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A space simulation game

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I have been thinking of making a game (as I can't find any of the genre) which would basically be a space ship simulation; however, you would play from a either first or third person point of view of a guy (probably the captain, though a crew member would be fun too) NOTE: NOT THE SHIP THE GUY HIMSELF <===== IMPORTANT. You would then move around the ship to do different duties for example: If your the captain you could go to the bridge to give orders (once at the bridge you would go to a console or something to check whatever); or if you are a crew member maybe you would go to engineering to help fix the ship; and then suddenly the ship is boarded and you rush to the armory or something to get yourself a weapon...etc (I could go on for a long time). You could also jump into a fighter and drive it around outside the ship (I forgot to mention this: The 'main' ship would have to be some big capital ship...like at least some of the capital ships from Star Wars...maybe a little smaller). However, my skills at programming are fairly limited (I have not actually finished a game yet) I am mostly a design guy, programming amuses me but I am not all that good (yet). So this is more a suggestion :) Btw: if someone decides to look into making something like this. Please contact me, I have hundred more ideas for this. Btw 2: if someone knows of a game like this (besides Star Quest Online, good game but too few people) please also tell me. -Munchkin

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There is a mod for HL2 called Eternal Silence, which is kind of similar to your idea.

It's a FPS / space-dogfighting game, where you can run-around inside the main ship and fight with guns, or jump into fighter jets and fight in space / board the enemy ship.

You can't actually control the main ships though.

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Yes I already know about Eternal Silence. Not exactly what I was looking for: The main ship has to be an object of interest: It must move.

I wasn't exactly clear. What I meant is that it should be exactly like one of those space exploration/trading/combat things (like the X series, or [for the example of large ships] Universal Combat) not a small death match fps game.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

-Munchkin

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BattleCruiser 3000 had this exact feature, except it wasnt from the person's POV.

I, personally, think that it would be interesting to implement, but there is no real gameplay in this. At least in the way you describe it. For example, if you are able to give orders from the bridge - just use the menu or buttons, no need to physically have player entity on the bridge. If you used a fighter - just make that part a space sim, no need to actually go to the fighter bay on foot.

Now, it WOULD be useful when fighting off some boarding parties, but if your ship is getting boarded on a regular basis - just make it a pure shooter.

There must be something ELSE for the player to actually DO, real decisions to be made, besides just walking around.

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I also know about Battle cruiser 3000 and it is not what I am looking for again, but much closer.

There also seems to be some confusion: The fact that you could move around the ship is not some bonus thing, it IS the only way to control the ship, let me clarify: (I am a little hesitant to put all my ideas out there, but I will try to give you a clearer idea) To start I think you are assuming that what I mean is that you would walk to the bridge and then you would control the ship like every other space "sim". That is not so, what would happen is that you would go to the bridge, then go to a console, communicate to engines(to the engineers there) that you want 75% power to main engines. And whoosh of you go. You would need to tell your Tactical person to raise shields and all that (now at this point, except for the engine part this sounds a lot like Star Quest Online, but there is more so much more, which again I do not fully feel like sharing). There is something that I have noticed: the personal and free(not price but ability to do things) a game is the more people will like it and it will make a success. So this is what the movement around the ship is: Personal, and free. The ship now would be your home, something the players would care about. They could also personalize it, not just in decorations, but (more importantly) in digging into it's systems and changing them to make the ship more effective. NOTE: this would probably need to be multiplayer to play at its top potential.

That is all I am going to share for now.

And I know I sound a little ridiculous but please do not take these ideas without my permission (just contact me if you want to use something or all of it).

Hoped this helped, and thanks for the game suggestion.

-Munchkin

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Original post by Munchkin9
And I know I sound a little ridiculous but please do not take these ideas without my permission (just contact me if you want to use something or all of it).
I know how you feel about wanting to protect your ideas, but I don't think you really need to worry about someone stealing an entire game concept... it isn't something that can just be stolen and created, it takes a lot of effort. And nobody wants to spend that much effort creating YOUR game idea when everyone here has a million of their own that they would rather make first. [grin]

If you are going to worry about something getting "stolen", it would probably be something much smaller that is easily implemented into an existing game, like an innovative control mechanism or something.

