Starflight

I've been making some progress on my Starflight project. I had some old art and text material which I copy-pasted together and made a page out of. It is haphazard and not as finished as my other unfinished stuff.

Starflight project page

To the right: I'm dabbling with programming again (BlitzMax). I'm doing a so called "Immediate Mode GUI". The technique has both advantages and drawbacks, but overall I like it. Coming up with the crew was the most fun part of Starflight, and I couldn't resist feature creeping it. Each crew person actually has the same stats and stuff as in the original game, but I'm just showing a short form here to fit the entire crew roster on one page. The officers (red) gets a bonus from having a well versed captain and good subordinates. The 'Grey Shirts' will die first on missions, and can be used as meat shields. Yeah, that might sound familiar.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, I've also updated the Master of Orion 1 project.

45 comments:

Gustave said...

I love those old games. Inspiring, thanks as always. :D

Sauro said...

I think you should consider to design and program web based games.
A big MMORPG game based on this wonderful SF backgrounds, and with your gorgeous graphic style, would break the market.

Anonymous said...

cool :)

jeselvistheking said...

YaY!! You're back! I seriously wait anxiously for your next project to be posted -- awesome stuff!

Arne said...

Thanks. I'm actually still working on this one. I've done some more code and mini portraits. This will be a single player game with a partly randomly generated universe and story.

nihilocrat said...

Hey Arne, this is one project you're doing that I'm actually very very interested in doing myself, so if you want help with coding / music just ask. I really doubt I'd lose interest in this one.

Arne said...

MoO or Starflight?

I'm not qute sure where to take Starflight. Basically I have 3 options:

A remake of the original with some new stuff.

A game which plays a mostly like the original and uses the same universe/setting. It could be a sequel, prequel, parallel universe thing. I was thinking of doing something with my black Leghk here (as main antagonists).

An engine for my Starflight/StarControl/MoO projects. It would take races as plugins or something.

One thing I want to do for all projects is simulation of a large playfield, with persistence. A bit like an RTS game using a single huge map. The player would probably still play just one unit, but the battles going on around him would make more sense. Both SF and SC have these... abstracted systems with random encounter regions. Blowing up hundreds of ships doesn't really matter, and that makes the universe feel fake to me.

There's not much pathfinding in space, and static objects don't really need to update as much. I was thinking of having an update resolution based on speed (a slow asteroid would collision check less often, but would be checked against by faster stuff). AI updates could depend on proximity to targets (a ship cruising between stars would mostly just need to go forward). Different linked lists would be used for these things.

Anonymous said...

So do you ever finish the games and release them for play? That'd be awesome.

KYTE said...

I absolutely LOVE your thoughts on the Mega Man Legends series, and really love the concepts you've come up with for a fan game (I'd love to play it), and then I see this.

This game, I played so much of it when I was younger, on my Genesis. I thought it was great, and no game has been able to give me the same feeling it gives me.

You sir, are my hero.

KYTE said...

Oh man.
I finally read the Starflight page, and it was like some sort of wet dream. A total wave of nostalgia.

Although, I didn't really like the re-imagining of the Veloxi. That's just my opinion, though.

Did you ever play the Genesis version? I don't know if it was the only one that did this, but the instruction manual had two stories in it.
One was an introductory short-story to the world of Starflight (which, in retrospect with years of novel reading behind me, it's just a rip-off of "Solaris", although still entertaining), the other, a collection of logs from a ship captain, which can also serves as a walkthrough for one scenario.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work as always Arne. I don't know if you've heard of it, but there's another variant of moo underway as opensource: www.freeorion.org - they have playable versions up now but I think they'd benefit from awesome art like yours :)

Arne said...

In theory I could finish a game, but I'd probably need a budget of a few million dollars to do so. In some cases, that may not even be enough to pay for the Rights which I'd need. For something of commercial quality (but not 'AAA') I'd require a crew of 3-7 people working of over a year, and that's half a million minimum. Then there's other costs, like computers, software, office rent, etc. I'd hate to administrate all that.

Of course, there is a slim chance that a company would hire me to do design, but I doubt I'd get free reign. At a hobby level it's fun to be a crazy dictator, but if there were millions at stake I'm not sure if I'd have the guts to boldly lead and break new ice. Most of my games are designed to be open and more like world simulations.

