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TheThief

Space games, good things and bad things

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I just wanted to ask you guys some questions on what you would like to see in a 3D space shooter. (1) What are your favorite elements of space shooters? (2) Least favorite? (3) Would you prefer huge dogfights with hundreds of fighters on both sides or more one-on-one scenarios? (4) How much control do you like? (ie. do you want to be able to do a quick barrel roll while yawing to the left and aiming your gun turret with the mouse, or, just point and click to aim and fire? (5) Do you like lots of small ships, or a few huge destroyer/mothership types? (6) Do you like realism in flying, or arcade-style maneuvering? (7) Do you like a complex damage model(if you get shot in your yaw thruster system, you can''t properly turn anymore, your navigation system can get fried, etc...), or do you just want a number from 0-100 telling you your health? (8) How long should a battle last, 10 intense minutes of adrenaline, or a two hours of a complex tactical situation? (9) Do you want automatic weapons systems(ie. radar + missile locking + energy trail tracking), or do you prefer having to fly to them and fight it out? (10) Saving in the middle of a battle? (11) Lots of people on your side helping you, or pretty much a one-against-all situation? -TheThief

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What are your favorite elements of space shooters?
Explosions. Lots of explosions (caused by having lots of disposable weapons with groovy visual effects). A space shooter without explosions (even though often physically inaccurate, but who cares) is... unacceptable.

Least favorite?
Tedium. Repetition. Patterns. I got tired of games like Nemesis because once you found the enemy patterns, the game became merely a timing exercise. Make the enemies respond to the player dynamically so each playing is fresh and different.

Would you prefer huge dogfights with hundreds of fighters on both sides or more one-on-one scenarios?
Large dogfights, but "hundreds" is impractical (as well as bad military strategy, but that''s a nother discussion entirely). Say twenty bad guys per good guy, max.

How much control do you like? (ie. do you want to be able to do a quick barrel roll while yawing to the left and aiming your gun turret with the mouse, or, just point and click to aim and fire?
Variable. Some days I''ll feel like going deep and hardcore while other days I''ll want the computer to handle almost everything for me. I don''t like using mouse and keyboard for action/reflex games, though (a large part of why I don''t play FPSes), so make sure I can conveniently control the ship using my joystick/gamepad.

Do you like lots of small ships, or a few huge destroyer/mothership types?
Both, at different times. Missions should be varied (and contain variations in enemy "waves") such that at times I''m frantically blasting at ten circling, swooping enemy fighters and at other times I''m methodically dismantling a battleship (which means I have awesome firepower). The advance towards a mothership-type should logically be impeded by the fighters that said mothership houses, and only after dispatching of them like flies should I be able to take mama down - keeping out of range of certain weapons, slowly circling and disabling gun turrets and sensors leaving her blind and helpless, then swopping in for a protracted kill...

Do you like realism in flying, or arcade-style maneuvering?
Arcade. I''ll play MS Flight Simulator when I want a physically accurate flight model.

Do you like a complex damage model(if you get shot in your yaw thruster system, you can''t properly turn anymore, your navigation system can get fried, etc...), or do you just want a number from 0-100 telling you your health?
Depends. Just don''t give me too much to worry about, and make it easy to see what''s wrong and fix it.

How long should a battle last, 10 intense minutes of adrenaline, or a two hours of a complex tactical situation?
Fight->Battle->War. A fight should be quick and dirty (generally one-on-one or one-on-few) while a battle takes a longer time (series of fights against locally amassed opponents - from jetfighters to a commandship, perhaps). The whole game would then span a war.

Do you want automatic weapons systems(ie. radar + missile locking + energy trail tracking), or do you prefer having to fly to them and fight it out?
Automatic. I want add-ons too: little sub-ships I can purchase, capture, reprogram and deploy even during combat so that I could tell the repair bot to fix my right rear thruster while dogfighting a slower enemy (the bot would climb out on my wing and latch on while performing repairs) or launch a bunch of energy piranhas on an unsuspecting foe (and later siphon the energy off of them), leaving him as powerless as floating space debris. I might not even kill him.

Saving in the middle of a battle?
Yes. Middle of a fight (see above)? Maybe, maybe not.

Lots of people on your side helping you, or pretty much a one-against-all situation?
Flexible/variable. There have to be space stations and outposts where I can go for repairs, purchase some weapons upgrades, catch up on sports scores, get some galactic gossip, grab a cup of coffee... Occasional missions involving other fighters might be cool (cooperative destruction, escort, etc).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
1) blasting stuff, I would say dodging but usually you can''t do things like in Robotech or Gundam

2) running out of fuel, slowing down in space

3) huge dogfights, the huger the better, flat shade it if you have to, wireframe if you have to

4) custom(also what I''m gonna try to do) cause it''s hard to say, simpler controls mean less distractions, kind of like in some games that have different controls based on player skill-which thread covered that recently?

