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0xDB
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:46 am    Post subject: Development Log - Space Game Reply with quote

I have decided that I need a new project to work on in my freetime and that I would have to clearly define goals to prevent me from just slacking off and from getting anything done.

I always wanted to make a game with spaceships, so first I thought of making a simple oldschool 2D space shooter where the player would just fly from one end of the screen to the other and blow up stuff. My second thought on that was that I would get bored with that pretty quickly and so I decided to extend that idea by letting the player land and exit his vessel to continue walking around and maybe to decent and explore some caves. The next thought was that if the player was allowed to explore the surface and the inside of the planet he currently was on, he should also be allowed to leave the planet to explore outer space and to fly to other planets... several thoughts later I had this huge game(space simulation/RPG/action mix) in my head and decided that I would have to restrict myself and to not let every idea go into the game or else I would never be able to finish it.

So, I kept things very basic for a start and drew some concept sketches:






milestone 1) is to create a world/map editor for the solar system and the planets.
milestone 2) will be to implement the player ship in outerspace, so that he will be able to fly around freely.
milestone 3) will be implementing the landing vessel, the planet view and the landing process.
milestone 4) will be implementing the player to allow him to walk around on the planet.
milestone 5) will be implementing some vehicles and vessels that the player can control in planet-view

I have not designed anything about the game yet that goes beyond milestone 5, so...

...milestone x) will be testing what I will have so far and to design enemies, weapons, in game goals, maybe a story, shops, more vessels, additional outer space vessels and things that the player can encounter, alien races, different factions...
well it will be very tempting to design a full blown space simulation game where the player will be allowed to choose his career path freely but I think to increase the chances of the game to ever get done, I will restrict it so that the player is just a Space Pirate whose goals are to accumulate wealth, to not get caught, to kill and blow up a lot of stuff and maybe to discover and free the world from something strange going on under the various planets surfaces... I really don't want to decide upon all that this early as it might just make the development process more boring if I already plan everything in advance.
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Edited by 0xDB on Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:10 am; edited 2 times
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This idea looks really neat. If the sidescrolling, planet level stuff is more exploration than simply running around and killing stuff then it looks like your idea mixes two of my favorite game types. It'd be like playing Escape Velocity where I can land on planets and then enjoy some Metroid-esque action. I really hope this project takes off.

I think you should hold off on the land vehicles for a while, but keep them in your mind. The level design of the planets is going to have to encompass both walking around on foot, being able to land your ship anywhere, as well as being able to use various vehicles. That's going to be a big design challenge.

Another thing that comes to mind is that it will really be annoying if when trying to land your VC it's possible to crash and die. While that might make things a bit more realistic and cater to the space simulator crowd, I think it'd be a pain in the butt to have to take so much time just to land in order to explore a planet.

From the drawings it looks like it'll be really cool. I think you should get some prototypes up as soon as possible, mostly because I'd like to play around with them.
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NyanNyanKoneko
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to see how you end up implementing the control scheme. Generally, it's a good idea to create a unified control scheme for games with drastic changes in gameplay mechanics such as going from running to flying.
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Bean
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really liking this idea. I'm not sure how much of the gameplay will be in space and how much will be planetary. I personally think the planetary stuff seems more interesting. The various vehicles sound fun too. Using the right one for the job etc.

Perhaps your landing vessel could carry one at a time as well. So maybe one planet has a bunch of water, but you can only get a boat on some other planet. Your main ship could maybe store like 3 vehicles as well?

-Bean
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Alex
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just curious.. but im wondering if you're considering teaming up with anyone such as an artist..
I had been programming my own space game with similar ideas a few months ago, but I ran out of steam.
what are you programming this in?
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n29
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was reading this I thought Dennis had hacked my brain because this is one of MY ideas. Thankfully, in my version of this game the planet surface gameplay is a top down, console style rpg-esque. So my neurons are secure for the time being. Anyway, I love this idea, good luck!
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone remember Solar Jetman for the NES?
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Bean
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mikedoty wrote:
Anyone remember Solar Jetman for the NES?


