Hi, Frost Giant Studios!
I’ve watched most of the 3-hour long video on Artosis’ channel, where you were answering both Artosis’ and his patrons’ questions, as well as giving some insights on what ideas and concepts you are currently working on.
Among all other things, you were discussing the potential number of playable races, the setting, art style, pace of the game and whether or not you should implement heroes and why. During the stream, you emphasized several times, that you are actively looking forward for a constructive and meaningful feedback, because you are still figuring out and refining the main game concepts and haven’t started the technical work yet.
So, if you don’t mind, here is my dime to it. I don’t want to look demanding or anything, just giving some “backseat game developer” suggestions. Prepare yourselves for wall of text. And as usual: “Excuse me for my broken English”.
Number of races
I heard you arguing about 3 or 4 races. I understand the amount of work needed to conceptualize and fully develop a unique race, but to my mind, having only 3 races is a bit too restrictive and limiting. To be frank, before Tim Campbell said that he leans towards 4 races, and the rest of the team were like: “well, 4 races is the celling”, honestly I thought that 5 races would be really nice.Think of MtG. Yes, it’s a real-world card game, but I’m referring more to the fact, that each of the 5 colours has it’s own identity, it’s own charm. Moreover, those 5 primal archetypes have influenced many more card games, and became sort of a standard for a newer card games. I’m talking about Hearthstone, Faeria and others. I guess, there is an opportunity to make 5 distinct and unique races, each of which would have their own playstyle and appeal. But in any case, if a request for 5 races puts too much pressure on the team, then I’m rooting for 4 races.
To be honest, right now I can’t tell you my clear preference. But here are some possible variants:
– Post-cataclysmic Middle Ages
. So, the premise is: some time ago, the world was completely different, there were flying chariots (planes) and shooting sticks (firearms), people learnt to control lightning (electricity). But then a catastrophe occurred (variants): 1) Great natural disaster, 2) Great technological disaster, 3) Great World War using mass destruction weapons, 4) Invasion of Extraterrestrial species.So right now, people are living in a new Middle Ages, where they lost most of the knowledge and don’t really know how to use the remainings of the past civilization. Examples: Elex, Horizon Zero Dawn.
– Middle Ages in alternative reality
. So, this concept is very similar to the previous one, but instead of a destroyed human civilization, we have a generic “old ones” civilization. This means that the structures and objects have a certain “good aliens” vibe and humans do not have a folk memory that they once were technologically advanced and great. They just live alongside with those evidences of something very ancient and great. The rest of the developing of this setting is on you =). Right now I can’t think of any example, but I’m sure there are some. Probably, mostly in literature.
– Space Fantasy
. To be honest, at this moment I can’t imagine a cohesive fantasy in space. Having unaltered elves and dwarves in spacesuits sounds and looks a bit pretentious and funny. BUT there are some good examples of merging together a space theme and high fantasy: Age of Wonders: Panetfall, Deep Rock Galactic and others. Also, you take a look at the Might & Magic series to get some inspiration from, because the demons in that universe were actually aliens, who were travelling the space in the spaceships, before coming into the worlds of Might & Magic. The other source of references might be Doom, or even the Warcraft lore itself, where demonic eredar lords also were cosmic aliens.
– Steampunk/Dieselpunk mixed with fantasy
. This genre is still underexplored, but I can remind of one strategy, which uses a similar setting – Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. There are also some movies and plenty of book covering steam/dieselpunk + fantasy.
. Pretty self-explanatory. To me, the most bright cyberpunk + fantasy series are Shadowrun Returns. It’s not a strategy, but it contains the essence of cyberpunk with a proper twist on fantasy.
– Classical High/Dark fantasy setting with variations
. No comment. Examples: Warcraft series, Lord of the Rings.
– Classical Sci-Fi setting with variations
. No comment. Examples: Starcraft series, Endless Space.
A well-polished realistically looking art is always fine. By “well-polished realistically looking” I mean art like in Starcraft 2, Age of Empires 3, Company of Heroes, Iron Harvest, recent Total War games.
Also I’m good with quality-made cartoonish style of art. When I say “cartoonish style”, I mean art like in Northgard or in a turn-based strategy Sorcerer King: Rivals, or a turn-based RPG Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest, or a multiplayer session RPG Armello.
Portraits, cut scenes and cinematics
It may seem less important, but having a well-thought and well-designed portraits and cut scenes will elevate the game. Also, if there is a room for bestiary, which will contain a stylized portrait + some fancy description and of courses stats, that would be awesome!
