Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Welcome to Xenoforce Reborn Game Theory

With the MODDB page being more and more active and becoming the main release location for our mod the blog page has been neglected for the last year or so.  Not wanting to let it go I've decided to use it as a game theory location, after all what better place to go to get ideas on how factions were designed and what game style they are able to work with than from the people who are actually making the mod?

Today we will start with a simple idea - Super Offenses and Super Defenses

A staple in almost all RTS games is the Super Weapon.  In Starcraft it would be the Terran Nuke, in Total Annihilation it was again the Nuke.  In the original CNC3 it was the Rift Generator, the Ion Cannon, and the Nuclear Missile depending on what faction you went with.  But lets be honest in the original CNC3 all 3 superweapons did the same thing, they just did it with different graphics.

Xenoforce Reborn however does not have this.  Instead we have decided to take that idea and expand upon it making Super Offenses and Super Defenses.  Some factions have only one or the other.  Others have both.  Make no mistake though, this isn't a simple press of the button to wipe away your mistakes and give you the upper hand against your opponent.  These devices or strategies need to work in tangent with other factors in the game to get the most out of them.

I will go over the 5 factions we have already designed and that we know work first.

GDI - REX Unit - Super Offense
NOD - Nuclear Launch Codes - Super Offense
Scrin - Rift Generator Tower - Super Offense/Super Offense
EF (UC) - Solar System Uplink - Super Defense
EF (AW) - Gundam X/Double X - Super Offense

The GDI Rex unit is a very unique unit in the field.  It is a mobile Ion Cannon Control System that does not appear on the map when deployed.  It is equipped with a large drone defense sat system that launches small targeting satellites up into the air to fire light Ion Strikes from a single cannon at its targets.  However its main purpose is the second Ion Cannon Strike power that it grants.  With this the player is given a lot of freedom to decide how to attack an enemy.  They can upgrade their regular Ion Control System to an Orbital Bombardment system and then fire both powers at an enemy base at the same time shutting down their bases defenses with the EMP Bombardment Shells and then punching a hole into the base with the Ion Strike.  Or the player can keep the other Ion Strike and fire both shots into an enemy base opening the toughest walls up to a frontal attack which GDI excels at.  Either way this unit gives GDI a unique advantage in the field as it has 2 superweapons it can call upon to attack an enemy with, and the REX can easily help defend a base from attack or move with an army to get into position and continue to protect them from a counter-attack.   The counter to this is recon.  The moment you as a player see the enemy has 2 Superweapons counting down you need to move fast.  Find that Rex and take it out.  Its bound to be heavily guarded but you can't let that stop you, taking a Rex out of the game must be the number 1 priority at this point.  To let it go is going to spell disaster.

NODs super offensive ability is tied to their new roll as Nod/Russia.  NOD is not a clean faction, they will use whatever they have available to them to win and Russia has plenty of Nukes.  However the problem is getting these nukes into position to be effective.  For that purpose NOD has developed the Salamander Ballistic Cruiser.  A formidable ship in its own right the Salamander has the unique ability to become the most dangerous thing in the field once the OK has been given to launch Nuclear Warheads.  Not only does this power drop a Nuke anywhere in the field of play but it also allows all Salamanders in the game to launch 1 Nuclear Missile at any target of value on the field inside their range of sight.  This means if a player is smart they can bring an army to bear on a specific point against the enemy and then move these guys in to different points on the field.  Once in place launch nuclear winter against the enemy and watch them fall across the map.  The enemy player will have to scramble as they could potentially have just lost many bases at one time.  The counter to this is counter-attack.  The moment you see an enemy moving a large force of Salamanders into position across the map you need to counterattack and hit them before they can get into position.  This means each and every base should have a garrison of fast hitting mobile units that can move out and take them out before they are able to hit your base.  If you wait until they are there its probably too late.

