Here is a compilation view of the 4 playable races’ concepts, so you can better compare them side by side. Relative ship sizes are roughly as i envision them in the game, with ‘heavies’ being the largest, and ‘fast race’ being the smallest.
Finally we arrived at the probably most popular race, the Heavies. Needed virtually no redesign compared to the original artwork, just needed to draw in much higher detail. Game balancing wise, the Heavy race is pretty straighforward, they will be the simple tank & gank race, without any special abilities, and also, being the slowest of them all.
The Heavy race is probably the most well established of my sci-fi factions, and closest to my natural art style. A very similar faction was already featured in an older, never publicly released game of mine, and also in my generic sci-fi universe project for which i made some 3D ships in the past. The first variation is how they appear in Star Temple TD (darker hull, orange engines and windows), the other one being how they appeared in the aforementioned older game of mine (lighter hull, blue engines and windows, ‘Homeworld’ paint).
You are welcome to tell which variation you like more
In my series of racial redesigns, i arrived at the Standard race. For quite some time, i was like, what to do with them? They were the sort of uninteresting ‘filler race’ in Star Temple TD, having the role of common easy enemies, without any special traits. For some time it was in question to even make them a playable race at all. Then they started to take shape as my universe’s noble race. Traditional, honorable, diplomatic. Having beautiful, ornate ships to reflect that.
This one again, took much longer to complete than expected, but the result might be worth it. It was the biggest redesign this far as well. Also the first one, where the color scheme changes as well compared to the one it’s based on. Could not decide which one to make the race’s base color scheme yet, so multiple variations included. Even if decided, alternate schemes might be used for ship customization. You are welcome to tell me which one is your favourite.
Here is the next concept in the series i planned, one for each faction. This time it’s the ‘Fast race’. I really feel i should make it a priority to think of some proper names for the factions, as it sounds so silly addressing them as ‘Shield race’, ‘Fast race’ and such… sorry for that, have to identify them somehow until backstory work has started.
This one took way longer than the Shield one. I think this was mostly because the Fast race’s art style is farther apart from my natural art style than the Shield race. Closest to it being the Heavy race actually (Those who know my Homeworld past shouldn’t be surprised about that)…
Another reason might be, that the Fast race is kinda my least favourite faction. Yes… because they remind me of THAT race from EVE. That caused Amarr to be forever underpowered.
Also, a hard decision was whether to use clearly vertical detailing, or try to keep it as ‘flat’ as possible, because the end product will be top-down 2D. In the end i decided to keep the vertical shape (the center spine of the ship with the laser domes, that is rising above the rest of the hull). If it turns out to be problematic later in the game, i can still flatten it, but i generally think, a design is more proper if it uses all three dimensions.
In my last post i tried to do a ship in 3D. While im satisfied with the looks, the process of modeling them in 3D is just too slow for the amount of ships i would require. I might still finish the 3D Fast Boss eventually, but working out the art pipeline for the MMO is top priority.
So, as a next try i did a rough concept of one of the ‘Shield race’ ships. I like how it turned out, and also, the amount of time needed was acceptable. Best of all, i don’t need to do this for all the ships, just one per race, because it basically lays down the updetailed characteristics for the given race. So, this is how the ‘Shield race’ ships would look like in the MMO. In the lower right corner you can see the original Star Temple TD sprite and it’s source artwork.
I still need to figure out how to create the actual ingame art though…
You might already know, that i plan on reusing the races, and some of the ships from Star Temple TD. The ships would be remastered of course, to be shown in higher detail in the MMO. I am exploring multiple ways of how it would be efficient to recreate the ships in higher detail. One of them is 3D modeling them.
This started as a study model of what level of detail i could achieve reasonably quick. Seems 3D will not be an option, unless i can find a resonable detail compromise, and significantly cut down on production time. It already took too long to get to this state. However, i will still try to finish it, as it’s own project, because i am quite satisfied with how the Fast Boss holds up as a full-fledged 3D ship.
Thought i could write a summary of currently available spaceship combat themed MMO-s out there (At least the ones i am aware of), what i like about them, and what not so much. So let’s begin:
What other game to start with, than EVE Online. My numero uno candidate for having the potential of being the perfect game, still. Even after i stopped playing it after 6+ years because the developers having taken a direction i do not like. EVE Online has the best ship fitting system. Ship fitting is the single most attractive feature to me in any spaceship game. EVE does it awesome. We can spend hours just planning possible ship setups.
EVE also has an awesome PVP system, that is unlike any other MMO i encountered. Simple to use, but very complex, unlike some of the more popular MMO-s, skill does not mean having to press 20 different ability buttons with split second precision, but actually using tactics while fitting, and then piloting your ship in combat. There is range dictation, damage dealing, electronic warfare, energy warfare.
EVE, unlike other MMO-s has a very harsh death penalty. I always liked that, because it gave winning or dying an additional sense of weight other games could not convey. If you lost your ship, you actually was about to tear your hair out of frustration. And if you won, you knew your victim did feel the same. This could give a kind of satisfaction no other game could.
