Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What we have been up to latley.

So there hasn't been much blog activity latly. Well, that's because we've been working on the mod! lol.

Now before I start hearing all sorts of crap from people, I want to let you all know just what I have been up to when it comes to the .9 alpha. Both Doug and I agree that GDI, NOD, and Scrin are important races to the Xenoforce Mod for a few reasons. 1, they have working AI's and are already there. 2, some players will still want to use these armies against new and different foes. 3, there is no reason why these armies couldn't stand against the new things we are putting in simply because we are balancing our new armies against them.

Now point 3 is important here. On the old version of the mod (0.82a) I felt that EF, and UC in general, were very balanced and heading in a good direction. But after rebalancing GDI and NOD I can see some cracks appearing in the Earth Federation setup.

When I say rebalancing, I don't mean we're just making this stronger or that stronger, what I mean is that we have gone back and took a good, hard look at how we want this mod to be played and just what it is attempting to do. In the end it comes down two 2 very important things. 1. We want each army to give off a different play stile that speaks to the induviduality and design of the units in said army. 2. We want each army to be true to their history.

When talking about GDI, NOD, and Scrin point 1 is obviously messed up. Your basically playing 3 different versions of the same army, there's no other way to put it. However, when you look at point 2 you begin to see why that is. EA, in their attempt to make CNC3, did not follow the design and history of the armys they were making well. So your end result was that, according to EA, the reason a lot of units and things changed from CNC2 to CNC3 was that technology progressed and this is where the 2 powers ended up. I can go along with that to a point, but what is horribly obvious is that something went wrong at some point. If GDI is supposed to be the dominant power now with military bases all over the world, then how come when you build a base in the game that's not portrayed. Also, GDI has chosen to follow a Clean Tech policy, staying away from Tiberium in all ways possible (other than clearing it out of course in refinerys). NOD on the other hand took the other route. They were defeated, so they went back and hid, licked their wounds, and came back stronger than ever. A lot of their stuff is what I consider "Dirty" Tech. They use whatever they can to get the job done, if that means using a 40 year old nuclear bomb then so be it. If that means infusing their troops with tiberium to make them stronger, then thats what they will do to further their goals.

But when you play GDI and NOD in the game, these feelings are not portrayed. You don't get the feeling as a GDI player that your part of a massive military force that has far-reaching resources and abilities that can be called in if need be to help fortify your position. You don't feel as NOD that your part of an orginization that places finatical obediance and is willing to go to any extreme to win their war against their foes.

Well, thanks to our current modifications, these are the feelings that you get now. We have stuck to our policy of "No New Units" for GDI/NOD/Scrin (are there any out there for Scrin anyways?) but instead worked with what units were in the game. We tried to make these units work how they should realistically work in this situation, and this is what we got.


GDI now plays as a full military force. Their spell powers are based around the idea of reinforcements or off-screen strikes. You can build walls as GDI now, giving you the ability to make a real base wherever you want. You can call in a full base expansion team with a MCV and some heavy tanks for protection if you can't afford to expand. All of their powers are free, meaning that they can build a force quite quickly if left alone. GDI's Airforce has also been heavily revamped. The Orca is now equipped with a minigun to help in it's roll as a support aircraft, where the Firehawk is now the definitive air superiority unit it was always supposed to be. It has it's anti-air missle loadout, but it also has a carpet bomb loadout instead of its original pathetic bomb and it has the ability to be equipped with the Mother of All Bombs. Yes, this means that if you build 12 Firehawks you can drop 12 MOAB's across the map, but the MOAB does also hit air when it explodes so you must be very careful with this. You don't want the firehawk in front dropping it's bomb and blowing the other ones up do you? Also almost GDI's guardian cannons get the railcannon upgrade when they upgrade, and the sonic emmiter kills all infantry it hits with a single shot, and while the emmitters no longer do any real damage to vehicals they do have an EMP effect causing them to become very effective for base defence.

NOD on the other hand plays a lot more like a ghost. All of their buildings are now able to be stealthed with distruptors making them harder to find. Their Radar Jamming missle also jams the radar for 45 seconds, making NOD even harder to find on the map. They can drop mines all over the place, making early exploration a dangerous option for some, and they can duplicate their forces so you don't even know if what your fighting is a real army or if your just getting distracted. Most of their vehicals are now able to become invisible, and their basic cheap vehicals acutally spawn 2 units instead of 1 when you build to show that they grab whatever they can to fight. Now you may be looking at this and going "Dude, GDI has all these upgrades, all we get are some stuipd radar jamming missles and a few extra buggies?" No, you also get the Avatar Prime, which on top of having all the upgrades that an Avatar can get it also has a repair drone attached to it allowing it to fuction as a mobile repair station. But that's not the best part. Nods super-weapons have gotten an overhall. Now you have the Vapor Bomb which works just like it did before. You also get the Nuke, but unlike before the enemy doesn't know when you get the nuke because it's called from the Tiberium Research Facility. Also, when you fire off the nuke, instead of a bomb just falling from the sky the Missle is launched from an Armageddon Bomber like the Vapor Bomb is so your opponent doesn't even know it's on it's way there until it's too late! But that's not even the nastiest of NODS tricks. No, NODs most devistating weapon is the Tiberium Catylist Bomb. It doesn't matter where you drop this on a map, as EVERYTHING is hit. We got the idea for this from NOD's ending video from CNC2. All the tiberium is hit, causing it to regrow very fast. All the infantry on the board is hit, killed by the toxic effects of the Tiberium being lit up, and all units in a tiberium field when it go's off will die from the chain reaction in the tiberium. But it gets better, not only all of that happens, but any building or vehical that is Tiberium Based will also die in the horrific explosion. This includes NOD's own units. This truly is the DOOMSDAY bomb that NOD needs if it finds that it just can't get their opponent off base enough to beat them.

