Congrats on creating a great game! I have a few ideas...

Discuss the game of Starship Kingdom

Congrats on creating a great game! I have a few ideas...

Postby Johnny Boy » Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:09 pm

Just wanted to say congrats Andrew. I'm really enjoying Starship Kingdom and hope that more people will discover this great little title. I've read some decent reviews and read some positive feedback comparing the game slightly to the classic Risk style strategy games but with a different theme and more strategy elements and choices to be made. I'd even go beyond that and say that the game is better in many ways because it makes for a deeper gaming experience yet is much easier to pick up and play than some of those other comparable titles. It is also a game of it's own with a different backdrop setting and more options than you would find in games of this type and style. I like the fact that there is an online mode where you can play and challenge other gamers and love the fact that it can be played in Real-Time. Having an option to play via email would be nice, but I still find that it's more fun to be able to sit down and play head-to-head with no interruptions. Beside all of that, I like the fact that the player can edit and create their own maps to play with.

Since I started playing I've also had a lot of ideas for expanding the game. I'm no programmer, but I have been playing games for a long time, I've reviewed dozens of games and played thousands. I've also done some beta testing and have been able to experience the frustrating - "but not in a fun way" - side of gaming. I feel that Starship Kingdom already has some great core gameplay elements and that there is great potential for future upgrades and added features simply due to the games great design. Here are a few of the ideas that I thought might be interesting, fun, or intuitive as additions and updates to an already great game. Obviously these are all things that wouldn't exactly happen over night but I think they are possible and even practical.

***

- It would be nice to have up to 4 players play online head-to-head or team based multiplayer games (could give the players the ability to turn on random teams or choose for themselves).

- Giving players the option of playing "Quick Battles" where the game has a specified timer (20, 40, or 60 minute games, or give the players the ability to choose the maximum amount of time set in 10 minute increments). The game would have a countdown timer and each player only has a limited amount of time to move, attack, fortify, and research during each turn and once the rounds timer has ended it becomes the next players turn (so for the sake of an example, every phase would have a timer of 15 seconds). This could make for some fun and competitive online battles without losing any of the gameplay and it would make it easier for players that don't have much time or didn't want to devote an hour or more to a single game. At the end of the specified timer, whoever has the most Units, Territory, and Research done wins.

- You could also create a "Mothership" mode, where players play the game as they normally would but each player or team has one mother ship which can be moved throughout their own territories. Destruction of the Mother Ship means the end of the game, but the only way to gain credits and new technologies is by conquering and moving the mothership to newly conquered systems. Obviously the players would still get a minimum amount of credits but their success in the game would greatly depend on how actively they play, conquer, and move the mothership to new locations. Also, each new system could contain a slightly different technology which has it's own pros and cons but which is also implemented immediately. An example could be - conquer a neighboring system, gain repulsor shields. This would render the enemies use of units with beam weapons useless but would also make the players ships more susceptible to missile weapons, this would change the effectiveness of which particular ships are fighting - kind of like a rock / paper / scissors effect... (this is just a silly example of course). Once a new system is conquered and the Mothership moves in another technology is discovered it cancels out the existing technology that is being used. (You could also give the players the ability to select and use only one technology at a time out of all of the existing technologies they have discovered through conquest. If they lose a particular system, then they also lose the technology that went with it.)

- The option to play online by direct IP, and even the option to play hotseat by email (which I think was already mentioned).

- A separate menu for the online mode where players can log in to the online area and chat with each other, look for other players, and discuss setting specific rules and gameplay before jumping into a game. This could also be expanded upon by giving players the ability to create a persistent profile that they can play with online which would allow players to recognize one another and create a stronger online community. Eventually these players could also choose between regular player matches and Ranked matches where the scores are uploaded to a highscore chart.

- The ability to research and build a sub-unit with Cloaking abilities (eg. a cloaked fighter unit). First the player would have to research the technology for these units. These units would be expensive to build but would also be indestructible as long as they are cloaked. They do however have to un-cloak to fire their weapons 8) and because they are cloaked they have no shields (eg. can't have shields on a vessel that has the ability to cloak - just for the sake of argument) which means a single shot from any weapon would destroy them. They would also only have comparable weapon strength to that of the Battlecruiser (so that they aren't too overpowering). There would have to be some restrictions to make the abilities that these units possess fair and to balance out the pros and cons of getting these units. An example of practical use of these units would be the inability to see them on the star map. Players only know the amounts of the original base units of the system they are invading but they cannot see how many stealth units will be encountered... if any. In other words, Cloaked units are stealth units until they are encountered in battle. A counter to this unit could be the ability to research listening posts, a way to visibly detect enemy cloaked units. There could also be restrictions to these, where they are only able to detect cloaked units that are within 3 or 5 star systems in any direction. It could be an upgradeable technology.

