GCO is a space and planetary combat MMO that takes place in a large galaxy. The game is developed by 3000AD, a company with over twenty years experience in developing high end and hard core space/planetary combat games such as the Battlecruiser and Universal Combat series, and most recently the All Aspect Warfare games.
It is however not a traditional MMO. For one thing, though the servers are capable of supporting tens of thousands of players, each game “Universe” only allows up to 256 players; though several Universe servers can be linked to form a seamless (to the clients) mesh.
There is no instancing, sharding or waiting in a game lobby queue to play.
It is vastly different from current and upcoming space combat MMO games in many, manys ways. A short list of features and technologies include:
- Seamless space and planetary game worlds with the ability to travel between space and planets seamlessly.
- Real time twitch (no dice rolling) based action gameplay.
- Trading and exploration are complimentary and not a primary focus of gameplay.
- Twelve player races and eight careers to choose.
- Short career path with each career having the ability to reach a high rank rapidly and without an endless grind.
- A vast number of player controlled crafts including capital ships (carriers, cruisers, transports), fighters, vehicles etc.
- Basic and intuitive trading model with ability to trade with NPC units, space stations, planetary bases and other players.
- Player fleet owned space stations, planetary bases and cities.
- Ability to build a variety of assets based on career and rank. No complex crafting.
- Space flight combat action as well as first person, aerial and vehicle combat action on planets.
- Full 3D cockpit/bridge interface for all player controlled assets.
- Over 100+ player controlled space and planetary assets ranging from planetary vehicles to massive battleships.
- First and third person perspective gameplay.
- Ability to exist in first person mode inside stations.
- Ability to exist in first person mode inside capital ships (carriers, cruisers, transports) supported via add-on expansion module.
- Supports a variety of controllers including mouse, joystick, analog gamepads, XB360 Controller For Windows etc.
GCO, like all our previous games, has an open world design and with various gameplay elements suited to each player’s style. As such the game features various gameplay styles – all technologies drawn from our previous efforts.
- First person combat (planets)
- Vehicular & Naval combat (planets)
- Aerial combat (planets)
- Space combat (space)
- Trading (planets/space)
- Exploration (planets/space)
- Mining (planets/space)
- Construction (planets/space)
Most of the activities are geared toward massive space and planetary battles – which, like our previous games – all occur in real-time and require skill – not dice rolls – for resolution and success.
Players of our previous space/planetary combat games will feel right at home.
Our games have always been geared toward a specific audience and not for the mass market audience. All games are targeted this way but we tend to remain focused on the gamers who like a more rewarding gameplay experience based on what they put in.
A lot of games cater to a specific audience, though the media, publishers and developers – for financial reasons alone – would have gamers think otherwise. This is why most games, publishers and developers fail. Everyone wants to cater to the Status Quo, develop a “WoW killer”, copy everyone else’s game – then blow through a lot of money (usually someone else’s) and FAIL.
Eve Online is a hard core space trading game that caters to a specific audience. They serve that audience very well and are rewarded for it. Planetside is a hard core fps game that caters to a different type of fps gamer. Given the numbers and its popularity, it is safe to say that it failed to capture the numbers due to the fact that hard core fps gamers can get a better experience elsewhere without a montly fee due to the saturation of the fps market. Those who stayed are the game’s target audience.
And I could name a list of MMO games that have come and gone, most of them fantasy themed and which you’ve probably never heard of.
Despite the fact that we are working towards a “pick up and play” model for the game and which gradually leads up to a more in depth gameplay, with GCO we are sticking to a formula that has always worked for us. We know that there are quite a number of gamers out there who like the sort of games that we develop. They are our audience – hardcore or not.
That is not to say that we’re aiming for the game to be as complex or hardcore as our previous games. No – instead we’re shooting to make the game as easy to get into and play as possible. Basically if you can play Echo Squad SE (space/planetary combat), Angle Of Attack (planetary aerial combat) or All Aspect Warfare (planetary fps combat), then you already know what to expect from the perspective of those games since they have features which are part of GCO. Of course going up against AI opponents is totally different from going up against human players. So bear that in mind.
