What’s Next?

It’s been a little while since we released the preview version of 0.35a and I thought I’d talk about where things are now, and what to expect for the next release.

The original plan was to add ship refitting and fully customizable battles – and then release the next version. After getting most of the way through the refit screen, though, I started to really get down to the details of implementing custom battles, and… well, let’s take a step back and look at what custom battles actually are.

A custom battle, as envisioned, would let the player pick the ships on each side and let you configure them, drawing from the full set of available ships and fighters (40+), weapons (50+), and hull modifications (10 and counting). This is all fine and dandy, but simply throwing a metric ton of content at the player does not a good experience make. Granted, it can be fun after one takes the time to sort through things, understands them, and really gets into it. I remember my eyes glazing over when opening the buy menu in Cortex Command for the first time, though – the shock of content overload can be harsh, and ways to avoid it are something to consider seriously.

The logical move is to create a gating mechanism that introduces ships and weapons gradually. Start the player off with access to a few ships and weapons. Let them fight a couple of battles and get used to these – and figure out what “normal” means for both ships and weapons. That way, they can see how each new, shiny hull or weapon introduced deviates from that, and why it’s special.

Wait a minute… this sounds like some kind of campaign – and we’re planning to have one of those in the game, too! The one where you manage your fleet, officers, and outposts, explore the sector, and get into all sorts of trouble. That’s the game I’m really excited about – not the isolated fleet actions in missions or custom battles. Any work to create a campaign-like framework around missions is a waste in the long run. It’s stepping on the toes of the real campaign, would get nixed when it comes along, and just won’t be a good fit for the way things are set up now – because they’re set up with the real campaign in mind. In short, the result would be a hack.

What then? No time like the present to start work on the campaign, I say. In the last couple of days, we’ve been thinking through what a good starting set of features is, and have arrived at something I’m comfortable with.

What is in the initial feature set, you ask? With the caveat that the specifics will almost certainly change:

  • fleet management and upgrades – start with a frigate and work your way up to more and larger ships and weapons
  • pick your battles – take on large roaming enemy fleets for fast advancement, or prey on the weak in relative safety
  • advance your character’s skills with several viable paths (optional for the initial campaign release, but fairly likely)

It’ll take longer to implement than custom battles would, of course – but it’ll also introduce the beginnings of a persistent world. I’m very excited to finally start on it – after just about two years working on Starfarer, it’s about time!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 7:43 pm and is filed under Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

34 Comments:

  1. I’d like to make a comment about the content overload. There is an alternate solution that gives the player everything the game has to offer, but not isn’t overwhelming.

    The problem with content overload is when it is introduced in direct action. You simply don’t have the time to read all the description or understand the functions of the content, because you’re instantly expected to use it.

    What I propose is having a training/test/simulation space that provides a safe environment for the player (with a couple on-demand test targets) to calmly explore the content at his/her own pace.

    The player can come to this test simulation at any time and select and try any content that catches his eyes at that particular moment. Think of it as an interactive wikipedia/encyclopedia/dictionary of content.

    This allows you to keep every piece of content available to the player from the very beginning, but still not make them overwhelmed when there is a place that allows them to learn about the content at their own pace and in peace.

    Eventually the player will learn everything, but in this way, he is free to do it in any way he/she wants. An unlocking system only get in the way and restricts the players freedom of choice, thus having a bad effect on the experience.

    If you make a campaign where you will have to unlock things gradually, the game will effectively be only provide the full fun only at its first playthrough. SPAZ did this and it felt tedious and annoying to be limited and to gather every piece of tech with each playthrough.

    When you have it all at once, you get full control over how you want to play the game and I personally see this as much more of a true experience that has infinite replayability potential.

    by Reactorcore
  2. Oh my god! Can’t wait! Go for it! :)

    by ShiroTheSniper
  3. @Reactorcore: Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    There are plenty of games with what you might term a “content progression” that also have a lot of replay value. There are also plenty that don’t. Progression alone doesn’t determine replayability, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many games that don’t have a content progression in them. Even a competitive game like Starcraft has it, within the context of each match (buildings unlock other buildings which unlock units/abilities/etc). I’m using the term “content” rather loosely here, btw – including things like new verbs the player has access to.

