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How to make everything simple

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So, this is the start of the first project I'll be able to work full time on. How did this happen? I've been making games for aaages as a hobby, and it got me a job in the industry over four years ago. It was a good enough job, but it basically killed dead any drive to create games in my own time. I learned a lot in my 4+ years though, but it seemed the longer I was there the less I learned, and I certainly wasn't doing much recently. So with that experience under my belt and some money stashed away (always helpful), I thought now was as good a time as any to leave my job. I don't plan to do this full time forever, but for the time being that is where I am. smile.png

The Old

Spiral Lords was a game I created in 2009, it was the second game I ever released (a long two years after my first game). It was a game of galactic conquest. It wasn't a complicated game at all, and I was super proud of the AI I created for it. Up close it looked like this:


Your mission was to connect the stars so that ships could move between them. Ships would move to your own stars or attack enemy stars. You could make ships travel all around the galaxy in a big circle it you wanted too, though it'd take you a while to setup all those connections! The AI would do the same thing, I was proud of the AI because it was basically node-based weighted route-finding before I even knew what any of that meant! Graphically it was pretty shiny, lots of fiery animations and the black hole in the center spinning around like crazy gave it some dramatic sense of size. And you could zoom out to reveal the full extent of the galaxy you were playing in, complete with generated spiral arms:


The New

So that's all the old stuff. For the new game I wanted everything better, but also simpler. Clearer gameplay, easier navigation, sexier visuals and more depth.

The game play; this will no longer require the player to create connections for every single star system and keep track of a long chain of them, instead the game will be introducing Fleets. Fleets can be created in an owned system, from there they can be assigned patrol points to other systems. From these other systems, the fleet will gather new ships (if you own that system) or attack (if it's an enemy system). So the the concept of "connections" is still there, but limited within fleets, which themselves will be limited in number and how many connections they can make.

Navigation will be a lot easier and more intuitive, with panning, zooming and toggles for all on-screen information. The player should be able to see anything without spending time searching for it. I also added a cool feature that lets you actually spin the galaxy round, it's similar to panning.

Depth is something the old game didn't really have, because the game was so simple. So this is a tricky one to add, as I don't want to layer on more concepts for the player to have to grasp. Everything should be directly related to the core concept of fleet movements, and could be ignored and learned through practice rather than teaching. For example, a tech tree could be used to help you toward a certain play-style, this could involve unlocking extra fleets, allowing more fleet connections, increasing the distance fleets can move in one connection, etc. There will be different types of ship (some of which are useless without others, like fighters can't travel without carriers), and ship production, so system happiness could also be a factor to consider when moving fleets, left too much alone and they may stop producing anything! Whatever it is, it can't be a distraction.

Visuals, well the shininess is the least of my worries. The most important thing is that information is displayed clearly, as there is a lot to see, the players must be able to decide quickly what is important without browsing the whole galaxy! So far all HUD elements are small icons, I've not found this to be an issue myself, as it allows a lot more of the actual game to be seen, but I understand some people would prefer them larger so I'm trying to make it as scalable as possible. Anyway, for the time being this is what I got, thank you for reading:


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The Old interface kind of reminds me of GalCon Legends. If you haven't played the game, you should. More for research purposes than because it's an awesome game.


I like the concept you're going with though. It looks really cool.

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The Old interface kind of reminds me of GalCon Legends. If you haven't played the game, you should. More for research purposes than because it's an awesome game.


I like the concept you're going with though. It looks really cool.


Thanks! And no, I haven't played that game but it's a similar concept, my original inspiration to make mine was another game called Pax Galaxia, from which I completely ripped the connections idea and the star bonuses (some had greater attack from that star, or defense or production, etc). I think my inspiration for the graphical style back then, even though I didn't do it much justice, was Spore as I was hooked on that! :)

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