Ideas for the future of SPM

Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager (SPM) Road to the Moon is the ultimate game of space exploration.

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Nacho84
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Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by Nacho84 » Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:08 pm

Hello all,

I hope you're doing well. We're planning to start bouncing some ideas internally regarding the future of SPM and, based on the useful feedback we got from the community during the Early Access Program, I thought it would be a good idea to open a thread here at the forums and ask you, the players, what would you like to see in future games. We have lots of ideas but I would be interested in learning what things you'd like to see, which parts you didn't like that much about the current game and so on. Please be as wild with your ideas as possible – don’t feel constrained by the way the game currently works. We don’t want to stifle your creativity!

Looking forward to your comments. Please keep the discussions civil! ;)

Cheers,
Ignacio Liverotti
Lead Developer of Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by jjknap » Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:42 pm

I would like to be able to research different areas aboard space stations in order to build new modules, bigger stations or take new journeys. Maybe we start with The Manned Orbiting Lab (Gemini) that was proposed in the 60's and then progress to Skylab. I would love to research technology to let me keep Skylab running longer (as proposed by NASA) and maybe launch new Skylabs with different components such as maybe an infrared telescope instead of the solar telescopes. Maybe we could increase duration and work on auto re-supply systems. Keep astronauts aboard longer to pave a way to new lunar missions. Maybe research tech to do satellite rescue and repair based on the real satellites that were launched in the 70's and 80's. Then we could move on to shuttles and even larger manned stations in Earth and Lunar orbit.

As far as the Moon goes, longer stays and lunar bases. Landings at other spots and the back side of the Moon. Also, please continue to include the unmanned space probes, both real and proposed (such as some Comet Halley missions or Viking Mars rovers that were proposed but never flown). I would like to see the unmanned missions become more critical to the game.

In summary, I love how we work with real or proposed systems in the first game. Please stick to that in the series. I have tons of books on what we planned to do in space if we had better leadership in the government and more funds (we should have been on Mars in the 80's). I have no problem with not using film from actual launches, as you can't for programs that were only proposed, but maybe include more real photos like you did for mission control. Mission Control is the real key to the game too. The tension when you are waiting to see if you pass all the steps is fantastic. I would like to have some options to fix or abort certain tasks to save the missions. Anything you can do to make the Mission Control screen better would be welcome. The Intro movie for the Game showing the Mission Control screen would be a fantastic backdrop if you could work more photos changing and displays changing in the screen.

To summarize (again) I love the first game and am really looking forward to play the others and get a chance to play space programs that "might have been" :)
Last edited by jjknap on Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by nats » Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:08 pm

Well the main bit I didn't like was the way the interface worked for the game, it feels rather convoluted and laborious to get anywhere. You get used to it of course but it could be far better. The main thing I would love to see is being able to transfer your game seamlessly from the first game to the others so you can play the whole history of NASA. The main problem, with the next phase of the game to me, would be the need to get over the repetitive nature of shuttle ops/space station building without sacrificing historical accuracy, or rather someway to make that repetitiveness interesting. That would seem to be the main challenge ahead for you guys. It could be that the next phase is wrapped up with the Mars phase and that you see the ISS etc as a way of having a new 'Race To Mars'. Thus spacelab, shuttle ops, ISS and the 'next spacestations' would simply be a means to get to Mars in the end. BEcause without that race creating the ISS is a little pointless really, in gameplay terms anyway. I dunno it will be difficult, I think, to resolve historical reality and still make it an interesting game to play - I mean there is very little scientific development in terms of the space components going on with the space shuttle phase, which formed the bulk of the gameplay for the first game. So I do feel it will need to be fictional in many respects if it is to be interesting to the average gamer.
"It's life Jim, but not as we know it"

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by Numdydar » Sat Jan 10, 2015 7:25 am

I think the next logical step, although it is a large one, for the game is a manned mission to Mars. So once you complete the moon mission, the game continues using the prestige goals to get to Mars and back. So it would not be a race, but more of the player being challenged to complete various missions, that may or may not be related to Mars. It should be setup so that you can start where the game does now and follow it through to Mars. Or you could have a later start for those that did not want to go through the early years.

