New Game Idea


#1

##preface
I wasn’t entirely sure if a) this was the place to post and b) if it’s appropriate to post here but figure I can post and ask for forgiveness.

I have been playing NP since version 1. I love the simplicity, game mechanics, etc. Kuddos to @JayKyburz for all he’s made.

As a developer myself, I’ve long wanted to make my own game. I’ve tried going it alone in the past, only to end up building tools for other developers to use to build their own games (e.g. as3IsoLib > Farmville). So this dream of creating a game of my own has thus far is still a dream. I think the problem is that I am going solo on such an endeavor. So I am reaching out here to see if there are any creative and developer folks who might want to create another game.

the idea

I like lists so…

  • Well I’m a hard-scifi junky. So it’s obviously about space.
  • 4x-ish
  • turn-based w/ time limits
  • possibly multi-player but solo for sure
  • high-level strategy & diplomacy
  • mobile-first

As for the tech I would be focusing on:

  • browser based
  • responsive design (mobile, tablet and desktop friendly layouts)
  • haven’t a clue about the backend

next steps

Obviously discussing it here is a big component, but also getting it beyond talk and start fleshing out ideas. Are there any takers?


#2

Ahoy.

What would you like people to help with specifically?

Me, I know very little about backend, but I’m pretty good at feedback and enjoy writing those little bit of text and backstory you might need. Loved doing it for Jay.


#3

I myself am a developer and like yourself have always wanted to make a game, however my interests deviate somewhat from the genre.

I’m a big fan of Endless Space. I only mention this because it’s the only 4X game I’ve played, other than Triton, with an almost pure node-based layout. Other games I have played in the genre use either 2D maps linked by paths, or fully 2D grids. What type of game layout would the proposed game use?

Your post makes me consider: What are the main differences between Neptune’s Pride and the game you propose?


#4

Keep in mind all of this is very amorphous. I have the overall vision in my head but some of the finer details will be dictated by whether the focus is on solo play or multiplayer. I’ll explain in detail below.

@Rosslessness I think having a backend person might be a little premature at this point. Feedback and expanding on the initial idea is definitely something I’d want upfront.

@AnnanFay I haven’t played Endless Space yet (though I have it on my Steam account). I have played games like Sins of a Solar Empire, Sword of the Stars, etc. I may be able to address some of your questions in the sections below.

races / factions

I always loved NPs avatars and how many folks would role play off of those, but I wish there was a reason to choose one over another. I’d like to see race/faction bonuses for the overall economy/industry calculations. In combat, in addition to the below formula, a faction bonus would play into a combat turn’s outcome. They would likewise play into calculating economic and scientific output.

combat in general

One of the things I disliked about Sins of a Solar Empire and games like it was the whole ship tech research tree and the fine-level of combat. I think one of the winning features of NP is how combat comes down to a high-level formula of num of ships + weapons tech… that’s it. I think if we were to find a happy balance between that formula and implement a hierarchy of ships to augment the combat formula then you’d have some lower level control of a particular engagement but not having to position them or outfit them with different configurations. Something like this:

  • fighter class = 1 cmbt pt
  • corvette class = 2 cmbt pts
  • destroyer class = 4 cmbt pts
  • flagship class = 6 cmbt pts

But again, we would use things like missile frigates vs. flak frigates or carriers vs. missile cruisers. It would simply be a number based on your industry’s output and which class you focus on. All ships would move just like NP via some hyperspace transport ship (I always think of Dune’s Heighliners).

economy / industry / research

I like NP’s simple system for boosting money, ships and new tech. I think it could be expanded upon by decisions during game play. Population morale could affect economy as well out industry output. That’s one thing I think Sins of a Solar Empire did right was incorporate morale. I also thing the science tree could be expanded as well.

cards

I really like adding cards into the mix. Bonuses and events could turn one’s fortune into disaster or their bad luck into a winning play. I wouldn’t want it to be the focus but I think incorporating this element into the game play would be a fun addition. Examples:

  • scientist made a breakthrough on your current tech (much like how experimentation in NP)
  • solar flare disrupts production across entire system - you only hit 50% of your ouput
  • salvagers find a derelict freighter - you gain $1500

story & goals

Again this all depends on if the focus is solo or multiplayer but the overall background/story is this: Humanity has finally managed to start exploring its solar system. Lunar and Jovian outpost are common place as well as asteroid mining. But time is running out for Earth. Due to abusive environmental attitudes, human must either a) build a Dyson Sphere or other artificial construct or b) build interstellar ships to transplant the entirety of humanity away from a dying Earth.

