Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
RobAU78

Space RTS: Customizable Ships?

This topic is 3308 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

One of the most enjoyable aspects of turn-based space 4x games is customizable ship-building. Ever since the original Master of Orion (1993), this feature has been a staple of the sub-genre. When done well, it adds flexibility and creativity to the game, thus enhancing its replay value. I'm curious as to how easily this feature can be implemented in a real-time space 4x game. RTS games in general traditionally eschew customizable units. There's a good reason for this - RTSes are typically much faster-paced than TBSes, so RTS players have correspondingly less time (if any!) to devote to designing new unit types. It seems that unit customization may have to take place outside the game itself. How much of an impact would this have on the "fun" of creating custom ship types? Another consideration deals with knowing the capabilities of enemy ships. In every RTS game I've seen, every unit type has a distinctive appearance. Even novice players can typically point out the different unit types and remember their capabilities. With turn-based space 4x games and customizable ships, there's always the possibility that two ships may look the same, but nonetheless have different capabilities. Furthermore, these games usually require some kind of sensors to determine the capabilities of enemy ships. How feasible is this functionality in an RTS, even if it's slower-paced than normal? It may be the case that these concerns make customizable ship types completely infeasible for a real-time space 4x game. That's perfectly fine with me. I think it might be able to work, but my opinion is only one among many. So let's hear what the rest of you think! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
I personally find customization part of the fun in games. So in this context I think it would depend on if it's a one or two player game. If it's only one I would say that doing the customization within a pause screen would work well. If not, perhaps you could make templates to use on the fly during battle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think you should do make prebuild templates anyway as a pause screen with tons of customization options easily breaks the game flow.

Then for making the capabilities visible you have to rely on a good graphics design, but I think it should be possible nowadays to make modular models with enough detail to see the difference between a laser cannon and a torpedo launcher on the left side easily. In the end it depends on how many customization there are, but there are also tons of possible changes in the outer appereance like changing the size of the flames behind your turbines or like creating a colored shading for shielded ships with different thickness or color for different shield types/strength etc. So in the end it depends very much on your graphics system but in general it seems to be possible.

I feel the balancing part will be much harder - at least for a multiplayer game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Meh. If you've ever played homeworlds 2, they have a pretty good system of customizing ships. There is a steeper learning curve, however, so particularly in multiplayer battles, being able to identify how good a ship is based on seeing the weapon add-ons is extremely important in close games.

Ultimately, as Leartes said, it basically becomes a matter of graphics. If you can visually make a distinction between every gun (preferably with an easy to recognize code (nuke sign on gun = nuclear rockets, some light symbol means lasers, etc.)) then the learning curve will go down. That being said, if you're battles are huge, you won't have time to examine each ship for symbols. But if this is a squad on squad game, that system can work extraordinarily well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I really like the idea of customizing units. Perhaps make it into a turned base style RTS similar to total war? Or keep it RTS, with a minimizing capability. So if they need to draw their attention to a battle they wont lose the progress of the ship build. I think having the ability to create schematics of ships would help as well. Perhaps a world builder type program outside of the game to develop ship schematics, then once in the game they have these schematics to choose from as well as build a new one. While giving each weapon a unique look could be cool, another option could be to give it ratings based on its movement speed/firepower/armor whether its 1 rating or 1 rating for each category. That way just moving the cursor over a unit you have a quick glimpse of its capabilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the replies!

My inspiration for starting this thread was something of an intellectual exercise. I was thinking about how to make something like a real-time version of Ascendancy. It's one of my favorite space 4x games, despite its flaws.

Ascendancy has a rule where players can only have as many ships as the number of star systems under their control. I was never a big fan of this rule, but at least it gives you an idea of the kind of scale I have in mind. With a real-time format, I think this rule can be relaxed, but I still wouldn't want each side to deal with hundreds of ships. A few dozen at the most is what I'm thinking.

I honestly hadn't thought seriously about changing the ships' appearances based on what items they have, but it sounds like a pretty cool idea. Up to this point, I had been thinking about simply displaying more info about a ship than its current "health" - like how powerful are its weapons, engines, shields, etc. Do you guys think that would be workable at all, or would it be too cluttered?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems to me that if you used a system sort of like what they did with Star Wars:Empire at War it would be feasible. Being able to research parts and draft schematics during the turn based rounds of unit creation and movement, then having the actual battles that occur working like an RTS. Just a thought. To be able to customize ships as you please would require time, and might be difficult to translate into MP, but for single player that seems it would work. Maybe you could port your created ships into your armada's for use online.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The concept has been done before in such RTS's as Warzone 2100 and Earth 2160 respectively. You'll want to be careful when implementing it so that you don't end up with a dominant or weak combination of elements, having fewer elements is usually better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just had a thought about balancing. It seems to me that a good way to balance the ships would be first that you have to declare the type of ship you are creating (Capital ship, fighter, heavy fighter, bomber) in order to give it some parameters. Then from there you create a frame, which could be improved to a point. From this frame it can only handle so much weight and assign different types of parts with different amounts of weight. I seem to recall something like this in Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed. Your parts are limited by the components and class of your ships, thus keeping a sort of balance going on. Customization is good but it's important to not let the players run too wildly with it.

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!