May 21 2016

Nebulon MMO web based game.

After playing Planetarion from just after its release (that's well over 15 years), and its current lack of development, I decided to start a new project and create my own Web based MMO game.

Here we have a mock-up for a mobile device, with the central panel is the main screen, and the right and left panels would slide in.


Basic game mechanics are not far removed from Planetarion (PA for short), in the sense that you control an empire, research technology and build space ships to do battle.

Except the only real excitement for Planetarion begins at the start, and by the end of the round (usually 1-2 months of play), the game becomes stale.

So I choose to stay as close as I could to how "real" space warfare would occur, while trying to things as fun as I could.

The main goal was to change the way the Universe interacts, this is where each player would begin their empires. The current PA universe placed players in a small group with up to 10 other players (depending of total players in PA), this was called a galaxy. Travel between galaxies had a fixed base value and travelling from one end of the universe to the other had no effect on travel time. The only exception to this was the travel inside a galaxy, but then this was a smaller fixed value.

While grouping players together sounds great for newer players, in the end game it was more of a hindrance. Galaxies with less active players were treated as resource farms, and many lower end "players" are just second accounts of higher players (only one account per player) and are farms for them.

Many players group themselves into alliances (currently maxed at around 60), this allows players to travel a small amount faster to other alliance players. However alliance players are fragmented all over the universe and as such its just luck of the draw if you find a good galaxies with allies. At worse your galaxy will be filled with potential hostiles, who will not defend you if their alliance comes attacking.


What I needed was a way to allow new and casual players access to the game, while allowing more dedicated players battle for universe supremacy. I however did not want to water down the game for the lowest common denominator, and needed to have depth, a sort of "easy to pick up but hard to master" mentality.

I decided to remove the galaxy from the small grouping to include everyone. One galaxy filled with 1000's of solar systems each with a varying amount of planets, a player no longer "owns" a planet but rather resides there, with the ability to leave or become conquered at anytime. Planets in a solar system can be colonized by use of a colony ship.

To accommodate new and casual players a small selection of solar systems will be occupied by an Non Player Controlled (NPC) faction which prohibits any hostile actions to other players. This would be called the inner core. Players are gifted a brand new protected planet inside the inner core, with this planet they can build basic research and construction facilities, and provide a fall back position for their fleet.

Outside the Inner Core are 4 regions, Outer Core, Inner Rim, Outer Rim and Uncharted Space. The further you go out, the more resources each solar systems provides. But watch out as hostile NPC factions live out there.

Nebulon Universe Map

The main focus of Nebulon is to conquer planets. Planets provide strategic value for advancing your empire by providing extra resources, the ability to build structures that increase your research and construction capabilities. It also allows you to push into hostile territories, creating a "front line".

Planets provide a small amount of resources, while Asteroid Belts provide vastly increased quantities, to mine these Asteroid Belts you need to build cargo transports, these need to be sent out manually, and spend a certain amount of time at the asteroid belt, before returning back home with resources (roughly once a day).

Any planet requires workers, and Nebulon will use population as a planets key to progress. They are a valuable resource and a planets population grows once per day. Population are needed to create new colony ships, and to pilot ships.

Each empire is split into a number of sections.

  1. Research
  2. Construction
  3. Military (Ground/Space)
  4. Intelligence (Spies)

Each section can employ a Minister, who has special abilities such as increased mining output, or better fleet damage. Ministers may also include a negative effect too.

Basic idea for ministers bonus

One area I was really focused on was the area of Intelligence Gathering, and as such I came up with the idea of using spies, these spies would need to be recruited from the Ministers Section.

Each spy can be trained independent of the research tree and can be trained in a number of different techniques, but more on that in another article.

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into the new game, and I will see you next time.

If you have any comments or queries, you send me a message or signup and leave a comment on here.



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