Saturday, September 24, 2011

Superpowers in Xenoforce

The question was raised on MODDB recently about what superpowers each side would have and how they would work. Traditionally in CNC3 the superpowers were the ultimate goal. These were what you were trying to get to so that you could damage your enemies stance in battle in such a way that their only way to defend against said attack was to attack you themselves. Because of the nature of these powers you could only ever get one of these at a time and even after you built one you would have to defend it least it was destroyed before getting a chance to fire. In most games one shot from these weapons were enough to tip the balance so that one side could win.

In the Xenoforce Reborn mod this poses a problem. Some "ultimate weapons" simply were not up to the proper classification to be considered such (I'm looking at you NOD. A nuke? Really? Thats the best you can come up with?) while others left much to the imagination (Yes the Scrins Black Hole Cannon was cool too look at but I imagine such a force as the Scrin would have many other options to persue in terms of nasty superweapons). So we modified certain forces and gave them new powers to really help show that, when at full power, these forces had some serious firepower to lay down and call upon.

The issue of course comes from the Gundam Universes, and to an extent the Robotech technology as well. In Gundam AW for example their super weapon would be considered the Gundam X and it's Sat Cannon. This Cannon is powerful enough to destroy a decent size island in one shot and yet is easy enough to produce that they put them on a mass production mobile suit. While it is true that you must be a newtype to fire the weapon the Earth Federation even finds a way around this limitation with the Gundam Double X. So how do we allow a player to have access to such power and yet honestly find a way to keep it balanced? Our answer was to base the weapon's ability to fire on an unseen timer that counts down. When the timer is about to expire the units able to fire their sat cannons will glow, and then when it is actually able to fire they will glow a different color. This is diffrent than normal though because unlike your normal super powers that count down and then you can fire when your ready these units will only be able to fire for a short ammount of time, say 60 seconds, before their window of oppertunity is gone and they must wait again. The idea here is to simulate the different positions of the moon like in the show.

As for AW's actual "powers" that they will have access to, we are trying to base all support powers again on the Newtypes from the show. Each power avalible to the AW player will be based off of what one of the different Newtypes in the show had. These will be mostly global powers with the exception of the BIT Reinformenet power.

UC on the other hand has a completly different way of doing things. UC's powers are more focused on reinforcing their basic mobile suits with additional fire support in the way of Gundams. Each Gundam as well as bring it's own firepower to the field will have a special "power" that brings added flavor to the field. But this does not mean that UC doesn't have a super weapon at it's disposal, it does. The final Defcon lvl of UC grants the player access to Nu Gundam (a powerful force in it's own right) and the Gryps Cannon. This Cannon works a lot like the GDI Ion Cannon in practice but has a few different side effects. The first being that the Gryps Cannon superheats the object it is firing at, causing a huge wave of heat to blast out from the target. This heat wave will do massive heat damage to anything around it's target.

Now that brings me to something else, the GDI Ion Cannon. As many of you have probably already played our Xenoforce : O3 mod I'm sure your all going "wow, you added a ton of powers to NOD and Scrin, gave GDI a bunch of new units, but their Ion Cannon is kind of weak in compairison to what the other 2 forces can do". And your right. We're currently working on a few different ideas behind this to help make the Ion Cannon more powerful. One option that we're really trying to come up with a way of producing is a "Carpet Bomb Ion Cannon Attack". Really what this means is instead of getting a single shot of you get 5 in a line going off. This hasn't worked out too well yet, but we're still working on it. Another option would be to have it fire of 3 or 4 shots in a given area, so the first shot hits were you targeted and then you get a few more scattered around that blast radius for added effect. It's an option. We're also looking at adding an EMP blast effect to the Ion Cannon. For GDI this is really their only super weapon they can fall back on and at the moment it pales in comparison of what the other forces can do.

So I hope this helps anyone out there who is wondering about the powers. Feel free to post questions if you have any.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

AW, the force that keeps you moving

As many of you probably already know from looking at the recent patch of pics on MOD DB the Tenzan ships have changed rolls in the game. Originally a way for you to deploy and support Gundams now the Tenzans are the premeire piece for deploying non-gundam AW units. They come in many different variations based off of the Daughtress units that they deploy but what it comes down to are these land bases are mobile, front line outposts with troops. Many of them can detect stealth, and they can put up a decent fight on their own. Add in multipble Tenzans at once and you have a military convoy that can deal a great ammount of punishment out as well as take quite a beating.

There is a downside to this of course. There has to be, otherwise it would be unbalanced. First is cost, these things are expensive and take awhile to build. Second is the lack of direct control of the units on the ships. Instead of you direceting the mobile suits you simply tell the orders to the Tenzans and the Tenzans then relay the orders to the mobile suits under their command. Also once a Tenzan loses it's mobile suits it takes a minute for another suit to deploy to replace the lost one. Finally the Tenzans themselves typically only have a single unit that says on the ship to defend it so they lose offensive ability as they lose units. A tenzan may have a ton of HP but if there is a single Command Daughtress on board it's not going to do much damage vrs a group of avatars or titan tanks.

The idea here is quite simple really. We plan for each of the 3 forces to work differently for UC, each with a common backdrop of the EF. UC and SEED are looking to be like 2 different sides of the same coin. AW however isn't even playing the same game as the other two! When it comes to AW there will be a lot of, lets say, "animosity" comming from other outside forces that are not even involved in the current battle. To say that the AW forces have made enemies in space against Zeon will be an understatment. This will really boil down to 2 things on the global scale of things.

