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iPhone: Game Idea: Top-Down, Space RPG

11-26-2008, 05:10 AM
#1
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
Game Idea: Top-Down, Space RPG

Hi there. I've come here a number of times in the past to take a look at game reviews and such, but I've had this one idea in my head for awhile now, and I wanted to put it to the proverbial paper. Lacking any computer programming experience, or the $99 to shell out for an SDK, I figured I might just pitch this idea and see how well it's received. Any of you guys ever play the old Star Control games, way back when?

Now, consider this: A top-down space sim, with smooth, sleek graphics that combines an open-ended, modular RPG storyline with active combat using a combination of the accelerometer and tapping.

There's a lot of potential with graphics these days, but I think that a smartly drawn 2D game could better use the physics capabilities the iPhone has to offer. Taking a look at Koi Pond, which is an absolutely gorgeous little app, it's plain that a 3D engine is not necessarily required to show off the glitz of the ARM processor. And through some of the physics games coming out, it's also being shown that there's a lot of good stuff in throwing things around too.

Of course, 3D capabilities can be useful. Consider a 3D starmap, where one uses the accelerometer to swivel the camera, and uses the drag and pinch to pan and zoom.

But that's a lot of stuff, and there's only so much that a person can do. So what do I propose for this game's development? Four tiers of awesomeness, where new features can be introduced into the game to not only increase satisfaction, but app life expectancy, and replayability.

1st Tier: The Basics. With each tier, there should be a focus on hitting one or two key aspects perfectly, while allowing future development to be transitioned in easily. In effect, design the game's skeleton to be big enough to include everything and the kitchen sink, but only lock down the bone structure first, and move outward. So in this game, how would that work?

The basic map is the starmap, where players can examine the galaxy, search for stars, read up on the locals, what have you. The starmap is mostly text based, almost a sitemap for the rest of the game. This allow all of the RPG text elements to be combined into a single area, so that active parts of the game can take the stage later. Swapping between inventory, character and quest information can be annoying if you're also trying to navigate your way through things actively, but pausing to load these screens can be equally so due to loading times. That option should be there, but the bulk of the info should be easily accessible from the Starmap screen.

Now, say a player chooses to head to, say our solar system. They enter the system map, the first active part of the game. Players use their accelerometer to explore the system. When they approach a planet, or perhaps the inner part of the system, it zooms in to appropriate that. For example, when our ship crosses over the asteroid belt, the focus becomes the inner part of the system. When they approach a planet, the zoom moves to the planet alone. Those who have played Star Control might easily see the similarities, and it is deliberate. For a game that had such limited computer resources, it also had a great deal of depth and exploration as well. But say our intrepid pilot's not so great at driving by tilt. The player can click on an area and the ship will simply "autopilot" toward it, in an arc befitting the ship's mobility. This allows players to easily focus on an area, while allowing them a more free-form exploration without repetitive tapping wherever they go.

If they encounter something, or perhaps dock at a station, it becomes a selection of text choices and the like. Simple enough. But what about when they're waylaid by space pirates? Then it moves into the pure action part of the game.

A simple interface, where the only thing that players need to know right then is their health and loadout. They fly by accelerometer, with "sluggish" physics. Small, fast fighters turn on a dime and pick up speed quickly after making a turn, where larger battleships have huge swings of turns, and require time to catch speed. Players can then fire as they desire. I had been considering options on multiple weapons, and have a few ideas for this. The first, and simplest (Though worst in my opinion), is to simply have icons for the varying weapons at the bottom, where players tap a weapon and start firing it. Another idea would be to simply have all weapons fire at once, though that can reduce the strategy of the game. The third, and best idea in my opinion is the use of gestures. For example:

Tap: Fires a blaster cannon or laser
Drag: Launches a physics-based weapon. Perhaps a rocket or bomb? The dragged direction can determine the initial facing of the projectile, letting players time their shots so that enemies will run into those bombs. Rockets would fire in a straight line, unaffected by the momentum of the ship at the time, whereas bombs would be dragged in a direction, depending on the movement of the ship.
Tap and Hold on Enemy: Lock and fire a homing missile. Better missiles require less lock time, or things like that.
Tap and Hold on You: Drop a mine.
Pinch: Perhaps tractor beams, or something like that?

With the power of the multi-touch, there's a lot of options to explore.

Now throw in a storyline with that, perhaps some character advancement, and an open-ended, growing world, and you have a delightful game in my opinion.

That right there is a lot, of course, but the basis is really only three major concepts: Menus with graphics, accelerometer , physics-based movement and gestured/multi-touch tapping.
There's more to try as well. Other things to consider for later tiers might be factions, random mission generating, player-added content and storylines, asynchronous (And perhaps, in one magnificent day in the future, real-time) multiplayer gaming, a 3D starmap, and beyond. I'll go into more detail later, but I'm rather tired now, so I'm going to crash out. Hopefully the idea sounds cool, and maybe some bored dev will pick it up, or just discuss it a bit more. I just didn't want it to die in my imagination.
05-29-2010, 05:37 AM
#2
The idea is not bad at all, I looking for it to a full game.
But what i really wanted is "Space Rangers 2: The Rise of Dominators" and "Elite 2: Frontier" to be as a remake version for iphone.