iPhone DemoCrytus: An upcoming 4x space strategy game

Discussion in 'Upcoming iOS Games' started by Phi6, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    #1 Phi6, Jul 31, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
    Hey fellow gamers,

    So I've noticed that there's a distinct lack of 4x strategy games (space ones in particular) on the iPhone/iPad. I think the turn-based nature of such games would translate really well onto the iPad, so I've decided to start developing one. Not to mention turn-based strategy games are generally easier to develop (well... in a technical sense they are easier to program, but in a game design sense they are probably the most difficult to get right)

    I thought I'd make this announcement a little different in that I'd like to let you guys in on the whole development cycle from the beginning. It will be interesting to keep a log of the game's progress here, and hopefully it will be be exciting to see the game slowly take shape! I'm going to try and include some technical details as well, maybe encourage/inspire some budding developers here to start on their own projects as well!

    For TBS/4X games, the user interface is one of the most important aspects, so I want to make the UI as smooth and slick as I can, and hopefully draw in some interesting interactions as well.

    Latest screenshots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Flash prototypes/tests of interesting game mechanics & ideas
    Galaxy map designer test
    Tactical swarming test (buggy)
    Tactical swarming test (using Box2D, much better)

    The game will be turn-based as that is the easiest for me to code, and I don't have a huge amount of time to work on this. The gameplay will be based on an old PC game called Stars! which I loved playing during the 1990s. I'll also draw inspiration from Master of Orion, GalCiv2, Sins of a solar empire etc...

    The first version will be single-player, using simple goal-based resource allocation AI.

    Please contribute any ideas/feedback, I hope to re-ignite the 4x space strategy genre as it seems to have died out in recent years :( With help from the community here, I hope to make this a good one!

    Cheers
     
  2. racingspider

    racingspider Well-Known Member

    I LOVED Stars!
    It was about my favorite space game. Killer. I hope it goes well for you, it's a tough one to get right. Stars! Supernova went... well... poof a while ago when they couldn't find a publisher - which is a huge shame.

    Both AI only or multiplayer-only will be a lot of work. Unless you have an AI already designed to plop into a space game (undesigned) it will be harder to troubleshoot and balance the AI.

    The problem you'll run into-with multiplayer only - is alienating a large chunk of players. Those that don't care to play multiplayer.

    Personally, I think I would go AI first, even considering the balance and AI design challenges. You can announce that the multiplayer version will be next, after the first bug-fix build.

    My 2 cents.
     
  3. Finandir

    Finandir Well-Known Member
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    May 7, 2010
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    I would also go AI only for the initial releases. Everyone can play single player, but many people won't buy a game that requires multiple human players. I suspect it will be easier to add multiplayer later rather than AI. Developing a good AI will be very challenging, though.
     
  4. klicktock

    klicktock Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2009
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    Ballarat, Vic, Australia
    At the same time, "Words With Friends" has been very popular due to its ability to link players quickly and easily and run multiple games at a time, connect friends and strangers alike.
     
  5. Remon

    Remon Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2010
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    Single player for sure. I won't buy a multiplayer only game.

    Love it that you want to include people form the start. Will be monitoring this thread.
     
  6. Finandir

    Finandir Well-Known Member
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    May 7, 2010
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    That's true, but Words With Friends is a much simpler game than a true 4X space strategy would be. I think that kind of multiplayer works best with a game that people can grasp with just a couple of minutes of explanation. A strategy game of any depth is rarely that.
     
  7. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    Hi guys,

    It seems you guys want single player AI so that will be in the first version. I will probably make it initially multiplayer on one device, ie. take turns like on a board game so that I can test it with multiple players in one game and tweak game balancing etc.. and also it will help me formulate strategies for AI.

    I always find that if you let human players have a go, they quickly develop efficient strategies that I would never have thought of, and these can be the basis of very interesting AI behaviour.

    I'll continue working on the UI and will be able to post up another screenshot fairly soon.
     
  8. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    #8 Phi6, Aug 1, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
    Although I'd normally like to keep the 4x spirit alive and make the tactical and strategic elements as deep as possible, I decided to simplify some elements in Stars! that I felt was overcomplicated and redundant.

    For example, in Stars! you would have both population and resources. You would need to build factories which manufacture resources based on amount of population available, and then you'd allocate these resources to research or more manufacturing. For raw materials required to build ships, Stars! provided 3 materials, Ironium, Boranium and Germanium. Also you need fuel to power these ships, which is manufactured by factories.

    For my game, I decided to condense all of this down to just 2 variables.

    1. Population (which would serve three purposes of manufacturing, colonisation and allocating to research)
    2. Generic "raw materials" number instead of the 3 types of materials in Stars!
    When playing Stars! I felt that the individual materials were not significant to me at all, all I wanted to know was whether I had enough to build a ship I wanted. So I think one value is enough.

    For ship fuel, I think the raw materials can be used directly.

    The same goes for planet habitability. Instead of having 3 separate values for radiation, temperature and gravity which determines habitability depending on your racial traits, a planet is now either green (habitable), amber (borderline), red (hostile). We can hide the unnecessary numbers and figures from the player, all they need to know is 'Will my colonists grow or die on this planet? Is this planet worth colonising? '

    What I hope to achieve from this simplification is that the game will become less number crunching and less "spreadsheet-like" and therefore more accessible to less experienced players but still give the player the ability to balance their resources using only numbers that are genuinely useful and meaningful. Of course, I don't want to oversimplify too much, or we might as well go and play Galcon!

