My Ideas for Moving Forward

Post ideas & suggestions you have pertaining to the game here.
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Xephyr
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:16 am

When I found Transcendence, being a free game was enough to get people interested. Unfortunately the days of that being a novel thing are over, and we need to compete with high volumes of similar games to get people to even try it. This is not an issue with the game itself, its a matter of selling what the game is. "Roguelike space-shooter with trading and crafting elements" describes approximately ten billion other games out there and appeals to a niche audience, but Transcendence outcompetes the majority of them in terms of quality. Even if the game is among the best of this category, we're still only selling to a niche market. Trying to get anyone new to play Transcendence is a hard sell because of this.

I think we could give people more to talk about without changing much about the game.

I love George's writing - it feels like you picked up a dusty old scifi novel. Everyone wears cloaks and garbs and it feel like every other faction got the "bad end after playing god" ending. People miss out on so much of this because so much of the story and lore is inaccessible. Nobody knows that the Sung are governed by computers powered by their cybernetic slave network, even if they complete the Huari storyline (very difficult for a novice player to pull off). The biggest single reason that there's not much lore in the game is because it is very difficult to fit in - walls of text aren't fun and only a small percent of factions have story or mission arcs around them.

Vault of the Galaxy is a great opportunity to improve on this. Imagination (and memory) fails when trying to visualize all the alien races. I can't tell you off the top of my head what an Odudwa or Erebien looks like, and I think the game only gives a full description of each race when you first meet them; Every alien race should have at least one portrait in the game. This is a lot easier than trying to make human portraits for part 1 (though we should include portraits for the humans in votg), but more importantly it is an opportunity to showcase how well-thought out the taxonomy of the races are. We can pack a LOT of information into a single portrait. At a glance, we can convey their tech affiliation, the quality of their civilization, the taxonomic relationship between races, and so on. All stuff that the player should not have to commit to memory. Additionally, we should really exaggerate some of the quirks and peculiarities of the races. For those too alien to be at all relatable, their physical shape or behavioural oddities might be their only memorable aspect. As it is, we're relying on ships/stations and flavor text to convey ALL of this.

By doing this, without changing the game itself, we can let the player experience much MORE of the game at one time. There's countless benefits to this but the key point is that it gives people much more to talk about. Playing to the player's sense of exploration and discovery as much as we can will make them much more likely to recommend the game to a friend (in my experience) without any changes to the game's mechanics at all! After we "put a face to a name" so to speak, we have an added benefit of written characters feeling more real as well, which is crucial because you can carry a game entirely on characters alone. If we have individuals that facilitate the story in meaningful ways, then that has the potential to make the galaxy feel like one cohesive setting. It would be pure Kino. By providing a level of abstraction above the core game, we can sell the game on things besides just the mechanics! This is one way the game can really set itself apart.

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The release of Part 2 should increase the player base substantially. Not only does it get points for being a new release, but it is an >>>*** opportunity to bring in past players ***<<< by continuing the story. Transcendence has cast a wide net over the years, and countless people have heard of it and tried it out, and this is a good chance to reel them back in. However, we WILL see that spike drop off very quickly without more things to entice people into staying. Currently the community has a private discord server, a voiced-only IRC, a 30-minute follower-only wait to comment in the twitch chat, and manual account activation on the forums. The first major issue is that there's nowhere to build up the userbase because there's nowhere to go unless you're willing to wait around for days to get in. The community needs to better facilitate bringing in new members.

After we've increased the userbase, we should be committed to keeping it that way. Over the years, there's a culture of perpetual development that emerged. It's natural, considering something like 15 years of development on the game, but we've normalized procrastination. And again, its natural considering that modders are hobbyists (wouldn't want to spend your free time doing things that are not fun) but putting off major content in favor of the fun stuff is just building a stairway to nowhere, especially when you know you can put it in a "future release". I know its fun to create new factions, with their own graphics and backstory and everything, but that's the icing of modding. Icing is tasty and makes everything look nice, but it's not going to be any good to eat without any cake beneath it. Cake is the stuff like structure; missions and story arcs. Cake is what makes a game a game, and it should be meaningfully different from the Stars of the Pilgrim cake (ie. do not rely on the core gameplay loop to carry you through 20 systems) . Modding should be able to carry Transcendence far past part 2. But that's only going to work if there are mods to play.

This is my personal challenge to any modders out there sitting on their big mods: Aim to put out a public beta after the release of part 2. I want you to think about what your extension would look like if it were complete and playable, and commit to putting it out for the world to see. Some of you have whole worlds that have been hidden for years - Make it into the world you want it to be, and let everybody else experience it!
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:46 am

You have a thought-out OP. I have not mulled over most of the OP to respond well.

