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Space Hockey

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Kavik Kang

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Space Hockey

Welcome, sports fans, to the Colonial Space Hockey League!

Founded in 2322 the CHL features ships, weapons, and equipment reminiscent of the primitive technologies of the piracy crises of the early colonial era. In the earliest days of their Post-Terrestrial Age humanity's fledgling network of primitive colonies had nearly collapsed and failed. Throughout a nearly 20-year long period beginning in the mid 2160's the civilian population were forced to rise up and save themselves from starvation... or from those seeking to save themselves from starvation. Through a trial-by-fire the earliest colonial pioneers quickly evolved the tactical and operational doctrine of operating their highly configurable “Civilian Enforcement Ships”, a unique class of ship that ultimately revolutionized their capabilities in the harsh realities of space and most likely saved their home world from complete devastation at least once. This often overly romanticized formative era of the Confederation of Colonies is a sentimental favorite period of history for most people of Earth and the colonies. The change too this early colonial theme shortly before the formation of the league greatly enhanced the popularity of what had already been the fastest growing sport in the colonies.

The CHL consists of 24 teams divided into two conferences. Each conference has three divisions and each division is comprised of four teams. There are 18 games in a season. Teams play nine divisional games during the regular season, three games against each divisional opponent. The remaining nine games of the schedule are played against teams from across the league. The post-season playoffs consist of three rounds between eight teams. The three divisional winners, and one wild card team, compete in a two-round single-elimination playoff tournament to determine the conference champion. The two conference champions then play each other to determine the league champion. In the early days of the league the CHL was a single conference of 12 teams divided into two divisions of six teams each. They played 11 games per season, one game against each team in the league. A tie-breaker for division winner could create a playoff game, and an order of precedence of statistics beginning with total season points for and against broke ties for making it into the playoff game. The division winners then played each other for the championship game.

A Space Hockey team is comprised of six players. While many different team compositions are in use within the league the standard, or classic, formation of a Space Hockey team is two offense, two midfielders, and two defenders. Over the course of a game this “ideal formation”, or whatever general philosophical formation a team uses as a part of their strategy, is often not what a team has in the game at any given moment. Each individual player also has their own ship lineup and most players use at least two classes of ships in their lineup. This means that most players switch between at least two roles over the course of a half depending on which ships they are using. Each player is allowed as many ships as they can squeeze into their hangar bay each half. If a player runs out of ships, they are out of the game for the rest of that half. Good ship lineup strategy, and management, is a key aspect of any championship team.

The Colonial Space Hockey League sanctions nine 1/5th scale ships. The pilots, of course, fly these tiny replica ships remotely from the hangar bay using the same flight control stations used to control drones on the fleet's CLD drone carrier ships. The league would have a hard time finding talent if they asked the players to actually be inside of full-sized ships. On offense the fast and agile “S-Ships” (Stinger, Scorch, & Savage) tend to score the most goals, but they are sometimes destroyed by a single stream of fire from the larger defenders. The midfielders, the “P-Ships”, are a mixed bag. Predator is the best man-to-man defender in the league and is also decent playing offense. Phantom is the pure hunter/killer that spends most of its time just trying to bash other players out of the game, and Phoenix has a strategic value that makes it an obvious choice no matter what a player's role might be. The big defenders, “The Bashers”, require a player to build their lineup around them just to get away with using one of these heavy ships and still be in the game at the end of the half... but the other team has a hard time scoring when Ogre, Juggernaut, or Leviathan are guarding the goal.

 

I am about to begin trying to put together an indie team to actually make Space Hockey. If anyone is interested in helping bring Space Hockey to life you can contact me through this site, or my e-mail address is Kavik_Kang@hotmail.com.

The 64-page design document for Space Hockey is attached to this post.

 

Pirate Dawn Universe – “I wish that I could live it all again!”

 

Space Hockey.odt

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What was I thinking! I can't make a post without giving away a least some cryptic song lyrics. Since I went a little into the explosion of the sun during the Astral Invasion/Fallen Angel Rising era of the PDU in the Space Hockey document, this seems very appropriate and yet not too much of a spoiler...

 

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The feel of movement of the ships is the key to making a top-down arcade game like this truly addictive.

This sentence appears nearly at the end of the doc. Up to this point i assumed it is a 3D game with cockpit perspective. I'd need to start reading everything again because this changes everything.

So i suggest you introduce this at the very beginning. Screen illustrations would also help a lot - does not need to be art.

I assume you talk about a game where every player sees the entire playfield - so all ships, goals and puck. Controls like Asteroids? So very old school? (I'm a bit worried people nowadays may be resistant against this type of controls because 3D and first / third person perspective solved the issue of linking orientation to the player so well. Asteroids needs practice to get this right.)