Scrin have a unique super offense/defense option in the Rift Generator Tower.  Unlike normal CNC3 this tower has 1 purpose and 1 purpose alone - to survive for 10 minutes in the field.  Once it has it explodes causing all enemy units and structures to be hit with a 50% decrease in maximum HP for 2 minutes as well as causing all Scrin Units to move and attack at a 50% increase for 2 minutes.  Think of this as a 2 minute window that is given to Scrin players making all of their forces suddenly much much better than yours.  As a Scrin player all you have to do is defend the tower.  My suggestion is to put the tower near your main Mothership.  The reason is simple, the Mothership is a powerhouse in its own right.  I have seen this 1 ship destroy an entire GDI base.  Not just a side base or a main base, but all of them by itself because the GDI player ignored it until the Rift went off.  Once the rift exploded the Mothership automatically becomes mobile, allowing it to move into position and attack.  With a rift generator near the ship to begin with you may not need to wait for it to explode as the mothership will be fed enemy troops trying to destroy the rift and you will get it mobile that much quicker.  Of course the counter to the rift is to destroy it before the 10 minutes are up.  Hitting it hard and fast is your number one priority here, you can not let it live.  If you can take the rift generator out and an enemy mothership out before it becomes mobile then your battle is mostly already won.

EF-UC's super defense is the Solar System Uplink.  The UC is all about defense, as we work on finishing up these touches to NOD and then UC so we can move onto AW the UC will really come into its own with using mobile suits for defenses.  The Sat Uplink is a far reaching defensive structure that will destroy anything Mobile Armor size and above in very short order.  Its that simple, put one up and watch the big guys fall from the sky.  The counter to this is small fast attack units moving in to take it out.  Here is when you have to swarm, against the UC your best bet is to overwhelm the system with a lot of attacks at once from all sides, hitting it form one direction won't work.  This is a prime example of GDI being at a disadvantage against UC but NOD having an advantage.  Nod is designed to hit from all sides at once where GDI is designed to punch a hole in the front and keep moving.

EF-AW's super offense are the Satellite Cannons on the Gundam X and Double X.  These powers will work much like GDI's Rex and NOD's launch codes.  How it will work is simple.  As long as 1 Gundam X is on the field a power will count down.  When the player activates the power every gundam x on the field will have their sat cannons activated for 30 seconds.  This means you have to move quick and hit fast, but with the Gundam X that shouldn't be a problem.  With the Double X on the field a seperate power will also count down but the effect is slightly different.  With Double X the cannons are much stronger (there are 2 of them after all).  Finally with both powers it will also call in a Gundam X attached to the jetpack so that it can fly into the target location and fire a single shot wherever you designate the target to be.  The counter to the AW power is much harder to pull off as its super offense is not tied to a building and the AW force is designed to be highly mobile.  A 2 teired line of defense is your best bet.  Let the Gundam X waste its shots on the first level of defense and then move in with a counter-attack when they hit the 2nd line.

I hope this explains how we are thinking about the game in terms of end game strategy.  Feel free to post any comments or concerns.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scrin playstyle and overview

With the next release of the mod one of the bigger changes with our work going forward is the overview.  Basically this is a small description of what we're going after with a faction and how it stands out against the other forces in the game.  The Scrin as always stand out as a unique force that will play different than any other force while appealing to that type of player that simply wish's to be the nastiest thing out there and the biggest target when playing online.

Scrin Overview and Playstyle -

The Scrin are one of the most feared intergalactic and inter-dimensional forces in the known universe.  They are like locus, sending swarms out into space to seed and harvest planets for their own war efforts.  They are in the middle of a war with the Invid that has lasted for over 1000 years and has no end in sight and because of this they have evolved to be a very efficient and cautious force, developing techniques that will always help tip the balance into their favor in a fair fight.

Scrin bases are always protected by a Mothership.  These Motherships are very powerful, able to attack from a great range and produce more than enough power to keep a Scrin base up and running in normal situations.  Harvesting fields that have Accelerators in them also have special Iconic Capitol Ships that protect the fields from enemy attacks making forces that focus on harassing the Scrin Economy a very difficult proposition.