5) why can''t I have both? blasting just one all the time is boring

6) do something different and make it realistic, all the games with arcade style controls(even the good ones) transform into "turn until enemy spotted, fire, repeat"

7)don''t care, just make sure that I still have a fighting chance if damaged

8) it is called ''shooter'' for a reason you know

9) nearly, no wait, all the games I played had missiles that tracked and blasters that didn''t

10) new to me, might be nice

11) praise be to wingmen, they usually let you last a lot longer

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Guest Anonymous Poster
(1) What are your favorite elements of space shooters?
The explosions. I let the Galatea die in Freespace just so I could watch the huge explosion.

(2) Least favorite?
Aristotlean physics and unapologetically suicidal enemy pilots.

(3) Would you prefer huge dogfights with hundreds of fighters on both sides or more one-on-one scenarios?
I prefer battles where the sides are between 1:1 and 2:1, with more elite pilots(represented, of course, by vastly superior AI instead of simply booting their specs) for the more outmatched battles. How many there are usually doesn''t matter to me because I''m focusing on the one(s) I''m trying to kill.

(4) How much control do you like? (ie. do you want to be able to do a quick barrel roll while yawing to the left and aiming your gun turret with the mouse, or, just point and click to aim and fire?
I don''t think I''d be able to aim the weapons and pilot at the same time. Some sort of virtual gunner would be nice if you don''t just point the weapon in the direction you''re shooting.

(5) Do you like lots of small ships, or a few huge destroyer/mothership types?
Both, preferably. Both alternatingly and in conjunction with one another.

(6) Do you like realism in flying, or arcade-style maneuvering?
I dunno. I''ve yet to find a game with realistic flying in space. I really hate having a top speed and a turning speed comparable to an airborne bomber. Fighters in space should be dizzyingly nimble. Chemical thrusters should be mounted in pairs at the extremities of the ship. A computer control system should be able to sidestep using these thrusters(but doing so would reduce your turning speed while you''re sidestepping)

(7) Do you like a complex damage model(if you get shot in your yaw thruster system, you can''t properly turn anymore, your navigation system can get fried, etc...), or do you just want a number from 0-100 telling you your health?
The type I prefer is one in which systems vital to victory are eliminated while ones vital to survival are not. Armor and shield integrity displays are welcome, as well as the estimated health of damaged system components.

(8) How long should a battle last, 10 intense minutes of adrenaline, or a two hours of a complex tactical situation?
I''ve yet to see a space-borne complex tactical situation. Anything other than "charge your enemies and show him no mercy" just seems ludicrous in space to me. But why not two hours of adrenaline?

(9) Do you want automatic weapons systems(ie. radar + missile locking + energy trail tracking), or do you prefer having to fly to them and fight it out?
I doubt the ability of missiles to work in space, but if you can work out the physics and control systems, I''d be happy to play.

(10) Saving in the middle of a battle?
Either works.

(11) Lots of people on your side helping you, or pretty much a one-against-all situation?
One wingman is best. Other people doing their own thing are fine. I don''t really want to be in command of them, though.

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(1) What are your favorite elements of space shooters?
It''s in space (what a surprise!). No really, NO GROUND to crash into.

(2) Least favorite?
Fly to waypoint X and guess what there are some badguys at waypoint X. On a par is the linear scenario set ( do this mission - if you fail - game over ).

(3) Would you prefer huge dogfights with hundreds of fighters on both sides or more one-on-one scenarios?
Level out at about 20 - 30 on each side (Excluding captial ships), hundreds would just be messy. Besides half of them would be toast in a few seconds, think of a hundred missiles locking on all at once (ouch!)

(4) How much control do you like? (ie. do you want to be able to do a quick barrel roll while yawing to the left and aiming your gun turret with the mouse, or, just point and click to aim and fire?
Too much complexity would be bad, its bad enough evading an enemy while jiggling the energy ratios of guns/shields/engines, firing afterburners and lisenting to (or reading )the mission update orders all at the same time.

(5) Do you like lots of small ships, or a few huge destroyer/mothership types?
Mixture is the best thing.

(6) Do you like realism in flying, or arcade-style maneuvering?
realism. ( see 4 ). I doubt very much that most of us could handle 3D manoeuvring PLUS all the things that I''ve stated above (remember that space shuttle crews have more than one person). BUT I don''t like it when I don''t have the freedom to move where I want a-la arcade style where all I do is use the guns.

(7) Do you like a complex damage model(if you get shot in your yaw thruster system, you can''t properly turn anymore, your navigation system can get fried, etc...), or do you just want a number from 0-100 telling you your health?
Complex damage model would be nice, if a little frustrating ( Nothing pissed me off more than in the Star Wars fighter sims when I lost engine power or my lasers at the critical moment)

(8) How long should a battle last, 10 intense minutes of adrenaline, or a two hours of a complex tactical situation?
Two hours would be tiring. The best solution is the alterable time scale, where you can blaze past the dull bits and get to the action.

