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New Game Design Idea - Please Comment

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I welcome any feedback on this game idea. Apologies in advance to anyone offended by the length of the design document or by my putting a copyright notice on the outline. My reasoning for that is explained in a separate thread here. If there are key design topics I have left out, please let me know. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Design Document: Working Game Title: Mech Arena 1. Setting: 2500ish. Blade Runner/Aliens-esque. Gritty. 2. Platform: PC/Xbox 3. Concept. Two different backstory ideas: A. Version 1: The human race still exists and still has bellicose tendencies. Soldiers in 2500 who receive today’s equivalent of the Medal of Honor posthumously, and whose bodies are recovered with their head intact, receive special treatment from the military. First, the military digitally maps the soldier’s brain’s neural net, and next strips the copy of any personal memories while maintaining all of the soldier’s combat skills and instincts. This combat routine is then downloaded into a titanium robotic head which is suitable for mounting on a variety of humanoid mech combat frames. One copy of this robot stays planetside and enters a gladiatorial arena where it is allowed to fight forever for professional teams and continue to make money for the deceased soldier’s family. Another copy is sent into military service as a battle mech. Combat in 2500 involves mixture of mech and human soldiers. B. Version 2: Mercenary Clans are big business off planet. It is illegal for Mercenary clans to execute contracts or engage in hostilities planetside. The powers that be grudgingly recognize the legality and utility of mercenary clans off-planet. Clans select their best who die on missions to become planetside arena mechs, if their heads can be recovered. Same neural net mapping process as above. All major mercenary clans have arena mech teams where they fight for bragging rights, to make money for their clan and families (gambling is huge at these events), and advertise the combat skills of their particular clans. Folks recognize that former clan members are the mechs’ brains. Non-governmental military mechs can only legally operate in the sanctioned planetside mech gladiatorial arena. Personally, I like version 2 best. 4. Object of the game: Team based online multiplayer combat. Two teams. Goal: Collect all the enemies’ heads before they collect yours. Game options include (a) death match with no time limit - first team to collect all enemy heads wins; (b) have the most heads at the end of a time based one round match; (c) Match play with a set number of rounds. Ten minute rounds are the default. Teams can be locked at the beginning of the match or can allow new players to join each team with set limits on keeping the teams even. For example, if someone wanted to join a match in progress, he could be forced to wait on the bench until someone else came along who could join the other team. If in multi-round match play during any one round, one team captures all of the opposing team's heads, the match is over and the capturing team wins the match. After each round, teams are awarded money based upon number of heads captured in prior round. As noted below, exceptional individual play might also be rewarded between rounds. Between rounds, teams have the opportunity to repair, re-arm, and upgrade weapons and frames. A tie in one round or multi-round match play results in extended play, which will be an amount of minutes equal to the amount of heads each team has; e.g., if the score is knotted at three heads apiece, the tie break period is three minutes. 5. Gameplay: Team based combat in a gladiatorial arena setting. Different sized arenas available for differing sized teams. Arena covered by forcefield bubble which protects crowd from stray fire. Arena map can be changed each round - floor drops, rotates, and new one rises into place. Each team has a base with a pit crew/repair shop. Each side also has a separate head trophy area (a number of stakes in the ground for captured heads to be stuck upon) which is halfway between each team's base and the center of the map. Each base will have defensive positions to put fire near and upon their goal area. There will be at least one gun mount available at the base for a goalie type player to guard their team's head trophy area. Each side starts with a certain base amount of money for weapon loadouts and mech frame choices. Different frames have different speeds/defensive/offensive capablities. Each side gets x number of minutes to plan their weapon loadouts before the match starts. They can choose from default combination setups or customize. Once the bell rings, the teams go at it. Mech frames are deformable. So if you shoot off an enemy arm which had a hard-mounted weapon you want, you can take it back to your base/pit crew to have your pit crew replace one of your arms with the new one, but you will be out of action for a short period. If you lose an arm, leg, etc., you can return to your pit crew for repairs (if you bring the arm or leg with you), and again will be out of action for a while, depending on nature of damage, which introduces a strategic element (do I play on firing with one weapon hand or slowly hop/crawl to the objective missing a leg or return to get new appendages put back on?) - kinda like going into the pits in a Nascar or Indy race. You can also go into your pit crew station for more ammo, which is much quicker than a repair stay (as a gas Indy refill is to a major repair pit stop). If you knock out an opposing bot (i.e. disable it), you must rip its head off and return it to your team's head trophy area and stick it on a stake (with consequent crowd reaction) in order to score a point. Heads on disabled mechs are active (i.e. you can look around and communicate) until the head is removed from the frame, whereupon you go to an HLTV type mode. When the head of one of