I've posted some of my early notes and visions for the game at the following URL.
Please take a look and then post your comments (both good and bad) here.
Creator, Galactic Frontier
Sounds a lot like old Tradewars BBS game. That an appropriate ref.?
I played the old Tradewars BBS game rather intensely during the summer of 1988. And it is just one of many inspirations for Galactic Frontier.
So the old Tradewars BBS game may be an appropriate reference point for some of the trading and exploration aspects of GF.
Creator, Galactic Frontier
I read your Vision notes and such and the game looks to be interesting. However I have a few qualms about it:
--What is going to be about, other than a gigantic simulation of interstellar trading? I mean, that's cool and all, but without some human interest it's just going to be a dry, materialistic endeavor. If that's what you want then it certainly has potential.
--Do people who run the server software get their own system? In that case, what powers will they have? I'd rather they not be as omnipotent as you described--I would hope that they start with limited resources and can shape the political situation to some degree but actually limiting the maximum speed of ships in their system? (I would think that they would set laws/regulations but would have to utilize resources to enforce them)
--If there is going to be the level of scripting/automation for merchants, why not have a political/infrastructure system design tool for SysOps so resources can be allocated automatically, complex contracts set up, and whatever political system they want?
Below are further explanations of my vision for the GF game as of the date and time this message was posted and/or sent. They are meant only as a supplement to my earlier notes and vision statements.
>--What is going to be about, other than a
>gigantic simulation of interstellar trading?
GF will have three major categories of player activities that may be carried out signally or in groups.
1) Exploration. Simulated interstellar travel that includes the discovery, naming/registration and mapping of new solar systems and planets.
2) Colonization, trading and development. Simulated transportation of people, raw materials and finished goods needed to construct colonies, space ports and space stations.
3) Combat, Warfare and Diplomacy. Simulated battles and alliances between players using ships and fleets of ships.
Over time we, the developers and players of GF, may come up with other activities that can be added to this list.
> --Do people who run the server software get
> their own system? In that case, what powers
> will they have?
People that want to run the server software will become what I am calling "SysOps". SysOps will register for and receive a contiguous chunk of space that will likely include many solar system, that I call a "Sovereign Space". Because the GF will be open source and the SysOp has access to the game's source code they can have a tremendous amount of knowledge and control over what can happen in their "Sovereign Space". Thus from a view point inside the game the SysOps can be thought of as omnipotent and very powerful beings. [I'd say god like but I want to try and avoid offending potential players, developers and SysOps or any real deities that might be monitoring this project.]
In the real world GF SysOps can best be thought of as hosts [in the dinner party sense], because SysOps will setup and administer a place where players can gather to play GF and hopefully enjoy themselves. If possible, I'd like to provide some separation between the role of SysOp and Player, so that as a player a SysOp will have to play by the rules they established as SysOp.
*** To the maximum extent practical, all
*** Players should be created and treated
*** equally by the Software and the SysOps.
The SysOp will most likely also be a player in the game but doesn't have to be. If a SysOp runs a sovereign space fairly and promotes a fun playing environment, then I would hope that other players will enjoy playing in that SysOp's sovereign space and do so frequently.
Within the context of the game, resources such as: ships, cargo, planets, stations, colonies, etc. are owned, controlled and allocated by one or more characters. These characters may be player characters [Players] or non-player characters [NPCs].
>--If there is going to be the level of
>scripting/automation for merchants, why
>not have a political/infrastructure system
>design tool for SysOps so resources can be
>allocated automatically, complex contracts
>set up, and whatever political system they
GF should be supported by many tools and scripting toolkits that assist Players and SysOps with various aspects of the game. Some examples for players might include tools to help create mission plans for their ships and development plans for their colonies and/or stations. Some examples for SysOps might include tools to help populate their sovereign space with an initial set of stars, planets, colonies and other resources; and tools to help establish rules for allowed combat between characters. The scope and utility of these tools should only be limited by the creativity of those interested in developing them.
Will this game involve only humans? Or will there be various alien races with incompatible technologies to choose from?
Similarly, I see competing companies that sell mass-production ships. How will "new designs" be approved? Are there going to be physical laws to constrain such designs or are the max speed, max range, and capacity arbitrary figures that you came up with? <i>Master of Orion</i> was on to something as it allowed you to create a ship design and re-use it.
