I’ve recently been playing the game co-op with a friend, and we’ve been able to beat Mysterious Space! it took a few tries, and I almost never beat the game, even when I sit down and try, so that was kinda’ cool… but we both agreed that the ending is kind of… “meh”.
like, you win, and there’s a tiny cut scene, and you see some credits, but… I dunno. it was hard to beat the game, sure, but somehow “beating a hard thing” wasn’t reward enough for us.
and I can’t help but think that other people will feel the same way.
so I’ve set about trying to fix this. and it’s entirely possible that my approach will fail, but I’m not TOO bothered by that, because I think that my “solution” will still add something fun and unique to the game.
anyway: I’ll stop beating around the bush, and tell you what I’ve done. then I can explain more about “why” afterwards.
Mysterious Space will now feature five alien races who are native to the ZZ-Omega-9 Sector. the sector map will no longer have a fixed layout (it will be procedurally-generated), and will also be much larger than bebefore (it no longer all fits on one screen), but most-importantly, about 20-25% of the systems will be controlled by one race or another.
(it may also be worth mentioning: though the sector is much larger, you will still visit approximately the same number of planets in one play-through. it’s just that there are now more possible paths to take.)
the races themselves are not procedurally-generated. I want your interactions with them, and the consequences of those interactions, to be discrete and easy to understand, so making them fixed seemed like the way to go. (I’m sure I COULD still accomplish this with procedurally-generated races, and I may move to having them proceudrally-generated in the future, but for now, in the interest of ease of programming, they are fixed.)
so what are these races? how will you interact with them?
from left to right, they are:
Lyra (The Lyran Empire)
this civilization is at war with The Aquilan Empire (next) for control over the very same Mysterious Source that the player is after! The Lyran Empire will not let the player enter their systems unless the player agrees to help them. agreeing to help Lyra makes the player an enemy of Aquila.
I don’t have a super-fleshed out personality for this race, except that, being at war, they do not have time to mess about. you can either agree to help them, or be on your way.
Aquila (The Aquilan Empire)
your interactions with The Aquilan Empire is basically symmetrical with The Lyran. I may put in some slightly different bonuses you get for allying with one or the other, but what it really comes down to is “do you side with one of these empires in order to reach the Mysterious Source, knowing the other will hate you? or do side with neither.”
after discovering the Mysterious Source, there will be a confrontation with both of these civilizations, regardless of who (if any) you allied with. how you resolve that confrontation will definitely impact the last half of the game (your journey home).
this tentacled race, along with Auriga and Ophiuchus, are each smaller than either Lyra or Aquila, but have joined together to form The Triad. they are not involved in the war for the Mysterious Source; their main purpose in the game is to give you opportunities to trade for supplies and other services.
I haven’t worked out the details quite yet, but the outposts that are currently in the game will definitely be reworked to tie into The Triad (and possibly Aquila and Lyra as well).
Pisces, specifically, are a welcoming and forgiving species, eager to trade. they will have more-unusual items to sell you than the other races (I’m sure I’ll end up making some items which can only be acquired through Pisces).
the Ophiuchustians are the most reclusive of The Triad. they are a race of silent watchers, gathering information, and then dispensing it when they feel “it is time.” before they are willing to deal with you at all, you must prove that you have good intentions.
besides basic services, I’m not sure what exactly I will have the Ophiuchus offer. something information-based, obviously… item identification, perhaps… maps… things of this nature.
while Pisces is rather cheerful, and Ophiuchus is reclusive, the Auriga are more middle-ground, and straightforward.
obey their laws, and you are welcome.
their services will be similarly basic and straightforward. I don’t really have much to say about them 😛 I’m not sure if I should strive to make them more unique, or if it’s valuable to have something more neutral in the game. I’ll continue to think on this…
Why These Changes?
previously, Sector ZZ-Omega-9 was a kind of empty place. sure, there were enemies and little outposts, but there were no other entities that seemed to have a definite purpose for being there. it was essentially you against space.
my hope is that by adding other entities to the Sector – each with their own purposes, and each of who you can interact with – I can give you (the player) some interesting choices to make beyond just “which armor do I want to equip?” and also give you an enemy (or two) whose motivations make sense and have purpose, so that, when (if) you win, you can you feel like you actually beat someone/something worth beating.
overall, I hope these changes will give a little context to Sector ZZ-Omega-9, and your adventures within it.
… and again: maybe they won’t!
maybe this idea is all wrong, and winning the game will still feel lackluster, even after these changes. but even if that’s the case, I still think it will have been a good addition! I don’t think I’ve seen something quite like this in another roguelike(like(lite)). it feels “original”; gives Mysterious Space a little uniqueness (though if there’s another game out there with a similar idea, I would not be surprised; I can’t say I wasn’t at least a little inspired by the Civilization games). it will also be a good framework for expanding the game in the future.
I hope you’re looking forward to it!
thanks for reading, and thanks for playing Mysterious Space! 🙂