Skip to main content

A Glimpse At The Space Grail

Now Playing: Salvation Prophecy

Oh my, the games are certainly coming out of the woodwork now that the holidays '13 are nearly upon us.   This includes obscure indy titles that fell under my radar until they popped up on Steam.
"Salvation Prophecy: A space epic video game," screams the title of the website.  Well, yes, it pretty much is a space epic, and a rather well done one.  It's basically a version of the game I had been trying to make for awhile, because it's an open-ended game that includes:
  • Combat and travel in space ships.
  • Getting out of the space ship and visiting planets and space stations.
  • A 4X game going on in the background where empires vie for dominance, but you're just playing a single citizen of one of the empires.
  • RPG mechanics where you're building up your character.
  • Leadership mechanics where you're able to eventually rank up within your empire to lead them.
So close, and yet so far.  This is what I'm talking about when I said that,"there's a billion little details that go into producing a game, and two games of similar concept can play remarkably differently when (contrary to standard industry practice) they're not deliberately cloning each other.   Only one person will custom-design my dream game: me."  Salvation Prophecy definitely does a few things different from what I would.

Technically speaking, it's an astounding game that is not quite as refined as I would prefer.  The texture work and graphics are quite adequate for 2013 - it's not Crysis, but who is?  The space and ground combat just flat out get the job done with minimal bugs.  Consequently, space combat is not nearly as epic as Descent: Freespace - again, but who is?  Ground combat is not nearly as epic as Sacrifice.  But the very fact that they have a space and ground combat engine, and that they function tolerably, is fairly remarkable in itself.

I think it's the limit of 20 units per side in an engagement that grates at me the most.  There's both technical and gameplay related reasons why they chose that number, but it gets in the way in the core "epic" battling mechanic of the game.  The thing is, each of the empires has a "resource point" amount they can spend, but they don't run up against that because they have plenty of resources.  What they run up against is the 20 unit limit, first.  The result is that there's no real buildup and release of forces, just shoring up lost numbers and trying again.  Rebuilding happens instantly, which defeats a great deal of strategy right there.

Another annoying factor is that there's no way to defend your assets against the other empires.  If the way the game worked was to require destroying the station orbiting the planet before invading, that would work well enough: if your space station is destroyed, get over there, blow up their space station, and rebuild yours before they can invade the colony.  Instead, you can pretty much completely circumvent the space station and attack the colony directly, making space stations largely only useful as staging areas for attacks.

The end game needs work.  You can only order attacks while you're there to participate, so your empire basically has most of its assets sitting completely idle.  You can't be in two (or more) places at once, so it's inevitable that you're going to to be picked apart.  While you're fighting on yet another ball of rock, patiently whittling away the health on the structures and enemy units, you're getting news updates about how the enemy empires are taking back what you captured and there wasn't anything you could have done about it.  I stopped playing: this is pointless monotony.

The main thing I'd probably do differently is not bother with a 3D perspective.   There's just so much more you can accomplish without that kind of technical overhead, including deeper game mechanics.  (I suppose, at this point, some people would tell me that they're really rather glad that I was not the one calling the shots.)

Overall, Salvation Prophecy was an interesting experience, and I'm glad they made it.  But, in being this close to what I wanted yet still quite far from it, it's a pointed reminder that my dream game is never going to be made unless I'm the one doing it.

Game Development Progress: I'm not doing it.

A couple more days off, and what did I do?  Screw around, mostly.  It would seem that I'm still getting acclimated  to my new work schedule, and little wonder considering I'm only half-way through the first week of it (last week being a different, training schedule).  I have no good excuse.  I really aught to sink at least an hour a day into muddling around with GameMaker or something.

I think I'm getting just a bit depressed with GameMaker, because the lack of out-of-room accessibility means that my game concepts generally will require I move the whole damn enchilada into a single room, and what a mess that is.  Yet, there really is no easier SDK for creating 2D games and porting them to so many platforms, so I might as well get used to thinking how to make things in GameMaker terms.


Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Greasing The Grind: Adding Lasting Appeal To Virtual World Sandboxes

Game design, being about entertainment, is not as much science as art.  We're coming up with interesting things that the human mind likes to chew on that "taste" good to it.  Different people find different things, "Fun," and a game designer is tasked with coming up with fun, appealing things.  As pertains to virtual world sandboxes, I identified three of them.

Challenge Appeal.

Dwarf Fortress and Fortresscraft Evolved have the same end game appeal preservation mechanic: wealth equals threat.  The more money your Dwarf Fortress is worth, the bigger the baddies who will come for you, including a bunch of snobby useless nobles who do nothing but push dwarves around and eat.  The more energy you make in Fortresscraft Evolved, the more and bigger bugs come to shut down your base.  Rimworld does something a little different based off of which AI Storyteller you choose, but it generally adds time to your wealth accumulation when deciding what kind of threats to throw a…