StarMade Development Direction

    Discussion in 'Game News' started by Bench, Oct 27, 2015.

    1. Bench

      Bench Creative Director

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      Over the past year here at Schine we’ve done some major work on the whole building, crafting, mining gameplay aspects of StarMade. We did some major updates like the move to galaxies and star systems, as well as our first big-ish GUI overhaul. We also added in rails, logic, shipyards and our weapon combination systems. We did heaps of work to give players a lot to be able to build with and customize what they built. With chain docking we enabled any number of creations to be built, and also did a lot of balancing and performance optimizations from lighting overhauls to collision, explosions and more. It’s been great the past year and it’s only going to get better.

      Now we, as a community, move into new unexplored waters beyond just building and all that goes with that. After speaking with the team, looking where we are and where we’re going, we feel now is the right time to share some of our plans with you all and where StarMade is going. While with some things we won’t go into too much detail, hopefully this helps paint a picture as to where we want to take StarMade.

      Key Aspects of StarMade
      Up until now StarMade has been considered primarily a sandbox, similar to a number of games we’ve been compared to. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, we’ve also desired to expand and be more than just another sandbox game. There’s an incredible amount of features that we have planned for the game. For us to better handle and manage and balance them we broke the game up into key aspects to categorize features under. These key aspects help describe what pieces will make up the StarMade pie.

      Building & Crafting & Gathering Resources
      This is where StarMade is currently. In StarMade you gather resources to be able to build, and with the scalability of the game you’re not limited to specific dimensions. You build bases, you build ships. Basically where you live, and how you get around from place to place. You build to defend what you’ve built up, you build to expand and then some. This whole aspect of the game focuses around blocks. Gathering blocks, crafting new blocks, using those blocks to get better blocks and to give you more abilities. You go out and mine to get more blocks so you are able to build more.

      Exploration & Discovery
      The universe is massive, and players should always have a desire to explore a new system and marvel at what they discover. Each server they jump on to presents a new opportunity for exploration. Features like stellar phenomena and stellar bodies like asteroid belts, nebulae, comets etc all will play into a more engaging universe to discover. Other features like procedurally-generated server-wide events, missions and questing, rare fauna and flora, and more all add to the desire to go beyond the galaxy into the furthest corners of the universe.

      NPCs & Factions & Empires
      With space so vast it makes sense you will encounter others, and like the NPCs in the game, you can align yourself with others to form a faction to better survive the harshness of the galaxies.

      Throughout the galaxies you will encounter a number of races. Our player characters in the current state of the game are all Human characters, but there are other races throughout the area of galaxies which we call the Frontier, the setting for StarMade. There’s a number of NPC factions you can interact with, as well as random NPCs from all manner of races that you can meet throughout the Frontier. Once you are part of a faction (whether creating one or joining one), you will be able to recruit NPCs to your faction, given you have the correct permissions. From there you will be able to build up your crew on a planet base, station or ship for additional benefits. NPCs have attributes that to a degree need to be monitored to ensure they do what they are supposed to be doing to the best of their abilities. In this manner things like ship interiors become just as important to consider as the systems being placed on a ship.

      Factions that grow through taking territories and establishing bases and stations will open up more methods of passive resource and faction point acquisition. Empires also expand the opportunity for gameplay to go beyond just one server, with empires being registered on the citizen registry, enabling factions on servers with the right permissions to join empires and pool resources. Additional gameplay elements would also come from empires.

      Diplomacy & Economy
      Diplomacy in its basic form is whether you are friend or foe to another team, whether it be a player team or a computer-controlled (NPC) team. Depending on the length of the game determines how complex your diplomacy can get. For lengthy RTS games, diplomacy can be expanded to allow for establishing trade routes with allies etc. For StarMade we have players not only spending hours in-game, but days, eventually weeks and months. With such a big emphasis on factions and empires, players should have the most amount of freedom and control in how their faction or empire operates and interacts with other factions or empires. So we’re considering heavily how factions and empires can interact with each other through diplomacy, and ensuring we balance the economy appropriately. Being able to establish trade routes, security levels on sectors, sharing information and the various methods of being able to obtain credits and resources etc can all add new elements to both the diplomacy and economy of the game. Economy wise there’s a lot to balance, and we need to ensure that the universe isn’t too overpopulated with resources or credits otherwise they lose their value.