    The key is to good replay value is to give the player meaningful choices to make with every playthrough – and progression can certainly be involved in that.

    To be honest, I don’t think that a safe environment to experiment in would eliminate content overload. Custom battles are pretty much exactly that. You still have to choose *something* to try, and you’re presented with a large number of choices you can’t properly evaluate – and you won’t get enough context to evaluate them without having tried a bunch first. You can overcome that and eventually learn all there is to learn, but there’s a mental hurdle to get over. It’s more of a “alright, let’s buckle down and learn to play this” vs “let’s learn this while playing” experience. The former feels like a chore to me, especially since there’s no secondary goal of “and now I can use this knowledge to beat other players”, like there is in competitive games.

    I’m the last person to defend artificial restrictions on the player – and this is the main reason for going with the campaign now, instead of a more temporary solution which would, in fact, be rather artifical. The campaign allows for a progression that can be meaningfully different with every playthrough, without being particularly restrictive.

    Acquiring the things you want and building out your fleet/character etc has an appeal of its own, too. Building things is fundamentally rewarding. Of course, if it’s proceeding at an unnaturally slow pace, it’ll be annoying, so getting the pacing right – and giving the player a good amount of control over it – is extremely important.

    by Alex
  4. In the world of marketing, I believe this is called a speed bump. Deliberately making a product harder to access to increase sales or create a more enjoyable experience.

    With conditioner, instead of “letting sit” for two minutes: they increase it to half an hour. The original consumers of conditioner couldn’t be convinced that 2 minutes was enough for the salon experience.

    With online money transactions, they increased the number of steps to 5-7 from a simple one page purchase confirmation screen: Users didn’t feel their transactions were secure without the extra steps.

    With Mac’s they purposely increased the amount of packaging around the mouse, so new computer users would be forced to familiarize themselves with its function while unwrapping.

    With Porsche, the chinese government increased taxes on foreign cars and sales rose because it gave the impression that the Porshe was a luxury car.

    Now the video game speed bump, where content does not come in one big package. Instead it is earned through in game effort.

    by Qloos
  5. A campaign would be good for structuring. Personally, I would much rather prefer a game-style akin to a “2D Mount&Blade in space”. On the positive side: I do like the space battles, immensely.

    by rookie10276
  6. @Alex: Thank you for replying!

    While it is true that content progression isn’t the only thing that determines replayablity, it still plays a major role in it, depending how it is handled.

    What I consider good content progression is such that it makes sense and is natural. In many strategy games like Command&Conquer or Starcraft, this is correct. Logically, you need a factory to be able to produce tanks and likewise you need to meet natural requirements to achieve or acquire something.

    You can’t build a house without tools and materials.
    You can’t eat without food.
    You can’t build starships without necessary resources, manufacturing equipment and space.

    A bad example of content progression is where content is purposefully locked behind an artificial restriction system. Such is a leveling and experience system.

    Now, I have no idea how the campaign system you’re working on works and how it is designed, so I can’t say much at this point until I know more about it.

    But still, at the moment I’m assuming that you have a fleet of ships that you command and fight to defeat a threat or simply become the most powerful entity in the galaxy. All the while, you unlock more content as you go up, expanding the arsenal.

    Now this has several nasty drawbacks. If what I assume is correct, then this unlocking system becomes the central focus for the player instead of the actual combat that is the true focus of this game. This is even more prominent on second and further playthroughs as when the player finally learns about all the content, he will obviously have certain favorites or a particular piece of content that he/she prefers to use.

    This is where it gets screwed up.

    Instead of focusing on the actual combat, that is the central part of the game, the player is forced to hunt for the content he wants before the true fun begins. Depending on how hard it is to unlock and find the content with this progression, this can be a big turn off to start a new playthrough as you’d have to work your way to get what you want before you’re happy with your loadout.

    If you’ve got a leveling and experience system, then its even worse as players will be chasing numbers instead of enjoying the game. It also presents the annoying “grinding” aspect to the game, further destroying the experience.

