Damian Walker

Personal Web Pages

A Game of Space Conquest

Star Governor sample map screen

Saturday, 11th November 2017

Since I want to blog about my DOS game development, it makes sense that I should tell you what it is, otherwise future posts might all get a bit cryptic. For a couple of years I've been planning a space conquest game (well, another space conquest game, anyway). It's currently going by the title of Star Governor, mainly because any better names I can think of are already taken.

As you can probably tell by the mocked-up screen shot, Star Governor is going to be a retro game. My graphical design skills would probably produce a rather poor-looking game for a modern system, but I can just about manage to make something that would look acceptable with the limited colour and resolution of a retro system. I'm intending that the game will run on a CGA-equipped PC with an 8088 processor. That means DosBox for most of us.

There's one thing that will set this game apart from most other 4x games I've seen. In Star Governor, information about your empire will travel only as quickly as spacecraft technology allows - there's no instant beaming of information across interstellar distances. So if you want to send an order to an admiral in a distant part of your empire, the order will take time to get there - and the admiral's reports will take time to get back. This is an idea I got from the old Traveller RPG. I'm hoping it will add a feeling of suspense to the game, where you'll have to wait to hear about the success of your latest invasion attempts.

This could make the game play feel like wading through treacle, except that I'll be adding delegation into the game in a big way. That's where the "governor" bit comes in. You won't have to micromanage the building up of distant colonies. Instead you'll appoint characters as governors, explorers, envoys, fleet admirals and the like. They'll make on-the-spot decisions about building what starships and facilities they need or what trades they need to make. You'll still make high-level decisions, like which star systems to aim for, which independents to ally with, or what type of economy each of your planets should have. You can still micromoanage if you want, appointing no governor in a system or overriding their decisions. You can also travel  yourself, if you want to take direct control of a situation. But like any other character in the game, you will be in danger wherever there is battle, and the loss of your character ends the game for you.

I'm still fleshing out the fine details of the design. The map, star systems and planets are just about finalised, but I'm still working on the exact role that characters will play, and I've only just touched on combat and ship design. I'd like to give diplomacy with independent planets a significant part in the game, too, so that conquest isn't the only interaction you'll have with them. I'll go into more detail in future blog posts, as well as describing how development is going.

I'm interested in hearing from people about this game. If you want to get in touch, please feel free to me or contact me on Twitter where I'll be posting updates.