Fuck yeah! This reminded me of that game as well. But you only had the one vehicle in that (Well you got a new pod later I think).
Dennis, you should play that game if you haven't yet already. It might be inspirational. At the least, it's pretty fun.

-Bean
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This actually made me think of Air Fortress, at first.
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Madgarden
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

n29, yeah I've had this idea too (with my own variations of course). It makes perfect sense, really, as the logical combination and evolution of various 2D games of the past.

My angle on it included a lot of Star Trekky style system configuration and rerouting to compensate for damage, lesser module function, etc. Ship hack'n!
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n29
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Madgarden wrote:
n29, yeah I've had this idea too (with my own variations of course). It makes perfect sense, really, as the logical combination and evolution of various 2D games of the past.

My angle on it included a lot of Star Trekky style system configuration and rerouting to compensate for damage, lesser module function, etc. Ship hack'n!


That sounds neat, my idea was more Star Wars with droids that augment your ships capabilities plus there was the possibility of boarding enemy ships (or being boarded).
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope that the following concept sketches do address most of the points and questions that have been raised(both here and on IRC).
Other topics that were brought up will be addressed below the concept images.

A few more ideas for the planetary stuff:


Some thoughts about the control scheme:


Ideas/Inspiration:
To address all those games that were mentioned and to name some references to games that I had in mind while stealing(err... being inspired & creative) ideas:
Frontier Elite II(Amiga), Lunar Lander(Mame), Space Taxi(C64), Moon Patrol(C64), HERO(C64), Turrican(Amiga), Impossible Mission(C64), Knights Of The Old Republic(PC)

So yeah, basically all of those ideas are nothing new, it is just the way that they will be presented and combined that I find is the most interesting piece of this concept.

Technology:
I have not yet started implementing anything. I think I'll reconsider what I orginally said in my first post and will do more design/concept stuff before starting with the real work.
I'm thinking of either pure C or C++, using Allegro+AllegroGL as a base for all input and output and maybe DUMB or FMOD for music playback. The engine will have to be written from scratch.
Implementation details(tiles?, polygons?, both?) are still totally undefined and open but I think I will prefer to do a polygon engine (just a triangle renderer and triangle to triangle collision detection should be fully sufficient for everything that is needed for this game).

Teaming up:
I would love to team up(with both artists and coders) to increase the chances that this game will get finished. But before the real work can start, the concept should be set and features should be locked and a milestone be clearly defined. I do think that all that will be necessary to have productive teamwork going on. And the project will have a dictator who takes decisions in case the team members disagree about how something should be implemented and also if there is disagreement about game content. That dictator will of course be me. :)
Also, good tools for content editing will have to be created before the actual game can be made.

Other things:
I like the idea of bringing vehicles to the planet with the lv. I also like the idea of having special vehicles hidden on other planets, so that the player has to get them first to be able to reach areas on another planet.

I also like the idea of boarding enemy ships as this might be something that adds more interesting gameplay to the outerspace part of the game. Currently the focus seems to be completely on the planetary scenes. It's dangerous though to implement everything, as the game can quickly become very complex and increasingly harder to implement/balance that way.
But well, on an abstract level of thinking, boarding a ship would be the same as entering a planet surface, just minus the landing sequence.

Sooner or later I will have to declare feature lock and to start implementing some of the most basic things or this project will meet "procrastination caused by being overwhelmed with a one million items to-do-list".

Another thing: "Space Pirate" does not seem to be a good title, as a quick google revealed that there are already a few games with that name. Now "Space Mercenary" sounds like a better title to me, because this could work better with the gameplay in which the player could be hired by any faction in the game and would have to fulfill certain tasks on the planets or in outerspace. Not sure whether that new title is also used already but it might still stay the working title and later be changed.

Now I'll try to take a look at Solar Jetman.

I hope I did not forget anything.
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Edited by 0xDB on Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:11 am; edited 1 time
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I replied to your last post, but apparently not. I think all of the ideas that were suggested on IRC and laid out here are, for the most part, good ones. The only thing I would really like to add to the table is that you're going to need some sort of a map system. And by map system, I don't just mean any plain old thing.

