Dawn of the Sol Empire (PUBLIC BETA)

The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must. This is a universal rule in the history of life. Yet if you face an existential threat, wouldn’t you do anything to turn the tables?

  • Play as the leader of a space colony threatened by the aggression of a much stronger neighboring empire
  • Manage your colony, expand your military, make diplomatic breakthroughs and either fight or talk your way to success - or whatever else it takes to survive!
  • Experience a large amount of different endings depending on your own choices

Public beta link: https://dashingdon.com/play/zaldath/dawn-of-the-sol-empire/

I’ve been working on this game for the last few months, and I think it’s now basically complete (although it may still need some smaller additions of content/branches). Especially the early chapters are pretty much finished/polished at this point. On the other hand, some work may still be required for the last couple of chapters, but the whole game is already very much playable.

For the time being, there’s no save option included. If it would help with testing, I can certainly add it though. I just felt like a save system reduced the tension/impact of major choices to some extent. There are no art assets yet either except some rough illustrations of my own.

Here’s a list of my main concerns that feedback would be most appreciated about (although feel free to mention anything that comes to your mind!):

  1. If you play through the game normally - as if it would be your only chance to play it and without restarting the game etc. - how would you answer the following questions:
    A) which ending (epilogue title) did you reach?
    B) did the game seem too difficult/complicated to play “successfully”?
    C) did you feel like the ending you reached (especially if it wasn’t so great for the main character) was still a fair/satisfying conclusion to the story?
    D) would you want to replay the story to see a different ending?
    E) did the experience feel too short or forced into a certain direction? (note: currently the total length of the game is only barely over 30 000 words, with one playthrough being roughly 10 000 words, so it’s certainly shorter than the average ChoiceScript game! - this is a major concern for me since apparently longer games are generally preferred by players, but I feel like this story is in its best form at around this size, although I think some extra content may still be possible to add - if some part of the game feels too rushed/fast-paced/superficial, suggestions are welcome!)
    F) would you recommend the game to others - basically, was it all in all a positive experience compared to the time it took to experience it, or perhaps compared to a price of something like 1-2 dollars (if it ends up becoming paywalled eventually, not at all sure how that works yet!)
    G) if not, what made you dislike the game? theme? length? writing style? not enough customization? is there something in the game that could be changed (within reason) to change your opinion?

  2. Any typos / incorrect grammar are especially welcome feedback to mention. The biggest immersion breaker for me, personally, is broken language.

  3. It’s also very welcome feedback if you find some sort of error in the game code/logic (such as you having made a choice in the past that isn’t properly reflected in later events).

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Great game, very enjoyable. To answer your questions:

  1. A) Victorious, sent a warning to the distant colony Sol decided to attack instead, and my colonists enjoying their moment of peace.
    B) Overall fairly straight forward, though the assassination attempt could have been clearer on its options. Attack or surround both seemed like offensive options. Perhaps rephrase attack to hold off or something to clarify it as the more defensive option.
    C) Highly satisfying, though some mention of whether the ministers had united or at least become less divided based on the status of the war would be nice.
    D) I did several times though the ending was always either total victory or complete annihilation.
    E) Production is the only possible win. Science while presented as a possible solution (new weapons tech) is a trap.
    F) I’d recommend it but it does feel a bit short to be a paid game.
    G) 50 is all you need in science for antimatter mines anything beyond that is wasted, it be nice if there was some advanced tech game changer that could offer some advantage or another.
  2. Not that I noticed.
  3. I’m not a coder, but I will say the Intel for tech trade with Valdium seems irrelevant.
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Thanks for the great feedback!

  1. B) I changed the phrasing from “focus on attacking the enemy” to “focus on delaying the enemy”. That is indeed a better way to put it.
    C) The government is basically united after the rebellion (either under you or under a rebelling minister). There’s no more division after the opposing faction is gone (at least on the topic of the war).
    F) I agree it’s a bit short. However, it’s been difficult to come up with extra content that would fit into the story neatly… We’ll see after a bit more feedback.

  2. I changed it to be a bit more important for the war (although still not 100% necessary).

As for the balance points, I’ve been thinking about it. I adjusted the difficulty to be a little bit higher, but currently you will still basically win the war (if you fight) unless you make some pretty clearly bad choices for your ability to defend (such as refusing the deals with Valdium, ignoring OIS’s advice on improving your stats, or completely ignoring one of the stats while investing). I’m a bit uncertain if that should be the case. Is it better to have a true challenge (needing multiple tries or a walkthrough) before you can reach the “best” ending? Or is it better to let the player win the war unless they make some rather obvious bad decisions for the military? I’m really not quite sure. Personally I dislike losing because of something that was impossible to predict (such as needing to have a very specific combination of stats to prevail), so I’m leaning toward keeping it somewhat easy to succeed, but I’m open to changing my mind.

