Spaceship health
Thursday, 26 May 2011

Health or hit points in RPGs is kind of a nice simplification of reality in RPGs. It works pretty well, but it's a little boring. I'm not sure in a fantasy game there are many other good options, but there are a lot of interesting things you can do when you are in a spaceship. Here's how I'm planning on implementing "health" in our upcoming space game.

Right now I think your "health" will be shields, armor, and then structure/internals. The interesting part is that each layer of "health" increases in cost for you.

Usually your shields are your first line of defense. Shields will automatically recharge fairly quickly over time so damaged shields aren't a big deal.

After your shields are down, your armor will start being damaged. Armor probably won't auto repair at the beginning and when you do get automatic repairing it will probably be fairly slow. You will be able to pay someone to repair your armor though and it will probably be fairly cheap.

After your shields and armor are destroyed, you are in a bad position. Those were your only real defenses. Now all the damage taken is trashing your ship. Some of the damage will hit the structure of the ship. When your structure gets to zero you explode, so that's kind of bad. However, anything that doesn't hit the structure is hitting important internal structures. You know unimportant things like your engines or weapons. :) Repairing internal components will probably be much more expensive to fix.

In most fantasy games the only item you really have to worry about breaking is your weapon. Anything else really doesn't matter that much. With a space ship that's not true at all, so really close fights are going to be interesting. Lose your thrusters or engines and escape is no longer going to be a good option. Lose all of your weapons and you're screwed. Losing other important systems like your computers, counter measures, or batteries are just going to make the fight that much harder.

Pretty much losing any item will impact you in some way so this is going to impact your items strategy. Should you equip 2 thrusters to make sure if one is destroyed you can still move at a reasonable speed? Or should you just load up on as many weapons as possible? Or maybe you should have multiple shield generators to make sure you never take internal damage in the first place?

Anyway that's enough talk about things I haven't even implemented yet, but I think it's going to be interesting.


Next game intial thoughts
Wednesday, 04 May 2011

Ok, it seems people have narrowed down on the main setting at least so I'm going to unofficially announce what we are working. Let me get the disclaimer out of the way first. The project is still really early. Pretty much nothing is set in stone yet, so anything I say now might change at a later date (even the main setting). Sometimes things sound better on paper than they do when you play them and sometimes you just have better ideas later on. In other words, take all of this with a grain of salt and don't think of these as promises, think of them as our current direction of exploration.

Really quick summary
MOO from a mercenary captain's point of view.

Short Summary
The galaxy is a rough but exciting place. The major races are all scouting, colonizing, expanding, and trying to take over the galaxy through diplomacy, technology, and even war when necessary (or when they feel like it).

As a mercenary it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget.

It's your job to pick the winning side, maybe even help them conquer the galaxy if you're being nice, but most importantly make as much money as possible and build the coolest and deadliest ship in the known universe.

In each game you start in a random galaxy with several races. Each race's goal is to conquer the galaxy, the problem is the other races are in the way. This is the plot of many strategy games like Master of Orion or Civilization (well Civ is planet bound).

These races expand their territory by scouting out and colonizing suitable planets. They build up their planets with more and better buildings that enhance their economy. They go to war and attack enemy races to hurt them or take their planets. They do much of this by building fleets of starships. They also research new and better technology to build better buildings and ships.

You aren't in control of any of this, directly at least. You are a mercenary in this very dynamic galaxy. Your job is really to survive and make a good living in the meantime. You can pick the side that you feel is right and help them conquer the galaxy for its own good. You can pick the side that you think is going to win and go along for the ride. You can even try to play the races against each other and simply try to pick the winning side at the last second.

You might just be a small mercenary ship but you have a lot of influence in the direction of the galaxy. You can scout out suitable planets to be colonized. You can attack and destroy defenses. You can find and possibly even steal technology to give to the race of your choice. You can even find items and arm whoever you want, including yourself.

At the very beginning you start with a small escort ship, but every so many levels you can upgrade to a larger ship like a frigate, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, all of the way up to a flagship.

That's kind of a high level goal view. From a moment to moment view, the game will be like Din's Curse but in space with your character being a spaceship. Still basically an action RPG. You explore the galaxy, solve quests for whichever race you want, battle enemies, find lots of loot, and outfit your ship with lots of items (instead of armor and weapons it's ship components).

That's basically the direction we are taking at the moment. If you have any comments, ideas, or similar games you think we should play, please tell us.