I'm the kind of designer who would have taken Zelda 1 in the direction of Dwarf Fortress + Sim Life with a player in the middle of it. As it turned out, Zelda went in a completely different direction and still seems to be pretty popular. Maybe it's just me who have a world sim fetish. It's hard to tell how something like that would sell, because there are practically no games like the ones which I want to make.


I've seen the Genesis/Megadrive version of Starflight. It seems more arcade'y. The manual art was interesting. The life forms were different as well, I think.

When I was doing research I came into contact with Free Orion as well. It looks interesting, but they don't seem to be going in the same direction as me design-wise. I'm not sure if I'd be a good team player anyways. I like being a dictator. That's why I end up with a one man army.

Anonymous said...

haha oh well, we love what you do anyway :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing art, you're really talented, i like the dweenle (little alien ugly thing?) the best he's cool, but ugly!

How do you render your images so good, its amazing. How long must that take you?

Wicked website, i like the M.U.L.E. project the best, amazing, you're really talented!

Sam Levine said...

Amazing stuff as always! Those creature designs are outstanding! :)

densetsu74 said...

Very impressive. I've never seen your website before but I have to say you've captured the essence of SF and have advanced it with awesome art style and graphics. I'm a huge fan of StarFlight and have never seen anyone take it to this degree before. Very commendable.

Darkstar800 said...

Niklas, or sir, or whatever i should call you (lol, soz) it says on my updates bar that you update the website regulary, but i never see any changes, so what do you update frequently?

Thankyou - Darkstar800

Arne said...

Darkstar: This blog or the PSG RSS feed?

Anonymous said...

you do realise a team doesnt have to be a payed one, there are tons of hobbyist game creators like me and you, a ton of us that would do work for free so long as we get credit. doing this because they enjoy it not because they wanna make some cash.

Quazi said...

Anonymous from ^^^ here
the way you seem to pump out graphical assets, making a game with all of your stuff would be really dynamic and easy, even on a large scale. the thing which holds me back the most is usually graphics, but with you pumping out assets like you do this game could be finished in under 2 years maybe even 1 depending on its scope, using a 3 man team, one for music, design/art, and programming/play testing. id love to help out on any project. oh yea and i suggest you try out construct, itll help you in rapid prototyping concepts or just making your game quicker. its completely free, and way more powerful than game maker or mmf2. some versions are unstable tho, so i suggest you get a stable marked one

http://www.scirra.com/ link to construct

Anonymous said...

Hmm...you call yourself a game designer, but you havent actually coded anything even remotely working, ever, right ? I mean, all the art is nice, but when you talk about whether you choose real-time over turn-based - it doesnt matter anyway because you will never actually make a game, isnt that so ?

Arne said...

Anon> I'll bite.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It's something like that. My prototypes, while playable, are rarely, if ever publicly released.

I do agree that a game designer should also have some degree of programming skills. It's my opinion that good programmers generally make good game designers, and that a lot of the design can (or has to) emerge during programming. A lot of my favorite games are designed and programmed by the same guy (or two guys, e.g. Paradroid, Elite and Exile).

Will I ever finish something and make a public release? I have, but you won't find it. Will I do it again? It's theoretically possible.

Quazi> Many of my game projects feature world simulations which require optimizations such as bucket sorting for actor-actor collisions. I'm not sure how mmf or game maker works, but I like writing these things myself so I can push the actor and physics stuff. BlitzMax is nice because it's relatively fast to prototype in, but it also has OOP, so it's scalable if I want to do more complex stuff. Unfortunately I just don't have the focus to stay focused on a project for a whole year. A few months a year is the most I can squeeze out. I'm not sure if it would be different if I went to a work place. I'd probably get one of those pedals which you hide Tetris/IRC with...

Themoogle said...

I stumbled upon your art and such for your redesign of MoO 1 and i was intrigued, have you done any coding to it ? or would you like to do a game Based o MoO 1?

Arne said...

Halfway into the MoO project I decided to take the project in my own direction, hence my attempt at new races and tech mechanics. I'm not quite satisfied with it yet, but haven't had time to iterate the design forward. A MoO game might be feasible to make if one goes the simple 2D route and makes it data driven so the races can be made one at a time. Later they'll probably need to be re-balanced against each other of course, but the game could be functional with just one race.

Themoogle said...

