TLDR; Idea for what the road forward towards the Infinity MMO Would be like, and suggesting and idea for making a multiplayer [RTS]/[colony builder / simulator] hybrid as the next step towards the MMO.
This might be a bit too early to be discussing since Battlescape has only just recently got into alpha, but I personally have given some thought to as what is the best next step towards having Infinity: Quest for earth, which is what I think is the ultimate goal for the I-novae team. I’ve been following the team for nearly a decade now, back when it was just a pet project for flavien, honestly I’m both awestruck and completely amazed that it’s been so long, and that it’s held my interest for so long. And so as one does when thinking about such games that’ve become a weekly/monthly habit of checking progress for, I’ve wondered what could be next in the bag for the I-Novae studios, and I thought the most appropriate step towards having the ultimate goal is to make a colony builder/RTS/4x hybrid.
I had the idea after I’ve played a few colony/base builder/management games, especially after playing planetbase, because it offered you 4 different types of planets each with its own challenges, and the planets had procedural generation to their maps, so if you chose a location on the planet you’d get the same map. It was a fun game, but after clearing the first planet, it was pretty much more of the same thing, with small changes to power management approach and some environmental hazards.
The idea I have is as follows, obviously I-Novae is the kingpin of procedurally generated star systems, and so I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we combined procedural planet generation with the environmental hazards instead of it just being just a set of different challenges for different planet “types”, to explain my line of thinking, think the challenges and effects posed by the thickness of the atmosphere, say if we make the atmosphere into 5 categories, no atmo, thin, medium, thick, very thick, each of these would affect the gameplay differently, and so on you add more layers of complexity to the generation to make the gameplay both challenging and fresh nearly every time you build a colony, there are so many things you can add to make things interesting the possibilities are almost endless.
The second part of the idea is the RTS element, which is that different resources are located at different planets, and in order to build ships, one must use resources to build components for different ships, this would provide a motivation to go through colony building, other than just the curiosity of experiencing the different challenges.
And the last part of the idea is the 4x element, where the ultimate goal of the game would be to control the cluster of systems you’re in, and this is where things get interesting, the game could scale from single player against AI for example, or could be off the bat (semi persistent) multiplayer with different sizes, obviously the bigger the game the more time it’s going to take to finish because you’re not just simply building different extractors at different resource collection points but would actually have to build a sustainable colony/outpost in order to acquire these resources.
Writing this I realized that perhaps the scope of this idea is quite larger than I thought and some people might think that having to build a colony every time you need a new resource might be tedious, but this is where it all meshes in with procedurally generated planets, it’s that every time you need to acquire a new resource there’s a different challenge involved not just more of the same thing. A workaround to this would be to include a feature of templating colonies, where if you’ve gotten a pattern that works for you in general or in specific situations you’d be able to just put it to use without having to go through all the trouble of building it again.
To get a better idea the general gist of the game, it would go like this:
Determine game size, number of player (perhaps include AI later for singleplayer purposes)
Depending on a the number of players, home star systems are spawned, these home star system will function like a starter area, a homeworld will provide the basic resources and basic trade options, a simple economy simulation could be made here where if you buy/ sell more of certain items the prices would change.
you start off with a colony ship, this ship is made up of three major components, the orbiter which is basically a mini space station, which you’ll deploy at the site where you’re going to start the colony. The second component of the colony ship is the lander which will function as the nucleus of your colony, this lander can be fitted with different segments in order to optimize it for each planet/landing site. The last component is the hauler, which you’ll use to get resources from your colonies to the orbiter and from the orbiter to other colonies or wherever you’re trading your resources.
Each planet needs to be scanned in order to obtain resource nodes, each node would require a colony/outpost built around it in order to extract it.
Using different resources you’ll progress through building different ships and different ship parts which will enable you to customize ships to your liking.
Different planets will require different strategies to approach and different resources used to build structures depending on conditions, making certain planets harder to colonize than others, and playing on the risk reward aspect.
Ultimately your goal is to expand your colonies and fleets and gain control over the entire cluster of stars available in the game.
I’m realzing that this post has gotten very long , and so the big question is, how does this lead us to Infinity quest for earth? My imagination would be to merge Battlescape with this idea, where the colony building would lead to mission generation, for example say your colony needs a load of resource x to build a certain structure of component or whatever have you, and it’s not really viable or worth it to build a new colony or send a hauler to planet x and risk it getting destroyed or pirated or whatever have you, and so the colony building / RTS / 4X / dogfighting simulator would be all meshed together in a galaxy sized map with thousands of players. The colony builder would provide the driving engine behind mission generation as player seek to expand and control more strategic resource locations this would spur the need for scouting missions, hauling, escorting, destroying a pirate base in certain locations, carrying an attack on another colony, and so the possibilities go.
Hopefully this has not been a tedious read, and I think the idea is modular in a way to allow for scaling back and incremental addition of features / games, say you make the RTS aspect into a game and delay the colony building /simulation, this would work, as per my gameplay example, your orbiter ship would just deploy a resource extractor or a factory, and so on without having to go through the colony building aspect of it.