I don't play sports games, but i should be able to understand the design doc which is not really the case yet. I also miss that super important thing of how does the player control the ship. Keyboard / mouse / gamepad / analog stick?

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Keyboard and gamepad are "equal but different" control methods in this type of game, based on Star Control and Subspace players.  There are things you can do with a gamepad you can't do with the keyboard, and vice-versa.  The Subspace community existed for a very long time, I was there from the earliest days for almost a decade.  So I have experience from Subspace to rely on for understanding how certain aspects like some of the ones you are mentioning work.

I moved the notes to the end of the document and the stuff about gamepad control is at the end because of that.  There were remaining notes like that because I didn't want to clutter it with details.  That was obviously a detail that I should have found a way of mentioning at the beginning though, you are right.

 

Edited by Kavik Kang

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10 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

I moved the notes to the end of the document

Found it (Initially skipped that final section - assumed it is more about open / optional ideas for the game). I see you also adress my worries about fixed camera angle there with good argumentation :)

Note that although i'm over 40 i don't not know Subspace, Star Control or Nintendo Ice Hockey. You should not assume your audience even knows Asteroids well enough (probably younger programmers looking for a project to work on).

2D Topdown, fixed camera angle, D-Pad controls... some keywords like that at the introduction are really necessary to shape the vision for the game.

(What i still wonder about is: Is camera centered to playfield or to your own ship showing only partial playfield? The information may be there but just to give feedback on early questions that arise to the reader.)

 

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That is all very good advice.

The camera can be done either way in this type of game.  My top down games are like Subspace, and most games like this, that center the camera on the player's own ship.  I think this is better in a lot of ways.  If the camera is centered on the play area it is a lot harder to aim and have a sense of speed and direction.  With the camera centered on the player, the entire screen acts like the "funnel" used to aim guns in a jet fighter's HUD.  You don't even look at your ship, the entire screen serves as your movement and aiming cues so your attention is entirely on the target.  With the camera focused on the playing field you have to pay more attention to your own ship than the target just to aim, and even then your aim is usually off

Centering the view on the player also allows for radar and shooting things BVR (off-screen), and it is a very satisfying feeling to hit things off screen just guessing by radar.

 

Edited by Kavik Kang

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Actually, Joe, since you've been so helpful... I've already run into a few issues in thinking about how to actually put together a group of people to make this as an indie game.  I don't plan to start doing that until after the holidays.  I have no experience doing this in an era when it is a thing people actually do, haha, but I've already run into a problem with it maybe you have some advice about.

I already got one e-mail from someone wanting to help, a programmer with no experience making games but would like too.  I am not ready to start trying to do that yet anyway, but it immediately felt wrong to draw some 20-something aspiring programmer into my world of endless failure thinking this might be a way to actually get somewhere.  I know how to make games, I don't know how to get a game made.  I don't want to waste one of the best years of someone's lives thinking they are getting somewhere when I don't know how to get them there.

So it really feels unethical too me to even do this unless I first find a programmer who has a lot more experience in the industry than I do, and feel as though that programmer and I could almost do this by ourselves.  Am I just from the wrong generation to "get the indie thing", because I really feel like this is wrong to do to people of this age without my knowing that I can actually do it.

 

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First, i would be happy if i could spend some time on my own game ideas, but that's impossible. Contributing to another project is no option for the same reason. (I work on technology that will be interesting for the game industry, but i need more time than expected and i'm already risking financial issues...)

That said, creating a video game means a big risk, a high probability of failure, high probability of having no success. Learning from failure is an important part of game development. If your game fails at any point, your inexperienced programmer won experience and that's the only reward that is for sure.

The good thing is that your game is easy to code. A beginner should be capable of this. You also don't need to spend too much effort on content creation (none for a working prototype). Ideal conditions. Totally doable with just one programmer. But you need patience. Every programmer underestimates the amount of necessary time. If someone asks me how long do you need for this, i answer him twice the time that i think - inaccurate. Better programmers than me have the same issue.

What you definitively need is an agreement of what happens with the project if he decides to quit before it's done. He should be ok with you keeping the code to continue with somebody else. Discussion and Handshake may be enough for this if it's an unpaid hobby project - contract otherwise. (At that point it may be a bit harder to continue, depending on how messy the code is. A second programmer would improve this - they would start to make the code more readable to each other)

 

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I know it is not the type of person that I am likely to find, but when I start this I think I am going to give myself the first 2-3 months to try and find a programmer with at least more experience in your industry than I have.  I think that would make this far more likely to actually happen, and I really don't want to involved people who are at the exact moment in their lives when they should be establishing something real for themselves.  It's an exponential thing, 18-24 is where you most likely either succeed in your career or not and I really don't feel right about drawing people of that age group into this.

