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Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Sat, 27 January 2007 21:59 Go to next message
Iconian is currently offline Iconian

 
Officer Cadet 2nd Year

Messages: 233
Registered: January 2006
Location: Nevada, USA
I've been communing a bit with ken-reed about his Stars! clone Nova, and today I spent an hour and a half or so today scanning through some of the different threads in the Freestars forum. I'm trying to get a basic, "big picture" understanding of what's going on with Freestars and attempts to get a good Stars! clone up.

I guess I really don't understand. Browsing these threads and such, I've learned a few things at least. I may not understand the difference between the client and the server (I thought that refers to internet connections), or a client project, or a package, but I note that there's:

1. Zstars
2. Freestars
3. Craigstars
4. Nova
5. Thousand Parsec
6. Stellar Legacy
7. Hilton's Freestars Client
8. Gstars
9. My Own Stars
10. Frontier Project

and maybe others as well. I believe that Hilton's Freestars Client is gone, but I don't know much about the others, except Nova and Craigstars now. Maybe some of these "clients" and "servers" and such are dealing with different aspects of the actual game. Maybe the only solid things I really do know are that A. No fully functional Stars! clone or sequel exists, and B. There are close to a dozen different clone attempts. Am I right about these things?

I haven't really been with the Stars! community too long, but I looked around at lots of different sites a year or two ago and bookmarked a bunch. Every few months I'd go back to look at something, but somewhat often I'd find that the website no longer existed. I found gible's Cyberstrands site a few weeks ago. I went to the links section and clicked each one and found that probably 3/4 of them are gone, though I wasn't keeping track. It seems like more players are drifting off, more sites are going down, and those various Freestars, etc, clients are disappearing.

I got on mIRC a month ago after downloaded it again, hoping maybe to play a blitz game. I talked to Coyote there for a bit and later decided instead to try to start up my own game. I talked with Coyote a little bit, and he said that (not exact quote)


the Stars! community is just kind of fading away.


So what are we going to do about it?


I'm not blaming anyone. I don't know that there is anyone to blame, except perhaps simple "entropy." Everything dies. Everything has its time. Is this Stars!' time?

From what I've gathered, Stars! is the greatest strategy game ever created, or at least the greatest that I'm aware of. But it was never as popular as other games around it (probably because of its lack of graphics). I would consider it a shame to see it all disappear entirely, but that seems to be the trend that's taken root here, unless something changes. How long can we expect the relatively few remaining sites to last? How about the Autohost itself?

Chess has been around for thousands of years, and I think Stars! is far superior to it in terms of strategy and level of options, and in many other ways. But if things go the way they're going, can we expect Stars! to last into the 22nd century, or even to the middle of this century? That's the big picture I'm looking at. I'm seeing what certainly appear to be all the indicators of certain death—and if it truly is the case that Stars! is the best strategy game ever, or even in the top ten, shouldn't we ask ourselves if we're willing to see it disappear?

I'll probably get a few comments now along the line that I'm a doomsday sayer or something such, and that the Stars! community is "strong and growing," and all the Stars! clones are "just fine." Have you checked your old Stars! bookmarks lately? Have you clicked through the links in the pages that are up? Are you playing any of clones right now with real players, and if so are any of those clones really working yet? And how often do you see new people joining the Homeworld Forums even? I count 7 this year so far, 138 in 2006, 158 in 2005, 212 in 2004, 256 in 2003, and 86 in just the last two months of 2002 (which probably would have been around 500 had the SAH been open in the beginning of 2002). There are new people joining, but that number is falling off.

I'm not saying that Stars! is just going to disappear overnight. It will take years, maybe twenty or thirty or forty. That's what happens with something like this. Like with cities that are having big troubles with overcrowding, pollution, crime, bad politicians, etc, everyone says that the next generation will fix it. At this rate though, Stars! won't have another generation—and even if we thought it would, would we want to hand over any control over it?

I just don't want to see this game go down. I love it, even if almost all my playing has been against the AI. So if it is dying, what needs to happen? I don't have much, but I think I'm going to donate a few dollars to the Autohost, because this is truly an invaluable service Ron is providing, and I don't think we can thank him enough. Many games would have long since died without such support. What else?

I think a clone or sequel that does everything Stars! did and adds upon all its strengths would be fantastic. Perhaps it would bring new energy to what, in my eyes, seems to be a dying Stars! community. So what will that take? Right now we have a bunch of different developers on different development platforms with different ideas, all going in different directions. It's like those alliances I so often read about on Stars! game stories. The alliances die because they lack unity. Stars! needs unity.

