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Starfall Tactics: MMO mode development

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Relampago

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Aaand we are back after the test we annoucned with some updates on Starfall Tactics development, new content and features. We are getting ready for the next big game update and huge test dedicated to MMO part of the game (Starfall Tactics is separated for 2 main modes: ranked quick matches and MMO mode (Galaxy Conquest)) - so we add features mostly for this mode and also extend existing content with new ship modules, structures, ships and so on. I'll try to describe most of them as briefely as I can and not bore you with unnecesary details.

- First of all, we designed special missions which are more fun than simple tutorials players are usually bored to complete (although we already have and will add some fast tutorials for game basics). It's especially helpfull in our case because of many different and deep mechanics you will normally miss and won't understand from the first try. So, here come Challenges - a special set of missions with rewards which depend on the medal you earned for completing it. 
It helps players master the game and explains many things deeper than usual, along with being a very fun experience: for example, there is a stealth mission, or a mission where you have to defend against enemies using only mines, or a mission where you have to defeat hige ships by fooling them with small maneuverable vessels and etc.
 

challenge_mines3res.jpg

- Galaxy Map Regions is another thing we had in our minds long ago - this thing should be very familiar for you, especially if you know games like EVE. Now we come back to the concept of the Galaxy divided into several huge zones as the time has finally come to make it real and there are some things on the way to the game which require its realization. For example, quests and tutorial missions require a set of safe zones or at least some fixed objects which will remain under control of your faction or neutral, while each faction also should have a minimum unconquerable zone to survive even under high pressure. And here it comes - there will be two main regions in Starfall Tactics: Inner Region and Outer Region, and, additionally, special Home Regions which are located inside Inner Region and dedicated to the specific faction.

galaxymap.png

- Resources: in all previous tests we used only usual things like ore and supplies to, obviously, just test the whole resource system. To be honest, we had a plan that could turn our MMO part into a kind of 4X - and it all sounded really great, with plenty of resources, factories, colonies, precise managment and so on. A really deep and interesting system. That's what you think before it comes to implemeting it into the game and thinking through players behavior which, actually, can't be as perfect as you imagine in your dreams. In other words, it appeared that a group of players taking control over a solid portion of resources and making bad decisions can ruin all the system for their faction. And that's here where we restricted resources control, decreased their number (cause really, why would you need 22 different resources here?). 

- Personal Space Structures: as long as Outer Region can't be conquered in Starfall Tactics, its' exploration becomes more dangerous and hard, while remaining more profitable. Also, the closer you go to the center of the Galaxy, to the more secure Inner Region or even Home Regions, the more chance that somebody has already got all precious resources from there. That's why we are adding auxiliary sctructures each player can build in Outer Region: they are not as huge as other Stations because of being designed for the profit of a single Commander and will help them by mining some resources or allowing to warp on them directly from the base. Of cause, they cost some resources, can be destroyed and have a maintenance cost.

miningstationres.jpg

Message Beacon:  Along with mentioned structures, another idea came into our minds: we thought about creating a special one with an ability to leave messages on the Galaxy Map. Just because it's fun - to leave messages which can contain all kind of tips, threatenings or even may be your House advertisement.

Later we decided to do not include it as exactly the same structure type and instead make a separate fun thing, a message beacon. This is not a hard structure to construct, but also is not a permanent as this way one day Galaxy becomes a message board. It can't be destroyed manually as you don't usually look for messages in the bottles to burn them, right? So It's life time is limited and directly depends on how much likes or dislikes it receives - in this case, if everybody loves your message, it stays in the space longer with each like. And if your message is not that nice, each dislike decreases a time it stays in the space.

 

And here are some other general updates:

- Unit Progression is a thing which we added to our plans long ago, made a concept...but haven't implemented since it takes too much time for 230 units, especially with the concept we had - where most rewards were decrorative - like champion skins or decals. Now it's time to finally make something with it, and, after detailed analysis and discussion, our Team decided to go with a traditional way for unit progression: skill tree with various passive bonuses.
Still, we found a way to make it more exciting: each and every ship has its' own Mod (talent) tree with bonuses not only to simple characteristics, but to special modules, certain weapons or types of damage which logically can fit it, engines and even things like cargo. And all together it gives so much variety in building each ship, and a lot of lovely hours to us making 230 skill trees. ;) 

shiptreeeres.jpg

- We designed a couple of new modules: Plasma Engines (increses maximum ship speeed) and three shield modules which allow to drain, transfer and distribute shield. In fact, new modules in our game is a constant source of new content, at least as long as we have ideas for them - that's like making new skills for new heroes in MOBA games, for example. And to be honest, we've already prepared more than a basic part for alpha, so we will take a short break in making modules.

shieldmerger.gif
 
- "Dozens of pirate Commanders from all over the Galaxy fighting as one, side by side...it's quite a strange situation for this type of people!" - we once thought. So, the Team came to a decision to separate them into several huge bands with their own organization, ships, history, weapons and, in general, just different fleets and behavior. I don't really think you are interested in reading their short stories or detailed description, so let's just show their bases:
 
pyramidmothershipres.jpgnebulordmothershipres.jpgscreechersmothership.jpg
We also have all these models on our Sketchfab page.
 
- You probably met a situation when you want to add something into the game, but it really looks too OP to be there. It could be a pain unless you realise why it is so op: in our case, we wanted to add a Support Station you can build in a quick match survival mode, in pvp ranked battles or while destroying/defending enemy base on a Galaxy Map. Long story short, we couldn't actually do it unless we finally made repairng a passive thing generally for these types of structures. Now it works just fine.
 
So, here are all the main changes for the past month, not including other lesser improvements, visual ship rework, tones of work with interfaces and, of course, all stuff we needed to implemet this changes and so on. If you need more information on a certain feature from this post - you can find some in a news section on our website. Also, if you are not familiar with Starfall Tactics in general and haven't followed our topic on the forum some things might be not so clear - feel free to ask away in this case.
 
See you! :)
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