My New Game: Space Battles

Posted on 12th Feb 2009 at 11:29 by Cliff Harris with 14 comments

Cliff Harris
People love space battles. Oh, we may pretend we really care about whether or not Anakin will betray Obi-wan, or whether Ben Sisko will ever marry Cassidy, but deep down, we don't care what happens as long as people end up resolving their differences in a giant battle in space with things going zap and bang.

That's the idea behind my next game. As an indie developer on the PC, I'm 100% free to make whatever game I want. There is no publisher to 'pitch' the game idea to, and I don't need to aim for a specific demographic, because as a one-man outfit, I can basically target any niche big enough to earn back a years salary (that's how long my games take).

In any case, I reckon big space battles are a safe bet. Making a game about space battles is like offering someone chocolate biscuits. Nobody ever pretends they don't like chocolate biscuits, and nobody really dislikes big over-the-top space battles.

Now you might think it's silly to make a game in a genre that already has some big hitters, such as Homeworld, Freespace and Galactic civilisations II, so I should probably spell out how I intend my (as yet untitled) game to be different.

My New Game: Space Battles

Firstly, there will be absolutely no pretence of a back story or resource management, or empire building. I've decided not to care about that. All I want is big space fleets going zap. Quite why the are going zap is irrelevant, just like we never asked why Pac Man was hungry or why the Space Invaders wanted to bomb our cities. To quote Douglas Adams "Boy-being meets girl-being, under a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason...".

The games I've done in the past (Kudos, Democracy, Rock Legend) have all been management / sim games, so you won't be surprised to hear that this game will be more about strategy and simulation than it will be about reflexes or flash graphics. However, you can't have a space battle game without some fairly nice visuals of things going zap, so I've finally ported my creaky old engine to Directx 9, and hope to add a more 2009 level of shiny to this next game.

The main thrust of the gameplay, however, will be in managing your space fleet. Not in the classic RTS sense, but in the pre-battle deciding which ship will be where, and what weapons and other configurable modules it will have on it.

The idea is to be like Eisenhower on D-Day. You assemble the troops, tell them what to do, then on the day you pace up and down and see how well things turned out.

That's the plan.

I'll let you know how I get on over the next few posts.


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Tyrmot 12th February 2009, 12:18 Quote
Sounds good... One potential customer on board already :P
badders 12th February 2009, 12:25 Quote
I always liked this aspect of one of the football manager games - you do the prep, and then watch as all your plans go to poopy when something you didn't account for happens.
I never played them though, as I hate foopball with a passion.

Space battles though.... ohhh, Just Win.
Xtrafresh 12th February 2009, 12:57 Quote
Yes! Yes, yes, yes! I like the concept a lot.

Basically, you just make a configuration, and then click go, for better or worse? It would be absolutely awesome if you could make this game multiplayer, if only 1 vs 1. That would make ita guaranteed LAN-hit for some big-screen awesomeness! :D
Flibblebot 12th February 2009, 17:01 Quote
First off, Cliff, I should just point out that I hate chocolate biscuits. In fact, I hate chocolate, full stop.
But I realise I'm probably in the minority there ;)

Where space battle are concerned, though, I'm with you on this one: the more, the merrier. Just one request, please: lots, and lots (and a few more, just for luck) of spaceships, please.

Space battles just aren't any fun to watch if there's only a few ships.

It's well known that enjoyment of a space battle is exponentially proportional to the number of ships involved - that's a gaming fact.

As long as there are plenty of ships, you have yourself another customer.
Xtrafresh 12th February 2009, 17:51 Quote
lol fibblebot, you a big homeworld fan by any chance? ;)
CowBlazed 12th February 2009, 19:48 Quote
Great idea for a game. Would be nice if there was still a few things to do during the battle as well tho, maybe any special abilties or just barking orders to your captains as you and your flagship go down in a blaze of glory.
Ending Credits 12th February 2009, 21:12 Quote
I have a theory that big explosions = awesome game, just look a Burnout 3

In all seriousness it's a great feeling to be able to explode things on whim, especially if it's achieving a goal. I have a feeling it's to do with a.) how powerfull you feel, b.) pretty explosions and c.) humans facination with physics.
steveo_mcg 13th February 2009, 13:59 Quote
Sounds fun to me, yeah for blowing **** up.
Bladestorm 14th February 2009, 01:19 Quote
Well, I am a big fan of space battles. :)

This sounds somewhat like Battleships forever though (build a ship or ships, send them against another ship or ships, watch what happens) albeit probably with better graphics. ;)
loftie 14th February 2009, 11:40 Quote
Sounds very good!

The closest thing to what you're describing, i think, is Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. Which was a good game, even if the story line was lacking. Wish you luck with it.
Xir 17th February 2009, 13:08 Quote
Sooo, no flying personally?
MG Man 17th February 2009, 16:27 Quote
YES! +1 customer for that game here.

watch action unfolding from any number of places, like on board squadron leader's ship, from the battlest... uhhh mothership, or even from the plan diagram, with stats. Oooh the stats!

would like the ability to at least pilot one ship tho...
edzieba 22nd February 2009, 14:15 Quote
Sounds great! Will there be modding tools available? It'd make a great engine for LoGH or Macross mods (Homeworld 2 gets very sluggish if you throw in too many units, and Sins of a Solar Empire has all that extraneous 4X malarkey).
nicae 25th February 2009, 12:57 Quote
I like the concept. I guess you should take a peek at Hearts of Iron II for some benchmarking. HoI2 follows that concept WW2-style. You still have resources, but it's quite different. You don't see the battles, but you send the divisions into combat, tell them to support, and the result shows as a bar that can go either way.
It's good for those moments like your recent blog post, but I must admit I can get itchy for a Day of Defeat match and play WW2 at the FPS level to cover the gap.

I like chocolate biscuits, but I'm not much of a space fan. I guess I'm fond of historic warfare.. That's if you don't consider the Star Wars plot ever actually happened, of course. It was a long long time ago, but in a galaxy far far away!
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