The competition

Tell me, do you often experience something like this: you have a great idea, start working on it, and one day you stumble upon a video and it seems as if the whole world is already creating the idea’s you had in mind. And they where doing this for like the past 2 years already, so it seems as if you where sleeping these past 2 years…

This blog is about the competition I face while building ‘Manage the Universe’ and what I think of my chances.

First of all 2 nice videos worth watching if you are into strategy games / city builders. These are the competition I’m talking about, especially those in the strategy 4X section.

My first notice is that most of the games have decent to excellent 3D graphics. Yes a few are cartoony but even then quite polished.

A bit more on the looks of the game. My aim for the game would be to place it in a space sci-fi setting with gameplay balancing between strategy and first person action. That brings another set of competitors in view:

There are a lot of good looking competitor games in the market. I did know this already. But every time I look at the competition I see very well thought-out and nice looking spaceships. I want at least well thought-out space ships, but even that requires a lot of work to pull of.

Back to the strategy video. A thing I noticed was that a lot 4X strategy of games use generated maps with hexagon tiles. And they have interesting approaches on how to make the terrain fit these tiles and still look natural. See this for instance:

Look at the water body on the right: these are nicely hidden hexagons. Or the mountains. Or the nice transition between the plains and the farms in the bottom left. It gives me a nice reference to what is possible, but I do know from first hand experience that getting it to this level is quite a feat on its own.

Now on to comparing other parts of the game. My game would fit quite a bit in the 4X genre: ‘eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate’. A few of these games are 4X and do also have real time battles, so that is about the same. Most of these strategy games have progression systems (upgrades, tech trees). A few of them are in a space sci-fi setting. A few of them have hero units. And a few of them are story driven. But not all of them have it all at the same time. And no one of these play from the eyes of a main protagonist, as in: your strategy control is centered around your protagonist. And none of them have the unfolding gameplay, progression system and replayability system.

A lot of comments that accompany these video’s do complain about these upcoming titles to be more of the same. But at the same time people refer back to Age of Empires 2, Dune, Supreme Commander (1), Total War series, Empire Earth 1, Black and White, Star wars Empires at War, Populus, Civilization series, etc. Deep inside them they want to relive their old experiences over and over again.

In 1990-2000 there was a golden age of strategy games. But it seems as if there is a revival happening with a lot of upcoming titles. The question is however: are these new titles compelling/different enough to compete with the other new stuff when they compete at the same time with the old legends. And is this revival a good or a bad thing for my title… only time will tell.

On the positive side I do have a few interesting tricks up my sleeve. While I have to watch out with the graphic side of things (and possible look for support of other devs), my interesting gameplay mechanics will save the day! (If executed well)

Published by Erik_de_Roos

Erik de Roos is a Freelance software developer.

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