Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ranks and their importance.

Normally in these games a unit ranking up to rank 4 is a "nice" bonus for a unit, but not a real goal. However in the current build of the mod that will be releasing soon I have been spending a lot of time working on making this a very important aspect of the Mobile Suits.

What this means is a rank 4 mobile suit will be something of a goal for some players. An example would be the Powered GM's. I find I use them as a kind of "fill in the gaps" defensive team during the 3rd timeline. Once I move on to the 4th timeline I use these now more advanced units (for some of them have gained ranks due to all the killing they have been doing) as a hit-and-run tactic. I send them into an undefended section of an enemy base, kill a few targets, then run away.

Why are they better ranked up? Well, in the original game as a unit ranks up it gains some basic level bonus's. Each unit in GDI for example when it levels up gains a bonus to fire rate, health, and reload speed. That's it. What the Powered GM gets is a major increase in speed, taking it from a fast mobile suit at rank 1 to a mobile suit that can actualy out-run most enemy retaliation strikes. For example, the only GDI unit that can actually hurt a rank 4 Powered GM that is running away is the Storm Orca. This is because both the normal orca and firehawk fire weapons that do not track their target, missing because by the time the weapon gets there the GM is already long gone. And other GDI units are just too slow to catch up. The storm orca can both keep up with it's enemy and fire the gattling guns while moving, making it the proper counter to hit-and-run army tactics.

We're working with a number of different ideas at the moment on what kind of bonus's a unit should get. This is our current thoughts.

Direct-Fire Artillery Units should become more accurate as they rank up, so a rank 4 artillery unit will always hit it's target.

Indirect-Fire Artillery Units should be able to fire faster as they rank up, so a rank 4 indirect unit will get 2 shots off in the time a rank 1 gets a single shot off.

Front line units will gain stat increases that help them keep alive as they fight. This means they will gain health, fire rate increases. They will also get a one time auto-field repair when they rank up.

Certain units will gain new weapons at rank 4.

Thats about as far as we've gotten. So yea, we'll see how it plays out. If you have any thoughts about this, feel free to say something.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Almost done balancing.

Whew, a full week and I'm still messing with this stuff? What am I, lazy?

Well, yea, but that's not the point.

It's actually a lot harder doing this than you may think, but I think I'm almost done with it. The major issue on the EF side wasn't just redescribing all the units and rebalancing their health/weapons/armor/cost but modifing the Experence System and it's bonus's.

What we're doing with the EF leveling is different than your typical unit when it lvls. Each lvl a unit gains a spicific bonus in any number of key areas. This could be anything from 10% health and armor boosts per level to gaining new weapons and abilities. Something we're looking to do spicificly for Gundam X is that the Gundam X unit will not be able to fire it's Sat Cannon until it reach's level 4.

So this has taken me a lot longer to do than I expected. Still, I'm almost done, now all I have to do are the Command class units (RX78, Nu Gundam, the like).

Now I'm sure your going "Command Class?" Yes, there are 5 class's of units. These are

  • Command
  • Elite
  • Troop
  • Fast Attack
  • Heavy Support

Looks familiar if your a warhammer 40k fan doesn't it? This is how it will break down.

A command class unit is a very unique unit to see on the battlefield. These units are unique, meaning you'll only ever see one of them out there at a time. This could be because they are so expensive to produce that only one or two were ever made or becuase it's a special charecter unit. Command units also have access to many special powers or upgrades, making them even stronger on the battlefield if a player invests in them.

An Elite unit is a specialtist unit. It fills a very spicific roll on the battlefield, and is very good in this roll. They are more expensive because of this, and if you send them off to do a job they're not designed to handel they will not come out on the winning end. Sometimes they even have access to one or two special powers.

A Troop class unit is a frontlines unit. They don't normally have special powers to activate, but they are well balanced and cheap units. They can fill a number of different rolls depending on the situation.

Fast Attack units are units that have given up armor and health for speed. They are ment for hit-and-run tactical attacks. They can be expected to get the first hit in in a battle, but are not designed for prolonged exposure to enemy fire.

Heavy Support units are the big monster units you see on the battlefield. Sometimes slow, always heavily armored and equipped with powerful weapons, these guys are great fire support units. However, they are also very costly.

So thats how things break down here and thats what I've been working on. I've also been working on making certain types of weapons more unique. This is how that chart is breaking down.

  • Gun - Machine Gun type weapons, typically used for anti-infantry usage.
  • Grenade - Grenades are great anti-infantry weapons, doing decent blast damage and used to clear buidlings.
  • Cannon - Kenetic based weapon, strong vrs vehicles.
  • Missiles - Rocket based damage, small blast radius but strong impact power.
  • Rockets - Rocket based damage, larger blast radius than missiles but the blast damage is gernade based.
  • Beam - Beam based weapons are typically used by Mecha, they are high damage output with long reload rates.
  • Laser - Beam based weapons, typically low damage but fast reload rates.
  • Indirect Artillery - Cannon/Rocket based, does an even number of points of each in damage and has a high blast radius.
  • Direct Artillery - Cannon/Grenade based, does high kenetic damage and decent blast radius damage.
  • Flamethrower - Beam/Grenade cross weapon. The funnel effect is grenade based, but the center line of fire is low damage beam based.

So instead of 5 different types of weapons we now have 10. Makes things a bit more interesting doesn't it?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

State of the balancing

So I'm currently working with Doug on a class system for the units. We've been working on this kind of thing for awhile now, basiclly it breaks down to a few important things.

