Satellite Down

edited in Projects
Hi makegamessa

I would like to introduce Satellite Down. In fact, this is a reintroduction because I did open a project discussion a few years ago for an early prototype. But since this version is an altogether different experience, I decided to open a new thread.

Satellite Down is an unique take on the RTS genre that has two players compete in local multiplayer. You control a fleet of satellites that are mining an asteroid belt, rich in minerals, of a deep space planet. You are however not the only one vying for control of the belt and since legal authorities haven't yet established in deep space, war is inevitable.


The current build represents roughly 50% of the final game. It focuses solely on the “space” or satellite aspect of the game whereas the other half will focus on the “ground” or building aspect. Buildings on the surface of the planet will add a further layer of strategy. Some of the features in the existing build may not make sense without imagining the other half of the game (for example, the powerup that grants an extra bomb slot). Even though there are only 15 powerups in the uploaded build, they ought to be enough to give a sense of what other powerups might be implemented in the future. It goes without saying but the visual and audio assets are only placeholders (I'm no artist).


For me the biggest challenge of the game will be to balance the number of satellites. There is a lot of UI elements on screen and with too many satellites things can become very cluttered (I have considered implementing a cap on the number of satellites a player can have). I want this to be a strategy game so mindlessly churning out satellites is not the desired outcome. Having a satellite with three complementing powerups should feel like an accomplishment and should be the exception and not the rule. Hence I'm looking to the community for feedback. I have literally no one to play this game with so I have no idea where it's at balance-wise (or fun-wise for that matter).


Obviously any feedback is welcome and I will try to handle it with as much grace as possible. However, there are certain areas I'm looking to get specific feedback on.

Balance, especially pertaining to the number of satellites: I've already touch upon this but here are a few considerations that will impact the balance of satellites: speed, cost, ore capacity, damage and HP. Please give feedback on which of these values you perceive to be outlying.

UI elements: Is the UI legible? Does the size and positioning of the satellite information (HP bar, damage etc.) work? I am uncertain about the floating frames that contain the powerup info; is it necessary for the player? Should it rather be “knowledge in the head” than “knowledge in the world”?

Bugs: Does all the powerups work as intended? Crashes? Please report.

The bottom-line question: Is it any fun? If not, could it be? Is it worth iterating on?


Due to its nature the game requires some investment to make sense of. Here are 3 screenshot tutorials.

The game

Press “R” to reset game.

Thanks in advance.
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Thanked by 1critic


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    The tutorial is a huge barrier to get anyone to play your game. Besides yourself have you gotten anyone else to play the game before? Were those individuals fine with reading the tutorial?

    A gif or video of the game play would be nice, and could motivate players to invest time to learn the mechanics.
    Thanked by 1critic
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    Oh, wow, this is wonderful, love the aesthetic and the gameplay it hints at.

    However, I have absolutely no idea how to do anything in the game, I clicked on everything and got no response from any of the UI elements. You really need to give some sort of indication of what a player should do, the controls are a huge barrier, the only thing I managed to do was move the circle with the [WASD] keys, which had no further functions. I understand that if I read the tutorial you presented I would probably know what to do, but the game shouldn't be designed in such a way, it's a huge demotivator.

    I'm willing to help as soon as you have another build up, you can also join the MGSA Discord server at if you want to test the MP. You need a gentle in-game tutorial of some sort.
  • Thanks for the advice @flobar. I've attached a video to give an indication of the game in motion. To answer your questions, I have played this with my brother in law when it was still in its prototype phase. It was also on display at an event and a few people got to play it there. But this was some years ago and even though the core gameplay loop is still there it has become significantly more advanced. Like I mentioned in the introduction, I am not surrounded with people that play games (my wife gave it a shot but she can't get a cursor over an icon unless it's Facebook or some such), so it has been a while. I guess I should have made the game more readily available as I developed it. And to be honest this is advice I have already come across on these forums so I can only blame myself. Since i don't have an in-game tutorial yet, I though it best to take the screenshot route. Clearly I will have to work on an in-game tutorial. This is no excuse but it's worth noting that this is strategy game and one I like to think of as rather unique so even with the best of tutorials it will take more time (even if only slightly) to understand than some other games.
  • Thanks for the response @critic. I'm happy to hear it created a good initial impression. Flobar raised the same concerns as you so I mentioned to him that I will have to work on an in-game tutorial.
    Thanked by 1critic
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    I have updated the build to include a light in-game tutorial. It's not very detailed but should be enough to get players going. I've also added a build icon that indicates when a player has enough ore to build a satellite. @flobar and @critic, if I can be so forward, I'll appreciate it greatly if you guys can have another crack at your convenience.
    Thanked by 1critic
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    Hey, I played a bit and the tutorial makes a lot of difference, some thoughts are below.

    [-]Would be nice if you made the second player AI controlled, I know I will never share a keyboard with someone with my lifestyle and networking is complicated, so AI control makes sense to me.
    [-]Game seems not to have progression levels built into it, adding concepts like the ones mentioned below can help with that.
    [-]You need to limit the satellite numbers somehow, maybe introduce more orbits and only allow a set number of satellites per orbit, this could be tied to ground upgrades.
    [-]You could limit the number of orbits according to ground control level.
    [-]Making higher orbits have more rewards seems logical to me, it will introduce a progression of some sort, you start with access to low orbits which have limited and poor resources and with upgrades allow higher orbits with better resources.
    [-]Weapons could be 'researched' later instead of being available from the start.
    [-]There certainly is a feeling that the player is constantly working to have everything functioning.
    [-]There is a bug after the player wins a level, the pop up box with "GAME OVER: Player 1 wins" keeps popping up.

