I haven’t written anything on Star lately, because I have been a bit indesicive about the flow.
Mass Effect 2 was quite strictly structured, which oddly turned against itself. There was the central hub (Normandy), sub-hubs (Citadel, Omega) and the mission areas themselves. The player could talk to the team and organize everything on the central hub. From there, or from the sub-hubs the player could enter the missions. When a mission starts, the player can choose two party members, who accompany him or her throughout the mission. These choices cannot be reverted. Firefights can only happen in the mission areas, and everywhere else is safe. After the quite liberal Mass Effect, the change was noticeable. The experience felt more like a conventional shooter, since the game consists of mission modules which, in the end, form a straight line.
But. That does not mean I disliked the structuring method itself. I just think it did not fit Mass Effect. A mission could not be interrupted, which meant loss of freedom. Freedom I wouldn’t have used much, true, but freedom nontheless.
So. My point is that Star will use the same structure as Mass Effect 2. The main hub is the player’s own ship. In this ship, the player can outfit people, order equipment, talk to all of the npc:s and check the missions. Everything is menu-based and uses jrpg-style dialogue: Portraits of the parties involved over stills from the ship. This way we can save resources and won’t have to traverse the entire ship to talk to someone.
When the player wants to advance, he or she selects a mission for the main character. The ship and 3 other party members will go there. The rest of the crew can be sent to do other missions. They are organised in teams of 4 and one npc will act as the leader. Depending on the team composition (striker, leader, guardian etc.) and interpersonal relationships (some npc:s might work well together, some might not), the computer will calculate the amount of resources (money, time, and even the lives of the npc:s) the mission will take, while the player is doing his or her own. This way the rest of the team does something productive and it eliminates reason to jump all over the galaxy while there is a mission underway.
The missions themselves are of two varieties: Non-combat areas, which are structured as the main hub: Menu-based navigation and interaction, and combat areas. The combat areas move the gameplay into the combat mode, where the game is turn-based and the situation is generally on. However, a situation gone awry in a non-combat area can cause immidiate combat, in which case it is fought in the combat mode. This structure is easy on the resources, as only places where combat happens are laid out in 3d.
So. The Star should flow like Mass Effect 2: When the player is ready, he or she undertakes a self-contained mission. After that, the player returns to the main hub to re-arm and discuss the news. Next time I’ll delve into the combat system.