Scrin forces have evolved over time to take advantage of their enemy and to modify an enemy force on both a biological and technological level to make the Scrin force stronger.  What this means is as a Scrin force engages an enemy they start to corrupt the enemy, either by using the raw materials of an enemies force to build their own force up or by gaining information about how the enemy technology works and gaining the ability to make perverse, corrupted versions of the enemy technology to use against them.  When an enemy is killed by a Scrin unit and that Scrin unit is using a Conversion Beam to kill the enemy then there is a chance to turn the enemy into a Scrin unit.  For example when a Scrin Corruptor kills a GDI Infnatry Squad there is a 10% chance that that squad will turn into a Desintegrator Squad.  When that same Corruptor kills a Predator Tank that tank has a chance to be converted and turned into a Devourer Tank.  This allows the Scrin force to gain power while engaging the enemy and forces the enemy to fight smart, not sending small squads out to be sacrificed.  When fighting the Scrin you ever go for the kill or go home.  As another example if the Scrin Corrupter kill a GDI unit and spawn one of their forces in they also gain the ability to build Scrin Mammoth Tanks.  These tanks look like GDI Mammoth Tanks but are graphically different and have some obvious changes done to them making them look like a perverse alien knock off, firing Lance's instead of Rail Cannons and having Energy Shields instead of Secondary Plate Armor.  

Finally the ultimate goal of any Scrin player will be to build a Rift Generator.  Once a Rift Generator is built a count down will begin.  At the end of the countdown the map will be covered in a large time-shift rift that will do many things.  Scrin forces will gain a 200% speed and attack rate increase, enemy structures will lose 50% of their structural integrity, and enemy units will lose 50% of their vision and movement speed for 3 minutes.  This will be the time to strike as a Scrin Player as the enemy, no matter how well they had built up their defenses, will be at their weakest at this point.

With the Scrin the players have the chance to play a force unlike anything else in the CNC universe.  The Scrin are the bad guys, they are a serious force with serious power and are a threat unlike any other in the game.  However they are a force that must engage to truly flourish.  By hiding in a base and trying to play defensively the Scrin force will stagnate and ultimately fail.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The truth about the latest Star Trek reboot....

Or as an alternative title to the post : "Why Spock is a fucking lying bastard."

First off I want to say this post has less to do about the mod as a whole and more to do with Dougs latest podcast about Robotech 3000.  In it he brings up a lot of good points but at one point he starts talking about the last Star Trek movie, the one that rebooted the series not the one about to come out.  Now I am not a big Star Trek fan.  I like it well enough, especially the original series, but have lost interest in the series after I turned 15 and Deep Space 9 / Voyager starting coming out.

Doug was talking about looking at things in different perspectives, about catching the little things, and pulling from all known sources when a small but crucial bits dropped into the story.  Now when the last Star Trek movie came out I liked it but there were a few parts that really pissed me off.  There were things that they said or plot points that were so weak to the point of being bull shit that it just put me off.  Now putting the issue of what is "Red Anti-Matter" aside after Dougs podcast I felt like I should go back and watch the movie and look at it from the point of view of "Is there any way that this could actually make since?" Believe it or not the answer is yes and once you see it it makes you just go "Fucking bastard."  Yep, this entire thing is centered around Spock and really if you watch the movie even though the movie tries to make the movie about how Kirk rises to the challenge and becomes Captain really its a story about Spock.

Let me put the Red Anti-Matter part to rest right now.  We are just going to assume the stuff exists and works the way we see it work in the movie.  Simply put they don't explain it and really it doesn't matter, whatever this stuff is we know that it causes black holes and causes temporal rifts.

So now where is the key moment that the movie go's off rails with the believability issues?  When Spock does a mind meld to explain to Kirk just what is going on.  He claims a Star went supernova and it's blast threatens to destroy the entire galaxy.  This right here is BULLSHIT.  A star going supernova would not destroy a galaxy.  A solar system sure, but not the entire galaxy.  THEN he go's on to say that the Vulcans and the Federation try and go to help the Romulans as their planet is the next to get hit by the blast wave and destroy it.  What the hell?  If a star did go supernova then a lot of planets would have been destroyed.  For Romulus to be in the line of fire it would have been their star that went up and honestly not only would they have seen the damn thing coming from watching their own freaking star they would not have time once the star did go to do anything.  How long do you think the Earth would last if Sol exploded?  A few minutes at best?

Ok, continuing on this line of thought the Vulcans had time to BUILD a fucking ship to go and stop this blast wave before it hit, and he "raced to save them but was too late".  No shit you were too late, I just explained why.  You would have had to be building that ship before the star went up for it to be ready to save Romulus.

And the planet was destroyed but the Romulan Mining Ship and Spocks Red-Matter ship were fine?  This shit does not make sense!  But I have figured it out, follow me here and you'll see how this works.