With GCO, we’re aiming for a gamer to invest upwards of thirty to forty-five minutes a session and come away pleased at having achieved something and had fun. There is no grind and you can quit the game at any time you decide its no longer fun. The type of gamer that our games have traditionally attracted are dedicated gamers who help each other, are respectful of one another and are friendly and co-operative. We are looking to build on that and to provide a worthy experience for gamers who become part of our own small corner.
You probably should read some reviews of our most recent games to get an idea of the sort of experience to expect, though as was previously mentioned, we are looking to simplify things a bit but not to the extent that we alienate our core audience and end up with a run-of-the-mill game that fails to stand out or keep its target audience.
Regardless, GCO will have a Free-2-Play (F2P) subscription model, so you can always try the game and go from there.
GCO is due to be released between Q4/2010 and Q1/2011. Our goal is to do a three stage staggered release as follows:
- Closed Alpha Stress Test
- Closed Beta Stress Test
- Public Release
There will be several closed Alpha and Beta stress test stages during 2010 and the months leading up to the official release of the game. More info will be posted as it becomes available.
We are considering an XBox360 client distributed via XBLA for cross-platform play, but nothing has been decided at this time.
3000AD is the developer and worldwide publisher of Galactic Command Online. We are currently only focused on the North American release of the game though we expect to have partner operators in English speaking international territories.
As with all our games, we welcome inquiries from interested parties who wish to publish and host the game in their respective territories. This would mean handling your own server hosting, billing, tech support, community relations, account management and other related operational details.
Interested parties should contact us directly for further discussions.
Please note that our email servers are protected by ChoiceMail One, a Whitelist based anti-spam frontend. This means that the first time you send us email, you will be required to respond to a challenge question. Failure to do this will result in your email not getting through to us.
Not unless we have operating partners in those territories. That being the case, there will be localized European versions.
There are currently no plans to bring the game to any other markets (e.g. Asia) due to the fact that it is in a niche genre that doesn’t work well in those territories.
We have settled on various models which we feel will appeal to our target audience. Both schemes will have some sort of micro-transaction system which doesn’t particularly favor one player over the other.
- Free-To-Play (F2P). Limited feature set.
- Monthly Subscription. Complete feature set.
One thing that always concerns folks about MMO subscription games is the level of financial commitment required of the gamer. So you buy the game, then you get to pay each month to play. Well, what about months during which you’re not playing? Or if you just want to bring your friends in on a game at a moment’s notice?
Most gamers play with their friends. Our goal is to have a group of gamers up and running in no time at all. No need to whip out your credit card if you don’t want to. And since you can pretty much pay as you go (with micro-transactions), you get to pay and play on your own terms.
Obviously a paid monthly subscription has its benefits, but you don’t have to subscribe to a monthly fee if you don’t want to. Just download the game client, create a character, choose a server and off you go.
At the moment we are only targeting digital distribution delivery of the game client.
Though the final set is yet to be determined, we have settled on the following for now. Our goal is ensure that everyone has a good time and without allowing monetary transactions cause balancing issues.
- Buy better or more advanced first person weapons and ammo
- Buy standard and advanced first person inventory items (e.g. shields, cloak, sensors etc)
- Buy/control player controlled assets (vehicles, fighters, gunships etc) without any XP consideration
- Buy space or planetary transit passes e.g. stuck on Earth and want to get over to Mars? Pay a fee and hop on the automated transit shuttle
- Buy player housing (in space stations or planetary bases & cities)
- Buy components, units and buildings for the construction of player fleet controlled space stations or planetary bases and cities e.g. building a base is not just about buildings, you still need to defend it by buying and deploying surface to air SAMs etc
- Hire veteran NPC mercs (first person marines or asset controllers) for a period of time. Will be your escorts until they expire and leave the game world.
- Death insurance. In the F2P game, if you die, your character is re-created with default settings. A periodic insurance premium ensures that you respawn with full health and whatever stats, assets etc you had when you died.
Yes. We have designed the game such that solo players can find interesting things to do, be it combat, trading or exploration. However the majority of the experience is in PVP gameplay. We expect fleet based PvP to be a focal point of the gameplay experience.
