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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsTerminal Dominions - Space Sim RTS project
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Author Topic: Terminal Dominions - Space Sim RTS project  (Read 1338 times)
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« on: April 06, 2017, 11:49:55 AM »

You can get and play the latest Alpha build from itch.io:

You can follow my updates on Twitter too:

Hi TIGForums!

I've been a long-time lurker and occasional poster on here and thought maybe it was time to try and get some proper feedback on my current Sim/RTS project called Terminal Dominions. Any and all questions or comments about the game are welcomed at this stage!

I'd also be happy to answer any questions about my process or how I made things. (The game is made with GameMaker Studio 2).

The in-game Tutorial should hopefully explain most of the fundamentals, but the flow of the game basically goes like this:

- Spend Research on new technologies.
- Build structures and ships to get good defenses and a healthy space economy going.
- Harvest what you can from the current level. Mine minerals, and collect research data, go on the offensive with mercenaries if necessary to clear the way.
- Build the Escape Barge to move on to the next level which should be larger and more difficult on average. The player can keep a fixed amount of Minerals and Crystal between systems. The player gets a fixed amount of credits at the start of each new system. The player can keep unlimited Research points between systems.

General Tips
- When in doubt, build more of everything. You should always be building as many ships as possible and as many structures as possible. Pause the game if you like, but try to make sure you're spending as many resources as you are able. This will be overkill in early levels, but should be put to the test in later levels.
- Essential Research at start of a new game: Industry, Intelligence, Security, Trade and Mining. With those 5 Reasearches you should be able to survive for a long time.
- A good economy is about 3 or 4 Rock Miners working on Minerals contracts and 5 or 6 Trade Ships with multiple Trade Stops (Trade Stations, Outposts, etc.).
- Build at least a few Police ships and PD Pylons (static defenses).
- Build a Space Bar and hire Mercenaries to take the fight to your enemies with Patrol contracts.
- I think the save game system is working but it has not been rigorously tested so please don't rely on it too much.

For now you cannot 'win' the game, only travel deeper into the Galaxy. My hope is that the Pirates eventually wear you down and kill you but perhaps a player could travel indefinitely into the galaxy, I don't know.

Future plans:
- A way to 'win' the game.
- A large 'Beacon' structure the player can build in each system to claim it for the Federation and get bonuses.
- More personality for ships with various leisure activities and chances to go 'rogue'.
- More industrial processes ie. Ore haulers and refineries, more advanced Trade Ships.
- More ships, structures and technologies for the player and for enemy factions.
- More options for interacting with other Factions besides space combat. Pro tip: Don't buy the Diplomacy research for now because it doesn't do anything.

I hope to start doing weekly dev blogs about what I'm working on and post them on Friday/Saturday along with the latest Alpha build. Thanks for checking it out!

« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 02:46:04 AM by Reefpirate » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2017, 11:26:45 AM »

Alpha 4.131 posted to the itch page (version numbers are all over the place, I know):

Full change notes can be found in the discussions near the bottom of the itch page.

Use the itch app for the best updating experience, and because it's awesome:

The Drones are becoming more advanced...

Closing the Game Loop
As I've started being more public with development over the last couple of weeks I have been focusing a lot on 'closing the game loop'. With people other than me potentially playing the game I've needed to add a tutorial, improve tool-tips for ships, structures and research and just generally better inform the player as to what the hell is happening with the game mechanics at any given moment. There are still some gaps of information that I plan on filling (for example, I want to get better real-time info about the economy to the player), but I feel like the game has become a lot more coherent for outsiders. I also feel like it's impossible for me to judge whether or not this effort has been successful so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

If not in the next update, then the one after I will do the final 'closing of the loop' by adding an end-game or 'Victory Condition' for the campaign.

Ship Steering
Every time I think I've settled on a stable ship steering behavior, some other edge case seems to pop up forcing me to re-evaluate and fundamentally change the steering system. Who knew ship steering behaviour could be so complicated? /s

Seriously though, although I should have done some more research into best practices, I feel like I've learned a lot in the process and finally have more understanding and control over how ships fly around the map. If you watch closely you can still occasionally see mis-matched dog fights happening where a slower ship is chasing a faster ship who can't steer very fast. The slow ship can never close the gap to weapons range, and the fast ship can never steer hard enough to come around on the pursuer and open fire. Luckily there's enough happening on most maps that this stalemate is eventually broken by other combatants entering the melee. In the future I might add more advanced dog-fight steering for higher tier ships so that they can actually slow down and steer better in combat.

Balancing This Game is Going to be Hard
As I slowly turn the corner and start beefing up content in the game I'm beginning to realize just how challenging it will be to balance this game. The weapons, armor and hit points systems are all simple enough, but it feels like almost every single aspect of game balance is also tied directly to 100 other things.

For any given ship you have to consider not just weapons vs hitpoints, but also you have unit build times, pre-requisite structure build times, builder move speed, global warp speed and warp wind-up time, the player's economy, research costs, how easy it is to get new research points, what sort of behavior is scripted for the ship and for its enemies and allies, etc. So many dependencies leads to so many places where any one element can get way out of balance.

As an example, for economy balancing I was for a long time focused on things like how many minerals can a miner take in a single trip, or how much a Trade Ship can earn in a single trade stop. Most of that tweaking was all put to waste later as I made adjustments to global warp speed, global docking/undocking speed, etc.

At one point it was actually more efficient for the player to set up mining contracts far enough away to justify a warp speed jump for the Rock Miner. This was because ships came out of warp way too late and cut way down on normal flight time if there was a warp involved in the trip. So it was less efficient to mine asteroids 500 units of distance away from home base because an asteroid 2000 units away would involve a very short warp speed jump and only about 200 units of normal flight speed whereas the asteroind 500 units away was more than double the normal flight time. Ships now come out of warp much further from their targets to make warping less efficient while mining.

Ok that's enough carrying on for now. Check for another major update next weekend, and thanks for your time.

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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2017, 01:09:08 PM »

Alpha 4.140 ready to go on itch page:

Full change notes can be found in discussion on itch page.

Update highlights:
- Orange asteroids!
- Improved level generation. More balance across levels, and more interesting placing of enemy assets.
- Updates to Tutorial and in-game Manual.

Finally a full-sized screenshot for once:

Next Steps
- Better feedback for the player about their economy. An in-depth tool tip about how many trade stops the player has, what the average trade value of stops is, average spent on contracts per minute, average minerals spent per minute, etc. This is for players just as much as it is for me to better test the economic balance of the game.
- Expansion behavior for the AI Neutral faction. For now the drones only get whatever structures they start the level with. The next update should see them building and expanding if able (just like the Pirates do now).
- I've found a good video capture solution, just need a little more research on video editing before I produce a trailer and a short video tutorial. I think a 5 to 10 minute video tutorial will go a long way towards better educating players 'how to play'. Any tips on good, cheap video editing software for Windows? Can I do this with OBS? Does Movie Maker still exist?

Easter Weekend
Completely forgot about this up until yesterday. Am obligated to socialize with family rather than work on my game or devlog... In fact I'm already late and should be getting ready as I type this. See you next week!

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