I think we need to answer three questions:

1. Where is Stars! right now, and where is it going? Specifically, is it dying?
2. If it is dying, what can we do to prevent that?
3. What can we learn from the past to prevent the mistakes, disagreements, and other problems that contributed to disunity?

We need to bring new life, and new blood, to this game. We need to have a little bit of time for discussion (maybe a month or two) so that we can lay out a plan for this—not too long, since far too often such plans get bogged down and amount to many words but no action. Then we really need to take a course and stay it. Let's resolve whatever issues have prevented that from happening. Let's look at the big picture: keeping Stars! the "Orphaned Child" alive.

Don't let the Stars! fade away.

EDIT: One of my other favorite games, Chrono Trigger, also had a couple projects going: the Chrono Trigger Remake Project and Chrono Resurrection. They were full 3d and everything and had a lot of fan support. They didn't fade out in the end though--the original maker of the game, Square, hit them with a cease and desist order, so they're gone. From what I know though, the Jeffs have encouraged the idea of a Freestars effort. With that in mind, shouldn't we be able to succeed with the original creators behind us?


[Updated on: Sun, 28 January 2007 21:42] by Moderator





Yeah, bread too.

Don't Let the Stars! Fade Away

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Sun, 28 January 2007 06:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
Senior Chief Petty Officer

Messages: 92
Registered: December 2006
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
An excellent post! You have have captured all of the key points. To take them in turn ...

Quote:

There are close to a dozen different clone attempts. Am I right about these things?


Close, some people did, indeed, start out creating a Stars! clone. As far as Nova is concerned (I can only speak for myself) I just wanted to learn about modern technology C#, .Net, ASP, XHTML, etc.) and, because I'm very fond of Stars!, implementing some of its features seemed a good way of learning how things have changed since the 16-bit world Stars! was built in and today's technology. Mission accomplished!

Quote:

the Stars! community is just kind of fading away.

Yes, very true.
Quote:

So what are we going to do about it?

Well, that is up to us.
Quote:

Stars! is the greatest strategy game ever created

Well, some people might argue about the rating but it's certainly amongst the best. I, personally, find the end-game a bit weak but, as I said, that's just my personal opinion.

Quote:

I'm not saying that Stars! is just going to disappear overnight. It will take years, maybe twenty or thirty or forty

I'll give it 5.
Quote:

I just don't want to see this game go down. I love it

So do I. This is why I'm continuing with Nova which was meant to be a short, personal, test platform for trying out some ideas. It has suddenly turned out to be a Stars! clone. Smile

Quote:

I think a clone or sequel that does everything Stars! did and adds upon all its strengths would be fantastic. Perhaps it would bring new energy to what, in my eyes, seems to be a dying Stars! community.

I fully agree. Making it happen, though, seems near impossible.

Quote:

I think we need to answer three questions:

1. Where is Stars! right now, and where is it going? Specifically, is it dying?
2. If it is dying, what can we do to prevent that?
3. What can we learn from the past to prevent the mistakes, disagreements, and other problems that contributed to disunity?



1 - As far as the commercial Stars! is concerned I believe it is dead.

2 - Nothing (as long as we are talking about the commercial version). Sad

3 - This is what this thread is about. Read more.

Quote:

Don't let the Stars! fade away.

An excellent motto for e-mail signatures (or, tongue-in-cheek here, a "mission statement"). Smile

Quote:

From what I know though, the Jeffs have encouraged the idea of a Freestars effort. With that in mind, shouldn't we be able to succeed with the original creators behind us?

OK, I'm willing to set up Nova as a SourceForge project so that anyone can contribute and, what was meant as a personal educational project, can become an Open Source Stars! clone.

The question is ... who is interested in working on it. Can I have a "show of hands" please. Various skills would be required. For example:

  • Graphic designers to create things like proper icons and generally make things look professional (Force User has some fantastic ideas for the ship designer dialog).

  • C# programmers (Craig?) to implement features such as battle visualisation, mine fields, etc.

  • General "hands-on" help such as creating all of the design components using the existing tools (e.g. creating all of the bomb types).

  • Documentation experts. This would be a complex project, someone will have to nag people about what they are doing and write it down. Nova uses XHTML as its documentation scheme so that would require web skills.

  • User guide writer. Again, XHTML skills would be required.


Me? I'd take on the role of quality control and reviewer. I'd leave the coding to other people but I'd still like to keep control of the "design" (someone has to).

OK, I've outlined the problem, does anyone want to tackle it or do the "Stars fade away"?


[Updated on: Sun, 28 January 2007 07:12]

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Sun, 28 January 2007 23:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
Lt. Commander

Messages: 906
Registered: November 2002
Location: Pacific NW

I can add the tech items in a plaintext data file. Just give me a list of what variables the program is going to call.