      Objectives & Rewards
      Another yet unexplored but highly sought-after feature of StarMade is the aspect of objectives and rewards. Objectives could be anything from missions/quests or bounties to randomized server-wide experiences. Missions and quests would be available from NPC-factions or empires and would be diplomacy-driven, meaning your standing with a faction determines what they trust to offer you mission-wise etc. Server-wide experiences offer up opportunities for all the players on a server to have to fight over the same rare reward. Rarity curves on rewards encourage players to try harder missions or objectives for the promise of a more rare reward. Rewards introduce a totally new sub-section of items for players rather than based on any type of block, which are just as easily acquired through crafting.

      Citizens
      Each player is a unique citizen who lives within the Frontier, and who they are all depends on their choices. Through weapons, items and devices, and other mechanics, players can customize their citizen to be their own unique character in the universe.

      A Quick Explanation on Trading Guild & Pirates
      So that’s the key aspects that we’re looking at for the game. Without going into too much of the lore side of the game, as it’s extensive, it’s worth touching on what’s happening with the existing Trading Guild and Pirates in light of our plans.

      The existing Trading Guild (TG) and Pirates will remain as default NPC factions from when you start the game. However there will be some changes to better suit the direction of the game and the lore for them. Every faction will have diplomacy mechanics added to them, meaning you could through your choices in-game, ally yourself with a particular faction, however this in turn may make you enemies with another faction.

      Trading Guild will remain as the Trading Guild. Shops will become one of their stations. Spawn station will become the Trading Guild homebase and they will own the spawn territory and a number of territories surrounding it by default. Through Trading Guild outposts that are scattered throughout their territories, we’ll be able to offer new players without a faction safe haven to dock their ships so that they don’t lose them in the first day of gameplay. Through security levels in territories, the Trading Guild will defend attacks in their territories, also as a manner to curb spawn camping new players.

      The Pirates will become the Scavengers (Scavs), a faction comprised of outlaws who pillage from factions like the Trading Guild to build their own faction. Their ships and stations will be revised to fit their particular motif. Like any other faction you could, through choices through missions etc, ally yourself with the Scavengers.

      There will eventually be another faction added that you will encounter from the start, currently called the Outcasts. They’re not aggressive like the Scavengers but also not as well off as the Trading Guild. They’re a sort of in-between ground, and give us an avenue to explore another aspect of missions and lore.

      While there are other factions planned, these three are the main ones you encounter from the start of the game. Also there will be procedurally generated factions that fit in with the lore of StarMade, making exploration all that more intriguing and unpredictable.

      Cargo & Stack Limiting [​IMG] now in-game
      Physical cargo will become the primary means of storage. Storage blocks will remain but through the Cargo System you will be able to establish areas that are used for storage. When placing items in the Storage Hold computer, or through the available menus, physical crates for storage will appear in the cargo hold areas. Your capacity is only limited by the area in which you designate to be used for cargo. Of course, the more cargo you take on board, the heavier your ship will get.

      Obviously hand-in-hand with cargo comes stack limiting. We’re finding the balance between holding too many blocks per stack and not holding enough for building, and the balance between the value of items in relation to one another.

      Stack limiting is obviously a big change and we predict that most players will have stored resources in larger stacks than what we'll be setting as the default max for blocks. In light of that we will be implementing a method during the transition to limited stack that will allow you to identify stacks that are currently too large so you can break them up. As part of that we'll also be adding in a slow leech of overstacked blocks so that while players will have ample time to split their stacks up into the appropriate sizes, they can't simply leave them be and hope to keep ridiculously massive stacks of blocks forever.

      Recruiting NPCs to your faction
      We recognize that faction growth is a major part of StarMade. It will enable so many more avenues for passive resource acquisition, expansion of territories, earning of faction points etc. Up until now faction growth has only been through other players joining your faction, however this leaves out players in Single Player. As such, and as part of the management of crew, you will be able to recruit NPCs to your faction. Obviously the pros and cons will be more detailed as we implement the features associated with factions and faction expansion. Recruiting NPCs to your faction opens that NPC up to be assigned as a crewman either on a planet, a station, or on a ship.

      NPC Characteristics
      NPCs will have their own names, experience, health, morale, loyalty, and energy; along with more things to come. Each NPC may also have particular attributes that make them more viable in one role or another. The level of certain characteristics will influence other ones, or result in different responses from the NPC, this is explained a bit more below.

