Galaxy on Fire: Alliances, Fishlabs' mobile massively multiplayer online game set in the Galaxy on Fire universe, strives to create an environment that encourages competition but is friendly to players who aren't keen on fighting, Fishlabs' CEO Michael Schade told Polygon.
During a hands-on session during the 2013 Game Developers Conference Europe, Schade demonstrated how players who aren't into player-versus-player scenarios can avoid them while still establishing firm footing in the game's economy and having meaningful interactions with other players.
In Galaxy on Fire: Alliances, players travel through a galaxy packed with 200,000 planets, colonizing new territories, harvesting their resources and building fleets of spaceships. Players can obtain in-game currency by purchasing it through the game or generating it by completing missions. This currency can be used for "quick fixes" such as speeding up the time it takes to harvest a planet's resources. Players can also find blueprints to build stronger ships.
According to Schade, these numerous types of missions are Fishlabs' offering to players who aren't interested in PvP but still want the ability to unlock higher-level content.
"Some people think PvP is too competitive, so in [Alliances] you can do missions and grind as long as you want," he said. "You have players who say, 'I want to be a part of the multiplayer experience but I don't want to get into fights,' so we let them do other things like specialize in providing resources to allies."
Another way players can progress without combat is by using jump gates, points on Alliances' massive star map that allow players to warp between territories — and avoid conflict areas altogether.
"You can take all the time you want."
"You can attack NPCs if you want to, but you don't have to," Schade said, noting no one can attack you while using a jump gate. "You can take all the time you want."
Players can build fleets and upgrade all items to the maximum level by using resources from the planets they own, even if they never enter the battlefield. But maneuvering the game as an observer and supplier could also help players who don't participate in PvP eventually warm up to the idea.
"Once you feel strong enough and you feel comfortable enough, you can enter the PvP area," Schade said. "Even then, if you go into the PvP area, you don't have to fight over planets [only]. The galaxy is really big."
Players can hang out in areas where there isn't much going on and try their hand in conquering another players' planet, or they can seek out more battle-heated areas. No matter when they decide to start PvP, Schade said, the game will make sure to not throw inexperienced players directly onto the front line. At this point in the game's closed beta, Schade believes there is too much empty space for this to happen.
"Once a sector becomes very crowded, players who enter the PvP mode will spawn into a different area with other players on a similar level." he said. "This is how we make sure a newbie doesn't get slaughtered by the pro players immediately. It's easy prey for the pro players, and it's a very bad experience for a new player if you enter a galaxy where others have already been playing for half a year."
"A mobile MMO you can play anytime."
Schade believes that MMOs are going mobile, as more players want to be involved in game worlds but no longer have large blocks of time to dedicate to the pursuit.
"[Mobile] for MMOs is the perfect platform," he said. "It's a platform that's always with you, always connected. You can log in several times a day for a few minutes. It's perfect because you have these natural breaks — you get up in the morning and check your stats, then the next time you're sitting on the bus going to school or work, then you have a break at work.
"In our closed beta, we've seen that players log in an average of six times a day for around six minutes," he added. "That wouldn't be possible of this was a PC game, you don't have access to a PC or console all day. A mobile MMO you can play anytime."
Galaxy on Fire: Alliances is on track to leave closed beta and launch in November for iOS. An Android version is planned to launch at a later date.