Also, It would be nice if the mass-production spachip companies themselves were a part of the game and not ethereal, untouchable entities that simply "beam in" a ship for you. I imagine gigantic automated planets well-defended and offering lucrative contracts for raw materials.
As far as the scripting goes, I think that it's a good idea. I loved <i>Transport Tycoon</i> which has a very simple scripting interface to set schedules for trains, transports, and planes and so forth. There should be various levels of API so that novices and experts alike can use such tools.
I was thinking of a tool that would not really edit scripts, but would be a metatool for the editing of organizational structures. For instance, one entity would issue orders (as in assign a certain script) to another when certain conditions arise. I suppose this could simply be fulfilled by writing scripts that assign scripts, but something like a visual tool to simplify these relations would be nice. That way, you could see structure, units, and processes in your organization all at once.
> Will this game involve only humans? Or will
> there be various alien races with incompatible
> technologies to choose from?
To quote one of my favorite movies, "It would be an awful waste of space."
I think that players will demand the ability to play characters of non-human as well as human origin. And I think that this can and should be accommodated by GF.
Within the context of the game, ships will be built and certified by shipyards. As I envision them Shipyards will be special form of space station. They will consume various commodities such as metal ore, machinery and fuel. Most will not only produce standard design ships, but also player created designs for construction.
From a software design standpoint, I have a very Java like vision. Ships, like many other objects in GF, would exist as self contained portable objects (agents). Ships would expose many different interfaces, such as: certifications, sensor signature, movement, manifest (an official one and an optional covert one), mission plan(s), combat characteristics, etc.
When a new ship is constructed, the shipyard that builds it will digitally sign it (or a portion of the object) using a private key (controlled by the local SysOp) and issue a certificate. This certificate will guarantee that the ship's design and construction meet local and/or standard criteria for space worthiness and other applicable rules. This certificate also guarantees that the internals of that instance of the ship object meet a given set of specifications.
Upon entering a Sovereign Space a ship may be required to visit a local ship yard for inspection and certification of space worthiness and adherence to other locally applicable rules. This would generally be part of the process for obtaining a trading permit (in the form of a digital certificate) for the local Sovereign Space.
Again all of this is my vision at the time of this posting and is subject to adaptation, change and improvement as others provide their input and work starts on development.
Technologies, particularly when applied to colonies is an area that needs further conceptual development. About the furthest I've gotten is that a colony needs certain technologies to convert one kind of commodity into another. For example refining and manufacturing to convert metal ore into machinery using fuel and water.
In this sense technology could simply be an object, in the context of the game it would probably be a machine of some sort, that takes one set of commodities and converts them to another at a given rate.
So I'm not sure how we would implement a framework that supported "incompatible technologies to choose from". What makes one technology "incompatible" with another?
How commodities should be implemented is one area that needs some more conceptual development. Commodities, specifically their demand and production, needs to be the driving force behind the trading and commerce aspects of GF.
To keep the game simple for beginners, commodities should fall into one of few basic types that are most common and in the most demand. These basic types could then be refined and combined to make more complex commodities to support particular story lines or local themes that enrich the player experience for more advanced players.
One way to accomplish this might be through a hierarchy of commodities. For example there may be several different sub classifications of ores with varying concentrations of metals and/or fuel. Another example might be Coke-a-Cola as a sub-class of beverage as a sub class of food which would be a subclass of bio-mass.
Another way to implement this might be through the use of constituents. More complex commodities would be made up of various proportions of a few basic game level "elements". For example metal ore might be 1% metal and 99% rock. Or Coke-a-Cola might be 95% water and 5% bio-mass.
Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages from both game play and software implementation points of view. Some hybrid of these two approaches may be possible and is what I think would be best for GF.
I'm VERY interested in how others think that commodities should work?
What you might want to keep in mind is that it is pretty impractical to ship coca-cola 900 light-years away, in fact, it would be a complete waste of energy. I suggest that major commodities would be things like factory components, prefabricated building materials, and other such specialized equipment. New colonies would not have the resources and manufacturing facilities required to create complex, refined materials and infrastructure so the machinery needed to create those things need to be shipped in.
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