Actually, it could be fun to have the game try and sidetrack the player by assigning missions that have nothing to do with Mars just to keep the funding up. While to 'win' the Mars mission must be successful :D

I think the game need to expand beyond the Earth/Luna area to keep the game feeling 'fresh' and attract new players. So a Mars expansion to the game would be something I would definitely pay $20 for. If you thought there was a market, you could do a smaller expansion to build the ISS or something similar and price that at $5 for those that would like it. But that is definitely not something I would be interested in.

I am interested in taking this game system and expanding it to where you are sending missions to the furthest reaches of our solar system. Both manned and unmanned. So any follow-up add-ons that are in that vein I would be willing to buy :)

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by NumberOneBSUFan » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:04 pm

For a second part I would love to see everything from the lunar landing onward to a manned mission to Mars. I would like to see larger stations available in the second part along with lunar bases. To implement this, the player could chose one of 4 paths. The first path would be the historical path of the Space Shuttle and ISS. The second path would be to implement larger space stations. The third path would be to continue lunar landings and eventually build a lunar base. The last path would be to achieve a successful landing on Mars.

For a third part, this would entitle multiple paths forcing the player to yet again choose one path. The first path would entitle landing on the systems potentially life supporting moons to determine if such life exists and also if the moon was suitable for a man made colony. The moons could potentially include Europa, Enceladus, Titan, Io, and Triton. The next path would be to continue landing on Mars and eventually build a base on Mars. The third path would be to build space stations at different parts of the solar system along with building stations in the orbits of other planets. The fourth and final path would be to land on Mercury and Venus.

Hope this gives you some new ideas and thanks for making such a great game(although I hope the iPad release is coming very soon!)

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by nico7550 » Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:08 am

My own list :
More interactive control mission
Part 1 save game compatibility
More never released project (Nerva for example)
A mission builder instead of specific mission for each hardware
More immersive contents, like historical events, real musics...
Dynamic GUI style, the style should evolve across the years, GUI in the 70's should have a different style when you're in the 80's...
Graphic options should be integrated in game
More game mode (like timed mode)

Cheers

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by kokubokan25 » Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:19 pm

1-Detailed information about failures during and after flights.
2-Possibility to rename missions before flight (no more Pioneer 4 launched before Pioneer 2)
3-A better and improved campaign to make useful do two o more flights previously accomplished. In the actual state of the game is useless fly another Surveyor after a Surveyor success. Funny but useless.
4-A detailed page in the Museum where you can see all the past mission, not the accomplished, ALL missions, failures inclosed.
5-In MP, more information about the other side objetives accomplished and, if your rival wins, detailed information about the form that success was done.
6-Option to low your prestige points to get some money when suffer a budget constraint.
7-Three or more Pads to make launches like old BARIS. No more only a Pad that is closed for random events. You start with one Pad and buy more with money from budget. Of couse those new pads will be showed in main screen. Before launch you can choose Pad. May be fly missions in Pad 1 is more cheap than Pad 2 ? It's only a idea.


Thanks.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by Sergeiev » Sun Jan 11, 2015 6:16 pm

- I'd like the possibility of developing Buran or the space shuttle if i want to.
- Building space stations and not just ISS but Saliut and Mir as foundations for the ISS. With different scientific goals to achieve in each station. Like Mission 12 have to conduct a specific experiment but ofr that you'd need a new module on your space station or a special cargo needed to be hauled up there and so on.
- More probe missions. And i mean more. :)
- A Moon base that needs to be maintained and expanded the same way as the space stations.
- All these for the final goal of landing men on Mars and possibly build a base there.