your teammates is removed by an enemy mech, you hear an alarm and their radar dot changes color. A removed head’s radar dot signature ceases when the head is mounted on a stake. The number of points your team has is based upon the number of heads mounted on the stakes in your goal area. The opposing team can make a raid on your head trophy area to retrieve any of its team’s heads that you have captured. If someone on your team goes down, the only way for him to respawn is for a friend to remove his head and carry it back to your pit crew to be placed onto another mech frame. Each side starts with a set number of mech frames. More frames can be bought with round winnings. Possibility - are there mech retrieval teams to get the burned junk out of the way or does it remain as new cover? Round winnings are divided into individual money and team money. Individual money awarded based upon individual performance. Team money based upon team points. Bonus individual and team cash awarded for winning round. Individuals can upgrade individual guns, gear, etc. Teams can buy more mech frames, base guns, vehicles, etc. with their round winnings. Frames and other team purchases carry over to next round in multi round match play. This angle forces some team decisions as to strategy. Buy more frames, or better weaponry, stationary guns, base defense upgrades, grenades, etc.? Other team upgrades could be an extra hand in the pit crew which reduces respawn time, night vision, shield generators, better weapons, individual rear or side facing vid cams which show your rear view in a small window, vehicles, or a droid which can locate and retrieve heads. Of course, the droid could also be destroyed. Maybe have an easy voting system for what team upgrade your team wants. Majority vote is what the team upgrade is. Each team gets two minutes to make round purchase decisions. Force feedback, of course, would be well implemented. It would be cool if you get a buzz on your stick/gamepad when an enemy rips your head off. Voice communication would be critical. Teams cannot hear other side’s communications (unless descrambler purchased as team upgrade?) Other interesting strategy/gameplay ideas: Attach timed bomb device to head in your possession in case opposing team tries to take it back (countdown starts when head picked up again)? Attach mini camera to head in your possession. D/L virus to head in your possession which will cause systems of respawned mech to screw up unpredictably or will cause longer respawn time if pit crew detects virus and has to clean virus? Should there be a controller player in pit crew to direct team, watch camera feeds (ala Aliens)? Arena hazards - like big magnets, traps, pits, robotic animals, walls, light switches, etc. Special skill loadout - can choose default skillsets or create your own character with his own specialty and bio. Can customize the appearance of your head. Purchase descrambler to hear other team’s communications? Personal rewards in between rounds for stellar gameplay. Crowd favorites. Highlighted at end of round. MVP for the round can receive free, random individual upgrade. Home team advantages? Grenades, sticky grenades. Pyrotechnics. Claymores. Laser trip bombs. 6. Interface: FPS style. Personal radar in a corner showing friendly forces. Team upgrade would allow radar to show enemy locations. Another area would need to show key appendage/system damage so that you know when to hit the pits. Score/ammo counters/active weapon would also need to be shown. Also, as noted above, there is possibility for small video screens to improve situational awareness. 7. Advantages of this style of gameplay: Unique. No flags to capture! No territory to hold! You don’t have to worry about blood/gore factor. The objective is elemental to the lizard brain in all of us - take the enemy’s heads. There are elements of football/soccer/car racing/and (in multi round match play) even baseball here. Gladiatorial combat is an idea most folks can “get into” easily due to so many historical and entertainment based frames of reference. Respawning is believable and is a blend between unlimited instant respawns (ala Day of Defeat’s non-para maps) and CS one death and you are out for the round. Players should be able to suspend disbelief with the respawn system pretty quickly. The respawn system encourages teamwork and provides a workable medic element of gameplay into the mix, since players must locate their disabled teammates and bring their heads back to the pit crew before the teammate can respawn. If you have the opportunity to but don’t help out a stranded teammate, he’ll remember that next time you are stranded, unless you had a good strategic reason for not doing so. The use of mech frames allows for realistic damage and consequent limits on mobility without having to worry about the unreal aspects of humans walking around with missing arms or too many bullets in them. The idea of the pit crew is novel in this genre and allows flexibility in the respawn system. The mech customization elements will also appeal to the battlebots fans out there, and there must be a lot of them based upon the popularity of the shows. The gameplay allows for team strategic and tactical thinking. Do I take that gun in that arm I shot off back to my pit crew to upgrade my armament, or do I follow the mech to finish it off and take the head, or do I grab my disabled buddy’s head to take it back so he can respawn? Should I pick up both (even if hands are hardmounted weapons certain areas of the mech could be switch magnetized to pick up metal objects)? If I carry both, could I fire if fired upon? Or do I say screw that and press on to rescue captured heads or disable more enemy mechs. While teamplay is encouraged and rewarded, there is also provision for recognition of individual excellence. Copyright 2002, David Warren Any comments, suggestions or constructive criticism would be much appreciated. Would you want to play this game? -David aka Lochnar [edited by - Lochnar on September 13, 2002 11:24:50 PM]

