Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

Enhancing Tile-based Procedural Planets

This topic is 3317 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

What elements / gameplay would you add to make procedural planets interesting and worthwhile to visit? I've got a prototype for a procedural planet generator up and working and I'm trying to decide what approach to take. Since it's a 2D tile-based single-player game I don't think immersion's really a selling point so I've decided to focus on some combination of action and strategy. The three areas I'm looking at right now are mining, environmental hazards and dealing with native life. One approach I could take would be abstract and strategy heavy. The tiles would essentially be a giant puzzle, with movement through tiles restricted or coming at some cost. You'd first need a flat place to land. You'd then need a terrain vehicle with the range to get to the regions you cared about. Mountains would contain minerals but be costly to find a path through. Weather could change tiles (erasing a mountain pass, for instance) as well as directly damage the vehicle. Each tile would have a time cost with time jumping in increments each step. Another approach could emphasize a more "arcade-y" approach. Want to land directly in the mountains? Then you switch to a lunar lander mode and try to set down a flying vehicle on a 2d side-view mountain ledge. Collecting or fighting animals might be a top down tank game. I've also thought of building, but I want to keep pulling / tempting the player to uncover more and more planets, and I want the nature of the planets to feature prominently in how the player plays. So an ice planet would be different from an island dominated planet, for instance. Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
My fisrst thought was, sounds a little like exploring planets in Starflight.

My second thought was, motivation to get people to explore would be money. Get people to explore a planet to find stuff like various minerals, life forms, planets for terraforming, and settlement sites. Maybe keep it to that sort of stuff and give the player a time limit (of a lifetime) to see how much money he can make.

My third thought was that it'd be cool to cross Starflight with X-Com. Find a site to land, load up the ATV with gear and head out, arrive at destination, do some resource collection using ATV, disembark from ATV for resource collection that requires a more "delicate touch". I remember trying to stun aliens in X-com to bring them back for research. I'm thinking you could get the player to do missions like that targeting specific life forms. Or find other reasons to get the PCs to leave the comfort of the ATV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
My third thought was that it'd be cool to cross Starflight with X-Com. Find a site to land, load up the ATV with gear and head out, arrive at destination, do some resource collection using ATV, disembark from ATV for resource collection that requires a more "delicate touch". I remember trying to stun aliens in X-com to bring them back for research. I'm thinking you could get the player to do missions like that targeting specific life forms. Or find other reasons to get the PCs to leave the comfort of the ATV.


Hmm, my first thought was something like Dune 2, where you harvest Spice on the sand and have to keep close to the rocks lest the native Sand Worms devour your equipment. That and how your buildings always seemed to decay over time (presumably because of the corroding effects of the sand).

You could make the mineral deposits small, encouraging the player to pack up and leave after a short time, much like mining in StarControl 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Use the same formula which Blizzard and most other additive games use. Lots of monotony punctuated with cool stuff spread out just enough to keep them playing.

Perhaps you have to mine these planets, fight off hostile wildlife and occasionally undercover hidden gems or artifacts (also quest related clues).

The only compelling reason to visit these planets is the meta game surrounding them, ie u visit them to collect minerals which u sell on the galactic market so u can upgrade your equipmenet and stuff, or maybe ur searching for the lost treasure of the ancients and have to collect the 4 pieces of a key scattered across the universe?

Without a compelling meta-game, whichever setting you choose for the planet themselves is secondary (be it turn based tile game or realtime top down shooter or first person mining ). Create a compelling meta game ( perhaps your an intergalactic mining baron in competition with your peers to corner the market for this sector ).

Look at Elite for example, even though they didn't have u mining the planets directly, there was a compelling reason to visit other planets ( it was a space pilot sim, where you played the role of a space trader or pirate basically ). The feedback loop of getting a good haul and upgrading your ship which in turn allowed you to get even more loot was addictive then as it is now.

Good Luck!

-ddn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by kseh
My fisrst thought was, sounds a little like exploring planets in Starflight.


[smile] Yup, that's my influence. Funny enough, I replayed through Starflight recently and although I still love the game I was struck by how empty planets felt. Once you mine them enough and collect the quest specific artifacts there's not a lot to exploring the environment itself. So I've been trying to put more gameplay into the act of actually roving the terrain.

[/quote]
My second thought was, motivation to get people to explore would be money. Get people to explore a planet to find stuff like various minerals, life forms, planets for terraforming, and settlement sites. Maybe keep it to that sort of stuff and give the player a time limit (of a lifetime) to see how much money he can make.
[/quote]

A time limit is one approach I'm leaning toward, but I think even with money the gameplay for exploring needs to be more robust than just a scavenger hunt. I think my problem becomes trying to make sure that the exploration is an end unto its own, rather than just a (typically tedious) phase you have to get to so you can play the game in a way that's more fun. In Starflight once you find the right planet, if you have the stomach for it you can make all the money you need, after which you have the strength to take on the enemy ships and go almost anywhere you please.

Quote:

My third thought was that it'd be cool to cross Starflight with X-Com. Find a site to land, load up the ATV with gear and head out, arrive at destination, do some resource collection using ATV, disembark from ATV for resource collection that requires a more "delicate touch". I remember trying to stun aliens in X-com to bring them back for research. I'm thinking you could get the player to do missions like that targeting specific life forms. Or find other reasons to get the PCs to leave the comfort of the ATV.


