If you are here for the first time, you just might be wondering “What is Starbase Orion?”. Up until a game is released (and sometimes even long after release as the developer continues updating the game), the answer to that question is a vision. The vision that is driving the development of the game, defining the goals of the game and shaping the design. The pot at the end of the rainbow. This post describes the vision I have for Starbase Orion.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way; I am a Master of Orion II fan. There are probably very few 4X strategy enthusiasts out there who are not. MOO2 just got many things right. Exploration was fun. Combat was tactical. The research tree was simple and easy to follow, but provided some great strategic decisions. MOO2 did so many things right that the many fans judge all new 4x space games against this one title.
The biggest disappointment with Master of Orion II is the multiplayer support. While it provides an incredible single player experience, multiplayer opponents are incredibly hard to find, and the multiplayer experience when you do start a game is lackluster. I am certainly not the first to notice this. There are many other 4X space games trying to make a great multiplayer experience, but they are attempting that by moving to some form of real-time gameplay. Sins is one of those games, and does the RTS pretty well. Others are going the MMO route where you click to build a ship and then have to wait many real hours until its built. Most of attempts at a multiplayer 4X have abandoned the turn-based experience.
I look back and see that I’ve spent a majority of my game time playing ladder matches in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, and more recently in League of Legends. These are real-time strategy games, but what they get right for multiplayer is more general than that. They provides an engaging strategic experience, make it dead simple to find other people to play with, the game designs are focus around short, multiplayer matches, and the typical well-played match lasts 40-60 minutes of game time. Long enough to have some great battles, yet short enough to get one or two in before bedtime.
This is the vision for Starbase Orion: to retain the classic turn-based gameplay of MOO2 while embracing the simplicity and multiplayer experience of these great games. Sure, there have been (and will be) some hard choices and tough design decisions to make this happen, but I am already very excited with the results. Hopefully you will be too!