Ideally the tech list will be easy to read and alter, to facilitate both balancing and modding.

Here's an example.*
SuperFooGun{
Name="Super Foo Gun"
//costs, are 0 if not declared
Bora=10
Res=20
//tech req's
TechWeap=8 //defaults to 0 if not declared
//properties
Mass=2
ItemClass=Weapon //what kind of thing it is
ClassType=Beam //in this case, does it count as a beam, sapper, missile, torpedo, ballistic, or area weapon
DamageBeam=7 // normal beam damage
DamageSapper=4 //sapper damage
DamageBallistic=1 //always deals 1 damage to armor when it hits
Range=4
DamageFade=20 //percent of damage decreased with each distance step. 
// 10 for most beams, 0 for most other weapons. Can be negative to make weapons get stronger with distance.
Accuracy=70 //unlike most beams, it can miss
AccuracyFade=20 //Accuracy gets worse with range, should be normal for ballistic weapons
MultiTarget=True //Gatling ability
Cloaking=-10 //interferes with your cloaks
MinelayHeavy=5 //lays 5 heavy mines a year
Color=OxFFFF44 // fires a yellow effect
MysteryTraderToy=True //This component comes from the Mystery Trader only
DeniedTraits=HerdInstinct //If you have that trait you don't get to build this device
Text="This beam turret fires a stream of high-energy fooions and seems to have additional abilities. The origin of this part is unknown." 
//Displayed in the tech browser as the item's description.
Image=MTtoy15.png
}

MaliceMizer{
Name="Malice Mizer"
Iron=15
Bora=1
Germ=9
Res=30
TechProp=11
TechNrg=3
Mass=35
ItemClass=Engine
ClassType=Ramscoop
Warp6=80 //undeclared means it uses no fuel at that warp
Warp7=110
Warp8=135
Warp9=190
Warp10=265
Warp10Safe=True
Ramscoop=True
Thrust=6 //used to calculate movement speed in battle
RequiredTraits=ExtendedRangeEngines*SiegeEngineer //these are multiplied together, so if any are False it gets a return of False, 
// if all are True then it returns True
BombPop=1.2 // percentage of population killed
BombInst=3 //installations it destroys
Text="This engine contains a small bombing bay and is designed in an outrageous baroque style to add insult to injury."
Image=Engine21.png
}


*Disclaimer: These are not intended as actual tech items.

Does this look right?


[Updated on: Wed, 31 January 2007 04:45]

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icon7.gif  Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 04:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
Senior Chief Petty Officer

Messages: 92
Registered: December 2006
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Quote:

I can add the tech items in a plaintext data file. Just give me a list of what variables the program is going to call.

There is a tech item editor. See:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ken-reed/Ken/ComponentDesigner. htm

It currently works with a binary database but it would be trivial to get it to import and export in XML.

However, just for the time being, I'm just interested in seeing if we can pull a team together. I'll count you as "in".
Smile

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 08:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
Commander

Messages: 2760
Registered: October 2004
Location: Third star to the left
ken-reed wrote on Sun, 28 January 2007 12:39

I, personally, find the end-game a bit weak but, as I said, that's just my personal opinion.


You should perhaps have played the MMMO nightmare of Galactic Awakening I, or other such beasts of games. Twisted Evil

"Large" is for sissies! "Huge" rules! Rolling Eyes Whip

Quote:

The question is ... who is interested in working on it. Can I have a "show of hands" please. Various skills would be required. For example:


I'm not entirely happy with the "one program does it all" approach. I.e: there would be greater freedom/evolution if several quite independent "blocks" that make up the game could be tackled on their own, by different (or even competing) people, each working on their platform(s) of choice. For instance:
Deal game "client", the one you use for giving orders and receiving turn messages/updates Cool
Deal game "server", the one that checks everyone's orders and merges them all into a result (the new turn) Whip
Deal specific game tasks, such as watching a battle report in all its glory, or designing the mother-of-all-counterdesigns, or the all-important tutorial-cum-intro. Sherlock
Deal even the "server" part itself could be further decomposed into several steps, as per the Stars Order of Events. Twisted Evil

Whatever the final form, though, the new-and-even-better Stars! should still be quite simple (like chess) and balanced (like chess) and have good learning resources (like chess) Nod



So many Stars, so few Missiles!

In space no one can hear you scheme! Deal

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 09:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
Senior Chief Petty Officer

Messages: 92
Registered: December 2006
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Quote:

I'm not entirely happy with the "one program does it all" approach.

