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Old 10-02-2012, 02:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What aspects make Mech related games interesting? Beginnings of a Strategy game

Due to some performance issues and design issues, I am putting my main game project on the back burner for a bit, and switching things up for my winter programming sideline. (It was going to be a Kerbal Space Program inspired rocket design program, except you would be focused on assembling smaller components for more customized and controlled rocket projects, using schematic/wireframe graphical displays instead of going for "Full 3D". Simulation side grew into something larger than I want to deal with for now.)

Why am I posting here? Because I want to kick around various ideas to direct initial feature plan as I start laying out a project and begin early prototypes.

The basics of the game I am planning will centre around protecting an off world colony from aggressive forces in a mixed time strategy game. High level "Long Turns" for base building and such where you will step back for a management role and direct the colony for things like building forces, expansions, resource gathering, etc. Then low level "Short Turns" when actually engaged in combat operations.

Still debating if I want to go with fixed tiles, such as the old Missionforce Cyberstorm where one unit takes up one whole hex, and moves from hex to hex, or go with a relative positioning system on a free form map, where units can spread out or close in at will, and you're not shoe horned into tiles.

So what do I need from the community? General thoughts and input on what reasons you would want to play a game where you are given command over mechs, tanks, and aircraft, and not directly driving one of them.

Main target system will likely be android tablets, but also looking at doing this as a cross build between android and PC (Linux/Windows). Console is not really an option, nor apple platforms. (Because I don't have any of either.)

What draws you to such games? What do you expect from a new series. (Back story will be something along the lines of you being on a new colony at the outer edge of human space as a massive civil war breaks out, and you're left on your own for several years, possibly requiring your main goal as building a new FTL ship to re-establish contact with the rest of humanity.)

What have you disliked in past games? What features were poorly done or make the game a failure in your mind?

Play will most likely be turn based, and graphics will likely be fairly simple to keep it working cleanly on tablets while still offering large tactical maps. Wireframe and wargame/intel icons for the most part.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I love "tactical" strategy games, with turn based combat. Take a look at Front Mission on the SNES and Nintendo DS, which executed the formula really well. I love how it transitions into a larger battle view during combat so you can see all the stuff you've outfitted your mech with.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Customizability! The higher the degree of customizability, the more I enjoy the game.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I love turned based strategy games. I like the ability to sink a whole day into a game or play for a few minutes then pick it up right where I left off.

Some things I like in a turn based strategy game:
  1. multiple paths of technological development
  2. Fog of war, I like not knowing what is out of sight
  3. good strong AI to play against
  4. option play other people
  5. diplomacy
  6. large "worlds" at least available I like long games that I have to take my time and plan out my moves.

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Old 10-02-2012, 09:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Grendel View Post
I love turned based strategy games. I like the ability to sink a whole day into a game or play for a few minutes then pick it up right where I left off.

Some things I like in a turn based strategy game:
  1. multiple paths of technological development
  2. Fog of war, I like not knowing what is out of sight
  3. good strong AI to play against
  4. option play other people
  5. diplomacy
  6. large "worlds" at least available I like long games that I have to take my time and plan out my moves.
Everytime I hear Fog of War I think of Advanced Wars for the Gameboy. Loved that game, and it is my favorite turn based games since I was a kid. Too bad I don't rock the GB anymore.

Speaking of AW, I would love to see an improved version of that gameplay on a current PC. Updated units, better graphics, a good campain and vs. mode. Get on that would you
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Last edited by Sneaky Sir; 10-02-2012 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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1) Different "tech" trees as you progress through the game.

2) Specialized Units. Make sure it's not like "Make just one unit and you can win the game"

3) Maybe it's just me but have "unique" units in that each stat can be in a certain range.

4) Units that can upgrade and level up over time.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I just downloaded the demo for Frozen Synapse. Something like that, but with customizable Mech's would be awesome!
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I will have to take a closer look at Frozen Synapse. Thought I had a copy of that and just haven't gotten around to playing, but apparently not.

To Fog of War:
So far I have been planning to work with a fairly detailed line of sight and sensor system. Battlefield information is something I think should play a huge role in the game. And it should wrap into the AI's action as well, having it basing its response on what it is and isn't seeing. (So if you manage to hide all your units, it may or may not charge in blindly thinking you're undefended.)