About the game pace
Will be brief here – I would prefer a pace like 10-15% slower than SC2.
About the need of adding heroes into the game
I guess, it depends a lot on a map structure. Will there be no creep camps? Will there be a set location of set resources, like in SC2? Will there be no hero items/special places of force? Then a hero is not needed. But if the location and availability of resources are not set by default, and if there are some ways to empower a hero by leveling him up, defeating monsters, who might be guarding not just resource spot/item, but some kind of curiosity (can’t specify what exactly) then having a hero would be a natural option. And of course, heroes add more character to campaigns.
As for the skills – maybe 3 basic skills + an ultimate BUT instead of leveling skills up, a hero could choose to upgrade one of his skills with each level up, like in Heroes of the Storm. And to not make it messy, there might be not 3 or 4 options, but 2 for each skill. And so that, a hero can progress up to level 7, having 3 basic skills being upgraded, slightly changed depending on his choice. The option of ultimate skill might be choseable right when the hero gets it. Like, when a hero hits level 4, he could already pick an ultimate skill out of 2 available options. The power of skills in terms of raw numbers can scale according to the hero’s level, instead of being fixed.
To my mind a good and suitable music is what separates a great game from a masterpiece. Music gives game a soul and creates a unique atmosphere, while playing. These whole combine present a player some pleasant memories of the time he played that particular game.When I think of great atmospherical game music, first of all I think of Disciple 2 and Heroes of Might and Magic 5.
Some thoughts on map structure and locations of objects on the map, possible number of resources etc
You said you want to lower the entry level for a newer players, and you also have discussed that the proper building placement and scouting aren’t necessary the most important things, or the things that make a strategy game what it is. Regarding this, I have a question: do you plan to make some special building spots near the player’s base, which would be somehow highlighted/noticeable, so that every player would know how and where to place buildings to proper defend his base? If yes, I feel kinda doubtful about this decision, as it will make a game feel a bit simplistic.
There are two of the most important questions, which will determine the way of the development are.
- How the resources will be placed on a map? Will it be standard symmetrical locations, fully supplied with resources, like in Warcraft and Starcraft, or will the resources will be scattered around the map with a large degree of randomness to it? Or maybe, it will be something in between? Like, for example each map may contain a predisposal set of location with “main” resource, but the more rare resource(s) would require some map scouting, searching and protecting against other player(s).
The obvious benefit of Warcraft and Starcraft resource placement is that, that most of the matches in general are very readable and predictable in a good way. Each player knows what resource he should be gathering at the moment, where to send workers to gather it, and how many workers it is required to do so. The game itself clearly tells you how many workers should be mining gold/minerals/gas. This helps in making reliable build orders and helps newer players to understand the economy of the game quicker.
The other option is having the resources spread across the map due to some algorithm. Age of Empires series, Age of Mythology and a number of other RTSs took this path. In this case a player is more heavily reliant on scouting and improvisation. If didn’t think through this, this can make invention of reliable build orders a bit more trickier. On the other hand, it will lead to more early game aggression, more maneuverability on a map, but probably this will make a gameplay indirectly more difficult. Having thought about it, I guess this isn’t the most appropriate way of approaching the resource placement, but I will still leave it here, just in case.
2) Number of resource types
. Both Starcraft and Warcraft feature 2 types of resources: gold and lumber, and minerals and gas. And of course each of these games has a supply limit, which can be viewed as sort of a resource. I don’t think that you should chase super high diversity in types of resources (like in Spellforce, where you technically have up to 7 types of resources), but to me, having not 2 but 3 resources would be very interesting and catchy.Like having gold + metal and wood. Or having some weird alien liquid + weird alien stone and weird alien crystals.
Something like that.You can loosely divide all units, buildings and technologies into 3 tiers, each tier demanding some type of an elite resource, and more resources overall. Like tier 1 units are pretty basic, and most of them may require just the most basic resource. Tier 2 units are more sophisticated, and most of them require basic + some of the 2 elite resources. And the Tier 3 units may require all 3 of the resource, but in different amount. The same goes for technologies and buildings. It also can vary from race to race.
Curiosities on the map
Map may contain some interesting spots, that may give a slight advantage to the player who got access to them. In Warcraft 3 those are: Mana and Health springs, Shops, Mercenary Camps. In SC2 the watchtowers and the time-warping fields.
If you’ve made this far, thank you for attention.