Roguetoad Studios

#DreamDesign: A #StarWars Multiplayer Galactic Conflict

Hello and welcome to the Dream Design Series!

I'm Roguetoad27, but you can call me Rospo. To those of you on your first visit to Roguetoad.com, hi! Under the name Roguetoad27, and the developer title Roguetoad Studios, I'm an independent Game Designer, Graphic Designer, and Author. Here in Dream Design, I flex my design muscles and reveal my take on designing a video game experience.

For this first challenge, I'm tackling Star Wars, and how I would design an engaging and exciting online multiplayer conflict. I personally find both of the new Star Wars Battlefront games published by EA (Electronic Arts) to be good shooters, but wasted opportunities for a much more immersive, rewarding, and content rich experience for Star Wars fans. For fun, I'm taking on the mission of designing a concept for a deeper and more expansive experience for Star Wars multiplayer gamers. Put on your seat belts, or whatever they use in a galaxy far, far away, and read on!

So, what about the current Battlefront franchise?

Before I explore my ideas, I'd like to briefly discuss the current titles. Neither game is designed with a massive conflict in mind as they are both standard multiplayer experiences. In both games, the 2015 reboot and the 2017 sequel, the biggest factor for immersion is the presentation provided by the visuals and the audio. In Battlefront 2015, the technical achievement of the game is, at times, breathtaking. The first time I stepped onto the snowy fields of Hoth, and when I first took flight in an X-Wing, I was taken aback by how far the gaming industry has come from the days of Star Wars games long passed.

It wasn't just the graphics, but almost equally so, the audio production. I already knew the game would sound great because the developer, DICE, has some of the industry's best sound design. The scream of a TIE Fighter soaring across the screen with immeasurable authenticity is something DICE excels at, as is proven in some of their other titles like Battlefield 4 (2013) and Battlefield 1 (2016).

For me, that presentation, though pleasing to the senses, was not enough to truly dive into the Star Wars universe. Beneath the quality exterior and flashy production lay a somewhat shallow experience, one that contained itself so much when there was an entire fictional galaxy to explore. This conundrum plagues both games in different manners. In Battlefront 2015, the game lacks substance but excels in production quality. In Battlefront 2017, the game has much more content, but several gameplay elements are substandard or inconsistent. Additionally, the technical quality of the game is, at times, unexpectedly poor. Minor to moderate glitches and bugs continue to surface in the game long after release, some with no fix in sight. It's worth noting that the developers have patched the game multiple times and the experience has definitely improved; I myself do regularly jump in to play a couple of matches to scratch that Star Wars itch, and the more they patch the game, the better my experience is. However, among other things, issues left me daydreaming about the Star Wars multiplayer experience that I believe many fans would enjoy far, far more.

And so, let the Dream Design begin!

The Proposal

An Online Multiplayer Galactic Conflict that lives and breathes through month long conflicts, a fun and rewarding faction system, and a custom tailored selection of modes for players to enjoy.

Grab a drink and a healthy snack my friends, because this could get long.


Part I: Modes of Play

Please note that I'll be focusing exclusively on multiplayer type modes and ignoring the concept of a singleplayer campaign.

My design of an online Star Wars multiplayer game, specifically a shooter, involves three modes of play.

Quick Play

Jump right into a multiplayer match with other players online. You can choose to engage in Large Scale battles of 40+ players and Battlefield like vehicular warfare, or you can jump into Small Scale battles of 12-20 players and simpler objectives.

Battlefront

This is most valuable mode in this design. Participate in a timed conflict based upon the movies or other media. Choose your preferred faction, complete challenges, earn exclusive faction cosmetics, and fight to claim the galaxy.

Instant-Action

Battle offline to practice, freely explore maps, or earn credits.


Quick Play is essentially what exists in EA's Battlefront or what you see in many other online shooters. Instant-Action is an offline mode with basic bots so that players can practice, explore, or just take it easy. The Battlefront mode... this is the experience that Star Wars fans seek.