Point taken (and I agree). However, we've got to start somewhere and establish a "baseline" from which we can move forward. So far, the team has two members (including me as one).

Unless more people are not willing for the "Stars to fade away" this is the "end of the line" as far as Stars! is cocerned.

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 09:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
Lt. Commander

Messages: 906
Registered: November 2002
Location: Pacific NW

There's enough people out there willing to help. They just don't read the forum...

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 15:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
sirgwain is currently offline sirgwain

 
Chief Petty Officer

Messages: 82
Registered: March 2004
Location: Tucson
m.a@stars wrote on Mon, 29 January 2007 08:52


I'm not entirely happy with the "one program does it all" approach. I.e: there would be greater freedom/evolution if several quite independent "blocks" that make up the game could be tackled on their own, by different (or even competing) people, each working on their platform(s) of choice.


I have to disagree here. If Stars! is truly dying and we want to prevent that, we need to attract new players and old players who have given up on it. We can't expect to do that if you have to download 10 modules and walk through a 5 page readme just to get a game started with your buddies. It needs to be simple to create and host games.

The game itself needs to be appealing to new players if we want to keep it alive. This is purely annecdotal, but the real problem I've had convincing my friends and family to play the original game are all based on its complexity. The game is pretty dang complicated to pick up for a beginner. The micromanagment required per planet is really high, and the tools in the game to help with micromanagment are hard to figure out (repeat orders for remote mining transports, moving pop around planets, auto build orders for new planets, etc.)

To combat these problems we need to create simple micromanagement orders. I'm thinking things like:

'Right Click on Planet -> Mine Remote Planet -> Left click on nearby planet'

This would create all ships for a remote mining fleet (transports, miners, etc) with optimal components. Build them in the production queue, and when built they would automatically start mining the selected planet and set up a freighter route between the remote planet and your homeworld.

We need to allow the users to customize any step of this process, but the base functionality needs to just work out of the box.

It's tempting to make all of this stuff usable by plugin modules, but your average newbie isn't going to be up for downloading the game, the server, the remote mining addon script and a host of other scripts just to make the game enjoyable. There are plenty more games out there that are fun to play and much easier to get started with.

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 16:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Iconian is currently offline Iconian

 
Officer Cadet 2nd Year

Messages: 233
Registered: January 2006
Location: Nevada, USA
Quote:

The question is ... who is interested in working on it. Can I have a "show of hands" please.


*Raises hand*

I'm willing to learn new skills for helping make this work, whether that be some programming or web page design or something . . . however, my forte (IMO) has always been in my writing. I've written a few books, many articles for a local newsletter, and in recent months I've taken contracts as a copywriter. I've actually been playing around with an idea for Stars!

Briefly, the original Stars! had next to no plot. The Sznip and Fermis finished a war and threw the universe all out of whack, so all that's left is the too-small bubble of space for you and competitors. I read the plot for Supernova Genesis on Saturday I think. Your home system star is going to blow up and you need to leave the system. That's a pretty commonly used plot . . .

Anyway, the plot I'm thinking is Stars! Revival. I think that would be an excellent name for the game, combining the idea of the plot with the attitude we want to nurture among the players.

Stars! Revival
For years the Stars! community has been dwindling away, almost to nothing. All around are questions about the future. Where have the Jeffs gone? Empire Interactive? Will there be another game? Have we been abandoned? This game can revive the dying spirit of Stars! players everywhere. It will require some work. For instance:

Quote:

There's enough people out there willing to help. They just don't read the forum...


Then let's find them. I've visited many different Stars! websites in the last month or so, learning plenty of interesting things. Let's scour those websites and contact the operators. Let's look at old mailing lists (or newsgroup lists) and find people who might still want to participate. Etc, etc.

What we will do is make it so that what happens in game will run parallel, to some degree, to what's happening out in the real world, in the Stars! community. From the manual:

Quote:

Once upon a time there was a
Theory that said the Universe was made up of interconnected bubbles of space/time. The Sznip and the Fermi War proved it. The detonation that
destroyed both these super races also caused these bubbles of real space to pop (actually a simultaneous replacement of real space with null). All
the bubbles but one. This bubble of space/time, your bubble, is all that remains. And it's small (too small) and full (too full) of sentient species, each
on the verge of colonizing other planets and traveling between the stars. Each race hungry to control the little bit that's left.


Now, your civilization has long since conquered all those weakling races. You have spread throughout your bubble and colonized the vast reaches of space. You have expanded so far, in fact, that it has gotten overcrowded . . . your people's fighting spirit begins to fade. Populations on planets die out of boredom, research and technology dwindle, ships are mothballed and begin to go into decay, and industry fails all over the civilization.

