distortion waves so we send ships with special resistant hulls; another alien uses some electronic warfare equipment so we send additional ships with scramblers to protect the fleet).

In the totally percentage based model, one might be able to acquire tokens of sorts that represent a fleet wide upgrade, and each fleet can only have one token at a time. Perhaps you buy improved shields from a merchant and apply them to a fleet, using your token slot. These shield prove extra effective against an alien race who uses ballistic weapons, but otherwise does nothing against the laser using schmucks on the other side of the galaxy. Other 'tokens' could include things like Planetary Death Ray (Improves capture rates of planets or something), Improved Tracer Modules (More damage to tiny ships), Sensor Module Booster (Higher and more accurate vision/reports if that's a mechanic you use), etc etc.

If you aren't using that model, there's simply acquiring new ships that can accomplish these tasks. In the unit per ship compositions, you could buy a 'Sensor Boosted Scout' ship that you can apply to your fleet. The AI would take care to give survival priority to these ships, and use them intelligently and such. This also ties in to the players caring about specific ships and the admirals leading them. Perhaps an admiral has a bonus to ship firing range, so you throw the fancy Long Range Bombardment Battleship Unit in to his fleet and watch him melt his adversaries from afar. (Assuming the AI isn't dumb!)

I don't think that there should be modules targeting a specific alien race, but rather a specific ship 'style'. In my previous instance, if there's a alien species where all of their fleets have -30% range but +40% damage, then equipping upgrades / modules / special ships that give +20% range is useful everywhere, but crippling to that army because your AI in theory would kite them and kill them unless they got the jump on you! (Shame on the player for not having scouts!)

#5074793 Sectors & battles (strategy)

Posted by on 02 July 2013 - 11:36 AM

I'm assuming a few things when I write this, so please forgive me if these ideas aren't applicable to your topic.

One of the biggest questions I have is what is the say...metagame, of your game? Perhaps that's not the right word. You have a predefined 'strategy' where AI Admirals lead fleets of ships to accomplish tasks in a number of ways. However, what are some of the long term means of accomplishing your task of conquering the galaxy?

Are the turns slow and meticulous, meaning that not a lot happens during each turn, IE, your scouts get spotted and a battle begins, but you have plenty of time to route them away from their massive fleet that's bumbling about, or do you just get a message telling you that they've been spotted and promptly stomped in to dust? Is the game going to take long enough to where research is something real that you care about, or is it just about using the ships you have / persuade to be on your side to duke it out and hope you manage them well enough to win in the end?

How much in detail do you want the battles to be? Personally I think having turns be small periods of time would be a better thing seeing as it allows for more 'tactics' in traditional combat. Though, this kind of depends on what the typical ship is like and whether it would make sense in the realm of turns for the rest of the world. To explain better, combat between a squad of space fighter jets would probably not last as long as combat between space battleships, so to speak. It kind of depends on the world that you want to build and the feel for the game. Having battleships slug it out for multiple turns is feasible if a turn is a couple of hours, but doing the minute per minute turn that dog fighting would likely be manageable with seems really tedious, and would probably be suited better to a more tactics style game (Final Fantasy Tactics, those kinds of games).

I'm just trying to imagine what combat would be like when two similar sized fleets collide with the intent of killing one another. Sure, there are pros and cons to the admiral leading the fleet, and fleet composition, (Which I think you should rethink a bit, but I'll get to that.), but what is there to do other than to watch them duke it out? Would the battle be a single turn, or would it be Mount and Blade style (I'm sure there are other games that do this)? In M&B, when an NPC battle begins, every 'tick' of time that passes the armies would lose an appropriate number of troops depending on their relative strengths, and the weaker / stronger army might retreat and pull back based on any number of things (Horse riders can flee foot soldiers, but the opposite is not so true. A larger army can almost always pull back from a weaker force even if slower, mainly because engaging is pretty much suicide for the smaller team.) Would the player have time to react with another admiral / fleet that was close by, or would there possibly be actions that could be performed on a more micro level to help out the combat. You made mention of having different squadrons and such of unit types...

That brings me to your fleet composition. I'm not designing your game, so perhaps I don't know how simple you want it to play. (Maybe this is for mobile, so having tons of stuff rather than a little slider that decides their 'budget' isn't really an option.) If I were doing this myself, and possibly to give you some ideas, here's what I might implement.

Ship Types - There are perhaps 4-5 different classes of ships, each with their own unit of 'size', a concept I'll get to in a moment. Things like Battleship, Cruiser, Destroyer, Space-Artillery, Frigate (Basically Scouts) might be appropriate.

Ship Size - Each of those types has their own size. Battleships and Space-Artillery would probably be the biggest of the group, followed by Cruisers, Destroyers, then finally Frigates. This is what determines how big the fleet is when they're combined (10 Frigates = 2 Battleships in relative size, something akin to that. )

Fleet Size - The total size of the fleet. Split in to 4-5 groupings. (Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Grand/Huge/Whatever) Maybe if you don't have perfect intelligent you'd get this, or a range? (Smallish Fleet, which could be Tiny or Small, that kind of thing) I don't know if this would be relevant, and so it might not be applicable to your vision. Though, this could come in play with your admirals. I don't know how important they are to your game, but I've become very attached to the idea of having 'people' that matter leading armies that don't. Maybe some admirals are better at leading tiny and small fleets, and get bonuses / special tactics that they can use while in such a thing. Perhaps the fleet size restricts actions they can take? Huge fleets can do sweeps of an entire area with great success, while tiny ones could perform reconnaissance missions and things of that nature?

This brings me back to the combat. Perhaps it would be neat to be able to split a fleet at any time, but ships that are moved to a new one suffer a penalty for not having a proper admiral? Or maybe you can just do this whenever. Say this particular combat will take six turns to finish, and neither side can flee effectively, so they're going to duke it out to the death. Could you split a fleet and tell a few ships (Think two Huge fleet groups initially, then one side becoming a Tiny and a Large respectively) go elsewhere, only to round about on the next turn and flank them? Maybe that could just be a special action the admiral could automatically perform, but that doesn't sound very 'fun' so to speak. Maybe that's just me, and perhaps I'm going to much in to the micro, which might not be what you want for the game. Maybe they should do that automatically, or perhaps if you didn't have another group nearby you were hosed and shame on you for putting all your eggs in one basket.

This whole idea kind of ties in with your 'fleets being made up of squadrons' that you mentioned above mind you, so if you don't think that's a good idea, I'm not sure how applicable this all is. An iPhone/Android game? Yeah, probably should keep it simple and determine fleet composition some other way than micro-ing ships to a fleet (Unless that's what you really want of course! Not saying it can't be done, but it would be a very 'rich' phone game in comparison to others). Dekstop? I'm sure there's a game someone made where you manage 1000 ships down to the individual crew member, so doing small groups of Cruisers and Destroyers to more than manageable.