The good, bad, and ugly of space games

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

 

We hope to see further with our game, to do so Star Singularity takes inspiration from several other games. The giants in this case are Star Control 2, Space Pirates and Zombies, and Terraria (Yes we know Terraria is not a space game but it is definitely a giant)

Let’s start with the Good:

 

Star Control 2:

  • Combat - We loved the combat in Star Control; Skill based combat with diverse abilities.

  • Story Presentation - The dialog in Star Control 2 was funny, interesting, and engaging. We may not have the budget to create such extensive dialog but the way Star Control presented it is our inspiration. You really felt like you were exploring the universe and meeting alien creatures with depth and unique, well thought out, traits.

  • Exploring the Galaxy - The galaxy in SC2 was interesting, it was full of interesting alien races and things to do. It felt alive, It was not a copy-paste galaxy.

 

Space Pirates and Zombies:

  • Ship customization - We think ship customization in SPAZ was done right, It was not too complex but gave you enough control over your ship.  It’s a shame you can’t customize your mothership (wink, wink).

  • Building your fleet - Building a fleet is an important part of SPAZ and also of Star Singularity. The way ships complete and interact with each other creates a really fun gameplay experience.

 

Terraria:

  • WOW, this game is amazing - It is amazing how a game made by two people is so good. Much better than many AAA games.

  • Item Diversity - Items in Terraria are really different, they are not just re-stat versions of each other. The items change the way you play the game.

  • Progression through items - Terraria dumped XP and skill trees, the main way you progress in the game it through items. This gives you the flexibility to change your play-style by switching out items, and gives them real value.

  • Crafting - Crafting by itself is not very interesting, but it helps give meaning to the search for items and a sense of accomplishment when you acquire the final missing ingredient.

  • The Sense of Discovery - The feeling of discovering a new biome, item or enemy.  

  • Base building - A home is an important place, customizing and making it your own is cool and fun.

  • How it all fits together - The really amazing thing with Terraria is how all the elements fit together. They create a (gameplay) meaning to everything you do.

 

The Bad:

We won’t complain too much about these epic games, but to justify the name of the post we must mention a few bad things. Also, we mention them as a way to learn from and not repeat them.

Star Control 2:

  • No ship customization - Did you ever think how cool an Ur-Quan Dreadnought with a cloaking device is, sneaking up close to your enemy and blasting him away from a close range?

Space Pirates and Zombies:

  • Leveling system(XP) - The leveling system limits item usage and ship customization. If you invest all of your skill points into cannons, switching to lasers mid game doesn't make sense. This locks you into choices.

Terraria:

  • The first 5 minutes - I can only guess at the number of players who stopped playing in the first 5 minutes. With no set goal and frequent deaths a lot of people give up before they really experience the game.

The Ugly:

All of the games mentioned above look fine, but not amazing and they are far from cutting edge graphics but they are all amazing games. I think that most of the effort went into gameplay and that is what made them shine. Gameplay needs to come first. It is a lesson that AAA games can also learn from these great games.