Finishing off the 3 part series that compares the 4x genre to Small Galaxy, this time moving into the expand territory.
Expand Gameplay : Construct, Build and Upgrade.
The most common explanation for 4x games expand gameplay is to increase the territory under the players control through either the creation of new settlements or increasing the influence of existing ones. But, because Exterminate is the one 4x tenant that I have decided to forgo, along with that went the concept of conquest. This meant the typical settlement/colony model of a 4x game would serve little purpose, and expanding had to look a little bit different.
In Small Galaxy : Greedy Station, your influence is measured by the sectors of space you are able to exploit. This is effected primarily by your field of view, as described in [Explore Gameplay : Discovering the Galaxy]. There are however a few other influences on what resources the player can take advantage of, and in what ways they can exploit them.
Station Facilities - The Tech Tree
Greedy Station, like any space station I know of, is comprised of a number of facilities that serve different functions. By constructing new Facilities and upgrading existing ones, you gain access to new means to exploit the resources that surround the station. The Stations Facilities serve as Greedy Stations equivalent to most 4x games Tech Tree.
At the beginning of the game, you have access to only a few of the facilities, and a few more you able to construct. From there, the options open up to you, both in upgrading the station, and the ways you can exploit the resources of the galaxy.
Build a Mining Lab, and your mining ships gather more resources each trip, and gather them more quickly; combine that with the Construction Factory and you will be able to build Mining Platforms and Survey Outposts; upgrade your Hanger to improve your ships movement speed, and the distance from the station they can go; or build yourself the Sensor Station to give you access to Probes and Relay Stations.
My goal is to give you multiple routs to get to Your goals, because one of the keys to a good 4x game is complexity of choice. As I said at the start, the Tech Tree isn't finished, and there is lots of room to expand it. So let me know what you would like to see, and it might just make it into the game.
Structures - not the same as settlements
Mining Platforms, Survey Outposts and Relay Stations are just a few examples of the structures you can build in Greedy Station, and while they don't work quite the same as a settlement does in Civilization (or Colonies in Space themed 4x games), they are about as close to it as Greedy Station gets. Again, it all comes back to your ability to exploit the resources, rather than conquer the galaxy, although that does happen.
Mining Platforms, as the name suggests, are structures you build in orbit of almost any planet, and along with a cargo ship, these will continue to add resources to your stations coffers, freeing you up to manage your mining efforts elsewhere.
Survey Outposts are built on a planets surface, and once built will help increase the rate a planet generates resources for you harvest. Combined with the Mining Platform, these can quickly turn a lush planet into a steady income.
Relay Stations are way points for your ships that enable them to travel further from the Station they came from. They have the added bonus of acting like a probe, expanding your field of view.
These are just a few of the possibilities. I would love to hear what ideas you have for Structures, and how they will help your station and its greed for galactic resources.
Thats the end of my 3 part series, but there is lots more to tell. I am going to shift gears a little next time, and talk more about the code that makes the game work rather than the game design choices that shaped it. So just as a refresher, I am making this game using a custom (hodge podge really) game engine I have thrown together using the XNA framework and resources I have been able to gather from the internets, and stuff I have custom built to create some interesting effects that helped shape the art style.
I think next week I am going to write about the really helpful animation tools I discovered through the xna creators club developer talks. So Full credit goes to Brandon Furtwangler for that. But let me know what you want me to write about. I am not sure what kind of a crowd I have attracted with this, and if you are interested in C#, XNA, Art, or Game Design.
Thanks for tracking :)