Saturday, March 24, 2012

Super Defenses, a new category for the mod!

Before you read any further, No, this does not mean that we're just going to add new defensive structures into the game that are super powerful. That would be easy to do of course, but thats not what we're trying to do with this. No, the term Super Defense is based around the idea that after a certain point a player/enemy base will gain access to a form of "Defense" that makes it much harder to attack in a specific way or fashion.

Lets talk about the O3 and the EF here for a bit shall we? We'll start with the Scrin.

The Scrin are an invasion force. They are not concerned about building massive bases and holding ground, instead their entire army is based around the idea of devouring the enemy as they go so they will not have a defensive super weapon. They are a pure offensive force so it wouldn't make since to have one.

Nod's "Defensive Weapon" is called the Orguss Effect. Basically what happens is once you have a Temple of NOD built all of the stealth Generators will output a "no-fly-zone" Ion Ceiling. In effect if any air units fly through this storm they stand a very good chance of getting destroyed. Ground units are not effected by this power. It leads to a simple case of "Ok, if we don't take that Temple of Nod out we are going to have to hit Nod with a ground attack, air's not in the equation."

GDI's "Defensive Weapon" is something that I particularly find amusing. Once you have the Ion Cannon Control Center built any enemy GROUND units that are seen attacking the base around the Ion Control Center will be targeted by a limited-field Ion Cannon blast. Think of it as the Ion Cannon Direct fire power from the 2nd war. There will not be a blast radius on this shot and obviously if your opponent is a fast moving unit it won't hit either but for the most part this means that your Ion Cannon could potentially defend an entire base by itself from slow moving Avatars and Tripods. This also means once GDI has this up your best bet is to hit them with air or stealth units to get inside the Cannons fire radius.

Earth Federations AW force again isn't going to qualify for a Defensive Super Weapon. We're up in the air about UC if we want to give them one or not. However Seed has always had this kind of thing in it from the original design. The Artimis Shield.

The "how" is still up in the air about this but basically it is going to work like this. The Shield Generator will activate the shield whenever an enemy unit comes in range. This will have 2 effects. Anything that is inside the shield when the effect go's off will be given invulnerability to show that they are inside the shield. Anything on the edge of the shield (the enemy that triggered the shields activation) will have its speed reduced to 5% to show that it is trying to get through the shield.

The Shield will not work against super powers like Ion Cannons. Also again the shield will only work if it can see the enemy comming like aircraft or units. Finally the Shield only works for a certain radius, like 200-700 so once an enemy gets close they can destroy the structure and take the shield down. Again stealth is important here.

I hope you guys see what we're trying to do. Some of these ideas still need to be fleshed out but in the end I think this will add that last level of stratagy that a CNC game should have.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Avatar - A change in the game?

The Avatar has always been Nods end game unit. In fact even it's name suggests that it is going to be of a higher level of power than the Scorpion or Stealth Tank. But with all the changes going on in the mod the question of "what happens to the Avatar?" has come up a few times.

And since I'm so close to being done with my changes I though I would jump ahead and do the Legion Avatar before getting to the Operations Stealth Tank or the Homeland Scorpion Tank. Boy was that a mistake.

First we will go over the design. There are going to be two versions of the Legion Avatar, an Assault Avatar and a Heavy Avatar. The names are still a work in progress, but basically the Assault version will have more weapons and speed where the Heavy will have much more armor.

Another nice thing about the Avatar will be it's bonus's. While looking at it the other day Doug pointed out that we should look at what Nod will be lacking in by the time the player gets access to the Avatar and basing it's equipment off of that need. That was a very insightful comment and what path it lead me to was cost. By the time Nod gets to the Avatar the major thing that should be holding it back is a go-to unit that is going to be cost effective as most of your cash will be going to cybernetic squads and heavy tanks. He also questioned the roll of the Avatar in our story. So what I came up with was this.

The Avatars will be limited to 1 out at a time.
The Avatars will be free to build (no cost) but take 2 minutes to build.
The Avatars will be incredibly powerful. These are the units that cause the other world powers to be afraid of Nod the most. If Nod was ever able to come up with a way to mass-produce these incredibly powerful machines then none of the other world powers would stand a chance. It is this reason that the Earth Federation continues to advance it's mecha technology at the break-neck speed that it does and why GDI continues to advance and invest in Rail Cannon Technology (one of the few weapons that have had an incredibly high success rate against the Avatars).
The Assault Avatar will be equipped with 3 weapons, 1 of which will always be an EMP cannon. The other 2 weapons will vary based on the Doctrine.
The Heavy Avatar will be equipped with 2 weapons that will vary based on the Doctrine.

So on paper the Avatar looks great. So I sat down and started to work on it. And got my ass kicked.

The Avatar code is one of the most complicated coding jobs done for all the models in CNC3 mostly based around it's "commender" ability. I honestly think this is causing me most of my problems. I do what I have done a dozen of times so far, take the unit, add a new model into the code attached to one of the bones on the original unit, tell the weapon code to use the new model's launch points for firing, and be happy. The problem is the model go's on great but when it's time to use the new models launch points for some reason the game simply won't do it, instead all shots come from the base of the Avatar as if the launch point was under ground.