Part II: Battlefront - The Defining Game Mode

The Battlefront mode is what the entire game revolves around. In my design, I'll be talking about the Conflict system, picking a Faction, the modes and purposes of Combat, the weekly refreshing Quartermaster store, and the Final Events of a Conflict.


The Conflict System

The premise is simple.

A massive conflict has erupted between two factions. This war can be between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists, the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, or the Resistance and the First Order. The conflict engulfs the galaxy and various iconic Star Wars locations have become battlegrounds where the factions are fighting to dominate the other.

You are presented with a full-screen galactic map. On this map, you see see highlighted planets that are important to the current conflict. Depending on the involved factions, the spotlighted locations differ. These planets display a clear visual indicator of which faction is dominating, holding at least 50% of the planet's value. Above the map, in large clear type, the amount of time remaining in the conflict is displayed.


Choosing a Side

Deciding which faction you join is a major decision. It affects which cosmetics and unlocks become available, it affects which side you play as the vast majority of the time, and of course, it affects your final rewards based on which faction wins.

In order to cement the significance of your choice, the menu design and music change to match the faction. Did you choose the Galactic Republic? Then you hear the vibrant Prequel tunes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. All the while, the galactic map and additional menu elements take on the colors and iconography of the Galactic Republic. This way, you are fully immersed in the faction you chose.

Choosing a side commits you to which rewards you will receive. Play for your faction to unlock unique cosmetics as seen in the movies and other content like the Clone Wars or Rebels shows. Faction based cosmetics include helmets, armor, vehicle designs, weapon designs, trooper skins, hero skins, and more. The Star Wars universe is massive and the possibilities are almost infinite. The cosmetics you unlock stay with you far beyond the conflict so you can show them off in other modes like Quick Play and show that you took part in a galactic struggle.

What about team balance? In this design, the game attempts to assign players to their respective factions when a match is about to begin. If there are too many players on one side, the game offers surplus players to play on the opposing side for a reward. If these players perform well for the opposing faction, they are rewarded with 15% extra experience and credits for helping the match remain balanced. Worried about sabotage? The game can also change the number of active players based on the availability of faction members. If the Galactic Republic has 10 players in a match, and the Separatists have 12, the game can force the 2 extra Separatist players to spectate or cycle lives with another player.


Combat

All progress throughout the Conflict is made through combat. Combat consists of multiplayer matches, either head-to-head or cooperative. Throughout a conflict, players fight each other on all maps, but maps directly related to the conflict are worth more Conflict points and prioritized when shuffling upcoming maps.

Conflict Points determine which faction is dominating which maps, and as a whole, the galaxy. On the galaxy map, each planet has a visual indicator of which faction is dominating it, outscoring the other team significantly. If both factions have a similar score on a planet, then they are in a stalemate and neither side is considered "dominant".

As conflict points are earned throughout a day, a server-side check keeps count of the overall score. When a team wins a battle on a map, they gain dominance points on said map and the opposing team loses them. Whichever faction is dominant on a map loses twice as many points in defeat, and gains half as much in victory. This way, the team that is not dominant always has a chance to turn the tide of the war. Regardless, the planet's dominant faction always rewards players with 20% more experience and credits for participating, so long as they are the dominant side.

During a Conflict, combat is made up of three primary modes. These modes are Large Scale Battles (40+ Players), Small Scale Battles (12-20 Players), and AI Battles (4-8 Players VS AI Bots). These three primary modes allow players to engage in the conflict the way that they see fit, be it through massive movie-like clashes, smaller skill based skirmishes, or cooperative missions against AI opponents.


Large Scale Battles

Large Scale Battles are massive clashes on large maps. With support for 40 or more players, these multiplayer matches are similar in scale to the large matches of DICE's Battlefield franchise. These chaotic clashes have the largest effect on a planet's dominance, and in turn, which faction is gathering the most points throughout the conflict. Large Scale Battles include the following modes.