Beyond direct line of sight you would extend into sensor range, which can be unreliable in some cases, false positives, unidentified targets, missed targets, and decoys. You could possibly setup a response to a massive push coming in from the north, only to find they were generated from a fleet of cheap decoy drones, and a pair of massive heavy armour units was just air lifted to the east of your base. And on the other hand with stealth and camouflage you could possibly hide a small strike team inside an overwhelming fleet of noisy drones. Opponent would investigate the signals, find the drones, and then dismiss the entire thing as a decoy. Lots of interesting options to gamble with in my mind.

For Units:
Current plan has been that there are no predefined units, but rather sets of parts. Chassis, engines, turrets, etc. You would start off with some light walker legs, basic wheeled base, and simple tracked systems, some low powered-bulky energy sources, fairly basic turret options, and a handful of weapon designs. You then combine what you have to deploy a fighting force, upgrading and replacing parts as you go. Which of course takes time and money to do.

Still debating how detailed to go with this, whether you will actually 'see' the unit in complete and detailed form, or if they will be more 'spread sheet', with real details only on paper. Spread sheet of course is easier to program, while detailed would mean parts have to have graphics/meshes, and things have to be fit with detail into a unit.

Either option would likely follow the basic form of parts design flowing through to unit design.
A mobility system would have X units of power, which translates into a capacity range and speed range. (Base weight value, max speed, and max weight. If you are at or under base weight, you can travel at max speed, adding weight up to the max then lowers that speed.)
A chassis would have X units of basic armour, Y units of space, and Z units of weapons hardpoints or turret hard points. You would then have to size and fit your items in this, which would then effect things like how much power it generates, unit range, sensors, weapons, ammo, etc.
Turrets would be a smaller version of a chassis, but work similarly, and affect aiming of weapons.

Designing a new chassis, turret, or other part would then mean having to invest research design time/points, which then effects what it takes to build for machining time and such. Building more would naturally add a few points into this, so building fleets of similar items becomes easier than a series of one-ofs.

But of course such a flexible system is open to abuse, and it is possible to build 'bad' designs. Hopefully things can work so there isn't one single system that will work perfect and have no real counter to it. But I really want the player to be able to explore their strategies and not feel shoe horned into a single option. Maybe one game you will want to run with a series of ultra light, ultra mobile stealth mechs that carry a massive artillery cannon. They would carry half a dozen shots, then have to run like mad back to a staging area to rearm and rely on counter measures to keep them from being slag. Next game maybe you will want to focus on a mix of light weight stealth recon air craft to be your eyes, and then ultra heavyweight mechs air lifted to the battle on carry-alls.

I am still debating a solid classic Tech Tree, where everything is predefined and fixed, or a "Tech Pool" system, where you have a number of classes of tech, (ie, materials, energy production, energy transfer, sensors, machining, etc) that you advance either in general, or with targeted research toward a given project. (ie, improve mobility of a class of walker legs, advance armour rating for your plating so it is stronger for a given weight/lighter for the same strength.)

With tech pool you would have 'break throughs' where things could suddenly advance to give you an advantage, and spin offs, where focused research on something impacts other projects and advances them.

Keep kicking in ideas, what works, what doesn't. One of the biggest thing is what doesn't work, and why it doesn't work for you.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Look at, IMO, the two best strategy games, Warzone 2100 and World in Conflict. What makes both fun is that they dont have huge resource gathering focuses and also have the realism that different guns have different ranges (screw you Civ) and that **** doesnt take up a whole tile (screw you again Civ).

Your units setup seems a lot like the setup in wz2100.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Have you played the Armored Core series? I played the first two on PS1 and you customize what upgrades, legs, weapon systems, arms, torso, head, of your mech, and then paint it how you want. I really like the painting and graphics option. Half the fun of the game APB: Reloaded, is just designing your clothes and car. I also really like turned based, like Final Fantasy Tactics and Ogre Tactics (my two favorite games). Job trees are fun, able to take several routes to customize your characters. That seems to be the big thing right now, customization.

What type of graphics are you going to use? If you need any 3D models, I am decent with 3dsmax, and would help you out for free if you want. Also, let us know when you finish, and I will be sure to buy a copy from the android market/ for PC, whichever.
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