***

Obviously a fine balance would have to be worked out in order to make these features practical and fun and not unfair. I do believe all of these are possible though, and although the game is great, I think there are areas where other ideas can be implemented to customize the games playability and overall lasting value.

I really like this game and I hope more people will try the demo out, I'm sure that once they give the game some time they'll realize what a great strategy game it is and end up buying it just like I did. It will be great to find and play more people online also.

Well I've rambled on enough. Hopefully I've written this in a clear and understandable manner so that it is easy to comprehend how much I like the game and how cool it will be to see future updates, revisions, and patches.

This is a great game and I really look forward to any and all updates, and future releases by ApeZone. Thanks Andrew! :D
Johnny Boy
 
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Postby Johnny Boy » Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:13 pm

If anyone else has any ideas or suggestions please post them. Starship Kingdom is a great game and there's no telling how much a game like this could expand with the help and support of thoughtful gamers. Just looking at the Starships Unlimited forum threads is inspiring.

If you haven't downloaded the Starship Kingdom demo yet you definitely should. It's a great game for all fans of strategy games, casual and veteran gamers alike. I played the demo for 20 minutes and became hooked. Great game with easy to get into game play, filled with complex features without being a complicated turn-based strategy. A strategy game that requires the player to be thoughtful and plan their actions and pay attention to the opponents actions. All of this accompanied by great sound and graphics.

Hopefully we'll see more and more people playing online.

Cheers!
:D
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Postby Andrew Ewanchyna » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:06 am

Hi Johnny, Nice to have you aboard.

I've thought of expanding the multiplayer to more than 2, would have to look into the concequences. One would be the Indie play style. I don't think it would be fair for a human to be limited like that. Could just have multiple houses fighting for the kingdom.

Keep in mind that this game can be played in a similar fashion to a play-by-email game in that your online game will stay persistant if both players quit for a while. I think a better way for getting players together is needed. I don't see any advantage in allowing players to play via direct IP. The current system handles all situations (firewalls and routers) without any problems.

The time limit idea sounds interesting.

I originally had the concept of a mothership (a battlestar with you, the king in waiting, plus a couple of battlestar escorts. All would move as a single unit between stars).

While I admit that the technology interplay that you describe is interesting, I've tried to keep the technologies simple yet with some form of progression. I think Starships Unlimited is my jack-of-all-technologies game. ;)

Yes the game matching could be done better. I'll listen to all ideas on this ...
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Postby Johnny Boy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:55 pm

Hi Andrew,

I think you're right about the technologies and it's probably better to keep them simplified because there is a natural progression of sorts that does strengthen your empires fleet. Of course one of my favorite aspects is that after playing a little you realize that simply attacking and fortifying might not be enough, carefully taking technological advances into consideration is also important. Having a slight element of sacrifice (do I want to buy ships or research a new technology that I could benefit from later) adds just that little extra "Umph" that's missing from other turn-based strategy games that play similar to Risk and it's clones. There's a nice mix of numerous strategy game play elements.

I think having the timed games could be fun too though. The player shouldn't be limited to, but could have the choice of playing a standard game or a timed mode where whoever has the most when the timer runs out wins. There are a couple of balancing issues that would have to be addressed simply because each turn or phase would also have to be timed so that the person who does have a lot doesn't just sit there and wait for the timer to run out (sad but true some people would actually play like this just to win). I do think it could make for some good fast games though especially true for the casual gamer who might not have 40, 50, or 60 minutes to kill. I've found that playing on the small map doesn't eat up a lot of time, but even on the small map a match could last over 30 minutes. I think just having the option opens up the playing field for more people who might want to play on their break, or lunch hour... although, this may also force you to develop a "Boss" button in case people start becoming addicted to the game and decide to play while they're supposed to be working... nah, that doesn't happen in todays society :wink:

The only other thing I could recommend is a tutorial. Perhaps detailing the importance of expansion and research while explaining the effects of each and also informing the players about what each phase represents and the actions that can be taken during each of them. I was able to get into the game fairly easily but I think an addition of a tutorial could be beneficial for newcomers. I think some strategy games overwhelm some gamers with all of the complex commands and units. Starship Kingdom could benefit from this because of it's simplicity and because it can be played by casual and veteran gamers alike. There aren't a bunch of hot-keys that need to be memorized and there are no large tech trees that have to be followed. Once the player learns what needs to be done and how to achieve it they can dive right in and be confident in their choices and how they react to the opponent. Explaining the different phases would be helpful just to give a better understanding of the importance of each phase.