If this were a solo game, then there would be some means of an overall resource monitor that diminishes each turn. If a redline is met, then the game is over. Some examples of how resources can be replenished:

  • deploying solar collectors
  • asteroid mining
  • comet harvesting, etc

Resources can be depleted faster by:

  • increasing industry
  • increasing population
  • famine
  • random negative events

Additional resource augmentation that plays into the diplomacy and morale aspect

  • type of govt.
  • slave labor & POWs
  • specific faction bonuses/demerits

how it would look

@AnnanFay you’ve probably noted by now that I’ve not mentioned anything about how it looks. One thing I think makes many of these 4x games suck is that there is so much focus on visual realism that it takes away from the game play. Again, Jay is a genius in how he attacked the fun factor by leaving fancy graphics out of it and make game play the focus. I think that may come from growing up playing board games. I want to utilize the same formula of fun over fancy graphics.

I will say I’ve always like strategy games that utilize some sort of hex-based grid. I’ve often thought of how that would play in a space game. If we’re talking about a level of realism, I think having time-based estimates play against turns makes the combat aspect very linear. Let’s assume that since the humans are still stuck within their solar system, they’ve only achieved nominal advances in space travel. That being said, I doubt that any space engagement would have some fleets coming to a battle 1 hr ahead of another… they’d coordinate better. With a hex system, I’d probably limit movement to something more akin to maximum hexes of the slowest class of ships in the fleet.

in closing

I’ve written a lot of stuff here and feel I’m losing my focus so I’d like to turn it back to the discussion to expand and critique these ideas.


#5

What would be a victory condition of the multi-player game?

I think you need to concentrate on one of these areas specifically and develop it more clearly.

In terms of cards I’ve always liked assignable cards, discovered by exploration that you can “bind” to a ship, planet or character.


#6

Multiplayer victory would be much like NP2 in that you’d have to secure a certain number of resources generators:

  • satelites
  • asteroids or mining facilities
  • comets
  • lunar & jovian facilities

I hadn’t thought about a card as bindable. That’s a good idea for sure.


#7

Hey Ahamkara,

I really like the idea. I have also played with the idea of an online turn based game, I chose a medieval setting because I had no preference.

I made a prototype with the idea of cities that you could upgrade by building different buildings.
I like the idea and I would like to help you if I can.


#8

Hi Junky. Glad to hear you’re interested. Is your prototype something we can check out?

I have prototyped something myself once in Flash and then again in JS. Both never really got too far aside from some mining operations and procedurally generating the solar system’s asteroids.

So here are a few questions for you specific to your prototype:

  • what technology did you use (flash, unity, js, other)
  • what target platforms
  • did you use any specific game libs (ash, unity, pushbutton engine, loom)
  • if you used javascript, did you use any canvas frameworks (createJs or the like)

#9

I’ll look if I can dig it up, I made it in php (yes i know) php just offered the things I needed at the time because I wanted an internet game playable from anywhere, and I was working a lot with php at the time.

The most I got was the login and the basic buying of buildings in cities, I’ll message you personaly if I find it.

edit
Unfortunately I cannot find it. I found an older version of it, but that version only has the login system.


#10

@Junky
Hey man, PHP has done a tremendous job of making OGame-liks & Travian-like browser based games. I can’t judge you there. And if you know how to use it, then use it. I’ve ofttimes found myself debating the whole “should I learn something new and burn more time on the learning curve” argument vs. “should I utilize my strengths to get something done” argument. I’ve settled on this: unless it’s work/career-related or I have chosen to explicitly learn something new, then play to my strengths. Especially in creative endeavors, momentum during limited time is essential to keep the idea from stalling, which has happened all too often for me. That’s another reason I decided to reach out to other creative and game-playing types.

a night of restlessness

So last night I couldn’t sleep. I think @AnnanFay’s question about what its map layout would look like spawned a million ideas. Most of them diverged away from the simple map that we all love in NP. Also thought more about the combat aspect. Here are some of those thoughts in more detail:

fleet composition

I had proposed different classes of ships, I still like that but I think it needs to be more generic. Again these are all conceptual because you wouldn’t actually be seeing these ships, you’d simply see them as a percentage/number within a fleet.

