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Basic Conceptual Idea :- Multiplayer Space Shooter/RPG

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Hello people, after creating this thread: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=304227 I would like to flesh out a basic idea for a 3d space shooter (similiar in ways to Starfox) with some RPG qualities (improving your ship by buying items earned from missions online and increasing in rank) where you basically play in missions and complete objectives to earn said money/credits. Here is the very sketchy initial concept idea, although it has been done before I believe the difference is in how the game stands out compared to its counterparts. With this topic I hope to recieve some objective criticism and comments so that I may refine this concept and hopefully simplify or expand ideas. If you'd pick up a game of its nature it would be helpful if you mentioned why it interested you, and on the other side of the fence why it didn't and what I could possibly do to improve the idea. Thanks for reading so far, here is the idea, its not super innovative and ground breaking, but I personally enjoy games similiar to the following and I'd personally love to see qualities like this in one, we all have our tastes :) --------------------------- Multiplayer only space combat game with role-playing elements involved. Start out as a recruit with your chosen alliance and earn credits by completing missions, as you progress and explore the massive game universe you will make new friends and enemies whilst you complete the various missions the multi-verse has to offer. As you become a more seasoned pilot you spend hard earned credits on upgrading your craft so that you can devastate your enemies with new weapons, explore the multi-verse faster with more powerful engines and toughen up your ship with shield and armour enhancements. Engage your enemy as they attempt to dominate your space and destroy your bases and friends. Take your territories back by teaming up and taking on the dangers of the galaxies as you brave black holes, Wormholes, Asteroid belts and Nebulas and your enemies as well! Additionally if you just want to have a little arcade style action join the various Quickmatch battles in an assortment of objective based missions such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Domination and more. ----------------------- I would agree I haven't spent much time writing this but I basically wanted to put down some general ideas that could be expanded or removed as I find out trends of what people seem to like in these types of games. Feedback welcome positive or negative. Thanks!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
MAybe you've been awawy for too long, but there actually is a game caled freelancer that reminds VERY MUCH of what you're evoquing... Have you ever seen that one?

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Yes, and I have the demo installed and have ordered the full game lol, fundamentally this game will be different indeed, multiplayer only except for training missions that familiarise you with the game.

Basically my plan is to mod freelancer so as to create somewhat of a playable version of this, with modified ships and systems etc. Then will create all the documentation I need on how it would differ from the modded experience.

The game would basically have more of an action feel to it rather than the RPG features, with the only exposure to that being through the game menus after you are out of the multi-verse/match arenas, but these are details .... I'm fleshing out some ideas here.

So anyone have any questions/opinions?

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My thoughts on games of this type:

1. The Controls need to be simple and intuitive, allowing someone to quickly pick up the game. Even fairly advanced commands shouldn't be overly difficult to master, and if possible, there shouldn't be a massive amount of keys controlling different functions. In general, it's good advice to follow the principal that the game should be easy to play, but hard to master. Anyone should be able to pick up the game and quickly learn to competently play, while those that put in a lot of time and effort will learn to control it with more finess.

2. The Game Menus should allow quick and easy access to the game at all times - players don't want to navigate a tricky menu (even if it's a fancy and/or graphically pleasing one), they want to set any options they need to set, and get into the game as fast as possible. Keep the menus clean, and logically ordered, and only include the options that need to be there. This one applies to pretty much all games, but slightly moreso with online games, where players will want to quickly get into the action with thier friends.

3. Player Ranking can be used to engage players' competative instinct, and this may encourage more people to play, as well as encouraging them to stay and attempt to improve thier ranking. In this type of game, players are often ranked on a number a attributes - a score system (using whatever scoring system you may have put in place), raw kill count, longest playtime without death, etc. The scores should be easily accesible, and should be displayed to players in some way that doesn't neccesarily take them away from the gameplay for too long.

4. Communication plays a major part it any online game of any type, especially in the case of games that are online only. Often players will stay for a strong community even if there are equally good or even slightly better games out there. In order to encourage community, you need to provide effective means of player communication, preferably both ingame and out. An excellent article on the topic can be found here.