    Also you’re entirely right about the fact that there is still the mental hurdle that a player would have to overcome if you give him everything at once.

    The solution is to provide some guidance, approachable UI, good organization and provide useful on-demand descriptions for every content piece.

    Simply having empty space isn’t going to be enough on its own. The safe environment could be considered as a tutorial simulation of sorts that can give you some pointers on where to start, but does so only when the player asks for it and does it in a non-forced way like many game tutorials work.

    The safe environment could a type of a custom battle that you can choose, but the game would overall feature a help function that can give you some basic guidance on demand and start you off by choosing something basic for you to try and encourage the player afterwards by experimenting new content.

    Since this game is very mod friendly and allows for users to add new content to it, further increasing the selection, the experimentation becomes a core part of the game experience.

    The important part is to provide all the details ingame when the player requests for it (as popup descriptions or similar) and have some initial guidance that can help a new player to grasp the process of learning new content.

    The player doesn’t really have to learn everything at once, but will do so gradually as he/she keep playing it. This is how it worked in the Mechwarrior games and it was very satisfying and a true experience.

    by Reactorcore
  7. @Qloos: Interesting analogy, though I do think it’s a bit flawed (aren’t all analogies, though?). If you want to deal in these terms, in the case of games, “accessing the product” is an integral part of the “product”, where the examples you cite all involve external delays.

    @rookie10276: Not sure if that came across, but that’s more or less what I mean by “campaign”.

    @Reactorcore: If I may offer a concise response – this is what I mean by artifical vs natural progression.

    I think the devil is firmly in the details. Just about any of the progression mechanics can be good or bad depending on how they’re approached.

    by Alex
  8. “…introduce the beginnings of a persistent world..”

    This is what i am waiting for!
    Go for it!

    by munitio
  9. In my view you are 100% correct in continuing with the campaign and locking off selected upgrades, ships and so on forcing the player to earn them.

    It’s nice to have, maybe on game completion, a custom, all unlocked, battle simulator but giving the player this at the beginning will spoil the unlocks for most players.

    by Tubs
  10. Regarding custom missions…

    While I am very excited about the promise of seeing an initial version of the early campaign, I have to admit disappointment that we won’t be seeing the ability to customize missions.

    Many games have both a campaign and single mission scenarios like what are currently offered. For me, such scenarios give me an opportunity to try something new before expending resources or making a decision in the campaign. It’s also a fun way to jump right into the game play without having to ramp up to it gradually through a campaign and I often try out a few custom games right away just to see what a game has to offer before settling into the campaign. Custom missions are also a great way to take a break from the campaign (especially if you’re stuck) without having to start a new campaign. In many RTS’s such as Starcraft or Command & Conquer, players are able to construct the units they wish to experiment with in order to try out new combinations and tactics. I’m with Reactorcore in that I feel custom missions are a valuable medium through which to learn and get the most out of a game.

    It should be said that I play most games single player. I enjoy the ability to set up custom missions against the computer for their own sake rather than to practice for a multiplayer experience. Custom missions are fun.

    While I’ve very much enjoyed the missions in the alpha release, I have been eager to be able to configure my ships (or at least my flagship). I hope that even if you do not include a custom mission option that you give us the ability to configure our ships prior to the current missions. This is a feature that I’ve been very excited about and which I am eager to see in action especially after looking through the already impressive list of ship components from which we will be able to choose.

    Regarding campaign progression…

    I like what you mention so far about the campaign and see the value of beginning small and building up your fleet over time. While I dislike artificial limitations in games, I find it perfectly reasonable to have to save up my resources to acquire and/or having to travel to particular areas within games to acquire what the ships or equipment that I want to use. I also find it both acceptable and interesting to need to increase faction standing with NPC factions in the game to gain access to their products. Research & Development also makes sense.