  • strike-class - typical fighter/bomber ships. Cheap to make, 1-2 combat pts apiece. Gets a 1st strike bonus (see below)
  • heavy-class - corvettes/destroyers/frigates. Much more costly to make. Much more combat pts.
  • capitol-class - cruisers/carriers/capturing ships… not sure how to explain it but they’re necessary to actually capture planets, habitats, factories, etc. They’d be extremely costly to make, and provide average to high combat pts. More on capturing assets later
  • heighliners - The most expensive class to make, they’d work much like how NP warp gates function OR we could forgo this as a class and keep the per asset warpgate concept. I’m not married to this idea.

One thing that will be difficult is finding the right kind of balance to make combat fun but also not so skewed that a person with one or two more higher class ships can overcome significant numbers of smaller ships.

asset types

I like how in certain games, depending on a location, you can only boost your economy, industry or science based on the location type. Sins of a Solar Empire, did it well, albeit a little too in-depth. I’d like to improve on NPs system to allow only certain pre-existing places to provide the specific resource. There might also be an option to build a location (e.g. solar arrays, asteroid mine, etc.).

  • planets/moons - economy / industry / science
  • habitats - industry / science
  • factories - industry
  • solar arrays - economy
  • asteroid mine - economy
  • comet farm- economy

I think this would be a place for tweaking the formula. Keeping it very transparent to the player, only allowing them to improve their economy, industry or science.

combat bonuses & cards

If we’re piloting ships in space, chances are we have a handle on long-range scanning. So there are not really many chances for a surprise attack. I think the automatic defensive bonus in NP is too big and allows weaker/less aggressive players to hang back, take a beating and then lick their wounds without much penalty. So I’d take that out of play and instead use fleet composition to drive combat bonuses.

first-strike bonus & strike-class ships

Assume there are equal numbers of combat pts betw. two fleets. One fleet is composed purely of strike-class ships, the other, one or two heavy-class. I’d argue that strike-class have speed and swarming abilities to overcome the heavy-class ships when the strike-class fleet initiates the attack.

defense bonus

Capital class ships would get a defensive bonus (maybe they have flak cannons and such). Certain location types might also get a defense bonus. Locations that have industry.

salvage bonus card (mod/common)

If a player had a salvage card applied to a fleet and were successful in combat, they could salvage scrap to add to their money.

retreat card (instant/rare)

I’m not entirely sure how this would play since combat is calculated instantly and the outcome presents itself, but maybe as a fleet is headed to an asset and scanning suggest a superior fleet will arrive first, the player can play a retreat card. This would be a rare card

the map

I think this is the thing that kept me up the most last night. I really love NPs map. It’s simple, it’s node-based and it works. But would it suffice to allow any of the suggested new gameplay elements? Would a simple NP map support all the necessary visual elements to show the data about fleet composition or resource types?

I’d like to say yes but in reality I think it might not be enough. I keep looking at this in the “what if this were a board game” perspective. A node system doesn’t work for board games (unless you’re playing Warhammer 40K w. a tape measure). A hex system would but then I think it would radically alter game play. Or if it didn’t, it would feel like an afterthought not being leveraged to typical hex-game play.

in closing

I’ve thrown a ton of stuff out there. What say you all?


#11

The stuff I like most is the simplest stuff. Your explanation for the differing assets was clear, simple to understand and easy to compare with NP.

In terms of a map, I really feel that simplicity is the way forward. I’d steal one of the best ideas of NP, namely as you zoom you see more detail.

Combat stuff on the other hand looks a bit too complex. I’d give fleets maybe 3 attributes (speed, shields, weapons for example). Which could be tweaked with different combinations. of ships, and a few special abilities (like first strike) .


#12

@Rosslessness
I totally agree about the zoom-based detail: easy to implement and a big win for a good UX.