Now, lets ignore Spock for a moment.  He's old, he won't mind.  He's used to it.  From what the Romulan Mining Ship tells us what parts of Spocks story hold up?  They obviously blame Spock specifically for not saving their planet.  They also blame the Federation, so obviously the Federation had something to do with the planets demise, even if not as directly.  But they are more pissed at Spock!  Hell technically they are more pissed at the Klingons as well as they attacked the klingons first and destroyed 20-something bird of preys according to the Lieutenant Ohora says.  So what we know is whatever happend it dealt with the Klingons, with Spock, and with the Federation.

We also know from Star Trek - The Next Generation that Spock has been on Romulus for a very long time trying to change the Romulans from the inside.  It was one of the 2 parters they had, season 4 or 5 I think.  Point is whatever happens in the future takes place after Next Generation at the least, probably after Voyagers time line.

Ok, now to the part I was talking about before.  If we take what we know and apply it forward what conclusion can we come to?  The problem is everyone believes what Spock says cause he's Spock and it sounds good.  But thats all it is, it's talk.  And really he only tells Kirk.  I'm saying that Spock has known Kirk for such a long time that he simply knows how to get Kirk to do what he wants.  Kirk is a great leader, he's cunning and charismatic.  He knows how to win no matter what the odds.  If he's in a situation that he can't win he doesn't just stand there and take it, he changes the situation.  Thats why he got in trouble with the test at the beginning, he knew he wasn't supposed to win and instead of playing by their rules he changed the rules to make it possible to win.  But he's a moron.  He's been dealing with issues like storms in space, massive Romulan ships that can destroy a planet, all sorts of crazy shit.  Then he finds old Spock on this frozen planet and what happens?  Spock realizes the situation and knows that Kirk needs to be the Captain so he tells Kirk a story that sounds good enough that Kirk will buy it and then he push's Kirk back into the fight.

Now I'm not saying he did this with malice in his heart, he did it because he felt he had to so that no one else would get killed by the Romulan ship, and he used Kirk as a weapon to do so.  So while we will never really know WHAT he did in the future to piss the Romulans off or what really did cause their planet to be destroyed we do know he had to have had something directly to do with it.  But other than that the rest of Spocks "this is what happened" story is pretty much smoke.  And hell even at the very end of the movie when old Spock and new Spock are talking old Spock even admits that he had no issues with allowing Kirk to think what Spock wanted so that the mission would get done.  But no one calls him out on it because, well, he's Spock.

My point with all of this is that when looking at a story as a whole with a series that has a lot of history already in place like Robotech or Star Trek its the little things that make the story believable.  And after watching Star Trek again I know feel that maybe the movie wasn't as bad as I originally thought (even if it still does have a few issues at least the major ones actually have a way to be true) and the next one will have a chance as it's not being based on something on an inconsiderably bad  foundation.  This also gos for Robotech 3000, I can see what Carl was working towards and I can see exactly what Doug wants from the Scrin in our mod (see, we did get back to the mod).

So the next time you see a movie or watch a new series based off of an older one look at it and don't say "does it stand on it's own" ask yourself "does it build on what came before it and take it into a new and interesting direction or does it simply exist for the sake of existing?"

Maybe next week the blog will go back to being about the mod, or maybe it will turn into a place where I'm just going to post my current thoughts on whatever as I work on the mod.  Either way if you have an opinion on what I have said above feel free to post.  But just remember, Spock is a fucking lier just to get what he wants.  And he's Spock.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Strength / AL / Class / Roll / and all that stuff

This week we're going over the rest of the information that is given to a player as they are looking at the descriptions on a unit.  There is a lot of information that is given but does it all actually mean something or are we just putting technical numbers up that make it look pretty but don't actually mean anything?

First is the Strength of the weapons and the Armor Level of the armor.  The first number gives you an idea of how strong the weapon actually is.  So if you see a Rail cannon with a Strength of 40 you will know that it's obviously stronger than a AutoCannon with a Strength of 21.  What what do those numbers really mean?  Well they are directly tied to the Armor Level of a unit.  Many vehicles have 2 armor levels, a Frame and a Plate armor.