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There’s nothing wrong with having a short game. As long as it is advertised as such, I see no issue. You might want to be prepared for a very low price when it’s published though.

@Zaldath this is a good story, but I feel that there is too little options available, and the MC, its feels bland, it doesn’t feel personable at all. I’m not saying its bad in any way. I was expecting a heart to heart feel when talking to the people under my command.

Yeah, I don’t have a problem if it’s priced at like 1 dollar or even free (with ads?) or something :smiley: This is the most simple (in terms of game logic / length etc.) game idea I had, so I decided to start with it to surely be able to finish it too. My next game would likely be much longer.

As for the personality of the MC, you’re right… there’s not a lot of personality (or chances to develop one). You could even say they’re more like a machine you’re controlling than a person with emotions. The other ministers are far more emotional. One reason is that the person selected as First Minister is supposed to be extremely calm and rational. Another reason is that they’ve tried to stay as neutral as possible toward the other ministers and their infighting. And in general, this society doesn’t value human interactions a lot.

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They are like the Sky Marshal of the Federation lol. “People are just numbers. What matters is that we won.”

@Zaldath Use @username to direct your comment to someone in particular.

As for too little options available - you mean the ability to choose your replies even if there’s no meaningful impact from the choice (the so-called fake choices)? Or the ability to customize the main character? Or too little ability to affect how the main stats/events of the game develop?

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@ClaimedMinotaur oh yeah, indeed. And I was actually considering the main character to be an artificial intelligence at first, but decided it was a bit too foreign to be in any way relatable, although some of that impression might still remain.

@Bulk_Biceps the previous two messages were directed to you.

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@Zaldath You can also edit your own post by clicking the pencil next to the flag at the bottom.

Edit: I just checked your badges and saw that you already know that lol.

@Zaldath thanks for the quick reply. is it possible in your stories current stage to make it personable? also considering that you have a place to manage wouldnt it be easier to and a monetary system? or is it to much coding that is required for this?

@Bulk_Biceps I think it would be difficult to make drastic changes anymore, although nothing is probably truly out of the question. If possible, I wouldn’t want to make changes that affect basically all parts of the game (due to the high amount of extra work and potential for coding/continuity errors) though.

At least I doubt the main stats/systems will change at this point, so probably I wouldn’t add new features like cash management. In any case, I’m not very sure it would fit into the story since it’s more about big strategic/diplomatic decisions rather than micromanaging the economy or military build-up. I agree that kind of resource management simulator could be interesting to play, but perhaps not very fitting for this story, since the whole structure of the story would need to be remade: for example, it wouldn’t make much sense to skip months or years ahead when those more detailed management decisions for that time period would be skipped as well.

With the game spanning such a large time period, I just feel it’s more interesting to focus on the actually important decisions rather than to have long periods of time where only minor events happen. Although I do have another game idea that I’m planning where the focus would be more so on micromanaging a country’s decisions during war (it’s a fantasy story though so it’s much more manageable to do that in my opinion).

I’m not exactly sure what you refer to by making it more personable. If you feel there’s a specific scene that should have more emotional impact (for the main character?), I’ll certainly look into it. In general, though, I think the main character won’t have a lot of emotional connection with anyone. Half of the time the communication happens with unfeeling artificial intelligences, and the other half is communicating with people they don’t really trust much (the other ministers) :smiley: Basically they’re all either literal machines or lying politicians with very inhuman (no family, friends etc.) upbringing!

With that said, I think there could still be something to your idea of adding more personality/emotion to the way the main character treats other characters. It could perhaps increase the player’s emotional investment in the events (who dies, who survives, what happens to the colony etc.). So far all choices in the game have had to have major impacts on the story/stats, but maybe there could be some choices that would only change the attitude of a character toward you or something? Hm.

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Although the problem with that is that, in the end, your relations with all the characters will be determined by your stats regardless. Earlier I actually had stats that would indicate your relations with the factions in the government of Teocheon (hawks + doves + OIS). But those stats were ultimately meaningless since:

  • OIS would always rebel (or not rebel) based on its level of authority restrictions
  • the doves would always rebel (or not rebel) based on your decision to wage war
  • the hawks would always rebel (or not rebel) based on your decision to surrender

So, all in all, it wouldn’t have an impact on the story what they personally felt about you as a leader…

So it would be kind of misleading to imply that you could change something in the story by improving personal relations - since all the factions in the story care about their own goals above all.