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Original post by Munchkin9
That is all I am going to share for now.

And I know I sound a little ridiculous but please do not take these ideas without my permission (just contact me if you want to use something or all of it).

Hoped this helped, and thanks for the game suggestion.

-Munchkin



Yes. You must feel proud of your ideas, however, Im pretty sure that thousands of people considered the exact same concept before you. Sci-Fi tv shows and all.

As far as game like this, it is conceptually *very* similar to some submarine simulation games, Im thinking of the old 688i simulation games for example (I havent played a submarine sim since then, I assume Silent Hunter kinda looks like it too).

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Original post by Munchkin9
There also seems to be some confusion: The fact that you could move around the ship is not some bonus thing, it IS the only way to control the ship...

To start I think you are assuming that what I mean is that you would walk to the bridge and then you would control the ship like every other space "sim". That is not so, what would happen is that you would go to the bridge, then go to a console, communicate to engines(to the engineers there) that you want 75% power to main engines. And whoosh of you go.

Why do you have to go to the bridge? Why can't you whip out your communicator, signal the engineers and give the order, regardless of where you are?

Being at the bridge is not about issuing commands to remote stations. It's about conferencing with and delegating to the subordinates physically present, especially under pressure. It's about a central location where information resources can be pooled, analyzed and informed decisions made on their basis. The way you have it in your game concept, going to the bridge is busywork.

(Similarly, the notion that the captain would have to go all the way to the armory to get a weapon, or that he'd abandon the bridge - the strategic hub - to go play Rambo rather than organizing defenses and counterattacks from his position of superior information quality... Unlikely.)

I blame Star Trek. Because Captains frequently left their station on issues of debatable importance (found a new planet? wonderful; that's what the scientists and linguists are on the ship for!), some people think that's a rational model for real missions. The captain's duty is first and foremost to the ship, as the means of ensuring the safe return of its crew and passengers.

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I'll second what smitty1276 said... we've got way too many ideas of our own to steal other people's ideas, especially since we'll mostly never get to implement even half of them. And if someone does take your idea or uses something similar, it's not a big deal. If they succeed, you have lost nothing, but can see it in action; if they fail, you still have lost nothing - ideas may be patentable to some degree but you can't copyright them. Conversely, if you still feel you have to protect your ideas, you should not tell anyone about them at all.

Now about this game. Leaving aside the issue of whether a captain should be running around doing things he's got subordinates for, you have to consider if such a control system is fun. You are basically forcing the player to go around doing chores for things that can be streamlined into an interface that provides immediate access to these resources. At best, it's fussy micromanagement. At worst, it's a broken interface. There is such a thing as too much freedom - without any focus, and with a clunky interface, people will get bored fast.

Some games do use a similar interface for navigation, but it's usually in 2D or static 3D where you just point and click at desks, telephones, stations, or doors to activate them. Some examples would be Silent Hunter, Oldtimer, Starlancer, Unreal 2 (iirc), and a whole slew of simulation games like Sea Legends, Ocean Trader, Ports of Call, etc. Okay, some of these are really old :) But they all offer immediate, at most about 3-click access to most information and functions.

If moving around the ship is the main attraction, maybe the game was meant to be a first-person shooter or an action/adventure game. System Shock 2 did the whole guy-on-spaceship thing real well, even if you had no control over the spaceship. But imagine a generational ship like in Orphans of the Sky, and you need to get access to the controls to change or correct the course. You could build a game around that.

Or maybe the game would play like Dungeon Keeper. Your crew members would go about their daily business, but you could at any point jump into an ego perspective of any of them for some corridor combat or dogfighting.

Looking at it from another side, if you want both FPS and dogfights, that's almost two separate engines to write, and double the resources. At that point we cross into a fantasy realm since the production costs rise dramatically. If you do finish, you might end up with a general simulator that's mediocre at everything (think BC3K/UC), while what you really should be building is a game that does maybe one or two things but does them well.

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Yes I know like I said it is a little ridiculous but I can't help it, since I want to be a game designer in the future I am a little paranoid.

Anyway now this next part is fairly small so I will not say it (it is a control scheme) But there is something I have though up that removes all micromanagement, and is perfectly doable. It would let this among other things be extremely simple to do.