You're going to have to implement a very robust mapping system. You'll need to be able to view things at the galaxy or universe level, as well as on the planetary level. I think that's a given, though. What might not be so obvious is that you should really have some sort of indicator system and/or a way for players to mark things on the map. Nothing is going to be more annoying than finding a vehicle that will grant you access to some place you saw before; only to forget just exactly which planet (and where, specifically) on that planet you're supposed to use it.

I would highly recommend the ability to take notes on the map, much like you can in Phantom Hourglass. Or, at least, have some way to type stuff into some journal or something in the game. While the same thing can be done on a piece of paper outside of the game, if you lose that piece of paper you're screwed. When it's within the game, it will always be there when you come back to play (if you've taken a break for a while).
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Bean
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as boarding ships..
The ships could be "planets" as far as the engine is concerned. It'd just be a nice change in scenery and allow you to have droids, computers, doors and things that you wouldn't find on a deserted planet/asteroid etc..

-Bean
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're at the level of being able to board ships, I would assume there should very well be some way to commandeer them, right? That's one of the more fun aspects to Escape Velocity: hopping on ships and then either taking them as your own, or adding them to your "fleet"
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n29
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The way I envisioned landing on a planet would be 'non interactive'. Simply select a landing site and start a 'descend into atmosphere' cut scene, then pick up a 'landing at the space port/secluded location' cut scene. Thereby avoiding the complexity that would come from landing anywhere. Granted, I was going for a more rpg-esque game as opposed to action (action rpg probably).
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point about the mapping system, I'll think about that on one of the next few evening.

Yup, boarding ships would be the same(on an abstract approach == engines point of view) as landing on planets, so I thought about boarding requirements, the sequence as a whole and of some actions the player might be able to do after successful boarding:


I definitely want the landing procedure to be interactive, especially since I'm dreaming of some sort of continuous world with a very quick view change as soon as the landing vessel enters the planets atmosphere:


Other thoughts about boarding and stuff included that the player might just be the captain of his ship and he would hire mercenaries to send down to the planets to save his own life. Of course, nothing would stop the captain from descending himself but if he dies, this would be a GameOver whereas the mercenary would just be dead and he could send another one.

I don't know yet about the ability to control captured vessels, so my thoughts for now are that the only options will be to loot and to destroy them. If the player would be allowed to control them, this would add a whole new dimension of RPG to the game. It would need fleet management, crew management... well crew management will be needed anyway for the mercenary stuff, so... what the heck, fleet management ftw! (uh oh this game idea is growing and growing, implementation won't be easy...)
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the idea of wrapping the world as you're landing and creating a planetoid representation of the ground of the planet from the ship view is really awesome. Hopefully it won't be incredibly crazy to implement something like that.

On the subject of implementation: this is a huge laundry list of stuff that needs to be done. I'm beginning to wonder if you're setting up too much stuff to do and should start cutting your sights a bit shorter, so that you can expect to have a reasonable shot at actually completing the game.
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the projection in the outer-space-view will be some work to implement but it should be doable. I'm thinking of a simple mapping between rectangular and polar coordinates.

About the work involved: I don't expect this to be finished very quickly. I estimate at least a year of work before a playable demo is available that includes all the subsystems of the game.

Yesterday, I did spend some time(actually not deliberately but well now it is done) setting up my development environment and today I had a few minutes to think about fleet and crew management:


I'll spend tomorrow evening with more concept sketches and on Saturday I think, I'll write the first lines of code to test some technical stuff.

After that I think that programming and planning will continue in parallel... design a subsystem, implement a subsystem, design a subsystem, implement a subsystem, ...

Edit: Almost forgot: I have decided to name the project "Space Game" until I find a better name that is not already used by other games.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to reply to this yesterday in the snow, but from the iPhone that'd be kind of annoying to type a lengthy reply.

I think the whole idea of a fleet is pretty badass, but I'm not so sure about having to manage the fleet itself. I'd be more privy to playing with a style like Escape Velocity, where your fleet pretty much just manages itself aside from you telling it to attack or wait. Being able to fine tune everything would be a nice bonus, though. So, I suppose what I'm asking for is a "manage my fleet for me" mode, that will simply fill in the most appropriate crew/items/skills as well as giving the player to manually manage all of that if they so desire.