Conflict

An objective based mode heavily influenced by the events of a film or TV episode such as The Battle of Endor from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi or The Assault on Theed in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Includes various iconic heroes and vehicles appropriate to the location.

  • Mode: CONFLICT
  • Number of Players: 40
  • Estimated Match Length: 10-15 Minutes
  • Objective: Follow Objectives Relevant to Source Material

Conquest

Identical to the stalwart Battlefield mode where a large map has control points and one team must attempt to hold as many as they can. Suitable for infantry friendly locations with distinct landmarks like Bespin or Coruscant. Includes a variety of heroes and vehicles that are not limited by the location.

  • Mode: CONQUEST
  • Number of Players: 64
  • Estimated Match Length: 15-20 Minutes
  • Objective: Both teams start with 100 Points. Hold control points and defeat opponents to drain their points and bolster yours.

Full Scale War

An intense clash of infantry and vehicles where both sides have a limited number of lives and a short time limit, but both sides are also bolstered by an excess of powerful vehicles and weapons. Perfect for epic showdowns in places like the fields of Naboo or the plains of Geonosis. Includes a variety of heroes, vehicles, and weapons whose roster expands as the match drags on.

  • Mode: FULL SCALE WAR
  • Number of Players: 40-64
  • Estimated Match Length: 10 Minutes (Plus Overtime)
  • Objective: Wipe out your opponents with all of the weapons at your disposal. If time runs out and neither team has expended all of their lives, spawn increasingly powerful weapons to both sides such as the Death Star.

Small Scale Battles

Small Scale Battles are 12-20 player matches on small, specialized maps, or contained quadrants of existing large maps. With less players and more specific objectives, the gameplay is tighter and more competitive. Small Scale Battles includes the following modes.

Assault

An objective based mode heavily influenced by the events of a film or TV episode such as Retaking The Palace from Episode I: The Phantom Menace or Defending Echo Base in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Includes a variety of heroes and small vehicles appropriate to the location.

  • Mode: ASSAULT
  • Number of Players: 16-20
  • Estimated Match Length: 10-15 Minutes
  • Objective: Follow Objectives Relevant to Source Material

Control

Acts as a small-scale version of conquest. A non-linear map has various control points which, when held, drain the opponents points. When one team is out of points, they lose. Perfect for tighter locations and close-quarters combat like the Jedi Library on Coruscant or the Death Star interior. Includes a variety of heroes that are not limited by the location.

  • Mode: CONTROL
  • Number of Players: 12-16
  • Estimated Match Length: 10 Minutes
  • Objective: Both teams start with 100 Points. Hold control points and defeat opponents to drain their points and bolster yours.

Countdown

Functions as a small-scale version of Full Scale War. Both sides are provided with a limited number of lives and a short time limit, but as the end nears, the number of concurrent heroes increases. The match ends when only one player remains. Ideal for narrow clashes in places like Mos Eisley on Tatooine or Jedha City from Rogue One. Includes a variety of heroes not limited to location.

  • Mode: COUNTDOWN
  • Number of Players: 16-20
  • Estimated Match Length: 10 Minutes (Plus Overtime)
  • Objective: Wipe out your opponents with all of the heroes at your disposal. If time runs out and neither team has expended all of their lives, offer increasingly powerful heroes to both sides such as Qui-Gon Jinn or Supreme Leader Snoke.

AI Battles

AI Battles are 4-8 player matches where players do not battle each other but instead engage in cooperative gameplay against AI bots. These modes are designed to be more easygoing and casual, though increasing difficulty can easily make them a challenge for those seeking a more intense experience. AI Battles includes the following modes:

Defense

A mode similar to Halo Reach's Firefight where players must defeat increasingly difficult and varied waves of opponents. Players can set up simple defensive structures such as Cover and Turrets to help them defeat the enemy waves. Ideal for contained locations like the Palace of Theed on Naboo or the Imperial Base on Endor. During certain waves, an enemy may drop a pickup that enables a single player to become a hero.