Lets take that same example above and look at the vehicles armor level that the weapon is being fired at.  An Autocannon with a Strength of 21 deals 2100 points of Cannon damage to an enemy unit.  If that enemy unit has Plate Armor with a 40% reduction to Kenetic Weapons that means its actually only taking 1260 points of damage.  However if that Plate Armor only has an Armor Level of say 10 that means its armor hp is only 1000 and that Autocannon will punch right through it damaging the frame by 260 points of damage and completely ruining the Plate Armor for further attacks.   So in this situation if the Frame AL is also 10 it would only have 740 HP left (assuming the frame doesn't also reduce damage at all).  A second shot would take this unit out easy.  However same situation with the Rail Cannon it would do 4000 points of Rail Damage to the enemy unit.  The first 1000 would be stopped by the armor and the rest of the 3000 points of damage would destroy the frame, a single shot would destroy the enemy target!

You may be thinking to yourself "why would I build anything but Rail units in this beautiful world?"  Same situation, but say you were fighting a swarm of Pitbulls.  I can buy 3 Titan Tanks for the cost of 1 Mammoth Mk 4.  Each shot the Titan Tank fires will destroy a Pitbull just as quickly as it would be destroyed by the Mammoth tank.  Thats because the Pitbull would be considered a swarm unit.  They have weak armor but pack a bit of a punch for the cost and are fast.  That Mammoth Mk4 will take a lot of damage trying to fight off 10 or 12 pitbulls by shear numbers but the Titans would not only kill 3 off before the Pitbulls are in range (compared to the Mammoth killing 1) but would hold up just as well against the Pitbulls kenetic based weapons because both the Mammoth and the Titan have armor that is designed to stop Kenetic types of damage.  Of course if we went the other direction and these units were going up against an enemy using lasers like NOD it would be a different story.  The Titan Tank is meant to be an older type of tank and the down side to this is its armor is not designed to handle Energy type weapons where the Mammoth can brush those laser shots off and keep going.

You see the point to all of these changes is not to complicate the game more than we have to its to give the players choices and a reason for playing this game.  Typical strategy games follow the standard Rock/Paper/Scissors of units.  Others it's more about managing your resources and your base than actually fighting the battle.  What we're aiming for here is a game where you need to not only be aware of what your fighting but also how you spend your money.  You may be able to roll in with 12 mammoths and win the day but our goal is for players to try and work for that perfect "balance" of cost to performance depending on their enemy and how their forces are shaping up.  If I was playing against a player that was building nothing but Mammoth Tanks as an apposing GDI player my plan would then to be to hit them with Cruise Missiles from Orcas to weaken them up a bit and then move in with a large Pitbull / Grizzly APC force to hit them hard and fast.  I would also keep a small squad of either A10 Orcas or Firehawks in the wings to use as a mop-up force.  The diversity of my force would allow me to move faster and strike harder than my enemy who is focusing on the best Armor and Weapons that he can get.  As a player fighting me if I saw my enemy building that force that focused on fast air and cheap ground the counter to that would be to look at units like the Sphinx / Griffin / and Predator Mk 3 and Mk 4 tanks.  These units would be fast, able to keep up with the cheaper units and dish out some serious damage.  The Griffin would be a perfect unit to use against the fast Firehawks, slowing them down with its long range sonic cannon and allowing for the Predator Mk 4 to line up a kill shot with their Rail Cannons.

All of this brings me to Class and Roll.  We're sticking with the Class idea though we have dropped the Repair class as really it felt like we had to force units into these rolls instead of them just naturally falling into them.  That means the units you see are either going to be Assault or Offense.  What this means is simple, an Offense unit has had their frames reinforced giving them more HP and allowing them to survive in the field longer.  An Assault unit has had it's range and weapon output increased giving it more power and the ability to strike first in a normal situation.  The other side of the Class is its Type : Troop / Fast Attack / Heavy Support.  The idea here is simple, if it's a Troop its a normal type of unit.  if it's Fast Attack its able to move at very fast speeds compared to normal units.  Finally Heavy Support may be a bit slower but it's the big guns, able to deal a massive amount of damage out.

Roll is the last part of this story.  The roll of the unit has 2 parts to it, the Roll and the Notes.  The Roll is a suggested way of using the unit, so if a unit says under it's roll that it's "Experimental Anti-Scrin" unit this should clue you in to what its used for.  This means its weapons are designed to deal extra damage to organic types of enemies so the Scrin and enemy infantry would take extra damage from this unit so even if your not fighting the Scrin if your opponent is focusing on infantry like NOD can or heavy GDI Infantry this unit would still be useful.  However against the Earth Federation : UC faction it wouldn't find much use as most of the UC forces are mecha based.

