FAQ Search
Memberlist Usergroups
Profile
  Forum Statistics Register
 Log in to check your private messages
Log in to check your private messages
Moonpod Homepage Starscape Information Mr. Robot Information Free Game Downloads Starscape Highscore Table
So, about that RTS game you're working on
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Discussion Pod Forum Index -> Battlescape View previous topic :: View next topic  
 Author
Message
jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 4:57 am    Post subject: So, about that RTS game you're working on Reply with quote

How far along in the design process are you? Can you share any details concerning setting, storyline, play mechanics, unique features, etc? Curious fans want to know!
Back to top
View user's profile
Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's still early days and I am wary of saying too much in case people get excited about a feature which then doesn't happen. Development can be a rough ride and sometimes things have to change, features get dropped, timescales get squeezed, etc.

Maybe a weekly development diary would be a good idea, if nothing else you would see how slow, boring and tedious development actually is (hoho - i'm joking - kindof Wink).

Anyway, here are the thought processes that went through our minds before deciding on an rts (in no particular order).

1. RTS's are sooo COOL I played Starcraft until the CD was warn blank!

2. the effects system from Starscape would certainly make for a colourful rts with great looking weapons

3. being able to define the makeup of your own units would be neat (like the space ships in Starscape).

4. sci-fi setting, say a human colony world in the familiar starscape universe, maybe featuring a few of the old crew perhaps.

5. a lot of modern RTS's seem to have 1 or 3 nice enhancements to the basic set of battle features (i.e. formations, use of cover, well ballanced variety of units, proper concept of supply, etc). I don't think anybody has really implemented all of these basic features in one game though (maybe we should give it a try Smile). Many seem to get caught up in trying to take the genre in new directions (not necessarily a bad thing though), I'd just like to see a game focused back on strategic battles.

6. Moonpod make fun games that don't need $2000 computers to run, have high production values, don't take themselves too seriously and that try to keep things simple and fun.

7. Multiplayer with lobbies so you can always find someone to play against

8. Some kind of overall campaign control or influence, it's nice to feel you have some control over things i.e. where to fight next, resources to commit to battle, etc.


From a business point of view RTS's are a bit scary as there are lots of them about and they are a mainstream genre, we will be compared with things far more sophisticated and feature rich. The flip side however is that a mainstream genre could bring in more players to us, a lot of people are turned off by Starscape's retro nature (shame, they are really missing out Wink).
Back to top
View user's profile Visit poster's website
jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poo Bear wrote:
It's still early days and I am wary of saying too much in case people get excited about a feature which then doesn't happen. Development can be a rough ride and sometimes things have to change, features get dropped, timescales get squeezed, etc.


Right, I can certainly understand that. One of the worst cases of that was one of the Wing Commander games where they totally dropped the mutli-player that was supposed to be in the first release. I think this was Prophecy?

Quote:
Maybe a weekly development diary would be a good idea, if nothing else you would see how slow, boring and tedious development actually is (hoho - i'm joking - kindof Wink).


Could be helpful.

Quote:
Anyway, here are the thought processes that went through our minds before deciding on an rts (in no particular order).

1. RTS's are sooo COOL I played Starcraft until the CD was warn blank!


Well, the only problem as I see it is a full-blown RTS (like what this sounds like) is a pretty big project and you're going to be going up against the best of what the big boys have to offer. Starscape was a blast from the past, nobody was making games like this and the eye candy in the 2D setting was far beyond what we remembered from our old fav's like Star Control. You're going to be competing against a dozen other titles in this category, all modern, all glitzy. To me, it seems like the biggest advantage of a small shop is the ability to make titles that nobody else would touch and succeed by being totally innovative and new. As the cliche goes, be revolutionary, not evolutionary.

Quote:
2. the effects system from Starscape would certainly make for a colourful rts with great looking weapons


I wouldn't doubt it. Problem is, RTS games have been graphically "there" since Warcraft 2. The problem, as far as I'm concerned, is still the damn AI's. Every single RTS that's come out since has increased the shiny, added a few more gimmicks, and left you with rotten AI's that make for a dreadfully boring game.

Quote:
3. being able to define the makeup of your own units would be neat (like the space ships in Starscape).


I'm having flashbacks of Earth 2150. That game was gorgeous, simply gorgeous. It was also completely unplayable. The biggest problem was that the resource model was screwed up so, at least for me, it was impossible to make any headway in the game. Researching was a pain in the butt, and the whole "design your own units!!!!" thing basically boiled down to picking one weapon or another to put on a vehicle hull. In other words, it just would have been simpler to say "research weapon x, weapon y" and then giving you build queue options for Hull A, weapon x, Hull B, weapon y, etc.

