My colleague and I are about to start development of a space trading and combat game for iOS. Collectively we've been in the games industry for 30 years (!) and have spent our careers working for many of the big publishers, but this will be the first time we're doing something indie.
Before we start though we wanted to get some opinions / ask a few questions / start a discussion with the people who we hope will eventually become our customers (that's you guys, we hope). We hope that by taking this "reach out" approach we can (a) start to build interest in what were creating and (b) build a game that you guys will actually want to play!
So, to kick things off let's start with a short (VERY short) description of what it is we're thinking of building...
[SPACE GAME] (the poor thing doesn't even have a name yet) is inspired by games such as Elite and EVE Online. Here are some key points:
1) Shared universe (all players are in the same universe. You're not alone out there...
2) The game is all about trading, exploration and combat (get rich, buy ships, conquer and defend space)
3) The emphasis will be on planning and strategy rather than twitch gameplay.
4) At this point in time we're thinking that combat will be essentially turn-based (hex grid-based possibly) and allow for players to control fleets of ships against each other and AI.
5) Assuming the game meets with some success at launch it will be constantly updated, supported and expanded over time.
Why iOS? Other than the fact that we're very familiar with the platform, we also want to create a game that's "always on", i.e. one that you can take with you anywhere. iOS seemed like a good place to start (other platforms could follow).
One big question we're pondering before we head into design proper is how to charge for the game (we're not a charity!) Do we charge a subscription fee? Do we monetize various aspects of the game to generate revenue? We'd be very interested in what you guys have to say in this regard as it's your money we'd be asking for ;).
So, does a strategic, play anywhere, always on, game of this kind interest any of you? If you have any questions / requests please ask away. There are many things we do not know about the game as yet (honestly we've only just started thinking about it) but we wanted to connect with potential players as early as humanly possible to gauge interest.
Sounds awesome. From what I know, iOS is a great platform to develop on and is in dire need of more space trading style games. The concept of a turn based combat system sounds particuarly unique, though. And it sounds like you guys have a hell of a lot of experience, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
One thing though- how to you plan to structure the game's universe? Is it going to be persistent, random or prebuilt, scripted or dynamic? I've always liked dynamic games that are different each time, but I know how hard they can be to develop.
Thanks, TechnicalBYTE 🙂
Yes, we're planning on the universe being persistent. We want the space to mean something to our players and for you to become familiar with your own 'patch of turf'. Some parts of the game probably will be scripted (typical mission content as seen in many games of this ilk), but scripting enough of this kind of content to keep players busy for any reasonable amount of time takes a monumental amount of effort to create and also tends to quickly become very cookie-cutter in nature. That's fine for mission grinding I suppose, (where, arguably, predictable content is what players might prefer so that they can earn money/rewards more quickly) but I would rather we spend our initial efforts on game play systems that can deliver experiences rather than a lot of pre-scripted stuff. As with EVE, we're planning on the game play dynamics emerging mainly from player interactions. Space itself will be expandable by us and from time-to-time we'll create new areas of space, with new discoveries to be made, new markets to exploit, new territory to conquer, new enemies to face, etc, etc.
I'm the other person involved with Kamzen.
I'd just like to expand on some of the things he's saying. Especially with regard to 'always on' and the turn based combat.
We're investigating asynchronous gameplay - think of how Words with Friends plays. You make a turn, post it and await the other players turn. The battle progresses as you pass the game back and forth. That's the gist of it - and we're well aware of various issues that creates. We're looking to make use of various 'push' technologies so that the game world continues and updates you as needed. So travelling between locations takes time and you get push notifications of important/relevant info.
We're not aware of any other turn based space games and we think it allows for some unique opportunities.
As Kamzen said - we'd like your feedback. Does the async gameplay sound enticing, something that you have in your pocket on your phone all day. How would you like to pay for such a thing? Subscription? Micro transactions?
Welcome to SSC first off, I don't have an iOS device and will probably going with Android tablet this winter sometime (hope Android platform is something your thinking about as well).
The basic concept is sound, not sure how excited I am about a turn based system where you could have to wait several hours or more (just guessing here) for something to complete. I will take it that there will be some sort of automation in the background that will perform certain actions if the players themselves happen to not login and play for say a day or two? What you are offering in the game in the means of exploration, trading, mining, combat and strategy is great and look forward to hearing on how it will be implemented on the platform.
