Game Play Concepts

Beyond the stars is a future space game that will be developed for Facebook by STG. This forum is for discussions and feature suggestions.

Game Play Concepts

Postby Highway of Life » 04 Jun 2010, 21:01

Game Play Concepts

One of the things we want to do with this game is make it multi-dimensional. Most space games (and especially browser-based space games) are geared around battle, if you can’t handle battle, you probably would not enjoy playing the game.

We want to combine trade, mining, science and building your economy with space battles, piracy and exploration. You are a player in a universe of thousands of other players, not everyone wants to do the same thing. Some might want to fight space battles, joining their alliance in fleet battles or wars, while others build ships and equipment, others explore, some do mining or research, some want to be pirates, and still others are merchants who trade for profit, maybe you want to try everything. What will you do?

With the combination of industries and occupations, the player can choose the path that would suit him best, there are many people on Facebook that would rather not engage in combat, and so the game employ multiple options so that anybody could play the game, something that would be fun for everyone. And for those who love combat, and the game will certainly have a good dose of risk and fighting for them.

  • Trade
    Trading resources, selling resources for credits. Trade will be an integral part of the game. You could trade everything from resources, building materials, ship outfits, weapons, even entire ships themselves. As in the real world, you could set your price, and other could set theirs. Bargains could be made, and unassuming merchants or customers could be taken advantage of by the shrewd space-aged merchant.

  • Exploration
    Exploration of new star systems, planets, nebulae, gas clouds, astronomical objects, clusters, comets, stellar phenomenon, wormholes, discovery of new matter, first contact with other life forms. The space density of the game would be ever increasing, never being stagnant, the universe would be nearly infinite with endless possibilities for exploration and discovery occurring constantly. But meeting with an equal amount of danger, exploration may be as risky as space battles.

  • Mining
    Harvest resources and raw material from planets, asteroids, even gas clouds. Mining would be done with mining outposts and establishments on planets or in large asteroid fields for long-term mining. Special kinds of ships and equipment would be used to harvest resources. Setup a resource gathering network with command centers to automate the mining process, then sell your harvested raw materials to factories and production yards, or perhaps you could sell your special mineral on the black market.

  • Research
    Research into technologies, players could develop new technologies and share those technologies with other players. A player does not have to do any research, but can use the existing technologies that are already known on the alliance world where the player lives. Science and research specifics would only be necessary for players who would be devoted to developing and discovering new technologies. Your research team could also conduct large terraforming projects on planets.

  • Industry
    Building of factories and shipyards, which would produce ships, ship outfits, weapons, equipment, and tools. These factories would convert mined or harvested raw material and convert it into an assortment of manufactured objects using technology and research that would be available to the factory at the time. Manufactured goods could then be distributed to other players or locations.

  • Combat
    What would a space game be without combat? Space battles would play a key role in the game. However, one of the things we want to avoid is a free-for-all type of system where everyone can attack everyone. Regions of space would be owned by governments or empires. Within the systems of these governments, the citizens could interact in relative safety. Battles would mostly be government/alliance against another government or alliance. Some governments may be more peaceful in nature, others would possibly be xenophobic or hostile. Some governments may expand using exploration and colonization. While others would expand by conquest. We’ll create another topic that would outline exactly how ship-to-ship battles would be fought, and how players would control and coordinate fleets. Most government to government battles would be likely be groups of players. Small scale, single-player battles could also take place, but they would not be very affective against outposts or ports of enemy governments.

  • Piracy
    Players would have the ability to choose to be pirates, aligning themselves with groups of interstellar bandits and outlaws. Pirates would no doubt be military enemies of most governments and empires, but would probably be more fun for that player who would rather be a rogue and cause mischief. Just as in today's world, there are pros and cons to being a pirate, but likely the most dangerous and risky occupation to take in the game.

  • Missions
    One of the things we want to incorporate into the game is an ever growing list of missions and storylines that players could participate in. Completion of missions or storylines would yield additional bonuses or benefits, such as new technologies, skills, ranks, items, or unlocks paths into other missions and storylines. Missions might include everything from cargo runs and trade routes, to exploration, espionage and covert operation missions, to escort and combat missions.
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Kfarcyk » 05 Jun 2010, 03:36

Ok, these are some general ideas, but we need to start developing some concrete solutions. Of course i don't like some of those ideas, and some i would build up a bit more with additional features. Some elements seem really hard to balance, so i think we have to reconsider them. Piracy may look good as an idea, but generaly it is hard to make it just as good as it sounds. Maybe players could act not like pirates, but more like corsairs, so they can not only atack other players to loot, but also act as "hired guns", mercanaries. The biggest problem with them is that generaly a pirate player cannot controll any planet/moon or anything and should be more like a nomad with one bigger mobile base, and fleets attacking from that base. The second thing is that such players would bbe first to hunt down wherever they appear because they would be a big threat to any player focused on trade, or economy. Anyway we would have to think twice before putting them in the game, than think again, and again.