Rendering missions in realtime 3D would be nice aswell.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by SteveLohr » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:35 am

For the next version of SPM, I recommend making some substantial changes to the game system. My reading of the comments in several reviews indicates that many players see the game as being repetitive. What I suggest is adding another dimension to the game: Political Support. What I envision is a system that is based on maintain political support among various constituencies in order to maintain funding. Each constituency has objectives they are trying to accomplish. The constituencies would similar to the following:
Government(Legislature and Executive)
Military
Public
Scientific
Industry/Business Community

Each year, you would request a level of funding, and expend political points to open programs. You would also bid on timelines to complete mission objectives within certain budget limits. For instance, to open Gemini, you might bid on completing a suborbital flight in 6 quarters, a orbital flight in 8 quarters, and a spacewalk in 10. THe computer offers you a funding of (for example) $50,000 for this schedule. You can ask for a plus up in the budget, or offer a reduction in the budget. The game will assign a political point cost to open the program based on these "negotiations." Once you open the program, you have to meet the budget and time schedule, or suffer reductions in the political points gained. Successful missions give you positive political points, unsuccessful missions give you negative points. You also get political points from each of the constituencies, depending on how you are meeting their objectives.

The constituencies respond favorably to you accomplishing their goals. For instance, the government constituency might prefer accomplishing objectives on time and under budget, and accomplishing "firsts" (first lunar probe, first manned orbital mission, etc). The military might want some of your flights to have military objectives, or use a military booster, while the scientific community wants the experimental package to include science and not military packages. The public likes firsts and and responds poorly to over budget programs or failures. The game would reward or punish particularly strong opinions (ie, a constituency that is 75% in your favor is strongly vocal in your favor, one that is 25% in your favor is strongly vocal against your program, so the idea is to keep the constituencies if not happy, at least not desperately unhappy).

Putting in the political overlay gives the player more variables to play with and consider. He might opt for a slow but steady program, but one that risks not getting to the moon or beyond. Or, he can opt for trying to generate support and funding by going for space spectaculars, in the hopes of generating enough support to get to the moon, but ones that may in fact impede his overall program (like Korolev did). It also offers a nice bridge to the post Apollo programs. In order to get to manned Mars missions, you need to husband political capital and spend It wisely once you accomplish the lunar missions. The scientists and military may want manned orbital stations, but you don't have enough political capital for both mars and space stations.....

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Time Frame and Scope of 2nd installment

Post by stilicho410 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:48 am

For the time frame of the 2nd installment, I would suggest 1970 - 1991, the end of the cold war. This would allow the same agency choices as the base game (US, USSR, or fictional GSA).
(The post-Soviet era, with more international cooperation and the ISS, could be saved for the 3rd installment.)

As mentioned by others, possible projects for the 2nd installment could include both historical and "might have been" projects. I'll just mention a few of the most interesting manned projects, which could be symmetrical in game terms for the US/USSR.

US:
- Lunar "J" missions
- Skylab
- Space Shuttle (including options considered besides the historical design)
- The proposed "Space Station Freedom" considered for the late 1980's.
- Lunar Base
- Mars mission (in 1969, they were talking about a trip to Mars in the 1980's)

USSR:
- Soviet Lunar Landing (they were still testing the N-1 in 1972)
- Salyut Space Station
- Buran Shuttle
- Space Station Mir.
- Lunar Base
- Mars mission

Space Stations "Salyut" and "Skylab" would introduce a new mechanism of long term stations that could be re-used for multiple missions.
Space Stations "Mir" and "Freedom" would introduce a new mechanism of modular station design, with individual components being available for R&D, then added to an existing station.
The Lunar bases could be built component by component as well.
The Mars mission would be a "there and back again" sort of trip, using von Braun's proposal of using Saturn V's or equivalent to boost components to assemble in orbit 2 6-man nuclear powered spacecraft.

Mars colonization and manned explorations of other worlds could be done in the 3rd installment.

