ok, so a blog is OK for posting status, ideas and all around talking to myself when I hit a road block. But that's not really enough.
I will be opening up a forum which will have links for downloads. I will also be bringing the MonkJames.com website online soon which will really just be pointing to this blog and the discussion forum for now. Eventually it will offer game downloads and information.
So more on the download. After some arm twisting, it has been suggested to open up pre-alpha space travel by the end of summer. There is a little data cleanup that needs to take place and I will offer a more comprehensive post on what a pre-alpha means when the time comes. But I'll offer some very brief info here.
Pre-alpha (did I just makeup a new word?) will include mechanisms to travel around the galaxy without restriction. It is not for play testing, the release is actually part of the game manager suite of tools. My interest is in some crowd sourcing to name planets, stars and other oddball space formations.
Another thing I have failed to mention in this blog. I plan to release the game as free to play.
Will there be pay-for content? Of course. The game is free, but I have to try and make some money to keep it going.
Will the game suck if I don't buy the pay-for content? No, you can pay to get things quicker but there is nothing you can pay for that is not available if you play the game for free.
Will I suck at the game if I don't buy pay-for content? No, not at all. If you suck it is because you suck at the game.
What sorts of pay-for content will there be? Too early to really spell it all out. But the main pay-for feature will be insurance. It's really too early to explain what this means in great detail. But I will offer this. You pile 600 mega tons of raw plutonium worth about the GNP of several large planets onto your ship to transport to your main warehouse so you can prepare to blow up your new enemy's home planet and some pirates manage to destroy your caravan on the way there, well if you bought insurance, you would be in for a fat paycheck. If you don't, well no worries. Mining that much plutonium will only take you another 200-300 days.
Ok, I'm curious, what would insurance cost for that trip?
Now that's a constructive question. I don't have pricing models worked out but it will be based on what you want out of it. If you want the plutonium back, that's more expensive than wanting the value of it. But it raises some gameplay tidbits.
The pirates could be other player that attack your convoy. There's a catch though. If you insured your convoy for replacements, then there is an important game balance issue at stake. I can't duplicate the ship full of plutonium, that would mean that out of thin air there is now 1200 mega tons and some players managed to dupe resources, not cool. It really means that the pirates that stole it are about to die and have their bounty taken back.
There are also levels of insurance, in case you want to lower your premium and reduce the loss in the form of a deductible.
So, let's say that you want to insure 600 mega tons of plutonium and expect to get all of it back if something should happen. The in-game value of this cargo is very high. So for 1 month your premium would be $5, which is a rough estimate which basically includes the transport and having it sit in a warehouse.
What if I only wanted cash value? Cash value insurance runs on deductibles. So if you wanted cash with a 10% deductible, you're looking at $2 for the month.
Does insurance ever get cheaper? Yes, frequent customers will experience savings early on and the savings increase rapidly. But just like real life, if you become a high risk insurer, those savings will slip away. So just because you have insurance, don't take that 50 tons of gold through those solar systems that have no military protection. It may cost more in fuel to go around, but it is safer in the long run.