I'm looking forward to updates to the first "subsytem" in place. I think you should post screenshots/updates of whatever. Even if it's just "wrote the framework and now it opens up a window. Yahoo!" You'd be surprised how motivated that can keep you.
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe there could be a button to "auto-configure" the fleet/ships based on whatever equipment the player has in stock.
This would only work for the systems configuration though, unless I would implement a personnel pool from which the player could freely choose crew members... hm maybe I should do just that, because it would also allow for easy rotation/exchange of crew members between ships.

Today, before I got distracted by StarCraft, I have made a sketch about an early thought on the crew management(without at a personnel pool at that point) and on a simple trade system:


I originally intended to do more concept sketches today but I ran out of time(busy playing games), so I'll have to delay the start of writing the first lines of code which was planned for tomorrow and will do more concept stuff instead.

And yeah, I'll post updates about everything that is a step forward (also about setbacks if there should be any...).
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The concept of hiring crew is cool. Is it going to be a one time cost, or rather some recurring cost that happens ever once in a while in game time? I know I keep mentioning EV, but in Escape Velocity, if you board a ship and take it over, you get that ship added to your fleet with no cost for the pilot. In your world, that might translate to being able to have crew members in your pool that you don't have to pay. That would be awesome.
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will be a recurring cost and you will have to pay every crew member in your pool, even those that currently are not assigned to a position on any ship. Nobody works for free.

So before boarding a ship that the player plans to keep, it would be wise to bring an additional pilot in the personnel pool. Maybe there should be an option to capture and force the original pilot though by leaving a mercenary or two on the newly acquired ship. Naturally that pilots performance would not be very good and his morale would be at an all time low. Mmmh, I need a morale attribute that influences the crews performance. :)

At the start of the game, the player would only have a single person in his personnel pool and that would be himself(the captain). He would pilot his ship himself, he would change to the gunner position himself(if there are any turrets on his ship that is) and he would do needed repairs himself.

Having a crew would cost some money, running a fleet would cost even more money and should not be too easy to get to.

The player will have several means of getting to money, such as pirating(the original premise of the game was that the player would be a pirate but now I think he should be whatever he wants to be), trading goods, doing jobs / quests.

Today I thought about personal equipment for the mercenaries or the captain:


Also thought about where to get ship equipment and how to make some real money in the game:


My to-do list for the design/concept still has a few items left:
( ) map / locations system
( ) job / quest system / quest as "states": each state can have one or more follow-up states, each state has pre-condition(s) that must be met for the state to become active, only follow-up states of the current state may become the next active state / there may be "custom quests/jobs" to allow player taking notes, marking locations
( ) factions / reputation system / influence on prices, hostility, available jobs, quests
( ) review design / change design (no pirate per default) / more detailed design / clean up design

These items are however of such technical nature that I might not need to draw concept sketches for them. I think I'll just keep writing down ideas and mechanics for these things or even directly write it all out in code as the ideas come floating into my head.

I'll create my project folders now, will set up a local SVN repository(on the second harddrive) and take a look at that 'trac' system that sonrisu mentioned on IRC.

After that, my first goal will be to render a single textured triangle.
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Edited by 0xDB on Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:13 am; edited 1 time
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n29
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, this is turning into a large, sprawling game concept! Very ambitious, if that's good or bad I don't know....

Quote:
and take a look at that 'trac' system that sonrisu mentioned on IRC.


I recently used trac for a school project and it is pretty nice. It is python based though, so that may limit your hosting options if you ever hope to put it on teh intarwebs. It's part wiki, part problem ticket system, and integrates with subversion.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of this stuff sounds like a lot to manage, so here's a pretty broad question: what is the player required to do? Is there going to be an ending to the game? Say the player isn't the type of game player who finds mining ore and minerals off of asteroids any fun at all--they'd rather skip that whole step and get their ore/minerals/whatever from some other source.

Are you going to offer meaningful alternatives to accomplishing the same goals and/or obtaining different stuff?
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