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

Selecting suitable user-generated fleets

I’m hoping that the Gratuitous Space Battles campaign add-on will make use of existing player-designed fleets to give a vast population of potential enemies to fight. Although this system is coded, in-use and working, it needs a lot of tweaking. (I also suspect it might be advisable for me to have this as an option, with a stockpile of ‘cliffski-designed’ fleets available for use instead). My current basic criteria for selection from existing fleets are:

  • Produced relatively recently (no beta or massively old challenges)
  • Has a good enjoyment Rating
  • Has more than x ratings (to ensure its not just a few friends)
  • Is valid (no modded content). The client filters out expansion pack fleets for people without them automagically.

I think, from my early playtesting, that I need a bunch more criteria. I’d like to avoid spammy fleets, or fleets where any ‘tricks’ are used. I think I need to at least add this:

  • All ships have engines
  • If the fleet is larger than X ships, then there is more than 1 type of ship design present, or no design is more than 75% of the hit point worth.
  • The fleet has more than x different weapons modules if larger than Y

The pain with this sort of thing, is although it’s trivial to do this in C++, I have to code all that sort of thing in php as it runs on my server. Effectively, new challenges get processed as they get rated, and may get added to the ‘potential campaign fleets’ list. That means lower productivity, as I’m more a C++ than a php coder, but that’s progress for you.

I’ve got a good few days work done on the campaign stuff, and am dfinitely 100% back into it. It’s still a long way off (I have music for it, but no art yet, for example), but its should be good fun. As long as sales pick up a bit, I hope to continue with improving the campaign after its launch too. There is huge potential for it, if people like it.

Also, I added a retweet me button thing to the blog today, feel free to use it!

10 thoughts on Selecting suitable user-generated fleets

  1. Are you going to have a bought-in beta process as with GSB? I missed that one, but am *really* looking forward to the campaign add-on, and would be happy to buy early and play with whatever betas you have to share.

  2. How exactly will this campaign operate? Will it be a single playable version along the lines of Master of Orion? Or……?
    I have read about a lot of what bits you are doing but haven’t found how all those bits will really fit together.
    You know – if it resembles an updated version of VGA planets i will kiss your feet.
    You have to pay airfare though.


  3. I am looking forward to this, but the problem is that people are utter fucking morons.

    As an example, my son loves playing Crush The Castle 2 (a relatively fun flash thing). A ‘feature’ of this is user-generated castles, and you can select by the number of likes, number of plays, etc. However, these castles – even the ones that have thousands of likes, are normally complete shit. For some unfathomable reason, people vote up ones that do nothing and can’t be played. The occasional rare one that is playable and interesting is completely lost among the chaos.

    I really hope you find a way around humans, is what I’m saying.

  4. I think you tackle this issue from the wrong side. If spammy fleets are unwanted, they should just perform badly. Then you could just laugh in the face of the spam-fleet and crush it. People would then in turn not submit fleets that are plain bad.

  5. Custom maps aren’t really an issue because the campaign code strips out the fleet from its surroundings and places it on a new battlefield, re-centering it and scaling the battlefield to suit.

    There is a slight issue there, in that a fleet designed for no-fighter or no-shield battles may turn up as your enemy, but don’t forget you are fielding a fleet that has to be universally good against everything, so it will still be a challenge.

    Plus your own fleets from the campaign itself will get re-used as enemies for other campaign players.

  6. Thnaks for the reply Cliff. I’m still having difficulty seeing how its all going to fit together, but my appetite is well and truly whetted.

    And using other campaign fleets for enemies is a great idea.

  7. Hey I like the idea, just wondering If you might allow some of the player made ships into the campain as an add-on? For example the super-cruisers that I have been tweeking with and trying to ballance out for the non-expasnion gameplay. They still have some shortcommings to using them and they are expensive to feild both cost and crew. But I think it would be something nice that we as players can look forward to later in the campain game.

    I do relize that any of the so called “Super” ships will be tested for issues of balance and other stuff before they are introduced. But it might be something that is good for a player to build up to.

  8. Rather than randomly pulling challenges according to an automated criteria, how about adding a checkbox to request submission for campaigns, missions, tournaments, and other events?

    This way you get fleets that were really meant to be played against other people.

    Otherwise, you could end up with some weird stuff, like people designing fleets to test out mods, people trying different bizzare tactics to see what happens, or one of the recent “Duel Down” tournaments that uses only a tiny fraction of the resources allowed on the map.

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