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Spacebase DF-9: Voting Discussion Thread

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Project Lead: JP LeBreton

Build a sprawling flotilla-city in space. Peer into the thoughts of its citizens: see their personalities, prejudices, and relationships play out in unexpected ways. Allow visiting ships to permanently join with your base. Take screenshots and string them together into stories to show your friends.

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Did you have Startopia on your mind when you came up with the idea? If so, how will this game differ from it?

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Did you have Startopia on your mind when you came up with the idea? If so, how will this game differ from it?

Hi! Yes, Startopia was great, and it's definitely on the list of inspirations, but I think Spacebase will be more focused on the social simulation, ie the lives of your citizens, than in building of an efficient and powerful base. They're close though.

Also Startopia's soundtrack was fantastic... one of the best of last decade.

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The contents of the PDF doc on the game's pitch page, reproduced here for convenience. This material is more internal development-focused, but provides some useful particulars.

Project Codename

Spacebase DF-9

Project Lead Name

JP LeBreton

Project Lead Bio

JP is a designer-programmer who worked on the Bioshock games before coming to Double Fine to help Ron design The Cave.

One Sentence Pitch

Build a space station where aliens live and work, and watch interesting stories emerge from their simulated lives.

Team Size for AF

5 (including JP)

Game Summary

As the omniscient overseer tasked with building a single habitation pod into a glorious sprawling flotilla-city, you will be able to peer into every thought and impulse of the citizens who come to inhabit your corridors. Citizens live and work as bartenders, scientists, dockworkers, entertainers, bureaucrats; they have needs, personalities, daily routines, and memories... which means that over time they develop friendships, enmities, prejudices, addictions, phobias, and so on. You'll also have the power to do things like set base policies (which may not necessarily be obeyed), issue orders to maintenance robots, and decide which visiting ships get to merge with your base and become a part of its permanent architecture. Each player's base becomes a unique, unpredictable city teeming with the tragedies and comedies of daily life, with a sense of creative ownership that grows along with it. Players in turn share their bases with friends, and the game expands over time with input from a thriving community.

Design/Development Tenets

Social Simulation-Driven: No pre-authored story or cutscenes. Rather, citizens have personalities, relationships, memories, desires, jobs - all of these drive their behaviors, bringing them into conflict with one another. Drama ensues.

Strong, Low-Fidelity 2D Art Style: We must develop a charming visual style whose every element is thoughtfully designed to help convey what's going on in the simulation. "Information efficiency" is key; SimCity and Animal Crossing teach us that less is usually more. Avoiding lots of fancy animation and highly detailed art has two key benefits: the game can be built far more quickly and cheaply, and players' imaginations can play a more active role in making its events meaningful.

Social Storytelling: Document the daily life of your base with a "photo album" feature where you can annotate screenshots. Share important, hilarious events with the world. People who play builder games have a natural desire to show off their creativity and tell stories - supporting this fully is a huge word-of-mouth marketing boost for our game.

Ongoing Support-Based Development Model: Some TBD definition of a minimum viable product should be released early, with ongoing updates provided by a very small (1-3 people) support team that expand the game based on what players are excited about and what helps further our vision for the game.

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Oh man im gonna be so sad if this doesnt come in top 4.

This sounds really really awesome!. Gl!.

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Hi! Yes, Startopia was great, and it's definitely on the list of inspirations, but I think Spacebase will be more focused on the social simulation, ie the lives of your citizens, than in building of an efficient and powerful base. They're close though.

Oh man, if you would introduce Arona Daal into the game there would be so much drama and social interaction :lol:

Also Startopia's soundtrack was fantastic... one of the best of last decade.

I couldn't agree more! I just listened to some of the tracks, so much nostalgia! Damnit, now I need to play it, because there is no space sim as good as Startopia today. Maybe your project can change it? ;-)

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All I can think off is the weird civilizations the crew of the enterprise would visit, where they had strange laws or all wore a certain type of hat. Is the game inspired by these places and can the player create such a strange world (using these base polices)? Are there going to be strong political themes in the game, will my citizens have a revolution if I end being a tyrannical leader?

Also hats, I'd like to force my citizens to wear a strange hat for absolutely no reason.

Good luck with the game, I hope you get to make a prototype as I'd love to play it.

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This is an insanely ambitious project, and I really hope you can pull it off!

A few questions though:

1) what perspective will the visuals be displayed to the user? flat top down 2d where you can see the world at different depths, or something more diagram like - side view where you are shifting focus to different "sections" of the station? - can you guess what I think is a better idea ;)

2) how will station expansion be handled? Are we going to be dealing with a pre-fab structure that we fill out, or a single (or few) modules that can be added onto? and if the latter, will each module be a functional building type, or just space to assign meaning to?

