Sunday, August 26, 2012

And then there were the Scrin....

As always the scrin have come up with a way to make things difficult on us. Unlike last time which was a major overhauling of the Scrin design this time it's a bit easier to fix.  The Scrin are a bio-mechanical force, this we can all agree on. Doug has been talking about bioroids a lot in his last few Robotech Fan podcasts and has offered the idea of changing Scrin more into this type of design. At face value the Robotech Masters and the Scrin have little in common but upon closer inspection they actually share quite a bit.

To make this switch a few things have to change. First all of the scrin ground units that are not considered Bioroids need to be moved to the Portal. This is a very easy thing to do. That leaves everything considered a Bioroid in the Warp Sphere. What is considered a Bioroid? Well for the Scrin there is only one unit that would fit, the Annihilator Tripod.

 "But wait," I can hear you say. "There is only going to be 1 unit in the Warp Sphere? Thats lame."

Not so. We're currently working on 4 different Tripod designs! Each different Tripod will have a different task and roll on the battlefield much like the 4 different bioroid types that the Robotech Masters used. Of course this is tied into our ability to MAKE the Tripods look different and thats going to be the time consuming part.

The next part of this is what a Bioroid is. There are two parts to a Bioroid, it's exterior power armor and it's interior bio suit. When a Bioroid is destroid there is a good chance that the pilot survives and can continue to fight. Where the power armor portion doesn't have the greatest of structural force it does have amazing armor capabilities. The unit inside on the other hand is fine, with plenty of health but not the best armor. The problem is we don't really have a unit to go to and say "thats the 2nd form". To that end I'm experimenting with a few options to see if I can find something that will work. I have a few ideas in my head but I don't know how well they will work out until I get it in game. We could possibly do a form of the tripod where the 3 arms fall off and secondary arms come out on the side making it a more traditional walker type. Or perhaps take the Seeker and give it a single tripod arm allowing it to continue. There are a few options floating around in my head. The point in the end however is that whatever we do there will be a second form that the player will have to deal with once a Tripod is destroyed.

Doug also has some ideas for the Capitol Ships that he hasn't shared with me yet so it may take a bit longer than I am expecting, it all depends on what else needs to be done.

This hopefully won't take too long to do. Once it's done we'll have something for people to Release Canidate test and then it should be up on Mod DB. After this we will work on the SEED portion of the Earth Federation and work on converting the UC and AW forces to our new balancing system. Here is hoping that doesn't take too long.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The differences between NOD and GDI and why they matter.

As I'm almost done with the next O3 release (decided once this rebalance is done to actually release it for people to try) I've gone back and looked at what makes GDI and NOD so different in our universe.

GDI has held it's position as a pure military force.  They simple request what they need and take what they want.  They are the declining super power, the force that once knew no equal that is now losing everything.  They've lost land.  They've lost troops.  They've lost power.  They are fighting hard to keep what little they have left and to once again become the dominant military and political power in the world.

NOD on the other hand has evolved since the fall of Kane at the end of the 2nd Tib War.  After the firestorm crysis it became apparent that they had only once choice if they were to survive, and that was to adapt.  NOD has done so under the unknown leadership of LEGION.  To the world NOD is now a military contractor, a developer of anti-tiberium radiation medicine.  NOD is on the cutting edge of cybernetic developments and artificial limb technology.  They are the perfect meshing of Technology Company and Church.  We make fun of the "cult of Apple" today, in our world the "Cult of NOD" is real.

These are very different contradictions to how EA originally designed NOD and GDI to be.  How does this matter in the game?  Originally the only real difference that one could feel between NOD and GDI were the way the units looked and either you liked big tanks or walkers.

Now GDI is all about the Tank.  Tanks are powerful.  They are dominating.  And they need support.  If you play a game and just make nothing but super expensive mammoth tanks then your probably going to lose.  You need those pitbulls on your flanks covering your tanks.  You need those zone troopers and infantry squads moving in behind them to hold the ground and protect the rear.  In the end you need to use your assets and tools wisely or the enemy can take advantage of each units individual shortcomings and then your in trouble.  But whats the flip side of this?  Those super powerful tanks are very hard to kill if your not using the right weapon.  Also those infantry squads will be generating cash for you as they fight, allowing you to actually afford these higher prices on the new toys.  Used correctly a well developed army can produce more cash than simply refining tiberium could ever hope to do.