Notes also help you understand either features or limitations of a unit.  These can be notes that either tell you the unit "Detects Stealth", is an "Infantry Transport Unit", or as simple as "Must return to airfield to reload".  Notes are there so that you don't buy a unit expecting one thing and getting another.

So thats the 2nd half of our breakdown of the factions.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them up or email me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weapon Types and Armor, what they mean to the player.

I have gone over in detail before what different weapons and armors are in the game but with the latest changes being put into place I think it's time for a refresher as to what each weapon has going for it and where that is important.

Cannon - A Cannon is a Kinetic weapon that is typically used to deal a high amount of damage to vehicles and structures.  It is the most basic weapon type out there for these rolls.  Artillery Cannons have a blast radius applied to them.

Rocket - A Rocket weapon damage type is much like a Cannon.  Its a Kinetic weapon but it does have a few advantages.  It can have a blast radius applied to it, it can be targeting or non-targeting depending on if it's considered a Missile or a Rocket, and it typically does better damage against air units but weaker against really big air units like Kodiaks or Scrin Capitol Ships.  Rockets can have additional weapon types also, these are considered payload rockets.  The GDI Sonic Rocket Barrage weapon on the Sonic Gear is an example, at the point of impact it does Rocket damage but it does Sonic blast damage as well.

Gun - A Gun type weapon is a Kinetic weapon that is typically used against infantry and lighter units.

Grenade - A Grenade is a Kinetic weapon that may not have the range of other weapons if they are thrown they are very effective against biological targets like Infantry.  They have the ability to clear out structures that may be garrisoned by infantry as well.  Finally grenades always have a blast radius making them effective at dealing with swarming infnatry units.

Sniper - A Sniper type weapon is a special Kinetic weapon that deals a massive amount of damage to infantry and biological units.  Sniper weapons are typically long range though some payload weapons can have the Sniper sub-class blast radius to show that the weapon is specifically designed to kill infantry and biological units.

Fire - A Fire type weapon is a Heat based weapon that continues to burn or is a stream type weapon.  It deals a low amount of continuous damage to units and is especially effective against biological units and certain enemy armor types.  For example Mobile Suits without shields are more suseptiable to fire damage than when they have their Arm Shields.  Scrin Energy Shields are extra useful against Fire weapons but once the shields are down the Scrin Units burn quickly.

Plasma - Plasma weapons are another Heat based weapon that typically deals not only a massive amount of damage to a target but also have a splash effect of fire on them.  Plasma based weapons are some of the strongest in the game, but armor designed to protect against Fire also protects well against Plasma.  Plasma is also effective at overloading energy shields like the Scrin use.

Laser - Laser weapons are the most common Energy based weapon out there.  They are the Energy equivalent to Cannons.  A unique aspect of Laser weapons is that they can also be seen used as an Energy equivalent to a Gun weapon giving them a certain level of flexibility not normally seen.

Beam - Beam based weapons work a lot like Laser and Cannon based weapons.  They are Energy based but react differently depending on the type of unit they are used against.  Against exterior armor / plate armor / energy shields / arm shields they work just like any other projectile.  This means that they can have their efficiency reduced due to the armor/shield.  However once past that armor/shield and when dealing with the Frame/Main part of the unit Beam based weapons always have a 100% efficiency rate meaning it doesn't matter what the frame is made of most of the time as the Beam Weapon will treat it all the same.  This will show how a Mobile Suit with a Heavy Beam Shield is much better protected than the same unit with a Small Arm Shield against beam weapons even though both units are using the same frame.

Lance - Lance weapons are energy weapons used by the Scrin.  They are incredibly powerful, cutting through enemy armor quite efficiently.  Armor that is designed to protect against Energy weapons are only half as effective as they normally are against Lance weapons.

Sonic - Sonic weapons are a unique Energy weapon developed by GDI.  They are not very effective against armored units but do add the side effect of slowing units down and causing them to fire at a slower speed.  If enough sonic weaponry is brought against a heavily armored unit the combined power can effectively stop the enemy unit in its tracts.   Against infantry and tiberium based units Sonic Weapons are incredibly effective.

