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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsPraetor - a real-time 4x space game
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Author Topic: Praetor - a real-time 4x space game  (Read 14381 times)
drChengele
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« on: April 04, 2010, 02:36:18 AM »

PRAETOR



This is a real-time galactic conquest game I've been trying to write in various languages for several years now. Well, I am finally up to C++ and DirectX so there ain't no more rewriting.

The idea is that you are an EMPEROR of an interstellar empire. Not an urban planner, not a starship designer, but a goddamn EMPEROR. I don't want to play the game where a planetary population limit is 20 million and your glorious imperial fleet consists of 15 cruisers and 3 battleships. No, I don't want to colonize every single planet and build every single factory by hand, god damnit. I don't want to play a glorified coloured spreadsheet.

I want to capture the feel of running an interstellar empire with mega-fleets and planetary invasions and the fate of millions being more or less important to you. I want the emperor to go on a hunting trip and indulge in choosing new brides for his harem while several planets are on a brink of starvation. I want fleets numbering thousands of ships to meet and I want multi-pronged attacks with several simultaneous battles going on on the strategic map. I want you to be able to crush the enemy, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of their women.

The design creed for Praetor is summed up by three golden rules:
REAL TIME.
NO MICROMANAGEMENT.
ALL ACTIONS ARE UP TO THREE CLICKS AWAY FROM THE PLAYER.

If you've played Europa Universalis or any of its numerous progeny, you know what to expect in terms of game dynamics - the time passes in constant minute time steps rather than turns. This nature of the game requires careful balancing of automation and preset settings while still not letting the game play itself, but I'll manage somehow.

The game will be minimalistic, but provide a lot of options. I wish to do away with the standard "tech tree" and "planetary buildings" approach and focus on "skills" and "projects" instead. For example, you can advance your biotechnology skill by directing a portion of your imperial technology to it, or by using (or being targeted by) biological weapons. In the later parts of the game you will be able to teleport star systems and launch interstellar missiles (a-la Defcon).

Things you can expect:

  • Clean interface
  • Imperial institutions (parallel military formations, religions, inqusition, corporations)
  • Interstellar warheads with shockwaves expanding on the galactic map
  • Transdimensional beings
  • Space tentacles
  • Your emperor gains traits and/or cybernetic implants which affect the way game is played
  • Backstabbing sector governors
  • Campaign spanning virtually the entire Perseus galactic Arm.
  • Genetic modifications, up to engineering a custom race
  • Biggotry, racism, eugenics, genocide
  • If you kill enough enemies, you can sit on a throne made of their skulls.
  • Of course, you can also be a benevolent ruler, a trade/cultural superpower, or a diplomatic mastermind.
  • Space zombies, space dinosaurs, space ninjas, space robots, space pirates, and space (insert anything here)

Ideally the game should have a "quick mode" so that a single campaign's worth of tech tree can be traversed in the course of a 1-hour long skirmish game. Why? Because multiplayer. But we'll talk about that when we get there.

These are older screenshots from earlier iterations of the game:
VISUAL BASIC ERA (2007-2008)


2008 version, Visual Basic + DirectX8


C++ ERA:


(the latest screenshots are at the top of the post).

I have no idea when the first playable version will be up for download, because I don't have much free time at the moment and progress has been unpleasantly slow lately, but I'll keep you notified. I am aiming for a playable alpha with AI and sweet space battles.

I also have made some music but I don't know where to upload it for easy perusal, and perhaps that's just as well considering it's just something I cobbled together to go alongside the code.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 01:36:57 AM by drChengele » Logged

Praetor
Currently working on : tactical battles.
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2010, 05:47:07 AM »

Wow....


This looks, and sounds great!

Good luck and I look forward to the first release. I promise I'll be one of the first to download it!
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Cagey
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2010, 06:19:48 AM »

I want to capture the feel of running an interstellar empire with mega-fleets and planetary invasions and the fate of millions being more or less important to you. I want the emperor to go on a hunting trip and indulge in choosing new brides for his harem while several planets are on a brink of starvation. I want fleets numbering thousands of ships to meet and I want multi-pronged attacks with several simultaneous battles going on on the strategic map. I want you to be able to crush the enemy, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of their women.

I love the sound of this.

I may be stating the obvious, but my advice would be whenever you're considering a gameplay mechanic ask yourself how it contributes to that feeling, and whether or not adding it to the game would contribute to that or take away from it.

Well, I am finally up to C++ and DirectX so there ain't no more rewriting.