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Extra steps for Apollo J Mission

Post by stilicho410 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:53 am

Here's a minor proposal for a couple of extra steps to be added to the Apollo "J" mission, to differentiate it more from the "Type G" mission.
- Orbital Observation: Inserted between current EVA steps, to simulate CMP's observations from CSM. Animation could include the launching of the PFS sub-satellite from the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) on one side of the Service module. Reliability check against CSM and SIM, Crew Involvement against CMP.
- EVA to retrieve film from SIM. Inserted before current Trans-Earth Coast step. Reliability against CSM and Space Suit, Crew Involvement mostly CMP.
The SIM would be an additional EVA component used for the "J" mission, similar to how the Lunar Rover was added.

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Veteran Astronauts

Post by stilicho410 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:01 am

FYI, this and the previous post are Apollo J missions are ideas that I posted on the Matrix forum for the base game, but they could be applied to the 2nd installment as well.

Historically, great value was placed on building a pool of astronauts with space experience. Although all of the Mercury flights by necessity had rookie crews, only 3 of the 10 manned Gemini missions had all-rookie crews. The other 7 Gemini missions, plus all of the Apollo missions, had at least 1 veteran crew member. Two particularly critical Apollo Missions (10 and 11) had all-veteran crews.

This is already reflected in the game somewhat by a modest skill increase once a mission is completed, but how about making it more dramatic?

- An astronaut returning from a space mission could get the same skill jump gained by a 3 quarter "Advanced Training" course in 2-3 skills. (I phrase it this way so that the skill gain would still be somewhat asymptotic.)

- Veteran astronauts would be marked in the Astronaut Corps display by the number of missions he's flown. I admit space is tight in the current display, perhaps the number could be in a corner of the portrait, or by adding tiny "mission patches" to one side of the portrait. (The patches would proably have to be tiny, so simple generic patches would probably suffice, not fancy individual patches for each mission.)

- Any rookie astronaut(s) flying with a veteran would get a temporary skill increase equivalent to one "Advanced Training" session while the mission is being flown, perhaps to the same skill as the highest rated skill of the veteran. If a rookie is flying with two veterans, he'd get two temporary bumps.
Once the mission is complete, the rookie would get his own "veteran bonus" and be considered a veteran himself.

- To temper this bonus, once a veteran has completed a flight, there will be a random roll to decide whether he's ready to retire from active flight status. The probability will be based on the number of flights. The chance of retirement would be very small after the first flight, then increase with each successive flight. Historically, most astronauts retired after 2-4 flights.

All of this would provide the player with an incentive to "season" rookie pilots by combining them with veterans, and makes veterans most valuable indeed. As it is, the game encourages the player to use the same small pool of pilots over and over, and only training a few backups to replace those who have been killed.

As a side note, perhaps the starting skills of newly hired astronauts could be a bit more generous. These guys were recruited from the very best test pilots after all. Perhaps minimum levels could be something like Leadership 50, Piloting 60, and Fitness 40. EVA and Science could still have very low starting values.
For the 2nd installment, perhaps there could be a separate pool of "Payload Specialists", who would have higher starting EVA and Science skills.

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What Might Have Been

Post by stilicho410 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:17 am

When I was a kid, National Geographic dedicated over half of the December 1969 issue to the Apollo 11 mission.

The article below,"Next Steps in Space", was written by Thomas O. Paine the administrator of NASA at the time.
He describes NASA's plans at the time: a permanent space station in Earth orbit in the mid 70's, a Lunar base by the late 70's, and a Mars mission in the 1980's.
Reading this as a child, I thought the future was going to be so cool. Oh, well, at least we have the Internet.