Rail - Rail weapons are typically used by GDI.  They are incredibly powerful weapons and always have a 100% efficiency rate against enemy armor.  That means that there is no armor out there that can stop or lower the damage output of a Rail shot.  For GDI this is key as they do not have many effective ways to get through Scrin Shields except though Rail Technology.



Those are how the weapons now work in the game.  Each one is unique and has it's own use and place in the game.  But the only way this works is if it's tied to the Armor of the units as well.

Armor will have 3 different ratings on it.  K is for Kinetic, H is for Heat and E is for Energy.  This means if you see a unit has a Frame of K30% H 20% and an armor of K60% E 40% the units armor is effective against Energy and Kenetic weapons but once the armor has been cut down / removed / is no longer effective the internal frame can only protect a bit against Kenetic and Heat based weapons.  If a player was to build a lot of units with this kind of armor setup they would have to be wary of enemy units that are equipped with Heat based weapons as they will cut though the armor quickly and then Energy based weapons as they would destroy the frame quickly.  An enemy unit that would have this kind of loadout would be the Avatar for example.

Armor also has the chance of having a bleed-through effect.  Some armor is just not very good at protecting against certain weapon types.  For example the Titan Tank, being an older tank and having not been designed for dealing with Energy weapons is exceptional at protecting against Kinetic weapons but if it gets hit by an energy weapon like a Laser not only will its armor take some serious damage it will also take bleed-though of 50% to the frame, meaning half the damage dealt go's to armor and half to frame.  As the unit is destroyed if the frame is destroyed weather or not the unit still has armor on it this makes the unit very susceptible to energy weapons.



I hope this breakdown of the way the games balancing system with armor and weapons.  Next week we will go over Strength / Armor Levels / Assault vs Offense and Class type and Roll.  See you then.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Are we making the game too complicated for limited returns?

One of the things we were first told when we started working on this mod from the community was that this project would fail.  That was the general decision that others told us, that we were reaching for too much considering that neither Doug or I had ever officially worked on a mod before, at least not as a team with the end goal of having something for others to use and play.  We were not part of any moding communities, we were not modelers or animators, we were just 2 guys with a dream.

One of the things we noticed right from the beginning was that EA was pretty damn dumb when it came to weapon types.  You had GDI/NOD/Scrin all sharing the same 5 weapon types and out of the 5 types 3 were dealing with infantry!  I mean they had Flamethrowers count as grenade type damage, what the heck?

Back then you had GUN - GRENADE - SNIPER - CANNON - ROCKET.

There was also only 2 types of health / armor setup.  You had your HP with it's armor % value based on the armor type and you had Scrin Shields which was basically just a 2nd HP bar with it's own armor %.  Once you got though the shields HP you would then move on to the units actual HP.   And if the unit survived for a few minutes the Shield would come back a full power.

But EA did have enough foresight to code for a more grander scheme.  You see they also coded into the shield code what % of damage could be given to the shield HP/Armor% and what % of damage would then bleed though to the regular HP/Armor%.  However they simply coded it so that no damage would bleed though and shields would always take 100% damage first, and really can you blame them?  I mean they only had 5 weapon types, why bother with the complications and mess with that stuff with only 5 types, and 3 of those types were set to minimum damage from an enemy.

Our system as many of you know is a lot more complicated than that.  With the discovery of this bleed though effect we've been looking at how it can be used for different effects.  For example Scrin Shields will now always stop energy weapons (Lance / Beam / Laser / Rail / Sonic) but only take a lot of damage from Sonic / Rail and Lance.  Laser and Beam will only deal 50% damage to shields as the shields are designed to block this.  Same with Fire weapons, fire weapons will be 100% absorbed with no bleed though but only a % of them will actually weaken the sheilds.  Scrin Shields are awsome.  They will really have to be cut though before the units take damage, it just makes since.

