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Flash Game: Starcom
June 11, 2009 4:01 PM   Subscribe

In Starcom, a space-based action adventure game, you pilot a starship defending the galaxy from an encroaching enemy invasion with an increasingly powerful array of armaments and technologies. It's a hell of a lot of fun, so play and enjoy! [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 (36 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
No comments yet? OK - I'll go first. I've only started, and it seems like a lot of fun.
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:01 PM on June 11, 2009


Ooh, very Escape Velocityesque, but free.
posted by disillusioned at 6:10 PM on June 11, 2009


Too busy playing to comment. Great fun!
posted by swift at 6:11 PM on June 11, 2009


Love it (but why does my ship come to a stop in space?).
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:14 PM on June 11, 2009


Inertial dampers, TPAA. They get you every time.
posted by cortex at 6:16 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, pretty fun! Thanks! ;)
posted by jamstigator at 6:17 PM on June 11, 2009


Cool, but the waiting around to go from wormhole to wormhole got tedious and I --- oh brownies!
posted by mikelieman at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jump drive is a great idea...only commenting because I had too much fun using it and now it has to recharge.
posted by pantagrool at 7:02 PM on June 11, 2009


Very basic control FAIL for me. If you are using rotation controls and forward-backwards then you have to rotate the world around the ship, not the ship in the world. Otherwise it's like flying a radio control plane as opposed to a real plane. Deal breaker, sorry.
posted by unSane at 8:03 PM on June 11, 2009


The heavily defended ships which spawn infinite numbers of guys combined with the massive missile gunboats sorta killed the joy in this one.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:08 PM on June 11, 2009


Nice. Very reminiscent of Transcendence.
posted by XMLicious at 8:19 PM on June 11, 2009


This is excellent. Thanks for making it!
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:41 PM on June 11, 2009


That was pretty fun. One quibble is that, if the game is going to have the sort of structure wherein you sell equipment at a loss (and can then buy it back for a higher price), there should be some grindy way of making money. As it is, from what I can tell, if you've exhausted all the enemies aside from the final boss, you eventually can't buy anything, and there's not a lot you can do in terms of rearranging your equipment to gear up for battle (I'm lucky I had just barely enough to SPOILER SPOILER buy back my missile launcher because otherwise I would have been screwed).
posted by shakespeherian at 8:43 PM on June 11, 2009


It's pretty good, but the trek back to the base for repairs can be a pain. Also, am I missing something, or does the base not let you restock missiles?
posted by juv3nal at 8:43 PM on June 11, 2009


You can't buy new missiles at the base, at least as far as I've gotten... you have to get them, as well as capacity upgrades, from defeated enemies.
posted by Kosh at 9:40 PM on June 11, 2009


Great game. I really dig the music & the overall depth. It's awesome how far flash games have come.

One minor annoyance: I keep getting lost. Besides the scanner is there a map that I'm somehow missing or do I just need to pay better attention as to where the wormholes lead? I'd rather not have to do that, as it's well known that I the laziest spaceship pilot in this part of the galaxy.
posted by item at 9:56 PM on June 11, 2009


Also, a fullscreen option would be nice.
posted by item at 9:57 PM on June 11, 2009


If you are using rotation controls and forward-backwards then you have to rotate the world around the ship, not the ship in the world.

Agreed, but still fun. I particularly like that it's damn near impossible (at first) to pick up anything while using the turbo, so you have to keep jumping out of it.
posted by davejay at 10:14 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm completely stumped on the Frontlines mission. Found the Prometheus, killed all of the enemies in the level. Nothing's happened. Now what?
posted by item at 10:52 PM on June 11, 2009


There's definitely a bug in the missions. I didn't get a proper end to the Prometheus mission, went on to go through the secret transponder wormhole, etc., messed around a lot. And then, after I cleaned all of the mines in the home system (out of boredom), I got the completion message for the earlier mission. A bunch of other stuff happened, but in the end I was stuck with the next two missions listed as incomplete but there was nothing *anywhere* to fight nor any unidentified artifacts in my cargo. There was no way to trigger the next events which were supposed to happen, according to the mission profile (second invasion with another friendly ship to go find).
posted by D.C. at 11:25 PM on June 11, 2009


Very basic control FAIL for me. If you are using rotation controls and forward-backwards then you have to rotate the world around the ship, not the ship in the world. Otherwise it's like flying a radio control plane as opposed to a real plane. Deal breaker, sorry.

Very basic FAIL FAIL. It's a 2d game set in outer space so really it's like driving a radio controlled car. And since when did FAIL indicate 'perfectly rational design decision which presumably prevents large battle framerate slowdown and stuttery sprites on the outer edge that I personally happen to disagree with in a game someone offered me for free on the internets'?, eh, Mr Fragile McDealerson?
posted by Sparx at 2:25 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]



Very basic control FAIL for me. If you are using rotation controls and forward-backwards then you have to rotate the world around the ship, not the ship in the world. Otherwise it's like flying a radio control plane as opposed to a real plane. Deal breaker, sorry.


Understood. It should be just like all of those other games where, instead of flying a machine made out of pixels, you're actually piloting a real craft while collecting magical bundles of bonuses while simultaneously trying REALLY hard to avoid getting killed that third time so's you don't have to start over.

In other words: for fuck's sake.
posted by item at 3:20 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Very basic control FAIL for me. If you are using rotation controls and forward-backwards then you have to rotate the world around the ship, not the ship in the world. Otherwise it's like flying a radio control plane as opposed to a real plane. Deal breaker, sorry.

