Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Fleet Combat Online is (or I should say, will be) an online multi-player turn based strategy game of star ship combat. For now, this site will be a developers blog of the work in progress. I will describe the features that it will have and post screenshots and answer any questions. Hopefully, I only have a couple more months of work to get it live and playable. I set up this site now to put some thoughts down on paper and to see if anyone is actually interested in playing the game. The greater response I get, the more motivated I will be to finish it!

First off, what is it? I have always been a fan of strategy games as they make you think and plan out how you play the game rather than just clicking and reacting quickly to what you see on screen. I am a bit sad that this genre seems to be dying out. I can understand that a strategy game is never going to sell millions of copies like Halo, so publishers and developers are not interested. But I think there is a place for them in the world of online browser based games. So that is what I am developing.

The game is inspired a great deal by the old DOS classic that I grew up playing called "Begin". Begin was a DOS based star ship combat game based in the Star Trek universe. There was also a sequel called "Begin2", (which I never played until just a few months ago when I started this project and searched on the Internet to see what ever happened to Begin). The original didn't even use any graphics, it used only ASCII character drawing. You issued orders to your crew and other ships by typing commands. I loved it and played it all the time on my original IBM PC/XT in the early 80s. Begin still has a pretty active community of people that sill enjoy its solid strategy game play, but it is definitely showing its age. I have never seen anything like it since then, which got me interested in developing something new.

Fleet Combat will be different from Begin in many ways, but it will have a similar game play flavor. First, it won't be based in the Star Trek universe. Partly because that wouldn't be legal, but mostly because I don't want to be restricted to Star Trek "canon". I want to be able to use different types of ships and weapons than the standard photon torpedoes and phasers. When you think about it, Star Trek combat is pretty limited.

Second, it obviously won't take commands by typing in orders. That had a certain fun to it in the sense of being "the captain" and barking orders to people. But it also meant you spent a lot of time making mistakes or trying to get the command parser to understand what you wanted to do. Instead it will have a tactical console style of point and click interface.

I don't mean to compare it to Begin so much, I am not trying to develop a sequel to that. It will actually be quite different in many ways. I just wanted to point out the starting inspiration. I would love it if other fans of that game became interested in Fleet Combat, but I don't want them to be upset when it doesn't turn out to feel like "Begin3" -- that is not the goal. I would be really happy if the original author would write a sequel for us all to enjoy.

Other games that I have been inspired by:
The excellent VGA Planets. Tim Wisseman was a hero of mine when I was a kid because of that game. It spoke to me. I played versions 3 and 3.5. I looked at version 4 a couple of years ago, but it seemed so complicated to get into, so I have never played it.

Master of Orion. Actually, I have never even played the original or the sequel. For some reason those passed me by (probably because I was a starving student and couldn't afford a computer in the early 90s so I still had that 10 year old PC/XT). But I did become aware of it during the development of MOO III. I was on the forums during its development and looking forward to it like crazy. I understand most people were disappointed in it after MOO II, but not me. I guess not having played the originals, I didn't have anything to compare it to, so I was happy with it. Maybe I should go back and play MOO II to see how much better it was.

Anyway, that is where I am coming from, and I hope other fans of those games will find this site. I also hope that I can develop something that is even close to the involving experience of those games. I will post more details about the game itself later, there will be plenty of time as I procrastinate on actually writing the thing...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now there is a sequel to Begin. Download Begin3 from www.starfleetproject.com