    Really nice game, there are a lot of concepts to keep the player busy, the player constantly needs to be engaged in the game, presentation is nice. However, I think you need a more concrete way of progression, make the player progress for all those features that you have, right now it feels like everything is available from the start and that progression is just a matter of time. You should also try and improve the tutorial a bit, it's sufficient but a bit too dense by the time it ends, popping up the relevant cards once the features need to be used and marking the elements that the tutorial is referencing would help with this.
  • Thanks for taking the time to play, @critic, I really appreciate the feedback. I will respond to your comments in turn.

    [-] Playing multiplayer on a single keyboard is only a temporary solution, if not ideal. Implementing AI for singleplayer and networking for multiplayer is the end-goal but for now I'm only looking to get the core mechanics in place. However, if it prevents people from trying the game, I will have to consider making it a priority.
    Should I take your comment here to mean that you didn't play the game against another player?

    [-] The intention was for the powerups to serve as progression impetus. Having your satellites survive (orbit at least three times) and upgraded with three powerups should be considered an achievement. Having them equip three complementing powerups even more so. I'll explain more further down.

    [-] I agree with you on having a cap on the number of satellites. As I explained in the introduction post, not only does having too many satellites on screen lead to clutter, but it also doesn't lend itself to a considered approach to gampelay. The initial build had three orbits but, again, due to limited screen real estate, things became a bit cluttered. I also didn't feel that having an extra orbit contributed much gameplay wise.
    It's not clear to me how you think extra orbits will enhance the game. Is it tied to your idea of having more progression in the sense that the satellites have extra “steps” to climb to reach the highest orbit?

    [-] Even though I'm not sold on increasing the number of orbits, I do think it's a good idea to link the satellite cap to ground/building upgrades. Other “fleet-wide” upgrades can also be tied to buildings such as reducing the cost of building satellites or having additional queue slots.

    [-] The idea behind having an inner and outer orbit was to give players a choice every time they build a new satellite. Although it's true that the outer orbit is closer to the asteroids and therefore have better resource opportunities, satellites in the inner orbit is considerably faster and therefore can equip powerups faster in comparison. Building satellites in the outer orbit can therefore be seen as a safer option as oppose to the inner, more aggressive option. I believe this adds an extra strategic layer. Deciding in which orbit to build will depend on a variety of factors including what the opponent is up to with his/her satellites.

    You proposed an “orbit tier system”, if you will, in which satellites start out at the inner orbit and progress through to outer orbits with each orbit transition providing better benefits. Although this will provide an extra progression layer, I do think that it's rather linear and does not feed into what your opponent is doing. Also, I don't see how it is really different from the existing progression; equipping powerups by completing successive orbits provide benefits, including abilities to gather resources more effectively. Like I mentioned earlier, the true progression lies in the player's ability to manage resources effectively to the extent that satellites equip powerups with a lot of synergy. To my mind, static progression, like in most RPGs, in which abilities get incrementally better leads to players always selecting the most optimized builds. In Satellite Down, the player have control over his/her satellite powerups only in as much as he/she has control over the resource system. Ultimately, the plan is to have a system similar to Hearthstone where the player can select a number of powerups he/she wish to take into the game thereby handing more control to the player.

    Perhaps I still don't understand what you meant with a lack of progression but I tried to explain here why I think the game does have a nuanced progression system.

    [-] The intention was for all satellites to start out as a jack of all trades and then to specialize from there. So even if you choose to have a fleet of mining orientated satellites (utility/purple powerups) they can still defeat opponent satellites if well coordinated. I think it lends to more variety. A satellite with attack (red) powerups are, however, a different beast so I think reward is still there.

    [-] The feeling of having to juggle priorities is what I want the player to experience so it's nice to hear this.

    [-] I'll implement a more elegant “game over” screen soon.

    Hopefully I didn't come across as too defensive about the game. I'd like to think I gave reasoned responses to some of your concerns. Anyway I would like to keep the conversation going if you're up for it. Thanks once more.
  • Hey, you do come across as defensive to me, but that doesn't matter, as long as you are actually open to feedback and take it into consideration.

    I'm not sure what platform you are targeting here, you speak about screen space, which truly would be an issue if you are going mobile, but if this is targeted at a PC market, you can easily triple the stuff that you have on the screen. Also going for the PC market I would seriously consider using the mouse as the primary input rather than the keyboard. If you are going for mobile, I would increase the size of all those power-up and other boxes on the satellites.

    So I suppose it makes a huge difference what your target platform is, in a PC scenario I seriously see no issue with having up to 10 orbits in place and there are a lot of other different considerations based on the platform.

    And to answer your question, yes, I played the game alone, I have nobody to share a keyboard with and it would be awesome if you put a simple AI in.
  • I haven't thought about going to mobile or any specific platform for that matter. It's on PC now only because I'm developing on a PC. I thought things were getting a bit crowded on screen so it's encouraging to hear you feel there's more room.
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    You can do a lot on PC, different UI layers, different zoom levels, abstraction levels, context sensitive UI elements, menus with depth or branching menus, grouping...

    To me, what you have is borderline too busy for mobile and pretty light for the PC, the mouse is not even used ATM.
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