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Third-Person Space Shooter RPG (Concept)

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Hello. I'm working on a prototype of a third-person space shooter. It's about a sci-fi government division that's dedicated to protecting Earth from incoming asteroids and various space junk. The player has recently joined a special space squadron that is tasked with various duties, which include destroying/rerouting asteroids and mining materials from some of them to use on Earth (construction, ship upgrades, etc.). There is currently no story.

 

I was thinking about adding RPG mechanics to this game, such as a party system with NPCs and spaceships of different classes, experience points that allow the player to pilot new ship classes, and other things such as side-quests and boss battles. I know it sounds like a bland concept at first, but I think this might make the game a bit more interesting. Do you have any suggestions for implementing an RPG system in space?

 

Also, if you could point me to a resource that contains information about various types of aircraft, boats, or ships, that would be extremely helpful (although I'm searching online for information on this, you might find something I overlooked). Strange ideas for spaceship classes/designs are welcome too!

 

Right now, it's a normal-looking 3D space shooter...except, it's 2D (with a Blender rendered texture atlas). 

 

Important Note: This is not my screenshot. Below is an image that represents the graphical style I'm aiming for.

dawn-earth-3d-space-shooter-355301-0-s-3

Edited by On Rye

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is this, SDL?

 

What do you mean? If you're referring to the Simple DirectMedia Layer, I'm not really sure what they used to render that image. It's a screenshot that I found on Google. But if you're asking me whether or not I'm using SDL, not at the moment. I use Python/Pygame to prototype because the process is faster for me (although Pygame does utilize SDL).

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I think that you don't really mean role playing game, but RPG features common in many games like gear, attributes, skills, classes etc ?

In this case you can map common RPG feature to space like this (including the one you have already mentioned):

1. party => squads

2. classes => ship classes

3. attributes => speed, armor, hull, agility, computation power etc.

4. skills & experience => crew representing different charactereristics of your ship, get more experienced over time

5. gear => upgrades/equipment/weapon system

Edited by Ashaman73

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Another idea might be translating class levels and skills as modifications made to a ship that change--and especially enhance--its capabilities. Perhaps various space stations have mechanics who are willing to modify your ship--in exchange for some favour or repayment. This payment might take the form of a side-quest, or might be paid for via some special collectable--a special, rare substance used in their work and found in hazardous places or in the cores of enemy ships (if you have enemy ships), thus representing "experience", perhaps. As to the modifications, they might include increased cargo space, more hardpoints for "equipment", more powerful engines, a more powerful reactor (which might allow the player to use more powerful weapons or utility modules), and so on. For a bit of variety, each mechanic might be able to upgrade a specific sub-set of the available systems, or be able to upgrade some further than others.

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I think that you don't really mean role playing game, but RPG features common in many games like gear, attributes, skills, classes etc ?

In this case you can map common RPG feature to space like this (including the one you have already mentioned):

1. party => squads

2. classes => ship classes

3. attributes => speed, armor, hull, agility, computation power etc.

4. skills & experience => crew representing different charactereristics of your ship, get more experienced over time

5. gear => upgrades/equipment/weapon system

 

That's a pretty good synopsis of many features I'd like to include. Thanks for putting it in a list format for me (I'm not very good at explaining things, as you could probably tell). But as a side note, I did actually mean to make it a role-playing game. I'm just not sure...how? I mean, of course a story would be important here, but then there's also the most important aspect of RPGs that isn't really widely used in other genres: meaningful character development (that the player controls entirely). Maybe I haven't been looking in the right places (I don't play a lot of video games; I mostly watch others play), but I haven't really come across a space shooter that includes both ship and character development. I haven't really seen any in which the player could build friendships or otherwise with other crew members through both their actions in the game world and their interactions with other characters. I probably should have said this in the original post, but I'd like to create an experience in which the player actual feels like he or she is part of a space crew and can do whatever he or she wants there.