      Defining of Internal Areas (Working Title: Quarters)
      One of the biggest things to come as part of the ship management focus is being able to define internal areas in your ship or station for certain purposes, what we’re currently calling “Quarters”. Quarters originally came out of a need for easier data management of loads of NPCs being in one space, but it has grown to encompass so much more. Through quarters you will be able to define standard spaces, such as living quarters, recreational quarters, market quarters, offices, medical etc. along with ship-specific quarters such as the bridge of a ship.

      Defining a living quarter for example, gives you the ability to assign a NPC to live in that quarter, making them available to work in another quarter, whether it be in the recreational quarter as a barman or as the pilot of a ship.

      Once a NPC is available to be assigned to a role in another quarter, their role will be decided based on the quarter you assign them to. Assigning a NPC to a market quarter for example, makes them a shopkeep, and they will be able to sell resources just like a shop module.

      Duty Stations
      Duty Stations represent specific roles a NPC can take on board within a quarter. A duty station is primarily created by including the computer of a particular system within a specific quarter.

      For example, placing a jump drive computer in the engineering quarter can make that jump drive computer be made available as a duty station, to then assign an NPC to. While being active in that role that NPC gains experience, and as they level up they grant more bonuses to the role they’re in. In the case of the jump drive they may automatically charge the jump drive, and each time they gain a level the speed in which they can charge it increases.

      More complex duty stations are planned, opening up the opportunity for things like turret control, sensor scanning etc.

      Chairs
      Let’s be honest, everyone has wanted chairs since forever. With this focus, chairs will be introduced to allow for a number of options.

      On their own, chairs are just that, chairs, you sit on them.

      Using our simple ‘C’ and ‘V’ system linking though, you can link a chair to a duty station to allow the NPC to control that duty station from the chair rather than having to stand in front of the computer. Chairs will have to be either in the same quarter or a relative quarter (Bridge or Engineering), enabling your scanner crewman to be on the bridge controlling the scanner, while the scanner computer is in the engineering quarter. This enables you to create more aesthetic bridges without losing functionality.

      I know what you’re all thinking. Chairs will also be able to be linked to the Ship Core, allowing you to enter flight mode from the bridge of your ship. Assigning a crewman to the captain’s chair also presents the first piece of our future Fleet Control system.

      Managing Crew
      Crew have energy levels, and if they’re on their duty station for too long they’ll get exhausted, so you need to ensure that they occasionally get a break. If their energy is too low their morale can start to drop. If their morale drops too low then so will their loyalty. You can boost their loyalty as their other levels are kept high, as well as through them gaining experience in the process. Boost morale by letting them relax in a recreation quarter, and gain energy through resting in their living quarter. Managing crew levels will be pretty intuitive, as ships will be given a number of modes or states you can toggle through that will determine how much autonomous freedom certain crew are given to move around. We want crews to be a fun edition, where you can micro-manage your crew and ship while you're on it, but where you can also log off and know that you're crew are still going to be fine for when you return.

      Mutinies
      If crew’s loyalty drops too low while their morale is low, they may turn and try to take over your ship, causing a mutiny. It’s your most loyal crew against the mutineers, and they’ll try to take over the bridge. If your captain’s chair is destroyed they’ll try to make their way to the ship core. If they capture your ship it’ll turn, and suddenly you’re stuck against an enemy ship. You’ll then need to try to recapture it or escape.

      Interaction Sets & Paths/Patrols
      Through what we’re currently calling interaction sets and paths you’ll be able to have more advanced control over the pathing of NPCs, how they move between quarters. Have a complex door they need to get through? Easily set it up so your crew know what to do. Set up security patrols around your ship to have NPCs guard against boarders.

      Ship Management Control
      All this might seem quite complicated, and you may be wondering how you will be able to manage all of this. We’ll be introducing brand new ship management screens that are intuitive and easy to use, with abilities like easily dragging and dropping an unassigned crewman to a duty station.

