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  Planet resources prospecting minigame for a space game  (Read 9246 times)
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Offline Varkas
« Posted 2012-11-05 13:33:42 »

Now and then I'm working on a space exploration game, and prospectinmg and mining is meant to be part of it. Now I have some basics together, the planets actualls have resources, the player has a space ship, there are mining drones, probes and sensors. The game itself is very simple basically it consists of UI panels, and there is very little movement or graphics involved - it's more a dialog oriented game so far.

Project link:

Premise is that the players ship stays in orbit, and drones, probes and sesnors are used to explore the planet.

The question is, how to make it fun?

Clicking on "deploy ground probing drone", getting a report "Found traces of gold, some lead and big deposits of iron ore.", and finally clicking on a mining drone, order it "dig for gold" ... well it might be fun one or two times, but it gets boring soon.

What could be done to make the process of exploring the planet more fun?

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Offline Pickleninja

JGO Coder

Medals: 10
Projects: 1

I'm tired of working for someone else.

« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-11-05 13:42:38 »

If the game is more text based, you'll have to expand on the writing... The old addage goes "good writing can carry poor artwork, but the best art work in the world can't make up for bad writing"... I think some of that truth carries over into video games as well.

As far as "fun"... add in some randomness both positive and negative.

Example: Negative( There was a cave in, and your ship took (x) amount of damage), Positive ( You discovered an emerald cache[which is used to make something]).

That's all I got Smiley


Offline Gjallar

JGO Knight

Medals: 48
Projects: 1

Follower of Nurgle

« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-11-05 13:55:53 »

You should take a look at Faster Than Light if you haven't already. It's a prime example for the random element, if you ask me
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Offline Varkas
« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-11-05 14:11:46 »

If the game is more text based, you'll have to expand on the writing...

It's a bit difficult at time for me, since I'm not a native english speaker, but some of the text got rather good I think. The most difficult things are humorous text and kind of jargon/slang.

Long ago I sketched some gathering drones, that might give an idea what I can do and what I can't:

At the moment neither the images nor the texts are in the game because the whole drone and probe part is still to be designed.

What sorts of randomness would help to make it more fun? What attributes should the probes and rones have to work with such events?

I assume to give them a "durability" counter that is reduced by accidents will make it a bit more interesting, but it's more or less like gambling then. Many people like to gamble, but maybe there are other ideas, too?

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Offline Grunnt

JGO Kernel

Medals: 143
Projects: 8
Exp: 5 years

Complex != complicated

« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-11-05 14:33:47 »

One thing that may make it kind of interesting is to let the player make choices based on explicitly listed chances, as is done in UFO: Enemy Unknown. FTL uses choices that are somewhat similar, but does not list the chances making it a bit too random for my tastes. You don't even know when you are taking a chance in FTL (excellent game for the rest by the way Grin).

Things you could use:
- chance of the probe breaking down
- chance of the probe finding cheap resources
- chance of the probe finding valuable (rare) resources

For example in your case a choice would be:

"It's mining time! You are in orbit around a class Y75 gas giant, which contains some traces of the extremely rare element Goodleflaps and an abundance of Ruzzmuzzi gases. There's some wreckage from earlier mining attempts floating around, which may pose a hazard to your efforts."
1. Send the Fanfostar Chorus-12 drone! (20% chance of rare element, 70% of cheap element, 25% of breaking down due to hazard) <- high gain, but also high risk to your valuable drone
2. Send the Trompetechos Dual drone. (5% chance of rare element, 50% of cheap element, 25% of breaking down due to hazard) <- low gain, but also lower risk because losing a less valuable drone is not so bad
3. Use the Rozmetum Sucky Beam. (1% chance of rare element, 40% of cheap element, 1% of breaking down due to hazard) <- very low gain but virtually no risk
4. Forget about it."

Oh well, just some ideas  Grin Good luck with it!

Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel

Medals: 202

« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-11-05 15:55:41 »

Those scanning minigames from Mass Effect 2 and 3 ... yeah I could have done without those. 

When it comes to making resource extraction fun, the gold standard for me that I played to death on my C64, and one you should totally, er, mine ideas from, is the old game M.U.L.E.
Offline Varkas
« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-11-05 20:52:34 »


I must admit, almost the only thing that is left in my memory about Mule is that I always lost when playing with a friend. But I'll do some research to refresh my memories. Thanks for the pointer, I think this is a good hint Smiley

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-11-06 11:41:41 »

I think Mule is too big to be just a part of another game. Mining is just one activity for the players in my wannabe project, among goods and information trading and some more.

At least I've sketched a UI now:

The choice of quadrants to explore is at least something to entertein the player, and different quadrants might be differently difficult and/or damage the drones, so it's a bit like gambling. Might be good enough already, though. I'll see how quickly I get bored by myself during testing  Wink

Suggestions are welcome for sure.

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-11-07 13:39:03 »

I've been working some more on it, and the code now actually tries to find out the sort of planet surface for a grid, and let the player know about it.

Are these texts ok to describe planet surface properties?

Current Quadrant: Fluid covered surface.
Current Quadrant: Surface is a mix of fluids and ice.
Current Quadrant: Fluid covered surface with rocky islands.
Current Quadrant: Fluid covered surface with icy and rocky areas.
Current Quadrant: Ice covered surface.
Current Quadrant: Rocky surface with ice covered areas.
Current Quadrant: Solid rocky surfcae.
Current Quadrant: Nothing known.

Ist "quadrant" the right word for a map grid? Is there a better word?

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-11-07 14:55:46 »

Aaaannnd ... it can now access the planet resources data! Question is how to make that gradually accessible, so that no all information is revealed at the first probing attempt.

Feedback is welcome.

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-11-08 11:57:08 »

I've published a new version for testing (still very incomplete).

This version allows some thing which will be illegal in the final game, but make testing easier.

To test the new mining feature try this:

- Start the game running the solarex-v0_33.jar
- After starting the game, go to the "Equipment Shop"
- Buy a "Drilldown Dynamos" or "Super Scooper" mining drone (don't worry about the money, this version does not check your balance)
- Open the "Navigation map"
- Zoom in to the planet "Rater", click it to mark it as flight destination (be careful not to make "Structure Catrmt" your destination)
- When arrived in orbit, the game will switch to the planet view panel.
- Select your mining drone in this panel, and click "Deploy Drone".
- Now you'll be presented with the a mining panel for the planet.
- Click map grids to inspect them.
- If you found a grid with interesting metals, click "Mine Quadrant".
- You'll get a drone report how much metal could be extracted.
- You can repeat mining in a different grid, but eachg grid can only be mined once.
- Now go back to the "Navigation Map"
- Click "Structure Catrmt" to make it your next destination.
- Once arrived at the spaceport, the game will open the spaceport panel.
- Click "Commodity Exchange"
- Sell your mined metals.

- Repeat
- Become rich Grin

if you have some spare time, please try and let me know about your experiences. This is an alpha version, so there are a lot of omissions and bugs, but it'll be good to know where you run into problems and what think works well and what doesn't. Looking forward to your feedback Smiley

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