So what I think I'm going to do here is something that I've not attempted to do before. EA has released a decent mix of existing units in 3DS format for players to look at and learn from, one of which being the Avatar. What I'm going to try to do is open of the Avatar's file and modify the model then re-introduce my modified model into the game using the existing animations. If that doesn't work I will try to make the Avatar from scratch coding wise and only use the existing model as my basis, replacing all of the logic code. Finally, if that doesn't work, well, I'm not sure what will happen. We may not have the Avatar in the way that we want and have to go back to the drawing board again.

Sigh. And I was so excited to show you guys some new pics. :p

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Robotech and not Macross?

I was originally going to post this week about the progress in Nod. Nod's infantry was just finished about 2 minutes ago and so I'm now on my way to doing their vehicles. After that we need to do the Nod Super Weapon (I'll give you a hint, we're removing the Liquid Tiberium Bomb and putting something completly new into the spot that will not only be cool if it works but it will also give Nod a huge boost into it's economy when it go's off) and I can move on to the 3 GDI superweapons and economy change and then we're at RC time.

However the question of why Robotech and not Macross came up again so I figured I should reply to it. It's a valid question each time it's asked because simply put we're keeping the Gundam aspects of the original mod why remove the Macross aspects?

What it really came down to was what we could use from the Macross universe (and the direction that Macross keeps taking each time it comes out) vs what we could take from Robotech. By going with Robotech we are able to take the Robotech Defense Force, the Southern Cross, and the Robotech Expeditionary Force and use these armies and their weapons in the game. All 3 armies are different, with different types of weapons and different reasons for exsisting. The RDF uses a lot of aircraft and heavy / slow ground units. The Southern Cross on the other hand uses mostly hover tanks and other faster/more effective ground units while using the air units in a support roll. Finally the REF uses elite, advanced technology and is honestly more of an offensive force than a defensive one.

Also we are able to get access to some of the "enemies" of the Robotech series and use them as well. I use "enemies" loosely, maybe opposing force would be a better word to use. Anyways we get access to the Invid, the perfect enemy to pitch against the Scrin in our story. This makes the story Alien Race vs Alien Race with humanity getting caught unexpectedly in the middle instead of the tired "Alien race appears, kicks our ass's, and then we strike back with a varying degree of success," that happens now days.

Macross on the other hand, well, yea.... Macross gives us the same air units from the RDF basically (Robotech does use Macross's animation after all) but then we move to Macross Plus with the YF19 and YF21. These are some pretty cool advanced fighters. Then we go to Macross 7. Yea. Still using the YF19 are you? Thats great. Next we go to Macross Frontieer. Are those Whales they are fighting in space? Ok, that Macross just did a barrel roll in space to avoid getting shot. How they missed something THAT BIG that is flying STRAIGHT AT THEM I still can't understand, but whatever. Someone used a ton of character points there, only explanation.

So thats why we went Robotech. It simply gives us access to more variety. That and the story of Robotech doesn't end with a 13 year old girl in space singing to whales in her birthday suit. Kinda important.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Slowly coming together.

So I'm almost done with Nods infantry, most of the units are in their proper positions now. The only thing I have to work on now is what units get what upgrades based on the "doctrine" that is designed into the game.

This of course brings me up to todays post. The 4 doctrines are as follows.

Sector 9 Doctrine
Black Ops Doctrine
Homeland Defense Doctrine
Tiberium Guard Doctrine

As I was working on this something started to become apparent. While we changed the name of the houses to doctrines we were still trying to use the old designs with these new names. Thats just not going to work.

Taking it from a pure outside of the game perspective this is what the organizations are supposed to represent.

Sector 9 are the secret police of Nod. They are the internal check and balance force. They use stealth technology, laser technology, plasma missile technology, plasma grenade technology, and are generally focused on giving slight speed boosts and using cybernetic bodies to complete missions.

Black Ops are a more a loose group of teams that can focus on specific mission objectives. Where Sector 9 has no problem destroying a building to kill a target Black Ops will only kill it's objective and is not interested in collateral damage. They use Bunker Buster Missiles, high caliber machine guns, and sniper weapons extensively. They also use stealth technology to some extent.

Homeland Security are a full military force that are designed around stand up fights. They use plasma grenades/rockets and heavy armor at the expense of speed. They are there to make sure the job gets done and to hold the ground.

Finally Tiberium Guard are more of a research and development team. They use chemical weapons, thermal rounds, concussion explosives, high impact body armor, and extensive use of seige equipment like Mortars to get the job done. If it's an odd or uncommon weapon it was probably developed and used first by the Tiberium Guard. For example, they use concussion explosives on their Scorpion Tanks main cannon, causing infantry that are hit to become suppressed and vehicles to take a slight "pause" before they can move again. Very handy.

So there you have it, once I wrote it out it was easy to see how the upgrades should get worked out. If you have a suggestion as to how one weapon/vehicle should gain an upgrade like my example with the Tiberium Guard Scorpion Tank let us know. Otherwise have a great week guys.