But somewhere, in one corner of your bubble, a small group of energetic researchers has found the key to solve all these problems . . . the Stars! Revival. Nervously, in uncertainty, they band together and find out some amazing truths: using advanced equipment, they have detected extra-bubbular signals. This can only mean one thing: somewhere, on the outside, are those who have survived. These individuals unite their common interests and resources and to construct the Stars! Revival, an incredible device that can bend the folds of space and time around a spacecraft, allowing it leave the confines of the bubble. The journey is long and arduous, but as they work forward more supporters who had nearly given up all hope join them, and their momentum builds and builds. Finally they complete their research, and the Stars! Revival system is fitted onto every craft possible, which then launch forth throughout the universe, and find that as they had thought not every bubble is gone . . . some still remain.

A new era dawns. Your people begin talking, trading, learning, and warring with the other races of the universe. It truly is a Stars! Revival.



Yeah, bread too.

Don't Let the Stars! Fade Away

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Mon, 29 January 2007 17:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Iconian is currently offline Iconian

 
Officer Cadet 2nd Year

Messages: 233
Registered: January 2006
Location: Nevada, USA
Now, time to go over a few specifics, so my post doesn't get too big.


Modules vs. Single Game
Quote:

I'm not entirely happy with the "one program does it all" approach. I.e: there would be greater freedom/evolution if several quite independent "blocks" that make up the game could be tackled on their own, by different (or even competing) people, each working on their platform(s) of choice.


I agree. If we can have several small groups of programmers operating at one time on different aspects of the single game, we can probably get it done more rapidly.

Quote:

I have to disagree here. If Stars! is truly dying and we want to prevent that, we need to attract new players and old players who have given up on it. We can't expect to do that if you have to download 10 modules and walk through a 5 page readme just to get a game started with your buddies. It needs to be simple to create and host games.


And I also agree with you. I have to confess that I downloaded ken's Nova on Saturday. I looked through the pictures but wasn't sure what to do. I returned to his site and found that I needed Microsoft Visio 2005, or something . . . which I don't know where to get, how to use, or even what it is really.

I think we need to combine these two ideas and get it all organized properly. We can have individual teams working on individual components or modules of the game, but at the same time we need a leader who can inter-coordinate the actions of each group. We need to make certain everything is compatible with everything else.

As I've said, I'm no programming expert. But, perhaps what we could do is have each separate team group on one particular folder of information for the game. We want everything to be compatible with everything else. We want it all to work in unison. This means that we have to leave a lot of room to move around. Don't tie anything down that doesn't absolutely have to be--don't hardwire stuff into the system until we're sure we can work around it. But more on that later . . .



Quote:

The game itself needs to be appealing to new players if we want to keep it alive. This is purely annecdotal, but the real problem I've had convincing my friends and family to play the original game are all based on its complexity. The game is pretty dang complicated to pick up for a beginner. The micromanagment required per planet is really high, and the tools in the game to help with micromanagment are hard to figure out (repeat orders for remote mining transports, moving pop around planets, auto build orders for new planets, etc.)


I can attest to this. I tried to get my brother to play Stars! a while back. We both have common interests with games like Half Life, Counter Strike, Thief 2, Square RPG's, and some others. Clearly, Stars! doesn't appeal to some types of gamers at all, but there are other gamers that it would appeal to, if it was sufficiently simple to get into. In this regard, I offer up a few different and associated ideas.

Occasionally I'll draw something using Microsoft Paint. Paint is a very simple program. The learning curve is, oh, ten minutes, maybe. I can do a few things with it. It does them OK.

I've also used Photoshop from time to time. It's much different from Paint. It's extremely complex. If I were to spend a few hours (10, 20, 30, who knows?) I could probably understand it well enough to use it all the time. Yet, I find myself returning to Paint continually because it's quick and easy.

Photoshop is like Stars!
Paint is like Starmonger,, Pax Solaris, or some others.

Each of those games has its own interesting set of features. In the past couple weeks I've completed probably 10 games of Starmonger. To contrast, I've complete 0 of Stars! in that same time period. Starmonger is simple.

Now . . . we can say, "That's OK. Stars! is a different kind of game. It's not meant for everyone." That's true. Even if it was more like Starmonger or Pax Solaris, my brother probably wouldn't like it. But at least it wouldn't overwhelm him.

I suggest the best of both worlds. Lunar Colony is a game I like a lot. It's easy to get into and understand. I played the tutorial several times, and once I understood I went to easy, medium, hard. Each time I changed the difficulty it added new features to the game.