On the type of payment system, besides for maybe paying for the game in the app store, you could have small micro-payments for maybe some unique metals/ores you may need for creating your own ships/weapons/equipment you will need in the game. But also make these rare items mine-able as well. And of course these ores will be plentiful in the beginning of the game but will start to become scarce as the people mine them in the persistent universe. So people will need to purchase these items as supply and demand change and you could probably monthly introduce various asteroid fields that will have these rare elements. This way it rewards people for hard work and their time and the people that don't want to spend all that time they can purchase what they need. But I would definitely make anything you do have micro-transactions for something you can attain in-game with your gameplay.
Back to the turn-based gameplay, this can work if done uniquely like codename touched on. I personally just don't want to be held back in the game by turns, so lets say I have 30-60mins to sit down and play your game. I should be able to do that with out delay and not have to wait, I think this direction if there is a wait in the gameplay might be a deterrent for more of the hardcore gamers.... just my thoughts. But I do love turn-based strategies like the HoMM series and others so it will be interesting to see more on how you will be putting this together.
Thanks for the welcome DarkOne!
And thanks for the questions, thoughts and opinions. This is exactly the kind of stuff that we want to hear as it will help us hone the design of the game.
codename and I talked to day about how best to explain the kind of gameplay and pace we're aiming for and we decided that a little "player story" might better illustrate the kind of thing we're planning on making. So hear goes (I apologize ahead of time for the tl;dnr)
"You wake in morning, log into the game and quickly check on your mining fleet's progress from the previous night. Things ARE looking good. Ore yield is way up due to those improved mining cannons you bought yesterday and the extra drones you spent your hard-earned cash on seem to have worked out pretty well also.
Before dragging your ass out of bed you warp in the ore haulers from a nearby safe spot and start to load them up with your night's earnings. Suddenly a message comes in from one of your covert op scouts. Smiling to yourself you command your haulers to make the jump into hyperspace and send them back to your refining facility just a few systems away. With a few taps on the screen your mining vessels recommence their asteroid pounding activity as you head off to the shower, grinning and scheming.
A short time later while in the car on the way to work you hear a ping from your phone. Aha! A push notification! "My haulers must have reached the refinery already" you think to yourself. A short time later, as you walk into the office, one of your colleagues smiles and winks at you, but you pretend not to notice.
Before starting your long day of work you head off over to the kitchen to make yourself a coffee. As the water starts to boil you get out your phone out to check on the game, only to find that the push notification wasn't news of your haulers reaching the refinery, but instead an alert telling you that one of your passenger liners, transporting a very important political figure, will be dropping out of warp in an hour's time - two hours earlier than scheduled! "Damn! Pirates must have set up a gravity well!!" you think to yourself. Checking the galactic map for the estimated position in space where the shit is about to hit the fan, you see that you have a small but fast interceptor fleet not too far away... possibly close enough to get the drop on those pirates before your liner drops out of hyperspace! Sending the coordinates to your wolf pack they turn and jump into hyperspace. They should get to the gravity well trap (and the expected pirates) a few minutes ahead of your liner. Things are looking up!
While your liner heads towards imminent danger (most ships cannot cancel a hyperspace jump mid-jump) and your interceptors race to neutralize the threat, you pan half-way across the known galaxy to a secret research facility you built some weeks ago amidst a dense asteroid field to shield it from prying scans. It looks like the advanced weapons systems you've been building for the past few weeks are at last reaching fruition. The upgrade of your battleship fleet (already in space dock around the research facility) finishes in just a few minutes and after that it will be time to pay that winking work colleague of yours a visit. He plays the game too, but for a competing organization and the knowing wink he gave you earlier must mean that those are *his* pirates that are about to attempt an attack on your passenger liner. While his attention will be on the battle that's about to unfold in just about an hour's time, your battleship fleet will be heading full speed towards the covert ops ship you have sitting disguised and undetected in the heart of his 'secret' base. "I guess he doesn't know about hiding your valued stuff in asteroid belts then" you smile to yourself...
I hope that gives you a better idea of the kind of game play we're going for.
PS: Oh! And the reason we seem to have harped on about payment method / monetization is that it can fundamentally affect the way we start building the game, so we have to be sure that we at least think we're starting off on the right footing.
Re Darkone's point of having 30 minutes to play the game, and waiting for people to respond. We're aware of that - and we think it'll work. Don't necessarily think of 30 minutes of concentrated gameplay. 30 minutes throughout the day. Spread here and there as things occur in the game world. We have a few ideas to ensure that combat isn't too slow and we're working on demos of that.
I want to play a persistent space game whilst I poop - whilst I quickly check my email, whilst I'm waiting for my bus to take me to work. Something that's always there and I can fiddle with - and spend time thinking about moves etc.
Anyway enough waffling - all opinions welcome.
I'm off to drink some wine and fire up Xcode.
You guys should look at the 'Prospector Rouge-Like' game for PC for some inspiration.