  • Mode: DEFENSE
  • Number of Players: 6-8
  • Estimated Match Length: 5-10 Minutes
  • Objective: Defeat all enemy waves and stop them from capturing your base.

Infiltration

An intense, strategic mode where four players must work together to capture and extract an valuable item such as a Data Drive. Enemy AI bots are smarter and more dangerous, making the mode difficult as players must fight enemies on their way to pick up the designated item, and fight even more enemies as they head for an extraction point. Perfect for locations with narrow corridors like the Death Star interior or the Imperial Base on Scarif. Players have only one life but can be revived by teammates, similarly to the current system in Bungie's Destiny franchise. Players cannot become a hero in this mode, but an enemy AI hero may arrive to hunt them down.

  • Mode: INFILTRATION
  • Number of Players: 4
  • Estimated Match Length: 10 Minutes
  • Objective: Find the designated objective item, claim it, and bring it to the extraction point. If at any point all four players are dead, they fail the mission.

Arena

In this mode, all players are heroes as they fight in an arena against an onslaught of AI foes. Players fight increasingly difficult waves of enemy troopers and special units. Every few waves, one or more enemy heroes may spawn as a boss, with exceptional HP and dangerous attacks. Players get to enjoy their favorite heroes and fight together with others against many infantry units. The Arena on Geonosis is the perfect location, but many other places like the wilderness of Dagobah may also work well.

  • Mode: ARENA
  • Number of Players: 4-6
  • Estimated Match Length: 5-10 Minutes
  • Objective: Choose a hero and fight with other players to defeat all enemy waves and bosses.

Timed Challenges

The entire Conflict system supports Timed Challenges. These are Daily, Weekly, or even Monthly challenges with basic objectives that are easy to track. Players can engage in their favorite modes while fulfilling these challenges, earning them extra credits and faction currency that they can exchange for the rewards they most desire. Examples of broad challenges include:

  • Daily: Defeat 10 Enemy Players (500 Credits)
  • Weekly: Play 15 Matches (2500 Credits & 5 Faction Currency)
  • Monthly: Defeat 100 Enemy Players, Play as a Hero, and purchase 3 Faction Items (5000 Credits & 15 Faction Currency)

If it becomes difficult to find players in matchmaking because of the wide selection of modes, challenges could easily focus on specific modes so that players can more easily find available matches. Examples of specific challenges include:

  • Daily: Full Scale War: Defeat 15 Enemy Players (750 Credits)
  • Weekly: Full Scale War: Defeat 1 Enemy Player with a Superweapon (1500 Credits & 3 Faction Currency)
  • Monthly: Full Scale War: Defeat 10 Enemy Heroes with a Vehicle (3000 Credits & 9 Faction Currency)

Challenges like these need not be limited to the Battlefront conflict event and may also apply to the other modes, Quick-Play and Instant-Action.

If you're still here...

I hope you still have that snack with you. We're almost done, the port is in view and this boat is sailing in full-speed-ahead...


The Quartermaster Store

Keeping players entertained and rewarded is key. With the Quartermaster store, players can spend their earned credits and faction currency on unique faction rewards. The Quartermaster Store has a weekly refresh so that it can cycle through available items throughout the length of the current Conflict.

All items available in the Quartermaster store are cosmetic and purely for visual effect. Gameplay is in no way affected by the purchases players can make in the Quartermaster store. Cosmetic items available to players include Helmets, Hero Skins, Trooper Skins, Vehicle Skins, and more. Here are a few examples of the available cosmetics, but of course, the possibilities are infinite:

Galactic Republic - Quartermaster Store

  • 5000 Credits / 5 Faction Currency: Hero Skin: Obi Wan Kenobi [General Kenobi Skin]
  • 1500 Credits / 1 Faction Currency: Vehicle Skin ARC-170 [Captain Rex's Design]
  • 750 Credits / 1 Faction Currency: Trooper Skin Clone Armor Design [104th Battalion]