3) how much control/influence will we be able to have on the different people aboard our station? Will we be able to say no to different citizens before they join? Eject the unwanted into space? Change their profession to torture them with tasks they hate/fear?

As I said up front, I think this is an insanely ambitious project... but I LOVE it, and want it to succeed!

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I really really really like the idea. The only thing I don't understand is: what the player does? By the description, it looks very much "sit and watch what happens" (I know it is not like this, I am just saying that I could not figure out what you have in mind). So, could you please explain what are the player's "powers/decisions"?

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I like this idea. I immediately had to think of Startopia and I love that. So if it is somehow similar, then I will surely enjoy playing it greatly.

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Remember guys that a lot of prototyping is figuring out just the sort of questions you're asking. Sure, they probably have an idea about how the player will interact with the world, and what they'll spend their time doing, but it's a sort of blurry one that will come more into focus over the prototyping. It's very much broad brush stroke ideas right now, which is a very fun place to be, but there's a reason that only half the games worked on in Amnesia Fortnight tend to end up going forward - sometimes as you continue working on it, it turns out that it just isn't as easy to make the idea work as you'd thought. I know I've experienced that a couple of times during game jams.

Totally looking forward to how this one will turn out, as it looks pretty safe in the top 4 for now :)

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Simtower in space, i think :) obviously the player will have to build stuff.

It doesnt look good though, those few prototypes that are now in 4-5th place are moving up mighty fast, they are gonna over take this i think, and it will go out of top 4 :( oh noes.

Do no vote for evil competition! lol

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its great this is currently the most voted, but to me its a very open ended description and it seems like the gameplay will be passive and watching a simulation happen. Obviously I know nothing about this game, but yea I dont really understand the idea yet. Will there be anything to do after setting up the world, besides watching a story unfold somehow.

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yeah barely, its like been 25-30 votes ahead, its amazing, its gonna be amazing if it stays ahead.

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Anything with space gets my vote...you know me too well interwebs.

Smiles

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Anything with space gets my vote...you know me too well interwebs.

Smiles

Indeed, it is difficult to go wrong with space. Some might say...impossible.

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It's fairily possible to "go wrong with space". People die there instantly.

Speaking of which, will I be fixing oxygen leaks, and stopping my whole base from getting sucked out into oblivion?

Is there like a terraforming angle to this game, where I make a lovely park on the moon? I mean there has to be, right?

Are the bases ON PLANETS, or are they like giant orbiting metal structures?

aaa I guess these are all small questions, the main concept sounds good already.

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Voted for this, and there is one definitive feature this game must have: The ability to blow any random citizen you want out of an airlock at any time.

It's definitely a classic, well loved feature of all such management games. The reasons why are up the player, presumably something about them complaining to much, or just to see what would happen.

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This was one of the best pitches, so it immediately earned my vote. So do you think there will be random catastrophes like other sim games that will throw the player's plans in the shredder? There's probably some interesting crazy things that could be thrown at the player with the sci-fi spaceship setting.

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THIS.

This is a game I really want to play. It sounds terrific and I can already see myself having a lot of fun. We need more awesome simulation games and this one is in space. Not sure how you can top that.

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I'm more of a linear story guy and sims of any sort are a tough sell, but I've also experienced some memorable user-created stories from just watching and interacting with elements and characters in an environment. This seems like it has the potential to create that sort of compelling environment.

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I am a sucker for space games, and its nice to see one that isn't purely action oriented. Love this lots!

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Hey folks! Thanks so much for the support and questions. I've got some answers for some of the bigger ones coming very soon, just give me a few hours (holiday stuff!)

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Voted for this, and there is one definitive feature this game must have: The ability to blow any random citizen you want out of an airlock at any time.

It's definitely a classic, well loved feature of all such management games. The reasons why are up the player, presumably something about them complaining to much, or just to see what would happen.

Yeah, and you should be able to choose how you answer before people:

- make it look like an accident (there will be people who won't believe),

- set the guy up as a terrorist (people will turn aggressive toward his friends, who maybe play vital role in the station well-being),

- be blunt about it (people will be afraid of you, so they will obey rules more strictly, but then the general anger will rise and there will be more conflicts on board)

I see this as a political simulation, where your power is very indirect - just like politicians': they can set rules trying to direct people, but the choice is always on the lowest level. It's really interesting to try to imagine yourself as a political leader: you can have good intentions, but then what should you do, to direct people into some direction? When if that direction's not so good? When you try to do good and it comes otherwise, people start to hate you. How do you gain their trust again (if it's at all possible)?

...

Yeah, but the game idea sounds really great! ;D

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