The Fantom Zone (Newbie Help Wanted)

Ok, so I have little experience in story telling and making games, hence why I’m asking for any advice. I’m drafting the story for an space adventure game. I know there have been more and more space related games coming out on Choice of Games lately, but it’s easily my favorite genre and I feel I have the best grasp out of the type of game for what I want. Another reason is because I had this super awesome dream which I’m basing the game off of, but as is the case for a lot of my dreams it’s only half remembered.

Anyway, I literally only started this project yesterday, so I don’t even have a title for the game yet, so any ideas on that would be appreciated. Even though I’m learning as I go, I’m hoping to distinguish my game from others by making it really fleshed out and longer. I’m wanting to make the experience as close as possible to a tabletop game with a DM that makes major decisions. As for the length, while I enjoy many of the games on Choice of Games, they’re usually too short for my preference and can be gotten through in under an hour. My game will (hopefully) be much longer, like at least six or seven hours at least, maybe more. Now, obviously I’ll have to break this up into episode and chapters, but if people can enjoy themselves by making a day of playing the game, then I’ll consider my job accomplished.

As for game itself, since I only started this yesterday I don’t have enough of the plot worked out yet to post yet, but what I have so far is this: it takes place in an distant future where humankind has spanned the galaxy and settled on countless worlds, although there are still pockets of hazardous areas that are undiscovered. You start the game as a commander in the fleet and are about to get your first ship to command. In this future, most ships are a blend of traditional metal alloys and organic parts, but you will be given the first fully organic ship. Needless to say, this is a huge honor and the eyes of the galaxy will be on you. As you progress through the episodes, you will gain in reputation and rank, and as you gain in rank your ship, which is telepathically linked with you, will gain more abilities, size, and power.

More about the ship, since it’s a central character in the game (yes, it’s a character), being fully organic it has an actual brain and is fully self aware and sentient and as such when you start the game it will still be an egg or embryo about the size of a beach ball awaiting you so it can imprint on you. Imprinting in this case requires a blood sample from you to be injected into the embryo and them making physical contact. Once imprinted, it will be taken to a special facility to be “hatched” and grown, a process that with special feeding techniques only takes a couple of days. Once fully grown it’ll only be about 100 meters long due to being basically a “child”, and this youth will be reflected in the ships personality. As you progress through the game, the ship will mature and grow, and by the last episode will be the largest and most powerful shis in the fleet, measuring in about ten kilometers long and being able take on most fleets by itself (which will happen).

As for the crew, you won’t have a normal crew in the normal sense. The “crew” will be humanoid clones that the ship grew to man essential functions, and they look a bit like you in fact. When you and the ship first start off, you’ll only have about 20 of these clones manning the ship, but you will naturally get more as the ship gets bigger, where you will eventually have an entire army of clones. These clones can perform any task needed, from manning controls on the ship to being infantry. Like the ship itself, as the ship gets more advanced, so to will the clones. Starting off with, you’ll only have one type of clone, kind of scrawny and a bit fragile. As you advance, the clones will become more diverse, both in size and ability, including a powerfully armored and armed tank of a clone three meters tall specifically for battle or lifting really heavy things (think of the Hunters in Halo).

Another aspect I was thinking of adding, although I’m not sure yet how I’m going to make it work, is adding the option at the beginning of the game when you imprint with the ship, letting the player decide on a type of career, which would determine the type of ship it becomes.

The careers I’m thinking about are as follows:

Command: would result in the ship having generally more powerful armaments but fewer fighters.

Support: would have longer range weapons but fairly weak short range weapons and would rely on other ships for protection, but would have the ability repair other vessels.

Carrier: has decent weapons coverage for short range combat, mainly for self defense, but has extra mass to accommodate the thousands of fighters within it.

Stealth: will be much smaller than the other ones, especially later in the game, has the ability to shield itself from sensors, although to start with the stealth will be relatively weak and can be disrupted, and you have to unstealth to fire, but later you can fire while stealthed and even deploy weapons satellites so the enemy can't pinpoint your  location. Will have few but powerful short range weapons for disabling hit and run attacks.

I’m also thinking of adding in the option later on to become a pirate, but I’m not sure.

Well, what do you guys think? I jotted down everything I could think of and welcome criticism and ideas.


Well, it certainly sounds different! I really like the idea of the ship maturing as the game progresses. I must admit that I’ve found the space genre options offered by COG/Hosted games so far as fairly dry. Then again, one of my all time favourite games is the Mass Effect trilogy so it’s not a genre I actually dislike.

