Published 2 years ago
The purpose behind a strategy game
The science fiction genre is large. Really large, more then ten subgenres large (just a guess), and much of it stuffed into the video game industry. It could be an action game, a first person shooter or a real time strategy, like Ologon, but Sci-fi is one of the areas most explored in game design, both visually, as story-wise.
Sci-fi fans are kind of a picky kind. As a fan myself, I have much selective taste in the kind of games, stories and other stuff I get from the science fiction genre. And that's a little bit dangerous for the game designer. The fact that your target group is selective makes the designer's work a little bit more complicated, specially in a strategy game.
Both in strategy games, as in lots of Sci-fi titles, gamers like to be challenged. Not (just) because they like hard to beat games, but they want to feel smart they want to be compensated for their smart thinking, and in Science Fiction (specially in strategy games) that's the exact feel we (as game designers) want to project on our players.
There are several ways of making someone feel smart. From references, secret messages, complex AI, plot twists, hard choices to complicated-looking (but in reality, quite simple) interfaces, the gamer behind a strategy Sci-Fi game want to feel as clever (or even more) as the character he/she is playing. In Ologon, we got that by several ways described above, but, mainly, by it's User Interface.
Ologon's User Interface shows a lot of information. Name of the planet, three kind of resources, growth rate, planets under your control, planets under your enemy's control,  four kind of ships and their respective slots and some other info, also, we have much of these data appearing in a visually-holographic grid behind each planet, as a pilot's complex HUD. These features, in other, more action-based games, could hinder the game flow and add too much information. However, in a strategy game, that's safe ground. People need to feel that they have a lot of information (even if that makes all of it a little bit redundant) and that they're dealing with complex stuff, so that they can feel amazed for how intelligent they are.
This is a challenge, as we don't want to make the game too difficult, or too complex (the learning curve should still be subtle), meaning that LOTS of testing should be done in order to get the feel right, without spoiling the fun of taking planets with your wits (and fleet) alone.
Pedro Dalcin