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How to combine two game types

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Lately I’ve been brainstorming a game concept that allows players to essentially create and control life on a planet(s) in a small region of a space from the birth of the stars in the player’s galaxy all the way to the rising of technologically advanced life capable of colonizing other planets. Initially, the player is responsible for the macro management of their creation but as the game progresses the player’s world becomes more complex requiring a micromanagement approach for controlling their creation and its inhabitants. Basically, the game I have in mind is a sandbox sim with RTS elements. My concern is this. Will it seem unnatural to the player to start a game that is played out very similar to a sim, but as events occur and the game progresses they begin to acquire more abilities that would be expected of an RTS game? Fortunately, this transition would be gradual and allow the player time to learn how to cope with new situations and skills, but it seems that it might discourage some players who expect the game to play out entirely as a sim or entirely as an RTS. One solution I was thinking of is that the player could choose what phase or time period of the game they start in, and the game will randomly produce or provide a preset scenario for players who don’t want to start from the very beginning of their creation. The game is divided into seven epochs, each with their own passage of time. Each epoch or period has its own set of objectives and grants the player more abilities with every transition. Any thoughts or idea?

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I believe the game your thinking of is called Spore :P

On the upside combining game types is fun. I'm working on an MMORPGRTS so it's very possible.

If you treat each epoch as a seperate game I think it would make things easier. For instance you have the RTS game of controlling your civilization and then it moves out further into the commanding of multiple planets and so on which still having an RTS game. Like looking at the big picture, while still being able to look at the small details of the picture.

Sounds like a good idea, you just have to flesh out what the game would play like and what the player would actually do.

Like what epochs are you thinking of? What abilities or game play would be at each epoch?

First epoch: Starting a colony, your very insignificant to the whole universe
Second Epoch building and colonizing the whole world by continents, maybe destroying or making piece with other colonies, still insignificant to the universe.
Third Epoch: Short range space travel, fly around and land on other planets, less insignificant, fight and form diplomatic relations
Forth Epoch: Longer range find new resources and planets further research and expansion.

That's all I'm gonna say for the epochs but they seem rather general. What did you actually have in mind?

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Does sound a lot like Spore.

Sim games and RTS games are really quite similar, so it should be easy to make a came which combines the features of both. If you look at a sim game like Sims or Creatures, then look at a game like Lemmings, and finally look at a typical RTS like Warcraft, you can see that the only large difference is the amount of initiative the units have and the visual perspective of the game. Some sim games like Harvest Moon are also a bit different in that you play as a single unit rather than a hand or other abstract being controlling many units.

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Quote:
Original post by Sirisian
I believe the game your thinking of is called Spore :P

On the upside combining game types is fun. I'm working on an MMORPGRTS so it's very possible.

If you treat each epoch as a seperate game I think it would make things easier. For instance you have the RTS game of controlling your civilization and then it moves out further into the commanding of multiple planets and so on which still having an RTS game. Like looking at the big picture, while still being able to look at the small details of the picture.

Sounds like a good idea, you just have to flesh out what the game would play like and what the player would actually do.

Like what epochs are you thinking of? What abilities or game play would be at each epoch?

First epoch: Starting a colony, your very insignificant to the whole universe
Second Epoch building and colonizing the whole world by continents, maybe destroying or making piece with other colonies, still insignificant to the universe.
Third Epoch: Short range space travel, fly around and land on other planets, less insignificant, fight and form diplomatic relations
Forth Epoch: Longer range find new resources and planets further research and expansion.

That's all I'm gonna say for the epochs but they seem rather general. What did you actually have in mind?


I'm very aware of the fact that this game sounds like Spore on the surface but I can assure you that it is different in several respects and in general is going to be more scientifically accurate, dealing with entire civilizations and biospheres as opposed to simply evolving cartoon-like life forms.

Here's some examples of the epochs or periods I had in mind. Each period has it's own time scale and set of abilities granted to the player.

Epochs or Periods

Coalescent Period
1 second = 100 years
In this phase the player manipulates nebula, super nova, and molecular clouds with various abilities to begin the formation of stars. I envision this to be a very fluid and almost artistic stage where the player is simply mixing various elements together to determine the relative composition of the stars they are going to create, therein dictating what types of planets can form. This phase is relatively short and meant to introduce the player to abilities that are also used in the accretion period.

Accretion Period
1 second = 10000 years
During this period the player modifies the accretion zones of stars that began forming in the previous period with the intent of creating protostars. By manipulating condensing matter with various abilities in the accretion zones of the protostars the player can determine the number, mass, composition, and placement of the planets, asteroids, and volatiles in each star system.

Planetesimal Period
1 second = 1000000 years
In this period the player controls and directs the geological development of planetesimals (planets, gas giants, asteroids, comets) that began to form during the accretion period. The player is granted many more abilities during this phase that grant them control over bolides, volcanism, climate/weather, plate tectonics, out-gassing, etc.

Simple Life Period
1 second = 100000 years
This is the first period that really requires the player to use a bit of micromanagement as they must control what organisms arise on their planets and guide them as they develop from simple single celled organisms into more complex life such as plants. Players should focus on building up the botany of their planets at this point.

Complex Life Period
1 second = 10000 years
Things get more interesting in this stage as animal and aerobic life forms begin to appear and evolve. The player will have several abilities at their disposal to direct the evolution of complex life on their planet(s).

Intelligent Life Period
1 second = 100 years
When players reach this period they’ve made quite an accomplishment as intelligent animals such as primates, dogs, cephalopods, whales, and porpoises (naturally there will be many more alien variations of intelligent life as well) begin to appear and take claim at the top of the food chain. Players should begin strategizing how they can help their intelligent species acquire sophisticated language and develop technology.

Technological Life Period
1 second = 1 month

At this point the player has successfully led the evolution of one or more intelligent species to an era where complex language and technology is apparent. Obviously, this period will grant the player the most abilities and possibilities for exploration and discovery.

One thing I thought would be interesting is that since stars, planets, biospheres, and individual species all develop at different rates and along different evolutionary paths that players should be able to jump back and forth between different periods to control multiple stars, planets, or ecosystems in their region of space. So if you get bored of guiding the evolution of complex life on one planet you could decide to continue the geological development of a different planet in a different star system in your region. Since every stage operates on a different time scale this would allow the player to micro or macro manage as much or as little as they want without losing control over the progress of individual systems.

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Sim games and RTS games are really quite similar, so it should be easy to make a came which combines the features of both.


I concur. To me the RTS part is controlling and directing units, while the Sim part is about controlling certain aspects of otherwise autonomous systems. Not a very clear distiction really, but basically a rts unit halts when orders are up, while it's sim counterpart might decide to get a beer all 'on it's own'. I read someone in another thread pointing out the lack or presence of a goal for the player as a difference between the genres, but I believe you could have a goal in a sim as well. Having the goal to get X amount of money in sims makes it no less a sim in my opinion.

You could conceivably combine them in any number of ways. You could have a set of units to control rts-style that you direct to steer the autonomous forming of planets. Or if you want to integrate it even more, the planets themselves could be units you direct in some ways (positioning perhaps), that in some other ways are autonomous (such as a solidification process you cannot affect).

[Edited by - Wombah on February 13, 2007 3:23:51 PM]

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