Space is the largest and most wide open place imaginable and as far as we know it goes on forever with no end. Yet somehow space has always been a very limited and very structured concept in video games yet it should have the most options available because literally anything is possible out there. I’ve had a lot of sci-fi on the brain lately so when thinking about the kind of game that I would want to make, what I would consider my perfect game, my mind is immediately going to space. Er . . . figuratively that is. Now there are obviously a lot of space games, and some that are just huge, like Mass Effect or the some simulation games, but there’s nothing out there that has everything I’m looking for all in one package.
There are four things I am looking for when I think of my perfect space game, freedom, fiction, action, and simulation. Now when I say simulation I don’t mean like A10 Warthog style flight simulation, I’m thinking more along the lines of Sid Meier’s Pirates or The Sims. I want Sid Meier’s Pirates in space! However that is just the starting ground and good platform to build off. Mas Effect 2 is probably the closest I have come to what I envision traveling through space in my game to be like with more FTL style encounters, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The beginning of the game will have you picking your class and role in the universe. You can be a Starfleet soldier and work up to commander, a bounty hunter who goes around and you know bounty hunts, a space pirate, or maybe you just want to be a settler and explore all of the worlds in different galaxies. This leads us into your path through the game. Each class will have their own story naturally and they will all be independent and not just lead into the same end like some games of this type have done in the past.
The way I see it is that the Star Commanders will have the real narrative story involving some kind of space war (because there is always a space war) and will actually have multiple styles of play. Normally you will fly your ship around and have random encounters that can go all sorts of different ways such as trading with aliens, engaging in combat, or even talking your way out of a situation. Space combat will involve three things with the first being the ship to ship combat. You can control your ship in battle and fight off the enemy ships or you can try the second and more tactical way, control everything from the bridge like a Star Trek captain. Maybe if flying isn’t you thing you can just play as your captain and give orders from the bridge offering a more tactical style to the gameplay. The third will be the ship boarding combat. At this point the game would have third person shooting as you board the enemies’ ship and battle your way to the bridge, or maybe you have to defend your ship from invading troops. You can run all throughout your ship and go wherever you have to to stop the invaders, but watch where you’re shooting because if you damage anything then you will have to have it repaired after the battle. You will be able to employ technicians to your ship though to take care of that kind of stuff or even let’s say if you’re engines are disabled and you are stranded until they are fixed. I like the idea of having to have your ship actually repaired in combat instead of just using healing tools or something like that. Imagine being stuck in space after a battle, repairing your ship, and then all of a sudden another enemy ship comes by and you have to engage in another battle. Talk about intense!
Playing as the rest of the classes will be a little more open ended. The universe map will be huge. I’m thinking of something like Sins of a Solar Empire where you can literally zoom out the map to see four galaxies next to each other. The ships will have some kind of light speed so you can travel all over different galaxies if you wish and encounter all different kinds of stories and other alien races to interact with. The pirate class will basically require you to rob ships or compounds you happen to come across and will involve some stealth elements and cloaking devices while bounty hunters will have places all over the universe to pick up bounties and bring them in to make ends meet. The settler class is basically the sandbox mode. As a settler you start with your character in a ship and you can do anything at will. If you want to play any of the other classes just go to the designated bases and sign up to join and quit anytime. Maybe you just want to settle on a planet and live in a Sims style life game then do that. Maybe you can just play the game like EVE Online and become a space miner or carry shipments. The possibilities are yours.
Space is something an imagination can run wild with and that is exactly what I would want with a space video game. There have been a lot of RTS and Civilization style space games but none that have captured what I have been looking for. Combining multiple gameplay styles and having total freedom to do what you want even if it leads to nothing after hours of gameplay that can still be a lot of fun if the game is fleshed out enough. Whether you want to fight in a war, rob ships blind, hunt down some lowly criminals, or just live a live in space I would just want one game to have my back on whatever I want to experience.