 

For example, in a lot of recent space games like No Man's Sky, Elite: Dangerous, and the other one that I can't remember the name of for the life of me (there's one more big one), the players are able to customize and upgrade their spaceships; but they aren't really able to develop their characters. But there's also the fact that they're MMOs (unfortuntely, most NPCs are generally shop/quest surrogates)...

 

I guess what I mean is, this...

 

Say the player is called L.

 

1. Party = Squads

Role-Playing Aspect: The things that L does in-game affects each party member differently. In many games, the squad is just there to help fight. In this game, I want to include interaction (positive and negative). I watched a video about factions a while ago. The gist was that every action had a positive outcome on one group and a negative outcome on the other. It's difficult to please everyone, right? So I would like to do this on a person-by-person basis in-game. I'd need help figuring out what sort of scenarios would make for good gameplay though.

 

2. Classes = Ship Classes

Role-Playing Aspect: There are ship classes, but there are also character classes. For example, perhaps only combat pilots are able to pilot specific Destroyer-Class ships, or only recon pilots are able to pilot Scout-Class ships. If they're not the only ones able to pilot them, then they'll be the only ones able to pilot them well (stat-boost). For example, in an RPG, you could put a white mage in the front of your battle formation to do all the fighting...but statistically/strategically speaking, it's not the best idea (due to the class's weaker physical attacks). So L could spend his downtime searching for good party members to fit the goals of the mission or team as a whole. To get them to join, L could do them a favor (recruitment side-quest) or befriend them.

 

3. Attributes

Role-Playing Aspect: I would use the scenarios in #2 to describe how this would work. L could go out on his own in space to train alone, or convince a teammate to teach him a special maneuver (special attack, or just to raise stats). Also, experience points could be gained during missions in the usual fashion (asteroid destroyed = +50 EXP).

 

4. Skills

Role-Playing Aspect: I couldn't have said it better. Each crew member would indeed have a particular role, such as: the medic, the engineer/mechanic, the strategist, the mission control, the combat pilot, the recon pilot, the mother ship pilot (haha, a little redundant, I know), the person who's monitors the radar (I don't know what they're called...), etc. L can always add more members to the Guild/Division and choose who to put it the Party/Squad. This, of course, also affects his relationships with them if he never puts certain members in the crew (if that sort of thing would bother that specific member).

 

5. Gear

Role-Playing Aspect: This is the most self-explanatory one, I suppose. But as far role-playing goes, I imagine it would involve interacting with the engineer/mechanic of the team in some way beyond the talking weapons/upgrades shop.

 

I don't know if emergent gameplay is the term that I'm looking for, but it's certainly something that I'm looking into. Sorry for my extreme vagueness.

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Another idea might be translating class levels and skills as modifications made to a ship that change--and especially enhance--its capabilities. Perhaps various space stations have mechanics who are willing to modify your ship--in exchange for some favour or repayment. This payment might take the form of a side-quest, or might be paid for via some special collectable--a special, rare substance used in their work and found in hazardous places or in the cores of enemy ships (if you have enemy ships), thus representing "experience", perhaps. As to the modifications, they might include increased cargo space, more hardpoints for "equipment", more powerful engines, a more powerful reactor (which might allow the player to use more powerful weapons or utility modules), and so on. For a bit of variety, each mechanic might be able to upgrade a specific sub-set of the available systems, or be able to upgrade some further than others.

 

Yeah, that's a great idea. I spent of lot of time writing the previous post, so I didn't see your comment until afterward. Using side-quests in that manner makes the gameplay feel a lot less like a side-quest, in my opinion (which is a good thing). You mentioned two things that I didn't consider at all: 1) space stations, 2) enemy ships.

 

The latter is something that I'm not so sure I'd like to include, but also something that I'm not so sure I want to forgo either. Although it is a space shooter, I want the main focus of the game to be on the asteroids, not necessarily on blowing up enemy ships. But now that I think about it, it's not like that's only way I can include enemy ships in the game. For example, maybe there are rogues in space conducting various illegal business, the result of which would end up harming the people on Earth or just the well-being of others in space (pirates?). Then there might be a mission that involves arresting these individuals, and a space battle to decommission their ships would take place. That's just one off-handed scenario I can think of at the moment. I'm not sure how I could include a general antagonist group that the plot would eventually revolve around for a while. I don't want make an antagonist group that exists without a good purpose (by good, I mean something other than world domination). Hm...

