New screenshots! Plus Alpha metagame musings…

Yayz! I’ve finally finished the core gameplay for the first public alpha. To celebrate I’ve thrown up a few additional screenshots onto the Gallery page. I know how to party, right?

The next step is to create a simple metagame to link up the various battles. As this is for the Alpha I am mainly interested in feedback on the core mechanics. However I want to make it at least a little more interesting so that it constitutes a game of some sort and not just a random stream of battles. Well I guess it will just be a random stream of battles but I’m going to fool you, the player, into thinking you are working towards something.

So here’s my idea. I was recently inspired by a video on procedural generation on the kickstarter page for the a new version of Elite (!!). Back in the 80’s you couldn’t fit much on an old BBC micro disc so you had to be clever with how you packaged your content. Instead of designing all the levels (well in the case of Elite it was an entire galaxy!) and saving a copy of them packaged with the game they used a random number generator propagated from a fixed seed, and constructed the worlds based on these numbers. Now this is different to the normal way you use random number generators where you traditionally use the current time as your seed so that it is impossible to predict. In Elite the seed is fixed so it generates the exact same world every time.

So like all good developers I’m going to copy them. I’m not sure if this is the way I’ll go for the final version of Ionage but I think this will be a really interesting experiment for the alpha. My current plan is to construct each level (or maybe a series of levels ending in a boss fight) using a name as the seed. The letters of the name might create the map (size, asteroid positions, starting positions, starting platform etc) while a number denotes the difficulty (AI level, AI starting resource bonus). So Bumblebee1 could be the first level while Dragon9 might be a difficult one near the end.

I’m going to try and implement a super-simple rough version of this in the next couple of weeks and get the Alpha out in time for Christmas. It might lead to some wierd levels but that’s part of the fun!

What do you think? Are you psyched about the endless possibilities of procedural generation? What, not even a little bit?