Once obtained, these Faction Cosmetics will be available for use by players in their inventory. Players can equip these cosmetics in their loadouts so that they may see them immediately upon entering a match, as well as viewing them freely in their Quartermaster Inventory. In this inventory, players can view the rewards they have earned or purchased, and they can resell them for credits. Long after a Conflict has ended, players still keep the cosmetic rewards they unlock, in fact, players are able to exchange their Faction Cosmetics for credits when a new Conflict event begins. In this manner, if a player prefers a faction such as the Rebel Alliance, they can sell non-Rebel Faction Cosmetics that they don't care about to help them purchase the ones they prefer when a Conflict involving the Rebel Alliance occurs and a Rebel Alliance Quartermaster is available.

When a Conflict is near its end, players are alerted to impending Quartermaster Discounts. For the last week of a Conflict, these discounts take effect, allowing players with less time to try and get items that they otherwise could not purchase earlier. In addition, those with more time may choose to spend their remaining credits and Faction Currency on deeply discounted items. During this final week sale, the Quartermaster provides access to all items that have been available throughout the event. When the Conflict is over, the Quartermaster Store will still be available for one extra week afterwards, but with normal prices returned.


The Conflict Ends

After a month-long period, the Conflict event ends. As it closes, so do the relevant challenges and the Conflict's available modes. Thus players may now participate exclusively in Quick Play or Instant Action, but the Battlefront mode is over until a new Conflict begins.

A winner is officially announced. The winner is determined by which faction has the most Dominance Points, a score that directly reflects how effective said faction was at maintaining control of the most important locations across the galaxy. This value is determined by comparing the Conflict Points both factions held as their final tally. Entertaining statistics are provided, such as the number of players that fought for each faction, the number of matches that were played, the number of heroes each faction defeated, and more.

With the Conflict over, it's finally time to reward participating players with a final sendoff. All participants receive a reward pack with cosmetic items exclusive to the faction they fought for as well as a large sum of credits to help them prepare for the next Conflict's Quartermaster Store or any equipment and loadout purchases. Every player receives the same base amount of credits and cosmetics, but their extra rewards increase based on how much they contributed to their faction's performance. For example, players could be given a Tier Based Ranking on how they helped their faction, and subsequently receive that Tier's reward box.

After witnessing the Conflict's end and receiving their rewards, players may now return to the game's Quick-Play online modes, or Instant-Action offline modes. There they may use and display their hard-earned faction rewards and represent the side they fought for. In these modes, they can continue earning credits as they prepare for the next Conflict event. At this point, the game's service managers will have already determined which factions and maps the next conflict will focus on, perhaps taking an opportunity to introduce a new map or hero to the game, alongside easily produced Faction Cosmetics. The break between Conflict events should be at least four weeks.


Part III: Microtransactions

Now, I'm going to use a word we all hate, Microtransactions. For a live service type game like the one I am describing, microtransactions in a manner similar to Overwatch but with more options are ideal. In order to keep all players together experiencing the same maps, heroes, and rewards, a microtransaction system that allows users to purchase various cosmetics is present in this design.

There are two primary microtransactions methods present in this design.

Purchasing Faction Currency

During a Conflict event, and after choosing a faction to fight for, players can purchase faction currency in bulk. With this option, players that are willing to spend money to help support the game's free ongoing content can purchase a sum of faction currency from as low as 5 currency, to as high as 75 currency. With this system, players who are unable to put in enough game time to unlock their favorite cosmetics can choose instead to purchase Faction Currency directly and then use the Quartermaster Store to procure their desired items. When they purchase faction currency with this method, it does not expire when the Conflict ends and instead remains in their account forever throughout all planned Conflicts. In addition, they may choose at any time to convert the currency directly into credits. Below is an example of how these microtransactions would be tiered:

Microtransactions: Faction Currency

  • $4.99 for 5 Faction Currency
  • $9.99 for 15 Faction Currency
  • $19.99 for 40 Faction Currency

