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Unit customisation
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to do unit customization, what might be a good idea is to keep it relatively simple. Give the player three attributes:

1. speed
2. armor
3. firepower

Every weapon from warship to tank has to strike a compromise between those three attributes. If you give each one say, four upgrade levels, the player can decide just how he wants his units balanced. If he maximizes all of them, his units will be extremely powerful but dead expensive. If he keeps them all very low, his units will be very cheap but disposable, excellent for swarming tactics. (In real life it's impossible to maximize all of those features. Improper balancing yields a weapon like the battle-cruiser. A battle-cruiser combined the speed of a cruiser with the heavy armament of a battleship, but the armor was sacrificed as a result. Admiralty felt that speed would be sufficient protection. In WWII the Brits learned the hard way that this was a bad idea. The Japanese had extreme range and maneuverability in the Zero. This made the Zero a world-beater in 1938 but the lack of serious armor made any damage serious and the aircraft's machineguns were simply inequal to the challenge of downing heavier, armored American planes towards the latter half of the war.)
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Akuma



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 18



PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guess I'll throw in some comments.

Tackling the RTS genre is a big step and I hope it goes great. Now on to the meat of the post.

Perhaps make research and such simpler, you could have alot of it but don't REQUIRE it all. Or have specific tech trees all of this would customize units, like in a sci fi you want a HIGHLY mobile force with alot of firepower? Alright! Just don't expect them to survive more then a harsh gust of wind. Maybe break it down into aspects such as Speed, Power, Toughness/Armor, and maybe something else if you like.

Customization adds alot to things, I know if I could I'd have smacked some of my units in Warcraft yelling "Hey no..I wanted BLUE paint on my war buggy! HOW DARE YOU PEON!" stab.
Those of you who know about it might check on Warhammer 40k. Loads of ideas for ways to customize units and how you might consider approaching it. Not saying rip GW off but some of the little things might catch your eye and make you consider a little tweak or two.
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the truth



Joined: 30 Mar 2003
Posts: 20



PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm

Actually thats an intresting idea.

Why not have different units obviously, but have three customizations for each unit in the build queue(ueueueu), being firepower, speed and toughness.

Once youve researched the new unit it comes in costing 10, and at default thats how much you could build it for, however if u wanted a copter with big firepower and big speed then you could boost those stats and pay the extra. Thereby having a level of customisation and macromanagment as deep as the user wants it or near none if thats the way they want it.


I guess also you could have one consistant source of cash for everything (ie gold). then for each attribute, it could either cost more gold, or each attribute could need a certain resource (ie wood for speed, iron for armour etc).

hmm

In my opinion that would definatly make it stand out from the crowd, a little different.
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Darth Dallas



Joined: 18 Oct 2003
Posts: 411



PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2004 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just thought of something else as I reread my last post about real-time R&D'ing, then starscape junkie reminded me about something else too.

First, about the former. What about the use of player made "templates" of a soldier outfitted a certain way, or a ship hull type a certain way?

In other words, lets say you've tweaked and tweaked, and come up with a Devestator that has just the right mix of stuff that works for you...Then when you die, and you can't quite remember exactly what it had on it when you made it, a feature could let you save that ship template.

So that, even if when the USS Cannon Fodder dies, its still dead, but you can have the exact same load out it had with a simple click for the USS Cannon Fodder 2, or 3 etc for that particular hull type. It would lesson the tedium of manually loading out every single ship made with just a click.

You could also have up to 3 or more hull templates per type even, so for instance if one was a template that used lots of guns, another used lots of missiles/bombs, and yet another was minimumally armed but had lots of cargo room for gathering resources...all that could be a click away after saving it. Same thing could be applied to troop outfitting ala X-COM type equipping of men...

i.e. You have spaces for carrying items in your left and right hand, backpack, utility belt, and right and left leg thigh areas. Maybe though you enjoy outfitting every single soldier you hire, however, maybe too, there are standard equipments you always want each one to have, so you form up a template that has, for example, 2 grenades always on the belt, a medpack in the backpack area, a pistol in one of the thigh areas and something else in the right or left hands (also maybe you've given the trooper armor of some kind)...