I see… I understand where you are coming from and i appreciate you taking some of what i said into consideration. It does make more sense to not add in a monetary system. oh well :grin: .

@ClaimedMinotaur by the way, that quote “People are just numbers. What matters is that we won.” describes this war and the people waging it pretty well :smiley: (especially since the 5th Fleet of the Sol Empire is composed entirely of machines and no humans, there’s no regard for losing ships at all if it ensures victory - and the ministers of Teocheon also care more about their personal survival, wealth or honor than what happens to the colonists - except the main character cares the most of them about the colony in the sense of being the leader and so responsible for the whole thing)

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I enjoyed the read and the book has an interesting premise. My one gripe was that negotiating a favorable surrender to Sol is too difficult and took me almost a dozen attempts, as it requires you to do everything a certain way. Good luck and thank you!

@Felix_Jones That’s a very good point. I hadn’t actually even tried to seriously reach the best surrender ending yet, and when I tried just now, it was almost impossible. I’m impressed you managed to do it without being able to see any of the code! :smiley:

I’ve now rebalanced all stats/choices in the game. The most notable change is that the best ending after surrendering is now somewhat easier to reach, although it’s still the most difficult ending in the game to achieve… There are a few reasons for that. First of all, it’s kind of a contradictory goal since you need to both A) keep the Sol Empire happy enough with you and B) improve your military strength enough so they can’t easily crush you - but many choices that improve your military strength also make the Sol Empire more hostile, so you can’t just go all-in pleasing the Sol Empire nor weakening your military. Whereas it shouldn’t be too hard to reach the best ending after fighting the Sol Empire (heroic victory) on your first try, it’s unlikely the average player could reach the best ending after surrendering (a king and a servant) on their first try. However, I’ve now adjusted it so that it shouldn’t be that difficult to reach it on your second try, and it could even be possible to reach it on your first try. Could you perhaps try it again and give your opinion on the difficulty of the surrender route at the moment?

In addition, it’s on purpose that it’s more difficult to get the most favorable terms of surrender than to win the war. After all, it’s pretty easy to reach the second-best surrender ending (discarded), but there’s no similar “decent” ending for the war - it’s either win or lose (although you can lose in different ways). So I didn’t change the fact that it’s more difficult to get good treatment after surrendering, but it’s still somewhat easier now than before.

A) The “Overwhelmed
B) It was a bit confusing. I didn’t feel that I had enough options to manage my resources, and ministry was bit too polarized to my liking.
C) No, as seen above. It was perhaps ‘fair’ in a sense that I expected it, yet due to constraints on my decisions and lack of them as I’ve felt it, it still didn’t satisfy me.
D) Maybe later, but not immediately.
E) It felt a bit short, but mostly fine in the lenght aspect, but again, more finely tuned choices would be better. It feels like there are 3 sides to the conflict - full on surrender, full on resistance, AI unshackle - and not hard-picking them makes me lose. I didn’t feel like me acting as a sensible and careful leader was rewarded.
F) Not as it is now. The combination of lenght, not-really-replayability and lack of choices leads me to consider it a beta that will improve later yet as of now isn’t really something to recommend to buy.
G) List of what I disliked and what I would like to see changed\improved:

  • Few and limited options, would like to see more variety and flexible management of colony.
  • Feels like ‘pick a side or suffer’, would prefer more modular decision making
  • Writing, I feel, could use a bit more condencing, for example, per-branch analysis by AI was short, yet required clicking for every paragraph of analysis, which was annoying, yet after the decision I got the same-ish analysis on one page, which was immensely better to read and analyze.
  • At the same time, some information wasn’t present - I was really unsure on the dangers and possible histories on unshackling AI in this universe, which didn’t help with picking the decisions. Plenty of fictional universes have one or another, which one is yours? AI is shackled, yet allowed to rule the whole colony with limited human supervision, AI asks for restrictions to be lifted, yet it didn’t look that people were too concerned of it asking for unshackling. It really confused me.
  • Stats didn’t seem to do anything. In a sense that they exist, yet have no frame of reference. I feel it would be better if they had short descriptions to help reader understand what does 100 in military means. For some reason 100ish Military was bad for repelling invasion, yet 50 for Science per my AI was big enough to help us with invasion - again, making me confused and unsure.

Overall - it’s an interesting concept and nice, if flawed, execution. I like management games where player is not expected to drown in minutiae, hope it’ll improve more.