The next SPM installment will be a chance to at least simulate what might have been done, if we'd wanted to.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/1969/ ... steps-text

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by lordshipmayhem » Tue Jan 13, 2015 3:40 pm

I'd like the next version to have the ability to create reusable shuttles like the Dream Chaser model: not much cargo, instead transporting crew.
I'd like small space stations, which I could grow into larger ones like an orbiting Tinkertoy.
I'd like the Apollo J missions.
I'd like a different satellite program: communications and weather satellites in geosynchronous orbits.
I'd like probes to the outer planets - Neptune, Uranus and Pluto
Moon bases.
More Mars probes, including rovers.
More Moon probes, including rovers.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by edbailey » Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:59 pm

Nacho84,

I already posted a list of ideas here : viewtopic.php?f=226&t=54200
but to sum up some of the most significant ones.

1) Customize me. Give the administrator (i.e. "me" in the game) a name, face and special abilities and penalties. Make each of the 5+ options play slightly differently - increasing both immersion and playability.

2) Add some campaign-like elements. Quests (is my goal "man on mars" or "robots on titan" or "mining the asteroids"), event-triggered decision points ("Meet the press" after an astronaut dies), and/or a technology choice (e.g. LOR vs EOR vs DA for Apollo, or "human-focused vs robot-focused") that influences the development of the program.

3) Add distractions like commercial responsibilities (e.g. people wanting to rent your launch pad & rockets for comm satellites) and black ops military programs.

4) Make training/research seem more goal-directed instead of something I have to fiddle with every quarter.

5) More description on failures - I think many people have recommended this.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by SteveLohr » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:11 pm

Another suggestion: To simulate the development program of the rockets recommend a feature to let the player simulate the "all up" vs. "sequential testing" of rockets. If the game allowed flight tests of rockets without payloads, with no prestige loss and very low controller requirements and medium-sized rocket improvements to simulate sequential testing, in contrast to slower and more expensive development to simulate the extensive ground testing used in the "all up" approach. Also, possibly incorporate a new "testing facility" purchase to simulate that large test stands necessary for the all up approach. This would require the player to make more decisions regarding his approach to the lunar race, and open up more strategy choices for the player.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by SebbiLebga » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:24 pm

Most of my ideas are connected with long term missions like a space station or a base on the surface of a celestial body. It would be really cool if building such a station would basically unlock more ways to control ongoing missions.

- I like to be in charge of keeping the station supplied. In other words, it would be great if we could have a station management screen where we can see the current status of the station. Based on these indications, we can plan our next supply missions.
- The station management screen could be also used for more control over the tasks of the crew. It would be nice, if I could decide how long a certain astronaut would stay in space and what kind of tasks this astronaut is doing (maintenance tasks, performing science, performing a spacewalke, etc). It could be almost like a task/project management system, where I am able to assign certain tasks to each astronaut.
- It would be nice to be able to shorten or extend long duration missions on board of a space station. Running low on supplies? No problem, I just send some of my astronauts back home. A lot of science is unfinished due to maintenance issues? No problem, I just extend the stay of some of my astronauts.
- A science system could be implemented. Researching and installing new modules to the space station would unlock a certain set of different experiments. Performing these experiments could unlock new components / grant prestige.
- Missions to and from a station should not run on autopilot like in the first part of the game. Instead, it would be nice if I could decide when a supply spacecraft is being deorbited (when it's cargo bay is full of trash, when enough science data is gathered and needs to be returned to Earth, when the astronauts are at the end of their stay, etc).
- maybe I will add more ideas later ;-)

Finally, the "Mercury Simulator"!

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by Kalesin » Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:45 pm

As I like to show ideas with pictures, and now I have no time, I put "fan-art" I did a while, while I am designing ideas.

I have read very good ideas here.

Image

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by tjsnh » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:59 pm

I love this game, and I'm very glad you started a thread like this. Having been a gamer for close to 20 years, and having participated in dozens of alpha/beta tests, it always makes me smile when a developer asks for feedback and ideas from the fanbase.

