This week I did a lot of work towards getting the Command ship upgrade process to use resources. To do this I’m putting into the game world a new type of object – “cargo pod” basically a container of resources. What will happen is this: the command ship needs resources to perform the upgrade, the command ship will request a resource from a trading station, the trading station will launch a cargo pod, command ship will pick this pod up (fly into it). The command ship may then have enough resources for the upgrade. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while since the trading portion of the game (in its current state) transfers resources magically between the trading ship and the trading station. So in the coming weeks you’ll see the same transfer of resources take place between trading ship and trading station as will happen between the trading station and the Command ship (via the cargo pods).
Also when destroying a trading ship it may drop cargo pods, so piracy will become a larger part of the game, pirates will appear to attack your trading ships and attempt to take the cargo pods (this portion is a bit low priority). The idea of cargo pods will also evolve into “marine pods” where a ship will launch a pod carring soldiers to attack ships and bases. This is how the capturing of bases will take form (this is higher priority).
I have to come up with a better name than active upgrades. So we are all on the same page, the command ship has a list of upgrades (have to come up with a better word for this as well) that can be activated, and a list of upgrades that are always on (aka passive upgrades). So this past week I’ve worked on abilities that need to be activated. These are fairly short in duration, and after being activated there is a recharge time before the upgrade can be used again. It is the same concept seen in MMOs like WoW (press 1 to shoot a firebolt, wait for it to recharge, then press 1 to shoot it again).
So far there are two abilities in early stages, the first is the “Command” ability which allows the player to take over control of enemy ships. The larger the ship the lesser the chance to override its controls, through further upgrades to this ability the chace improves. I still have to decide whether I want only one enemy ship to be under this effect at a time. This may be a bit too boring, since the player may always chose the biggest ship and skip the smaller ones. Still I haven’t decided on this yet.
The 2nd active upgrade is the “Energy Barrier” This upgrade allows the command ship to project an shield, the catch here is that the shield protects a single side only. Meaning that the player must position the command ship to take full advantage of the protection. However the shield is invulnerable to damage, the protection stops when the duration of the ability expires.
Hopefuly there will be many more of these abilities leading to interesting and strategic game play, making the command ship a unique and powerful vessel.
Here are some screen shots of the shield ability (placeholder graphics, the final result should be a fluid animated shield):
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Well I don’t feel as happy as I thought I would finally adding in the command ship. The game has changed a bit, the difficulty decreased significantly since the command ship can easily be upgraded at this current state. I’ll have to work on toning this down and slowind down this process, giving it a real cost instead of just 30 seconds per upgrade.
The truth is that the project must become a better game as a result of adding such a complex thing as I imagine the command ship becoming. It will be your base, your command center, your seat of power, your warship, and essencially the player’s physical representation in the game. Something that has to be invested in, protected and risked. So the game will need real risk and real reasons for putting the command ship into a dangerous situations. I’ll have to give the game objectives for the command ship to conquer. That means more dynamic world, better AI, and stronger enemies. At the same time I plan on implementing command ship abilities, like shields, heavy weapons, and quick get aways.
Right now the game isn’t as good as I think it was in iteration 4, the mindless fun of kill until you are killed is a bit altered with the addition of the command ship. I’ll need to preserve this, and add more strategy, more goals, more game. Oh well, I hope you come along for the ride