Saturday, January 28, 2012

Will the SEED design suck?

It's a good question to ask at this point. Now that we've gotten Scrin redone (again) and have a solid focus/design for Nod done it's time to look at the next big thing. (I am ignoring GDI's work as really they are not getting any real attention this time, they're pretty much good where they are other than the stuff I mentioned last week).

And that next big thing is SEED. SEED has quite a few things going against it right from the start too. You have the fact that we've been working on the EF for two years now (I'm about sick of it honestly and can't wait to go on to Invid/Zeon/RDF). Then there is the fact that SEED has a very diverse selection of units and mobile armors to pick from. On top of that is the fact that many of the more popular SEED units would not fit in our design as your playing as Earth and not Zaft. Finally you have the problem that we have a ton of suits already made for us and donated that we have to sort through, maybe one that we've been given just won't work when we try to put it in (A problem I had with the Powered GM many times. All 3 donated versions caused severe lag in-game and I ended up retro-fitting a different model to get one in).

Having said all of that there is also the issue that I honestly do not have a clear vision of how I would like to see SEED in the game. The vision for UC was there and worked from the get-go. The vision for AW also varied only slightly from it's initial design and works well I think. So where does that leave SEED? In strategy terms UC is the Turtle Army and AW is the swarm army. Is SEED supposed to be the Blitz army? Maybe it's supposed to be between UC and AW, able to both turtle and swarm but not really having to devote it's entire strategy down one of those paths. Or could SEED be destined for something else, a force more akin to Nod using stealth and super powers to try and win the day. In the end I really want SEED in the game but I'm afraid that if we just half-ass it we're going to end up with a less-than-optimal force that people play for "fanboy" reasons and not because it brings something unique to the table.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

GDI's new design.

Yes, I finally am getting around to talking about the changes that I've planned for GDI. There are not a lot of changes that I plan on doing, only 3 in fact. 1 change is to their economy and the other 2 are to their super powers. Thats how strongly Doug and I feel about GDI's current design.

The first change is going to be with their economy. GDI's design is based around deployment and units, showing a strong front on all fronts and wiping away the enemy with grand sweeping groups of forces. They will have 2 sources of Income, the traditional mining of Tiberium being the main and our new "force economy" as the secondary. What's the force economy? Basically what we're going to try and do is have every single unit that you build tick off cash every 3 seconds. The amount of cash they tick off will be 1/100th of their normal cost. This will mean that once a unit has been on the field and not killed for at least 5 minutes the unit will have payed for itself. Obviously this isn't going to be the case most of the time, but this also means that a turtle who just builds and builds and builds will continue to offset the cost of their base and new units with existing units allowing GDI to get more bang for its buck.

Now for the superpowers. GDI currently has the Ion Cannon, and that isn't going to change. We are however going to expand the way that the Ion Cannon can be fired. The traditional Ion Cannon is going to switch to being a 5 minute power and be the "Non-Targeting Ion Cannon" power. This is because after you tell it where to fire it will do just that and you can't change the target.

The second fire mode (or first new Ion Cannon) will be a "Controlled Ion Cannon" and will fire much like the USA cannon did in CNC Generals. The idea is that the power will spawn an "invisible, controllable, unit" that the player can move wherever they want. As the unit moves it will spawn the "big beam" of light part of the Ion Cannon and cut a path behind it. Finally this unit will last for like 10 seconds and then self-destruct, basically giving you control of where the beam go's. This beam will not have a large blast radius but it will be useful when you need to cut a path open. It will have a 7 minute timer.

The final fire mode (or second new Ion Cannon) will be what I like to call the "Planet Cutter". This power will literally cut a semi-controlled path across the map with multiple cannons firing at once! How it works is that the player "targets" where they defiantly want the beam to hit and then an "invisible" unit will spawn. This unit will move like the Firehawk bomber and work exactly like that unit does when it drops the MOAB. However it will also work like our EF Capitol Ships do, attacking any enemy that it flies over. This means that the unit will fly across the map in a straight line and any enemy that is caught underneath this drone will trigger the Ion Cannon to fire at that place! It will fire a few or ton of Ion Cannon Strikes all in a row doing massive damage. This Timer will be 15 minutes long.

So there you have it, our current plans on GDI. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Speak out against PIPA/SOPA!

As you may or may not know today is a national "blackout day" against these bills that the US Congress is trying to shove down our through. Speak out against it! A prime example would be THIS MOD! According to the laws it would be copyright infringement and be competently shut down without ANY DUE PROCESS!

Go here for more!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

State of the Echo

While working on this mod I have learned quite a few things. I've become a much better modeler (I still have a ways to go) and a more creative coder. I've also learned a lot about game design and how the three mesh together.

The final part of my Scrin Design centers around the Echo ability. This is a power that modifies itself based on the upgrade chosen. It's unique in this game as this one power can do many different things and modify many different units and structures on a global scale.