5. Game Balance comes into play in a big way with online only games. No weapon, type of ship, etc. should be able to completely unbalance the playing field. It's a given that players with a better ship, better weapons, etc. will have an advantage against others, but a highly skilled player in a nno-upgraded ship with no weapon upgrades should still be able to give the most powerful player in the game a reasonable run for thier money. In this way, you can be sure that new players won't become completely frustrated and leave immediately, which can happen if it's very difficult for them to get any kills (and therefore be able to upgrade).

Anyway, just a few things to think about.

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For a game that's almost exactly what you are talking about, check out Jumpgate. It has all the elements you describe and has been a successful online game. The community grew quite sizable for several years until recently it has declined somewhat, but as far as I know a new version is still being worked on. This game is all about role play and features the kind of alliances and credit aquisition you describe, as well as the ability to upgrade and customize your craft with earned credits, a dynamic economy (unlike Freelancer's static one), fighting off alien invasions, enemy attacks on corporations that make supplies, mining, and the ability to battle other pilots from enemy factions or steal and become a pirate. You can also battle friends in mock battles or try out a new ship configuration in a simulator, participate in races and other games, etc. Check it out.

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Keep them coming, this way I can see the competition, if it lacks, how successful they were, and ways I can branch away from these similiar games to not so much create a design for an innovative game, just one that fills a void that these don't.

Thanks for the help so far guys

Kazgoroth, remember StarFox: Lylat Wars for Nintendo 64? you'll get a similiar kind of 3D combat feel out of it, only in space, with more of a strategic feel to it. People will be able to pick it up and if they feel like a blast with their friends and dont fancy getting involved in the exploration and mission opportunities in the multi-verse. They can just enter Quickmatch, which puts them in basically an arcade battle it out situation with no dangers as such except the enemy and the objective to accomplish. They can still upgrade their ship by destroying enemies and accomplishing targets, the world is just less vast and less complex. So the game menus and controls will obviously need to be what you speak of, thanks for the information.

As for player ranking systems, there will most likely be some form of leaderboard, possibly leading to RSS feeds that can be displayed on websites, similiar to what they have done for Halo 2 at www.bungie.net/stats. Maybe these would be primarily accessible within the game from the menus, but feedable to a website with RSS.

For communication, I was planning on VOIP and text based chat, although VOIP depends on many factors, don't want everyone speaking at once do we lol, so things like when people speak an icon appears with a selection to mute them and add them to a buddies list would be good, which would make muting offensive people and adding people easy, also clicking on their ship and bringing up some form of information screen would tell you briefly their stats and options such as the above.

In the multiverse you will be able to dock with installations in space to recharge your crafts resources and repair damage. In this place you would be able to check the latest information on whats going on, such as whos attacking what and where, incase you fancy going out and getting involved, chatting in a game lobby with text based chat OR voice. From this location all interconnected installations of the same type will be browseable, you would be able to chat with people in different installations, and then go and meet up somewhere in the multiverse.

I am hoping to formulate an idea that allows people to form a group so that certain buddies will be able to find eachother wherever they may be in the multiverse, and be able to VOIP them. This would allow friends to team up and have a blast together, and people could be added at any time.

These functions I believe would help create community, so I hope I've satisfied that question.

Game balance I guess is one of the most difficult things to get right, especially when you deal with a game of this type, I guess the only way to secure that is to provide some sort of ranking limitation in the more arcade style Quickmatch. Players would only be able to play in arenas with 1 or 2 ranks high and lower to stop massively overpowered players picking on the weaker ones.

As for the multiverse, I guess having something like areas of the multiverse that rank effect, so for example in the middle of the multiverse, the higher ranked players can battle it out, whereas the less ranked players would have a hard time getting to it because of their craft capability (speed) and would probably not last too long due to being overpowered. As they increase in rank and their ships abilities increase they can go further into the universe.

Again its something to work towards.

Any comments or suggestions on these ideas?

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Quote:
Original post by pwn4ge
For communication, I was planning on VOIP and text based chat, although VOIP depends on many factors, don't want everyone speaking at once do we lol, so things like when people speak an icon appears with a selection to mute them and add them to a buddies list would be good, which would make muting offensive people and adding people easy.