If you’re just starting out though, I’d advise setting yourself some achievable targets. There’s a few places I’d recommend you look for some tips including the COG blog here:

They’ve got some nice articles on game design that are helpful. I’d suggest you map out at least a few chapters. How you do this is up to you - I wrote my initial outline for my project and jotted down ideas for 5 different chapters including the types of choice the player would face. I’ve also used some online software to map out the structure for these chapters so that I can track variable changes (really essential if you’re planning a long game as if you’re using stats you’ll want to have an idea of what a player could have for each stat at certain points if they’re going to impact the game). The software can be found here:

And here’s an example of my startup chapter mapped out:

Then, I’d definitely recommend you check out the wiki here:

The wiki is a great resource for finding out how to actually code things. It also has instructions on how to host your game/demo (I’d really recommend dropbox).

@fantom Lots of good advice there by @bawpie so I’ll restrict my own comments to the concept itself.

I like the whole idea, a lot, especially the vaguely Farscape feel to it. You may have to come up with a good, sound reason as to why a first-time, probably fairly inexperienced commander would be granted such a cutting-edge-tech vessel, to avoid it coming across as too contrived, but I’m sure with your imagination you’ll be able to pull it off.

The ship imprinting / “career” options would make for great replay value, but be prepared for the extra work this would entail to do it properly–i.e. at least some missions unique to each role. The space pirate role has potential (and, let’s face it, would probably also be extremely popular) but if you do add it I would very much like to see it become a constant source of . . . conflict–if that’s the right word–between the ship and yourself. It would make it far more interesting, IMO, and really help to put across the point that your craft is a sentient being, not just another vessel.

I would also recommend some sort of “explorer” career, perhaps resulting in the ship having more in the way of advanced labs and other scientific facilities, at the cost of less (whatever). As cliched as it may be, exploration of “the great unknown” will always be a crowd-pleaser with many sci-fi fans.

Looking forward to seeing what you can make of this whole idea.

@bawpie thanks for all the advice and links! Looks like I a fair amount of reading ahead of me :slight_smile:

@Vendetta I didn’t even consider Farscape, maybe that’s where the dream came from! lol. And adding the explorer career is also a good idea.

Do you guys think it would be better to tell the story in a first person narrative like “I turned around, but nothing was there”, or would it be better to use a third person narrative like “You turn around, but find nothing there” or maybe a mix of both?


I agree, third. “I turn around” just sounds too weird for me.

Second person (you) would probably be the best to use, but it would also interesting to see what you could do with first or third person. I don’t think anyone in this community has used them before.
Of the three second would probably be the easiest to write because it creates a sense of immersion and unity with the character (at least in my experience playing choice games).

yeah third person is the best the you everever its called

I agree with @Trywm, 2nd is best, but because you didnt give that choice third

Idea Sounds Amazing Love It

I use the first person ‘I’ in ‘~ Terminal’ and nobody seems to mind. Either one works in my opinion, use whatever you feel most comfortable with.

I’m also having a dilemma of what to call my game. Originally I was going to call it whatever I ended up calling the ship, but then I started to think that since the ship gets imprinted on the player, they should decide what the ship is called. Unfortunately this leaves me without a title once again.

@fantom If at all possible, I think I’d be inclined towards trying to come up with a cool new name for the ship technology, and name the game accordingly.

@fantom, check out the old TV show called LEXX, the ship on there was alive & grew throughout the 4 seasons it was on & it might give you a few ideas on what to add to your game

Ooooooh! See, this is why I love active forums. I get to bounce ideas and stuff off of people.

for a name though how about Galaxy: a Captains Life, this way if you want to make more than 1 stroy in the same universe you already have the main title (Galaxy) & you could just come up with the story names as you write the games


I was just thinking about Lexx after reading about the game lol


I agree with Vendetta come up with a name for what the ship is. Could be its “true” name then let the player assign a “given” name.

@Nocturnal_Stillness I really like your idea of using a “given” name and a “true” name. I’ll probably use a different true name depending on the career chosen. I’m thinking the true name can be a combination of Latin words, like they choose the command career the name can be gnus-bell, which comes from magnus bellator or great warrior , and if they pick stealth, the name can be triborem, which comes from tribulationis factorem or trouble maker.

Ok, here’s a coding question: as I mentioned above, the ship in the game will get bigger and more powerful as the game progresses, and there’s going to be rather large difference in the stats from beginning to end. As an example, the total damage that the ship can deal at the beginning of the game would be something like 100, and toward the end of the game it’d be more 10,000. What would be good way to display this difference through the game?