This is the "official" FAQ for the Flash game Starcom by the game's creator. I am also working on a detailed postmortem which will cover some of the mistakes, problems and successes of the game's creation, an initial version is available here:
Frequently Asked Questions:
I run a Flash Game Portal, can I download a copy to host?
Yes, you can grab the latest distribution package here, which contains the swf, icons, screenshot and text description file.
I have a question/comment/suggestion, how do I send it in?
Right now, the best way to send me a message about the game is to leave a shout or whisper on Kongregate (not a comment on the game itself, I don't always read all of them. If you have a Kongregate account, go to my profile (wx3lab) and leave a shout or whisper.
At some point I'll try to set up a better way to leave feedback on Starcom.
How was Starcom created?
Starcom is a Flash game written in Actionscript 3.0 and Adobe Flex MXML using Adobe's Flex Builder. The artwork was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3. Some particle effects were created with Wonderotuch's ParticleIllusion 3.0. Some of the sound effects are from Soundsnap and edited in Audacity.
Who created Starcom?
Starcom was created by me, Kevin Lin. The only thing I can't claim credit for is the amazing musical score.
Who composed the amazing musical score?
The music is by Justin Durban. The score was originally composed for the Kings & Kingsdoms film project, but Justin graciously allowed me to use it for Starcom.
What were your influences?
I was primarily inspired by an old DOS game called "Starflight." A lot of people have pointed to similarities between Starcom and other games, but I hadn't played any of them prior to releasing the game. These include: The Starcontrol series, EV: Nova, Armada, Star Fighter: The Disputed Galaxy, Freelancer, EVE Online and many others.
Stylistically I was consciously influenced by the new Battlestar Galactica, but probably was also influenced by other films and shows which feature space combat such as Star Wars and Star Trek (especially Wrath of Khan).
How long did this game take to make?
I estimate the development time at around 500-600 hours including coding, art & sound, writing content, gameplay testing, debugging, and distribution.
Is the Morningstar a reference to the Flash game of the same name?
Surprisingly, no. The adventure game "Morningstar" in which the player is stranded on a crash-landed starship of the same name, came out after major work on Starcom was complete. A while ago, I had conceived of the plot to a space opera game mirroring Milton's "Paradise Lost." I had the idea of Lucifer being the commander of a rebel fleet in a war for the Heavens. "Lucifer" means "Daystar" or "Morningstar" and is referred to by that name in the poem.
Will there be a sequel?
Starcom was an incredible amount of work, and a sequel would probably be as well. Most Flash games don't make a lot of money. I'd make a lot more money doing freelance programming than I would programming another Starcom, even if it were as successful as this one. At an hourly rate, I made less than minimum wage from the ad revenue/sponsorship revenue from Starcom. If I did make a sequel, I'd need for it to generate some revenue beyond what ads can provide. Which probably means a free game around the same length as Starcom with the option of unlocking additional missions / freeplay mode for a small fee.
All of this is purely speculative at this point, though.
Will it have multiplayer?
It is unlikely that the first sequel will feature multiplayer. Multiplayer is an incredibly difficult feature to do well in games, let alone a real-time action game. It requires a great deal of technical know-how, a robust server-side multiplayer engine, security to prevent cheating, and hardware capable of supporting hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous players. If there were sufficient demand and Starcom 2 was a success, I might be able to invest the time and resources to produce a quality multi-player version.
What features would you put in a sequel?
Whatever you ask for :)
Seriously, I have gotten a lot of great suggestions for features for a sequel. Some ideas are impractical or would be too difficult/time consuming to implement into a fun play mechanic, but some ideas I've gotten that I would like to add:
- Much larger universe with some kind of open-ended play.
- Improved Starbase interface with graphical ship configuration.
- Better mapping system.
- Options for different kinds of ships with different capabilities and handling.
- Larger range of weapons, add-ons, and enemies.
- Improved save handling.
- Support for higher resolution play.
Why so short?
I suppose I should take it as a compliment that the biggest criticism was that the game is too short. My first Flash game, PlanetDefender, a tower-defence style game, was criticized as being too long (especially at the hardest difficulty). Most Flash games are short. So rather than outstay the game's welcome, I decided to have the game end while the player was still having fun. In retrospect, I could probably have padded out some of the missions a little bit, but I think for the amount of content I had, I think it was a good length, especially given I had no idea whether people would like it.
The following hints have been whited-out to avoid spoiling the game. Select the text to read what it says.
I die in the black hole in the first system, how come?
You need to have the Nexus Navigator device on your ship to safely enter a wormhole (aka a Warp Nexus).
How do I rescue the Prometheus?
If you destroy all the enemies in the star system the Prometheus is stranded in you should receive a message from her telling you that her navigational systems are crippled and to leave her there.
What do I do after the Prometheus tells me to leave her?
At this point, you should have picked up an artifact from the destroyed base ship. Take this to Starbase and have it identified. Note the description.
I keep dying in the Eye of the Storm mission, how do I survive?
Read the mission description. You aren't being requested to clear that star system, but to capture the secret weapon. The secret weapon is on a supply depot near where you warp in.
I'm apparently missing a key object I was supposed to pick-up. What should I do?
Generally, it's hard to miss an item, but sometimes if it's dropped against the backdrop of a planet, you don't see it. If you leave the star system without picking it up, you won't be able to retrieve it later. If that happens, you'll need to restore from a save before you killed the enemy that dropped it.
The Systems Upgrade item doesn't work!
The Systems Upgrade increases the number of install slots on your ship, once it's installed. But if you buy it without a free slot, it will be added to your cargo. To install it, uninstall another item, then install the Systems Upgrade and re-install the item you removed.