Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Alien races

I’m starting to get artwork for the second of four ‘fleets’ for the game. What this means is that it’s time to organize in code and data which ship belongs to which species.

Because this is a game about gratuitous space battles, I could go two ways:

1) I could devise very tongue in cheek backstories for each race, I was thinking of maybe having a race of brutal aliens who are psychologically driven to violent warfare due to the number of apostrophes in their names etc.

2) I could drop any pretence at giving a damn about backstory and call them generic names like “The Alliance” “The Rebels” “The Federation” “The Empire”. Etc.

I’m also toying with the idea of a random space race name generator which names your four races on first install, so that you have different names to them from everyone else.

Ho hum.

10 thoughts on Alien races

  1. I’d go for a hybrid of the two. Create a short backstory for something like 50 races (outsource this to your blog community), and then as part of the program startup (not install), have the races be randomly picked from the race database. If mixing up the artwork between the races gives you the willies, then have something like 10-15 races that go with the given artwork and have them be the pool for the randomization generator for that artwork set.

    Random is good, forced random at install may leave uses with a race name that makes them cry. And plain/generic/static backstories will cause you to lose out on a potential standout detail.

  2. As much as I love the idea of generating random race names for each player, I imagine it would make tech support a nightmare.

    Perhaps the random name generator could have a theme for each of the built in races? So race one is always excessively apostrophized, race two is always a vaguely evil sounding empire, race three is always a silly extrapolation of some stereotype of a current earth nation, etc.

    The idea of having a theme would help you to tie the race names to their art styles, even with some randomness.

  3. I like option (1) – go extra cheezy =) Option (2) limits you too much in terms of story and ship design. I don’t really see any benefit to having random names, plus it makes it hard for your players to discuss the game with others.

  4. Or you could pay some kid peanuts to write for your game just so he can live his dream and say he wrote for a video game.

    If I was any good at writing sci-fi I would raise my hand and say I’ll write you back-stories for a couple bucks but I don’t think I would be right for the job.

    I already think the game looks a lot like Weird Worlds, so I don’t think you should go the cheesy near-douglas adams look. It’s about huge space battles! There should be a serious conflict going on. Something both sides can fight on.

    Universal abortion. That’s what they should be fighting over. The pro-choice and anti-abortion conflict is definitely something huge space battles should be over.

  5. Hi Cliff,

    I would do proper races, with proper back stories – why taint your IP for further games (in different genres) with silly random names. I would prefer a more serious game story arch – even if this is a simple strategy game. Look at a classic like STARCONTROL that still has a near cult following a decade and a half later. Who doesnt know who the Spathi are or the Urquan etc.

    My 99c. :)


  6. If you ever want to make sequels, it’ll be good to have some sort of backstory for the races. It may be distasteful, but a lot of players like to know *why* they’re laying waste to alien fleets. Also, developing backstory is a good way to accumulate a fan base for the game. Hey, it’s worked for Jeff Vogel, right?


  7. Simcity 2000 had a nice news story system where the framework for each story was in place but certain key adjectives and nouns were selected randomly, giving some fairly unique (and occasionally hillarious) results.

    If you were to have randomly generated names that could be a way to get round the issue of a backstory, though it’s obviously more about the humour than the ability to generate really unique backstories.

Comments are currently closed.