    I am a huge fan of skill systems and trees. I love that RPG touch in almost any game and feel that the meaningful character development can add a lot of replay value. SPAZ was mentioned earlier and while I’m not 100% in love with its research system, I did enjoy the fact that I was given choices and that by choosing different areas of specialization that successive playthroughs were each a little different. While I hope that skills in Starfarer do not define or limit the sorts of ships, ordnance or configurations you can use like in SPAZ, I do hope they impact your overall fleet in meaningful ways (more cooperative/courageous/intelligent captains, additional command points, more fleet points, increased ordnance capacity, slight blanket improvements to stats, etc…) while having a more dramatic improvement on your flagship performance.

    This is my first post. I love what I’ve seen so far of Starfarer and eagerly look forward to more. Thanks for the opportunity to give feedback into your game.

    by Tyler
  11. If you only have so many man hours to work on the game I would rather see them go in to a campaign rather than a stop gap that will only tide us over for a bit. We may have a bit longer wait until we see the next new update but then what we will see will be a proto campaign (I hope) that will give us a version of M&B in space.
    Keep up the good work Alex.

    by The Old Farmer
  12. @Alex: Fair enough, sounds like you know what you’re doing and so far I like the way you think.

    Btw, will the campaign accept mods easily? It would be a significant thing if you could add mods to the game and use them in the campaign.

    by Reactorcore
  13. Persistent world … campaign … this is what I’m the most excited about, too!

    I agree with the general consensus that the campaign/persistence stuff should be the big focus (and probably a ton of fun to work on), we don’t need any interim bits to keep us busy. I can wait! I’m patient!

    But I’m so very eager to see the wider galaxy, if you know what I mean. Working my way up from scraps to a fleet sounds so fun.

    2D M&B in space? LOVE. IT. Adding things like crew and some light RPG mechanics … no, no I must not think on it too much. My brain will melt from the anticipation of so much awesome.

    Love what you’re doing, Alex, really love it. Take your time and make the game you want to play, because it sounds like you and I want the same game!

    by SeaBee
  14. @Tubs: That sounds like a good idea.

    @Tyler: Thanks for your feedback! I know what you’re saying about custom battles, just don’t see a real good way do this *now*. What Tubs suggested seems like a viable option down the line, though. Funny re: your list of things impacted by skills – it reads pretty much like the actual todo list I’ve got :)

    As far as skills limiting the ships/weapons you can use, I don’t think you’ll see that. You probably won’t even see skills that improve specific weapons – since there are lots of non-combat things for skills to affect too, combat-related skills just aren’t likely to be that granular.

    @The Old Farmer: Thanks! Maybe like a very early version of M&B in space, for the first release :)

    @Reactorcore: Yeah, it’ll be about as moddable as the missions are now, maybe more so due to lessons learned.

    @SeaBee: Thank you! You know, that’s pretty much how Starfarer got started – “making the game I want to play”. I’m just blown away that there are other people that want to play it as much as I do :)

    by Alex
  15. [...] a new blog entry about Starfarer that talks about what’s next for the [...]

    by More Stuffness… | Space Game Junkie
  16. Persistent world, yay!
    Now about this here “Weapon Testing”
    gametype.

    Really I’m not to fond of things like it.
    I think a lot of the fun in games is the discovery aspect.
    Like in Minecraft, the first time I played it was amazing. Mining my first piece of diamond, fighting my first creeper, even cowering in a 1X1 hole for the first night.
    Just awesome, but after about the 6th world, the game had lost it’s appeal. It is because I had seen everything,
    I had known everything,
    I had done everything.

    I want to discover the best ship loadout, my favorite weapon, and everything else.

    Going into the game and getting to know, and use the top tier stuff just seems boring to me.

    by misterjscape
  17. @misterjscape:

    The issue with content progression is that shifts your focus of fun onto acquiring stuff or watch numbers grow rather than enjoy the actual game mechanics.

    When you make a game have progression, the player will focus on it instead of the game. He/she unwittingly will focus on it because its a more prominent goal than the actual battles.

    Once that progression has been beaten, all is left are the mechanics. You might still screw around with the game and play a couple custom matches, but effectively the progression system left a mental “scar” on the player as he reached the end. From that point onward, there is no real final goal to strive for as you did before you reached the end.

