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iPad: DemoCrytus: An upcoming 4x space strategy game

07-30-2010, 07:15 PM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
DemoCrytus: An upcoming 4x space strategy game

Hey fellow gamers,

So I've noticed that there's a distinct lack of 4x strategy games (space ones in particular) on the iPhone/iPad. I think the turn-based nature of such games would translate really well onto the iPad, so I've decided to start developing one. Not to mention turn-based strategy games are generally easier to develop (well... in a technical sense they are easier to program, but in a game design sense they are probably the most difficult to get right)

I thought I'd make this announcement a little different in that I'd like to let you guys in on the whole development cycle from the beginning. It will be interesting to keep a log of the game's progress here, and hopefully it will be be exciting to see the game slowly take shape! I'm going to try and include some technical details as well, maybe encourage/inspire some budding developers here to start on their own projects as well!

For TBS/4X games, the user interface is one of the most important aspects, so I want to make the UI as smooth and slick as I can, and hopefully draw in some interesting interactions as well.

Latest screenshots:

Flash prototypes/tests of interesting game mechanics & ideas
Galaxy map designer test
Tactical swarming test (buggy)
Tactical swarming test (using Box2D, much better)

The game will be turn-based as that is the easiest for me to code, and I don't have a huge amount of time to work on this. The gameplay will be based on an old PC game called Stars! which I loved playing during the 1990s. I'll also draw inspiration from Master of Orion, GalCiv2, Sins of a solar empire etc...

The first version will be single-player, using simple goal-based resource allocation AI.

Please contribute any ideas/feedback, I hope to re-ignite the 4x space strategy genre as it seems to have died out in recent years With help from the community here, I hope to make this a good one!


Last edited by Phi6; 09-11-2010 at 10:19 AM.
07-30-2010, 07:50 PM
I LOVED Stars!
It was about my favorite space game. Killer. I hope it goes well for you, it's a tough one to get right. Stars! Supernova went... well... poof a while ago when they couldn't find a publisher - which is a huge shame.

Both AI only or multiplayer-only will be a lot of work. Unless you have an AI already designed to plop into a space game (undesigned) it will be harder to troubleshoot and balance the AI.

The problem you'll run into-with multiplayer only - is alienating a large chunk of players. Those that don't care to play multiplayer.

Personally, I think I would go AI first, even considering the balance and AI design challenges. You can announce that the multiplayer version will be next, after the first bug-fix build.

My 2 cents.

07-31-2010, 12:12 AM
I would also go AI only for the initial releases. Everyone can play single player, but many people won't buy a game that requires multiple human players. I suspect it will be easier to add multiplayer later rather than AI. Developing a good AI will be very challenging, though.
07-31-2010, 09:28 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Ballarat, Vic, Australia
Posts: 416
Send a message via Skype™ to klicktock
At the same time, "Words With Friends" has been very popular due to its ability to link players quickly and easily and run multiple games at a time, connect friends and strangers alike.
07-31-2010, 10:16 AM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 116
Single player for sure. I won't buy a multiplayer only game.

Love it that you want to include people form the start. Will be monitoring this thread.
07-31-2010, 01:19 PM
Originally Posted by klicktock View Post
At the same time, "Words With Friends" has been very popular due to its ability to link players quickly and easily and run multiple games at a time, connect friends and strangers alike.
That's true, but Words With Friends is a much simpler game than a true 4X space strategy would be. I think that kind of multiplayer works best with a game that people can grasp with just a couple of minutes of explanation. A strategy game of any depth is rarely that.
07-31-2010, 03:20 PM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
Hi guys,

It seems you guys want single player AI so that will be in the first version. I will probably make it initially multiplayer on one device, ie. take turns like on a board game so that I can test it with multiple players in one game and tweak game balancing etc.. and also it will help me formulate strategies for AI.

I always find that if you let human players have a go, they quickly develop efficient strategies that I would never have thought of, and these can be the basis of very interesting AI behaviour.

I'll continue working on the UI and will be able to post up another screenshot fairly soon.
07-31-2010, 09:02 PM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
Although I'd normally like to keep the 4x spirit alive and make the tactical and strategic elements as deep as possible, I decided to simplify some elements in Stars! that I felt was overcomplicated and redundant.

For example, in Stars! you would have both population and resources. You would need to build factories which manufacture resources based on amount of population available, and then you'd allocate these resources to research or more manufacturing. For raw materials required to build ships, Stars! provided 3 materials, Ironium, Boranium and Germanium. Also you need fuel to power these ships, which is manufactured by factories.

For my game, I decided to condense all of this down to just 2 variables.

1. Population (which would serve three purposes of manufacturing, colonisation and allocating to research)
2. Generic "raw materials" number instead of the 3 types of materials in Stars!
When playing Stars! I felt that the individual materials were not significant to me at all, all I wanted to know was whether I had enough to build a ship I wanted. So I think one value is enough.

For ship fuel, I think the raw materials can be used directly.

The same goes for planet habitability. Instead of having 3 separate values for radiation, temperature and gravity which determines habitability depending on your racial traits, a planet is now either green (habitable), amber (borderline), red (hostile). We can hide the unnecessary numbers and figures from the player, all they need to know is 'Will my colonists grow or die on this planet? Is this planet worth colonising? '

What I hope to achieve from this simplification is that the game will become less number crunching and less "spreadsheet-like" and therefore more accessible to less experienced players but still give the player the ability to balance their resources using only numbers that are genuinely useful and meaningful. Of course, I don't want to oversimplify too much, or we might as well go and play Galcon!

For those unfamiliar with Stars!, I hope to boil down the gameplay and remove all the unnecessary chaff to the following:

1. You send scouts to unexplored planets.
2. If those planets are either amber or especially green, you spend some raw materials to build colony ships.
3. Load the colony ships with colonists (your population) and perhaps additional payload of raw materials and send them off to those new planets for colonization.
4. Meanwhile the enemy will be doing the same thing, colonizing their own planets.
5. When the players meet, they will attempt to take over each other's planets by unloading colonists to the target planet, resulting in a ground war.
6. You will want to stop enemy colonizers from dumping their people on your planet, so you'll have fighters and warships to destroy their ships before they arrive.

I believe that is the absolute minimum required to have a game worth playing. Of course, I want to add in additional features such as bombing, mine laying, star gates, myster traders, starbases etc... they will add interesting mechanics and deepen the gameplay, but for my initial playable version they are not required for the game to work.

I hope this results in gameplay that is more streamlined, requires less economic micromangement and so the focus shifts to tactics and strategy.

Last edited by Phi6; 09-11-2010 at 10:24 AM.
07-31-2010, 09:06 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Burlingame CA
Posts: 2,419
Hmm. You're making me want to go back and play Stars.
07-31-2010, 09:09 PM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
I cant believe so many people in this forum played it! I thought I was the only one :P

Or perhaps it is just the people that click on the link "4X space strategy game" :P