Having made all of these changes, the gameplay for GDI and NOD have actually changed. The armies FEEL different in the way they play, but in a good way. Using all of GDI's reinforment powers for example, you can call 2 riflemen, 2 RPG squads, 3 snipers, 2 apcs, 2 pitbulls, 3 zone troopers, 1 commando, 2 preditors, 2 mammoth tanks, and a MCV to anywhere on the field. Thats an entire army for FREE! If that doesn't say "I have help off site that I can call in if I need to" I don't know what does. And by doing all of this, it just shows how poor of a job we have done with the Earth Federations Base Deployment system. So now we're looking at redesigning Earth Federations base and defense systems. Just to be clear, we are not changing how they make units, or the build order on the units, we're looking at the buildings themselfs and how things cordinate with each other. Also we're looking at changing how EF gathers resources.

But what about Scrin? What have I done for them? Nothing yet. That's my next task. Where GDI, NOD, and EF all are human based armies I think it makes since that to a point they play the same. Scrin however are an alien race and we think that when you pick the Scrin army you should have a different design all together looking at you. So that's my next task.

I'm sure this news will be a disapointment to some of you. To others, you may be going "This sounds interesting, when can I try this out?". Well, that depends one 1 important thing. How long it takes me to get Scrin to work how we want.

Also, try to remember that a lot of what we want to do coding wise in the game for the other armies that we are making we are testing in the exsisiting 3 armies now. If we find out now that we can't do something it's best that it happens now before we actually get to the point where we have to re-design everything again because something new came up that makes all the other stuff just not work right.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A lack of progress and a few other thoughts

Well, in case some of you didn't know, we here in the northern section of the US have been having a massive heat wave recently. It's been pretty bad and I honestly have not been able to do any coding/modeling-work on the mod so far this week thanks to it. But now it seems that's over and we can get back to work.

Now, over the last week I've been getting a few emails (and you can see on the blog even a few comments) about Zeon. Doug and I have a clear plan in place for the Zeonic force in the game, but I must warn people that it is not a copy of the Earth Federation. What this means is that your not going to choose to play as one of the 3 sides from the different timelines when you pick Zeon, your going to be playing as Zeon from the UC. If we just set it up so that it's like EF, then where would the fun in that be?

Also, as far as I know, Zeon was only in the UC timeline, they were not in AW or SEED. If you wanted to be fair and set it up like the EF is, they wouldn't be Zeon anyways, it would be the "Colonies" force, wouldn't it? And to me that seems wrong.

Trust me, Zeon will have it's own reason to play that will make it just as interesting and give you just as many different play options/styles as the EF force does, if not more. Where the Earth Federation always seems to focus on making a single mobile suit that can do it all, the Zeon side seems to always base the mobile suit around the Pilots having very customized suits, and thats what we're going to try to do, bring that feel to the game.

Now, back to working on the units models. Its a neverending battle isn't it?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alpha 82B

Ok, just a quick update. After Alpha 82A came out I started getting a lot of weird things popping up in my games. Namely, units would take enough damage to die but wouldn't die! What the hell?

So this here is mostly a patch to that, to fix the invulnerable unit issue. I think it should take care of the problem, if not let me know and I will try to duplicate the issue again.

Also, 1 other change has happened from alpha 82a that's in here. We have removed the cost from almost ALL spellbook powers for the GDI, NOD, and Scrinn. In fact, the only power we did keep a cost on was the Scrinn Mothership. Why? Well, to be honest, it didn't make much since to me. Why would I have to pay to get the, say, orca to fire it's sensor pod when I've already payed to have it built and paid to have it upgraded to use the power.

What ends up happening is that the game becomes MUCH more interesting. You can hold off and fire the powers whenever you want, or you can use them to your advantage. Fire the Radar Jamming Missle, followed by the decoy army power, drop some mines while your opponent can't see what's going on, and then stealth your real army all for free! What it ends up doing is opening up the powers for players to use them tactically instead of "Oh, I don't have cash cause I'm buying units, I'd like to use that power but I really never get to" type things.

Enjoy the fix, I know it made my game much more interesting and enjoyable. (nothing is a bummer like seeing 3 scrinn tanks become invinvible and walk into the GDI base, getting pounded, but nothing stops them)

Oh, and barring any more game breaking bugs, this should be the last actual downloadable update for awhile.

Mediafire Link - Alpha 82B