Game design is the same way with where you think you are.  When you think you are getting close to being finished with a first draft design doc, that probably means you are almost half way there:-)  So I had already adopted Scotty's philosophy of always doubling the time you think it will take in estimates like that.  "How else do you expect me to maintain my reputation as a miracle worker."

I was thinking 2 programmers, 1 artist, and maybe someone to do sound/audio would be all that was needed to make Space Hockey.  Does that sound about right too you?

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1 hour ago, Kavik Kang said:

I was thinking 2 programmers, 1 artist, and maybe someone to do sound/audio would be all that was needed to make Space Hockey.  Does that sound about right too you?

Sounds right to me, but note that i'm no part of game industry either. I have released two indie games made entirely on my own, so i lack game related team experience as well.

A programmer is usually capable to create 'programmer art' that can act as a placeholder, so you don't need artists from the start. Also a working prototype could be done in spare time as a hobby project, limiting the risk to destroy careers :)

Usually a working prototype can be done quickly and then you see if it's fun and how people like it. We say the last 10% of work take 90% of time - this is very true. So polishing details should be postponed and in your case this includes graphics. (It's hard to decide for a visual style for this kind of game: Retro look with pixel art or realistic 3D ships / simple star field in the background or some kind of sports arena. How to include some eye candy to attract people. etc.)

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Yes, I was aware of programmer art... I have my own term "programmer game design" I based on that, but people don't like it when I say things like that;-)

I think I'm going to try to find the thing I probably can't find (you see why I usually fail at the "git 'er done" side of things?) and try to find someone with experience making games.  Experience having "shipped" indie games is practically as good as at an established developer in my book.  I don't feel right drawing young people into this unless I have confidence that it really is already something "real" to involve them with.  The only way it is "real" is if a programmer who is actually capable of doing it is involved.

So after New Year's, which gives me time to find indie forums and do a lot of reading and stuff like that, I'll try it (the way I always wind up doing) in the way that initially gives me the least chance of success... finding a programmer who could almost do it themselves if they wanted too.  This is why I usually never get off the ground to begin with;-)

 

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36 minutes ago, Kavik Kang said:

Yes, I was aware of programmer art... I have my own term "programmer game design" I based on that, but people don't like it when I say things like that;-)

Haha, yeah - people don't like it and they don't even honor the entertaining factor of an offending person, someone putting established industry into question, or claiming he knows this or that better. Those guys end up with negative reputation, get banned, topics get locked.

This is sad, because games are about exactly that: Entertainment. And also because everyone agrees there is a need for new ideas and new directions. It's just games, so nothing serious - even if we make (or at least try to make) a living out of it.

(But note that the days where programmers made games are totally over - there is no more programmer game design. Today there are just many many cooks failing miserably at imitating Hollywood, mostly :P )

 

I wish you luck in finding the experienced guy(s) you want - they are all busy - you'll need money. That's why i point out the alternative, although and of course you're right with your concerns.

 

 

 

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One of the most well-known sayings of the hobbyist game industry was...

"Game design is a benevolent dictatorship ruled by an iron fist."

Of course, back then the designer had usually founded and owned the company.  I've always realized that they are very different worlds, and a designer in the computer game industry would never have the same type of power and authority that most hobbyist era designers had.  But there was a lot more to learn from our methods then they had imagined.  In the early days they did not think that we knew anything that was relevant to the "entirely new thing" they were doing.  They re-invented the wheel on game design, both the knowledge and the process.  They are still a very, very long way to catching back up to where we already were when they first got started.

I don't have any money to pay a programmer, that's why I said I wasn't likely to find one.  But that's the only option for me.  As soon as that person sent me that e-mail I realized that I wasn't going to be willing to draw young people into this unless I believed there was something real to draw them into.  It isn't real without a programmer who can actually do it, and understands how much work it will be going into it because they have done it before.  If that means I just fail in yet another attempt at this, that is fine.  I'm not going to distract a 22-year-old during one of the most important years of their lives over something that won't get them anywhere.

 

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City of Love is cryptically cool, but I thought it would be more appropriate if the very last PDU song/"movie" revealed on the blog was something from the last game of the chronological timeline.  So here is a key song from early in the story of Fallen Angel Rising...

 

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ship lineup.

Wow, that shocked me. This whole time I was envisioning some kind of Hokey game played by people in space.

You should mention somewhere at the start that it's a hokey game played with spaceships.

 

I am interested in helping. However can only do so part time; so first I need to know if you are willing to accept part time workers.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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