Every single 4X game has the same basic flaw — as the game progresses, the micromanagement that was fun gameplay at the start becomes a bother later in the game when colony numbers scale up. Building up one colony is fun, but building up dozens that are all at different stages of development is irritating. When you’re busy sending ships all over the galaxy and playing the political endgame, there’s usually no time for colonisation or to direct conquered worlds. The only game to solve this issue was perhaps Master of Orion III, and it only did so by putting an AI in control and making the game essentially play itself. That’s not a solution, it’s a disaster.
I propose a simple, elegant solution to the colony micromanagement problem that should let people continue colonisation well into the endgame, but without taking direct control away from the user. Read More
Exploration and colonisation are two of the four fundamental pillars of game design in a 4X game, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how I want to handle them in my game. I’ve put up a new page on the site with all my thoughts and prototype designs for colonisation, but I’m going to cover each idea in its own blog post.
Exploration at a planetary level:
At the start of the game, you have a single colony on an unexplored planet. You’ll send out scout ships to nearby areas of the map on search missions to find resources and other things. A mock-up of a part of the map is below: Read More
I’ve been pulling together a lot of research on the market for my game this week and have started to piece together a business plan. As an indie game developer, my goal has always been to self-publish via digital distribution and without giving any share in the business away. I want to raise enough money from my first game to expand the current team of three into something larger, and then work on a bigger project. To do that, I need to raise funding for the first game without putting myself in debt or giving any percentage of the profits away. It’s a tall order, but one I think is very possible because of two things:
Invest NI: I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where there are programmes set up to financially support start-up businesses. I’ll easily qualify for grants and loans with extremely good repayment schemes that won’t leave me liable for the debt if the game doesn’t sell. I have a meeting on Monday 20th with one of the free business advisors we have here, and will soon find out what support is available. A friend of a friend pulled over £100,000 out of investors and grant programmes on good terms through this. As I’ve projected costs at a fraction of that, I’m feeling very positive about it.
Crowdsourced funding: This has really taken off in the past few years, with Kickstarter.com leading the crowd and a few others lagging far behind. People pledge money to support a project in exchange for perks like a free copy of the game, concept art, music, t-shirts, unique DLC etc. When you think about it, this acts as a zero-risk pre-order system for indie games currently in development. I plan to launch a campaign once I have enough gameplay and graphics to show off and really make an impression. Read More
In showing people screenshots of my game project, it’s sometimes difficult to get across a sense of scale. Below is a visual update to show the scale differences between the game’s three main zoom levels. The top one is zoomed out to orbit, the second is the level at which you’ll send scout ships on survey missions around the area to push back a “fog of war” style map and uncover resources etc. The third is the level at which you’ll manage the colony. The camera angle is different there just because buildings will look better with it. Read More
I came up with a new terrain shading technique that combines some clever texture packing tricks with normal approximations in the pixel shader to produce some awesome results. The lighting on the terrain is now extremely highly detailed, and zooming down onto the terrain looks perfectly smooth. I can also feasibly add more lights for particular buildings or the cursor to make some awesome effects. Below are a few screenshots of the current work in progress: Read More