Space Setting: Environment
Friday, 26 August 2011

This is the fourth and last part of my blog on the cool, dynamic setting in our upcoming space action RPG. This time we going to talk a little about the environment. Even the environment itself will be extremely dynamic and create a cool setting for the game. In space there are a lot of things that make up the environment: stars, planets, asteroids/comets, and people on the planets. All of these things kind of have a life of their own. They don't just statically sit there. Things happen, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I think instead of explaining too much about the environment I'm just going to give a bunch of examples of how the environment in our space game will make things interesting.

Some examples of environment related events/quests:
Stars: solar flares, super novas, and gamma ray bursts.
Planets: mega drought, super volcano, earthquakes, super swarms, and killer plants.
Asteroids: usually not a problem until they head towards a populated planet.
People: riots, civil war, plagues, power grid failure, nuclear war, and mutants.

This is just a small subset of what we have planned but I think that gives you a good idea of how much chaos just the environment can cause. The nice thing about all of these is that the player has a lot of control over them. Most of them can be prevented or stopped by the player before things get too bad with quick action. That is if you want to. It is your choice if you want to help out your enemies. Speaking of enemies, sometimes you can even make the problems worse if you choose to. For example, instead of helping quell a civil war you can instead supply arms to the rebels.

Anyway, I think our galaxies will be interesting places. Thoughts?

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Space Setting: Monsters
Thursday, 18 August 2011

This is the third part of my blog on the cool, dynamic setting in our upcoming space action RPG. In this blog I'm going to talk a little about the "monsters" in the game. Specifically I'm going to talk about how they impact the dynamic nature of the game.

First of all I don't really mean monsters like orcs in a fantasy game. What I mean when I say "monsters" are ships that are pretty much hostile to all of the known races in the game. So while they aren't directly monsters they pretty much behave in the same way.

In most RPGs monsters for the most part sit around and do nothing until the player comes along and kills them. For those that have played our two other dynamic games, Depths of Peril and Din's Curse, you know I like our monsters to actually impact the world. The don't stand around waiting for the player and babble completely empty threats. They stir up more trouble, call for reinforcements, attack towns, etc.

Well in our upcoming space game the monsters will behave in similar manners as the did in DoP and DC. They will still cause uprisings, start wars, launch raids, build dangerous devices, and generally cause havoc for everyone else. When they plant a Super Nova Device next to the star in the home system of your favorite race, I would suggest you do something about it.

There is an interesting difference from our previous games though. When a monster launches an asteroid at one of your enemy's home world, what do you do? Do you save their planet and possible start changing them into an ally or do you let the asteroid hit, cause massive amounts of destruction, and weaken their overall empire? I suspect a lot of people are going to let the monsters cause a lot of damage as long as it is directed towards races they don't like.

Thoughts?

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Space Setting: Economy
Monday, 08 August 2011

This is the second part of my blog on the cool, dynamic setting in our upcoming space action RPG. In this blog I'm going to talk about the economy in the game.

In our previous games there really wasn't much of an economy other than finding lots of loot and selling to the vendors who have infinite gold (DoP was slightly different). This is fairly typical of RPGs in general. In our space game though this going to be different by necessity since all of the races are competing against one another. They can't just have an infinite amount of credits and items to provide to the player. It just wouldn't make any sense.

So what kind of resources are we talking about? Well in this game I believe we are going keep it relatively simple and have just food, minerals, technology, and credits. Most of the time the player will only care about the credits part though.

Each planet that a race controls generates food, minerals, technology, and credits for that race. Planets can vary quite a bit. They have different types from inferno up to paradise, sizes from tiny to huge, and can even have bonuses like fertile, mineral rich, and gold deposits. In other words you can have great planets, worthless planets, and anything in between. Food and minerals are a local resource, meaning that only the planet that gathered the resource can use them unless a freighter takes them somewhere else. Technology and credits goes to the races' accounts.