What the game could do too is use this information as a kind of guide to automatically inform your engineers how many of what you want made based on what you assign a template to have, even if what you have in stores is not accurate to meet that count. So for the outfitting screen, even if you didn't have an item, its image should look greyed out to illustrate it isn't there yet, yet you can still assign those items anyway, its just the game will then know what to build and automatically assigns it when finished. Same could be true if you didn't even have that hull type yet, but researched it, or have an empty slot for hiring another trooper...those things could be premade or assigned as it were, then when you get them in stores, the R&D folk know what to do unless you tell them different.

Anyway, just some random thoughts on that in regards to characters or other ingame ways players could do stuff and forget it while being immersed in the action. These could be prompts as sited or maybe there can be "safe areas" set up so one could take their time in a mulitplayer/real-time situation, or yet even still, tools like template making (perhaps in concert with character prompts...a dropdown menu of your templates can appear, you select what you want and move on to killing your buddies online.

Quote:
Final thing, make it so you only have to concentrate on the units, perhaps they gain experience and bonuses...no clicking on buildings to do research, more time to think strategy


I agree, especially if you think your prone to lingering on load out screens and tinkering (meanwhile your enemy shows up in real time when you aren't looking and takes you out, blech), this is why I think templates might facilitate how often you spend on such screens, while giving those with the option to spend as long as they want there to tinker manually if they want if they're in a safer rear guard area so to speak in lieu of there being a pause feature as in Starscape.

I think if a department head character prompts you, their relevant screen should appear when you answer, taking you right where your attention should be, if only for an instant to authorize something and move on. With player made templates though, you could even minimize these message prompts perhaps, depending on what your templates have.

For instance, lets say you've given your Devestator hull template everything but a generator, an engine, or grav beam. You should still get a character prompt from your engineers or whatever, when after all other active ships have died, you have this one ready but it needs X components to launch or harvest. By having those components included on your template however, you could bypass the tweak screen, and just need to know when that ship has been made...fully loaded, or as loaded as the specs you gave it set it at.

Same could be said of a troop character informing you about the readiness of your people...you'd avoid lots of prompts to tweak if they all had firearms, but you'd get one still if you did arm them, but just with grenades or something. A hidden rule there could be none of them are ready, no matter what they're carrying, but they must have a firearm of some type or they won't be ready or assigned to the troop carrier or whathaveya.

That could avoid the embarassment of having a trooper on the ground with nothing to throw at an enemy except a dirty look when you click the deploy button Smile
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, one of the things being considered in the battle game is the ability to define units as a specific configuration of a standard template. So you're right on the money there Smile For example, you would have a light tank template and then could configure it in different ways depending on the technology you had access to.

Quite an advanced feature really so initially you would just use standard configs that come with the template. Later on though you could get access to new bits of tech in the game that a hardcore player might like to see incorporated into a new unit config of his own.

I've never seen that level of control given to the player before on that scale, it could obviously be daunting and very complex if not handled just right. It is ok in Starscape as you are manipulating a single unit you are very familiar with i.e. the ship and it is hard to actually do something wrong. With a battle game using multiple unit types assigned to multiple armies under your control it could be a lot more tricky with scope to make a real mess of your army if not careful.

Still, it creates some new possibilities, especially if the AI opponents are researching new bits for their units. You wouldn't want to get complacent about a particular opponents army only to find their standard looking light tanks are in fact now equipped with energy shields. Or maybe he gets carried away and sticks guns all over his light tank making it far too slow, but deadly at close range. Or you upgrade your own tank units comms gear jamming the enemies targeting sensors.
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Darth Dallas



Joined: 18 Oct 2003
Posts: 411



PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly, it would kinda take the form of the oufitting functionality you already had in Starscape, and applied it to every other unit type, perhaps including a mother ship template (if'n you wanted to add the ability to have players be able to rebuild launch platforms that carry assets into battle).