Purchasing Cosmetic Bundles

The second method of microtransaction purchasing available in this design is Cosmetic Bundles. Cosmetic Bundles are distinct packs that can be purchased directly without a currency in between. These packs, similarly to the mobile game Galaxy of Heroes, offer specific items in a bundle. These bundles, purely cosmetic, are themed around a Faction, Hero, or even a Vehicle. These packs contain several guaranteed items, like a Hero Skin or Armor Design, but also include randomly selected extras. No duplicates are allowed and players will be warned if they already have any of the cosmetics available in these packs. Significantly, these packs need not limit themselves to content in the current conflict, so players can choose to purchase a Cosmetic Bundle with content from a faction that they are not fighting for without having to wait for said faction to appear in a Conflict Event and having to choose them simply for the cosmetics they desire. Any and all cosmetics gained through this microtransaction are permanent in the player's inventory and cannot be sold for credits. Here are some examples of Cosmetic Bundles:

Microtransactions: Cosmetic Bundles

  • $9.99 for Galactic Republic Skin Bundle: Includes a mix of skins for heroes (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker), troopers (501st Legion, 104th Battalion, 187th Legion), and vehicles (ARC-170, Y-Wing, TX-130 Tank) plus 3 random faction cosmetics.
  • $1.99 for a Triple Random Bundle: Provides three random cosmetics you've never received before for any factions, heroes, troopers, or vehicles.
  • $4.99 for Luke Skywalker Bundle: Includes the complete set of Hero Skins for Luke Skywalker including [Farmboy] Skin, [X-Wing Pilot] Skin, [Jabba's Palace] Skin, [Hoth] Skin, and more.

Conclusion

Okay, time to wrap up this Dream Design Document (DDD?).

So in conclusion, we have here a multiplayer Star Wars game that revolves around three modes: Quick-Play, where players can quickly jump into matches with each other and enjoy battling in iconic Star Wars locations, Battlefront, a timed mode where a "Conflict" begins between two factions and players must take a side, fight to dominate the galaxy, complete challenges, and unlock faction cosmetics like skins and armor designs, and Instant-Action, a simple offline mode where players can play against AI bots and experience online modes while offline and long after the game's service has ended.

Battlefront is the game's primary focus, a living Galactic Conflict where players fight for a faction and duke it out across the galaxy, in Large Scale Modes, where many heroes, vehicles, and even super-weapons clash, Small Scale Modes, where smaller, more organized groups skirmish with objective based gameplay, and AI Battles, where players work together to defeat enemy AI bots or fight cooperatively as their favorite heroes. Players earn Credits and Faction Currency as they play and complete challenges, allowing them to purchase Faction Cosmetics such as Hero Skins, Trooper Skins, Vehicle Skins, Helmets, Armor Designs and more. These items are purchased from a weekly curated selection of items offered by a dedicated Quartermaster Store in game.

To support the game as a live service with free maps and heroes, Microtransactions are included. These optional purchases do not affect gameplay or skill and are simply cosmetic only options. The two main microtransactions are Faction Currency, which can be earned in game through challenges and participation in Conflicts or purchased in bulk with real money, and Cosmetic Bundles, packs with predetermined and sometimes bonus content that revolve around a certain Hero, Faction, or even a Vehicle, including various skins and customization options that are also attainable in game.

Altogether, the game provides an immersive and expansive online shooter experience unlike any other. With the Star Wars franchise at the helm, a design like this would have no limits for what it could achieve and how far it could be expanded.

If you're here at the bottom of this document, having read the content above, I want to thank you for taking the time to read through my design. I hope it was an enjoyable experience that helped you see, even just a little, how much more creative and engaging a modern video game shooter can be. This is but one example of a design that is surely not impossible to produce and, if managed correctly, could make a big impact in an industry genre that doesn't see enough innovation as it stands.

Thanks again for checking out my design! - Roguetoad27

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