The downside of the game is, that it always was kind of like a second workplace. The harsh death penalty, and other gameplay aspects require you to actually work in the game, to get the required financial backbone. Recent balancing changes made it so, that some of the fun activities are even more expensive/harder to access now. The multiple factors that made me stop play EVE in the end might be worth a separate post in the future.
Star Trek Online:
Reluctant to try it at first, when i realized that EVE irreversibly changed for the worse, i gave it a shot. Surprisingly, the space combat was quite enjoyable. It even had decent ship fitting. I quicky found myself calculating DPS, and other stats, similarly how i done it for EVE. Spending hours to plan my ship setup. As a huge Star Trek fan, i also enjoyed flying beautiful Federation ships.
But there were 2 huge let-downs to the game. First, the ground part. I absolutely believe STO would have been a better / more succesful game if they omitted the ground part altogether. Or at least, made it optional. Like Star Wars Empire of War, where you could simply set the ground missions to auto-resolve. After a while, the ground missions were all but a burden i had to endure in order to get the next enjoyable space part.
The other thing that sort of killed the game experience for me had something to do with PVP balancing. Some more hardcore STO players might call me a noob here, but bear in mind, im a casual player. So, up until hitting the maximum level of the game (lvl 50), i used to be quite good at PVP. So good, that i had most DPS about 80% of the time i played a PVP match. It was not uncommon where i had more DPS than all of the team combined. I was quite satisfied, as it seemed all my calculations paid off. Then, one day i hit level 50. Eagerly i joined a PVP match, and then…. my glorious ship was FUCKING OBLITERATED in like 2 seconds by some insane stream of unending DPS. My mind was blown, jaw dropped somewhere at the other end of the room. After slowly starting to comprehend what just happened, i respawned in my ship, and tried again. Sort of same result. My life expectancy varied between 2 and 5 seconds after being engaged. Of course i tried other PVP matches. Results were sometimes a bit better, sometimes not, but it was nothing like when i was below lvl 50. I even bought a premium ship from their store, thinking ‘if this is what you need to stay competitive, then whatever, lets try..’, but to no avail. In my best matches i managed to have like mediocre DPS, in my damage fitted premium ship. I tried reading up all sorts of guides, and it seemed that you need some very specific set of ultra high level gear and weapons to stay competitive. But WTF… everyone at lvl 50 instantly has those? And what if i want to retain a bit of personality to my ship, and keep my purple beams? I even got nifty max level ones of those. Anyway, such a sudden, unexplained, glaring change in PVP performance does not seem right (even after buying premium content), it’s ought to be more of a balancing than a skill issue.
Also, unlike EVE, STO has no real death penalty. Similar to most MMO-s in this regard. While it is easier to take losses, it takes away that special satisfaction, and heightened adrenaline you got from EVE PVP.
Dark Orbit, Spaceship Command, BSG Online etc..
The browser games. I actually don’t know any other full-blown MMO-s featuring spaceship combat. The browser games are usually all much simpler than they should be, having incredibly primitive fitting system if any, rudimentary, or no physics, and quite limited choice of options. They are also obnoxiously pay-to-win oriented.
I am really pissed by the fact that my favourite race is continuously underpowered. So much in fact, that i decided that the only solution is… to make my own MMO. I am insane, right? You heard it right. My primary motivation for doing an MMO is to exact revenge in the name of my favourite faction from the otherwise excellent, and almost perfect game EVE Online.
You might indeed think i am insane. If you have had anything to do with game development, you might well know that an MMO game is way beyond the reach of a hobbyist developer. There are full articles discouraging indie / hobbyist game developers from attempting an MMO. So wtf, how i am supposed to do it? Well, it is exactly this, and other related things what this blog will be about. Maybe it will be a huge failure, maybe it will be decent, maybe some of you will actually enjoy it at some point in the future. Until that, you are invited to follow me!
If you are just a casual gamer, who is into space battles, you might also be interested in following this blog, and this project.
Last but not least, here is my great offer: If CCP decides to give all lasers x2 damage, which i believe would be needed to make Amarr competitive, i will officially cancel this project, and re-subscribe to EVE right away!
You may already, or may not yet know my game Star Temple TD. It is my first publicly released, more or less serious game. It is a sci-fi themed tower defence, with a bit of unique physics and intense graphics. It is a flash game, with it’s own website, and a server-database, so you can access your data and achievements from anywhere.
I had the MMO idea long before Star Temple TD, right after my very first flash game, which was never released. Star Temple TD started out as a little side project, with the engine having been largely done within a matter of a few months. Then i lost motivation, and dropped it for a while, before showing it to a few class mates, who liked it. After a long list of events, the decision was made, to extend it from a stand-alone flash game into a full website, where users have to register and such. Thus, it became a testbed for a lot of technologies, and a huge practice project, partly paving the way for the MMO.
If you already know the game, some of the ships, and races are likely to reappear in the MMO, with appropriately updetailed graphics, and proper backstory of course.
Link to the game: Star Temple TD
Test content please ignore.