Very carefully. As gamers we realize that dying and losing your character, items etc is a very serious blow, especially in a military themed game. For this reason if you die, you will be regenerated at the nearest friendly base with default stats and some of your items. e.g. a trader with thousands of items in his transport cargo hold will himself regenerated at the nearest friendly base with a loss of a random number of item types.
If you have insurance, you lose nothing when you die.
Some characters will have a basic ship to start off with depending on your chosen career. e.g. as a trader, you will have a shuttle to start off with. Later you can upgrade it to a capital (carrier, cruiser, transport) ship that is more powerful, has a larger cargo hold etc.
Also, marine careers start on planets in first person mode. They can fly basic shuttles and gunships, thus have the ability to travel from planet to planet using shuttles. However, since you can reach a “Commander” profile from any career type, even marines can one day command capital ships.
Not that all characters can still play the game in first person mode on planets regardless of whether or not you have a ship. Just try not to get it blown up.
These assets, like space stations, are among the most powerful in our game IP and mythos. They are huge, powerful, well armed, well defended, carry a massive crew (100+ in some cases), a complement of fighters, shuttles, vehicles etc and are capable of prosecuting targets clean, clear across the known galaxy. They are basically the equivalent of a floating space station and self-contained.
So, no single player will ever have access to or own one.
In GCO, they are treated as the same class as space stations and bases, in that they can only be owned by a fleet. The fleet leader and any other ranking member have command & control (not flight control) over them, while, all other players are support personnel capable of flying its complement of assets. What this means is that a Fleet leader can order the carrier to any part of the galaxy, other players can either escort the carrier or dock with it as it hurtles through space. Since all players with flight assets can leave at any time, a carrier is pretty much a floating space station or fortress which can be used as a base ops.
Players docked with a carrier see the same outside world as they would if they were a passenger in a planetary vehicle or shuttle – free to leave and return at any time.
Players can also spawn from friendly carriers if they are destroyed near one.
Unlike space stations and planetary launch pads, carriers will never launch NPC controlled assets (fighters etc) in order to defend itself or attack targets.
This, I know, is bad news for players of our other space/planetary combat games and who are used to prancing around the known galaxy in carriers. This decision was not an easy one to make, but it is one that was made for the benefit of game balancing.
So, if you were see a carrier out in space, it is either fleet controlled or manned by one of the devs or testers.
Yes. If you have played our most recent game, All Aspect Warfare, then you already know how our multi-person asset technology works. In GCO, multiple players can be in any asset depending on the configuration of that asset. For example a trader with a large transport can have a vast number of players on board.
The first planned game add-on (being developed in tandem with the game) will also add first person gameplay inside ships as well. See below.
Not in the first game release. However this feature was planned from the onset, but due to the large amount of resources required to create 3D assets and levels for all the twenty-eight capital (carriers, cruisers, transports) ships in the game, it was spawned off as a separate [paid] add-on. Once released, players will be able to exist in first person inside capital ships, as you would outside the game world.
You can view levels of an Engstrom class carrier which was created for the [no longer in development] KnightBlade space combat game we were going to do before GCO. That technology will form the basis of this “in-ship” level add-on due out hopefully within a year of the game’s first release. So basically this tech planned for KnightBlade is going into GCO as an add-on instead of being released as a standalone game.
Only if you are a fleet leader – in which case you are leader of a fleet of players to the extent that you are the planner of the fleet operations.
In GCO, you can only own and operate a single ship, though you can upgrade it, change it etc if you have the resources to do so.
Yes, some ship types can be upgraded with better weapons, engines, reactors etc.
While in space, you can fly to any point in the known galaxy either in real-time or by using Hyperdrive FTL drives. The various starsystems are linked via various jump anomalies such as jump gates, wormholes and fluxfields.
On planets, you can just Dynamic Jump Pads to instantly transport between between bases and cities or you can drive and fly if you have the means to do so.
Basically you can go anywhere in the game universe. For example you can fly to a planet, land, exit the craft, do some exploration, trade, maybe combat etc. And if you survive, get back in your ship, travel back to space etc.
And if you are part of a fleet or have other players in your capital ship, then you can pretty much wreak havoc and mass mayhem on enemy forces wherever your fleet lands or engages in combat.
No. We wanted the game to be fun, not work.
Quests? Seriously? Uhm, no.