Exploration is one of the best elements we can add. Creating fleets with ships equiped with salvaging equipment, basic labs (i thing building a really big and advanced lab should only be possible on a planet or mooon), sensors and maybe something else like that instead of numerous weapons would enable a completely different way to play the game. The only thing we would need to add to make this more than just moving arround are artifacts appearing from time to time in the space and NON-Playable alien races. And of course this makes sense only when player is unable to see the space further than several systems away from his fleets/planets (how far would of course depend on his scaning abilities).

TRADE and MINING. I think both of these need to be connected, and this connection has to be strong. Placing a mining outpost or building a small mine on an asteroid would have to require assigning a trade ship to collect whatever is mined and transport it home so it can be used. Of course we can't make this system to much complicated, so i think mined materials would only be have to transported to the nearest player planet, and when they reach it they are just added to the general amout of resources player has, so they can be used on every planet and in every shipyard/lab/something else. That general resource counter without having them distributed between planets makes the game simple, but on the other hand it would be still really important to find a good mining spot in the universe with transport time good enough to make it profitable.
The next thing is the trade in general ... how would it look like ? You click one and anything You wanted to trade is transfered? Or maybe there would be trade routes, or hyperspace gates that would create a trade connection between planets? (i like that last idea, because it makes making a really big profit from trade expensive to achieve due to high infrastructure cost, and separates trading ships movement from military fleets traveling absolutely different based on their drive type)

A player does not have to do any research, but can use the existing technologies that are already known on the alliance world where the player lives.


I REALLY don't like the idea of giving techs to other players. That would propably kill the research process and in every alliance there would be like 5-6 players researching new techs in exchange for resources to build up their plabs. That's not the way and im really against it !!! I think there is a lot better way to exchange these things. Players trading ready made products without sharing the tech is a lot safer system. You still have to research in Your own to get a high level tech in reasonable price, but you can buy a turret or an engine for Your ship that has a higher level and better parameters for a lot bigger price. That would make researching a living system instead of just an addition to alliances.
And i assume You still want to make planets with a lot of players on each of them? Emmm ... i'm not really sure of that. That's psychology. As a player who wants to achieve something what does feel right? Beeing just a small part of a planet that's meaningless alone or ruling one? I bet the second option is what most players would choose.

I don't like the government idea either. As a player i would think like "Hey! I'm a master of my own, and i will rule my own territory by myself!" ... i think alliances should work a bit more like "the allies" or "the axis" did in the 2WW. Sure they work together, but there was always a possibility for one country to stang against and act a bit liek "Screw you guys, go ahead and attack, i'm staying home" (You get the point, right? :D). Maybe that's a bad example, so if that didn't work think of it as a space NATO :D

Phew ... i think that's it for now :D
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Highway of Life » 06 Jun 2010, 03:31

The idea is to lay out some of the general concepts and outlines of the game, and then go into details on each concept after the outline has been established.

The balance is not necessarily the features, but has to do with what the player can do that would be fun. 'Fun' would be defined differently depending on the age and gender of the person you ask. Will your Mom like a full-on war game? Probably not. But she would enjoy the other aspects of the game. I know this because my Mom plays some of the Facebook games along with other friends in her age group, I can see what they like and what they are not liking. They like it to be interesting and fun, but it's not fun without the social and interaction aspect. They don't like it to be too battle intensive, that's too much stress for some of them. But then you also have players who live off of battles and war, without it the game would not be fun. So that's where the balance comes, in allowing players to choose their own path, where we do not force a game play mode on the players.

I also want to bring into the game a storyline factor. Where it's not all cut and try, but has mystery, intrigue, and suspense in a story. But the story lines wouldn't be forced on players either. Giving more power of choice to the player would be an important part of the game.

  • Mercenary
    I like the mercenary idea, and that could even be something a rogue player would enjoy, a 'rogue' player could be a pirate, mercenary, smuggler, or do all of them. I think that would be thrilling and fun for a lot of players. These kinds of rogue players could even be part of a Pirate Guild, if they so choose. Up to a few hundred years ago, some countries would employ pirates to raid opposing nation's shipping, without making acts of war. An entity (government, alliance, country, company or person) might employ a smuggler to run goods through an opposing nation's security. - But not everyone would be interested in being rogue. That's where governments and alliances come in.

