Game Idea - Space Sim MMORPG
By: Neon Black
As a life-long videogame player and gaming enthusiast, I have always drawn deep solace from games crafted with such affection and detail as to be able to completely immerse ones conscious imagination. To feel every sensation and every moment with absolute clarity and full attention, for the story being told is your own. Granted, Ive been getting stoned on some real good California grass for most of my adult life, and I know that many other people find such satisfaction in saving the world from a dragon apocalypse or commanding a mining fleet of 37 other individuals for a large imaginary intergalactic manufacturing corporation - as I do. I personally find every new gaming experience growing more and more engaging with this fast-evolving art medium.
There have been a handful of games that have been inspirations for me, and they usually fall into a role play category of some kind, as I said - Its all about immersion for me. A few of my personal favorites and inspirations for this game I am about to discuss are newer-age classics like the Fallout series, Bethesdas Elder Scrolls series, EVE online, one of my all-time favorites - Vendetta Online - an independent space MMO run by three dudes, and of course the many classics that shaped my childhood: Contra, Diablo, Zelda: A Link to the Past, As a proud Gen-X child of the 90s, I will gladly admit that I learned to read playing Pokemon on my Game Boy in the third grade.
I want to make a game, a culmination of all my gaming experiences (life experiences as well), my desires, my own universe - and I want other people to experience it with me. This game will be massive, something no console to date would be able to represent properly. That is not to say Im going to wait for some virtual reality console, or that the game will be uber graphic-heavy, only that the scope of the game covers so many play-styles and requires so much interconnectivity that it would need to operate cross-platform on a huge scale. I want to make a fully integrated, self-sustained virtual galactic biome, a universe of thousands of planetary systems inhabited by several conflicting races, each with their own struggles and conflicts within and throughout. Each planet or colonial orbital station with civilization its own organism, each with their own unique variables and interests, trying to survive. Each as fluid and fragile as the next, constantly changing according to a real-time evolving social climate (created and maintained by the player base).
Story elements will be ironed out during development, so for imaginative purposes, picture a cross between the EVE Online player-economy, a SimCity-like environment of constant change, and vast possibilities for player creation (think mine craft). With unlimited possibilities from exploration to exploitation of resources from procedurally-generated planets, to predefined open-world story elements like that of Skyrim and Fallout; all wrapped up and presented as a first-person MMO exploration/economy/space flight simulator. Although space is a fundamental theme of the game, I want to emphasize that it is by no means a definition. Players in this universe will be more than able to spend their entire time on a single planet with more than enough content to keep them engaged, regardless of play-style.
The game world itself will be monitored and moderated automatically to keep a stable economic climate, but I want player activity to ultimately determine the growth and direction of specific groups. That is to say that the game environment will not be static, the entire collective universe will rely dynamically on each and every aspect of itself, controlled entirely by the player community in real time. As with games like EVE Online - weapons, ships, ordinance, armor, and the like bought and sold on the open market will be manufactured from raw materials and sold by players, for players. Collection missions will help fulfill needs for individually unique stations. Commodities and necessities will be systematically hauled where needed, either through missions or by NPC ships, but the idea is that the system is dynamic and as realistic as possible so that each character in the game, NPC or player, is fulfilling a role and playing a part in the bigger picture.
Player progression will be based on a leveling system in which players get to use their experience to better shape the character and play-type they want. To keep the game balanced, basic combat and flight mechanisms will be skill-based, higher levels or licenses will allow one to pilot higher-class vessels and use of more technically complex weapons, but the first-person twitch-reflex combat game play will favor skill over merely a longer elapsed play time. To begin, players will choose a race and some background/class info and will be placed in a tutorial period to learn game mechanics for selected class/play type. This starting period will allow for immediate placement in a needed role for the community (optional, of course), and a way to give starting players some direction.
3. Central Game Mechanics
3.1 Intergalactic Game-play:
As already stated, a major part of this game will be space flight for combat, trade, salvage, and a multitude of other purposes - economic to military, private to corporate - and players will have a wide variety of roles to play in the void of outer space. From full guild armadas sporting multiple capital ships with hundreds of soldiers at their command, to a small salvage team of five working together out of a single ship, to full on mining, hauling, and manufacturing fleets building capital for their respected nation/guild/corporation. The necessity for commodities among different colonies will create a steady flow of resources along trade routes, providing incentives for pirate blockades, furthermore opening a market for paid escort services these sort of dynamics which create tension and possibilities in the game will be widespread.