Hrm, so like an 'open comm channel', which everyone can hear (selectively, make sure it can be turned off if not wanted), and anyone can broadcast onto? I think this would get VERY difficult to hear on, with people talking at the same time, especially if you ended up with a lot of players online. For a public VOIP channel of this nature, perhaps you could keep it more managable by breaking it down into channels for certain sectors of the map, or something along those lines. Being able to mute people is DEFINATELY good.

Quote:
Original post by pwn4ge
I am hoping to formulate an idea that allows people to form a group so that certain buddies will be able to find eachother wherever they may be in the multiverse, and be able to VOIP them. This would allow friends to team up and have a blast together, and people could be added at any time.


Like a 'private comm channel', which players can selectively invite other players into? And excellent thinking with having some sort of buddy system, for this type of game to be succesful, it's best if people can find thier friends as soon as possible after getting into the game.


Oh, and by the way, if there's any one particular element you want to focus on and develope in more detail, don't hesitate to post a thread specifically for it, with some specific targetted questions to help get a discussion going and get some good feedback/ideas (Just look at all the Wavinator posts on just the first two or three pages!). [wink]

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Thanks for feedback ...

The only things I am having difficulty settling on is 1. control schema (not buttons just general control, such as ala starwing, a mix of freelancer and starwing, or redesigning it with something different) I did sort of have the idea of having a button to cycle through targets, but if I keep adding stuff it is bound to get complicated and thats something I don't want. I do think that the buddy icon, mute icon etc should be selected when you have a ship targeted in some fashion, so you can mouse click it, or have it so that you hold a button down that pops up a small menu and you simply release with the option highlighted, options may be: Hail, Add Buddy, Mute Voice, and Cancel, maybe more, like I said this is the area that I have ideas for I just can't seem to decide on specifics lol.

Edit: Had a perfect idea for the communication problem, you would only be able to VOIP a certain distance, like a proximity chat thing, anything else would be text based until your in range. I can't just limit it for everyone like that, so I won't make VOIP team chat only, it will be proximity based, but text chat will be recieved by all.

Sound good?

It'd be cool to have wavinator come in here and give some feedback, he seems a well respected and talented person on here, so his feedback would be valuable :)

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Quote:
Original post by pwn4ge
I do think that the buddy icon, mute icon etc should be selected when you have a ship targeted in some fashion, so you can mouse click it, or have it so that you hold a button down that pops up a small menu and you simply release with the option highlighted, options may be: Hail, Add Buddy, Mute Voice, and Cancel, maybe more, like I said this is the area that I have ideas for I just can't seem to decide on specifics lol.


How about something along the lines of a radial menu? (example image from Neverwinter Nights)

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Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
Quote:
Original post by pwn4ge
I do think that the buddy icon, mute icon etc should be selected when you have a ship targeted in some fashion, so you can mouse click it, or have it so that you hold a button down that pops up a small menu and you simply release with the option highlighted, options may be: Hail, Add Buddy, Mute Voice, and Cancel, maybe more, like I said this is the area that I have ideas for I just can't seem to decide on specifics lol.


How about something along the lines of a radial menu? (example image from Neverwinter Nights)


Hmmm, possible, thanks, keep the ideas coming ... I'll have to have a think about it ... the number of options won't fill a full radial, probably gonna be half a circle ... hmmm

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if you dont think your going to have a huge range of options what about displaying them along the lines a a futuristic style of Head Up Display

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Would be difficult as the primary view will be third person, to the rear of the ship. Ala Starwing

Hmmm, blockage of ideas here lol, I'm gonna have to ponder this one ...

Ok heres one, in the realm of Sci-Fi, how could I implement a capture the flag type objective (Quickmatch Gametype).

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For the CTF framework, how about some kind of tech-stealing? Have a prototype "energy recombination unit" suspended in a "stasis field" so that its energies are properly regulated, and then you fly your ship through the field, latch onto the device with a brightly colored tractor beam, and tow it back to your "research bay". The stasis field and research bay would look conspicuously like hula hoops with a colored field in the center, and the tractor beam would be brightly lit in your team's color (because it has to be high-energy, don't you know).

