First thing’s first… Sorry I’m late to the game. Had heard about GSB a while ago but just picked up the Pre-Order Beta and I really like it.
Alright, I’m not going to quote the entire impressions of GSB from Indiegames.com, instead I’ll just include a link for anyone interested in the subject to check out:
The impression is obviously based on one gamers opinion. My opinion is slightly different however. I respectfully disagree with the comment stating that: “only hardcore strategy enthusiasts are going to get a kick out of GSB”. Yes the game looks great and is very smooth on a decent PC. Yes it involves Gratuitous Space Battles as promised with spectacular displays of weapon fx and damage. But there’s also an extremely interesting game beyond the paint job and under the hood. Even though some of the elements might seem complex at first glance, however, I think the game is perfect for casual gamers as well. This is only my opinion, but with a little polish the game can have widespread appeal. One of the few problems I found is that there is a lot of reading. This is fine for me, I love games and I have no problem reading or following instructions in games (as long as they aren’t long winded). GSB isn’t full of long winded text, but it is all over the place. I had no problem with starting the game up and immediately diving, reading and figuring out the mechanics of it. The problem is if I were to show this to friends and / or family member that is more into gaming as a casual hobby, and I were to try and sell them on the point that this game has some awesome space battles utilizing a unique type of gameplay mechanic, they would probably be immediately interested from how I describe and tell them about the game. Unfortunately if I had to sit them down and allow them to go through the tutorial levels and the disjointed reading of the text involved in taking the tutorial they would probably become lost before even starting their first game. This isn’t because they don’t like reading, or because they can’t read, but more because they don’t want to read all over the place. They’d more than likely want to jump in, create a fleet, and see the battles.
I find that GSB is approachable, especially compared to 4X strategy games and even RTS games in general. Although you could go into complex detail and strategy designing and giving orders to your fleet the game actually isn’t complicated. The problem for a newcomer is it seems complicated. Unfortunately that’s misleading and might also turn potentially interested gamers off and I think that might be part of why the comment at Indiegamer.com was made.
The game is still only in the Beta stage, but what’s here is both interesting and unique on top of looking fantastic. There might be room however, for an even more casual dive into the game though. Perhaps an even more casual tutorial for Dummies, without making the gamer feel like a dummy (and without calling the gamer a dummy either Again, I have no problem with the tutorial, but I’ve played thousands of games. Others may not have a problem with it either but that might be because they are completely enthralled with Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, etc. etc. etc. There’s an obvious appeal for the setting, and there’s even an appeal for the genre (TD type games). The problem is access. How easily can I access this game without feeling like an idiot.
There are a two FANTASTIC games that come to mind when I play Gratuitous Space Battles. The two games are:
Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space - http://www.digital-eel.com/weird/
Carnage Heart (Playstation) - http://psx.ign.com/articles/150/150304p1.html
Both of those games are, in my opinion, excellent examples of intriguing and unique gameplay. Both are accessible, specifically Wierd Worlds, but Carnage Heart while more complicated, offers something that no other game (specifically referring to console games but not limited to) and that is the ability to create robotic fighters and then actually program how those robots are going to fight. Carnage Heart wasn’t really designed so that just anyone could pick up and play it, although I think that was the intention, but the idea behind it was just so unique that it begged to be played because strategy games just weren’t made like this, ever. Weird Worlds used everything that makes a great 4X strategy (with a sense of humor) and stripped all of the time consuming (and even tedious) fluff and extras from the formula and genre while turning it into a bright and shiny game that held the gamer for 20 mins straight - because that’s about as much time as you need to actually finish the game… However, each time the game is started it is randomly generated creating a new adventure in a 4X strategy style universe. No two plays through the game are ever exactly the same. The difficulty level is broad but the learning curve is extremely low so that anyone can play and enjoy it.
Those two games have something special about them and like I said earlier, GSB reminds me a bit of both of them. With a little fine tuning, a slightly streamlined tutorial, and perhaps an easier to understand “post battle” statistics and descriptions screen, GSB would be set for even broader appeal.
As is, I think GSB is a great game and a great idea. I’m looking forward to all of the new features and updates in the near future. So keep up the great work Cliffski, you’re doing a great job!