In my case for modding, I am trying to maintain my mods, but I am falling behind. I still have yet to touch Blender recently to build the ships and stations I need to make Drake Technologies more than a mere items mod, and probably should try to do something with a sound program (currently Audacity) to make better sounds (I am a complete amateur on this). I really want to expand Drake Technologies into a full-blown expansion, but until I can build the resources I need, it cannot go any further (meaningfully), although I may experiment with some feature as they become possible with engine updates. I have started on a part 2 continuation of Drake Technologies called Drakian Legacy, but that might eventually evolve into a first-half adventure with some weird late-game archaeotech as a tech demo for weird ideas. Playership Drones is falling by the wayside at the moment. I may try to maintain it, but I am tempted to abandon it.
Download and Play in 1.9 alpha...
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!

Other playable mods from 1.8 and 1.7, waiting to be updated...
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Playership Drones (WIP): Acquire more wingmen from Ship Broker. Unfinished, but updated to 1.8 beta.
Drake Technologies (Alpha) for 1.8: If you do not have 1.9 alpha 1...

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Song
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:59 am

Hmm. Some good points there, though one barrier is that missions are one of the harder things to learn to make in the engine. They're easier than they were, certainly...but they still have some rather nasty challenges (this is why my project doesn't have them yet: they'll be in the 2.0 major release once I've got a solid foundation with 1.0).


The other big problem facing modding is the fact that it's much easier to build a mod for the standalone version than the steam one (also that some folks don't use steam at all and thus their mods aren't accessible there anyway). If we sort that and make (preferably finished, as you say) mods more accessible to our Steam userbase we can hopefully get some benefits out of that.
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relanat
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:11 am

I rarely comment on non-coding matters because I'm nowhere near qualified in any way as a developer or marketer or whichever.

But Xephyr's point about timely access to the community is IMO a valid one. If a player has a problem and tries to get it solved, "Come back in a while, we're not sure how long it will be" isn't really the kind of thing they want to hear. Same if they just want to comment or have a question about something.
Screening is required or else we will drown under a tidal wave of cheap Rolexes, Russian wives and WorldOfWarcraft but a minimal delay would be the desired result.

Personally, Discord is too hard for me to use. I'm on different computers all the time and having to download and install then register and confirm (or whatever, I gave up trying) is too much trouble. There might be an easier way but it isn't immediately obvious.

IRC is a much better system. Totally user-friendly. Open the page and you're going.

Twitch sucks. There's no other word for it. I did get to watch one stream but it was laggy. That probably isn't a Twitch issue but the end result is no viewable streams. I have tried to check saved streams, particularly one about missions, but all I get is some stupid message saying "You'll need a time machine to see that" whatever that means. I'm sure the morons (once again, no other word suits) at Twitch think that is really clever and trendy and cool as they chuckle to each other. But the end result is a site that I'll never bother going to again because there isn't any point. Perhaps not such a clever thing!

On the other hand I haven't seen any spam on the forum for ages. So there is one good point to a delay.

Regarding mods.
To paraphrase someone much smarter than myself "A good mod released now is many times better than an excellent mod still in development." No one is playing a mod that isn't released.
Song has the right idea in the post above. Release version 1.0 now. It works. Players can enjoy it. That's what gaming is about. Enjoyment. Then work on 2.0 with much better code, more features, missions, etc for release later.

It isn't only in this community that procrastination happens. It's a human thing. When working on a mod there is always the thought to just do "insert another feature" and then release it. And then redo "existing feature" so that it is cleaner, better, etc. So we end up with a mod which is getting better and better but players don't get to enjoy it.

In theory a plan should be set in place to release a mod at a certain time with whatever features it contains at that time. Then add more features for the next version. And repeat. But that is a very hard thing to do.

Separately, can mods be uploaded to Steam now? I know Multiverse mods aren't (or weren't when I bought CC and EP a while back) available to Steam buyers unless George sends them a code. I was planning on adding mods to the Multiverse now that downloading can be disabled. Should I also be uploading them to Steam? Is that how it works?
PS Great Transcendence introduction post by username "Inim......Song" (sorry, I can't spell that) on Steam. If that is you, Song, well done.
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CMircea
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Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:28 am

Discord has a web interface, you don't need to install anything. For IRC it depends on the IRC server/network and in any case it's much less friendly to your average Joe (eg. no built-in history).

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