Pardon My lack of understandability, but as i understod what you meant was that Do a race class ? well i would implement it like that, And in the Race class have limitations and Perks like the old game had, ive never actually played moo 1 only the second one. But if you do it like that with classes it shouldnt be "hard" to implement more races, the hard part would be to get everything to work. Would be interesting to try out the Tech tree structure and the whole Design of your space ships

Arne said...

Well, I would use OOP and classes. I'm not sure if each race would be a class though. The benefit of making the game data driven is that other people can add their own races (the game program doesn't have to be recompiled).

A disadvantage is that... writing safe parsers is boring. Also, if the race data is just stats, the game program needs to have all abilities... the race data can't change the game much. LUA or some other scripting language can amend this. BlitzMax can interface with LUA, but I have not looked into it.

Themoogle said...

Ahh ofc ofc ofc, A script would be good for this, but then again you have to make a base class
like
class Race
then make instances of that class, inheritage that is wich is loaded froma file, so LUA isnt really needed *cough* then if you need to change anything and let people add races ou can just add an instance in the text file for instance or make an editor that generates the Race they "made" into the Database, it makes my brain spin for sure, very interesting

Themoogle said...

Well i would implement the Game core with HGE, has directx functions so you can spin images without an overly expensive calculation.
and it has particles.

Hmm ill see if i can make a mind map of how i mean with the Race class

Arne said...

MoO1 doesn't use rotation for the ships. They are just facing horizontally in the direction of assaulter/defender. The ship combat is a lot more primitive than that in MoO2. Rotating skips looks nice, but in MoO1 facing has no tactical value that I know of. Adding it would mean that a good AI is harder to write for ship combat, and that the player would have to micromanage his ships/battles a lot more. Also, MoO1 uses stacks with sometimes up to 32000 ships or something (giving an epic Legend of Galactic Heroes scale). MoO2 uses relatively few ships.

I do think LUA would be necessary. If many of the game variables are exposed, then modding could go beyond just editing simple race stats. We use LUA for Cortex Command and people have done some pretty crazy stuff with it.

Themoogle said...

OK didnt know that there was no advantage in the directions, moo2 uses diffrent armor points for diffrent parts of the ships but that can be neglected an dthe whole galactic super army battle thing ( well that was going thrue my head when i read 32k ) sounds intriguing mostly in moo2 you get to see about 100-200 ships at once. hmm im going to take on my "old man" shoes now for a second, sure i like modability in a game ^^ but daaaaamn i hate scripting, to me its a hassle thats unecesary, imho ^^
if your up for it we can talk about this live this weekend, alot easier for me to draw what i mean and such

Arne said...

I actually should be working on other stuff now (we've been planning to wrap up Cortex Command, as in adding actual content and balanced campaign gameplay), but I damaged a rib so I'm taking it easy until I've regained the necessary levels of articulation.

I do want to resume working on MoO eventually though, because it's something which... theoretically could be finished. I tried to keep it simple with each feature within my abilities. It's just that they stack up and form an insurmountable mountain.

I don't think the design doc has enough detail level yet. It's rather vague and indecisive in many places and I'm not always explaining my reasoning behind a choice like I should. I'd need to write a prototype to settle many of the unclear issues.

Quazi said...

id love to see you finish one of your projects arne. i myself share alot of interests in the same types of games as you. sadly i wasnt born yet at the time that many of the truly unique and complex games i love with, many nuances were being made (born in 1994). But i still love every one that i can find. you would reinvision these games so well if you could just finsish something! Id love to see TA remade, its one of my favourite games of all time. you have this incredible talent for coming up with pretty clear images of abstract game concepts. What id give to be able to sink my teeth into some of them. the way you seem to be able to come up with graphics is also so amazing. i have the same problem of loosing interest as you do, a kind of inverted bell curve, high interest, NO interest then it climbs back up later.

i have way too many dead projects on my hard drive, like i suspect you do for this reason.

i have no idea where im going with this rant really, but what im saying is you should try to put ur work to better use than dust collectors, because alot of people who've seen your stuff would absolutely love to play it. you truly are one of the people i look up to, and id love to see you get alot more attention than you are getting atm.

oh yah good luck with that rib injury.

and scripting isnt really making your work any faster. alot can be achieved in the program i mentioned, its really flexible, ive programmed alot of stuff like inverse kinematic solvers and other complex stuff, and i really think you should take a look at it if you haven't. i know it seems like shameless advertising but its entirely open source so its impossible that im getting anything for telling you this :P im just doing it cause i know it would make your job alot easier. it has support for alot of complicated array and variable control, hash tables, physics support, alot of loop controls, it makes instance picking really intuitive, and it help lay out your project in a much more visual fasion, allowing you to develop stuff which would take 5 hours by code in under half an hour. just try it out.

