Best Laid Plans

"I'll make an Real Time Strategy game set in space" I said, "it'll be easy" I said.

Best Laid Plans
Pretty high hopes for this rendition. It's fun, it's much clearer with a smaller focus and easier controls

At some point in your life you'll be hit by an idea ...

... an epiphany of sorts.

It'll hit you like a bolt of lightning from the sky.

Feeling like love at first sight, it'll be arresting and addictive, it'll hurt and feel warm and fuzzy at the same time, it will disrupt your life.

What choice do you have but to let it lead you into the glow, see where it goes?

If you don't try, you'll regret it forever ... right?

If you ignore it, it'll always be at the back of your mind.

Well, that jazz happened to me and so I started to create, and all the dreams and aspirations of my childhood filled me like an overflowing bathtub.


"I'll make an Real Time Strategy game set in space" I said, "it'll be easy" I said.

Shallow Space the 4th prototype, encompassing multiplayer grand strategy with ...
... grid based tactical play. Otherwise known as: A hot mess

There's no character animations, no sprawling level design, just little ships moving around shooting at each other.

I'll make it 3D and detailed like Homeworld and blah blah ...

Some 8 years later and it's still a mindbogglingly complex idea. So complex, that it is seemingly impossible to make it fun. If it ain't fun then it's not a game, which is basically the main reason why that project went round and around in circles.

We had an entire forum of bright minds contributing positively charged Cobalt nuggets of ideas that were completely, almost violently incompatible with each other.

I spent a lot of time chasing those ideas, both mine and others because it felt right at the time. We set up a voting system to bring the best ones into the game but it backfired and ended up derailing the thing.

In the public eye, one can but try to satiate the masses but I tell you, ask a hundred people for ideas and you'll get a hundred different ideas. You can't build a game based on public consensus, you can't, you can't, and you'll go mad trying.

So we do these things in secret. Like some form of skunkworks.

Gameplay first, here we experiment with combat, the essence of Real Time Strategy
Here we start to lay on the GFX - this time, not so thick!

Low and behold, something interesting materializes on the 5th attempt.

What's more? It ticks all the boxes; it's multiplayer, it's more personal, it's simpler, it's easy to control, it's fun. But still, if we're going to attempt to trot out that tired old horse again then the setup has to be right.

I was tempted to YOLO it once more, but it's probably time to give the idea the attention it deserves.

Some proper designers, a budget of some form.

At the very least I need distance from it, come back to it with some perspective. It's a pretty good MVP, something you'd show a publisher.

I mean ... It would be sweet if I could burst through the door all dressed up and say "there you go chaps, there's that space RTS I promised you but then couldn't deliver"

I dream of that day.

But, even Shallow Space simplified (with a far less stupid name) is quite the colossal game, but I've 'done the dev thing' and brought it along to the point where it needs a game designer.

The dev can't be the game designer, I don't think that works, not in my case anyways.

Plus I suck at the community stuff, I'm just so bad at it.

/imagine First person view of James doing community management again

Those guy's didn't start the meeting as Zombies, I butchered them all with my community management skills and they turned.

It was before I knew about the head shots.


There's stuff we can do in the meantime anyway.

The stack we built it on is modular, the components reusable.

What if we can use that in other far simpler games first? What if we can give that stack to other game developers and see what they make of it? They might even push their improvements upstream to us.

I mean, have we been thinking about this all wrong?

The power of Shallow Space was always in it's community, so much so that it scared me; I was incapable of meeting all the demands, listening to the collective, it felt like I was sat at the head of that table full of Zombies.

I was doing too much. I tried to own everything.

I won't make that mistake again ...