Its 12 minutes past 12 on the 12th day of the month. Here is another Star Tale blog. Everything in Star Tale is public domain.
This time Im going to introduce Star Tale: Ground Wars.
Star Tale: Ground Wars is the name given to the strategy game parts of the overall Star Tale project.
Each player gets "60,000" points to spend on a custom army. You create your custom army in your own time before entering a battle.
You can purchase from a medium selection of infantry, vehicles, mechs, and aircraft etc and customise their armour, weapons, equipment and skills etc.
If you spend all your money on the highest quality Main Battle Tanks, you can have around 60.
If you spend all your money on the biggest Mechs (called Archons) you can have around 12. (these are massive mechs, equivalent to Warlord Titans in warhammer 40k)
The cheapest Infantry can be massed in large numbers but often you will want to buy transport vehicles for them, plus support vehicles and heavier Infantry etc to have a well rounded army.
It is possible to have hundreds, if not a few thousand troops if you want to spend all your money on the very cheapest infantry though.
So there is this custom army list building aspect to the game that you can spend time on in your lunch break or on the train, or whatever. Building your custom army list can be as easy as picking a ready made list, or you can spend hours and hours, days, weeks, a lifetime, tweaking it to perfection in great detail.
There are no restrictions of how many of each unit you can have. So you are allowed to spam 1 unit type if you wish. (some people might say: "Cheese lists will be too powerful then. Jukado doesnt have a clue. Star Tale is rubbish.")
Read on, I touch on this later.
Once you have prepared your army list, you can go into battle.
You start the game with your full army and there are no reinforcements.
There is no base building or resource gathering in normal battles.
The scale of the battle is bigger than a skirmish but not quite so large as grand strategy games.
It is highly likely that players will start the game with relatively very asymmetric armies even if they are using the same race.
Remember there are 7 main factions in the Star Tale world that you can choose from. See the previous blog here:
Moving units into position has a lot of importance. Often you will be using transports to ferry your infantry. Controlling advantageous terrain and strategical positions is valuable. (this is not done through a miss chance on high ground though like in Brood War, as there is no luck in Ground Wars).
In terms of game design, its a mixture between being tight, elegant, simple etc and with having a lot of complexity and customisation.
I love abstract games that are very lean. I also love games that are grognard heaven with tonnes to learn if desired. No game can be the perfect solution for every situation but with Star Tale: Ground Wars I try to hit my own personal happy medium between the two.
It is designed to be relatively easy to learn, incredibly hard to master. There are ways to get started quickly too, by using pre-made armies etc.
While it is meant to be accessible for newcomers, it is absolutely a game designed to be fun for experienced wargamers like yourself.
Similarly, it can be enjoyed by people who prefer narrative led single player and by those who enjoy relaxing PvE and co-op etc, but it is absolutely designed for highly competitive PvP (and potentially PvE and co-op etc), speedrunners and esports.
Its good for casual or hardcore, there look I used the labels, sue me.
But what Im saying is that I am always approaching every element with a hardcore PvP 1v1 esport mentality, but I take into consideration casual play too.
For example, there is no RNG anywhere in the game. Im aware that some people who put themselves in the hardcore category still like an element of chance in their games, but Star Tale: Ground Wars has none. Although there is enough complexity going on that sometimes you will engage in a fight and not have 100% certainty what the outcome will be because a human cant compute it all quickly enough, but a supercomputer would be able to. So we still have some fog of war but without dice rolling.
(some people might say: "What if one player luckily chooses the perfect counter army to the other player? Is the game decided already just by comparing the army lists? If so, that is a huge amount of luck and very bad game design.") (and other kinds of luck such as this)
There will always be a boundary that a player can push up against (and should). But because the starting armies are large and units have some flexibility in the targets they can engage with, a player will never be left with no options. How you use your army will always be crucial in determining who is the victor. Additionally, I do my best to design such that a flexible combined arms force is the most effective strategy. Also, gamemodes have been designed that alleviate this. There are all sorts of options available to a game designer to affect this, so that even a Best of 1 will be fair and fun for both players. An example would be that players pick "50,000" points worth of army, then reveal their lists to each other, and then get to pick the last "10,000" points to tailor it against the enemy. Theres alot of options like that. On top of those things, tournaments can use formats that further minimise it. I just want you to know Im fully aware of potential pitfalls here, and know how to make it balanced for both players still (while maintaining the customisation options). Game design in general is always some sort of choice on a scale between 2 extremes though, hopefully our tastes are roughly similar.
