So, on to the grand plan!
The great thing about StarMade is the variety of ship types that it incorporates. You can make anything you want because you’re building and outfitting the ship yourself, block by block. You can have anything from tiny fighters to massive titans, cargo ships, transport ships, whatever you like. This fits in well with Star Trek and the different types of ships that are seen in the shows and movies. We’ve seen everything from one-man Peregrine class fighters in Deep Space 9 to massive Borg cubes.
Although StarMade is still in alpha, the devs have laid out a pretty specific vision for the game. There will be AI ship crews with each member having a specific duty. There is already a cargo system for carrying resources and the newly released (although unfinished) fleet system allows you to send ships out into the galaxy under AI control to patrol, attack, defend etc. So the actual game development is tying in nicely with what I want to achieve.
My eventual goal is to create all of the ships seen in Star trek for use on StarMade servers. It’s more than that though. All of the races and organisations on the show can be represented by factions in the game. Imagine taking control of the Federation and expanding your territory out as you explore unknown space, building starbases and colonies and growing your fleet. Assigning a few ships to guard your new colony as you send a high-speed scout into the void to chart strange new worlds. Even having to defend your outposts from a few Maquis raiders (or maybe a full scale Terran Empire assault? 😉 ). Or you could play as the Klingon Empire and try to subjugate the worlds around you. Or the Borg and simply assimilate everything in sight.
Originally when I had this idea I was planning on creating a few ships from each era on Star Trek. You could initially start at the beginning with Earth Starfleet ships and as you expanded you could work up through the eras to the “modern” Sovereign and Intrepid classes and such (or their equivalents for other races). I would also create a station or two from each era to act as home bases and shipyards. As I started to write down my plans though it felt a bit flat. There wasn’t really much depth to it and it seemed a bit boring to just have maybe 15 or so ships for each major race in total. The whole point of StarMade after all is to build whatever you want so restricting the number of ships to such a low number seemed a little counter-productive. The idea of having a fully realised Star Trek world on a server would fall short if there were dozens of copies of the same ship going around.
I should point out here that this “dream” of mine is entirely crystal clear yet. Veteran StarMade players might be reading this thinking it’s completely pointless. The idea right now is to eventually host my own server with only Star Trek ships and factions, whilst making individual ships available to download for players to build on their own servers or in single player as well. My hope is that down the line (if it isn’t an option already – I’m not actually sure!) we will be able to put our own AI factions into servers, therefore allowing me to create a multitude of minor races to populate the universe to fight or trade with.
So anyway, I started expanding my list of ship classes. Long story short, I have around 160 planned Federation ships grouped into 13 unique gameplay “roles” over 9 eras. Add to this the 40 or so station types – again, each fulfilling a specific role – and we’re starting to see a fully fleshed out faction. The number of ships and stations is growing all the time as I come across designs that I like or I think will fit well into specific roles.
Now, you might be thinking, “but the point of a block building game is to make something unique isn’t it? Why would I want to use predefined ships when I can build whatever I want?”. Well you’re right. So in addition to having the option of using completely designed ships, I would like to also make various hull modules available to players to put together to create something unique to them, while still having a Star Trek feel to it. So you could take a Constitution Class secondary hull and add a Miranda Class saucer and Excelsior Class nacelles. I don’t know why you would want to do such a thing as it would be ugly as hell, but you could do it if you want. With the current “copy and paste” methods available in the game I’m not entirely sure if it’s possible to do such a thing right now, but making specific parts of a ship available to all players in your faction seems like a good idea so I’m sure the devs will add it in at some point.
This brings me to another issue – balance! In my little fantasy server world, you shouldn’t be able to take a Daedalus Class into battle with a Prometheus and expect to win. There are two centuries separating the two. So I’m also planning on including standardised weapons in each of the ships. This will be achieved by creating blueprints of turrets of various strengths and capabilities and installing them on the ships and stations. For example, the Galaxy Class has a set number of Type 10 phasers in the show, so I’ll make a Type 10 turret and install the correct number of them on the ship. The same turret will then be installed in the Nebula Class, as it also should have Type 10 phasers. Ships of earlier eras will have lower type turrets with less firepower. The number of shield modules will be balanced on each ship too, as well as armour strength, speed, power etc. So that as you move up through the eras ships will become faster and more powerful exactly as they so on the show.
Enough from me today, I’ll go into the eras and ships roles in more detail in my next post. Apologies for the wall of text and lack of pretty pictures! Oh, and if you think I’m a little bit mental and a lotta bit geek, you’re right on both counts.