I always had some trouble to share my work in the early phases of a project as I know that it usually brings a lot of “you should do that”, “this is missing”, “this doesn’t look good” and so on. However I’m getting better at not getting upset over this and since I was getting a bit bored of talking about a possible game that I don’t know if and when it will get done I figured I might as well post something I’m actually working on.

I might have said it before but a project I’d like to work on would be a 2D sandbox space MMO(RTS/RPG). Well basically something along the line of EVE Online so I guess there’s not much innovation in this idea … Whatever that’s still something I’d like to do someday. In fact I think I would have had an easier time doing this kind of project instead of Golemizer if just for the quantity of art required.

But you do not create this kind of game while eating breakfast and the stuff I’ve said about Golemizer 2.0 stands for this space MMO. I’ve also learned/accepted that it’s ok for a game to evolve instead of being what you wanted it to be right from the start. Taking smaller bites instead of choking up on the whole thing. Games like Steambirds didn’t have multiplayer at first, GSB had multiple DLCs and have a new campaign mode in the work and do I need to say much about Minecraft who sold 800,000 copies while in Alpha … The point not being to try to sell 800,000 copies but that a game can be released even before being “finished”. That’s a bit how I worked on Golemizer to some degree (it’s in the nature of MMOs to always evolve anyway).

Ok I read your crap where’s the prototype now?

HERE!

Here’s some stuff to know:

  • It’s a PROTOTYPE … or let’s say iteration 3 of many to come …
  • The first screen is where you build a ship
  • Click on a part to select it and click on the grid to place it. You cannot unselect parts. Just hit F5 if you want to start again.
  • Click on buttons at the bottom to switch parts. You need engines to move otherwise your ship will remain still.
  • Only turrets can be rotated. You need to make sure they are selected first (a pie slice indicating the attack angle will be shown in that case).
  • Once done click Assemble to fly your ship
  • Up arrow will raise throttle. Down arrow will lower it. Once throttle reach 100% you can let go of the up arrow.
  • Left and right arrow to turn.
  • If your ship doesn’t move then it’s too heavy! Add more engines. You currently don’t see stats like mass and power but it’s all in there in the back.
  • Space to fire turrets.
  • No there are no enemies. You just get to fly your ship in this version.

Interesting but it’s ugly

What did I just told you? … Ok … When this code is on my machine I’m using the nice ships from Gratuitous Space Battle to help me see the potential so have a look at what it could look like (of course I won’t use GSB graphics on my game … this is only for development purpose)

I didn’t feel comfortable leaving those graphics in the online version but you can see with these screenshots that it can look good. Players can of course create some ridiculous ships but at this point it’s not my business anymore.

There is no spaceship

In the code the spaceship is just an empty shell with no stats of his own. The ship is really based on the components used to build it. The more hull parts you put the more engines you’ll need to put if you want your ship to move at all. Later the reactor will define how much power your ship has so you will be limited to the number of engines you can add. Want a bigger reactor? Then you must use bigger hull parts that will allow you to store that reactor. That means higher mass, need for bigger engines, less maneuverability and so on.

So while there’s a limit to the number of functional combinations it still means there will have plenty of room for players to come up with something original.

Gameplay

The first playable iteration will probably remain quite simple. Much like Steambirds it will probably consists of a combat-only game at first. While building small, simple and very maneuverable ships will be possible my intention is to have interesting combat with capital ships.You probably noticed in the online version that you can set different angles to turrets and that turrets display the angle at which they can attack a target. It means that you won’t just throw your ship into combat and wait for them to destroy enemies. You’ll have to position them so your turrets can do their jobs while trying to get out-of-the-way of enemy turrets.

There’s already a simple AI system that guides a ship to attack a target but it will be possible to set each turret to a different target or to a different action (like trying to disable the engines instead of trying to destroy a target). It sounded much more complex to achieve but it’s actually quite easy and fun to code. In the end the ship must feel like a valuable possession instead of just some generic unit you can replace easily so it’s important to be able to give as much control on it as possible.

While in the demo you only control 1 ship the next iterations will have the possibility to control multiple ships much like a RTS game. It is however not my intention to end up with a spam fest of units like Starcraft. Each ship will be a valuable asset that you must protect and if you lose one then it will mean more than just waiting for another one to spawn. With this approach I plan on offering players ways to escape combat and things like the possibility to switch power to the back/front shield, boost engines by cutting off weapons and so on. There are already plenty of games that offer players the possibility to control a mindless Armada and I’m not looking to create another one.

Commercial plan

It might seem early to think about this but it’s quite important in fact. Since this is a game I would like to release early and then expand I don’t think it would quite fit the sponsorship model. Microtransaction is definitely something I’m looking at and sponsors don’t seem to like much games with such system. Of course the latest Steambirds: Survival was able to integrate microtransactions and to find a sponsor but you might notice that the sponsor is AXE which doesn’t have its own game portal so it’s not quite the same.

An option would be the come up with a smaller complete version and then hope to be able to finance further development of an expanded version with money made from sponsorship. That’s however a lot of “if”. My goal would be to make the game available as soon as possible to players, offer them more than just a lunch break experience build it like it was an MMO. Since it’s built with Flash I could still distribute it without any sponsorship so it wouldn’t be only lost on my unknown website.

I’ve said I’d like to build an MMO but this game isn’t one in my mind. I’ll build it like I’d wish to see the MMO but that would first remain a single-player experience with multiplayer experience added later even if this multiplayer experience isn’t an MMO. There’s still much to think so I’ll stop there and get back to coding now.

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