NOD on the other hand needs tiberium to survive.  That is their life blood.  If NOD runs out of tiberium to harvest then they are in a seriously bad position.  In short NOD can be starved where GDI can not.  The flip to this is NOD is a company!  You know all that flavor text that we have in the game about this being a Sector Developed unit and that being a Black Ops developed unit?  Now that matters!  When you pick a doctrine no longer does it just modify every unit in your force in a specific direction (for example BOPS give your units sniper rifles and stealth where Sec 9 gives you laser rifles) but it also gives a discount to all units that were developed by that NOD Division.  That means if you like using Fighters and Bombers going with the BOPS doctrine will make more since as the Vertigo Fighter and Armageddon Bomber were both developed by the Black Operations Division.  However if you prefer a massive ground force going with the Homeland Security may make more since considering how many ground units fall under their development.  And who doesn't want super-cheap flame tanks?  We're still working on how much of a discount the units will get, but at the moment I'm thinking around a 25% reduction in build time and cost sounds right.

Scrin still need to be done, I hope to get NOD finished by tomorrow night and then I'll have the week to work on Scrin.  Keep your eyes open, I may have something for people to download by Friday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The latest demo seems to be a sucsess

So I just finished a few hours ago my updating of the balancing act for GDI to the new system.  I just wanted to let you all know that so far it seems like a major sucsess.  GDI is now able to easily produce income through it's units thanks to the Camera System.  And units really do pack a punch now.  Maybe it could be considered a case of too much, maybe not.  I'm happy with it though so far, it looks to do exactly what I wanted which is battles are much quicker now.

I will need to switch NOD and Scrin over though before I can be sure.  Once I do this I should have a demo out for you guys to try of the O3 with this new balancing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The next phase of the balancing game

So Doug and I have been working on the new balancing system for a bit now.  This new system takes quite a few things into consideration.  The initial goal was to make the units feel more important and also have a cost that is true to their actual use.

While working on this new design Doug mentioned something about a unit being designed to do a specific job.  What I mean is that a unit should be able to either deal with units of equal or lesser teir value or they should have a specific roll in the game.

With that being said our new design looks... interesting on paper.  I say that because there were a few things that this rebalancing needed to hit for me to be happy and I'm not sure if we've done that. Normally I can see things on paper quite clearly and see how they will work in the game.  This time though it's a bit difficult.

The major issue is in the old versions of the mod a units HP and cost were determined by it's Teir.  A units weapon loadout however was a base level affair even though it had a major roll in determining a units overall cost.

The new balancing design that we're going with is focused on making units more valuable in the game.  It also focus's quite specifically with using armor ratings as the determining factor of a units survivability and using the HP as a base level of the Teir.  Each unit is broken into 3 teir categories: Weapon, Body, and Utility and then those numbers are added up and divided by 3 to determine the units overall Teir level.

The goals of this rebalancing are as follows.

Unit Types have to feel different in the game.  Mecha can't feel like Tanks on legs.
Units have to actually have usefull rolls in the game.
Battles have to end quicker.  No one likes watching a 20 minute video of 2 tanks hitting each other slowly whittling down their HP.  If a weapon can do damage it needs to DO the damage.
Economic Designs need to be more diverse.
Money needs to feel valuable.

The last 2 are my question marks.  For the EF it's obvious what their economic design is.  They can gather Tiberium AND they make money from power supplies through air drop offs.  

GDI is going to be about "cash cams".  Lighter infantry squads will have "leaders" who are equipped with "scouting cameras" for taking pictures of the enemy and relaying these photos back to centeral command allowing them to generate funds.  There is also an Orca with this camera attached to it and an APC that can be built that will do this as well as the Recon Drone that can generate funds.  The idea is simple, the more diverse your force is the more cash you make.  Heck, take a bunch of infantry and spread them out in buildings to act not only as early warning systems but to generate funds as an enemy attacks you.

NOD is going to go the "Discount" route.  This is tied in with their Doctrines.  If you pick Sector 9 for example every unit that is classified as a "Built by Sector 9" or "Designed by Sector 9" will get a major discount.  This will make it even more challenging when picking a Doctrine as it not only determines what weapons your units will use but it determines their overall cost.

Scrin still have their ability to simply generate funds by making additional Tiberium Fields wherever they wish on the map.

So between these changes to the economy and the changes to the games hp/cost/weapons systems it may turn out to be the best version yet.  Or it could turn into a huge mess with the units simply dealing too much damage per shot and a few units being able to control an entire battlefield.  Only playtesting will tell.  :p