Any ship or weapon you purchase in-game will have been made by a real person from mined minerals and extracted planetary resources, and items will not only be created through pre-constructed recipes, but individual players will actually be able to design every aspect themselves: how ships, stations, guns, ANYTHING will look and function, and the market will work out prices through actual demand and supply.
All space-flight will be in first-person for the pilot. All the while, any passengers aboard will be able to walk around (or float around, if your captain is too much of a cheap bastard to afford a GravSynth), use facilities, design and manufacture good (with proper equipment onboard), manually operate defensive turrets/missile bays, even defend the ship from inside against boarding hostiles - all in real time, while the ship is in the air! Players will be able to design specific space craft to suit their individual needs: cloaking devices, hacking terminals, guided missiles, electronic warfare (system jammers, EMP, etc.), warp/jump-drive capabilities, mining barges with built-in manufacturing facilities, YOU NAME IT. If the player has the idea, and the capital means to manufacture, the only limitations are their own. Although of course the possibilities will be realistically restricted, players will be given as much control over the game environment as possible.
3.2 Planetary Game-play & Character Development:
On planet surfaces, game play will also be in first-person and, like intergalactic flight, there will be various play styles aside from merely FPS combat. Maybe you dont want to fight anyone at all. Maybe you want to be a lone wolf in a specialized cloaked exploration vessel who travels the far reaches of space, documenting and studying new species of plants and animals for medical research purposes. Or maybe you want to return to your roots, so you and a group of players find a suitable planet, you install automated orbital turret batteries set to destroy any approaching ship. This group turns the planet into a private commune for a hunter-gatherer, communal lifestyle. This group could be so far away from any settlement that they could spend all their time in game honing their hunting skills with a spear and growing crops to sustain their population without ever being disturbed. Or their battery takes down a scout from a powerful corporation who then decide to return the favor by blowing the whole planet to kingdom-come with some mega-death-ray ****! Really, this game will allow players to create their own games, their own worlds, their own societies - literally, and in real time - inside the game. The sky is truly the limit!
In this universe of advanced interstellar societies, certain advancements have been made to evolve the species beyond their wildest expectations. These advancements are products of science and bio-engineering and have allowed mankind the opportunity to step past its mortal limitations. Clones, for one, are readily available to those with the money to spend. Clones store all of an individuals combined knowledge and experience, up to the point of storage. This gives experienced characters the ability to download their own consciousness into a new body right at the point of death.
Also available to the greater population are the combined implementations of a steam punk-esq., pseudo-scientific Magika, bionic augmentations for enhanced physical abilities, and direct genetic splicing of animal, plant, even alien genes in order to gain super-human traits and attributes (fish gills, night vision, enhanced speed/reflexes, etc.). These numerous customizable game-play elements, combined with racial traits and class-specific abilities, players have a plethora of combinations and play-styles to try. Different traits and abilities will fare differently among different societies (say, perhaps one race/group outlaws all use of Magika in their colonies. Small story elements like that are great for creating tension and flow between groups.
**Another important and fairly unique aspect of the game that I was thinking of implementing is full mortality - meaning if you die, and you dont have a clone waiting safely in some colonial station, you die. Game over. Dead. This may be a hard pill for some to swallow, but I believe that it could be a good dynamic to include. I would hope it might add a stronger sense of urgency and a need for careful planning and execution of combat tactics. Larger military organizations or government police/armies (PC or NPC) could offer insurance (clones) for draftees. Health care would provide incentive for newer players to join a guild/corporation. Clones will by no means be strictly for the higher echelons, but the mere idea of total character death makes for a more serious atmosphere throughout the game, and will serve as the ultimate kicker.**
4. Story Elements
Two-hundred and fifty years before the environmental collapse of Earth, a dramatic evolution in human technology took place near the end of WWII when Nazi researchers unearthed the ancient secrets of the occult Magika (which turned out to be scientifically comprehendible: using ones conscious willpower to change ones immediate surroundings at a molecular level - by tapping into and manipulating the shared Chi energy of the soul, body, and earth some seudo-scientific explanation like that).