As far as why the captain might move around: He needs to live, to go to the cafeteria to eat, and then go to his chamber to eat. Yes in essence it is busy work but it is part of the simulation and if you are a person like me that likes simulations too realistic :) then this would be perfect. If you are looking for the technical side. There are somethings that are a little difficult to just do other 'phone': directing a combat, seeing a planet's properties and read outs (including the look, and the species on it).

And yes this is heavily based on some submarine simulations I have played such as Silent Hunter.

Sorry if I have missed anything or jumped around a little: I just woke up, fell asleep in the middle of the day...again.

So to some up: Yes this has been done before but that is (as they say) the tip of the iceberg, but a small portion of the game.

-Munchkin

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Using submarine sims as inspirations for a space games, especially for combat, is something I am currently going through myself, heh. Everyone always says "space combat will resemble submarine warfare" but then everyone loves high-propulsion twich games so we seldom see the space sub in action.

At the end of the day, you'll most likely either have to code this yourself or pay people to code it for you, so you might want to start limiting the scope also. Looks to me like you are thinking more along the lines of something like "SimSpaceship" anyway. :)

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Lol, sorry but that comment is funny if you know the context. My plan is possibly the opposite of what you are suggesting. But don't get the wrong idea: first it is not the first game I am planning to make; and second, it is completely realistic: I have spoken to an ex-game designer/programmer and he says that though it is big it is possible.

Sorry just couldn't stop smiling.

And in a way I slightly disagree about space combat would be like submarine combat. Yes regarding fighters I could see that, but with large ships it gets more complicated.

-Munchkin

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Hmm. Okay. Glad you found it amusing :P Keeping bigger projects for later is definitely a good idea. You'll have more experience if you start with smaller games obviously. Most game ideas could be implemented given a big enough budget. Raising capital for it is of course up to you in the end - if you go that route, good luck to you.

A sub-type game wouldn't have any fighters, actually. The physics don't add up, and by the time you're closer than a couple thousand kilometers you should be blowing the other party to smithereens already. Maybe some kind of unmanned mobile launch platform could be deployed for multiple attack vectors, however. Of course, it's not as simple as directly translating the submarine model. But radar and stealth should play similar roles.

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Well granted it would still be hugely different but there is something important: It would not be the, in all directions mad, chaotic fight. It would actually be a raver slow paced combat, as you have to deal with the different physics in space such as the fact that there is no gravity and therefor nothing to really stop you from moving, so you would need to be extra careful about that. Probably much more based on system blocking incoming shots and all that and various flight patterns to out maneuver the enemy.

Something like that anyway :P


-Munchkin

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As far as why the captain might move around: He needs to live, to go to the cafeteria to eat, and then go to his chamber to eat.

Will the player be forced to also go to the john every few hours ? And then watch over captain sleeping in his bed ?
I'm sorry, i'm still not convinced that all these actions require the ability to go around. You can do all this from the bridge, like in BC3K.

For example, when i was...younger, i was literary DREAMING of being able to walk around the bases in X-Com. I wanted to do this so bad. But gradually i realized that there would be no point, as it wont bring any new experiences to the pot.

Then we have Parkan, where normally you fly around in your fighter ship, but when you get down on the planet or board some pirates - it switches to 3D action, so you can shoot some baddies. The thing is - the player is the only one on the ship, so he HAD to do this. If there was a crew - the gameplay would make much less sense.

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This comes up routinely in EvE Online discussions. They're introducing ambulation and player models to what has been a pure ship game for years, and people are speculating wildly about the implications.

The great fear is that the interface will be turned into an obstacle course, that instead of clicking the NPC in the "Available Agents" window to start talking to them, we'll have to climb out the hatch, jump on a tram, walk up six flights of stairs and knock on their door.

If your game will be just like that, where the gameplay interface is a layer of occlusion between the player and his objectives, then you should rethink the whole thing.