    A nomadic or rogue player (I’ll call Mercenaries, smugglers, and pirates 'rogue') would still be able to own land on planets or bases. But it would depend on the base or planet. Think of the Star Wars outer rim planets, or Tatooine. Pirates may work alone or in groups, but you won’t find real-world pirates living alone unless they were marooned by shipmates.

  • Research Laboratories
    I agree that most labs should be on planets or moons (usually on planets), but I could see specialized research facilities being their own base or orbital facility. It wouldn't serve as a general research lab. For example, warp gate technology would probably not be researched on a planet. (just as an example)

  • Exploration
    Absolutely, I could see dedicated science vessels designed for exploration and study of stellar phenomenon, such study could be brought back to be used in research, and of course exploration would allow the player / alliance to find new sources of research, new material that could be used to research and develop new technologies. You would also have mapping done from exploration. Maps could then be bought and sold. I'd really like to see exploration maximized, and that is one of the reasons that I think it's better if multiple players occupy fewer planets, rather than one player occupying entire planets.

  • Mining
    I totally agree with the link between trading and mining, and making mining resources dumped into the nearest player planet makes the most sense to start, although we may add options for it later down the road. But I don't like the idea of your resources being in a big pool and available in any location where you exist. It just doesn’t seem realistic. Even in the simplest games (SFC included), resources have to be distributed to be used.

  • Trading
    Trading will be an integral part of the game no matter who you are. Trading is how you can earn extra intergalactic cash. And profit satisfies greed. :D
    I am thinking that almost any resource can be traded (bought and sold). Raw mining resources, ship outfits, tools, equipment, weapons, ships, and all other resources should be tradable. You could create trade routes depending on prices on different planets. A resource in demand at a specific planet is going to invite merchants to trade that resource there. That stimulates economy on every planet.

  • Hyperspace Gates
    Hey, there's a cool idea! Hyperspace gates (or Hypergates) could be owned by specific entities, and would require a key to access them. The players could always travel to any location, but the hypergate network could make travel to certain locations much more instantaneous.
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Kfarcyk » 06 Jun 2010, 04:15

I still don't understand the government idea. How is that exactly supposed to work? I know how aliances work, when You share inteligence, fight together, and allow Your allies to use Your trade routes and maybe also starbases to refuel (?) (by the way it could be a nice feature to enable refueling on Your starbase for some price, a nice addition to economy and also it could greatly increase Your fleets range - for a cost of course :D), but a government is a lot more, and it means that one central organisation partialy takes controll also of Your economy, a government must have total controll of all economical and structural aspects, decites where to invest, and where not. It's like giving a way 50% of Your fun in the game.

LABS

I think labs on planets and moons should be exactly the same. Why? because i think moons shouldn't be an additional zone of the planet (like it is in Ogame or SFC), but some of them just like planets should be able to get colonised and used just as a planet would be. (many moons existing in The Solar System are big enough to have atmosphere, wolcanic activity etc. mostly there are jupiters moons, but that's only an argument that it's possible). On the other hand we could make planet labs and orbital labs (or labs on scientific/exploration ships) have different technologies to develop, jus an example:

- Orbital labs can develop new drives and some specific techs that can be only obtained with zero gravity,
- Scientific exploration ships could reverse engineer derelict items found on alien shipwrecks,
- Planetary labs could be used to invent new civil techs for trade, communication or power sources.

On the other hand that would slightly complicate the game, but i don't think it would be

MINING

I think we should leave a separate topic for resources system and mining itself. There are so many different ways to solve that aspect of the game, that it would take many pages of text only to point out all the ideas. We need to start from the basic: "what resources", after we figure out what we need to figure out "where form", because there may be several ways to obtain single resource, and the last two things are "what for, and transport", because i think we can easily solve the problem with not really complicated system, that would work automaticaly and also we could use Your idea with separate stores on every planet for the resources instead of mine, but with the simplicity of "one general pool".

GATES

I really like the key idea for the hypergates, but we should think if thewy should be used only for trade ships (maybe because i don't know ... gate size is limited :P), of for every ship there is? Or maybe there should be two separate networks for civilian ships and military? That would enable players to let not allied trade in his system, but not the military ships.
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Highway of Life » 06 Jun 2010, 04:25

ACK! You could keep me typing all night! I’ll reply in detail to the others in the morning. *whew*. :D
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Highway of Life » 06 Jun 2010, 20:10

  • Race
    Race on earth would be like Asians are usually born in Asia, African's in Africa, American Natives from the America's, Indians from the South Asia, Caucasians are from Europe, etc. While the player could choose his race (see topic on races), he may not be able to choose which alliance (country) he was born into, BUT he could be free to later relocate (immigrate) to another alliance. -- Or turn pirate.