    This is why I’m against progression and final challenges of any sort. They kill the game’s potential at being infinite.

    What I suggest is to make the mechanics and the on-going experience the main focus of the game. As if you’re not playing it for the challenge, but playing for the experience, the flow. Living in the game instead of finishing it.

    by Reactorcore
  18. @Reactorcore: I don’t think it’s about progression vs mechanics. What is progression, if not a set of mechanics to explore the game’s content?

    And really, all mechanics are about exploring content in some sense of the word. I might even go so far as to say that mechanics and their interactions are a type of content, too :)

    Whether something has replay value is a matter of how the various mechanics interact and how many possibilities they ultimately offer – not simply the time scale they play out on.

    by Alex
  19. I’m excited and can’t wait for the persistent world and campaign!! :-)

    As far as content “exhaustion” like misterjscape talks about with Minecraft: Couldn’t there be some limit to the maximum number of unique ships/weapons/upgrades/… in any one campaign. Similar to an RPG, your fleet could specialize in some role (mining, piracy, combat, trading, etc.) or be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. You would have to pick and choose which ships and upgrades would be best for how you intend to use your fleet. While it would be a bit more unrealistic, I think that it might add to rather than detract from gameplay.

    However, that is only my 2 cents. :-)

    by Enigma
  20. @Alex: Yeah, but this exploration is finite. It is a one time experience.

    Eventually you’ll still come to a point where you’ve explored everything the game has to offer. Most of the time, if the game offers big steps of progression or certain larger points of exploration, they generally overpower the smaller ones, causing the player not to care about them.

    To make an example: A game has a story, a campaign in which the player is put into. There is a final goal that the player must reach eventually. Along the way, the developer put great effort into details and mechanics that may even offer multiple ways of doing things.

    Still, once the player reaches the end and knows about the story, knows about how it will pan out and effectively exhausts the main focus of the game, the mechanics will become meaningless. Sure you might replay the game and try something different or attempt to get achievements/collectibles, but compared to the main focus of the game, everything else simply pales in comparison.

    No matter how you try to get into it, the detailed mechanics wont offer much in terms of exploration as the main focus of the game did, which was the preset campaign challenge or story. You just wont care about them and the game becomes meaningless and boring.

    Beyond fun of exploration, a game can also offer the fun of the action, the atmosphere. Think of it as like playing a game is like jumping into an alternative universe to be in it and not just a challenge you must beat.

    Sure, you can have challenges and campaigns within such a game, but they are merely side-features, instead of the main focus.

    Such a game would be built around the experience of doing enjoyable things, like firing a satisfying gun, watching something explode or simply enjoying the atmosphere of the game.

    Heck, I’ve been playing this one game for 10 years and it still remains fun as hell. And it doesn’t even offer any progression or exploration whatsoever aside from the initial few games, but it has remained as my favorite game for 10 years. That goes to show just how much the actual experience of action of a game contributes to its replayability.

    Granted, its not the only thing that kept it alive so long, but its still a very prominent aspect of it.

    by Reactorcore
  21. @misterjscape: Thats definitely a consideration, too. Which is why that mode would have to get yanked out when the campaign was added – so it’d only be ruined for the early adopters ;) Which is hardly ideal.

    @Enigma: Well, it is an RPG! Things like a character build and the actual impact your actions have on the world seem like more natural candidates for “things you can’t fully expore in one playthrough”.

    @Reactorcore: Hmm… I think we’re talking past each other a little bit. When I say “exploration”, I don’t just mean exploring the game world, but also exploring the mechanics. “Progression”, to me, doesn’t mean something that has to be linear.

    Still, once the player reaches the end and knows about the story, knows about how it will pan out and effectively exhausts the main focus of the game, the mechanics will become meaningless.

    Counter-example: Diablo 2. The story is as linear as it gets, and the game has a ton of replay value. A bit of a moot point for Starfarer as it’s not going to have a linear story, btw.

