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

Finally realized I need to explain the core mechanics

Gratuitous Space Battles was a relatively big hit game (at least for positech), but it managed it despite some hilariously bad decisions. The lack of any decent explanation of how the core game mechanics work has to be one of them… For example the whole thing where some beam lasers bounced off shields, and some did damage, and you had no idea how or why probably upset some people. It was all explained in the manual, which obviously nobody read, because it looked like an RTS or an arcade game and thus such things aren’t necessary…bah.

The mechanics in GSB2 are slightly different, in that weapons have a fixed ‘damage’ but the effectiveness of that damage varies by hull/armor/shield. So a weapon might do 100 damage, at 50% if it goes straight to hull, 75% to armor, and 200% to shields. That makes it an awesome shield-hammering weapon, but not one you’d want to deliver the killer blow.

At least now a new part of the pop-up tutorial stuff does this:


Which should at least mean a higher percentage of people pay attention to that stuff. Now I think about it, I should probably add some code that encourages weapons to select targets based on their effectiveness. ARGHHHHH.


4 thoughts on Finally realized I need to explain the core mechanics

  1. I think it’s always nice to have that information available when you design the ship. For example, when you are deciding to add a Laser Module II or a Phaser Module I to a ship (made up names, obviously) it is quite nice to see ALL the information that the game would use with that weapon: weight size, power requirement, firing rate, shield penetration, etc. Make that part of the tool-tip or a “Info” popup if need be. Also, some of the derived information (such as DPS vs. shield, DPS vs. armor, DPS per power used, etc.) would be nice too, so people don’t have to have a second monitor with a spreadsheet to try and design a ship to counter a Borg cube (again, made up name.)

    It is also great to be able to pause the battle, click on a pair of ship (or a weapon and a target), and see how effective that ship/weapon is — maybe requiring a scanner module/ commanding ship. For example, ship A is doing X damage to ship B’s shield a second, and ship B + C is providing Y amount of shield recharge per second to ship B. If X >> Y, you can just let ship A hammer on ship B. Otherwise, a better tactic would be to switch target. Currently in GSB 1, you can see all these colored numbers flying out of the ship, but a summary number would be nice.

    Taking that further, maybe there can be a small information panel to provide that information for the whole battle, one column per side, with one row each for DPS inflicted and received on shield/armor/hull, etc.

  2. Indeed, I could do a better job on that, although the current version in game will let you bring up stats for every individual turret and show you their hit ratio, shots fired etc. I think a lot of stuff like this will improve once the game is in beta and I get some players hands-on feedback.

  3. I found once GSB allowed me to see the damage levels for each hit things became much clearer. I could now what did what and then if I questioned it I could go back and look at a component better.
    Stopped reading manuals after Microprose went out of business and a 2 disk game no longer shipped with a 250 page manual and multiple keyboard overlays.

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