The tactical map looks much more interesting with ships instead of blocks, am I right?
Take it as a sign of steady progress.
So we just finished another sprint on the planetary (strategy) map, adding ranges to jumps which will be an important limitation. I find it hard to talk about and harder yet working on the strategy map. I mean, it’s important because it gives us an amazing sense of scale and will allow us to cram hundreds of players into an area. It’s also the reason for the game having its name.
But still, yawn it’s just not really that interesting yet.
I guess what will make it interesting is firing probes into that shallow space around planets to find resources and fleets, and planning moves for your armada based around your missions and allied instructions. What’s this over here? A distress signal? Looks like another player has become unstuck. Do we help our comrade or do we simply not have the time.
Now that seems exciting!
So we can expect the strategy part of the game to get real interesting in the months to come, but this sprint we’re swinging our interest back to the the tactical layer.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time moving blocks around and jumping them between sectors. Now it’s time to add in the ability to construct fleets so we can facilitate the short game loops we’ve discussed. In the near-term we’ll be focusing on a ‘total war’ scenario where Players join the game into a giant intergalactic ruckus. This is the best way for us to put the servers under stress and ensure that everything gets thoroughly tested.
After that we’ll focus on resource collection and station building, the long game loop stuff. But even with the short loop stuff added it’ll be more of a game than what is currently on Steam, so it’s possible we could dress things up and rejoin the early access circus and gather some feedback before we start on the long game loop stuff.
So in the super simple game loop above; the Player joins, they are assigned a bunch of ships, they pick a fight, they die. The problem here is, it’s an open world game and generally speaking, Players don’t like to die. So we need to avoid stalemate situations whereby people are just flying around avoiding each other like space chickens.
But in addition you might find yourself asking: Just what’s so interesting about that?
Well as usual, the devil is in the details.
So firstly, the Player has the option to fly straight into a core system battle, or pick a fight on the periphery. They can jump into a battle two-footed or skirmish and jump out, how you play is up to you.
Also failure shouldn’t be penalised, after all this is a computer game, so failure should be subtly rewarded. Most Players will join, fight and die, but then they discover that they’ll have kept all the AP they were given and now they can spend it on ships of their own choosing rather than having the auto assigned fleets.
(Either that or rage quit, speaking from experience.)
Therein lies the hook.
Perhaps we’ll work it in so that the very first thing the Player does is loose all of their crappy newbie fleet, so that we manufacture in a complete game loop and ensure there is an adequate amount of churn in battles.
Perhaps there are still points for loosing. Make dying fun.
It’s important to note that all this happens fairly quickly, we’re aiming for a 10-15 minute loop time. So that involves completing everything in the chart above (with two fleets) including picking new ships inbetween bouts of carnage.
That is going to lead to some pretty intense (and hopefully rewarding) gameplay.
So to realise all of this we need to be able to buy ships and build fleets and that’s the subject of this next sprint. You can see by my sprawl above that we’ve sketched out a sprint to add in some basic UI to do just that and we’ve already started to bring in some of the ship models (without textures yet!)
Stay tuned, things are about to get real interesting around here!