Combat stuff on the other hand looks a bit too complex.

What specifically do you think is complex? Tallying the combat pts or the whole idea of having classes and such? I may have not done a good job of explaining this or it could just be a crummy idea altogether. I was trying to find a balance of having more control over your fleets composition but not overly so like many space-based RTSGs & TBSGs.

This game sorta features a similar concept of fleet composition. I’ve played it before and it was very minimal feature-wise. But the fleet concept was pretty neat - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kresoftware.galaxywars


#13

I think it’s the explanation really.


#14

So, apologies for not reading every word above. I have just been skimming because things are super crazy with deadlines and bugs and screaming kids and travel.

One thing I regret now is not having the server the same code as the client.

I think you want to have an instance of the games sever running locally, either for single player, or just so the game client “knows the rules”. Then you just need to ping the server to make sure the client is not cheating or make any random rolls.

So with that in mind, if you were going to build the game in JavaScript, I would write both client and server in JavaScript.

Infact, when I go back to do some more work on the NP AI I want to set up the AI to run on a separate Node server, or even a special single player mode just on the client alone.

Did I tell you guys I want the AI to be so fun to play against that NP will be a fun single player game!


#15

@Rosslessness I’ll see if I can do a better job of explaining it here in a bit.

@JayKyburz I’ve always wanted to play NP solo since I’m not the greatest at diplomacy. I agree with your statement about if you’re going to do Javascript, then do it all in Javascript. I haven’t really considered it as most of my work is client-side, but hell, I work with Node everyday on our build process so…

Thanks for the feedback folks. Keep it coming.


#16

As I was going to address @Rosslessness comment about combat not being clear, I came to realize that in this amorphous state the idea is in, I too haven’t a clear picture of how it should function.

My idea would include:

  • different ship classes
  • combat bonuses & instant effects
  • possibly different combat phases (ala Magic the Gathering of Neuroshima Hex)

But I’m not particularly clear on the “how”. Maybe we can play out a few scenarios and see?


#17

Most definitely.


#18

This might be just rambling to some, but it’s how I solve many problems so pardon any straying & incomplete thoughts

Are any of you familiar with Neuroshima Hex? I have it on my Android phone. It’s a hard game to play and I gotta say, not really all that enjoyable since there are so many tiles, but the combat phase is interesting. They use 4 different phases. Depending on the tile, it can attack during one or more phases. https://youtu.be/KulAJIxTzME?t=3m18s I originally had thought about the ship classes serving as a combat phase, similarly to Neuroshima.

Doing a little more brainstorming, I wonder if fleet composition is the wisest choice. It might be better to keep fleets separated by ship class? I dunno, in the end it all gets tallied up to the numbers.

Let’s say we have 2 fleets:

fleet 1 (this will be the aggressor)

  • 25 strike class
  • 10 heavy class
  • 1 capitol class

fleet 2

  • 3 strike class
  • 12 heavy class
  • 1 capitol class

How would this play out? How would first strike bonus play into it? Would it be on the first round of calculations, or would it play into every round of the calculations while there are strike craft available? I see the appeal of simpler fleets.


#19

Lets say that strike craft always attack first, but are conversely always destroyed first as well. Capitol ships Give a fixed bonus to all other craft and are destroyed last, and the heavy class are your standard class.

Attack, Defence

strike 1/1
heavy 5/5
capital 1/10 +1/1 tp all other ships per capital ship.

In the above example.

Defender goes first.

3 strike class do 6 damage (capital bonus)
Attacker loses 3 craft. 6 points (capital bonus)

Attacker attacks.
22 remaining strike craft deal 44 damage, wiping out 3 strike craft and 6 heavies. (6 damage +6*6) remaining damage insufficient to wipe out another ship so is ignored.

Defenders heavy class strike 36 damage (6*6) wiping out Wiping out 18 strike craft.

Attackers heavy class attack 10*6 Wiping out 6 heavy cruises and 1 capital ship.

Attackers win.


#20

I’m a tad confused here. If 6 damage is the total from the defenders strike class, why is it not 6 attacking strike class destroyed?

I really like the capital class’ modifier to the other ships. That’s kinda like how some Magic The Gathering cards work which really makes for some gnarly attacks.