Now I think the universal question among everyone is: What do I mean by ‘making it more of a universe’?
Come to think of it, Chicken Invaders Universe plays in one enormous galaxy of various sectors and equally as many planets and missions. But that factor alone makes the Universe feel so unnecessarily big - empty, almost. In fact, a quick look onto the map shows that about 90% of all players are sitting in the same sector/area on the map.
Even I am no different. I first of all have no apparent reason to go on the other side of the galaxy, nor do I have a reason to not stick around players. Fuel and it’s cost makes it rather difficult to explore anything further out, making the ‘sitting duck’ technique rather worthwhile.
I guess to put it blunt: The universe feels like there is no reason for it to be a universe. You could basically make a solar system with 1 sun, 9 planets, several moons, and be equally as served.
But that’s not the point of the game! In fact, I want to go ahead and make a few suggestions, a few insights and changes in the current system, going even more in-depth about player-base, economy and mission rewards.
The Problem: Many areas even just around the high player base area offer high economic advantages, offering discounts with high reductions, or giving high key/score fluctuation bonuses. On top of all that, it’s easy to find semi-decent key farming spots, whilst still staying around the populated area.
The effect: This causes the player to have almost no reason to go explore, or go further out. In fact, you will very quickly find yourself to be better served by staying in the populated area, or even just the area you stay in. All missions give you what you need, some of course do less so once completed too many times.
The solution to this issue are economic changes. You see, by giving the player all he needs within the area he’s staying in, you discourage him from venturing any further. I am not trying to say we should take everything away, but hear me out.
By making places become less prosperous the more players have been there, you already make a huge difference in how players act. For instance, a station could have much lower price reductions, if many players have visited it, or have been in the surrounding area. So in other words, there is still a price reduction, but it’s not as significant.
In turn, sectors that are rarely visited, or with a low initial player count, could be far more prosperous. So the same station type in the bottom right corner of the galaxy for example could have a much more beneficial price reductions. So the station in the starting area (as example) could have an all-time low sale of basically only offering 5% off, while the lonely station in the bottom right corner is in an economical high, offering perhaps up to 30% off. That way, you already have one way to encourage the player to spread out.
On top of that, missions could increase in prosperity and rewards the further out they are. The key fluctuation is a good base for this, or score fluctuation. The procedure is basically the same. In areas and sectors where players are commonly present, and missions are often completed, the fluctuation could easily go to somewhere within -30%, while in a sector that is never visited, and the mission completion quantity is very low, it could go to +30% or something, if you catch my drift.
This change in particular is very important to encourage players to do missions farther away from their initial point. Same goes for shopping.
Additionally to this, bonuses such as those should only apply to missions directly done on-location, and not done through the favorite tab.
Exploration is what I personally would believe to be incredibly crucial, if not essential in a game with a scale of this size. Therefor, exploration should be rewarded and treated as such. We are getting keys for exploring planets and sectors, which is all great and dandy until you realize it doesn’t matter what you explore, it just matters that you explore.
Similar as above to be honest, we could treat exploration just the same, although probably a little bit differently. Here is what I thought about:
Sectors and planets that are basically commonly visited are claimed by the player’s faction. No idea what it’s called again, just know I mean the main federation. Those planets and sectors give a much lower payout, expecting it to be at around 3 - 6 keys, depending on sector and planet. But just the same here, the further out you go into territory that is unexplored, or at least uncommonly visited, could have such a high payout. Like, what if we actually went for 30 - 60 keys for planets that have been very rarely visited? Or even having a first discovery reward of like… 50 - 100 keys? Just a general idea. But this would also encourage the buying of fuel, and exploring the galaxy.
Obviously, values and mechanics need tinkering, and if you want to be especially in-depth, you can also offer a “Detailed exploration bonus” for completing all missions of a planet, and all planets of a solar system.
Some of you might remember my “Ambient events” idea - And this is somewhat similar, except this one becomes a lot more versatile and embedded into the system. Galactic events would be the next option of expanding the spreading of players. Let’s imagine this: You currently play the game, and suddenly the radio of your ship starts speaking. “Mineral rich comets spotted in ‘insert system name here’, require pilots for extraction!”
So you look onto the map, search for the system, and you see it’s rather far away. But what could that mean? So you make your way to that location, finding yourself with more players there. And as you do that special event mission, you get rewarded with a huge amount of points, keys and perhaps even achievements/titles.
And we could do this on so many more levels. Like, having an actual chicken plague in systems appearing, where the difficulty of all missions becomes the maximum, but the payout becomes absolutely godlike.
Or how about an infestation spread? “Chickens with a dangerous virus spotted, requesting immediate assistance” - And boom, you have to fight against zombie chickens. Or something like this. The opportunities for that one are definitely endless, and could be as absurd as “Chicken couple is getting married” or something. I mean, why not? Chickens also have rights - At least in some ways.
Of course we could also have seasonal and hosted events. How about a cyber-chicken event, where bionic-enhanced chickens are spreading terror in a sector, and threaten to take over?
As a sort of addition/enhancement of the above section, we could also introduce power play. Factions, which can take spaces over, and players can assist those factions to expand, or eliminate others. That sort of power play can be done through special missions. “Faction service mission” - Which is treated like a normal mission, but has an influence on the faction.
We could also have chicken factions. “Cyber chickens” or “Zombie chickens” - Something like having variety between chickens, and defeating different chicken types can reward different things. I mean this idea is relatively simple and is probably understood easily. Factions, factions can expand, factions can give benefits, etcetera.
Point is, those are my suggestions for making the universe alive, for giving players a reason to actually explore. Thank you a lot for reading!
Kind regards ~ Your favorite wyvern, Peri