While the system won't be as flexible as the one that shipped with Glow (or the one that future games will use), it is pretty nice. I'm thinking of three main types of weapons:
- Projectile Weapons -- These are traditional guns. Don't ask how they work in hard vacuum, they just do. Stuff like high-powered machine guns, ship-to-ship shotguns and missile weapons fit in here. Damage is based upon your ship's Weapons statistic (increased by buying better Targeting Computer upgrades). Ammunition is limited by your active cargo space -- you can carry 1000 rounds of 50cal ammunition per tonne of cargo room, but this reduces the amount of stuff you can carry.
- Energy Weapons -- These are weapons that are self-charging based on your ship's Recharge statistic (increased by buying better Power Plant upgrades). Damage is constant; only the fire rate is upgraded as your ship improves.
- Turret Weapons -- These are weapons that target and fire upon enemies autonomously; it helps cut down some of the punishment of moving in 3D and allows you to do quick 'drive by' pecks on other ships' armour while travelling through a system. Their damage and firing rate is constant; there is no upgrade that affects turret weapon performance.
Now that I've talked about upgrades, I want to talk about the five main statistics of a ship in the game. Each ship chassis comes with a predefined value for all of these stats; by buying upgrades you add bonuses to these stats as appropriate.
- Weapons -- How accurate and damaging you are with projectile weapons. Upgraded by targeting computer.
- Recharge -- How fast your ship's energy supply recharges (used for energy weapons and afterburner kits). Upgraded by improving your ship's Power Plant.
- Defense -- How much damage your ship can take. Upgraded by improving your ship's Shielding.
- Agility -- How fast your ship can go and accelerate. Upgraded by improving your ship's main drive.
- Jump -- How far you can jump, and how quickly you can jump again. Upgraded by improving your ship's jump drive.
The goal is to make the system relatively simple, so you can see the effect of an upgrade clearly, but also to give the player the ability to "stick with" a chassis they really like and upgrade it to the same level of power as an end-game chassis would provide.
In addition to these upgradable stats, a chassis has some other statistics attached to it:
- Cargo Room -- How many tonnes of cargo your ship can carry.
- Base Armour -- Once your shield is down, this affects how many hits the ship can take before it is destroyed.
- EM Resistance -- This controls how susceptible your ship's computers are to the EM Attack maneuver. Ships hit with an EM burst are disabled for a variable amount of time.
- Kit Slots -- The kit slot lets you add functionality to your ship (mining laser, EM Attack weapons, extra battery, afterburner). Only some forms of ship chassis have a kit slot.
So there's a little walkthrough over the game system. Obviously, there's some polishing and work ahead, but I'm confident this system works well. I'm thinking about how to make the user interface for purchasing and upgrading simple; I'd love to have an "Auto Buy" feature that would purchase and equip you with the best ship possible, but we'll see if I can make the time.
A big part of the game after this point will include making sure it plays well in 3D; I still find it a pain to navigate around the systems, although for some reason it feels much more pleasing with the Xbox360 game pad. I can't wait to get back to 2D gameplay! [grin]