After playing your WONDERFUL game for many more hours than I should (and getting in considerable trouble with my girlfriend…), I think I finally understood the one thing the game is missing. Hopefully it would be very easy to implement.
First, let me present the two problems, as I see it, with the game. Stay with me here, if only for a bit.
- Too hands-off
The game, while meant to be a set-up and then watch destruction game, means that after you build and organize your fleet, you do absolutely nothing but watch the ensuing carnage. I have no problem with this, but after playing hundreds of rounds against the computer, and knowing I can’t speed up the game without my computer freaking out, I got tired of watching the destruction and would leave to do other things. Now, I know the point of the game is to not control anything past the loadup screen, but something inside me tells me that if you hung ONE thing in front of the player, at least ONE little thing they could do during the battle, it would considerably increase the entertainment value of the game. This one thing would have to require very little attention from the player, but yet could let them exert a tiny effect on the battle.
- Continuity Element
As discussed in a previous post of mine, the game is lacking any sort of continuity element. Once your fleet wins a battle, that’s it, maybe a few honor points, but other than that your fleet doesn’t really “progress”. It would be great to introduce some sort of RPG element, however shallow, to allow gamers to deepen their attachment with their fleet and see progress through their campaign.
Solution: Quasi-controllable flagship.
If you were to introduce a flagship, that carried over experience to unlock more modules for itself or increase its hitpoints, and perhaps had a customized hull or other visual identifier, it would allow players to have a central rpg element to rally around. This ship would have a considerable (although not game breaking) edge over other ships in your fleet, and by keeping it alive and fighting battles with it, it would unlock new modules, maybe even new hardpoint and module SLOTS!..up to a maximum level, which, for campaign, could be considerably high. You would be allowed ONE flagship, and for multiplayer, the flagship could be made at any level you wanted in ship design, but you could only have one and you would pay the price for its incorporation into your fleet.
Now, in relation to the hands-off issue, you would be able to issue simple orders to this ship during battle. Hopefully, this would not be impossible to integrate into the current engine. Your could tell it to MOVE, perhaps which ship to focus on ATTACKING, and, in my opinion, that would be enough to allow you to exert substantial control over your ship. That way, you would be compelled to watch the entire battle, and also be more connected with it, by a single ship (YOUR own little flagship, which I hope you could name!) that could exert a small influence on the battle. I don’t know if you could carry over this moving factor to multiplayer, but, if not, I would be fine with single player.
Now, I know this really comes down to how easy it is to implement. The game is in its BETA phase, so bugfixing and balancing are a big issue. However, the flagship, even without experience, could be done by use of custom, one-only-per-battle hulls. Adding experience could be as easy as tallying the hits it landed on opponents and converting that to some sort of number, at which it unlocks more modules for itself (maybe it is listed as a separate class on the ship type, as to facilitate ease of module unlocking through a GUI similar to the current honor unlocking system). In terms of movement, you could just have two buttons, attack and move, and connect these to the behind the scene commands that cause movement and attacking (which must exist for that AI to work!). And Viola! I think it would make this game THAT much better, without changing the core ideals behind gratuitous space battles.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this game is FANTASTIC. I just hope that by providing this suggestion I can offer a means by which to make it just a little better.
Great game, Cliffski!