Grammar was pretty wank, so the article has been edited a bit, it was late when I wrote this ...
The rumour mill is grinding and speculation is abound, the machinery of development is moving and the game is changing.
But what the actual frak is going on?
This entire article is a reality check, it's rude, contains frank and unadulterated views and you might not like what you read.
Is Shallow Space an MMORTS?
Shallow Space 3.0 features procedurally generated play areas with server components designed to be run on a highly scalable backend (Kubernetes.) In other words, it's designed to scale to support ludicrousness (should it occur.)
Such a thing could be called an 'MMORTS' but there's nothing else quite like it.
If we'd have developed this as single-player only it would feel very empty and would be a HUGE missed opportunity.
We can't do SP and MP, it's just too much.
We’re not aiming to be the next Eve Online, there is no in-game chat or social bollocks. It’s just that if we developed an AI in-game it’ll be very simple and predictable and just as boring as the AI in any other RTS.
Playing vs. actual other Players (masquerading as AI) we hope will be far more interesting. Bottom line: You probably won't even know you're playing a multiplayer game.
Why not peer-to-peer?
Open-world locally-hosted games don't really make any sense as there will be thousands of playable areas, you would never see each other.
Will I have to re-purchase the game?
Will I have to pay a subscription?
Will it be F2P with all the loot boxes and pay-to-win bollocks?
NO. A million times no.
So how will you afford to run this thing?
The server costs are going to be very light and we have no interest in starting an empire. We’ll keep it to a small upfront cost, maybe with some premium skins or ships, run some donations on the landing page or something.
Let us worry about that.
When will it be released?
Not sure, there are only a few of us working on it, it's going to take a while.
Is Shallow Space coming out on mobile now??
We’re going to make it far easier to control. We're excited about the places we can go but fear not, we have our hands full with the PC version, we got ahead of ourselves, there are no plans to go mobile right now.
Why not single-player only?
Because it costs too much to develop.
We would need language translations, cutscenes, three times the assets we currently have, game designers, storywriters, a far bigger team.
This is a rescue project: We tried to crowdsource it, it failed, we tried to run through Early Access, it failed, we tried to find a publisher but they had some pretty ridiculous demands.
Could we take the idea to an investor? We could, but that would mean writing game design docs, business plans, dancing a bloody jig, it would mean quitting my job (again,) risking my career and my livelihood for a second time over something as silly as a computer game.
The risks are just too high, and I’m not prepared to do it.
The only reason why I’ve picked the project back up again is because I’m working on something I enjoy. I don’t enjoy running a business or giving 70% of the IP to some publisher and watching them turn it into another soulless hip shot.
The project failed, this is how we're going to pick it up again. If it works and there is a big demand for it, we'll look at using the funds and gather some investment to add single-player.
What about Z axis movement?
The backend has been developed to support three dimensional movement, but honestly, it adds absolutely nothing to the game. We tried with two previous revisions and failed. If such a game is to work, it’ll take a far larger team with far cleverer people than me to pull it off.
We would rather focus on creating something that is fun in other ways.
What about the physics and simulated ballistics?
Simulated projectiles, physics based movement. It made for a fantastic technology demo, looked great, but when it came down to it, it added f**k-all to the game.
I honestly don't know what we were thinking.
I guess we went off at the deep end, working on the stuff that looked good so we could pull in the crowd to support us.
Why? Because we were inexperienced, because that’s what people were asking for and we wanted desperately to give it to them. We tried to make the game democratically, be the Jesus Christ of Real Time Strategy and because of that we started the project arse-about-face, we got sucked into the crowd and lost our way.
We tried to reboot it, but the game suffered from the same mechanical and organisational issues.
Why? Because games need to be deterministic and predictable otherwise, it’s not a game. The damage needs to be pre-calculated, otherwise how hell do you balance that? You can’t. It might work for an FPS, something with tightly confined parameters, a small amount units maybe, but not fleet battles.
Even if it were to work, the game fully lagged on anything but the best machines. It’s not a wonder really, every single projectile had scripts attached. It was crazy to think it could work, but we had to continue, because it’s what the fans wanted.
Sorry, that the realistic flair didn’t work out - it was a risky endeavour, high chance of it not working out and no matter how upset you are, deep down I think you knew that.
But what about the fans that supported you that want X, Y, Z?
I can’t worry about that.
The game is ratshit on Steam and frankly, it’s difficult to imagine it getting to an even worse state. I could worry about what the fans might think all day long, but ultimately, I’ll just get burnt-out again.
Honestly, it's difficult even listening to the majority of you because you’ve been starved of originality, so much so that anytime a space RTS tries to rear its head someone manically screams Homeworld or Nexus.
Originality is practically met with scorn.
I understand now why there is nothing but vacuum where an abundance of RTS games should be: You’re intelligent, meticulous, demanding, technically adept, a completely impossible bunch to make games for.
You lurk in the shadows, watching but rarely contributing.
I look about to my colleagues of the time to see how many of them made it, where are Limit Theory, Deep Space Settlement and the like?
Burnt the f**k out trying that’s where.
Even if it was possible to continue to do things democratically with what little we have we would end up pleasing no-one and frankly, I'd just get bored making it.
It’s time to take what we as a team have learned, own up to some realities and take the opportunity to try something different. There will be a few pissed off peeps for sure, but we tried to play it down the middle, now it’s time to be contentious.
Maybe you’ll like it, I hope you do, I ask you to keep an open mind.
Besides, I haven't just pulled this out of a hat, in the years i've been gone i've been to countless game conferences in the Netherlands, met with successful and failed game developers, spoke with devs from some huge studios, researched new ideas, understood new trends, and tried to bring them into the original Shallow Space specification.
I think this will be fun and I think it'll face up to the important parts of the original idea.
Some parting words of advice for anyone trying to build something similar: Never start with the game of your dreams.