  • Governments
    (Note: Government and Alliance are synonymous)
    A government would be like a country on Earth. Players would start out in an Alliance by default, you don’t get to choose your initial alliance any more than you get to choose which country you are born in on earth. Players could get with a group of friends, colonize a new world, and create a new alliance/government (country), but remain in the larger alliance. For example, Poland has 16 provinces, and the country is part of the European union. In the United States, there are 50 states with state governments, but are under the larger (United States) government. It could work the same way in the game. Although each planet would be akin to a city with it’s own population and government.

  • Local Governments
    For alliances we could do local governments. On Earth, there are Countries, states, provinces or territories, and cities. At least 3 levels of government for most of the population around the world. Each government is subject to the parent government ruling over it. It would be possible for players to create new smaller governments that are over the rule and protection of a parent government.

    We could have planetary governments, sector governments, and interstellar federal republics or empires. Generally planets within a government body would be friendly to one another. As an example, a city in the United States is never at war with another city within the United States (not counting the Civil War). The "war" space battles would usually occur from one major alliance to another. Think of the way wars typically play out, Country versus Country. The same would be the case in the game.

  • “I’m a Master of My Own!”
    This is only true for the land you own on earth. You are still subject to the local, state and federal governments. The true would be the same in the game. In the game, you can build your own land as you see fit. But unless you chose to be a pirate, you are subject to the ruling government under which you would preside.
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Kfarcyk » 07 Jun 2010, 07:09

That'a theory, and it only owrks like that today ;) ... remeber feudalism? Back than there were kings ruling whole coutries because they were indeed their own :P ... maybe one reace can be democratic, but how about another never really eveloped any other system? Than there still is the system where the strongest rules, and You can't do anything about it. There can be more ... there can be a race that works like an ancient grece, where every city was independent and only where a threat was comming they put out a combined army of all greek cities.

What i mean: it's not unnatural to owna an entire planet. Because WE in our real world called earth with US and stuf live in such system where we have countries, regions etc. does not have to mean that there is nothing else out there.

I suggest making it really different for every race:
- One can live in a pack on one planet (human race), and share some of the planets systems.
- another owns single planets and other can join these planets only if the "ruler" lets them or invites them (just like noble ment sometimes recieved a right to own a land from the king)
- Another race can controll only one planet, but can use all allied planets of the same race (like stand alone cities in ancient greece)
- And the last race (i think that fits to the robot race) can be one big "empire" with local sectors ruled by local players (that's a bit like internet structure ... in general it's a one big net, but there are local servers etc.)
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Re: Game Play Occupations

Postby Highway of Life » 07 Jun 2010, 13:56

Multiple Government Systems
The system of governments that I proposed will allow nearly every system of government: Democratic, Empire (which Ancient Greece was), Confederation, Federation, Feudalism, or Republic.

The larger government would be akin to Star Wars Galactic Republic, the Empire, Rebel Alliance, Yuuzhan Vong, Chiss and the Hutt alliance. For Star Trek, it would be akin to the Andorian Empire, Dominion, United Federation of Planets, the Ferengi Commerce Authority, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and the Xindi Council.

Why have Governments?
The point of having such a system of alliances and governments is that regions of space would be unified to prevent a free-for-all type of war system. I don’t want to see wars and battles with neighbors unless those neighbors are on the borders of two neighboring larger alliances. Generally, your closest neighbors are going to be in the same alliance, and you and your neighbor are not going to be raiding each other all the time.

Creating the Smaller Alliance
Now, even if you begin within a larger alliance, you and your friends may wish to colonize a planet (or a bunch of planets) and create your own minor alliance. It could consist of as few as 2 or 3 players, or as many as 100 or more. But you would generally still be part of that larger governing body. - We may make it so that if your alliance became large enough, you could declare your own independence from the larger ruling entity; but that’s for another time.

Owning an Entire Planet
It would only be unnatural to own an entire planet if you were the only person on that planet. You could do it, but it would be quite small of an establishment. You couldn’t even stop other players from colonizing other continents on your planet. Unless that planet were a small moon.
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Re: Game Play Concepts

Postby Kfarcyk » 07 Jun 2010, 14:38

Just a thought:
Why can't i prevent other people from colonising other continents on a planet i've taken first? I just get there, and put a battleship or several of them on the orbit. It's a "Fight it or leave it" situation.
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