Greetings, citizens ~
This week it’s the Explorer’s turn, the 2nd part of our “End Goals document”.
List of player roles:
In the previous dev blog, there was some misconception on what our intentions were with these 6 player “roles”, we would like to clarify on that first.
For us, the “roles” represent player archetypes, extremely one-sided examples of what a specific type of player might want to do. We use those mindsets or “roles” to determine what we can add to StarMade to make that area of gameplay possible as a whole, making each role an enjoyable experience on its own.
Any everyday player will naturally fall under several roles and play the game however they want. These roles are not forced in any way, and are not even mentioned anywhere else outside the end goal document. They are just something we’re using internally to get structure in a long list of gameplay directions and features.
In contrast with the Builder role, the exploration aspect of StarMade is currently not well developed. This role is for the players who like exploring a game world and uncovering mysteries, lore and interesting areas along their journey.
Flying out and discovering different places in the universe is “exploration”, but so is exploring every gameplay aspect of the game.
Not only do you find new places but also new block systems and how those influence your play style. However, we don’t have to delve deeper into this particular gameplay aspect, as it is already addressed in the “Builder” role and the following dev blogs.
Here, we only focus on the game world and what it has to offer for the Explorer.
Before throwing yourself into the unknown, you need something worth exploring first. We want to create a dynamic world that has a limited amount of interesting areas, and danger in between. Exploration itself would be encouraged in multiple ways.
~ Resources: Restructuring the universe to condense most resources into relatively small areas will make them stand out much more than the generic space surrounding it. Uncommon resource rich regions will automatically become points of contention, and therefore points of interest where players, as well as NPCs will be drawn to.
The end result is that, without adding anything else, only a relatively small area of a galaxy is worth exploring and anything in between could be filled with some hurdle to overcome to add some variation to the vast emptiness of space.
~ Content: These points of interests would, in addition to its resource richness, contain much more to increase its exploration value.
This could be anything, ranging from different stellar objects to treasures and loot. Examples could be moons, nebulae, gas giants, different types of stars (supernova), black/white holes, and other abnormalities each with their own effects. Fauna and flora could add greatly to this system too, but would be an add-on feature.
~ Out-of-ship exploration is a whole other chapter: stations, ships, planets, dungeons, caves and fauna add countless possibilities for adding unique content. Upgrades to astronaut equipment could be found and crafted with these resources, encouraging you to leave your ship’s safety and gather those few materials you need by hand.
~ NPC Factions: Their primary role is to fill the universe with history and lore, making it feel alive where every NPC owned entity would have real astronauts walking around. Some of these factions need some extra diversity to make them stand out more to make it easier for a player to align to at least one of them.
~ Danger: Natural hazards, hostile factions and other dangerous anomalies would need to be added to restrict the amount of freedom a player has when exploring. The extra challenge is sorely needed yet should not become a nuisance. The main requirement for this to work properly would be to have a structured galaxy where certain areas are always easily accessible with little to no dangers.
~ Quest and Reward system: Quests, either given by NPC’s or triggered automatically (finding a log book), will point the player to new and other interesting areas. Although finishing the quest would give rewards, they mostly serve to encourage the player to go beyond what they already know. Additional progression can also be given with collectibles or rare decorative items, introducing some more lore.
~ Events: Generated events like battles, trading routes, raids, space creatures, mysterious faction appearances and supernovae will add more immersion and life to an artificial universe, and making sure the player encounters them without having to actively search them out. As an option, we could have end-game events to spice things up when a SP or MP world starts becoming stale.
~ End-game: Several entities in the game (prominently NPC factions) will not only provide events, but also a real challenge for anyone. The farther the player goes “out”, the more dangerous it will get to the player with the void being the most dangerous area.
~ Map information: The current interface that shows you what the galaxy looks like has no level of detail system, overflowing players with tons of information they don’t need.
With the point of interest system, where only a handful of systems contain most interesting parts, we can hide and show that information from the player. We can also rely on graphical elements to attract players as nebulas and giant stars would easily be seen on the map.
As each point of interest would be unique in some way, it would also be information worth trading with other players or NPC factions.
~ Transportation: How balanced the thrusters and jump drives are right now is unclear, mostly because the third option, Warp gates, are far from usable. The warp gate is supposed to be the ultimate traveling mechanic to get from one to another that has a huge setup cost in comparison as its downside.
Besides generated old/deactivated warp gates, the player and NPC created ones suffer from an issue where they are too easily destroyed. It will take some testing to narrow down which areas need to be altered to alleviate this issue.
One galaxy to rule them all
Procedural generation, the tool that allows us to create an infinite world comes with a large downside that mainly affects exploration. Everything you see and encounter along the way, is generated content and you will see the same over and over again. Not only that, but the recurring patterns devalue every little handcrafted piece.
We cannot avoid this issue, yet we can mitigate the problem.
The starting galaxy, with perhaps a few islands of stars, is big enough to create an unique enough environment for a player to enjoy.
The trick isn’t necessarily to create enough content to fill it up, but to spread it out properly and make sure the player does not see it all in one day. It is also why we are focusing on these points of interests, as those act as small islands in an endless ocean.
A few higher priority bugs were found in the pre-build version that we fixed now. Currently we’re doing some additional pre-release testing to make sure there are no other remaining high priority issues.
In case you’re interested in helping us out with some testing, make sure to check out our pre-release post here. Remember to always use a separate installation for preview builds as they may potentially include game-breaking issues.
If you come across anything new that doesn’t work or you believe you’ve located a new bug, report that here to help us out: Report a Bug (Release Candidate)
As always, thank you for playing StarMade!
~ The Schine Team