 

I like the idea of crafting meaningful exploration. If the player decides to explore an abandoned ship or some other area, he or she might find that rare item needed for a specific upgrade or another item. I'm thinking that in addition to the space station mechanics, there are also party members the player can recruit to "craft" or engineer certain items and upgrades as well. This would give special value to every engineer in the game, because each one would have a particular specialty or a unique variance of one of them (including different types of weapons systems, boosters, shields, and carrying-capacity as you mentioned).

Edited by On Rye

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Say the player is called L.

I like to think about abstract concepts first. So, must the player be represented by a single character ? Why not a whole crew ?

 

Compare it to tv-series and movies. In movies you often have only time to introduce a few characters and give them depth, therefor you have a lead actor with the most depth. In series, where you have lot of time, you have the options to introduce lot of characters and often a whole team of actors represent the character of the series.

 

An other important concept is, to avoid redudance. It is often attractive to include lot of features, but if you think about their benefits you will see , that many features are redudant. Eg in WoW you have gear and character attributes, most character attributes are contributed by gear, otherwise the attributes are just incresing with level. The common view of WoW is, that it is gear driven. If you would add the ability to increase attributes with each level or by other means, than you would fight your own concept (resuling in balancing hell).

 

 

2. Classes = Ship Classes

Role-Playing Aspect: There are ship classes, but there are also character classes. For example, perhaps only combat pilots are able to pilot specific Destroyer-Class ships, or only recon pilots are able to pilot Scout-Class ships. If they're not the only ones able to pilot them, then they'll be the only ones able to pilot them well (stat-boost). For example, in an RPG, you could put a white mage in the front of your battle formation to do all the fighting...but statistically/strategically speaking, it's not the best idea (due to the class's weaker physical attacks). So L could spend his downtime searching for good party members to fit the goals of the mission or team as a whole. To get them to join, L could do them a favor (recruitment side-quest) or befriend them.

This, for example, bears the danger of introducing confusion and redudance, ship classes vs crew classes. Too much. I could thinkg about having a fix crew (lets say 5 important people representing your character). Each crew member has its advantages and disadvantaeges, but no class ! If you have a certain ship (class), you need to assign certain roles to your crew members. Eg

Harry - vital fighter, still somewhat dumb (can be represented by attributes: melee 5, computer 1, navigation 1, toughness 7)

Larry - good with computer and ships

Kira - excellent scientist

Freddy - weapon freak

..

 

Now you can assign roles to certan members, eg for a pirate cruiser:

Navigator - Larry

Security - Harry

Board weapons - Freedy

Boarding team lead  - Kira (not a good choice, but you need to work with what you have).

 

An a research vessel you would have different roles, thought the same crew.

Edited by Ashaman73

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I like to think about abstract concepts first. So, must the player be represented by a single character ? Why not a whole crew ?
 
Compare it to tv-series and movies. In movies you often have only time to introduce a few characters and give them depth, therefor you have a lead actor with the most depth. In series, where you have lot of time, you have the options to introduce lot of characters and often a whole team of actors represent the character of the series

 

I don't really understand your tv/movie example, but I'll try to address it as well as I can. Are you suggesting that the player should be able to create the entire party as opposed to only one character, or that the player should be able to choose to play as any one of the pre-defined main characters in the party throughout the game?

 

A lot of tv-series and movies have leads that the audience is reasonably supposed to like or at least root for. Most of the time, I prefer the ones that don't focus on any particular character because I can still enjoy the show whilst rooting for whoever I like the most (ensemble cast with equal screen time and focus), as opposed to whoever received the lead role (and the most screen time). But that's just my personal preference. Do you think it's a bad idea to let the player define his/her own character through gameplay?

