While Deorc Enterprise does not have the resources to produce a full immersion 3D graphical MMO, we believe that we have created an real-time strategic game which has several diverse design approaches when compared to others in this same genre. So if you want a graphically intensive first person shooter game, then Dark Expanse is not for you. However, if you want a complex space strategy game with an easy to use interface, then Dark Expanse is something that will provide you a long-term challenge.
Dark Expanse is also unusual in that it is an unrestricted free-to-play (F2P) browser-based space game. There are no restrictions to any game content. Revenue is generated through micro-transactions in the form of bonuses which enhance the commander's abilities.
First, we do not have a research development tree. For example, in some game designs, you might need 5 levels of laser technology before you can build a laser cannon. Within Dark Expanse, the player is free to improve any of the technologies, whenever they want, and in any order they want. Therefore, the player determines which technologies are important to their strategy and is not locked into something determined by the game developer.
Also, many games have combat units that are stamped from a mold. Meaning all ships or planetary defenses of a certain class are exactly the same. Within Dark Expanse, each combat unit is unique. Therefore, a Destroyer built on planet A, with a Ship Weapons Technology of 1000, is not the same as a Destroyer built on planet B, with a Ship Weapons Technology of 3000. This is because each combat unit reflects the level of technology of the producing planet.
Because each combat unit is unique, there is persistent combat damage. By this I mean, each unit has a chance of getting damaged during combat, and that damage persists until it is repaired. Which leads us to another concept which we believe is special to a browser based strategy game. Individual combat units can be sent to the shipyard for maintenance so the combat damage can be repaired. Also, a unit that had previously been built, with a lesser technology, can be sent to the shipyard to be retrofitted. This makes Dark Expanse different because in many games, the combat unit is either alive or dead. There is no in between.
Another deviation is, that for all items, the cost and build times remain consistent. Many similar style games increase the build times and cost for each level of an item. So it takes longer and longer to build that next level of research and that next level consumes more resources as well.
Surprisingly, several space based games have a flat two dimensional universe. The Dark Expanse universe has randomly placed stars within a three dimensional environment. The star map is displayed relative to the fleet's location, and fleets in transit are displayed on tracks that show their progress.
One of the main things that makes Dark Expanse unique is how ship travel is handled. The distance a fleet can travel is based on the best planetary astrogation for each star. Therefore, before your fleet is able to leave the star system, you will need to raise a planet's Astrogation to the same level as the distance of the star your fleet is trying to reach. Another option is that if you are a member of a federation, and one of the federation member's astrogation spheres overlaps the star where your fleet is located, then you will be able to use their astrogation system to travel between the stars.
Since each ship is unique, each ship has it's own propulsion statistic. Each fleet travels at the speed of the slowest ship. Therefore, the time to traveling between two stars depends on the speed of the ships and the distance between the stars. Some games, with their two dimensional universe, have fixed standard travel times.
Within Dark Expanse, the attacking fleet can set it's level of commitment. This means you can tailor your attack. When in combat, once your attacking fleet exceeds it's level of commitment, the fleet retreats. Right now, the defending fleets do not have a level of commitment but we are looking to change that in a future enhancement.
Basically, there are two types of invasion. Basic invasion allows another player to capture the planet with little damage. However, anything produced on the captured planet has a increased cost. The second option, is Genocide. Like invasion it captures the planet but does severe damage and kills off all the population. Before the planet can become productive, it must be recolonized with the invaders population. We believe most games would allow you to capture a planet, but not provide an option that allows the original population to be wiped out.
There are several other concepts that makes Dark Expanse different. However, I've only listed what I believe to be the major differences here. There are more concepts on the future enhancements list that will continue to make Dark Expanse innovative for this category of game.