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Acharis

Started working on my 4X Emperor game thing :)

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For almost two years I was making various posts here about the Empire builder thing and... finally I gave it a green light and started work smile.png

I'm after tech demo and preparing a prototype.

 

Kind of wanted to "make it right" this time, with proper promotion and whatever, so, it might be useful to you to observe how it unfolds (from the late design phase/tech demo to release).

I'm also open to various tips of any kind and feedback (it's the first standalone commercial game I make - previously these were either browser  MMOs or freeware - so it's kind of new to me smile.png)

 

 

===============

Platform: PC (Windows)
Genre: Strategy (4X)
Theme: Space Empire Builder

Technicalities: Turn based, single player, asymmetric gameplay, should run on low spec machines


Core design goals
- You are the Emperor, not a logistics officer (no micromanagement, no dealing with individual ships, grand strategy level decisions)
- Epic scale without the slowdown (you run 100-200 planets empire but rarely deal with individual planets - you are the Emperor, not a planetary governor)
- Aliens are truly aliens (AI plays by different - unique - rules) also they don't try to "win the game" but follow their own agendas and goals.
- Challenging AI that can't be easily abused by the player

 

 

===============

Marketing plan (just since you might be interested):

- Sell via Humbe Store widget + GOG + Steam

- Quite possible crowdfunding (Kickstarter or Indiegogo)

- Budget (money) my own purse for initial graphics to make it rolling (sigh...) + crowdfunding later, also I have an option for an investor but I don't know if I want it...

- Budget (time) below 1 year

- Marketing minimalistic (Facebook+Twitter+Reddit+YouTube+my websites), also I know 2 (yep, only two biggrin.png) websites that deal with 4X and I could send them emails

 

Schedule plan:

- make a rough version with all core features ASAP (what's new here biggrin.png)

- playtest it a bit, get acceptable graphics, organize crowdfunding and release it as alpha to donators

- make beta for donators

- make a full version (unpolished and without all features), in short I want to release it early (as a player I HATE waiting for a game for years), release on Humble Store and GOG

- make a polished version and proceed to Steam

- continue working on improvements (usually that part takes half the total time of a project, but it's much easier since there is money already and all core stuff is there and tested, so just tweaking and improving)

- maybe some expansion if everything goes well... (OK, to be honest, I use "I will do it in the expansion, not in the basic game" sentence to fight the feature creep biggrin.png)

 

EDIT: The game has been greenlit.

 

 

===============

LINKS:

* Homepage: http://www.silverlemurgames.com/ (almost no updated, interesting only if you want to check my other games)
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/SilverLemur (the most frequently updated one - RECOMMENDED)

* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StellarMonarch (not so frequently updated)
* YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCps-DZqxTNj7vrTMvSfml1A (some interesting videos)
* Tumblr: http://silverlemur.tumblr.com/ (blog, contains walls of text - best if you want to read about specific mechanic)
* Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/blcMDr (only announcement about release/greenlit, etc - best for people mildly interested who don't want to forget about the project - first 2k subscribers will get a small cosmetic pack/DLC (like different gfx set, additional gfx of the imperial throne to choose from, etc))
* IndieDB http://www.indiedb.com/games/pocket-space-empire (GalaxyViewer download)

OTHER:

* Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=472423794 (greenlit already :))

* Crowdfunding: http://igg.me/at/pocketspaceempire/ (ends soon)

Edited by Acharis

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First and foremost: Congratz Acharis. I couldn't wait for you to get started on this!

I'd also like to congratulate you on your approach. You've demonstrated a keen understanding of several principles of development and have been "ramping" project difficulty rather carefully up to now. Even your "4X game" looks like it will be sufficient simplified to make it a sustainable project (especially as a single player-only experience). So, congratulations are in order here.

 

With that being said...

 


- Sell via Humbe Store widget + GOG + Steam

 

I've had some traction/success using indieDB which I believe you are familiar with. It never hurts to get a constant stream of "free views" and a general landing area for people to view where you're at.

 

On that note, I'd also like to suggest you make a gamedev dev journal if this isn't already part of your plan.

 


- Budget (time) below 1 year

 

How much of this is put towards marketing your actual game? Or is this all a "make a kickass prototype and go to crowdfunding"?