At the same time, Axis forces in Japan were conducting top secret splicing experiments to try to manipulate the genetic structure of humans to facilitate attributes of other species. The product of these experiments - six superhuman mega-soldiers - were unleashed upon the Allied forces. One of these super-soldiers (basically a water breathing mer-man with superheated plasma cannons for arms) made a solo-attack in Hawaii, destroying eight naval battleships and killing over two thousand American citizens and soldiers.
Allied forces reacted quickly: pooling their resources, they redirected the efforts of the Manhattan Project to create and mass produce personal nuclear reactors (think Ned Stark) to power fully-mechanical muscular and skeletal augmentations for soldiers. A man with nuclear-powered muscular augmentations was effectively stronger than a hundred average human men - capable of incredible feats of speed and dexterity. These augments were mass-produced, a massive army was assembled within months, and an all-out offensive was held against the Axis forces. After many days and thousands dead, the allied forces emerged victorious.
Time then moved on and these new discoveries slowly became a part of every day life. The technology became popular, and then it became affordable, practical. Alternative youth might get horizontal cat-like pupils, or an arm covered in lizard scales - rather than a tattoo or a piercing. A laborer might install exo-muscular augmentations to help with work, or maybe you just struck rich and can afford Splicing implants: wings, gills, etc. Magika (although feared and outlawed by some - like the US) was studied and practiced by those with patience and strong will. Some became masters of the art, sorcerers of great power. Most merely learned enough for practical uses: regulating body temperature, re-heating a mug of coffee in your hands, lighting a cig with a snap of the fingers.
At the dawn of the 22nd century, Earth was in complete environmental collapse. The human population could no longer sustain itself on earth, and conditions on the planet were exponentially deteriorating. Before the mass exodus from Earth and the formation of the colonial fleet, terra-forming technology had been developed and tested on Mars - producing a habitable atmosphere in a matter of three years. By the time the colonists left for greener pastures, they had developed the technology for extended living in space, and the potential to terra-form new planets for colonization in a matter of years. At the present time in the game, the human colonists have colonized hundreds of planets throughout several solar systems and have evolved into a strong intergalactic entity. Earth that was is now but a bitter History Lesson taught in elementary history classes. The present date in-game is circa 2800.
Obviously, a game of this magnitude will require professional graphic designers, programmers, marketing, and overall management. Were talking a dedicated and well funded team working together for an extended period, and that is the final goal for the project. For now though (being an unemployed, broke student of twenty-three) I want to focus on making concrete story elements and underlining universal dynamics/mechanics with a small team of friends who share my vision. Using Game Maker 8.1 Lite (or possibly a better alternative would be to use Unity) I would like to start making a top-down two-dimensional (3D if in Unity) game prototype to get a feel for how to construct the layout, structure, and economic details of an expansive universe such as this.
If anyone here feels like they might like do be a part of the beta build team for the prototype, or just want to contribute in any way, Please feel free to contact me via PM or Email. Im looking for sprite animators, artists , at least a few dedicated programmers working with me in GML ironing-out game mechanics, electronic musicians familiar with Ableton, Logic, or Reason who could help contribute sound effects, environmental ambient music and noises, battle-triggered music (ideally, for this steampunk-esq. Futuristic space game, Im leaning toward electronic genres like Dubstep, Glitch-hop, and hip-hop beats. Though there will be plenty of room for all other kinds of music throughout the verse!).
I hope you now have an idea of what this game is intended to look like as a final product (developed independently from GM): with three dimensional gameplay, an IMMENSE universe of opportunity, and fully-integrated economic systems, twitch-reflex combat rewarding skill over better equipment, and hundreds of different play-styles. You should also know that the production of the single-player (maybe multi) prototype is to be used for Kickstarter funding for the end-product.
Thank you for taking the time to give my game idea a look. I appreciate any and all constructive input - concerns, ideas, criticisms, and help. Feel free to drop me a PM or E-mail with any queries. I look forward to reading your replies!