    For those unfamiliar with Stars!, I hope to boil down the gameplay and remove all the unnecessary chaff to the following:

    1. You send scouts to unexplored planets.
    2. If those planets are either amber or especially green, you spend some raw materials to build colony ships.
    3. Load the colony ships with colonists (your population) and perhaps additional payload of raw materials and send them off to those new planets for colonization.
    4. Meanwhile the enemy will be doing the same thing, colonizing their own planets.
    5. When the players meet, they will attempt to take over each other's planets by unloading colonists to the target planet, resulting in a ground war.
    6. You will want to stop enemy colonizers from dumping their people on your planet, so you'll have fighters and warships to destroy their ships before they arrive.

    I believe that is the absolute minimum required to have a game worth playing. Of course, I want to add in additional features such as bombing, mine laying, star gates, myster traders, starbases etc... they will add interesting mechanics and deepen the gameplay, but for my initial playable version they are not required for the game to work.

    I hope this results in gameplay that is more streamlined, requires less economic micromangement and so the focus shifts to tactics and strategy.
     
  9. DaviddesJ

    DaviddesJ Well-Known Member
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    May 19, 2010
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    Hmm. You're making me want to go back and play Stars.
     
  10. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    I cant believe so many people in this forum played it! I thought I was the only one :p

    Or perhaps it is just the people that click on the link "4X space strategy game" :p
     
  11. OrionnoirO

    OrionnoirO Well-Known Member

    Jul 12, 2010
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    Anderson,IN
    ;*( iPad only?

    makes me sad with me iPod Touch 2g iOS4.0 ... Was cheapest one I could find to finally get in on the "i" action (the app marketplace and diverse selection of games/apps are the single thing that swayed me from the Zune HD).. I wanted a pad but, yeah, thats way out of my range right now... You really should consider a universal app or at least later a version for us poor peoples lmao :) I love all kinds of games, but this would def be an interesting addition to my already full pod lol :D
     
  12. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    Hey, rest assured I will most likely make this universal! But not in the first version

    Cheers
     
  13. Thorkon

    Thorkon Member

    Nov 24, 2009
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    I think A-sychronous multiplayer is better (and easier than programming AI).

    When I look at games I look for multiplayer. Thats my share. This looks awesome though
     
  14. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    From my point of view, I'd much rather do multiplayer as it would be the most straightforward to develop. However, I've got much more support for single player only for the first version. I don't mind either way. Perhaps I should set up a poll
     
  15. simulated

    simulated Active Member

    Aug 11, 2009
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    #15 simulated, Aug 2, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
    single player

    I would love, love, love a good MOO-style space 4x game on the ipad (and completely agree that this is a surprisingly empty niche in the app store). Definitely in the single-player-first camp; no time/interest/inclination for multiplayer games, and wouldn't buy a multiplayer-only version.
     
  16. randomdude

    randomdude Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2009
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    Hmmmm I'm interested in the combat system. Can you explain it a bit more
     
  17. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    #17 Phi6, Aug 4, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
    I'm basing gameplay mostly on Stars! so it will be all turn-based. The combat works as follows:

    When generating a new turn, if two opposing fleets are in the same vicinity (ie. orbiting the same planet) a battle is calculated. Unfortunately you are not able to control the action directly. Instead, before ending your turn you can set the various battle plans and strategies for your fleet, for example you'd want your unarmed colonizers to flee from any battle and your fighters and warships to protect them. You're able to view the recording of the battle in the battle VCR, which is a kind of 2D grid. The battle unfolds in a turn-based style, but you are only a spectator.

    So clearly the focus of the game is getting your strategy and tactics right, getting your ships in the right position before ending that turn. I think I will employ the same philosophy for DemoCrytus, but I'll try and make the battle recordings a little more exciting and immersive. It'll still be basic 2D graphics, but it would be nice to animate them in real-time as the fleets play out their tactical moves. We shall see.

    Here's some more screenshots of the latest UI:

    By the way, I've decided on a name DemoCrytus which is a nod to the Greek philosopher Democritus who mused about the possibility of multiple planets in this universe, many years ago.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Man, I need to get some sleep! I've been up late hours for the past few days working on this but I'm totally obsessed right now.

    More from me soon,

    Cheers
     
  18. Ubisububi

    Ubisububi Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Yeehaw!!!!!! I have been pining away for a 4X space game since I got my iPad. Definitely AI with a randomly generated star field for every game. That will grab 90% of your market. It is my belief that the multiplayer market, while vocal, is a very small minority. Just take a look at the Warlords Armageddon thread. There were a lot of people (including me, admittedly) who were pretty ticked-off to find that it was multiplayer only with no AI.
     
  19. Phi6

    Phi6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
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    Thanks Ubisububi! I will probably include two modes of play, handcrafted scenarios and random games.

    I'm actually working on a algorithms to procedurally generate universes. It will be interesting to have different shapes like clustered stars, spiral galaxies, etc..
     
  20. Deth4U2

    Deth4U2 Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2009
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    I don't know what 4X space game or Stars! Is, but your game sounds wicked cool! :)
     

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