If you could save more than one template to a given unit type, that could really save outfitting time. However it may not totally do away with us needing to manually do a tweak here or there (such as when a new tech has been discovered, researched, then built) then resave a template type (I mean, I am the sort who likes to sit there and play with parts and whatnot most of the time).

In principle though, I think you can theoretically have both micromanagement and macromanagement under one hood. It just comes down to the tools available to the player to make quick decisions if its online play (macro'ing), versus taking their time micromanaging in single player. Both can exist I feel in both modes of play.

Maybe too, the use of using a neutral ground to do some of these tweakings can avoid the danger of getting whacked while your idling to outfit something in multiplay. That pause feature for warp in Starscape R&D'ing probably has me spoiled though Very Happy
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The battle game we are currently working on is ground based (but I do dig all the games you mentioned Smile), still sci-fi based and set in the same universe as Starscape though. It should be something like a cross between C&C and Civilization kind of, still a fair way off yet though.
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AnonT



Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 13



PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing to consider to set your RTS apart from other RTS games is to have each unit have multiple weapons, some of which can be fired at the same time.
For example, most tanks in real world militaries have a main cannon, but then have either an anti-infantry turret, a smaller cannon for taking out lighter tanks, and/or an anti-air turret to complement their main cannon. If you're going to make units customizable, having some units be able to have two different weapons to either switch between or use simultaneously would add a lot of options, rather than just big gun/small armor vs small gun/big armor and choices of that nature.
Say, for example, you have your basic infantry unit, who can carry a set amount of weight (say for this example he can carry 15 units of weight, whatever those may be).
Light bulletproof vest costs 5 units of weight. Heavier flak jacket costs 8. Full body armor costs 10.
SMG costs 4. Assault rifle costs 5. Sniper rifle costs 5. Single use anti-tank gun costs 3 each. Single use anti-air rocket costs 3 each.
This offers you a few possibilities:
For a sniping unit, you take a sniper rifle, then you have the option of taking the heaviest armor to keep him alive longer or taking lighter armor and either taking an anti tank or anti air gun, so you can cover your troops no matter what comes, or take another, lighter gun, so if enemy infantry manages to sneak up on your snipers, they're not using the slow refiring sniper rifles.
For a standard infantry unit, take either an assault rifle and heavy armor, or take an SMG, anti-tank rocket or anti-air rocket, and flak armor.
For a serious anti-tank unit, take light armor, two anti-tank rockets, and an SMG.
Other options like grenades, radar, some kind of speed enhancement, etc. add more options. This way every army can be unique, and every soldier can serve more than one purpose. It was kind of annoying in games like Galactic Battlegrounds where you had ground soldiers who were purely anti-air, no other use, who'd just get slaughtered by regular ground units, but who were necessary against air. Most human beings are capable of doing more than one thing; why shouldn't humans in a computer game also be able to do more than one thing?
Although, from the posts I've seen here, you may be way ahead of me. :)
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far most people seem to want features that we are in fact implementing so I take that as a very encouraging sign. We are currently looking at open unit customisation based on cost limitation. So for the same initial cost and the same ongoing upkeep cost, you can have 50 cannon fodder light tanks with limited weaponry or 3 super heavy tanks with multiple weapons, extra armour, shields, etc. All outfitted however you want (or just left in standard configuration).

It is a difficult ballancing act though, in the example I gave the player and the AI spent the same amount of resources. Would you expect to be able to win using your light tanks, by weight of numbers presumably? How would you feel if the super heavy tanks shields and armour meant it was invulnerable to your puny units, regardless of how many you had.

Imagine a situation where you create a super heavy tank carrying the most powerful weapons in the game. Such weapons would presuambly be designed for killing other armoured vehicles or buildings. Your opponent then fields a 100 basic infantry, each carrying a single anti armour missile. The super tank sits in the middle killing a couple o funits at a time with its unsuitable weapons. The 100 infantry unleash 100 anti-armour missiles which looks very nice but they explode harmlessly on the shields and armour.

There are many cases in history were real world conflicts had combatants with overwhelming technical advantages. But just because something is realistic though doesn't mean it makes a good game Smile Probably best to let inferior weapons have a small chance of causing small damage always (proportional to what they are trying to hit). That way the infantry could indeed take down the monster tank if there was enough of them.