So, let's do that with this. I think games are about options. Players love options. But, options can sometimes be overwhelming if there are too many of them dropped like a ton of bricks all at once. Let's make Nova (Stars! Revival, whatever we want to call it) in a way that anyone can get into it and do it easily, and later on more options and deeper layers of MM, etc can be added to it. While I've never been a huge fan of wide appeal (I suppose I'm quite an elitist), sometimes it's necessary. Sometimes it's valuable to have popular support.


Quote:

we've got to start somewhere and establish a "baseline" from which we can move forward.


Quote:

It's tempting to make all of this stuff usable by plugin modules, but your average newbie isn't going to be up for downloading the game, the server, the remote mining addon script and a host of other scripts just to make the game enjoyable. There are plenty more games out there that are fun to play and much easier to get started with.


Let's start from somewhere. With writing, one of most important things you can do (or avoid doing rather) is showing someone your work before it's done. On the other hand, I've learned the hard way that sometimes, you need to just get it done. Let's get started on something with several different modules. Each of several different people will work on a particular module for, say, two months. During that time the project coordinator will review what's been done and make sure everything's compatible. The individual modules will be available for downloading if people would like them during that time, but they wouldn't do much good. Then at the end of two months or so all the information gets combined into a single working game made available for download. This means that the programming platforms have to be compatible. I might be getting in a bit over my head here with trying to explain and understand, but the important thing is that everything work together, and that it's easily modifiable in the future so that we can pick it back up without difficulty and add many new features.


Nova?
Now, what is the starting line going to be? Have we decided we want to us Nova? Is Nova the clone that's most advanced to this point? Does anyone really know how far along Freestars is? I've heard that Freestars may not ever get finished--one programmer said in a post he was dissatisfied it was taking so long and was going to try it on his own. Does anyone know what's taken Freestars so long? And how can we avoid their problems?

Maybe we should take a vote on which clone would be best to work from . . . it should probably whichever is farthest along at the moment.

I think that probably one of the most important things we can do here is avoid duplication. In general, duplication=waste. There are a bunch of different Stars! clones out there. Let's not let them go to waste. I think we should contact the various programmers and see if they'd be willing to share their time and resources on a serious effort at making a Stars! sequel. Consider that with all those clones there's bound to be a lot of code lying around. If that code could be integrated into this effort, we could probably save ourselves a lot of work. We just have to make sure we don't spend too much time trying to get it all to "fit together." If we can get a hold of some of the other clones' code, let's assess how long it will likely take to integrate that code. If it would just be faster to program it from scratch, then we should probably do so.


Finally, if you do know someone who might be interested in helping out with a Stars! sequel/clone, why don't you just "ping" them to find out where they might be in the next few months? I believe we can go some pretty cool places, but it might require a fair amount of work and time. I think I could probably spare at least 15 hours a week . . .

That's all for now.



Yeah, bread too.

Don't Let the Stars! Fade Away

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 05:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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sirgwain wrote on Mon, 29 January 2007 21:36

m.a@stars wrote on Mon, 29 January 2007 08:52


I'm not entirely happy with the "one program does it all" approach. I.e: there would be greater freedom/evolution if several quite independent "blocks" that make up the game could be tackled on their own, by different (or even competing) people, each working on their platform(s) of choice.


I have to disagree here. If Stars! is truly dying and we want to prevent that, we need to attract new players and old players who have given up on it. We can't expect to do that if you have to download 10 modules and walk through a 5 page readme just to get a game started with your buddies. It needs to be simple to create and host games.


That's what wrappers are for. Cool Indeed the final user (or even the host) never needs to know the internal workings of anything. Whip

Quote:

The game itself needs to be appealing to new players if we want to keep it alive. This is purely annecdotal, but the real problem I've had convincing my friends and family to play the original game are all based on its complexity. The game is pretty dang complicated to pick up for a beginner.


You might be forgetting Rule Number One for Stars! and other similar games: Deal Always Play the Tutorial First. Very Happy


Quote:

The micromanagment required per planet is really high, and the tools in the game to help with micromanagment are hard to figure out (repeat orders for remote mining transports, moving pop around planets, auto build orders for new planets, etc.)


That's a further phase, when you're starting to tire of beating the AIs. By then you should be already hooked. Twisted Evil Whip


Quote:

To combat these problems we need to create simple micromanagement orders. I'm thinking things like:

'Right Click on Planet -> Mine Remote Planet -> Left click on nearby planet'

This would create all ships for a remote mining fleet (transports, miners, etc) with optimal components. Build them in the production queue, and when built they would automatically start mining the selected planet and set up a freighter route between the remote planet and your homeworld.