The game world is open and you are free to create your own adventure as you see fit, either solo or with other players. e.g. The Gammulans are hostiles to Terrans. So as a Terran, you can choose to engage NPC or human player Gammulan assets in space or on planets solo or as part of a fleet.
Things you can do in the game include trading, exploring, combat, building etc. It is a very large and dynamic game world and it is highly unlikely that you won’t find something to do.
Most of the biggest battles in our games revolve around the capturing and holding of space stations, cutting off parts of the galaxy from others, taking out planetary bases and assets etc. Remember, this is a military themed combat action game so the focus is on blowing stuff up – for the most part.
Traveling through space en-route to somewhere else and your path takes you through a contested area with a waging battle? Do you sneak on through or help out and hopefully gain some XP or GalCreds for your troubles? Are you a trader with an arms cache on board? Well then, looks like you just became an arms dealer.
As a marine, are you running around on an Earth base that sees little or no action, but there’s a battle waging over on Mars? Get over there. And bring all the weapons you can lay your hands on.
Is a Terran player fleet of ships with massive firepower mounting an offensive deep into hostile territory? Sign up and go along for the glory. Are you a marine stuck on a planet but want to join in? Hop a ride. Yes you can.
Our games are notorious for being massive, open world and limited only by your imagination. GCO is no different.
Its not that kind of game. In GCO you create a character race and then choose a career. You destroy other assets or players to gain Experience Points (XP). The number of XP determines your rank and the rank determines your ability to perform some actions. e.g. at a high rank you will be able to create a variety of assets including weapons, personal items, crafts or even build an entire space station, city or base from the ground up.
Yes, we call them fleets. You will be able to create or join a fleet and thus be able to group with your fleet in a variety of engagements.
At the moment no. We are still thinking this one through. The game is primarily a military game and with only a few non-military career trees (e.g. trader, scientist). For this reason, since every player belongs to a specific race and has a specific career, allowing the customization of the character or asset could cause some aesthetic and ranking issues. e.g. all the marines have the same uniform and wear head gear. So there is no face or uniform customization requirement.
No. This is an open world game in which each server instance runs the entire game universe and only supports 256 players per server instance.
Research has shown that most MMO gamers tend to play with a select group of friends. So in our design, apart from our desire to keep the servers robust and streamlined, we felt that fewer players per server improves the gameplay experience.
Servers can also be linked together via jump anomalies. So for example you can join a specific server but transition to another server for whatever reason (e.g. your friend is playing on it) via a jump anomaly without logging off and as long as the target server is not full.
Yes. It is an open world dynamic combat environment. Whether or not you are playing or there are people on the server, the world is still being processed. For example if you exit a battle that was waging and during that battle a Terran space station is captured by the Gammulans, there is a good chance that by the time you log back on, the station would have been liberated or still be Gammulan occupied.
There is no instancing whatsoever.
If your fleet builds a base on a planet somewhere and it is not properly defended (by NPC controlled defense assets or players) it can be destroyed at any time – whether or not you are on the server. However if you planned ahead and deployed defense assets, it makes it a lot harder for any hostile force to overwhelm and destroy it. Such is the nature of war.
Even the default stations, bases and cities can be destroyed, rebuilt (all such assets can auto-rebuild over time), captured, liberated etc.
While trading is not the primary focus of the game, it does have a very basic player driven economy for those aspiring traders.
For example player traders can trade items between players, space stations, planetary bases and cities while other careers cannot. So if there are no traders on the server, once default resources run out, thats it.
Another example would be a fleet of players (or solo player) operating behind enemy lines, if you don’t have enough supplies (repairs, weapons, ammo etc) or at least a trader within the ranks, death will come rather quickly.
The game uses a single global monetary unit called GalCred (GALCOM Credit).
Yes. Players with the proper equipment can mine planets and asteroids for a variety of minerals which can then be traded with other players, space stations, planetary bases and cities etc
No. Mined resources are currently for trading purposes only. When minerals are sold to space stations, planetary bases and cities, they are internally used to create other world items (e.g. ships, weapons etc) which can then be bought and sold on the market.