Kivi was a mistake
Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Pretty much ever since we finished Kivi's Underworld I have had two very different and opposing viewpoints of the game. On one hand I think Kivi is a really cool game and I'm glad that someone made the game. On the other hand I think that Soldak developing Kivi was a mistake. I'm going to talk about both viewpoints a little.

The Good:

1) Fun - I'm obviously biased, but I think Kivi's Underworld is a pretty fun game. It plays like an action RPG where you fight tons of monsters, find secrets, grab loot, improve your characters, and even has cool powerups.

2) Easy to learn - It was designed to be a more casual game than the typical RPG, something that was very easy to learn. I think we did this really well. It's especially a great game for people that are new to the genre or are put off by all of the usual complexities of more full fledged RPGs.

3) Replayability - Even with its streamlined design it has quite a bit of replayability with over 20 playable characters, a scoring system, and many achievements to unlock.

4) Limited time - The storyline is broken up into small, separate adventures with each of them taking around 30 minutes so this is a great game to play if you only have small chunks of time at any one sitting. You can even save in the middle of an adventure and it's still really easy to restart because you start exactly where you were and the few quests remind you exactly what your goals are.

5) Unique - I really can't think of another game like it.

6) Engine - From an internal standpoint we improved the engine quite a bit. We made the engine way more moddable especially things like classes, we added multiplayer in the expansion, and we added a ton of cool features like the line of sight stuff.

7) Shared world - I think it's kind of cool that we got to see more of the Depths of Peril world from the Lumen perspective.

And the part everyone actually wants to read, The Bad:

1) We made it - I know that's a strange statement. What I mean is that it was a mistake for Soldak to make the game. It's a game that would have been better for a different company to make. If you play the "which of these things doesn't fit game" with our 3 games everyone is going to choose Kivi. Other than being an action RPG (sort of), it's not very much like our other two games. It doesn't have much randomness, it doesn't have a dynamic world, it's not a hardcore game, and it's not very deep. It's not really a problem that it is different. The problem is that it doesn't fit what our Depths of Peril gamers wanted and the new gamers that we did bring in didn't stick around because our other games don't match their expectations either. Basically they are two very different crowds with very different expectations and we can't really please both of them.

The other half of the reason why Soldak making Kivi was a mistake is that I personally don't love this type of game. I love the rival factions in DoP. I love the dynamic world in both DoP and DC that doesn't sit around waiting for the player. I love how in DC something new is always happening because of the dynamic events, monsters, NPCs, the incredible amount of randomness, and how all of this interacts with each other. Basically I love really deep games and Kivi is not deep.

2) Graphics - No I don't think the lack of bump mapping or some other graphic gizmo was much of a problem. I think the mistake we made was not having a much more casual graphic style that fit the casual gameplay better. Looking back on it, we should have gone with more of a Plants vs Zombies style, something much more bright and playful.

Now that I think about it, Pop Cap doing Kivi on Windows, Macs, and the iPhone/iPad with a Plants vs Zombies art style would have been pretty cool. :)

This write-up ignores the reasons why we created Kivi in the first place though. There were some pretty good reasons at the time why we decided to make a more casual RPG. I might write that up as another blog someday.

Anyway, to bring this back to a more cheerful thought. As of right now we are lowering the price of Kivi's Underworld to $9.99! Like I said Kivi might not match the style of our other games, but it is still a fun game and $9.99 is pretty cheap.

Overview - Buy it - Download the demo


GameStop buys Impulse?
Friday, 01 April 2011

The news of the day seems to be that GameStop is buying Impulse. I'm still hoping that this is an April Fool's joke, but it doesn't look like it. The last time a portal was purchased that we had games on it went bad very quickly and basically another distribution avenue was cut off for us. I'm worried that this is about to happen again.

From my point of view, and I do realize I'm biased, one of nice things and I think one of the key selling points of Impulse compared to Steam is that they seem to accept way more indie games. So as a gamer you have a broader choice of games to buy from their platform. Now the question is will GameStop feel the same way or will they follow Steam's lead? If they keep accepting lots of indie games and put more money and marketing muscle behind Impulse they could do amazing things for indie developers, gamers, and the game industry as whole. Or they could act like most companies and simply play follow the leader and end up as the poor man's Steam. Which path will they take? I hope they take the former, but I worry that they will take the later.


Website update
Friday, 18 March 2011

Ok, so I'm planning on reworking the website a little bit. For the most part I like how it works from a functional standpoint, so I'm not likely to change much in that regard. What I want to focus on is making it look nicer and more professional. Since you guys are my audience, I would like you input. What do you think would make it look better?

Here's a screenshot of what it looked like when I wrote this just in case I have changed anything already.


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