This week was dedicated to refining our vision for the game even further, and I'm now pretty confident in where we're headed.
First, we had a wonderful meeting on Monday in place of our usual class period. Since our schedules line up only partially throughout the weeks, and not usually for more than a couple hours, this was a godsend. We decided to focus more on the single-player campaign, discarding the idea of online multiplayer in favor of a progression-based single-player and attempts at refining our local multiplayer experience. We also dropped the idea of pursuing phone-sized devices. This all ensures that our efforts are focused where they are needed the most and where they will be most appreciated. An online multiplayer mode, as cool as it would be, is tricky to get right once you get beyond the basics and, given our limited audience, would rarely be used to its full capacity. Our game also doesn't really fit into the phone app market and the interface is still too complicated to use on such small screens.
One design feature I'm particularly happy we're implementing is a first-turn resource boost. Since early-game actions are particularly limited, most games play out much the same for the first five turns or so. To counteract this, the concept of placing a set of buildings on your first turn was floating around for a while. Now, players get a certain amount of extra resources on their first turn. This allows us to bypass the early-game sameness and allow players to get right into the heart of things without sacrificing the importance of building configurations. We still need to test it out, but I'm hoping playtimes will be cut by several minutes. Our game is pretty short, but to stay true to our vision I think it needs to be a bit shorter.
To facilitate single-player content, I'm working on a Winforms-based mission creator for the designers. The editor will generate XML files which can then be read in during level loading. This can dictate the positions and sizes of planets, as well as the building configurations and the first-turn resource boost each planet receives. Additionally, the file can specify the name of a prefab to spawn when the level first loads. The prefab can then handle individual level scripting for things like tutorials or pre-boss text popups. This helps to offload some of the level creation complexity from the mission creator to the Unity Inspector.