Food greatly effects the planet's population growth. Too little food and the population starts dying off. Any extra food helps the population grows, the more the better. If a planet has so much food that they can't get any more population growth or they have maxed their population, they can use freighters to bring the extra to a more food starved colony.

Minerals are used to construct buildings and space ships.

Technology controls what components and buildings the various races know how to build. It will also likely add bonuses here and there once researched.

Credits are used for pretty much everything else. The player might be able to haul food and minerals around and some times find or trade technology, but credits usually are what they will deal with directly. Quest rewards will be in credits and buying and selling will be in credits.

So how does this effect the player? Well you can't sell an infinite amount of goods to any specific race, they will eventually run out of credits. Although they might very well turn around and use the items that you just sold them. The different races also might have resource problems here and there and ask their nearby friendly mercenary for help. You can even handicap an enemy race by destroying an important colony of theirs. Think of how much damage you can do when a race has a main food planet.

With an actual economy this leaves a lot of room for quests that are real requests filling a specific need that actually matters if you accomplish it or not. It also allows the player a lot of room to effect the outcome of the galactic space race on what they do from little things like selling items to an ally or from big things like destroying colonies of enemies.

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Space Setting: Races
Wednesday, 03 August 2011

This is starting to be pretty typical of our games but in our upcoming space action RPG we are going to have a really cool, dynamic setting for the game to take place in. There are four main components of this: multiple races fighting for dominance, an economy, "monsters", and dynamic events. Today I'm just going to talk about the races part of this.

With each new game that you play you are thrust into a brewing war. While you are only playing a mercenary, there are multiple alien races that have just begun to colonize this region of space. Each race starts off with only one colony and a few ships, but their ultimate goal is to take over the entire region by whatever means is necessary.

At the very beginning they only know about their home planet so they must send scout ships out to find where the best planets are to colonize and to locate potential enemies. Once they find good planets they build and send a colony ship to colonize the planet. Once colonized, the planet starts generating resources for the race that controls it.

Eventually the races will run into one another and they will start to talk. Considering that they all have the same goal of taking over the entire region, diplomacy can only go so far. They can and do trade and forge alliances, but battles and wars are common.

All of the races know that war is most likely inevitable so they will build fleets of ships to protect their colonized planets. When ready they will also build fleets of ships and attack their enemies.

That is essentially the goal of the races as a whole. However each race is fairly different from one another. They have different advantages and disadvantages and this greatly changes their strategies. One race might focus on scouting out the best planets as quickly as possible. Another race might focus on grabbing as many planets as possible, good or bad. Another race might focus on improving their technology or economy to give them a technological or economic edge. Other races might not bother too much with colonizing and just take everything they need be force. In other words all of the races will be very unique.

With all of this going on the galaxy will never be a boring place. The player's job is to survive this mess, make lots of money, and preferably ally themselves with the race that ultimately conquers this part of the galaxy.

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Interesting AI observation
Friday, 15 July 2011

I have been writing a lot of AI code these last couple weeks and it is kind of strange. I have been working on AI for the different races in the galaxy. They need to be able to scout, colonize, defend planets, guard important ships, and attack enemy planets and fleets. All of this is pretty typical for a strategy game and in a normal strategy game the AI needs to be pretty smart about all of this because they are playing against a human. Except we aren't making a strategy game. The races in our game are competing with each other, not the player.

This changes the goal of the race AI. In a strategy game the goal of the AI is to make it challenging and fun for the player to win. In our game the goal of the AI is to create an interesting setting and provide the player with lots of opportunities to effect the outcome of the struggle for supremacy of the various races. For example, in a strategy game if a race needed to send a freighter between planets to transport some goods around, it would probably have to consider how to protect the shipment from the player. In our game destroying that freighter might be a quest. The game wants you to go over there and destroy the freighter. The race that owns the freighter might still try to make this challenging for the player to accomplish though. The difference ends up being subtle, but it's there and it's strange.

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