Quote:
4. sci-fi setting, say a human colony world in the familiar starscape universe, maybe featuring a few of the old crew perhaps.


Which many, many other games have done before, the whole sci-fi thing. What's going to set this one apart?

Quote:
5. a lot of modern RTS's seem to have 1 or 3 nice enhancements to the basic set of battle features (i.e. formations, use of cover, well ballanced variety of units, proper concept of supply, etc). I don't think anybody has really implemented all of these basic features in one game though (maybe we should give it a try Smile). Many seem to get caught up in trying to take the genre in new directions (not necessarily a bad thing though), I'd just like to see a game focused back on strategic battles.


Dune 2 was the first serious RTS I ever played and still the best. All the play mechanics were *perfect*. Warcraft 1 and 2 were excellent for a fantasy setting, haven't bothered with 3, heard it was a waste of time.

I like the sentiment about getting back to strategic battles. Question is, how do you plan on doing that?

Quote:

6. Moonpod make fun games that don't need $2000 computers to run, have high production values, don't take themselves too seriously and that try to keep things simple and fun.


Which will make competing against the big boys all the more difficult. Imagine if 2d space shooters were all the rage right now. Starscape is pretty, I enjoyed it a lot, but let's be honest: if a major studio threw $5 million at making one of these, Starscape would suffer vastly in comparison. They'd have supported higher resolutions, thrown in FMV's and fancy cut-scenes, and blow you out of the water. The reason why Starscape stands out against the competition is because there is no competition.

Quote:
7. Multiplayer with lobbies so you can always find someone to play against


To make for a really enjoyable multiplayer game, I think the first thing that would help is to provide a no bloody resource gathering mode. Let the players select their units, get into the battle in minutes.

Quote:

8. Some kind of overall campaign control or influence, it's nice to feel you have some control over things i.e. where to fight next, resources to commit to battle, etc.


Can be done well or poorly, all depends.

Quote:
From a business point of view RTS's are a bit scary as there are lots of them about and they are a mainstream genre, we will be compared with things far more sophisticated and feature rich. The flip side however is that a mainstream genre could bring in more players to us, a lot of people are turned off by Starscape's retro nature (shame, they are really missing out Wink).


It's a gamble, plain and simple.

Now maybe I'm mistaken on how you're planning to approach this but from what I see right now, you are talking about a seriously ambitious game to produce here. Let's compare it to recent RTS offerings.

Recent Dune game: went down like slugs on toast. Horrible play balancing, boring, got the entire universe wrong.

Shogun: Total War. A game that could have been perfect. The thinking and effort that went into this game was astounding. It looked gorgeous. The hybrid of Risk, resource management, and general-commanding-an-army combat was brilliant. I'd never seen a game like this before. Only problem, the balancing was screwed up. It took FOREVER to build up units and it would be extremely difficult to get to the better units at the end of the tech tree before the game was over. The computer cheated like mad, you were always behind the curve when going up against them and you basically ended up having to select one or two winning strategies to beat the game. You had to start at one end of Japan or the other and work your way across. By the time you were halfway through there was invariably one strong enemy that took over the other half and you were stuck in twink battles to defeat him. Overall I would rate the game an A+ for inspiration and audacity but a B overall because of these balancing issues.

Homeworld: first game of it's kind, innovative as anything I've ever seen before, still suffered from some annoying glitches. Little replay value unless you really enjoy going up against AI players in the skirmish mode. If they do the sequel right, I think they can address those issues. Very nice storyline, lovely graphics.

If I seem to be harping a bit on the "is this feasible?" issue, it's just because I was involved in a start-up company before and the goal was to produce a RTS game. The game was ambitious enough to have given a seasoned team the willies and here's this thing trying to be put together by amateurs in our spare time. Just making the game would only be half the battle, the other half would be balancing everything to make sure it remained fun.

If you have your heart set on RTS, then the first thing I can think of suggesting is make the whole API open and documented like Doom and Quake were. So far there's not been a single RTS made that's been really friendly for the mod community. If you do your job right on the game and make high quality design tools, you can bet that everyone and their brothers will start making mods. Modding is what made Half-Life such a long-lived game. You keep it open enough, I could see people doing total conversions. Something like Warhammer, the play balancing has already been done. There's enough crazed fans out there, I could see them making conversions for their favorite armies.

