Sunday, March 27, 2011

Balancing, a tricky situation.

Anyone can say "This is unbalanced, you should fix it." But actually going through and making changes to exsisting forces is not as easy as it sounds. For one, your opinion and my opinion of what a unit should be could be entirely different things, so when I say "I fixed this" you may go "It didn't need fixing".

I bring this up because right now Doug and I are working on rebalancing the entire CNC3 game, from ground up, with our own designed system. This is very important because the current game system works as follows.

There are 5 different armor types. Gun, Sniper, Grenade, Rocket, and Cannon. We are wanting to change it to Gun, Grenade, Rocket, Cannon, Beam, Flame, Missile, Laser, Rail, Mega Partical. A big difference thats for sure. But look what else we have done. We went from having 60% of the armor types dealing with infantry to 30%, just this one change makes the game shift from an infantry focus to a vehicular focus which, in all honesty, is what it should be right?

We may go even farther and add Plasma based versions of the weapons to the game as well. That would expand it even further. All of these new weapon types of course lead to a huge issue with balancing. The idea is to give players even more control over their armies and more depth to the game. Do you build the units that are spicificly designed to deal with your enemys super units or do you build the slightly weaker yet universally better units? Do we make the Scrin Shields effective against kenetic types of weapons only, or make them good universally? If we do make them kenetic only shields, what does that mean for GDI who's weapons are mostly kenetic based?

Ah, your starting to see our issue. As such, I want to let everyone know that there will be many changes going on with the balancing, so be prepaired for a lot of "fun" changes. We're trying to make things better, but if we go too far thats what your comments are for. Don't be afraid to say something, the worst we'll say is "no" right?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our choice of engine and an interesting question.

Someone recently asked my why we decided to go with the CNC3 engine instead of one of the more "popular" game engines out there like Company of Heros or Dawn of War 2. My first knee-jerk reaction was to say "Because the original mod was on CNC Generals", but then I thought about it.

There are a lot of different game engines out there that players can choose from if they want to build a mod. CNC is definatly not one of the nicer ones out there, requiring a player to recompile the mod after every little change just to see if it went into effect properly. Talk about annoying. Other game engines like the original Dawn of War are much more user-friendly in that they use Lua Scripting instead of XML. So really, why CNC3?

The truth is once I started thinking about it I think CNC was actually the proper choice, though we may not have realized how good of a choice it was at the time. Games like Company of Heros and Dawn of War 2 are amazing games, full of great replay value and strategic choices to make to win the game. But if you step back and tried to put a Gundam into these games, it wouldn't work. These games are designed around squad level tactics and you would end up with either games being about 4 or 5 mobile suits vrs 4 or 5 other mobile suits or they would simply be too big to field on the maps the games come with.

The other engine that was very popular at the time when we started was Supreme Commander. This engine would have actually been a good choice in a lot of ways, huge maps (I mean HUGE maps), and 2 very straight forward resources (vrs CNC's Limited Resource and As much as you have space for and can afford resource). However, have you ever actually PLAYED a game of supreme commander? A 45 minute game feels like it took 2 hours, and a 3 hour game feels like it took all day. On top of that a lot of the game is played from such a high view most of the time that you just see dots moving around on the screen. In the end, it's not the effect we were wanting to go with, on top of the bigger question of "would the models we already have be compatible with it?"

CNC3 is showing that it has quite a bit of potential left in it. The only unit cap is what your computer can handle, and the AI is being found to be easy to manipulate as long as your careful (read - make back up copies after every verified working change).

So yes, the CNC engine was a good choice, and we're definatly not moving on from it. Honestly the engine I would want to make this type of game on doesn't exsist, but if you want an idea to what it would be like try to go back and play a few games of "Empire Earth", and then imagine that with a very healthy dose of "Command And Conqure Generals" and the stability of CNC3. That would be my ideal choice.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Xenoforce 9d release!

Here is this weeks update, really it's just the link to the MOD! Download the latest version of the mod here!

Please read the readme on the instructions for the game.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The next step on the mod

So now that we're almost at the next release of the mod, which will only contain UC (sorry SEED/AW fans) it's getting to be close to the time to look at what the future holds for the Earth Federation. I've been watching Gundam a lot recently trying to get new sound effects and some things have come to my attention.

UC, SEED, and AW will play very different from each other. It's almost not fair to group them all under the banner of Earth Federation. Almost lol. They will share a lot of the same basic buildings, but the more advanced buildings will be different and allow for unique feeling armys and not "cookie cutter" versions of the same army.

UC's design is based around building a wall and holding off your enemies until you have built a big enough force to go and attack. Normally if their line starts to fall then there is little you can do to stop it, but cracking that wall is a tough challenge to say the least. They have a nice mix of beam and kenetic weapons, with a heavy focus early game on artillery units.

The plans for AW are still solid, which means we know what we're going to be doing and we know how we are going to do it. Finally, we know how to do it (I think lol) so it should be VERY VERY interesting to see it come together. The AW force will be based around units. They don't have a large selection of units, but they can expand their bases rapidly and their basic units are also able to be produced rapidly early game. Late game they can switch over to an advance "Gundam" unit setup allowing them to be the army that can truly field a large "Gundam" army. Also the AW side will have access to the "Newtype Training Facility" allowing the players to build very expensive but much more powerful and quicker "Elite" units instead of having to level the units up to gain the experience. Finally AW will have access to DOME for their main defense.

Finally we have SEED. Seeds design again will be different from the other armies. Where UC focus's on defenses and AW focus's on massive unit rush's SEED will focus on specialty units. A lot of units will have a spicific roll on the field or a special ability that makes them unique. For example, you will have units that focus on firepower like the Dopplehorn Daggers, or units that foucs on kenetic resistance with Phase Shift armor like the Strike Gundam. Finally, where SEED will be very different, is that you will get a choice at some point to choose an ally. This will work from the spellbook, you either choose to research ORB as your ally or Blue Cosmos. Depending on who you choose will unlock different powers and units. ORB will give you access to an airport building giving you access to their vast arsenal of transformable mobile suits along with allowing you to call in the Archangel with the Justice and Freedom gundams. Blue Cosmos will give you access to their powerful mobile armors like the Destroy Gundam. Yea, things will definatly hit the fan when you move 4 destroy gundams out onto the battlefield (assuming I can get a model/make a model that will fill the roll of course).

So thats' our plans in a very limited nutshell. We have other ideas that we plan to implement that will continue to make these 3 sides feel alike and yet vastly different. After this release I plan on moving on to AW next, so here is hoping that I don't have to go back and do anything drastic to fix UC after this release right?