The first pat of this power is the upgrade. You have three choices, Infantry - Vehicle - Aircraft. These choices at first seemed simple to me, you choose the class that you want to focus on. But the difficulties in coding this power caused a new question to appear in front of the old answer. Before it was just going to duplicate whats already there. Now I have to pre-decide what units I want to pop out of the structure. Hmmm. Upon further testing only single units could be built in this fashion as well, no squads. That's a pain, but also an opportunity.

As I now have to decide what unit I want the power to spawn from the structure and the POE (Point of Echo) it occurred to me that I had no idea what I wanted to have pop out. But after a while something dawned on me, this is more than just letting the player choose what units it wanted to focus on due to their preferences. This is the player CHOOSING to supplement their game style!

This is how I have broken the three classic trinity of RTS types down (I-V-A. The 4th would be W for Water if we were putting that in, which we are not). For the Scrin, Infantry are for swarm attacks. Cheap units that are quick to move and simply overwhelm an enemies defenses with numbers. Vehicles are for frontal assaults and for the player that is looking at a drawn out game. Aircraft are for both quick attacks and seiging an enemy base from a distance.

What all of this means is the Echo Power has to help the design further along. The Infantry Echo has to not only phase the Scrin base and force out for a minute but also supplement the Infantry's goal of a swarm force. As these phased in forces are only going to be around for a minute this leads to a few issues. The force that appears at the base won't have time to move from there to the attack point (unless a player also picks the wormhole ability). To that effect these forces are more of a use to the player thats base is under attack, further protecting the base from enemy by giving a credible threat to an attack force to deal with. I have made some Gunwalker Echo's for this job. They are fast firing anti-air and anti-infantry units that in numbers can also deal with lighter vehicles. Perfect for a defense.

But what about the POE force? What if the Echo is used to get your swarm forces into position to attack inside a base? For this I have decided to go back to the original Mastermind design. My current Mastermind is an elite attack unit that based on it's position (if its the banner carrier or not) it has one of two weapon types making it the perfect choice no matter what your going up against. At the Point of Echo 8 of the old style masterminds will spawn allowing the player to take over an enemy's defenses or units to use against the enemy until the other forces phase back in. This allows for the Scrin player to gain temporary control over an enemies own defenses and use them against themselves weaken the front. I like to call it "Operation That's Just Not Right".

Where does that leave the Vehicles and the Aircraft? I have not gotten that far yet but I'm looking to do something along those lines. For the Vehicles I'm looking to not only allow their phase out time to be 2 minutes (giving the player a small window where both the main force and the echo force are active on the field at the same time). I'm thinking of the Defense Force to be made up of Seeker Tanks and the POE force to be made up of Super Shielded Tripods that are designed for close range assaults. For the Aircraft I'm thinking of having the defense be made of Planetary Assault Carriers and the POE be made of Devastator Warships. I am also thinking of letting the echo to cause Signal Relays to spawn Capitol Ships giving you even more air power at your base for defensive cover.

As always I await any thoughts. I will also probably post something soon about GDI's powers (I know I keep saying that).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is not the update I planned....

But as a lot of you know these things don't work the way we want sometimes. I planned on talking about the new GDI Ion Cannon designs that I came up with (they are great, just go with that). That will have to wait until next sunday.

Recently I did a post explaining my process of how I was adding the Scrin Echo power into the game. Here is the good news.

1. I have developed a way to have a spell power to become modified based on the upgrade chosen. This means for example I could have a "megaton bomb" drop power that drops Vapor bombs if upgrade A is chosen or fire bombs if upgrade B is chosen. Cool right? I can think of a lot of ways that this could be useful (Thinking Invid here really, but possibly also NOD).

2. I got the echo power to work, when you echo all Scrin units phase out then all scrin infantry echo in additional basic versions of themselves.

Now for the bad news.

Apparently if you have more than 20 Scrin infantry units on the field and you echo it causes the game to crash. It appears to be linked to the engines inability to handle a sudden influx of over 60 units at once, but I can't be 100% sure thats whats causing the problem. The engine only crashes though when there are a lot of units that are suddenly echoing in. At about 8 to 12 units and an echo there are no problems.

So that leaves us with what to do. I really like the echo idea and want to make something out of it. I'm just not sure what at this point. The idea of a player ONLY having a hand full of units when they echo is absurd, we all know that armies get up into the 50's and 100's of units in some of these games.

If anyone has an idea of how else to do this let me know. Your idea doesn't have to explain HOW the code works, just a "when this happens how about this?" type of explanation will work. Otherwise my next step is that the echo phases everyone out then summons in some free units at the point of the echo. Not nearly as cool as I wanted, but it may be what I have to do.

Monday, January 9, 2012

No post this week.

Sorry, don't have much to say this week as we just got everything back up and running (both Doug and I decided / had to reinstall windows and stuff at the same time, funny how that happens).

I will post my ideas on GDI and their super weapons that I've developed recently tomorrow.