I really hope more and more people try the game out because there is so much to like about it.

Thanks again Andrew.

Cheers!
:)
Johnny Boy
 
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Postby Andrew Ewanchyna » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:23 am

Hi Johnny,

Glad you can appreciate the subtle strategic elements I was going for. You can definitely win this game using technology over numbers. Have you tried Supernova bombs yet? They're a great way of dealing with a heavily dug in defender.

Timed games could also have a maximum timer per turn limit as well. This would stop a winning player from hogging the clock. Or maybe making them randomly lose a star system to the indies.

Yes, I've been told this game needs a tutorial. All of what you talk about is in the help notes, but people don't seem to want to read them. ;)

It seems my games need at least one update before catching on. Hopefully this is the case with Starship Kingdom.

thanks for your comments,
Andrew
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Postby Johnny Boy » Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:09 pm

I haven't tried the Supernova bombs yet but now that you've mentioned them I'm definitely going to try them out. :)

I pretty much always read all the help notes and readme files that come with all the games I download. You are right that the notes do cover the game pretty well, but I've found that game tutorials can be an even better way to give novices and newcomers a hands on approach to figure out the "how to" aspects of a game. This can sometimes show a player what they aren't seeing or are unable to understand from within a readme file. Even a small tutorial covering the main functions and actions within the game can greatly help a users understanding of the game.

Another note is that this also makes it much easier for players that don't speak or read English as their primary language, and also helps them get a grasp of the game and come to grips with the comprehension of a tutorial rather than peruse the readme only to misunderstand a section or become further perplexed by what's trying to be described in writing. I think that's a major benefit of having a visual tool for teaching and it could make the game more appealing to a broader audience by being approachable and user friendly for everyone.

Obviously the Tutorial should be optional so that others who want to just jump right in and mess around in the game a bit can do so unfettered.

Extra features and thoughtful additions are always beneficial when trying to gain an audience and I think this applies double-time for Indie developers because most of the thoughtful gamers appreciate the added little extras and usually respond well to having a lot of options. By the looks of it you've already done this quite a bit with Starships Unlimited (which BTW, I'm also enjoying very much!).

Star Kingdom hasn't been out very long but there is so much to like about it and it'll be great to see more and more people playing it and hopefully participating online.

Cheers!
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Postby Andrew Ewanchyna » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:10 am

I guess I could expand the notes that popup when you're playing. I'm guessing that I should better explain the way to transfer ships between stars.
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Postby Bluevoss » Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:03 pm

Justanote - I played three games before I realized that you could transfer ships all the way across your contigious empire. Watched the enemy house do it and thought - wha...? Read the rules CAREFULLY and realized my mistake. Was thinking too much like RISK, I guess.

My two suggestions:

To me, the bit about getting ships for individual sectors seems a little strange. Its odd enough to have to get three for each, but then the sector bonuses makes it even more weird. What about getting a single credit for owning a sector - would that work? Or maybe add up the number of planets in a sector, mult it by 10%, and thats your chance of an extra credit that turn. Bigger sectors give more chance of credits.

Also, I'd love to have an option for a Scorched Earth game. In this, you would keep track of the number of hits scored (on both sides) for a battle. I'm just winging this, but say that each hit is a 1% chance the planet has all settlements destroyed. Now its icon is a blackened ball, and it contributes no ship types. If it had a tech upgrade, that is lost too. It is only useable for navigation. This way, huge battles that roll back and forth across an area would likely leave a noticable swath of destruction. Tied to what I said above about % chances for credits, you would eventually feel the drain from too many planets destroyed.

Of course, a SN bomb destroys the planet. It is a supernova bomb, right? With great power comes great destruction.

Of course, the Scorched Earth bit needs to be a toggled thing. I might want to play it, or I might not. Depends.

Hope you find these interesting.

Robert-
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