Arne said...

Ok, I wrote a long reply to that but blogger gobbled it up and the back button didn't restore the content of the text field. I often copy my replies into the copy buffer before submitting, but didn't today.

All these words, lost like... chars in the intarwebs.

Essentially: Scripting is meant to make it easier for the modders, not the programmer.

My MoO project is mostly work on making a GUI which manages a data set, so unlike my other projects, this one would not require much optimization for real time things. Most of the work however goes not into coding, but structuring. I do that on paper.

Tigerdot said...

I always have loved reading your blog and site, there's nothing I love more than reading a new page on PSG7.

Lately I found I had the whole game of Master of Orion 2, so i started up my old Mac G3 and had a go. It's bloody brilliant! Or at least it would be if the computer didn't crash after a few minutes. I played one whole game, but now any new ones crash after a few minutes of play. Maybe it doesn't like me turning off 'Antarians can attack'. Thanks for writing about the game anyway, I would have never played it if it weren't for you.

Themoogle said...

Yeah Scripting is a good way to alter something without the need to recompile a project with is in fact quite suitable for a modder, but also good for a programer in some extents, but then you need to ask your selfe, what SHOULD be moddable ? The things i can cthink of right of the bat is the Races, Technologys and even adding new ship designs, but thats about it, and that can easily be done with a Editor program instead thats more cleaner, wich shoud then save the changes or additions to a new *.stuff file wich you should be able to either add or load as new in the game, dont get me wrong i LOVE modability in a game but i loathe scripting languages ^^

Anonymous said...

Found your Star Control stuff when I was Googling to related stuff, and just wanted to say they're great. :) Lovely stuff!

-Byproduct

Brownie Major said...

Found your webpage by chance and really like your stuff. Though to be honest I really dislike the choice of drawing a lot of your chicks in those little micro-panties, it's a big turn off for me to see them everywhere (a turn off from you work).

Aside from that I've been enjoying a lot of your drawings.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

Anonymous said...

What words... super, magnificent idea

Jeeba said...

Hey Arne, found your site casually looking for star tiles on Saint Google, Started to read your thoughts on mmo1 and its like you are reading my mind for the game I'm currently making on my free time!! Its called Xeno (will change that name in the future) and it will, someday hopefully, be like an Real Time Strategy Game mixed with alot of 4X principles.

Anyway, reading the comment about your data driven interfaces and persistent in your game, it can be done easily as a web game. My game (yes this is like a free infomercial, and yes im a little bit ashame,but just a little ;D ) is made on html, css and javascript backed by a relational database with PHP. I usually send data in JSON format to the client browser and the javascript translate that data into the complex part of the interface. Also i use an accordion menu for some planet information,it looks similar to some of your GUIs.

For navigation i went the galaxy->star system -> planet -> region way instead of your asteroid way, its not that is better, it just the way i thought it could be the game.

I love the graphics you do, like fuzzy style, and no, Im not tellin you to give me some freebies, but if I someday start creating the art design, i will certainly use you as an inspiration!, of course i will link you and give some inspirational credits, dont worry I promise not to use your art without permission bro.
PD: The game is in spanish, and also is in an early playable Alpha (you can navigate between planets, and make some attacks) but its interface ( i think) its understandable.
PD2: Hey i made some positive review on my blog about your site, its in spanish in case you're wondering what is the spaguetti flying monster doing on there.

Jeeba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeeba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeeba said...

Well blogger just went nuts, all the deleted comments are just copy ^^

Jeeba said...

Hi Anonimous, well i bought a domain for my game, you can found at www.xhelos.com , yes also i changed the name of the game to Xhelos (its seems that a lots of games are called xeno). Enjoy it!

Tassin said...

you do realise a team doesnt have to be a payed one, there are tons of hobbyist game creators like me and you, a ton of us that would do work for free so long as we get credit. doing this because they enjoy it not because they wanna make some cash.