I suppose this example is a bit fatuous though, you wont be able to build in real time in game (like C&C for example). So someone would be crazy to create an expensive army consisting purely of missile throwing soldiers. If they met a well rounded oposition force of mechanised infantry say, they would get thumped.

Although, if they had spies out watching neighbouring territories and had forewarning of some monster tank rampaging around then maybe it wouldn't be such a crazy army to have in reserve.
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lawsonpu



Joined: 12 Feb 2004
Posts: 8



PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this all sound very cool. i remember from Masters of Orian 2 my favorite part was designing new ships. but a majour pain that came with that was the constant need to manualy upgrade. or another game with a similar issue, Homeworld 1 and fuel. every fighter had a limited fuel supply but even when it was completly empty of fuel it would not automaticaly go get filled up. this type of behavior would be even more annoying when combined with single use weapons. say u have a massive army of 100 infantry with anti-armor and anti-aircraft single use weapons. now, 50 of them fire at enemies, do u send the whole unit back to base for a resuply or do u carefully sort out and send back only the infantry that have fired their weapon? micro managment like this is not the job of the local army's general. the general may set policy for all these situations but after that it's up to his support personel and each "grunt" to handle little stuff like this.

My 2 cents,
Lawson

P.S. a base manager building (manage base construction and research), military police building (manages a base defense squad), and command unit (core of any "army" manages resuply and reinforcements of the "army" at a minimum) that all follow the "general's" (the player's) orders would nicely take care of the most tedious micro-management in any RTS.
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Akuma



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 18



PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2004 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One idea me and a group tossed around for a mod to a RTS sort of game was more of the branching tree idea.

The idea went as such. You could go say lv 10 in the biggest baddesst gun but you sacrificed the ability to upgrade to beyond say level 2 of health/armor and lv 1 of speed. Sort of a balance.

Also abilities could be picked for example but limited other things like enhanced vision upgrade to see in the dark better but you couldn't get flash or weapons that could blind anything due to the fact it would fry the marine's eyes.

I like alot of the design ideas especially. Just make sure to have at least 100 parts for each slot! Wink
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X-Fighter
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Joined: 07 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2004 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always been a fan of the ability to use inferior units to brilliant effect if used right.

It always confounds your enemy when their level 22 "badass" unit gets picked off by your skillful application of level 1 guys with rocks.

Otherwise, you end up where a blundering idiot that accidentally researched well ends up with an impervious army; it's frustrating to have someone too stupid to use ground height advantages defeating you simply because they don't take any damage from your troops.

History holds many noteworthy examples. The legendary technologies of Athens were defeated by Spartan determination in the Peloponesian wars.
The technilogically superior Roman armies met perpetual defeat from the vicious "barbarian" tribes of the Rineland in what is now Germany, and the bronze wielding Carthiginians occupied iron wielding Rome for 15 years, unchecked. The technologically inferior European armies held strongholds in the middle east for hundreds of years during the crusades.
The hand-made weapon bearing US Revolutionary armies enbattled the British imperial forces in check for 6 years. The Confederate armies in the US Civil war maintained opposition to the US army for 5 years, despite having both inferior weaponry and fewer soldiers.

While it is notable that technology often turns the tides of battle, enough tenacity and tactical brilliance is not only admirable but often key in battles. (The best example: In Starscape, the technologically superior Archnid can be defeated if you've got the guts to find and assault their weakspots. Sure they've got impenetrable armor and do more damage than you do, but if you want to beat them bad enough, that doesn't matter!)

It'd be a horrid shame if just building the best war machine makes you invulnerable. Yes, it should be able to make the 100 light armored guys fight for their lives, but there should be some way those 100 light armored guys can defeat it if the player controling them has the guts and brilliance to pull it off.
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CidHighwindFF7



Joined: 31 Aug 2003
Posts: 104
Location: Mt. Savage, Maryland, USA



PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just... please tell me that you wont be able to build a supertank that is invulverable to all attack, even specialized attacks against tanks in the real game, okay?
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