(9) Do you want automatic weapons systems(ie. radar + missile locking + energy trail tracking), or do you prefer having to fly to them and fight it out?
Both. Missiles are fine and should be used to take out enemies at long range, but nothing beats getting on their tails and pounding them to pieces with laser cannons.

(10) Saving in the middle of a battle?
Battle? If you mean save in the middle of a fight, definatly not. Leads to too much save and re-loading, part of the fun and the adrenaline is the chance that you''ll be toast.

(11) Lots of people on your side helping you, or pretty much a one-against-all situation?
scaled against the number of enemies that there is. But there should also be compitence in all the AI''s. There''s nothing dumber than requesting assistance and it never showing up.






"Making it up! Why should I be making it up. Lifes bad enough as it is without wanting to invent more of it."

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1. Dunno. Cool explosions, manouvering around giant capital ships, asteroid fields, stuff like that.

2. Long periods of drifting aimlessly in space.

3. I like my space battles to be huge and epic in scale.

4. Aiming turrets with the mouse might be quite neat, but then you'd have to simplify all the other controls to cope with the fact that the player doesn't have a spare hand for the keyboard any more.

5. Both.

6. Frictionless space flight is a bit of a pain in the ass to fly really, although it lets you do neat tricks. A nice idea is to equip your fighters with special thrusters that simulate flying in an atmosphere, but give the players the option to switch them off and use the frictionless model. I-War did this, I think.

7. Reasonably complex.

8. Something between the two.

9. As long as those weapons aren't foolproof, then put them in. Obviously there should be a limited supply of these weapons, so you'd have to use them wisely.

10. I have no real opinion on this. I probably wouldn't use it very often.

11. A bit of both. Sometimes coordinating wingmen can be quite an interesting challenge. However, it is nice to fly against all odds.

If you haven't played it, track down a copy of X Wing Alliance - this is one of my favourite space shooters, and the configurable skirmish game kept me playing until my joystick broke. It is sufficiently arcadey to be great fun to play, but at the same time there is enough complexity to keep it interesting. Also check out I-War - it is a bit less arcadey and more of a sim, but it is also excellent.

[edited by - Sandman on July 1, 2002 6:50:09 AM]

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OK, so you guys prefer controls on the simpler side, relatively short fights, a mixture of different enemies, wingmen that don''t require you to tell them exactly what to do, and pretty much a middle ground about everything else.

-TheThief

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1. Favourite: Like everyone else, huge ships blowing up. Oh, and those laser beam things in Freespace 2 kicked ass.

2. Least Favourite: The AI in Privateer 2? Heh really though, stupid ramming AI is high on the list of dislikes.

3. Battles Big/Small: Somewhere in between. Being in a huge fight like the Battle of Endor or something sounds cool but you really have to ask why? You''ll never see most of the ships as more than a few pixels way off in the distance. On the other hand since AI often sucks in space games (see question 2) one on one dogfights are too boring/easy.

4. Dogfighter/Admiral: It varies. Sometimes I like dogfighting, sometimes I like higher level command.

5. Fighters/Warships: Same as 4.

6. Arcade/realism: I think true realism is too hard to control to be fun, but being able to pull non-arcade moves (like afterburner slides in the Wing Commander games) is cool.

7. Damage system: Some realism but not overly complex, and repairs should be at least somewhat automated. I thought the x-wing and tie fighter games were good in this respect, there was damage that affected targeting or your ability to steer but it was repaired automatically over time. In some game (I forget which, might have been x-wing/tie or maybe privateer) you could choose the order in which damaged systems were repaired. I liked that. You got some control over how damage/repairs were handled but without micromanagement if you didn''t want it.

8. Battle length: 20-30 minutes

9. Automatic/Manual weapons: Some combination of both

10. In-battle saves: Only if it''s big, protracted battle, and then only allow saving at certain key points (sort of dividing a big mission into smaller missions I guess)

11. You should have a reasonable force on your side, no one-against-everyone stuff.

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I like a mixture of large multi-component opponents where targeting is crucial and masses of fodder. The experience of blasting your way to the belly of a steel beast and then emerging from the imploding hulk is matched only by the rush of carving your way through the impossible armies of stupidity.

I *must* be at least twice as fast as the fastest opponent or I get annoyed.

Tactically, I think space shooters are lacking because they are so freeform that technical maneuvers are meaningless. The more structured the battle is, spatially or otherwise, the more rewarding the experience is, tactically.

Conceptually, I think there is room for a new breed of shooter that is hybrid space/fp. The concept is "frogger shooter" where launching between free-floating destinations is as important as accurately targeting restricted/free-floating targets.

Any chance that you''ll implement warp-time? It''s the opposite of bullet-time in that, for a split second you are able to plan a lightning maneuver around some object, instead of reacting in your own space to some incoming object.

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