Friday, March 16, 2018

Gameplay Concepts

Over the last 6 months I've been working almost exclusively on new adding gameplay elements to enrich the overall game environment.  Some are general concepts, applicable to the main universal sandbox.   Others are more specific and fill out the lore of the gameworld.   Others such as missions, factions etc. are still to come.

Here are the last 6 months worth of gameplay concepts, in alphabetical order.

Air Resistance

When ships enter/leave atmospheres they encounter air resistance.   This is imparted as a drag on the physics of the ships, with the primary effects being reduction of top speed, and dampening of flight controls.

Ships may or may not come with wings, be careful flying into a planetary atmosphere without wings!

The intention is to impart air resistance to the damage model, causing ships entering an atmosphere too fast to burn up and be destroyed.

Target speed is set at 1000 km/h, but due to air resistance, it is currently maxed out at around 400

Bounty

All game objects, be they ships, debris, asteroids, all have a bounty associated.   Destroy something and you will be awarded credits automatically.   There is no need to claim them manually.   Bounty is paid in the primary currency of the system.

60 credit bounty for destroying Aopate Hele's ship!

Communications

Your ship's computer has variable detection and customisable output of communications.   Communications sent by other ships may be intercepted if they are in your vicinity.   Shipyards, Docks, Planet HQ will communicate directly with your ship as you enter or leave.  Pirates taunt you when they approach, victims scream as they die.

Comms won't look like this in the end, but this demonstrates some of the chatter

Currency


There are 6 major currencies in use throughout the galaxy, and while they can be universally and instantly exchanged, you will incur exchange costs if you transact in a currency that is not in primary use in a solar system.

Additionally, currency markets fluctuate providing trading and arbitrage opportunities to the savvy space traveller.   In order from most to least used currencies :

  • Credits - the oldest universal currency, still in use in the majority of systems.
  • Spektra - the first-ever fork of Credits, Spektra was the first to utilise galaxy-wide blockchain technology is available for native use by most medium to high-tech systems.
  • Odaeon - introduced primarily as a rival to Spektra, Odaeon has the same features, but less market penetration
  • Numero - this was the first-ever privacy-related currency introduced and is still used in the majority of anarchic systems.   Pirates will often deal exclusively in Numero.   Missions from the less-than-reputable will most likely pay you in Numero.
  • Elysium - not just a currency, but a universal computer, Elysium provides the basis for all interstellar communications and economic transactions.
  • Magga - Magga is a brand new and mysterious currency, invented by an anonymous person or group, which claims to possess the holy trinity of features - totally anonymous, instantaneous transactions and zero cost.   Some speculate that Magga is the first ever currency to work between universes, indeed it is assumed that Magga was invented outside of ours in the first place.  Magga is incredibly difficult to track down, and just one Magga will set you back somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000,000 credits.


Damage Model

Damage to game objects is applied internally as a 'damage packet', which gets processed by any of the receiving systems that wish to handle it.   For example, while ships intrinsically have hulls and a hull-strength, you can buy extra armour plating to bolster it (at the cost of adding weight).   Additionally, shield generators can be installed which take damage first, and regenerate via power.   Other future, more exotic damage-reduction/absorption systems will be available in future.

Debris

Exploding objects create showers of debris (literally showers, if the explosion occurs within a gravity well).   If you frag a spaceship, all the ship's systems will be part of the debris field, some will be damaged, others will be collectable for reuse or sale. Currently unimplemented, but the idea will be to make a cargo-scoop system allowing the attacker to harvest debris and sell it off later.

Debris field - aftermath of a battle.  Plenty of ship systems to scoop
Docking

Docking is relatively fast, easy and seamless and it allows you to easily fly to and land in/on any space dock, platform, shipyard, moon or planet surface.   Docking locations are allocated based on your ship size.   Each docking location has its own facilities.  Currently there are two separate facilities, with many more to come :

Docks in orbit around planets provide marketplaces to buy/sell goods and currencies.

Shipyards in orbit around moons provide maintenance capacity and a marketplace to buy / install ship systems, tune and boost your engine and apply weight reductions.   It is now possible, if you have the money, to build a ship up with extra power units, thrusters and lasers - however it's incredibly easy when you have a super-fast ship to accidentally fly into moons and planets and die in a ball of fire.