Star Tale: Ground Wars is a long term project. Its not like a big company franchise where there is a new shiny version every year just before christmas. Everything is public domain anyway so you can always get hold of it for free. Once everything is out, I intend to leave it alone for a year, then make small adjustments if needed. Then wait another year and repeat this for a few years. Then the gaps between tweaks will become longer; every couple of years. Eventually the game will only be revised every 6 years or so. This is another reason why Star Tale is a good project to get behind, because its designed from the ground up for the long haul.
Sadly a couple of weeks ago, Relic said they are stopping updates for Dawn of War 3 after only 10 months since it was released. Meanwhile warhammer 40k is on its 8th edition. There was only 2 years between 6th and 7th, and only 3 years between 7th and 8th. But each time requires expensive new rulebooks etc. Its arguably good value for money but it would be even better if you could join in for free if you dont have any money.
Q. Why is it called Ground Wars?
A. In the Star Tale universe, interplanetary movement is mostly done using Jump Links. These are large platforms that are found on the surface of planets that can teleport whole armies at once from one planet to another. Therefore large spaceship fleets are not the primary way for militaries to exert power. Instead they invest in Ground Armies with atmospheric air support. Controlling ground, controlling transport routes on the surface of planets, controlling Jump Links etc, these are the most important objectives for commanders. They cant just build a fleet of spaceships, fly to an enemy system then bombard the planets from space. Thats not an option. Instead they must move Ground Armies through Jump Links and assault the enemy on the planet surface.
Q. Why do you start with the full army?
A. Interaction with your opponent. Decision making. I want to maximise the amount of interaction between the players and I want to maximise the amount of decisions that players have to make. By starting with a full army, and by having a heavily customisable army means that straight away, as soon as the game starts, both players have a lot of options available. Its also meant to be more fun. And its also more realistic.
Q. If you start with the full army, wont the endgame be anticlimactic, as players will have lost most of their units so the fights become smaller.
A. Its true that the endgame will be with less units than the start of the game. Its not less of a climax though. A battle is an interaction between 2 players who are putting their plan into action. As the battle unfolds, their strategy is revealed. The culmination of this plan, the climax of a game, is the moment when one player realises they have lost all hope of winning. It is not the number of units in play that makes a fight exciting or not, but the importance of that interaction on the outcome of the match. If you get to the late game and both players are low on units but still have a chance at winning the game, the fights are now even more important. All the decision making up until this point have boiled down to now, and therefore there is a lot of suspense.
Q. Are there hats?
A. No. Neither are there any skins, sprays, emojis, drops, loot boxes, crates, achievements, medals or dlcs. There is no gambling addiction psychology. There are no micro transactions. (there is no cost at all infact as everything is public domain).
While we are at it, there are no hero units either. And there is also no levelling of units in Star Tale: Ground Wars. A unit doesnt gain experience during a fight and become stronger.
However, many parts of the wider Star Tale rule set can be used for rpg games, and a separate levelling module can be applied for that.
When playing a game of Star Tale: Ground Wars:
Squads are often put in rectangular formations.
Simultaneous turn based action is common. (games are still fast paced though, by using various clocks)
Q. Is it I go, You go turn based? (like warhammer 40k where 1 player moves all his units, then shoots all his units, then assaults all his units, while the other player waits for his turn)
A. No. That style of gameplay has problems. Firstly its too slow and boring because one player sits there waiting while the other does everything for a while. Another problem is "first turn advantage" (technically its not necessarily always the first player who gets the benefit). One player might be able to do a lot of damage to the opponent all in 1 turn. Then when its the opponents turn to respond they have a lot less firepower left available. In general there is less interaction between players, less opportunity to react to your opponent.
Instead Star Tale: Ground Wars uses squad activation. Ill talk more about all this in the future.
I want to clarify that Star Tale: Ground Wars is suitable for fast paced videogames. It isnt necessarily real time gameplay, but it can be played with a very fast clock (we are talking seconds here).
Also, if I am able to make a full video game one day on the scale that I would like to be able to, LAN (local area network) is a certain priority. Not just as an option, but the core gameplay will be built for LAN first. The true game would therefore be LAN only. The internet multiplayer version of the game would technically be just that, a slightly different version to the real game.
This entry doesnt go into game modes at all, and other grander possibilities that I have spent time working out. We'll save some of that for later.
Last month we looked at the Star Tale Class system:
These classes are used in Star Tale: Ground Wars as the start point when choosing your Infantry. After you have done that step, you can pick what Armour to put these Infantry units in. We will have a look at Infantry Armour options next time.
So thats an introduction to Star Tale: Ground Wars. As always, everything is public domain. You are free to use anything however you wish. See you next month on the 12th.