The inspiration for Halcyon Online

Halcyon Online's inspiration comes from many influences, such as video games, tabletop games, and other MMO RTSs. How are these areas inspiring the game's design and execution?

7 months ago

Latest Post Infoslate #8 - April update by Kirk Bushell public

While many of my posts about Halcyon Online's inspiration have primarily mentioned games such as Starsphere, Planetarion, and Dark Galaxy, they aren't the sole influences. Halcyon Online borrows elements from a diverse range of games across various formats.

Indeed, Halcyon Online's foundational concept can be traced back to those mentioned titles: it presents itself as a browser-based MMO RTS set in the cosmos. However, that's merely the starting point. From there, Halcyon Online carves out its own unique trajectory.

MMO RTS isn't entirely accurate

Lately, I've been pondering the classification of Halcyon Online. I believe "MMO SG" (Massively Multiplayer Online Strategy Game) captures its essence more aptly. Games like Halcyon Online bear a closer resemblance to titles like Clash of Kings. Players manage resources, cultivate empires, and engage in mostly automated battles with others.

In traditional RTS games, players exercise control over every gameplay aspect in real-time. For Halcyon Online, the real-time dimension is manifest in how players interact. Even when you're not online, the game's vast galaxies remain dynamic. They are continuously animated with players joining or leaving, attending to their empires. Everything transpires in real-time in the background, regardless of your online status.

Warhammer 40k

The boys in blue.

I'm a huge fan of the 40k universe. It's lore is deep, rich, and full of interesting, yet depressing stories of Humanity constantly on the brink of extinction, beset on all sides by alien invasions, chaos incursions, and big green fellas that just wanna 'ave a laff, and 'ave more dakka ya git! But the depressing aspect of 40k I actually want to try and capture in Halcyon Online. If you haven't read our lore yet, I suggest you do so, as therein lies the beginning, centuries before Humanity finds its way to other cosmic shores, and things aren't looking too good from the outset.

In addition to this, and because I started 40k so young, I'm a sucker for sci-fi. It made sense to have Halcyon Online reflect that love and passion for the far future.

Finally, 40k's 10th edition ruleset is (imho) the best ruleset Games Workshop has released for the game, and there are aspects of that game that I absolutely adore, such as how they now use keywords for Weapon and Unit abilities - something you'll definitely see a parallel of in Halcyon Online.


I wouldn't be the gamer I am today without the game design and mechanics of this incredible series. I've been playing Civ since the first version, and really love the idea of setting up cities and managing their resources in order to most efficiently execute your construction and production plans. If you haven't yet read it, the resource system in Halcyon Online borrows from these sorts of titles (with its own unique twists). But the core concept of those games is resource efficiency, and in Halcyon Online this will be crucial in ensuring your Empire shoots ahead of others in terms of progression.

Starcraft and Starcraft 2

Oh man. I lost years playing the original Starcraft. When Starcraft 2 came out, I really enjoyed myself, but being quite a bit older by that point, I had less time to play, so played through the campaigns and then retired. Regardless, the game design of both the original and the sequel are priceless. Starcraft itself turned South Korea into a gaming powerhouse, with millions of people tuning in to watch their coveted finals matches. You don't get that without incredible game design, and the Starcraft series has some of the best game design of any RTS on the market.

I'm still working through the details, but there are resources in Halcyon Online that you will need to fight for, and continue to fight for in order to use them. In this way, it is a mirror of the resource-advancement mechanics that Starcraft encompasses, with players needing to venture out to take control of various places within the galaxy to unlock the most powerful units and technologies.


Homeworld 3 is nearly here!!!! :D

The most immersive real-time strategy game of all time. I spent so much time just looking at the nebulas, stars and the planets around me in Homeworld, that I hope to do the same in Halcyon Online. I want players to navigate between star systems, and planets, and be wowed by what they see on screen.

The UI and UX for Halcyon Online have a minimal design to them, so that the artwork can stand out. However, and because I'm a sucker for the beautiful imagery of space, Halcyon Online will also have a keyboard shortcut allowing you to see the background and the art assets alone, should you wish to do so.

The end goal here is that as players navigate between systems and sectors, that the artwork will change, thereby providing a fresh view of the galaxy that players find themselves in, and a constant source of wonder. In fact, I suspect some players may want to colonise certain planets purely because of their aesthetic and that imho, from an artistic perspective - would be mission accomplished :)

The James Webb Telescope

I mean COME ON!!! :O

It would be an oversight not to mention this marvel of technological progress, offering a glimpse into the universe and the vastness of deep space for which the word "beautiful" is profoundly insufficient.

I remember when the James Webb was being discussed, not long after the Hubble telescope was in orbit, and was counting down the days. When those first few images came in I was blown away by what we were seeing. These images have provided me no shortage of inspiration for Halcyon Online, and I hope that I can create art that is at least on-par with what we see in reality, providing players a beautiful montage of imagery as they play what I hope to be a successful and legendary MMO RTS title.

Halcyon Online is a culmination of 20 years of game design (and many, many, many iterations and ideas), as well as 30+ years of playing trading card games, tabletop war games, video games, and everything in-between. In addition, it also leverages my 20+ years of Software Engineering experience with a penchant for great UI and UX design.

All of this will come together to provide what I hope to be, a genre-defining title with 10s of 1000s of players all enjoying the experience.

Kirk Bushell

Published 7 months ago