However we can then use this same shield idea for adaptive armor.  Say you have UC mecha, these mecha are designed so that they have extra armor plates put on their inner armored shells to help protect them.  They also gain physical shields to carry around to again help protect them.  We can use this bleed though effect to show that some of the damage is getting though to the main armored unit while the outer armor is doing it's job of protecting the unit as best as it can.  Kenetic damage can have a 25% bleedthough, heat based would have 100% as the extra armor just doesn't do anything to stop inner damage from fire on AW units.  Grenades can have a 40% bleed though instead of the normal 25, showing that grenades have a blast effect that can have shrapnel get into the gears.  Beam and Laser weapons have to get 100% though the outer armor because thats why they have that damn shield, to block the incoming shot.  However once though the armor completely it only takes 1 or 2 more shots from a beam or laser to kill the unit.

Also we can take the weapons and really customize them for specific enemies.  GDI has sonic weapons, they are the only force that do.  Right now Sonic Weapons are an annoyance, they slow down the movement and fire rate of enemy units without actually doing much damage.  Now we plan on setting it up so that any lightly armored or biological unit type that gets hit by a sonic weapon is actually going to take the full blunt blast of the weapon (100% damage on the HP Armor level) where medium armor and up only takes 20 or 10% of that same damage.  This makes it a great weapon against light units.  However Scrin is made up of all biological units, so against the Scrin with GDI if you want to really put the hurt on them you will go with units with Sonic weapons.  (NOD will have a similar effect with fire based units, however the fire weapons need to get past the shields first where the sonic weapons will tear though shields.  Then again Fire is also useful against AW, so you see where there is a trade off).

Is this making the game overly complicated?  I don't think so but it does pose a challenge when it comes to trying to come up with a description system that accurately gives the player the info that they need to understand how this unit is to be used.  Thats the hardest part of all this and the thing we keep returning to.  As we progress these things have to stay clear / clean / and true to the unit so I guess only time will tell if we have figured out a truly clean design for descriptions and for helping the player tell what the unit they are buying actually can do and what it can deal with.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

What makes each faction unique?

First, I apologize for not posting recently.  I have family staying at the house and that takes away from mod-work time.

So, with that out of the way, what does make each faction in the game unique?  Is it just the units?  Or is it the ability to use certain tactics better with certain factions?  Or is it the way that faction produces and uses the economy?  I would say all 3 myself.

Doug and I have been working on some more slight changes and tweaks as we move forward and this is what we're currently looking at.

GDI Faction -
-Produces cash from infantry squads
-Has the SDI for direct reinforcement capability or deep strike capability
-SDI and Mk4 units grow stronger and deal more damage the weaker they get, becoming better at dealing with the current threat against them.

NOD Faction -
-Produces cash from harvesters
-Has stealth for surprise attacks
-Hit-and-Run capable units gain a major speed boost after attacking allowing for quick guerrilla tactics.

Scrin Faction -
-Scrin harvesters die after 5 minutes, once dead they spawn a blue tiberium field at their location.  A new harvester will spawn at the refinery when they die.
-Scrin units that have shields will have their shields re-form after 2X their build timer has passed unless it is a capitol ship in which case it's a direct 1-to-1 reform time.

EF/UC -
- UC Big Tray expansion units produce cash through drops.
- UC have unique defenses, working much like a 2nd commander where you simply place the structure down and the structure will produce it's own defensive mecha that will work like a counter-attack force to any enemy attack, meeting the enemy in the field and attacking there instead of at the base.


Now obviously these things are subject to change but we're going to try UC this way in the next release and see how it go's moving the extra cash generators from the powerplants to the big trays.  Maybe it works great, maybe not, but we won't know until we try.

From the looks of it you can see how each side is different.  GDI has a more forward approach and needs to use everything in it's arsenal to reach maximum performance output.  However if it does it can really bring the power to bear against its enemies.

NOD with its stealth and hit-and-run units can really choose when and where it will engage an enemy.  And with each base producing stealth from the power plants it can hide a huge force and you won't even know what your walking into.

Scrin is an assault force, with a massively powerful air and ground presence they can not be ignored.  With regenerating shields you have to be sure to kill them and not just leave them wounded otherwise they can be very difficult to deal with.  And finally with their harvesters generating their own fields they can literally make a lot more cash from a single field than a normal player could.

Finally you have UC.  With their unique defensive force setup you will be able to focus on attacking an enemy and have less to worry about with base defense.  And with the Big Trays producing cash the more you expand the more you make.  Its a pretty straight forward design but one with a lot of potential.

As always if you have a question or opinion please share it.