...I really do need to get around to setting up a proper windows installation.
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drChengele
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2010, 07:09:40 AM »

...I really do need to get around to setting up a proper windows installation.
Yeah, I would love to go multiplatform but unfortunately it's DirectX for me for now Sad . This is my first major game and I need to stick to it. For what it's worth it will run on low-end systems so I am sure at least Wine will be able to take care of it.

Game mechanics-wise, I am only working with known quantities, on things I know I can get away with. Things that I am not sure I can tackle in terms of balance, implementation or artwork I'll simply leave out of the first version.

Plenty of room for sequels later, after all.
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Praetor
Currently working on : tactical battles.
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2010, 04:44:00 PM »

Sounds like you've got your priorities straight. I hope you're not kidding about the space dinosaurs.
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Alec S.
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2010, 10:45:48 PM »

This looks pretty awesome!  I love 4X games and the game you want to make sounds really excellent.  Just make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew.  Try to avoid feature creep as can often happen with games like this, and make sure you get your core game solid early on.  I'll keep an eye on this, it looks cool!
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2010, 08:23:06 AM »

this sounds really great, the concept and mechanics are exactly what I like in 4x games (obviously the majority of which I end up getting bored with). Looking forward to it man!
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jotapeh
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2010, 10:41:07 AM »

very cool.
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2010, 01:14:32 PM »

 Grin Hand Thumbs Up Right sounds and looks great! Can't wait to see more.
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2010, 03:12:26 PM »

Yesssssssssssssss


There isnt enough indie strategy games, let alone 4x games. Good luck with this!

The old screenshots look tooootally like master of orion, hahah Smiley
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drChengele
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2010, 04:07:53 PM »

Nice, thanks for loads of positive reactions! Like I said, I'll try to get a very very rudimentary alpha up and running as soon as possible so that people can get a feel of the gameflow and provide gameplay suggestions. It could be a month or two before it gets there, but when it does, you'll be the first to know.
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Praetor
Currently working on : tactical battles.
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2010, 02:59:40 PM »

Still as exited about this as ever.

You should post about this on /tg/ though.  I bet a bunch of people never followed you through twitter and haven't heard from you since your last update over there.
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 07:48:05 AM »

So has there been any development on this? I have to say that I love the concept and I am looking forward to seeing how to implement some of the features you are looking towards. The whole idea kind of reminds me of "Emperor of the Fading Suns", a truly wonderful game and it makes me wonder - from what did you draw inspiration?

Furthermore, out of curiousity, what level of scale are you planning on implementing? I.e. will there be planet assaults? Will it go down to 3rd person kind of view, to further enforce the idea that your character is a single emperor, rather than a fleet of ships, etc? Or will the roleplaying aspect of the game be more abstracted?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 04:22:53 AM by jabbawocky » Logged
drChengele
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2010, 01:39:33 PM »

Ah, yes, the Emperor of the Fading Suns. Nice game. Basically I drew inspiration from all the strategy games I have ever played. Master of Orion I and II are the obvious culprits, and of course all the other Civ Games (particularly Master of Magic). The "real-time grand strategy" bit is similar to how Europa Universalis works.

As to what will be in the game, I would not hold my breath for 3rd person view or anything like that. I am a single developer, after all. The game will have an overwhelmingly strategic scale. No tactics or micromanagement whatsoever.

Emperor (player's alter ego) is a unit on the starmap, but a unique unit in many ways. For example, if a battle is going on which is more distant from your emperor than your empire's "max realtime communications range", you cannot command battles via uplink, only passively watch them take place. There will be a screen of things relating to the emperor and management of his private life - bodyguards, wives, cybernetic implants, things like that. You will need to watch your health as well, sacrifice countless planets if it will mean your Emperor can stay alive - because if he dies, it's game over.

It will hopefully all come together to give you the impression that you are really in the shoes of an emperor, rather than a faceless commanding spirit.
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Praetor
Currently working on : tactical battles.
jabbawocky
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2010, 06:26:43 AM »

I didn't really think you would go down to 3rd person view - stuff like that would probably beyond most AAA companies. But it is good to know that you are planning to make the Emperor's ship stand out in some manner. On that, are you planning on allowing customisation of the Emperor's ship itself? Any examples?