An itemized list of thoughts and feedback :

1 - It would be nice to continue to play past the moon landing. Or, have the option to continue. (sandbox mode doesnt count, it's nice to have an opponent) It was a BIG surprise on my first playthrough that the game would simply end.
2 - It would be nice to get notified of global "firsts" not just "first for that particular side" , for example if I'm playing as Nasa and the Soviets beat me to a spacewalk, have it mentioned in the start-of-turn news "World's first spacewalk" or something. It would be easier to keep track of it this way than constantly checking the museum and looking at dates. Maybe also, when either side achieves victory, display a list of "firsts" and dates on the victory screen.
3 - It would be nice to have a longer campaign, maybe up to 1990s. After the moon landing, move onto the space stations (skylab/salyut), the shuttles (orbiter/buran), etc.
4 - Be able to select a "campaign length" , maybe a short campaign would be a race to the moon landing - a medium could be a race to the first re-usable shuttle - a long could be a race to launch the first module for an International space station.
5 - This one is a bit of a shot in the dark : but it might be fun to add a second "space race" set in the modern age, say between China and India. Or even a 3-way "space race" with the US, modern Russia, and China, trying to get to Mars or even just back-to-the-moon.
6 - The ability to change/set names and import pictures for your astronauts/flightcontrollers/scientists would be GREAT - and it would allow community-developed crew packs. I like having real-life personalities randomly mixed in (I got Yuri Gagarin in my first Soviet playtrough) but having ALL others be just faceless shadows lacks a degree of visual congruency.
7 - Have prestige points matter more. I don't have any specific suggestions as to WHAT they should matter for, but it would be nice if I had more motivation to launch all those venus and mars probes for example. Might tie-in with the idea for a longer campaign that I mentioned in #3 and #4 above?
8 - It would be nice to have a couple of Soviet missions to the outer planets. Given that you included the PKA spaceplane (which was a paper project) as a match to the X-15 and added in various Gemini mission profiles which didn't actually happen, and I'm not complaining - they all make the game a LOT more fun, it would be nice to see the Tsiolkovsky mission or Saturn mission (both of which were cancelled). In my first Soviet playthrough it was a little confusing to be told that missions to Jupiter and Saturn had been unlocked, only to find no missions available.
9 - This kindof goes along with the "allow play after the moon landing" but it would be fun to have Apollo-Soyuz in the game, and available only after the other side has reached a compatible progress point with apollo or soyuz respectively.
10 - Research progress on equipment should have some carry-over effect onto developments of the same gear. For example, if I research the Sputnik rocket to 95% then start development on the Vostok rocket (which is a development of the Sputnik/R7 family) progress should start at something above the base starting point, to reflect that some development work on the core design is already complete etc etc. Same applies for the Titan, Proton, and Saturn rockets, as well as capsules and other gear.
11 - THIS IS THE BIG ONE - introduce PARTIAL mission failures. My 3-man Soyuz crew shouldn't all die in orbit just because the docking attempt failed. The real-life space race was FULL of non-fatal missions that essentially were failures due to mechanical or personnel issues. Some in-game mechanism to recognize degrees-of-success-and-failure would add a LOT of depth. Total failure, partial failure, break-even, partial success, total success, etc.

I know it wouldn't be practical to incorporate ALL of these into the game, or probably even a single expansion pack, but I hope this sparks some discussions. Just raw-meat for the table.

EDIT : Thought of a last one.
Crew assignments for manned missions. Example - 3man apollo mission, instead of having 3 crew slots which all "auto fill with most qualified crew" based on the Leadership attribute, actually have the pilot, engineer, and commander, slots individually fill based on pilot skill, etc etc.
Last edited by tjsnh on Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ideas for the future of SPM

Post by KyleS » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:00 am

It's probably too late now, but the latest post made me think of a simple request: a more moddable game!

One of the great things about the various Paradox games (Victoria, Crusader Kings, etc) is how they're moddable even by a non-expert. This sometimes leads to whole new games which lots of people play, or even - if they're good enough - the original company can sell.

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