Every section of UC will obviously work better against certain opponents. If I'm going against Scrin for example I'd probably have an easier time of it playing as SEED than UC or AW. Not to say UC and AW can't win, it's just SEED is looking to be a better match against Scrin. Against GDI or NOD I'm seeing UC as the way to go as its the most tradional force of the 3. AW will be where I turn vrs Zeon or another EF player. So the idea of Zeon not liking AW will also play into the fact that AW as a force is more tailored to deal with other armies designed around the "Mobile Suit" idea.

The second part of that idea is that AW is primarily a space force. As such they are not really designed around the idea of ground battles and taking land. This doesn't mean all the suits fly as thats definatly not the case but what it does mean is that the main part of your force does in fact have many ways of additional movemnt.

Take your 3 gundams for example. The Leopard is already a fast moving mobile suit over land thanks to the wheels in it's legs. The Airmaster is fast because it can transform into a freaking jet. And the Gundam x and Double X will have the option to be built with the G-Falcon already attached giving them flight/mobility. So all 3 of your MAIN gundam force units can be seen as fast responce units. And following that up the slow AW units are hitching a ride on these giant armored carrier Tenzans, so if they arn't fast they are definatly well protected.

In other words UC would be seen as a defensive, turtle creap army that slowly expands forward taking land. The more Land the UC player has the stronger they are and the harder they are to deal with. AW doesn't really need as much space to deploy a large force and they can move many units by only giving a few "orders". I'm really looking forward to getting this done so I can play with them and see how it gos!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

AW, oh the power at your disposal....

Comming up with a different play style based on the side-faction you pick when playing EF while keeping a common starting point isn't always as easy as you would think. For example, if you wanted to compaire EF-UC to another faction already in the game the closest choice would be GDI. Both sides focus their powers on reinforments and both sides use their baseline units to win the game. However EF-UC has access to other, more advance technology making many of thier units stronger than GDI's and EF also has access to a few other "specialty" powers that give them a bit of NOD flair. GDI on the other hand sticks with classic, proven technology with low costs allowing them to slowly overwhelm their opponents.

The AW force that is currently being added in however is much closer to a mix between Scrin and NOD than any resembelence to GDI. AW's powers fall into two categories, global and reinforment. AW units also fall into 2 different categories, basic and gundam. Where UC's gundams can not be directly built most of the time and are seen as "commanders" on the field AW's gundams are their bread and butter of troops. Their gundams may not be as strong as UC's but you get more of them so that should be a fair trade off.

AW's powers are actually what I want to focus on here. If any of you have watched After War Gundam X you know that there are a lot of different newtypes in the show that do different things. Our plan is to base the powers that you get as an AW player off of those powers.

The powers we're currently planning on having avalible are as follows.

1. Vehicular Hold - Freezes ALL vehicles, aircraft, and mecha on the battlefield in place for 30 seconds. This will not kill aircraft that must keep moving. These units will still be able to fire, they just can't move.

2. Planetary Vision - Reveils the entire map for 30s.

3. DOME Defense Deployment - Drops a DOME Defense Canister to the battlefield with 4 DOME bits attached to it for defensive or offensive support. This structure can be placed ANYWHERE.

4. Bit Deployment - All rank 4 Gundams or Cyber Newtype Gundams will deploy 2 bits for support purposes.

5. Colony Drop - Drops 3 to 5 massive colonys randomly on the battlefield, ushering in the next phase in AW technology. These colonies will do massive damage to whatever they hit. The areas around impact will then have a few "capturable" gundam husks lying around along with some enemy Zeonic forces. These Zeon forces will attack ANY forces that come near them, be them the players or the enemies.

I'm sure there are a few things you can notice from this. The biggest being that there are not very many powers avalible to AW. Another is the Colony Drop. AW is the space force for the Earth Federation. Zeon is a primarily space based force themselves. This "power" is to show the fact that if AW wish's to deploy it's most advanced mobile suits (Gundam Double X, Gundam X Divider, Gundam Leopard Destroy, and Gundam Airmaster Burst) that Zeon will try to stop them by doing what Zeon does best. So this isn't as much of a "good power" as a choice, do you take the risk that your going to drop a colony on yourself trying to get more powerful suits or do you try to win without them? If the enemy is at your front door about to kill you do you use this as a deterrent and try to distract them? Once the colonies have fallen do you go out and try to capture these discarded, broken mobile suits and fight Zeon or do you let Zeon act as a buffer against your enemy? The possibilities are quite amazing IF we can get this stuff to work right.

What other powers do you think AW should have? Your thoughts are always welcomed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A lesson learned well years ago

So the mod survived another HD failure, thats a releif. As many of you may or may not know the version of the mod that we have out there today is NOT the same version we started on. I'm not talking about a "redesign", I mean it's completly different.

The original attempt at Xenoforce Reborn started with us adding Zeon to the game. If you look back far enough you can actually find pictures on the blog of our first attempt. Then, as in now, the MOD work came to a screetching halt due to a HD failure. But unlike then this time the HD just gave up a few bad clusters and unlike then this time we've got a backup.

Yep, I back everything up when I do a major release onto an external HD and to another computer that is at my sisters house. I also back everything up when I do a minor update / test update for Doug to try. Thankfully this HD crash happened the DAY after I sent something to Doug so the only thing I could have lost was adding a sensor upgrade to the RGC80.

But that didn't even happen. After running some repair tools and stress testing the HD it appears that it's back in working order, so now we've dodged another bullet and are back to adding AW into the game. I have 2 more upgrades to add in for UC and then I can start actually working on adding AW models into the game.

I just hope the AI doesn't freak out over this design.