 

 

 


An other important concept is, to avoid redudance. It is often attractive to include lot of features, but if you think about their benefits you will see , that many features are redudant. Eg in WoW you have gear and character attributes, most character attributes are contributed by gear, otherwise the attributes are just incresing with level. The common view of WoW is, that it is gear driven. If you would add the ability to increase attributes with each level or by other means, than you would fight your own concept (resuling in balancing hell).

 

You're right about that. It certainly is redundant in that regard. I've never played WoW, but I recently read about something related to the issue you're referring to. For one, I dislike the concept of leveling as a whole. If anything, I want to use an experience points system (without leveling) like this:

 

multiradar_g.pngXgQDe.png

I don't know what such a system is called but, rather than leveling up, the player could focus on honing any particular skill at the cost of losing EXP in it's corresponding opposite. I believe there was another topic about this sort of thing a while ago.

 

 

 


This, for example, bears the danger of introducing confusion and redudance, ship classes vs crew classes. Too much. I could thinkg about having a fix crew (lets say 5 important people representing your character). Each crew member has its advantages and disadvantaeges, but no class ! If you have a certain ship (class), you need to assign certain roles to your crew members. Eg
Harry - vital fighter, still somewhat dumb (can be represented by attributes: melee 5, computer 1, navigation 1, toughness 7)
Larry - good with computer and ships
Kira - excellent scientist
Freddy - weapon freak
..
 
Now you can assign roles to certan members, eg for a pirate cruiser:
Navigator - Larry
Security - Harry
Board weapons - Freedy
Boarding team lead  - Kira (not a good choice, but you need to work with what you have).
 
An a research vessel you would have different roles, thought the same crew.

 

Ok. I'll probably take the ship classes out to remove confusion. I do think it makes sense to include character classes though, because each individual would've been trained in a specific role prior to joining the division, or would otherwise have a particular talent. In your example, you introduce a few (it wouldn't really be beneficial to assign them to any other role because of this):

 

(Harry) Fighter                           >>> combat-oriented ace pilot, carries out missions in the field

(Larry) Communications Officer >>> mission coordinator, communicates with deployed ships and provides navigation info

(Kira)   Engineer                        >>> mechanical engineer and scientist, repairs damaged ships and invents upgrades to improve efficiency (combat gear, speed gear, stealth gear, etc.)

(Freddy) *Demolitions Expert     >>> strategist and bomber pilot, focuses on defusing or implanting explosives but also devises strategies for the team to carry out.

 

*To make the difference between the Fighter and the Demolitions Expert more straightforward (within the scope of the game), I might rephrase the latter as just the Strategist.

 

I think that's a more clear system than the one I was considering before. Players might enjoy meeting and recruiting various characters in the game who put a unique spin on these basic classes. Take Pokemon, for instance. You have the basic types (fire, water, ground, electric, etc.), but hundreds of different Pokemon with unique skills and abilities. Of course, I doubt I'll have that many characters in the game.

Edited by On Rye

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Are you suggesting that the player should be able to create the entire party as opposed to only one character

This. It is just an idea.

 


Players might enjoy meeting and recruiting various characters in the game who put a unique spin on these basic classes.

Take a look at PSI-5 Trading company, an old C64 game. It handles different characters in different role very good.

 

You seems to be in the idea/planing phase of your game. Even if it is important and interesting to roam through different ideas and features, I would recomment to pick one core feature and concentrate on this first. Feature creep, the horror of every game designer, will make realisation of a game extremly difficulty and painful.

 

So, my two cents on game design:

1. Pick one core feature, really only a single one (eg. the space battle in third person or managing a crew or trading ).

2. Implement it and make it interesting !

3. If you do not find it interesting enough, DON'T try to add more features ! Go back to 2, tweak it until it is interesting !

4. The core feature is interesting , good, now go through your notes about additional features and pick one which sounds suitable and supports the core feature.

5. Integrate the addtional feature, so that the core feature gets more interesting, supported and not toned down !

6. You have a feature which lives more or less parallel to the core feature: ditch it, don't create two games in one , go back to 4 :-)

 

Good luck smile.png

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