An eye on the future – 1

Posted by Storm On December 12, 2014

Gods-eye

Since we launched our beta on Desura, we had a small but happy player base that is literally flooding us with precious feedbacks.

God, we love them. They’re doing a real difference in shaping Gates of Horizon for the better.

Some of the ongoing discussions are a bit more delicate, though; we’ve been working on them for months, and are a bit longer to explain.

So, in this post I’m going to explain some of them a bit more in depth, with no particular order.

Let’s start :-)

QUESTS

“Where are our quests? How do I know what to do next? It’s booooring here, nothing to do!”

This is usually one of the first feedbacks we get from new players.

And, as every feedback, it’s a good one, a great one. We’re not, by any chance, underestimating this matter.

When we started designing Gates of Horizon, we chose to make a sandbox. And a sandbox, by definition, leaves the player free to do everything without putting him on a rail.

This is why we chose to avoid any game element that could lead the player to just click where the game is pointing or suggesting, turning his brain off. And the classic quest pattern it’s exactly that: “go get this object”, “go kill this enemy”, “well done, here’s the prize”.

Still, we understand that just going around mining asteroids and killing mindless enemies, at some point, will become boring. We need to develop something that can give a purpose to actions, that can be challenging, and that can lead players to play together.

Our idea for a solution is: Instanced Events.

Events are very similar to quests, but they bring in a bit more complexity and a bit of storytelling too.

You pass through a special Gate and you find yourself, together with your fleet, in a small portion of universe where something is going to happen, and you are part of it.

As an example: you jump in, and receive a help request from a cargo ship with a broken hyperdrive engine, that is desperately trying to reach the gate in order to flee from a chasing alien fleet. Your task is to attack and destroy the incoming waves of aliens before they destroy the cargo ship. If the cargo makes it through the gate, your fleet will receive a reward.

Instanced events will also help with the endgame, that at the moment is a bit missing: when you manage to build a couple of battleships, it is very hard for a “simple” enemy team to win over, without some form of scripted AI, but we’re not happy about┬ájust scripting “free” enemies, we want something better.

We’re working hard to implement this. It will take quite a lot of time, but we’re on it, and it’s a big priority for us.

AUTOMATIC TASKS

While making the “interactive” game a bit more interesting and challenging with events, we want to make the “repetitive” part of the game easier and hassle-free, making it automatable.

For this reason, we’re polishing two quick and easy automated orders for ships: automatic mining, and automatic hunting.

The first is simple: you point a mining ship toward an asteroid belt, and it will go on mining and bringing back mineral on station as long as you have free cargo space.

The latter is just a bit trickier: you point a combat ship toward an enemy waypoint, and it will go hunting for enemies until its hull fall under 20%, then it will flee, dock, and stop. Obviously, you CAN be destroyed before making it to safety, but these are standard occupational hazards, right? :-)

We already have something barely working, but it definitely needs polishing. We expect automatic tasks to be available in the near future.

LIVE EVENTS

In the meantime, and as a nice appointment with players, we’re trying to organize scheduled live events.

In these events, a group of GM (real people!) will drive a small fleet of aliens inside a system, bringing green chaos around. Players will have a chance to react to this, and collect some nice rewards.

This will be very useful for us as it is a moment to meet with players, collectively test lots of things, and have lot of fun together :-)

We’ll give news on this very soon.

FREE TRADE

Lots of players asked us about a chance to freely trade items and money between players.

We’re just being cautious here, and we’re trying to think about all possible side effects. Even if this seems to be a very “basic” feature, it can have great impact on game balance; for example, it would be really easy to powerlevel a friend giving him tons of money.

We think we will end up implementing a method to exchange items and credits between corporations, but introducing a sort of “transfer cost”, based on money amount, or item value.

Another quick intervention we are thinking about is to dramatically lower the required standing needed to acquire a Deep Space Station Builder component. This would allow a holding of new players to have a Holding Cargo and a common account to easily share items and money, with the handy side effect of allowing players of enjoying having a Holding HQ soon in the game.

This last modification will be up with the next, upcoming release.

 

Want us to talk about something? Write to us, we’re listening.

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