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Lol. Completely missed the point. Interface in itself is an obstacle. Let me ask you: Do you walk around and see a little health bar at the bottom of your vision, a row of icons that show what you can do? I seriously doubt it. Instead when you want to pick something up, you move your hand, grab it in a place you have good hold and then pick it up. But there again there is another catch are you really "picking it up" it does not exactly go in some random insubstantial inventory. It uses the law of physics to rest in and against your hand, or if you chose to keep it, maybe against the bindings of your back pack that in turn rest against your shoulders.

Do you see what I am getting at. Realism is something I care a lot about because I believe that a player will only care about the game if the player cares about the character, and the player will only care about the character if he lives the character through every moment and event, every moment and thought.

Think on it. I am done for tonight, and probably the weekend, I ll be back on Monday, good night :)

-Munchkin

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Fun should be the primary aim in the design of a game that you want to be successful. Realism is a tool that can add and subtract from fun. Fun is different between people so it's difficult to provide strict rules. Realism increases immersion which is tied to believability. It can also provide grounding in existing real world principles which makes a game easier to play. Realism gives accomplishments more substance because it's closer to the real thing.

I may have missed some other good uses for realism but my point is that it's a tool. One of the basic synonyms of 'game' is 'play'. When a game requires effort without payoff it becomes work not play.

You can get your audience to care about the character without the tedium of every little event. There are tools other than realism that can be used. A good story can be all a player needs to feel for the character. A loss is often a good way to start, if the character looses his wife, best friend, or dog the audience will be drawn in and start feeling for the character. Give the character depth or they will just be a puppet.

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I think I have a similair game vision, for a very long time.

As gamer inspired by games like:
Privateer
Freelancer
Startrek fleet comander
X2 the threat
Universal combat
X3 the reunion.

In most these game the ships are your "Player char"

More so as Scifi fan inspired by Scifi movies and series like:
Startrek
Stargate
FireFly
Adromeda
Farscape.
Alien
Battlestar galactica

Ships are more like Player FPS levels.
Also lots of Planet side FPS action and landing.

Translating them to game means Player resembles a person. A shipcrew- or team member. On a space ship.

Ships can't be to big, because it would be to big play level. Poor content creators. That also can move in space. Would be detaild destructable. Wich have large design impact also put feasability lower. Also NPC pathing must be dynamic. And air decompresion flow Physics.

Space is enormus spread out and not so crowded. So Fighters aren't the way to travel long distance. They are more like a long range weapon platform for intercepting and add to defence.

Ships can be incapitaced then borded and salvaged.
Ships can be a small carrier.

Crew would be between 5 to 25 people. Like 7 (Blake seven, firefly) Keep it small, keep small capital class ships.
Like 40 to 100m

You can take a fix role.
Choose a class if it's millitary vessel.
* Captain. means you command your officers.
Or take over one officers funtion.
* Be one of those officers handeling a specific demanding task. Tactical officer. Security. Engineer. aren't that demandig wich keep player continously bussy.

problem you can't get a gamer busy all the time being a engineer. So Player could swap characters. A dev choice to be made. To keep the Gamer busy you can change classes like in Commando's or Hidden and dangerous. So Take urgent matters in own hand. And keep the gamers busy.
I think all crew member also NPC have there task and so need high level of AI to interact believable and fuction independand. Avoid micromangement in the heat of battle. As commander you can steer them. Top level orders. But must funtion independend. There is alway's one in command on the bridge. (Officer Nr1, captain replacment). Wich will ackt to events wich are urgent and inform the captian. Wenn the Player(Capt) char is off duty. Also wenn there is a big choice to make. lower crew inform there superior wat to do. And officers ask there captain. You get a request and thus some interaction of choices. Like enemy vessel is charging weapons. NR1 will self command rase shields. But charging weapons is a option. Going to settle it diplomatic. or go a agressive stance. That's a urgent choice for the captain. Wich rushes to the Bridge.

For multiplayer Coop style it's important that some crew function are very dull and some only requierd sporadicly. So a full crew of Multyplayers leads to boredom by some. So 4 out of 10 could be Player. A ship of 5 could be 2.
A 25 ship crew could have 8 Players.
Also the problem as working in a team. Every body want to be the captain.
How ever if you are a officer you get more detail highlevel task. But a if you take the role of a crew member. You get at micromangement level. Like senior engineer. You get advance interface to adjust systems.
Or a squad leader marine (MAKO Enterprise) under securty office to do a bording party.