Having an idea of how budget will get spent on day 1 is critical. You don't need to stick to the plan at all costs, but it should help you keep enough to finish and ship whatever you've set out to do.

 

 

 


- make a rough version with all core features ASAP (what's new here )

 

How do you envision your MVP currently? It's easy to say "all core features" but it implies you have a very good understanding of what is core, and chances are, that definition will evolve as well depending on the results you get as you develop it. It is worth taking the time and writing this down, multiple times, as you move forward. It forces you to focus and choose. It's not enough to "think you know". 

 

 

 

Godspeed!

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I always enjoyed your 4x posts.
LOL, I thought people got bored to death by these :)

 


How do you envision your MVP currently? It's easy to say "all core features" but it implies you have a very good understanding of what is core, and chances are, that definition will evolve as well depending on the results you get as you develop it. It is worth taking the time and writing this down, multiple times, as you move forward. It forces you to focus and choose. It's not enough to "think you know".
Yeah, a good point... Maybe I will start with it right now :)

 

Core of the core

- combat, including AI decision making (fleets, flotillas, very simplified shipyard (just building one ship type), ground defences, AI strategic level thinking (what to conquer, setting defence priorities), AI operational level thinking (where to exactly allocate forces and when), AI tactical level thinking (when to retreat, when to launch an attack)

- economy (taxes, population growth, planetary infrastructure growth (cities/farms/factories), probably very simple corporations & contracts system); the nice thing is the AI races won't build anything or almost anything and/or it will be greatly simplified (since aliens use different balance anyway)

- research (I was slightly hesitant if to put it as core, but well, I think it should be here)

 

Primary

- food system (food price, starvation, simple riot system)

- load/save, change resolution, polish of the interface

- appointing planetary governors (I know it should not be primary, but let's be realistic, I like that one sooo much I will implement it early no matter what I say :D So let's pretend that was the plan from the start :))

- more complex AI types (various special cases like parasite, extragalaxy invaders, respawn of overminds), more aliens as needed (balance of starting galaxy map)

 

Secondary

- advanced ship production (shipyard)

- appointing fleet admirals (because it's cute :D)

- imperial edicts, imperial level, prestige system (also maybe imperial senate but not necessarily)

- on map officials (imperial inspectors, tax collectors, special forces and other specialists)

- better reporting system (categories)

 

Trietriary:

- tutorial

- resources (rare ones)

- better combat system (maybe interplanetary missiles)

- pirates, maybe rebels (althrough rebels would most likely "be in expansion" :D)

- diplomacy (yeah, it's a low priority one since most aliens will not be interested anyway (you don't talk with food :D) and the war/peace would be based on current real situation not negotiations), tribute, acknowledge the empire, vassalization, military treaty

- intro, outro, game over, credits

- sound assets selection, probably UI improvement

- balancing, A LOT of balancing

- and many many other things I have forgotten (put here like 60% of the total features :D)

 

 


How much of this is put towards marketing your actual game? Or is this all a "make a kickass prototype and go to crowdfunding"?

Having an idea of how budget will get spent on day 1 is critical. You don't need to stick to the plan at all costs, but it should help you keep enough to finish and ship whatever you've set out to do.
I always do marketing and devlopment at the same time, simultaneously (actually marketing and design). I can't see it any other way. One funny example, once I wrote a marketing description and then redesigned the game to fit the description (I have added a princess to rescue and a dragon to slay - quite logical for an RPG) :D Thinking of marketing upon design results in a better game (at least in my case).

 

But overall, I rely on a 4X being a niche than a real marketing effort (I couldn't afford it anyway).

 

 


make a gamedev dev journal
I will go back to this topic later. But for now, how do you evaluate dev journal as a means of getting feedback (support during design stage)? Or is it only for marketing?

 

 

 

Got a name for it?

Yes, but I don't want to give it out just yet (I will need to upon FB page creation :))

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Good luck hoping that it will lead to less topic regarding this from now on (jk btw :) )

 

Looking at GDD and your previous posts, I always get impression that you are chopping off large elements of strategy in game in order to have less workload. Or it is me as a micromanagement lover control freak :)

 

I am having difficulty to get USP and/or 'fun' part of playing this game, tbh

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While I do not believe Acharis will post less it will undoubtedly interesting to see how posts change from theoretical to practical (possibly with screenshots) as per his previous project.
I, for one, care much more about applieddesign than ideas.