So while you can build anything (e.g. stations, buildings, fighters, vehicles, weapons etc) you’re not “crafting” them from base components in the traditional sense of the term. Instead, these items already exist so when you build one, you get the entire object. No need for minerals. Only XP and/or money.
Thats an easy one. Download and play the following list of our game demos. Pay close attention the feature set, gameplay style,
technology, world etc.
- Universal Combat Freeware (2004)
- Galactic Command Echo Squad SE Demo (2008)
- All Aspect Warfare Demo (2009)
- Angle Of Attack Demo (2009)
Now imagine those features (and then some) and technologies with new graphics enhancements etc. Let your imagination run wild and you will have your answer.
We’re not new at this. All our games have been ambitious. Plus we’ve done this all before and have twenty years of experience developing games like this. What we’re doing now is creating a subscription based version of our tried and proven IP and technologies but with even more advancements. Rather than doing the usual two year song and dance risk of developing a new game, we decided to go the subscription route as it is easier to extend and advance a base product over the years with expansion add-ons than to keep starting from scratch each time.
Plus, pirates are bastards who have all but ruined the PC gaming landscape. Not that the average pirate has enough brain cells to even play our games, but thats another topic entirely.
The plans and underlying tech for this game have been several years in the making. If you troll the Internet or our website, you will find various news bits about it.
We had put this game on hold a few years back in order to shore up our funding (we are 100% self-funded) for the long
haul because we didn’t expect to get any help (let alone funding) from any third parties since they’re all busy focused on funding and developing their next potential failures in the “WoW killer” or fantasy realm. So we spent upwards of two years working on the tech we needed, most of which went into the two All Aspects games which we released
this past August.
Subsequently, after looking at the market trends in the MMO space, it was decided that we would resume work and focus on GCO rather than moving forward with KnightBlade (the game that was to come before GCO) and doing another two year stint with an interim game.
As a result, we have all the underlying technologies for the game as well as the framework, gameplay elements etc. All of which are present in our battle tested suite of games, including the two recently released All Aspects games.
Since all our tech engines are designed for re-useability (in much the same way that licensed middleware works), there
is nothing that we need to write from scratch. To the extent that anything that we needed to write from scratch was already done in the past two years.
Our suite of re-useable engines in GCO include the following:
- Space terrain rendering
- Planetary terrain rendering
- GUI interface and rendering
- AI & Pathfinding
- Gameplay mechanics (asset usage/handling, navigation, trading etc)
- Vehicle & naval dynamics
- Aerial & space flight dynamics
- Weapons dynamics
- First person dynamics
- Character animation engine
- Core rendering
- Physics interface layer (to Opcode)
- Multiplayer networking interface (to ReplicaNet)
- Multiplayer server browsing, lobby interface etc (built with ReplicaNet)
- Scripting interface (this is going to be replaced with LUA or stackless Python)
Most of the above have been drastically improved on for the two games we just released. Some of these (e.g. core graphics engine) will need further revision for GCO as part of the improvements; though we are going to stick with DirectX 9 rendering interface in order to ensure maximum backwards compatibility for most graphics cards. We’re not particularly interested in having various (DX9, DX10, DX11) rendering pipelines at this time, no matter what Redmond says.
So basically for the next year or so we’re going to be working primarily on the “MMO bits” such a login interface, backend, database access, billing etc as well as gameplay mechanics that are “MMO specific” e.g. trading between players and NPC units etc. And the engine technologies which need revisions for GCO will be worked on in tandem with these efforts.
Basically, the framework, design etc for the game are already finished and not subject to change at this point. Which is why we’re shooting for a public “focus testing” of the Alpha version as early as around the end of Q1/2010 and a Beta sometime in Q4/2010.
Considering the massive amount of assets in the game and the fact that, unlike our recently released games we plan on creating fully populated and interesting planetary bases and cities, adding foliage to the landscape etc – the bulk of the work is going to be in asset creation for the game because the majority of our 3D assets dB not used in our recent games, would need to be completely re-done.
e.g. The Sentry super cruiser you see in the movie above, is a revised version of that craft from our previous Universal Combat games. But those of you who have played our games can see that it is a vastly improved model. Also that cruiser was used in one of the “boss” battles in both our new games as seen in these shots here and here. And this is what the previous Sentry carrier from Universal Combat looks like.