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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogs[Grand Strategy: Spacewar] (4X) & "Mercenaries"
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Author Topic: [Grand Strategy: Spacewar] (4X) & "Mercenaries"  (Read 14791 times)
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« on: August 18, 2013, 07:41:52 PM »

Grand Strategy: Spacewar


Greetings everyone, and welcome to this humble DevLog regarding our game tentatively called "Grand Strategy: Spacewar".


Combat Prototype

What's the Game?

Platform: PC (Web) & Android (Webview)
Genre: 4X Strategy Game
Tech: Dart/Html using StageXL(Frontend) and PHP (Backend)

The 4X genre was originally coined as a reference to a type of game that emphasizes these gameplay objectives: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate.

Modern games, in our opinion, have mostly focused on the latter, leaving much room for improvement.

Our Mission
Grand Strategy: Spacewar is our attempt at creating a compelling competitive/balanced 4X game true to the origins of the genre.

To this end, we borrow from earlier titles from the DOS era and use pixel-art to simulate a "metroid-like" ambience.

How is it coming along?

Next Milestone: Prototype (56%)

Here's an educated guess of where we stand on the features we'd like to release for this milestone:

Ship Movement
Ship/Planet Cargo
Ship/Planet Transfer
Components On/Off
Components Effects
Dragable UI
Galaxy Generator
Battle Simulations
Ship Construction
Building Construction
Planet Economy

Who's the team?

We're a very small team and we plan to stay that way (we ARE self-funded after all).
yet we could still use a few more hands...

  • Orymus - Producer, Game Designer, Programmer (Frontend), UI Designer.
  • Yannick - Programmer & Architect (Backend/Frontend).
  • Lou - Concept Art & UI.
  • Santiago - Ship Art.

What's next?

You like what you see?
You have some ideas?
Go ahead and comment on this Devlog!
Hopefully we'll be able to keep it updated...
 Big Laff

« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 10:11:42 AM by Orymus » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 08:56:37 AM »

Here comes... the Gorath

The above concept represents the Goraths.
Goraths, much like the above depiction, are ruthless and xenophobic.
They kill to cleanse. They are your typical antagonist.

We started with the Goraths because they are straightforward, and that their doctrine is rather simple.
Early during conception, we knew we wanted to avoid bilateral symmetry whenever possible.
We came up with this pentalateral symmetry concept as a result of that.

Since we already have a more insectoid species in our roster, we really wanted to give a different feel of an "organic" species without resorting to insect-specific properties (external skeletons, etc.)
The Goraths are also intimately tied with their mineral-heavy homeworld. This can be seen by the way their body develops these strange greenish crystals.

The most important thing about the Gorath is that we wanted to give a feel to the player that they couldn't be reasoned with. They don't really have an easy means of communication, they present their mouth and tentacles first, which means the only interaction they seek to have is to eat you.

We're hoping that the Gorath comes across as a ruthless villain.
While they're easy to understand, their military doctrine is filled with more complex subtleties and interactions. Because the Goraths cannot afford to share victory, they will hardly make any friends, and only the most skilled tacticians will be victor.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 05:39:24 PM by Orymus » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 12:20:44 PM »

Unlike modern 4X installments, the game seeks to be less about ship customization and more about strategy
i like the direction you're taking with this. best of luck!
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 12:40:27 PM »

One of the big issues, in our opinion, is that having too much customization causes the following problems:

- Everything is possible: This means you don't get to struggle with a particular "puzzle" on how to cope with a specific situation. You can just design a ship that is optimized for this purpose instead.

- It puts too much emphasis on ship design, which is essentially a sub-system. Players end up playing 50% of their play session in the ship design screen if not more, and it's not that exciting. We prefer to use ships.

- It's bound to cause dominant strategies or archetypes. Therefore, if the game is Live long enough, everyone will end up with roughly the same ship configurations.

What we hope to gain by limiting the ship cutomization:

- Strategically, the player needs to adapt to what he has (his strengths) and what he doesn't have (his weaknesses). Sometimes, a "bad aggressive ship" might be your only aggressive ship, and if you need to take an aggressive action, you'll need to rely upon that. As a result, you might seek to avoid direct confrontation, but will still get to build this ship because you need it for defenses for example.

- Having a defined ship list helps with flavor. It's good to feel what the "Goraths" really are deep down. When you look at a ship list, its overall abilities, and individual proficiencies, you get a feeling of what their military doctrine is.

- Unforeseen uses: When you look at a bunch of ships, you have a rough idea what they're made for. If not, then the title might give it away. However, when you formulate a need in technical terms, it might cause user surprise, and they may feel rewarded for correctly defining their needs. As a result, if a player wants to bring a shipment of X units to area Y while expecting Z threat, there might be a ship that fits this criteria perfectly, and is obviously made for this.
On the other hand, there might be a ship meant for something else altogether, that may appear weak, but might actually do better under these specific criterias.
For example, that ship might have larger fuel tanks, a lower ship mass, or better cargo holds.