You say radio control plane, I say long tradition of space games from Asteroids to Escape Velocity, but what's the difference? Oh, the difference is that you're wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:54 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


The heavily defended ships which spawn infinite numbers of guys combined with the massive missile gunboats sorta killed the joy in this one.

The baseships are pretty easy, as you won't encounter them until you get shields. Their weapons aren't that strong, so just fly straight in with weapons blazing. Stop a little bit away and just fire away until they explode. Your shields should take most of the punishment. Then fly off somewhere to let your shields recover enough to take out the fighters they released without taking hull damage. Sometimes the direct approach is the most effective. Trying to fly around in circles picking off fighters and taking potshots at the baseship won't work very well.
posted by musicinmybrain at 7:12 AM on June 12, 2009


No relation to Starcom then?

Shame.

The thread title caused a flood of childhood memories of playing with my Starcom toys. Little dudes with magnetic feet - genius.

Good game though.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:43 AM on June 12, 2009


That was pretty fun. One quibble is that, if the game is going to have the sort of structure wherein you sell equipment at a loss (and can then buy it back for a higher price), there should be some grindy way of making money. But you don't have to sell anything, just move it to inventory. While the last bonus on missiles is cool, you don't need them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:48 AM on June 12, 2009


Nice work, great review on JIG:

http://jayisgames.com/archives/2009/06/starcom.php
posted by freebird at 9:01 AM on June 12, 2009


Glad to hear people like it! There have been a lot of compliments and complaints, I think I'm going to write up a postmortem to list off all the things that I feel I did right, and all the mistakes.

Even in just the simple category of ship movement there were all sort of issues I hadn't envisioned:

The question "How should a spaceship control in a top-down video game" is surprisingly tricky. Most Flash games restrict movement to the screen and use a cardinal movement system, i.e., you push right and your ship moves right on the screen, which wouldn't work well at all for this game. The first version of Starcom used a control scheme very similar to this one, but where your direction of movement was always in the direction your ship faced. Easier to control, but playtesters found it too "car-like". I tried various momentum conservation techniques (including no "space resistance," which while physically more accurate wasn't as intuitive) before settling on the version in the game now.

A related issue that I hadn't foreseen was the problem of speed. Players want to go fast. It feels more exciting and it allows you to move between objectives quickly. The problem is, the view port is 500 pixels wide with your ship in the center. You have 250 pixels between you and the edge of the screen. If you're moving fast and the enemy is heading straight toward you, he may have passed you before you've had time to react.

Speaking of speed, how do you let players know that they're moving at all? Realistically, of course, you don't. But that's no fun. So you have to provide reference points to show movement. Other ships work well, as do celestial bodies, but if none of those are on screen, you need something to "feel" the movement. A scrolling background doesn't work well in space (I tried it using a starfield). Expanding on a technique I saw in another game where there were three layers of stars moving at different speeds, I used a random scattering of stars with different alpha values, which were shifted as the player moved by an amount proportional to their alpha, so faint stars moved slower and appeared farther away.

Those are a few of the design problems related just to movement.

Anyway, that turned into a longer post than I intended. Thanks for playing and commenting (and big thanks to the OP)!
posted by justkevin at 9:15 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Glad to hear people like it! There have been a lot of compliments and complaints, I think I'm going to write up a postmortem to list off all the things that I feel I did right, and all the mistakes.

Please do!
posted by cortex at 9:18 AM on June 12, 2009


I don't suppose you offer a downloadable version that could be played offline?
posted by straight at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2009


But you don't have to sell anything, just move it to inventory. While the last bonus on missiles is cool, you don't need them.

Halfway through the game I sold my missile launcher for extra cash (I wasn't using it) and then later on I pretty much needed it to survive. After buying it back I had 76 credits remaining. I realize this is a result of my dumbness, but it did make me aware that too much shuffling of equipment could bankrupt you. Maybe that's a feature, not a bug, that combined with the autosave every time I leave port struck me as something that could be improved.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2009


I really did enjoy it, though. Thanks justkevin.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2009


I'm surprised no one mentioned Star control II yet. Except for the mouse aiming, that is what this game most reminds me of.

justkevins comments on creating this are interesting because it seems like he never saw star control, but independently made something so similar.
posted by Iax at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2009


Well, Iax, he does credit Starflight as a big influence, and Star Control II was pretty heavily influenced by Starflight as well. So maybe they're sort of creative cousins.
posted by EarBucket at 12:59 PM on June 12, 2009


There are several (unintended) similarities that have been pointed out to me:

The Star Control series (I'd heard of it, but never played it. I did read the wiki on it after a beta tester made the comparison).

Jayisgames mistakenly thought it was connected to Starscape.

Someone else said "EV" I thought they meant Eve Online, but I think now they meant Escape Velocity. Someone on Kongregate said it was a point-for-point rip off of a game called Armada.

I haven't played any of these, so I can really comment on how similar they are. But one coincidence that really surprised me is a minor one:

Near the end of Starcom, a reference is made to a missing flagship called the "Morningstar." Around the time I finished the game and was looking for sponsors, an excellent Flash adventure game was released called "Morningstar," about a crash landed starship with that name.
posted by justkevin at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2009


+

Lots of fun, very clean, slick. Overall a completely professional quality game!

-

1. Sucks needing to remember the names of (identical looking) star systems and routes. On a spaceship I would expect my computer to deal with this mundane BS
2. Sucks needing to remember the NAME of your savegame. Give them numbers, man, I don't know the most recent savegame, but that is (99% of time) the one I want.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:43 AM on June 25, 2009


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