And that's basically AI-like work, unlike most of the rest of the game engine, thus suitable to be left for later, if done at all, quite probably not by the same programmers, even. Shocked

Quote:

We need to allow the users to customize any step of this process, but the base functionality needs to just work out of the box.

It's tempting to make all of this stuff usable by plugin modules, but your average newbie isn't going to be up for downloading the game, the server, the remote mining addon script and a host of other scripts just to make the game enjoyable. There are plenty more games out there that are fun to play and much easier to get started with.


Again, a matter of wrappers. Besides, every major game nowadays has patches and mods. Cool



So many Stars, so few Missiles!

In space no one can hear you scheme! Deal

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 05:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
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The best thing we can do to make the game complex but easy to learn is to make a damn good manual!

Start by explaining the User Interface, and what it means to submit, generate, and receive a turn. Explain to players what economy ramping is and why you have to do it to win, tell them how the essential guts work, explain ship design logic and the principle of counterdesign, and most importantly remind them to think for themselves analytically and study everything for a possible advantage.


Speaking along this line, I'm sure it's not too hard to make a more intuitive/obvious/faster to use interface than what exists. The UI is the worst aspect of Stars! and very probably what turns many people away from trying it.


[Updated on: Tue, 30 January 2007 05:35]

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 10:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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Quote:


The best thing we can do to make the game complex but easy to learn is to make a damn good manual!


Erm ... there is an excellent manual on the Stars! CD. It just doesn't get installed by default.

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 11:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
GreyMatter is currently offline GreyMatter

 
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[quote title=ken-reed wrote on Mon, 29 January 2007 04:33]
Quote:

...

However, just for the time being, I'm just interested in seeing if we can pull a team together. I'll count you as "in".
Smile



Well, I guess, you could count me in as well !
I can do lots of things including design/coding and graphics if needed but given my hectic schedule at work I'd prefer graphics as it is one thing I do NOT do at work Laughing

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 14:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ptolemy is currently offline Ptolemy

 
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I'm fairly certain ForceUser will allow all his graphics to
be used for this project.

Ptolemy




Though we often ask how and why, we must also do to get the answers to the questions.

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 14:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Neo the White is currently offline Neo the White

 
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The graphics that Nova uses well the ships are fine but the gadgets are not even close to quality and coolness of the old Stars!.

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 14:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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Quote:

I'm fairly certain ForceUser will allow all his graphics to be used for this project.

I've exchanged e-mails with Force User and he's happy for Nova to use his graphics (although I picked up his versions from FreeStars as they are in PNG format with a transparent background).

So, for the initial version, the graphics are done apart from an XP icon set (big one for the desktop, small ones for the applications). I believe there is a Microsoft KB article on creating "proper" XP icons.

So, there's at least one job to do.

It seems we now have a team of 3!

I'll post an announcement on the stars newsgroup to say what we are trying to do ... I'm not sure many people read it these days but it might pull in a person or two.

I'll also start looking at SourceForge to see about setting up a project there so at least we can work in a controlled manner.

In the meantime I'm typing in the planet invasion code. Should be done tonight Smile



Don't let the Stars! fade away.

http://stars-nova.sourceforge.net

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 14:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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By the way, if you are going to work on Nova you will need the free Visual Studio Express tools (C# and Web). If you don't have them already I recommend that you get them installed, download the Nova source, and see if you can compile it and run the programs.

It's really only been built on two machines and I'm sure there are lots of configuration issues to sort out.



Don't let the Stars! fade away.

http://stars-nova.sourceforge.net

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Tue, 30 January 2007 16:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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Quote:

The graphics that Nova uses well the ships are fine but the gadgets are not even close to quality and coolness of the old Stars!.

I guess it's a matter of personal taste but I rather like Force User's graphics. I think they are actually better than the ones in "old" Stars! (even if they are very similar).

Oh well, as I said, it's all down to personal taste and the way Nova is built anyone can change the images to be whatever they personally like. So, we should be able to please everyone in that respect Smile



Don't let the Stars! fade away.

http://stars-nova.sourceforge.net

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 03:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ForceUser is currently offline ForceUser

 
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I'm in (as always) to do any graphics. I've still got all the roiginal Max3D files for all the renders and models so I can make changes or re-renders at any time. I'll even have a go at making icons.

A suggestion though for the icons: why not make it a forum wide competition? Give links to the page(s) where it details on how to make icons (what size they should be, format, etc.) and what nova's needs are regarding it. Another thing to try is a competition for a splash screen. Granted, I've got a slight advantage to having the models, but I don't really have alot of talent. I'd ofcourse make myself available to do rerenders for the contestants.