You've got clearly, visible goalposts and a bright designation of the flag carrier. What more could you want?

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Hmmm sounds cool ... thats given me another idea though for something, in one of the neutral sectors deep in the multi-verse, there could be an abandoned ship that belonged to an ancient advanced race, and once a ship docks with it (one at a time) the ship is then charged with an energy that extends the ships power once only. So its kind of like a shield powerup, enables you to go twice as fast, weapons twice as powerful ... but power core would discharge slightly more quickly than normal.

It would be far enough away from anything strategic to not be a huge problem for balance, but once a powered ship gets there 2 or 3 on 1 might be a problem depending on the skills of the player.

This vessel could be tractored out of the system by a minimum of 3 ships, as it would be quite large, so it would take teamwork to move and to keep control of.

To move it through gates you would have to have three ships tractoring it, and then go to full speed and release so that the momentum carries the ship through the gate.

Obviously it can be destroyed but it would take some fire to do so.

This might get lots of players around it, and its a good thing to fight over, would cause quite a number of battles!

Any feedback?

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That sounds like a neat feature for a free-form multiplayer universe, but you'll start to run into the problem of reverse entropy. However you set up the universe, when players start to win fights, they impose order on it, and you'll eventually reach a point where all the "charge-up ships" are near spawn points so they're unassailable, and so that gameplay feature will stagnate. You'll have to have them explode (or accrue damage through fighting) on a semi-regular basis, so that there will be a good turn-over of bonus powers. Obviously, the boost ship will have to respawn (perhaps at a random location) periodically to keep the feature around.

I advise you to make it pretty rare, so that it's an unexpected addition to the fight. Otherwise, it'll be like buffing units in StarCraft--people will incorporate finding lost technology into ther strategy. It's like having a financial plan that includes a winning lottery ticket--it makes an honest plan inadequate, and cheapens the strategy of the thing.

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Well, only higher ranked ships will be able to reach it, go anywhere near the home sectors to spawn rape (as spawn points will be random in the sectors, most often away from enemies, which will usually be at a corner depending on where the action is. So anyone spawning seeing a fast moving higher powered ship moving towards them will be able to face the outer edge of their sector and use the gates to warp to the next zone.

Plenty of other places to hide though, nebulas obviously mask sensors, but at the same time fire from a certain energy weapon also ignites parts of nebulas, so it would rip practically any ship apart lol. Then again their are asteroids, a higher powered ship would find it difficult to navigate if the rocks are close together whereas a smaller and slower ship would find it easy as they are slower and more manuvourable.

Besides the boosted ships woould probably only be able to reach any home bases of any sector quickly enough to probably only be twice stronger instead of three times stronger, as the effects wear off with time.

And I was indeed thinking of letting it spawn randomly in a given number of sectors deep within the multi-verse.

I hope to bring a mix of action and strategy to the game, with the ranking and buying of components to bring longetivity to it.

So it would appeal to both the strategic and those seeking arcade action, depending on how they want to play.

Remember there will be two modes of multiplayer, the freeform multi-verse mode, and the Quickmatch mode, which is for arcade mostly, just shoot and kill with a few objective type missions, but not multiple at any given time like the multi-verse.

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To allow for balanced play between newbies and veterans with there own ships why not allow players to sign up for missions at spacestation. Where they are employed by the local authority to carry out patrol/convoy/escort tasks for example, where they fly a local authority vessel. This way they could gain points while still being able to take part in the world without being completely outclassed by veteran players with larger vessels. Players could use their acrued points to purchase/upgrade their own vessel just like veteran players without being at a disadvantage.

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Original post by doorstop
To allow for balanced play between newbies and veterans with there own ships why not allow players to sign up for missions at spacestation. Where they are employed by the local authority to carry out patrol/convoy/escort tasks for example, where they fly a local authority vessel. This way they could gain points while still being able to take part in the world without being completely outclassed by veteran players with larger vessels. Players could use their acrued points to purchase/upgrade their own vessel just like veteran players without being at a disadvantage.


Entrances to systems will be based on rank, so certain sectors only certain types of ranks may enter.

I don't want this to be another freelancer lol

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