Coming in to dock above a planet

Economy


Each planet has a planetary economy consisting of inflation, a political stability profile, primary currency, a population and an economic type.   Current types are Agricultural, Industrial and High-tech, these influence the supply and demand of various goods you can buy at docking locations, as well as the availability of ship systems and upgrades.

Government

Each solar system has a government, which determines the type of inhabitants and visitors.   Democracies are the safest to visit when you are loaded up with cargo to sell, but also the prices will be stable and moderate.

On the other end of the spectrum, Anarchies are the least safe.   However load up your ship until it is bristling with armour, shields and weapons and you can make a killing on bounties in an Anarchic system.

Gravity

This is a fundamental part of space travel, and you have to watch out!   All major bodies have an associated gravity well.   Fly even remotely close to a sun and you'll start getting pulled by 100s and 1000s of G's to your demise.

Gravity leads to all sorts of emergent gameplay behaviour.   You can now blow asteroids out of orbit around a planet, and watch it fall to the planet surface, creating large explosions and destroying planetary objects in the area.   This can be used on purpose to harm an enemy's infrastructure and resources.   Later on there will be tractor beams, these, if powerful enough, can be used to drag space objects into planetary orbits and drop them on cities as powerful space-based kinetic weapons.

Manufacturer

Each ship was built by a manufacturer, manufacturers possess inherent pros and cons.   Galaxy-wide there are 8 main manufacturers of spaceships and spaceship parts, each one has their own combination of the following statistical multipliers

- cost premium
- boost
- reliability
- efficiency

For example, Subarishu produce relatively cheap and popular sports ships, with a 15% engine boost in a fairly reliable but slightly inefficient way.   Copperhead Manufacturing Inc. mass-produce parts with average cost, standard engine boosts, with normal efficiency and reliability.   P.R.I.S.M ships are extremely rare, cost 10x the normal cost, are often unreliable, but nobody comes even close to the boost they produce, with efficiency ratings off the chart.

A P.R.I.S.M Crow, 25% boost at 500% efficiency!  And massively unreliable...

Market


Cargo goods, shipyard parts and currencies are all examples of markets.   Markets ebb and flow over time, based on the enconomy's primary inflation level.   Supply and Demand have been implemented, so with enough cash you can deplete a market's stocks, driving up the price.   However,  each good also has an intrinsic price elasticity that determines how much the price changes in response to changes in supply and demand.

Spaceships have a cargo capacity, allowing you to only carry as much as the ship can handle.

Prototype UI for goods marketplace

Production

The player's empire is grown by planets that they claim, and the size of the space fleet they accumulate.   Each planet has a set of resources, and when you claim a planet, these resources become harvestable.   The resources are automatically harvested at a given rate, generating an empire-wide annual production rate for each resource type.   Resources thus produced can then be sold on the market, or used in manufacturing spaceships and components.

The resources a planet has can be inferred visually from a quick visit and orbit.   By looking out the cockpit window at the colours on a planet or moon's surface, the pilot can usually tell what kind of resources are on it, and whether or not the planet is worth claiming as part of their empire.

Prototype Empire UI, with planetary production rates

Timeline

Aside from the real-time aspect of the game, a universal timeline exists to run the markets and economies of the entire galaxy, as well as providing the framework for distinct time-based game events.

The player's pilot will grow old over time, and die.  There is a natural end to a pilot's life in Pegwars.

Warp speed travel, due to relativistic effects, will speed up time for everything except the player.   So if you have your empire set up nicely, and you have a lot of fuel, you can burn around the galaxy on warp-drive, ticking over accelerated time and eliminating the hassle of waiting for the annual production of planetary resources.

Be careful though, because any relativistic time travel applies to enemy empires too, you don't want to be caught off guard.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome update!
    Do ships with low reliability have tendency to randomly explode? Or tou need to pay for maintenance more often?

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    1. Hah I don't know about explode, actually, maybe that'd be cool! Was thinking more about engine troubles. I want to add engine tuning a la gran turismo (e.g. adding extra boost) and the ultra reliable engines that are more expensive can take more tuning without having to pay for other upgraded parts.

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