games design

Judging Game Ideas: Galaxy Trader

(if you haven’t read the main post explaining this, read this first)


  • Author: (tony.almazan at
  • Title: Galaxy Trader
  • Type: Casual mutliplayer Facebook game
  • Word count: 373 words


Ever wanted to be filthy rich and travel the galaxy? Now here is your chance, you have been fortunate enough to have a rich uncle loan you some cash to fulfill your dreams. With enough cash to buy your first space ship travel the galaxy finding the best deals and then turning them into profit.

Galaxy Trader is a commodities trading game. Your goal is to travel the galaxy and find the best prices for commodities and then resell them at a higher price. There are planets to explore and danger to encounter.

The core mechanics of the game deals with finding the lowest prices and then searching for the highest bidder. Now prices are affected by other players. If another players visits the planet before you and sells then the price will drop according to how many units that player sold. If the player buys something at that planet the price of the commodities they purchased will rise accordingly. So player to player interactions occur implicitly and not directly.

There are also resources to gather in this game. Players can setup mining facilities and mine resources. These resources are use to craft items to build new ships or upgrade their current one. This is another source of revenue for the player. They can sell their gathered resource or craft upgrades and put them on the galactic auction house.

This is a casual game where all actions are time based. To travel from one planet to another could take hours in real time. The reason for making this time based is to keep the game casual.Players don’t have to sit on their machine to play this game. This is designed to be playable on a smart phone.

The game system will have an robust notification system using email. The player can make their moves and then wait for a email notification when the action has occurred. In this email will be dynamic links the user can click to performs actions like sell or buy. This allows them to play the game without having them to log in.

This game will be developed as a Facebook game with micro transactions. The only thing the players can buy is special fuel which reduces travel time.

Adam’s ratings

(based on typical criteria used when judging game competitions, with 1 being worst, 5 being best)

  • Originality / Concept – 1
  • Story / Theme – 2
  • Gameplay / Game mechanics – 2
  • Assets (concept art, pre-made music, links to a demo, etc) – 1
  • Feasibility (if the comp requires actually MAKING the game) – 4

Outcome: It’s really likely you could make this game – it’s simple. The things that drag the scores down, especially the concept and gameplay mechanics, are the same things that you normally improve a heck of a lot just by trying to make the game, and realising that they suck (and why!).

So … if this were for a “make the game then be judged” comp, I think it would have a high chance to get through.

For a theoretical comp, very unlikely. It’s the most simplistic parts of Elite / Eve Online / [insert your favourite single-page-web-based game from 1995-2005 here], with nothing new or novel.

Adam’s comments

This is, essentially, the base from which to design an actual game. It’s more of a genre-description than a game-description (i.e. it’s too generic and vague in all areas).

“Closed-loop economy MMO” – words to strike terror into the heart of any designer who’s tried shipping an MMO. This *could* work, if you did it in a very careful way. In general, this doesn’t work, it’s not fun, and it won’t achieve any of the things you hoped it would. In general … you’re much better off making a carefully-tweaked fake (like with almost all game design!), using source/sinks.

The core part of the game – fluctuating prices – is de-facto controlled by an invisible random number generator (the combined actions of all other players – whoever they are), and you have no info on this. That makes it into a slot-machine game, rather than a trading game, and makes it very unlikely to be “fun”.

If you want to keep it as a trading game, you need a way for the current player’s actions to affect the prices they’ll receive, either by giving them a sneak peak, or a guaranteed min/max range, or fixed discount/penalty, etc – something to make this aspect a game in itself, not a pure dice roll.

If there’s any player/player competition, then real-time travel, as with VGA Planets and all the hundreds of clones since, seems to DISCOURAGE casual play. It’s not clear that this is anything but a single player game (with a very unfair random number generator, as noted above). If it’s MP, then being present at the exact time your ships arrive, so that you can quickly send off another order, typically increases your private game speed by 2x-3x compared to players who just play normally. That’s nearly always an immense advantage.

The quick-response-without-logging-in is a nice idea, but almost certainly unnecessary – most facebook users are logged in all the time anyway, or have login id stored in browser. Just give them an in-game link via email and have done with it :).

Final thought: if this were in a “make it” competition, I’d be looking forward to the final game, hoping that you’d quickly invent lots of cool stuff on top of the base genre. Unlike make game ideas, it’s very easy to extend once you’ve got the basic version working.