      Transporters [​IMG] mechanics now in-game
      You have likely seen that transporters are already going in. Transporters have a couple different modes. Through the menu you’ll be able to pick other transporters on your current entity, as well as any “public” transporters within one sector of you. When it comes to boarding enemy ships though it can employ a slightly different system. Through transporters you will be able to try and target onto another enemy ship. If your targeting reticle detects a quarter it will start to try and lock on, however you won’t know what quarter you’re targeting. It may be a living quarter, or the bridge, or the brig. This makes boarding a lot more dynamic, but also helps with the learning curve as well, as NPCs will be able to help defend against boarders, but you won’t be able to have NPC crew without quarters, and you won’t be able to beam on board unless they have quarters. Enemy shields will also be taken into account, so the lower the shields the easier to beam through them.

      We’ll be holding a LIVE Q&A with the devs in November so stay tuned for more news on that, note down any questions you might want to ask and we’ll see you then.


      The Schine Team
       
      #1 Bench, Oct 27, 2015
      Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2017
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    2. Keptick

      Keptick Overkill titan builder

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      Woooh, plans! I'm glad to see that you made this info public! Hopefully the skeptical people will now understand that you're not randomnly implementing features :D
       
      #2 Keptick, Oct 27, 2015
      Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
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    3. Draeke_Forther

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      Looks like there is a lot to look forward to. Here's to the next few months of development!
       
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    4. karkinosz

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      TLDR: Go back and read it fool.

      Very nice work schine folks <3.
       
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    5. timethatswasted

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      Wow those are some big far reaching plans...

      Good luck fellas, can't wait to see how it all turns out!
       
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    6. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      HOLY CRAP, this sounds great and amazing and awesome.

      ...But I am curious about one thing. Player movement setups, like doors, lifts, and so on, get really complex. How exactly will NPCs be able to navigate these?

      For instance, my elevator works in a way where you stand in front of the elevator tube to call the floating platform, then walk onto the platform and hit a button on the wall of the tube to send it to the desired deck. Except on the bridge, where there are no buttons and users just have to wait for the platform to return to the nearest main deck. I can't see how an NPC could know how to do this, and I would not want to have to change it up completely for the new system. I predict that I'll have to have inter-deck transporters for crew reasons, but that'd be a bit disappointing.
       
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    7. Bench

      Bench Creative Director

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    8. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      Yes, but... Cross-entity? Wait commands? Etc... If this is actually fully planned out by Schema, I'm impressed.
       
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    9. Bench

      Bench Creative Director

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      Obviously we can only allow for so much, so if it gets too complex well you'll have to figure out another way for NPCs, but we want to encourage this sort of building so we're keen to make sure there's possibilities open to allow for such configurations.
       
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    10. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      Oh, forgot to mention. How exactly will we define rooms using the Quarter system? I vaguely remember a VERY old concept involving boxdims, but this would not be very adaptable and I get the sense that the idea has changed since then.
       
    11. Bench

      Bench Creative Director

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      It'll be through ship management, it won't be block based. We discussed it and block based was just making it more complex then it needed to be, just for the sake of keeping with everything being block based. So instead we're going for a simpler menu screen system approach unlike anything we've seen in the game before. We recently mocked up the screen for setting up quarters, and have to say, it looks sweet!
       
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    12. ltmauve

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      RE - inventory stacks
      are they actually stacks of "You can only have X per stack of whatever" and then have as many stacks of that as you can fit, like in minecraft? or is it something else?
       
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    13. SkylordLuke

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      yes! the cat is out of the bag!! :D Oh man,so exciting!
       
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    14. SomethingSlimy

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      3 cheers for an open plan!
       
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    15. alterintel

      alterintel moderator

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      two words:
      Thank You <3
      :)
       
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    16. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      Indeed. Three cheers for an evident plan in general. Although I am hoping that the thrust updates that were talked about a while ago get put in somewhere in the middle of this.
       
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    17. SomethingSlimy

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      I'm pretty sure Schine's plan will allow for expansion, otherwise the entire suggestions section would be negated.
       
    18. therimmer96

      therimmer96 The Cake Network Staff Senior button unpusher

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      oh benchi~

      you know exactly what to say to make me happy in the pants <3

      now just say we're getting crawling and I am going to be in love :D
       
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    19. Edymnion

      Edymnion Carebear Extraordinaire!

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      Sounds like all of our current designs will become badly outdated when all this settles... I love it!
       
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    20. EndoSkull

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      You had me at “Quarters”.

      Bench - is any of this started?

      I have to tell you that every one one of my feature requests has been addressed in this post - I'm shocked it's a possible reality.
      (Well except for a gun that let's you point and shoot docks to tracks like a glue gun in Little Big Planet) :)
       
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