This post explains how single-player mode will work in Aero Empire, outlining both the Free Play and Campaign (story) modes.
Posted by cobalt01 on Oct 11th, 2009
If you're like me, then you spend a considerable amount of your video game time playing by yourself, and so, for all my shut-in kin, Aero Empire will have two different ways to play solo, both available in the initial release. Firstly, there is Free Play mode, which is exactly what it sounds like: the player creates a character in one of the world's five nations, starting at any stage and rank. The Free Play world is completely dynamic, with little pre-scripting of events, controlled entirely by the actions of the NPC AIs and the player. In Free Play mode, you can make and break alliances, start and finish battles, build ships, influence the economy, and can affect all facets of the game world. As players climb up the ranks of the military, they can choose to obey or disobey the orders given to them by their superiors; as they climb higher, they will begin issuing commands to NPCs below them, who, in turn, can obey or disobey them. The player can also perform a rebellion and break away from their country, or choose to aid a rival nation, make friends and enemies and marry a special someone. In all, Free Play mode is designed to let players live in a self-running version of AE's world, able to do whatever in game actions they want.
The other single-player mode is the Campaign, which features a large, organic world like the Free Play mode, but with the addition of a large story that adds pre-scripted events to the world that would be random or controlled by AI in Free Play mode. In the Campaign Mode, players select a pre-defined character from one of the world's five empires, each of whom have their own histories and motivations; depending on those backstories, the characters start at different ranks in the military. While these characters all have their own backstories in place, as soon as the game begins the player has complete control of their actions, and directs them through combat, dialogue, promotions, rebellions, and everything else available in Free Play mode, and as they progress, influencing the path of the story more and more. While all options may be available, however, the pre-scripted events cannot possibly cover all possible options, so paths that deviate from the story might isolate the player from the story, or even break down some story elements based on player actions.
Our goal with the single-player version of the game is to give as many people as possible something to enjoy: if you like a big, randomized sandbox world to play around in, you have that. You can also play around in that world while a large story plays itself out around you, which you can affect as little or as much as you want. If you want to stay a pilot the entire campaign, you can do that: the story will continue around you, and you will start to become a more and more prestigious pilot, eventually serving aboard the admiral's flagship or another vied-for position. While you will not be able to influence the world as much as you would have in a higher position, you will still play a part in it, with many of the decisions you would have otherwise made chosen by the AI instead. The goal is to have a story that does not punish the player in some arbitrary way; however you want to play is the right way to play.
While there are campaigns planned from the perspective of each of the five empires, for the sake of actually getting the game out the door the initial release will contain just one full campaign; if AE catches on, expansions containing other sides to the story, as well as additional content (multiplayer) are planned for the future.
In the next story post, we'll start giving out proper details of the Campaign in the initial release. Until then, check out the some of our awesome art (by RedOwl) for the first character we plan to reveal soon, and stay tuned!