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

Gratuitous Controllable Battles (yes really)

I’ve been working on an expansion pack for Gratuitous Tank Battles, but hit a bit of an admin snag in releasing it right now, which gave me time to do something else. As I’ve had this GSB update pending for ages, I thought I’d get around to finally releasing it for everyone. This isn’t just a minor tweak and bug fix, it adds some good stuff. You might want to update your copy, and try this one…

So what is in version 1.60 of Gratuitous Space Battles? Well a little list of tweaks but the two biggies are these:

1) New Feature: Direct control now lets you (optionally) issue orders or edit existing orders for ships mid-battle.
2) New Feature: Shockwave distortion and shield impact distortion effects have been added.

(Full list at the bottom)

Essentially, I have added an option to singleplayer GSB battles that lets you play the game like an RTS. For all those people who hated one of the central elements of the game (no control during battles), you now have that as an option. If you have played the game before, you might enjoy giving it a spin with the new option. (Sorry, the demo isn’t updated with this feature yet). If you were always on the fence about buying the game (which you can get here) because of the lack of control, now is the time to buy :D.

This is patch number 60, so it took me a while, but I thought ‘what the hell’.  I demonstrate how it works, along with some new visual effects added in this patch, in this video below. Please upvote it, or retweet it, or do what ever trendy things you socially-enabled gamers do these days. It’s much appreciated. And tell me what you think of it, too. BTW it’s a free update, not DLC. This update *will* make it to the steam copy, I just need to get them to update it.

Full change list:

version 1.60
1) New Feature: Direct control now lets you (optionally) issue orders or edit existing orders for ships mid-battle.
2) New Feature: Shockwave distortion and shield impact distortion effects have been added.
3) Tripled the maximum supported submunitions per missile from 6 to 18, as requested.
4) Game now supports instant re-start with new settings from the options screen.
5) In mass-deploy mode you cannot now accidentally snap out of it by selecting an existing ship, which was annoying.

15 thoughts on Gratuitous Controllable Battles (yes really)

  1. :) Cliff, this is very, very cool!! I can’t wait to get this. Very, very nice!
    I’m hoping this ignites a nice new round of interest in GSB, i always felt sort of out of the loop with it, but fell in love with your GTB, and now GSB plays like this too!

    Think i will be ordering as soon as payday comes next week. Thank you for a cool update.


  2. Wonderful addition (in theory…yet to try it with the changes).

    GSB is still an under-exploited classic in my view. The tactical battle system that is GSB would make a better tactical resolver than any of the current tactical combat systems in the space 4X games.

  3. i’m a game designer too, and i really loved the ‘set your army up and send it to fight’ mechanic. I LIKED not being able to ‘direct control’. It’s all about setting it up before the fight. I admire your game the way it is. Please don’t fix what isn’t broken.

    Love the ‘glass’ shield effect. with the ripple….perhaps make it happen after the atmosphere from the ship has been vented?

  4. Hi Cliff – a fantastic update – thank you! This is another example of why I love supporting indie devs.

    The shield effects are great, but the ability to add a degree of direct control in single player missions and campaign battles is simply awesome – its a superb addition to the game.

    Jon – these options are completely optional (you can opt to disable direct control), so if you don’t want to enable them, you’re free not to do so.

    As a game designer, you may want to consider options for your players as “a good thing” – its their game too :)

  5. What would be awesome is a feature were you use this ‘control’ option in challenges created by you, and then play them yourself with the control option. It would add a little more challenge instead of playing the same single-player missions over and over. And you could make the game as difficult as you want!

  6. You said in a previous post: “The problem is, that people do NOT know what they want. people want a better version of what they already have. in other words, they want sequels and remakes, and not truly innovative new stuff. That isn’t ACTUALLY what they want, but it’s what they think they do.”

    Some gamers DO know what they want the problem is of course being thorough and intelligent enough to articulate it. Which most gamers aren’t. Also how did original games get noticed to begin with? The real problem is making new games that are fresh are difficult because it requires a lot of thinking and intelligence about where current games are broken. You have to be able to understand the things about gamers minds they themselves don’t understand for instance. It’s a lot of psychology and reverse engineering of why a game fails or why fun breaks in blockbuster games for instance.

    There’s tonnes of stuff I’d love to add to GSB for instance from 4X games like Civ, etc. The problem is it takes too much time and work and you would have to write small book length stuff on breaking down the mechanics, and how they work. It would also require active prototyping and most gamers aren’t coders/modders.

    The best gamers usually have some modding experience so if that is coupled with high intelligence and ability to understand other gamers minds you get stuff like League of legends and DOTA.

    RTS games were stagnating for a long time then expert gamers found the fun and weaknesses in the old RTS design. League of legends is proof that game design and finding the fun is a hard problem. When it takes expert fans to find the fun that means FUN is non-obvious and a lot of work that usually comes out of modding the game and experimentation. That is why many gamers opinions are so ill informed.

    So I think we can just say “Fun is hard” and requires lots of work/time that not everyone has to spend outside hardcore fans/developers with lots of free time to tinker.

  7. Finally had a chance to tried out the update.
    1. Loaded a previous deployment
    2. Ticked “direct control”
    3. Fight!
    4. Clicked around a bit.
    5. Selected multiple ships
    6. Right click on an enemy ship.
    7. Crashed.

    Let me know if there is something I can do to help you debug the issue.


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