We need to keep it balanced.
We need to keep it feeling right.
We want to make things fit the actual cannon of the units better.

If we can do this I think things will be fine. The biggest problem though will be the fact that we are mixing 3 drastically different Sci Fi Universe's together. CNC, Gundam, and Robotech all have advantages and disadvantages to each other so it should work well in the end, but at the moment we're having issues getting Gundam to fit properly.

And last night I think we figured out why. What it comes down to is we're trying to use CNC's system and make everything fit to that. But that would not be fair, this would give CNC an advantage as the system is theirs to begin with. So what this means is we're going to have to come up with our own system to try and get this to work, and that means overhauling everything.

Unfortunatly this means we have to go back and change the stats on the GDI/NOD/Scrin too. Ugh, extra work.

But we're making progress. If we can get something down things should work out for the better, and that's what matters right? I mean, in the end, the most important thing to us isn't the models or the material that we're pulling from, it's a balanced game with many different options given to a player.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Design ideas and the AI, the process.

As many of you know we call this an alpha of the mod. We do this because we're constantly trying different designs out as we go, changing things quite drasticly at times. Now that we have the AI in the game we're learning just what designs that we came up with work and what ones won't cut the mustard.

A few examples of ones that have to go away would be the Madea fly in delivery system for the Mecha, it just won't work. There is no way to get the AI that I have found to understand that when it wants an RGM79 to build the RGM79MadeaSummon unit and that will give it the RGM79. There reason why is because the AI works off of the idea of "kill teams". It looks at the situation on the board and then based on that it looks at what teams it can build and what will be the most effective against a priority target. Problem is if I tell it that it needs 5 summons to make a team it will just keep building the same thing over and over because the summon doesn't stay around long enough to get 5 of them together for a team, the unit it summons does. And if I tell it that it wants the 5 units that the summons drop it just doesn't do anything because the AI doesn't understand that the summon has the unit inside it. So that's got to go.

Another example would be having the Timeline research and the War Factory put together. The AI won't do any timeline research simply because it doesn't have the time, it would rather pump out units from the warfactory than shut a factory down for the 3+ minutes it takes to do an upgrade, so again we have to leave this idea behind.

But for every "design flaw" that we have to remove/replace new ideas that we didn't even consider pop up. Take this for an example.

This "design issue" is getting the AI to expand. EF doesn't use tiberium as a resource, instead they get their resources flown into them. The problem is that the AI is hard-coded to use Tiberium as the determining factor for expansion. So as EF doesn't ever touch the tiberium, it doesn't ever need to expand. Except it does as EF is designed to take up a LOT of room. We've tried to use this as a trade off. Yes their buildings take up a lot of room, but they also do alot on their own. A solar powerplant now produces 30 energy, thats huge! A nuclear powerplant produces 100 energy, so even though it's the size of 2+ solars it outproduces them. The "Frontline Troop Depot" takes up more room than a regular war factory but it produces infantry, vehicles, and has 2 defenses built into it. You get the point I hope.

So my first idea to fix this was to tell the AI that if needs a ton of tiberium in it's "home" to be considered "resource safe". This leads to the AI expanding like it should but it only does so once. I need an AI that will expand as needed more than once. Also if a player kills off the EF's resource gathering structures they won't build any more, the AI doesn't consider it a nessesary structure.

This leads to my creative idea to fix the issue. First, make the Tiberium Refinary a "Tech" structure. The AI will build one if it doesn't have one because every building requires it. It will only build one, but one is enough to get the job done. The second thing to do was have the resource refinery spawn more than 1 harvester at a time. I changed it to 3 at first and it was such a dramatic change in the AI's behavior that EF won every battle I put them in. 1 on 1's, 4 way free for alls, it just wasn't funny. So I lowered it to two and tried again, this time EF was a bit slower but still walked all over the Scrin, GDI, and NOD.

Wow. What happens if I change GDI and NOD to 2 each also and turn Scrin into 3? AI on crack, thats what! The Scrin tore threw tiberium fields like a plauge (which to me looked proper. They are supposed to be Tiberium based, so it just made more since to me to give them more resource gathers) and GDI and NOD threw up troops like mad. EF now got its ass whooped in a 4 way game. The EF AI built the wrong defenses (built guns instead of AA so scrin had a field day with them) and that was that. In the end it was an awsome battle, and its something I plan on keeping.

Another thing I'm changing is the refinerys abiltiy to regenerate the harvesters. I'm trying to set it up so that if the harvesters die the refinery will rebuild them in 2 minutes. Idea here is that the AI will re-boot itself after a bit of time in case it gets stuck. This is something I'm doing to all 4 factions. This will have the added ability of mitigating NOD's super weapon a bit too. Cool huh?

All of this leads me to the real topic of todays post. I have come up with a way for EF to advance through the timelines other than through researching them. I have not implemented it yet, I wanted to hear what you guys thought first.

The idea is that when a timeline 1 unit ranks up to lvl 4 then the player automatically advances to timeline 2. When a timeline 2 hits rank 4 it auto-advances to timeline 3, and so on and so on. This semi-automated system would be sweet because it would give players 2 ways to advance, through research or combat. It's really up to the player on how they wish to do it. You would still need to have the Tech Center built for it to work, but what do you think? Let me know. And if you have any creative ideas that you think would be cool for the game also let us know.