March 20, 2008

Squadron, Fleet Command, and Asp

I feel a bit bad about not posting frequently enough, but I figure I can justify it since I've been spending my time making a game. This is my first game project of the year, but it's mostly building on older ideas.

I like "high strategy", whatever that means. Micromanagement is icky. So I found myself fascinated by indirect control. Since I'm a fan of space combat (see my older game, M.E.H.), I experimented with squadrons of spaceships (think "Red 2, reporting in!").

I put together a little demo during summer 2006 in which a somewhat chaotic group of ships would follow the mouse cursor and shoot any targets in their line of sight. You could only control the ships by giving them a direction; they all did their own individual things. I called the demo Squadron, shared it with the community, and forgot about it.

Squadron was still pretty micromanagement-heavy, so when it was reincarnated in 2007. it was paired with an idea for deterministic battles: you'd give the army its orders, then just watch the battle play out. If you lost, you could issue new orders. This concept was named Fleet Command, and I did a lot of ambitious design before I actually started programming.

The realities of programming and playing changed the game a lot. The orders (in the form of waypoints that your squadrons would follow) were open to editing every 10 seconds. This way, you were still architecting neat maneuvers while continuing to interact with the evolving battle.

Fleet Command was pretty good (as judged by the number of people playing it during CS class), but it was extremely ugly under the hood, and finishing it would be a pain. When I finally decided to finish the project about a month ago, I resolved to start over entirely with good design and a totally unrelated but cool new name: Asp.

Asp has already progressed past Fleet Command, and it looks better graphically and in the code. Adding proper menus and structure shouldn't be a problem. I originally envisioned Fleet Command as having a fleet-purchasing customization element, 4 wholly unique factions (each with a full campaign story), and a bunch of other features. That's been reduced to one playable faction, one enemy faction, and one campaign. If I'm sufficiently intrigued, I might go back and add the other features later, but for now I'm just focused on getting a release candidate together.

Expect Asp in the next few weeks.

1 comment:

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