I don't mean to seem like a downer here or anything, spouting doom and gloom. I'm just hoping that you're going into this with the right idea in mind so that we'll continue to be seeing more Moonpod games in the future. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile
flamehead6544



Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Posts: 1



PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, i have to agree with jolly on almost every count, but i dont think that putting this in a sci-fi setting will detract from the game at all, and (being a follower of star trek) i think that if evry game given an award was given a sci-fi sequil, there would be a lot more award winners. unfortunatly, im probably the only one on earth who thinks this way, so post if you do too, i want to know im not alone.
Back to top
View user's profile AIM Address
ztxjim



Joined: 01 Dec 2003
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One old-school game you should "really" take a look at is Carrier Command. There are many elements which are very close to what you've buit in Starscape. Now, I'm not saying that you want to make an update, though a fairly decent one was made a couple years ago called Hostile Waters. Here's a quick summery:

You've got this super carrier that traveling from island to island, on some islands there's nothing there, on others there are some enemy forces. You build different types bases on these islands, each type supplies you with a different type of resource. You don't have to actually gather this stuff up, the base automatically pumps it into your supply chain.

Get the right amount and mix of stuff and you can build weapons and vehicles. You can have a limited number of vehicles in the hanger, but each one can be customized for different jobs. Oh yeah, there's another super carrier doing the same stuff and hunting for you.

Each island is fairly small, think around 25% of a Starscape node map, but there would be nearly a hundred islands. Perhaps there a clusters of these islands, of a couple dozen islands, with a prime enemy base which must be conquered before you can get to the next cluster.

Could a purely 2D RTS works? I don't see why not. Remember all that wierd stuff in the arcade gave Xevius? Picture that at a higher resolution. Oh yeah, one fun part of Carrier Comand was that when one of your islands was attacked there would be a news flash like "Bernard's Island is under attack." or "Bernard's Island has been captured."

Again, I'm not sure what style of RTS you are looking for. However, there are dozens of "fixed base - build hundreds of units" RTS games on the market, but very few "mobile base - small number of units". If Starscape had a tech tree which let you build autopilots, then you could have sent out two robot ships while you were flying yours. The missions would be limited to "mine resources", "protect the base ship", "protect the miner", "hunt for enemy" or "protect me".

Modify the "boss" nodes into something better suited for a RTS and you have turned Starscape into a space-based RTS game. Or, replace the ships with different sized tanks and you have a ground war. But then, if you can only field four tanks at any one tme it's hard to do a tank rush.

Jim
Back to top
View user's profile Visit poster's website
Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carrier Command was a very cool game, and we worked at the company that made HostileWaters i.e. Rage. Small world isn't it Smile

Sadly that game bombed in the shops, a combination of zero marketing budget and an excessive difficulty curve. It is a vicious circle, the men in suits thought it was too hard for the masses and too niche - so they tried to protect themselves by not spending much on marketing. End result was a great game that needed a bit of work ballancing the difficulty just disappeared without a trace, costing Rage millions.
Back to top
View user's profile Visit poster's website
ztxjim



Joined: 01 Dec 2003
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2004 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hostile Waters was one of those mystery games, if you didn't catch it you never knew it was there. I read somthing about it in a newsgroup and by random chance found it in a blow-out bin the next week. It is still a better product than several others games I could name.

I've been a fan of RTS games since the original C&C, in fact I' have a small mod related web site (C&C AfterGlow) which is still up despite the fact that the C&C series is fairly well a dead issue. What this means is that I've had a few years to kick around a few ideas.

1) When you move up a tech tree the old stuff becomes unavailable. For example, when jets came around we pretty much stopped making bi-planes. A lot of games keep everything, giving you the "wheel-of-icons" sillyness. If you want, keep the last two developed. But something two generations down should be taken out of production.

2) Set up the game to support a third side that can actually engage in combat. This could be any thing from armed civilians to alien invaders. Even today (yes, today!) I still get emails from people wanting help in adding a "third side" to RedAlert2, even though that game actually supports NINE different sides.

3) It's ok not to have five million voices. A little less time spent on voice actors and a little more spent on AI routines would have changed a lot of games. Do you really want to say "hey, the game sux, but we got James Earl Jones"?

4) If the enemy hasn't found your base, then it doesn't know where it is. That amazing link has never been made in any RTS game I've ever played. Even if all you have is a couple of scouts randomly roaming around, then at least we can pretend there's something going on.

I don't really see you guys puling of a game that has a thousand units on screen. On the other hand, have you read any of the "Hammer's Slammers" series? Small team, always outnumbered, lives by tactics and high tech, hired to do missions by folks who are often less than trustworthy. This is a job for "SpaceMercs", or whetever.

Jim
Back to top
View user's profile Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Discussion Pod Forum Index -> Battlescape All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group