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AvengerDr

Real time + pause Vs Turn Based for a Space tactical game on smartphones

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Hi all,
I've just embarked in a new project, one that I might realistically be able to finish as a one man army (programmer art, here we go!). The main idea is to let you, the player, command your fleet of space ships against a similar enemy fleet. You would do so through a DRADIS-like (from Galactica) interface. Similar to the indie game "Gratuitous Space Battles" but with a different scope (and no top notch graphics at the moment :( ).

Here's what I have at the moment:
imagexe.png


The twist would be to recreate as much as possible the feel of a space opera battle dynamics, where fighters and bombers do most of the job as in Star Wars or Galactica. The above screen shows a very early prototype of a battle map. Your "flagship" would be at the center of the circular grid and the rest of the (detected) ships would appear as icons there.

Now back to the topic. My initial idea would have been to let you assign orders to each ship in your fleet . For instance, have "Alpha Squadron" consisting of Fighter ships protect "Beta Squadron" on their bombing run. Together with other parameters such as aggressivity, priority, you would have the basics to build a rule based engine. Each ship would then use this engine to decide what to do. If for instance, the fighter escort was destroyed, then the bombers might decide to fleet rather than carrying on. From the interface's point of view one could use a real time + pause system where you controlled the speed. After assigning orders you would then watch the ships execute them. By pausing you could issue new orders.

A "Storyteller" system would be used to implement dynamic radio chatter to provide some degree of immersion. So each ship would say something depending on the current actions. I.e.: "multiple contacts detected!", "Red Leader: lock S-Foils into attack positions!" and so on. On a side note, I want to explicitly include the option of ramming a capital ship into another one as a last resort, seeing as it is a mainstay of science fiction everywhere :D "We'll se you all on the other side. It was an honor serving with you. Pegasus out."

In theory this could work but.... is it fun enough to just see the battle unfold and intervening from time to time? The alternative would be to use a purely turn-based system with time units. I have recently played X-Com which reminded me of how engaging turn based games can be. Seeing as the main focus of the game would be to put you in the commander's shoes.. would having to control each ship feel to diminish that impression? What are your thoughts? Consider that the game is aimed at smartphones (and perhaps tablets). Please no jokes about it being built for Windows Phone OS :D C# is the language I know and the one I feel comfortable with. Plus, there's much less competition there at the moment :D

The rest of the game would be scenario-based a-la FTL. I.e.: the "tutorial" scenario would see you having to race back from the fringes of Oort's belt to Earth to support the Martian Fleet in their attempt to declare independence. So each battle would bring you closer to the final confrontation in Earth's orbit.

Other ideas that I'm considering at the moment are the possibility of choosing your own ship design (from a predefined set of ship classes, i.e.: Carriers, fighters, bombers, to support Rock-paper-scissors mechanics. I.e. a bomber is effective against capital ships but not against fighters and so on), experience points and so on. Maybe a very limited research aspect (it does not make much sense in a game like this, seeing as the game would span a single "campaign", so there would be no time for scifi-like research a-la Master of Orion). Edited by AvengerDr

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i would go for pause because i don't think mobile-players will want to immerse themselves into the game, they just wanna watch a pretty show and have some input into it, though you should be better capable of saying what kind of players you re (trying to) attract.

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Well casual gamers are obviously out of question. Ideally anyone who's not going to be put off from the game's lack of awesome 3D graphics.

 

If I had the resources, I would totally go for something like Homeworld. As things stand now, the prospect of having a professional artist create the graphics is outside my reach at the moment. That's why I'd like to stick to a minimalistic approach, similar to Introversion's Defcon game. First, it's relatively easy to draw iconic symbols for ships and the like, second it supports the idea of the player being in some sort of "situation room" rather than in the fighter's cockpit.

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Pause+command seems like a good idea to me. It meshes well with the idea of issuing orders from a war room, and of defining a battle plan rather than micromanaging everything. Giving the player time to think rather than rushing them in a real-time battle could be attractive in a mobile game, as it supports players who want to play throughout the day in snatched moments of time.

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Maybe create a turn based star map to move between sectors of your space and real time tactical combat with a pause feature.

 

Add the audio! 80 percent of a viewer or player's immersion for movies and games are the audio, try watching star wars muted, its brutal! In this case its perfect extra feedback for controls and it connects the player to the simplistic visuals.

 

As an added feature maybe use a face tracking system and the selfy-camera to make a mock reflection of the player in the DRADIS display and you could paper overlay a uniform on them ;P just for fun. Though the uniform could represent the player's rank as well.

 

This is great! Look forward to DL this one, please have a free version!

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I suppose it depends on how much control the Players have over the automated combat.

Personally, though, I see it's more viable to have RTS + Pause instead of Turn Base, just because. Note, I enjoy both types of strategy games, so it all depends on the game-play.

Edited by PyrZern

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I'm going to experiment with a real-time plus pause approach for the moment and see how it looks like. Game is definitly going to be free. Extra scenarios and ship classes will be available at an additional cost. I'm only worried by the fact that in this way I have to study up some sort of believable "flight" and interception behaviours. Luckily with the battle map being a very low fidelity (and 2D) depiction of the battle itself, I think that showing complex flight manoeuvers would feel out of place. 

 

If anyone knows of any helpful resource on this matter, I'd appreciate it!

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