I really do like the idea that if a battle is too far away, then you can't control the battle itself. As an added level of depth, have you thought of adding limited 'personalities' to even the ships under the Emperor's control? As in a military commander deciding that your order is idiotic/suicidal and ignoring it? It might make for interesting gameplay, confronting the player with the options of whether to allow some level of independent thought (and thus higher chance of winning battles) at the risk of increasing dissension or beat your subjects into slavery (lobotomise, etc) but mean that they are all but useless without your command.

I'm also curious as to the level of politics your planning on implementing - will there be royal court back-stabbing and feuds to deal with? World dissenting from the Emperor's rule? Assassination attempts? On that note - does the player start out as the Emperor, or as a noble climbing the ranks?

Finally, what level of technology will exist within the game? Will it have the Fading Suns/Foundation aesthetic with a collapsing empire where most don't understand the tech that they rely on, or is the empire still in the expansion stage of development? Will it have something like the church from Fading Suns declaring certain tech to be 'black' or 'immoral'?

Sorry for the long post, by the way - I hope it hasn't put you off Grin.
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drChengele
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2010, 03:59:32 AM »

Interesting questions all. The problem is that most of this is still unimplemented, and I would hate to promise or brag about something only to have it not appear in the final version. With that in mind, the design document currently calls for the following, but it is subject to change if it gets too complicated to implement:

- it is not just the emperor's ship. Think of it as the Emperor's court, entourage, a fleet in its own right. Customization of the Emperor extends not just to his flagship, but also to his battle-mech, his wives and concubines, the equipment of his bodyguards, his various tutors, advisers, and retainers, etc. This should have various consequences on the strategic map.

- as for commander personalities, the game is really too far up on the strategic scale. The smallest unit of control is a flotilla of ships. For example, you never build an individual destroyer, you instead commission a Destroyer Fleet which acts like a single unit. Of course there will should be nobles, generals, admirals and warlords, as "leaders", and of course I intend to have policies affect their disposition to the Emperor, up to and including insubordination, coups and rebellions.

- funny you should ask about politics - I have just finished an outline of the "web of intrigues" in-game, where the game generates a list of various Byzantine plots behind the Emperor's back. The plan is to have these plots vary greatly in scope, effects, and scale, and it is so far very unbalanced, but it would probably require huge misconducts on the player's part for an assassination plot to end his game. The more unsatisfied nobles you have in your empire, the more plots you will need to deal with. In fact, you will need to juggle your agents between espionage, counter-espionage, and court intrigues.

- as to the technology aspect, the game is set in an unexplored frontier of the Perseus arm, after the collapse of a vastly advanced First Dynasty of Man. So yes, there is some forgotten technology, but not much. Also there is a heavily enforced ban on certain technologies (Von Neumann machines, black hole generation) which the player may choose to pursue clandestinely at his own risk, but he better be ready to bury the evidence deep.
 
- the campaign will definitely see you juggle around titles and rising the ladder in a way, but you will never start as anything less than a despot of an interstellar power. Titles are also important for the "skirmish" portion of the game. I'd rather not spoil anymore at this stage.
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Praetor
Currently working on : tactical battles.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2010, 09:53:04 AM »

I saw my username in your sig and was confused.  Cheesy

Nice looking game.  Smiley Hand Thumbs Up Right
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2010, 08:47:16 PM »

Good to see more people working on macro strategy games!
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drChengele
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2011, 01:54:36 AM »

Updating to say the game is alive and kicking and being actively developed. Even if only by one guy with way too much else on his hands.

Recently I've scrapped together enough time to make a few breakthroughs. The game core is shaping up (why, since you ask, yes, I've rewritten it again, thank you very much - this time to port it to c# and OpenGL WTF ). The strategic sections were becoming a bit bland and battle autoresolver felt random-ish so I finally bit the bullet and for the past few weeks have been working on tactical battles. While battle system is not done yet, the results are better than I could have expected since a lot of the loose ends in game design have fallen into place on their own with the inclusion of the battles.

I had to simplify or cut back on some planned features just to keep the project afloat. I've been promised art assets from a few sides. It is even possible I've found a potential distributor, but that's all out there. The real important thing is the game is being worked on and it is starting to look like a game. It is still at least a year from completion, but I might have an alpha build up - and the rough time estimate for it is, as it has been for the past two years, "soon".
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Praetor
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2011, 06:00:29 AM »

Maybe you could make it so that later in the game you can decide to be turned into a machine like grievous in star wars. This could make you more impervious to assassination attempts and if the emperors ship is destroyed you could still live etc.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 07:57:50 AM by Klatter121 » Logged

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