One of my personal "wow moments" was back when I was playing VGA Planets, looking at my ship list, and wondering why a specific ship had been included. It honestly felt like crap. It was a carrier, without the armor to sustain direct hits, or the actual fighter count to really be a threat to any warship. When I figured out it could be used to transport fighters with minimal fuel costs to resupply my larger carriers on the border, I became excited. When I noticed that it also increased my fighter construction output, I was dancing happy. Finally, when I realized I could leave it empty and tow it, with a full supply of fuel and supplies to repair my other ships, it simply felt like a disposable cargo hold canisted, and ever since, I've built one for every warship I have.
The ship went from the "worst" to the "best" in my opinion, simply because I was able to define a use that worked with my plan.

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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 05:02:10 PM »

Just added more art to the original post!

DevLog Entry # 1

*Yannick worked almost exclusively on getting the ship movement into place.
*I've finished up defining racial Doctrines for the most part.

« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 08:58:43 AM by Orymus » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2013, 01:50:13 PM »

I'm excited to see where this goes, i love strategy games.  Would you want music for it?
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 07:39:43 PM »

It's a bit early to tell.
Originally, we had a music composer on this brand, but it felt awkward without having proper art.
We'll revisit music in several months, when we have something to show for.

Thanks for the interest though!
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2013, 07:57:23 PM »

DevLog Entry # 2

*Yannick worked into ship movement once more.

I've arranged fuel costs so that they make sense.

Yannick fixed user input for setting the ship course.

Yannick reinstated the ability to enable components...

*I'm busy trying to get the Production Tab working, but so far, no screenshot of that...
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 05:40:43 PM by Orymus » Logged
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 11:18:32 PM »

I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes. One thing that bothers me though is the name, Spacewar is already a game name. Then I realized that it's "Grand strategy: Spacewar", it doesn't seem right to have a genre name as the title ("First Person Shooter: Call of Duty").
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 05:22:18 AM »

I don't know. Technically, it's a tentative name, so I'm not too worried, however, the series "Medieval: Total War" neither can fully take Total War or Medieval as their TM because these are broad terms, but when put together, they become something altogether different which can be trademarked.
Grand Strategy: Spacewar is in the same vein.
I agree that Spacewar: Grand Strategy would look like a ripoff of Spacewar, but I doubt Steve "Slug" Russell, Martin "Shag" Graetz, and Wayne Wiitanen would really care given that Spacewar was meant as an academic effort and not a corporate one.

That said, do you happen to have any suggestions on how to change the name?
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 08:54:36 AM »

DevLog Entry # 3

*Yannick completed ship movement and turn processing! Yipee! (see below)

Turn one...

Turn one still...

Turn TWO!!!

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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2013, 10:16:37 PM »

DevLog Entry # 4

*Yannick is taking a few days off.

*I've begun work on the Algorithm that will handle world creation dynamically. For debugging purposes, I've created a small app (see below).

Behold the Mighty World Editor!

There's actually more than meets the eyes.

In an effort to keep the game 'fair', I'm building a system where each player is allocated a natural 'area of influence' which is an equal arc of the galaxy.
We're creating an approximately similar amount of stars in each of these arcs, each of which will form clusters populated by nearby planets.
The outcome is that, instead of pure randomness, the world will feel organic AND balanced (at least, that's what we're trying to achieve).
I'm still struggling with some aTan2(y,x) issues, but distribution across all quadrants should work fairly soon!

Features of the World Editor so far:
*Handles different amounts of Players dynamically
*Handles different amounts of Stars dynamically (though placement has some bugs in it)

Left to go:
+Planets (attached to stars)
+Individual Planets stats (distribution)

Also, due to F.A.Q.: The reason the galaxy is circular is to keep odds fair for everyone regardless the amount of players. If it was squared, some distant (easily defended planets) would be available to players starting nearby corners, whereas those starting at the center of an axis would be left opened from both sides. (We're thinking competitively).
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 06:55:48 PM by Orymus » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2013, 07:26:26 PM »

Here comes... the Khoros

The above concept represents the Khoros.
Khoros, by a nature, are a small mammal-like critter. Unfortunately for everyone else, they've also grown a brain.
The Khoros have learned to adapt to their shortcomings by creating prosthesisto suit their need.
Though clever, the Khoros' one shortcoming they really can't shake off is their inability to deal with the finite nature of the resources they require: they will exploit everything they can much beyond safety limits with absolutely no regard for sustainable development.
As a result, they Khoros as a nomad species that leaves in their wake series of dying planets.

The Khoros as a bilateral critter, and the closest thing to a human you'll find in-game (it goes to saying there isn't any humanoid here).

There are currently three races slated for development that are meant to come across as villains.
In order of importance, the Khoros comes as the third (Goraths are the second).
The reason for this classification is that, while the Khoros are responsible for what they are doing (and quite counscious of it) they don't take any pleasure in killing other species for the sake of it. In fact, given the choice, they'd rather capture slaves and materials as this would give them their much needed resources.