    And on the other hand, a game that’s acclaimed for its innovative mechanics, but has little replay value – Braid. Now, that also has a story, but knowing the story isn’t the reason you don’t want to play it again.

    by Alex
  22. Regarding all the talk about progression and replayability, perhaps an element of randomness can be incorporated?

    Take Sword of the Stars as an example. There are certain technologies and ship sections that the chances of getting are randomized in each playthrough. The core techs and sections are always available though. The result is that there is no optimal build or progression for every and all playthroughs. Further, it maintains a longer sense of wonder and discovery and it challenges the player to be more adaptive to the game.

    A similar approach could be taken with some blueprints and captains in Starfarer. I’m not so sure about ships though, since with the variant system the emphasis is more on the weapons and modules to differentiate and specialize a ship than the ship itself.

    Just a thought.

    Also, hello everyone, especially Alex. I’m giddy with excitement over the game and eagerly awaiting the next build.

    by NPrime
  23. @Alex

    Good point. I guess what I was trying to get at was that the game would get rather boring if you could just change your role as soon as you finished one. “Oh, now that I’ve set up the largest mining operation in the galaxy, I think it’s time to monopolize the galaxy’s trade.” Or something to that effect.

    Being able to do everything in one playthrough is what I’m concerned about. Back to an RPG analogy: having a godlike character is extremely entertaining for only the first 5 minutes. I think that having a fleet that could literally do everything would have the same effect in a game like this.

    by Enigma
  24. @NPrime: Hi! That’s an interesting idea. The downside, of course, is that you can’t really plan out a build – which can be enjoyable, too. Still, something to consider. Need to see how things pan out first, methinks :)

    @Enigma: Yeah. I was just saying that things like character builds and a world with consequences to your actions are more natural ways to avoid that problem.

    by Alex
  25. On Another note entirely.
    How many sales have you had Alex?
    Seeing that you quit your old job I have to worry about how you are doing financially, even if we have never met face to face.

    by misterjscape
  26. Alex: Progression is linear by its very nature. You begin from somewhere and you progress to something, whatever the end is. You can make choices along the way, but eventually progression ends at the goal and when you look at the overall path, its linear anyway.

    In case of Starfarer, you begin with nothing and end up with a large fleet or something along those lines.

    I fully understood your view of “exploration” too. Like I said, the exploration of mechanics (and exploration in general) won’t matter much when they are not the main focus of the game. Harshly said, exploring mechanics is more of dicking around both during and after your first playthrough. Onces you’ve hit the end of the progression and you want to start anew, you’ll be faced with the tedious task of doing the same progression path again of unlocking all the content.

    As for you examples of Diablo 2 and Braid, let me explain what makes up the replaybility of both.

    In Diablo’s case, you have 5 classes which equals to 5 distinctly different games. They provide 5 sets of radically different challenges. Although this does indeed offer replayability atleast for 5 playthroughs, the story and quests are only relevant and interesting on the first playthrough. Do note that Diablo 2 is a high production quality game, where the devs put great effort into detail, gameplay mechanics and lots of content to make it as enjoyable to be in it and satisfying to play it. Hell, they even have voice actors for each class.

    In addition, the game also has recieved expansions with even more content from the developers. Along with that, the game also has modding support that allows users to further add more content on their own. To finish it off, it also features online multiplayer.

    Now Braid on the other hand is much more limited. Unlike Diablo 2, its mechanics are far more simple and it doesnt offer even half of the features and complexity Diablo 2 has.

    I never really understood what the hell was with the story in Braid, but it really seemed more focused on the challenges it presented. Atleast I cared more for the puzzles than the story due to just how damn cryptic and vague that story was. Those challenges were a one-time experience however and beyond that, theres nothing that makes me go back playing it for another go. Especially with the same passion as I did in my first playthrough.

    by Reactorcore
  27. Can we get a campaign mode where we already have everything and just duke it out?

    by Horrigan
  28. @misterjscape: Thanks for your concern :) At around 2,000 sales now, all-time. Which sounds like a good number (and it is, I’m certainly not complaining!), but various expenses and taxes really eat into it. I’ll just have to buckle down and dig into savings for a while.

