Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions, Part 1

I've been meaning to start a FAQ for this project for quite some time, but now that some questions have genuinely become "frequently asked", I suppose now is a good time to do it.

Before I begin, I want to remind everyone that several of the most frequently asked questions have already been answered in a previous post titled Chris Taylor's Common Questions, though some of the minor details have changed, at least for the alpha version.

So here we go -- FAQ #1.

General Questions

What kind of game is it?
I categorize it as a turn-based strategy game.  Players taking turns each control a team of units to whom they issue commands that are carried out right away.

Where did you get the idea for this game?
My friends and I used to play a board game called Star Wars: Epic Duels.  It was a super fun, brilliantly designed game whose spirit I wanted to capture in the form of a computer game.  Though there are many differences between Epic Duels and Team Laser Combat, the key difference is that TLC lets you build the team yourself and upgrade your characters' attributes.

Are you going to sell it?
Probably not.  I'll certainly be giving the alpha and beta versions away for free because I'll want as many testers as I can possible get.  After that...well, I guess I'll just have to see how the finished product turns out. If a publisher were to approach me between now and the end of beta, I would certainly entertain the possibility of a publishing deal.

Are you doing this all by yourself?
Pretty much.  I have accepted a little bit of art help from Kristen Miguel, music from Justin Begalka, animation from Shaun Hager, voiceover help from Karina Martin-Moore, game design input from several of my fellow game designers (Ross Story, Dave Fulton, Justin Begalka, Sarah Kemper, and others), but the software design and programming is all me, 100%.

Where's the website?
There isn't one yet, but I assure you that there will be.  I will create the site and then link to it from in the same way that the CornShark website does now.

Those graphics in the screen shots -- is that really how the game is going to look?
Oh my, no!  Those are just placeholders while I get the code working.  Very little of what you see in the current screen shots is going to be in the final version.  It'll all be replaced with something much more beautiful.

When can we play it?
The target date for alpha release is June 2012.  I will send out a call for testers at that time.  If you're interested in participating in the testing effort (and getting your name in the credits), email me at  I will also be reaching out to my Twitter followers to ask for volunteers, so follow @arachnojava on Twitter to receive updates.

Does anybody actually read this blog?
Yes. You're reading it right now. How do you think these questions become "frequently asked"?  The blog currently has almost 1,300 page views.  That's not a lot given its age, of course, but my own page views aren't counted, so those are all from other people coming to visit.  Honestly, though, the primary purpose of this blog is to serve as a project journal for myself and anyone interested in the project. The fact that it's also a communication channel to potential players is really a fringe benefit.

Gameplay Questions

How does the combat system work?
You move your units around the map by using the Move command.  When your unit has a clear shot at an opponent, you have the option of issuing an Attack command and then choosing a combat token with which to attack.  A notification is sent to your opponent, giving him/her a chance to choose a combat token with a defense value.  The game evaluates the attacker's selected token and character stats, the defender's selected token and character stats, and then tells the players how the attack turned out -- how much damage was done, what factors were used in the calculation, etc.

What's all this talk about "tokens"?
When a player issues an action command on his/her turn, the action depends on resources in the player's inventory.  The resources are in the form of tokens -- small, hexagonal chips that are used up when the player selects them.  There are Combat Tokens which have both attack and defense values and can be used for either purpose, Power Tokens which can only attack or defend but also come with additional effects, Heal Tokens which can be used to restore hit points to units who have taken damage, and Grenade Tokens which can only be used for attacking, do radial damage, have no defensive value, and cannot be blocked.

Will it be multiplayer?
Absolutely.  It was really designed to be multiplayer.  The alpha version is focusing on single player mode, but there is extensive support already in place for LAN-based multiplayer mode.

Can a Trooper be promoted to an Officer?
Not exactly.  You can, however, retire a trooper, sell off their equipment, and use the money to recruit an officer.

Platform Questions

Is it a browser game?  
Not yet, but I would very much like to port it to a browser-based version.  I am not committing to this yet, but I do like the idea.  A feasibility study will be necessary before this decision can be made.

Can you play it on Facebook?
No, because it doesn't yet have a browser-based interface.  See the previous question.

Will there be a mobile version?
Probably not.  On one hand, the mouse-driven interface would translate well to a touch screen.  On the other hand, it would be a significant effort to port the code, and the interface may be too detailed for the small screen.

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