The problem with this is that it's a genre mix a hybrid game. Nothing done before with such high feature set.

The reason no Dev and publisher do such thing. it's complex it's risky high requierment. Expertise on AI and physics needed.


Gameplay and interface would be like Captian commands officers. It's interface would be something like giving main orders. like klickin on a Bridge officer. Exampl the tactical officer. Your get a simplified weapons menu to give fast main orders in the right contex. Like in Graw to command team mates. Order menu that fit's its task. But can go to his console or take over it and get a Full tactical menu. And with it, optional Nr 1 take over command task. In case you want to incapicitate a vessel. And your NPC Tactical officer is low on experience. Or to just take crussial task in own hands. While wenn you play as Tactical officer. You can take Full tactical menu but also advance menu. Managing weapons systems. Micromange them.

So I heard of a old game bridge commander. No clue of it reasemble this.
But can't know them all.

My Progam skills are also limited to.

And I also think Space combat isn't annythink like Submarine. Altho there are similarity's.

Submarine are like a needle in a haystack. Hiding by making no noise. Optics are useless. Space is Like Needle on earth in plain side viewed somewhere from a geostationair satelite. Noise is irrelevant. Water enhance explotions. Vaccum deplete them. Space kenetic energy can be much more effective.

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Where's Wavinator when you need him?

And I suggest you try Penumbra. Your post about how objects interact with the world brought that one to mind. One of the first tasks in the game is to smash the ice off of a hatch so you can get in there, and you've got to find a rock, drag it over to the hatch, then use the mouse to repeatedly lift it and slam it against the door until the ice shatters, then cast the stone aside and grasp the handle, then wiggle it and jiggle it and slam it back and forth until it turns, then let go of the handle and lift the heavy door up and out of the way before you can go in.

Penumbra is a lot of fun, and that sort of interface lends a depth to it that you don't often get elsewhere. Want to bring that box along? It doesn't fit in your pocket? I hope you don't mind setting it down every time you want to turn a doorknob, then picking it up again to continue.

But that's a very simple set of situations, and you're faced with puzzles like, "There a board nailed across this doorway, and a hammer laying on a table three rooms down the hall. What do you do?" You aren't commanding an interstellar spaceship. Even just driving a car, you're using both hands, both feet, gathering information from three mirrors, six windows and a control panel of varying complexity. Even the most hardcore racing sims don't model the act of taking your hand off the wheel to shift gears, and they usually give you a third-person camera so you can see what's around the car without craning your virtual neck.

There has to be an interface, something that interprets the player's actions against the input device and turns them into the character's actions in the game.

Imagine standing on your ship's bridge and initiating a 25% increase in impulse power while adjusting your ships heading to align to a distant moon. You'd be glancing from monitor to console to viewscreen, punching buttons or perhaps issuing verbal commands to crew members. How can that action be faithfully represented with a keyboard and mouse? Space sims already have a dizzyingly complex keyboard mapping diagram associated with them. Shift-Alt-PgUp to transfer energy from the main engines to the sensor array is hard enough. Imagine having to walk across the bridge and interact with a terminal using FPS controls (Doom 3, anyone?) in order to accomplish the same end?

Remember, a character being controlled via FPS-type controls is like a guy with one finger, horrible arthritis and a cardboard toilet-paper tube glued over his one good eye. No perifieral vision, one-point interaction with the world and no mobility except for walking and turning, maybe sidestepping if you're lucky. Can such a man complete the tasks you've assigned him? Are those restrictions on the player's interactions with the world really necessary?

So, in conclusion, I think the basic notion of your idea is compelling and excellent, and if you've got a few weeks to spare, you should look into Wavinator's journal to see some of the very interesting challenges he faces and how he met them while noodling about a similar idea (lots of other content that that is extraneous to your project, but often a good read). Unfortunately, I think that you either haven't thought it through sufficiently or have a very slow game pace in mind that will allow the player to successfully lumber through the game with their one-fingered puppet.

Or you have some brilliant new sort of character control system in the works, but it would have to be truly revolutionary to overcome these obstacles.

[Edited by - Iron Chef Carnage on April 6, 2008 3:41:12 AM]

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