Okay, as far as getting the player's party out, what do you think about impassible regions that have to be scouted before they can be moved through? A dense forest or jungle, for instance, would be impervious to ATV traffic (or I could say that the time cost to move through is tripled or whatever).

By itself that's not enough of a challenge, but if it's mixed with hostile life or treacherous terrain, it *might* be enough while you're on your way to either accomplish some mission, collect something or get to some site.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Gyrthok
Hmm, my first thought was something like Dune 2, where you harvest Spice on the sand and have to keep close to the rocks lest the native Sand Worms devour your equipment.


Hmmm... I wonder how far this could be expanded. You wouldn't want sandworms on every planet, but it would be interesting if I had some overall threat that was consistent from planet to planet that was similar, sort of a dumber Zerg or something like the bugs in Starship Troopers.

I don't think I'd like to do this everywhere, though, because I don't want to just focus on combat. But maybe combining something like this with weather effects or some consistent force that had to be opposed might work.

Quote:

You could make the mineral deposits small, encouraging the player to pack up and leave after a short time, much like mining in StarControl 2.


Yes I was thinking about breaking mining into surface, which would be easy both collect and exhaust, and subsurface, which would require a full blown mining operation that potentially has to be supported and defended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by ddn3
Use the same formula which Blizzard and most other additive games use. Lots of monotony punctuated with cool stuff spread out just enough to keep them playing.


Ouch. I get the spirit of what you're saying, but I don't play those types of games because of the monotony. I like the cool stuff part, though.

Quote:

The only compelling reason to visit these planets is the meta game surrounding them, ie u visit them to collect minerals which u sell on the galactic market so u can upgrade your equipmenet and stuff, or maybe ur searching for the lost treasure of the ancients and have to collect the 4 pieces of a key scattered across the universe?


I agree with the idea of having the meta game, which draws you to the location for a larger, more abstract region (collecting what you need to level, for instance). What I really hate is the idea that the activity itself has to be tedious.

Quote:

Create a compelling meta game ( perhaps your an intergalactic mining baron in competition with your peers to corner the market for this sector ).


I can see meta gameplay in terms of leveling and changing the larger game universe in ways that help you with your ultimate goals (expansion to some degree).

But what I'm realizing is that I need to somehow build gameplay into the actual geography itself. If I don't, then what's the difference between any two locations? If there are dozens of frozen ice planets, for instance, and you're going there for meta-game purposes, why go to one over another?

It seems to me that they need to have some sort of meaningful variance. The random way that the tiles have assembled on the map needs to impose some sort of consideration onto the player's goals and strategies. That you come across a planet that's filled with islands, for instance, versus one that features a landlocked sea surrounded by mountains should mean something. (Heh, I just have to figure out what that something actually is).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by ROBERTREAD1
I plan on "Drop automated (minerals = (Log(time)) mining gear and defend it". For my game.


I think that's a good formula. I'd like to use it myself but don't want to rely only on it because then mining is really serving only the purpose of war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
I think my problem becomes trying to make sure that the exploration is an end unto its own, rather than just a (typically tedious) phase you have to get to so you can play the game in a way that's more fun.


Quote:
Okay, as far as getting the player's party out, what do you think about impassible regions that have to be scouted before they can be moved through? A dense forest or jungle, for instance, would be impervious to ATV traffic (or I could say that the time cost to move through is tripled or whatever).

By itself that's not enough of a challenge, but if it's mixed with hostile life or treacherous terrain, it *might* be enough while you're on your way to either accomplish some mission, collect something or get to some site.


I'm pondering how a big part of the fun of a rougelike is drinking an unknown potion or reading an unknown scroll. What if you could put together a bunch of ingredients to get another unknown potion. What if you consulted the spirits and they suggested that if you want a potion to make yourself stronger you should seek out a mushroom that grows in a high altitude in a high gravity environment (or maybe that was advice from a ship's autodoc). Perhaps you need a remedy for that posionous mushroom that you recklessly ate. You notice a bunch of critters eat those things all the time and think (or are advised) they might have an immunity that you can examine to find a cure. Go catch one.

Usually you'd take a risk on a potion in a rougelike because you were desperate. Whether it was from a lack of food or you're about to be thrashed by numerous enemies. You'd use the potion hoping for the best and then deal with the effects and concequences. Perhaps what you want to do is make resources relatively scarce galaxy wide. Though I doubt the effects of making ship/vehical repairs with an unknown metal would be as interesting as a crew member eating an unknown fruit.

The best reason I can think of for getting the crew to leave the ATV is so they can perform operations that require a more refined touch than that of the ATV lazer cannon. If there were significant threats then it might be desirable to have the crew spread out so their guns can support the ATV's cannon or for a wider sensor sweep. It does make sense that people might be able to go certain places more effectively than the ATV but I think you need to be sure the player has a reason to deploy the crew in any terrain and not just for certain types. And while venturing out into the jungle on foot might be fun and suspensful, demolishing a path for the ATV would probably get tedious after the first few times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!