I do think that apart from simplicity and complexity (need both) the clone should have graphics, and LOTS of it. Look at any and all new indi games. They are all full of eye candy, and that's the only thing that will get people interested. Take my idea for a hull designer/tech browser, it's a start. We should move away from the stars! GUI and make something new and and not so windowsey (don't think that's a word but meh)

Things that would help is being able to install "skins" like on winamp and media player. Or even Themes like on desktops and cell phones. Make it so that people can customize thier stars! experience. But that's all for later Smile

so yea, I'm in.

ForceUser



"There are two types of people in the world. AR players and non-AR players" Nick Fraser

Working on some new stuff: http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/stars-nova/index.php?t itle=Graphics
And the Mentor Database www.groep7.co.za/Mentor/ ZOMGWTFBBQ!! it still works lol!
Check out my old site with old pics at www.groep7.co.za/Stars/

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 04:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
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...and another voice joins the choir!

Guys, I wanna say something now before it becomes too late down the road:

We need to keep a focus on the project and what we want it to be. We've basically got three different paths available and we need to all be pulling in the same direction.


1. Stars! 3, with improvements and significant new material but still undeniably Stars!

2. Clone of 2.6jrc3, with non-gameplay improvements (UI, graphics)

3. A brand new game that borrows from Stars! but is fundamentally different.


I don't know about you, but while option 2 provides a good place to start it's option 1 that I think most of us really want. I don't mean to sound rude here but if you want option 3 instead you should probably GTFO and work on a different project, because clamoring that we should make the game into something that it isn't meant to be, such as Homeworld, MOO, World of Warcraft, whatever, is just going to get in the way and cause too much disturbance and infighting and it would be much better if that didn't become an issue. We have to keep the fundamental essence of Stars! - c'est le raison d'etre entire. Changing the race wizard options is one thing, getting rid of race design in favor of something else is completely different. Making the battleboard bigger or adding new weapon types is one thing, replacing it with player-controlled realtime combat is a very different thing.

Do you understand what I mean?



Okay, then. Very Happy I just wanted to throw this down right now to prevent the project falling apart down the road due to disagreements on fundamental design.




Now then... what if any game engine hooks for tech item behavior have been defined? I'm eager to build that tech item list and open it up to balance testing.


[Updated on: Wed, 31 January 2007 04:43]

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 05:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
m.a@stars is currently offline m.a@stars

 
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Coyote wrote on Wed, 31 January 2007 10:38

1. Stars! 3, with improvements and significant new material but still undeniably Stars!

2. Clone of 2.6jrc3, with non-gameplay improvements (UI, graphics)


I vote (2), with (1) a long-term goal. Cool


Quote:

Now then... what if any game engine hooks for tech item behavior have been defined? I'm eager to build that tech item list and open it up to balance testing.


You mean, a brand-new techitem list, all different from the original that Stars uses? Shocked



So many Stars, so few Missiles!

In space no one can hear you scheme! Deal

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Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 05:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Coyote is currently offline Coyote

 
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[email

m.a@stars[/email] wrote on Wed, 31 January 2007 02:02]
Quote:

Now then... what if any game engine hooks for tech item behavior have been defined? I'm eager to build that tech item list and open it up to balance testing.


You mean, a brand-new techitem list, all different from the original that Stars uses? Shocked



I mean, 80% identical, with the remaining 20% including a few new devices and some changes to old ones (weakening the Fuel Mizer's performance at w8+, making the Medium Freighter more cost-effective and the Privateer less of a freighter).

If most of you agree to simply clone 2.6jrc3 exactly, well, then it'll be an identical tech list. But ultimately, that's boring to me. Bored I want more!


[Updated on: Wed, 31 January 2007 05:29]

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icon14.gif  Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 06:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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Just typed in a long message only to lose it when my computer decided it needed to reboot itself Sad

So, a quick summary of what I typed before ..

1) Posted to the Stars! newsgroup. Not sure if we'll get any help from there but worth a try.

2) The article on producing XP Icons can be found at

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms997636.aspx

We now have a team of 5. I'm off to SourceForge to see how to set up a "proper" project. I'll post more when I've done that.

Regards

Ken




Don't let the Stars! fade away.

http://stars-nova.sourceforge.net

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icon5.gif  Re: Don't Let the Stars Fade Away Wed, 31 January 2007 07:04 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
ken-reed is currently offline ken-reed

 
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Quote:

Force User

Love your ship-design ideas (I think I've said this before). However, how to code it simply is a real problem (one of my design objectives is that Nova should be simple to understand and work with).

Any ideas?

Ken



Don't let the Stars! fade away.

http://stars-nova.sourceforge.net

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