There were three governing factors when establishing the base for this concept:
1 - Create a prosthesis that make the Khoros functional and intimidating
2 - Convey the feeling that they need to recycle from everything they can capture
3 - Display the harsh conditions under which the Khoros much endure

The first was the easiest to achieve. A strong exoskeleton suit was built over a small furry critter. In essence, it looks like a mammal is entrapped in an ironclad lizard/dinosaur. It gives this distinct feeling that there is a weak creature in there, but its not about to let you overtake it.

The second goal was a bit trickier. We wanted the design to feel uniform so we couldn't just staple random prosthesis that didn't fit together. However, by exposing the exoskeleton's structure we believe we've captured that feeling where each part is interchangeable with whatever they can lay their hands onto.

The third one is supported mostly by the background. The markings on the armor feel a bit like some kind of a radioactive effect or acidic rust. It's unclear whether this would be the effect of the armor pieces being in contact with a harsh environment, or a conscious effort to paint the armor.
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2013, 06:48:30 PM »

DevLog Entry # 5

*I've continued work on the Galaxy Creation Algorithm.

It Works!

I've finally managed to distribute stars in a 'fair' way across players' natural areas of influence. That way, I'm sure players will have just about the same amount of stars within their grasp at game start.
These Stars (as per my previous devlog) are invisible objects that will allow us to build planet clusters in their 'orbit'.

The next step is to actually create the Planet childs for each Star, and insure some limitations are met (minimum/maximum distance from star, proximity with other planets from this or another Star, etc),
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2013, 07:05:53 PM »

I used to play a game called Stars! as a kid that this is really reminding me of. That's a good thing, it desperately needs a modern successor. I'm excited to see where this goes.
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2013, 07:24:12 PM »

Reminds me of VGA Planets 3.0.  Stars! of course was very similar, but Planets had existed for several years before as a BBS game even before the internet was born.  

As a result of Planets, I grew to dislike tech trees in my 4x games also.  Racial selection can determine the types of tech your empire will have available, and from there unlocking of the available tech LEVELS for that race should be just a matter of economics.  If you have the resources and you spend the money, you can unlock the next tech level.

Another great aspect of VGA Planets 3.0 is that it modeled SUPPLY LINES.  Your attack fleet could run out of fuel behind enemy lines and your colonies could start to die out if they were on a harsh world and could not generate enough supplies on their own.  All great grand strategy games should model supply lines :p  otherwise it's really not a grand strategy game.

The final great aspect of Planets was espionage and subterfuge.  Many races could cloak their ships.  Ships that did not end up in deep space between turns would not be visible unless you had a colony on the surface of a world where the enemy ship reached orbit.  You could create minefield traps or set ships to self destruct when attacked thereby taking out a more powerful attacking ship.  You could tow enemy ships and you could hack them if you figured out their Friend/Foe codes.

And it was multiplayer only via play by email.

« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 07:43:49 PM by Hypnotron » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2013, 07:41:22 PM »

You got me! (and I'm very happy that you can feel this vibe this early!)
VGA Planets 2.2.2 is what started it for me. There's been a remake called Planets Nu, which I'm actively playing, but due to the sanctity of the game, the developers haven't had a chance to fix and/or upgrade the design.
Grand Strategy: Spacewar is our means to do just that, all the while elevating the gameplay to what we feel is different, but just as entertaining.

Yes, this came up often during research. I unfortunately have never played that, but I wouldn't be surprised the end result looks similar.

I strongly believe that a lot of old DOS games could simply be remade using modern UI and input standards (usability) and be kickass products. This is the kind of barrier that prevents Dune 2 and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans from truly competing with their sequels. Yet, everything else is 'right'.

What made your mind 'tick' for Stars! exactly?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 09:59:41 PM by Orymus » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2013, 07:44:23 PM »

awesome Smiley  I will be following your posts!  Look forward to seeing it progress.
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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2013, 08:47:47 PM »

The one thing we've been staying clear from though is the friendly codes. Though its an interesting addition, we felt it was 'too VGA Planets' to our taste. It's also complex and confusing and could be done more efficiently in a different way.

With regards to supply lines, VGA Planets had many important tools:
1 - Fuel, as you've mentioned, which can be quite obvious.
2 - Supplies, which allowed you to perform repairs on your ship, this necessary for long 'campaigns'
3 - Torps (and fighters), which were a unit of ordnance that would go down over time. Much like supplies, a longer campaign would require you to setup means to reinforce the front with these

We obviously have our own ideas on how to achieve this, but rest assured this has been in our minds all along and the victor will be the player that understand this.

Subterfuge will also be a big part of Grand Strategy: Spacewar... but there will be tweaks here to make it a more widespread strategy (available to all). It won't be as unforgiving (there won't be ships you can't detect if you think you know where they are).

As for tech levels, I've touched on that earlier. It will be much simpler than recent 4X games.
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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2013, 06:41:36 PM »

Your game is like Spaceward Ho! and Stars! had a child.

Keep it up Gentleman
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