I have been thinking quite a lot recently about some of the upcoming aspects of Britonia, and some of the decisions I made at the beginning of the project. For a long time I’ve wanted to create a game with a sense of depth and emersion, somewhere you could go and play open-endedly, without a sense of the end of the game drawing nearer the more you unraveled the story or progressed through a dungeon. Obviously, this is not as easy a task as it sounds, but thanks to procedural content, it is not totally out of the question.
I set myself no time limit for finishing the development of the game, piling on the features. I knew it would take a long time, but that didn’t bother me and indeed it still doesn’t; after all what is the point of making a game if you don’t enjoy it?
I spend quite a lot of my free time working on Britonia (or at least XNA related projects), but there are still a great many things required to get a full game working which I haven’t even started, and I think it would be better ( or faster) in the long run if I change the theme of the game before I get into the actual in-game content creation.
Therefore I am considering to change the theme / genre to a Space trading simulation, just like the old classic Elite by David Braben and Ian Bell.
Luckily though, changing to a space sim wouldn’t require me to re-write reems of code, so everything I have done thus far will remain largely unchanged. Of course the ‘new’ space game will have you landing in ground ports and/or flying around the surface of the planet looking for minerals and artefacts.
So why the change?
Simply put, after comparing the content required (models / textures / environments) for both a space sim and fantasy RPG, I think I have a much better chance of creating believable content for a space sim as opposed to the likes of human NPCs and monsters. Some of the other considerations are :
|Medieval RPG||Space RPG|
|Planets||Travel at low altitudes along the surface causes the planet quadtree to update often, and subdivision for quad nodes are always x4. Furthermore, because of the detph of the quadtree, a lot of memory is needed for the heightmaps/normal maps etc.
Adding to this, trees, npcs, towns and ground clutter ….
Planet based RPG’s don’t require realistic distances or accurate planetary movements (orbits/rotations).
|NPCs / Monsters||Modeling of NPC’s and Monsters is very complex, requiring many different animations (skinning).
Creating AI to mimick human behaviour is even more difficult.
I don’t do faces – creating a good looking one would take me hell of a long time 😦
|Modelling Spaceships is conderably easier than organic lifeforms. AI is still a challenge, but that’s AI.
Animations can be done using rigid bodies, and is typically turret points and/or landing gears.
|Towns / Communities||A high level of unique geometry (models) would be required to create believable variation in different towns. Each individual building of a town in a medieval RPG would have to exist in full with all expected functions. (A tavern would need a bar, tables chairs etc. etc.)||Cities can be represented with one (or a few) larger city meshes. Which means getting away with considerly less geometry.
One central spaceport UI screen contains all the different ammenities / services, once the player has ‘entered’ the city.
|Travel / Distances||Travel between planets is achived via ‘stargates’. I do still very much like this idea.
Travel on the surface is slow and takes a long time.
|Dude – Spaceships!|
|Textures||Buildings are constructed from different materials each requiring a unique texture. Also different altitudes affect the colour of the texture (white of mountains etc.)||It’s common knowlede that all spaces are grey with yellow windows. Easy|
I just wrote these off the top of my head, and I must admit it is hard to remain impartial after convincing myself a change is needed, but even looking at the above table I think the space sim would generally be faster and easier to implement. Although I made a few less-than-serious remarks above, some of the areas such as travel / distances are obviously made easier with the concept of space flight.
Well, please let me know what you think because I still haven’t fully made up my mind yet. You have until the website theme changes to a space scene to leave me your comments 🙂