Also Unduli, I too am a micro-manager type of player so I can relate to your concern. There is however an undeniable crowd out there for soft 4x games so long as it is wrapped in a fun package.
Focusing on single player anf assymetry give this concept some appeal, particularly the Ai that Acharis discussed in another thread which exists moreso than it tries to win.
It puts the player in a game where they try to win but the enemy isn't like an opponent at chess, rather he is an obstacle.
There is a lot to be said of situations that arise when two players have fairly different goals (think of risk with its missions system for example) and I am curious what will come out of this.

This game smells of indie and risk and is not something large publishers would necessarily undertake given the risk involved, and it could lead to an interesting blend.

Hopefully my pep talk is boosting Acharis' will to get this done by now!
Afterall it will be interesting to know my nemesis is devving his 4x game at the same time I am if only to entertain a friendly and self motivating competition!

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I don't have much to add to the actual discussion--I'm not really a strategy player, and so perhaps have relatively limited insight into such games--but I would like to say that I'm glad to read that you're making a start on the implementation of your game. ^_^

 

So I will say it--or rather have said it.

 

*ahem*

 

I hope that the project follows whatever path is best, whatever that may be, and good luck. ^_^

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Looking at GDD and your previous posts, I always get impression that you are chopping off large elements of strategy in game in order to have less workload. Or it is me as a micromanagement lover control freak smile.png
Fortunatelly, adding micromanagement is far easier than removing it :) So, if all fails I should be able to simply add it... Well, it all depends on the prototype.

Anyway, I already lessened it, planetary defence most likely will be done manually (I have run the 50 planets empire and at the first glance it does not seem owerwhelming, especially since only frontier planets will be really of player's interest and due to starlanes map mechanics not all "outer" planets even connect to danger zones. So I try less automation/abstraction there at first (of course I will try to add some automation & priorities system there, like militia and ground troops - but these were automatized even in heavy micromanagement games).

 

But as for chopping of a lot of things (for whatever reasons), that's a correect impression :) I always try to desperately do it (in the end it still always ends up more complex that I originally planned :D).

BTW, it's interesting how it changes perspective and habits when it's not your first or second finished project... My attitude back then was completely different.

 

 


While I do not believe Acharis will post less it will undoubtedly interesting to see how posts change from theoretical to practical (possibly with screenshots) as per his previous project.
I, for one, care much more about applieddesign than ideas.
Less? Why I would post less? You mean more (now that I have a game to make and need to post even more to forge out details?) :D

Oh boy, I already feel sorry for some of the fellow forum members :)

As for switch in the topics mood, tell me afterwards if it changed (since it's interesting), but I doubt. I always (with very minor exceptions) post practical.

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The game name will be "Pocket Space Empire".

 

Here is the very first public screenshot (note it's just a TECH DEMO! Everyting is programmer's art or placeholders)

https://www.facebook.com/PocketSpaceEmpire/photos/a.1518291948449273.1073741828.1518285091783292/1518290615116073/?type=1&theater

 

 

Also added FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/PocketSpaceEmpire

(I guess the simpliest way to follow this project is to like/observe it - so I could easily spam you later once it's ready or something :D)

Alternatively you can go with Twitter https://twitter.com/silverlemur (but I will post some updates there after I got the first follower :D and generally will update there less)

 

OK, that's enough for my minimalistic marketing I guess, time to go back to designing & coding :)

 

 

 

DESIGNER NOTES:

I could not resist and instead of coding combat as I planned I went for planetary governors :D I don't know, maybe it's just me being a freak of personel management (I even studied Human Resources, so I might be biased here I suppose), but I find these utterly cute. I think I will make the "administration of the empire" more important focus of the game (possibly at the expense of combat but not necessarily).

 

Governors have 3 stats: competence (how good they are at being governor - it benefits the planet), loyalty (how much they love the Emperor and how willing they are to betray him upon a rebelion/coup/etc), corruption (it affects the whole empire at a global level, the average corruption of all your officials determines the corruption level in the empire - it might affect various things like: taxes, how easily rebels could buy illegal weapons, population happines, justice).

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