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

Expansion pack underway

There will be an expansion pack for GSB, and it’s still a little way off, but I did some work on it today so it’s fresh in my mind. Before I release it, there will be another mainstream GSB patch, mainly to improve the modding support to tidy things up and make mods more manageable. After the pack, who knows what’s next?

Anyway… current plans for the pack are to introduce a new race to the game. It will have the same variety of ships as the other races. The ships will also have a few race-specific modules, and some quite drastic ship bonuses. It was a relief to work out that ship bonuses can be negative, meaning this new batch of ships will have weak shields, weak armor, and very strong hulls. My plan is that these ships can take a sustained battering and rely on hull strength and repair systems. The new weapons will be kinetic bullet-firing stuff, like gauss guns / autocannons. I’ve been sorting out the sounds and visuals for them today. There will also be two new scenarios featuring the new race, and it will likely come pre-unlocked so if you buy it you can play with that race immediately.

The existence of a paid expansion pack means that some people will be uploading challenges other people can’t play. This is already handled, because there is a system for challenges to mark what ‘packages’ are installed, and thus the UI could flag challenges that you can’t play. I need to finalise the UI for that though…

Whenever a developer releases an expansion pack, there are always debates from a small subset of players that expect the content for free, or oppose the idea of expansion packs. Personally, I’m a huge supporter of them. I wish Company of Heroes had many more! The way I see it, expansion packs are about giving people options. Some people will snap up extra GSB content immediately. Many players will not. The main thing is you have the choice. Why release a game at a high price that puts some people off when you can release the core game at a lower price and let people choose if they want to have extra content?

I haven’t picked a price for the pack yet, I keep changing my mind on that.  I’m only looking to recoup the cost of making it, so it’s just a matter of how many people I think will buy it, balanced against the art and sound costs and the time working on it.

11 thoughts on Expansion pack underway

  1. As your game is high quality and low cost, and I know the money I spend goes directly to you, expansion packs are cool with me. I look forward to the new scenarios more than the new race, and I hope you will consider putting out more sets of scenarios.

  2. I can see the new race is about to become my favorite! :D
    I’m all for expansion packs. As you say, it gives people the choice but it also means that you get more of what you wanted in the first place instead of a new game that for some reason the developer feels needs to be totally different. I liked Kudos 2 because you seemed to avoid that trap.

  3. Yarb, I have to say that while it sometimes seems a little galling to pay for content on a game that already got me to shill out $50 or $60, with a $20 game it really should be expected to pay. For that matter, even on costlier games I’ve dished out the cash when it seems worth it. Well. Ok. I did that once, with Mechwarrior 4 where I bought both variants of the game, plus all 3 expansions.

  4. Will buy it if equal or below
    price_until_today / amount_of_current_stuff * amount_of_new_stuff

    So, regarding races:
    20$ / 4 * 1 = 5$


  5. Autocannons? Gauss weapons? Kinetic bullet weapons? Please, please, please add in the variables needed for salvo weapons! (and please make them usable for *all* weapons)

  6. salvo code will work with all weapons, so modders can have fun with it :D (plus I might get around to adding some rapid fire lasers as new modules)

  7. The rule of thumb in the games industry at large is you are doing *well* to get 10% of players to buy the expansion pack. If you aim at 5% then that might be about right.

  8. I’m really mixed on the concept of expansion packs. I’m especially concerned about this one. I suppose in your case it’s a “hey I need money to make new content,” but I still get that greedy businessman thing going through my head….. One thing that is really concerning here is that it’s so early into game development. Releasing paid expansions or any expansions really, so soon after release seems like you didn’t finish the game in the first place (being questioning/pessimistic here), unless of course you keep releasing expansions in which case you didn’t ‘complete’ the game but are offering a core which the user can customize which I suppose would be fine.
    If you release expansions (especially paid) I would suggest having an on/off or a dual copy of the game so modded players can still play with mainstream players. Being that it’s a multiplayer game I feel this is important because you don’t want to split up your gamer community. :D

    Just my 2.5 cents. ;)

  9. How will the new kinetic weapons differ from the existing “bullet” based weapons (like pulse lasers)?

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