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).


Alan said...

It sounds pretty threatening. But i have a question about the spawning. Do the two forces spawn at the same time (the defense force and the POE) or do you have to chose between the two.

Azuza K said...

No, they both happen at the same time. Still playtesting now to see how stable the idea is.