    @Reactorcore: What I mean is, suppose you start out with a frigate, and you can then advance to:

    … a large military fleet, with scattered logistical outposts throughout the sector

    … a small, elite task force using listening posts and spies to acquire actionable intelligence

    … a network of industrial outposts, with admirals under your command

    … a vast trade fleet, the comings and goings of which can determine the fate of worlds

    Or some variation/combination of the above. The first version of the sandbox will naturally be focused on the combat aspects.

    @Horrigan: Hmm… not at the start, at any rate. That’s sort of the job of missions – and I’m thinking there still *will* be a custom one that lets you pick fleets from presets.

    by Alex
  29. @Alex: I wonder, can you advance to being the president of the galaxy or is there a limit on how high/big you can get?

    And what happens after you reach the top?

    Also exactly how do you intend the content to be available/unlocked to the player and how does he/she gain access to each ship/part/weapon? Is it random or predetermined what you get and when?

    by Reactorcore
  30. Ahh, I’d rather not get into the details until they get firmed up a bit more.

    by Alex
  31. @Reactorcore After reading your posts its seems to me that you are describing something akin to EV: Nova, maybe. There weren’t levels or skills and technically everything was unlocked right at the start, but where just way out of reach since it cost more money than you had to buy it. Also, even if you could afford something fancy it might have been “locked” because you didn’t have the right licenses for them. I played through that game many times, trying to get all the different stories and play with all the “toys”. While it seems Alex has something much bigger and “smarter” planned than EV: Nova is/was, I sort of see Starfarer as an evolution of what EV: Nova and the whole EV series was.

    I may be completely off in this statement but was curious to see if you agreed. Based on all the work Alex has put in to just the combat (and not to mention graphics) engine I don’t think we’ll have to worry about a half-baked, linear, and artificial campaign. It seems he’s trying to build a real world that we just happen to have the ability to escape to and enjoy/profit from/conquer/destroy. Good time all around I think. Cheers!

    by Orion
  32. In regards to content progression:

    Does anyone remember Imperium Galactica 1?
    There you started with a few elements on a limited playing field, and as you completed assignments the universe was opened up. Eventually everything was available.

    Why not use somethign similar? As you join the game your character has a low rank with limited responsabilities. As the game progresses you get more until you assume leadership of the/a faction.

    Might e a nice way to get to grips with the different facets of the game, as well as something of an immersion into the universe you created.
    To prevent players from having to replay these early chapters over and over again one could include an option to “dive right in”

    by Crazy_Ivan80
  33. @Orion: I’ve never heard of EV:Nova, but this “you need to gather resources before you can build that additional ship/weapon” is pretty much what I consider being a good and natural progression. Simply because it makes sense and doesn’t impose any artificial restrictions.

    Not sure about that “licence to unlock” thing though. That doesn’t sound good.

    However, I do agree that Alex seems to have a good idea on what he’s doing based on what I’ve seen so far and by reading his blog posts, so I trust him to make the decision and it will be a good one.

    @Crazy_Ivan80: A big strenght and a big flaw in Imperium Galactica 1 was that the storyline that drove this progression to unlocking everything. Since the entire game was based around it, the first playthrough was awesome as you don’t know what will happen next. Beyond that, the replayablity was very poor once you knew the story.

    In a sense, the game had the tutorial integrated into the main campaign, thus making the player go through it everytime, because it was actually part of the story.

    I’d rather suggest having a tutorial campaign that will teach the player and introduce each new piece of content as gradually as IG1 does, but keep this as a seperate experience from the main persistent galaxy campaign game.

    by Reactorcore
  34. @Reactorcore Just a clarification, when I said license I meant in in game license that cost X amount that allowed you to legally purchase capital ships or heavy weapons or whatever the license was for. You could get these things through less reputable means, but it could be dangerous. Like getting your drivers license in the real world… You can drive with out it, but if caught in the wrong place with out it you’re screwed. Regardless, it seems Alex has a great idea to make it work that will be uniquely Starfarer in design and I for one look forward to seeing what is in the works.

    by Orion