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sounds like unreal tournament with mechwarrior style mechs

"The human mind is limited only by the bounds which we impose upon ourselves." -iNfuSeD

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Sounds pretty good

But I would worry about specifics like force feedback, background story after the design is more "well rounded" and complete...as it stands I can forsee a few problems

1) how are the repair pits to be axcessed?...can they be axcess by the opposite team?...could the player launch a rocket into one, destroying the enemies ability to repair themselves?...could the player use the pits as a defense meens...popping out to fire off some rounds then returning to the safety of the pit?

2) Are the crowds watching the event just there as graphics inorder to represent the arena...or can they provide a bit of gameplay (throwing random power-ups into the arena when a particular attack/kill pleases them)?...how are robots that don''t have arms to pick things up? can they kick the body parts around (causeing damage to things they hit)?

3) How are players to "pick up heads" and other body limbs?...can they still use weapons when holding such items...or would they require thier team mates to ''cover them'' as they would have limited defense abilities?....once the legs/arms and head are shot off...what is left (the body?)...can this prove usefull to the gameplay (bodies have a auto destruct doing rocket-launcher type damage to nearby players)?

4) weapons...are the standard FPS weapons used...or are they something more creative? Purhapse they are built into the arm...and a quick trip to the pits allows one to switch weapons?...Would the weapons follow the standard...weakest, weak, medium, strong, super strong...array...or would each be equaly strong but usefull for different purposes?

5) legs...are there more then one type? are they counted as a pair?

here is what I would do:

The crowd can throw out one of three power-ups...a speed burst...a damage burst...a "shield"...each lasts for 10 seconds or so and can be picked up by either side.

The robots are formed from four pieces...

1]the head
2]the body (which can self destruct when the player ''respawns''...or it can crawl around acting as a small platform to carry items around on)
3]the weapon arm...there are several types:
a] the hammer...does lots of damage but players must be up close
b] the nail gun...like a machine gun...each hit does little damage...but the range is unlimited
c] the electric yo-yo...has limited range (but longer then the hammer)...causes robots that are hit to freeze for a few seconds due to electrical shock
d] the grappleing hook...when fired the user freezes in possition...the weapon then rapidly pulls the user to whatever the weapon happens to make contact with...the farthur it has to pull the user the more damage it does to whatever the player lands on (allows players to hit enemies onthe other side of the arena...get pulled to them...and do massive hammer like damage to the enemy once the player lands on them...but up close causes less damage)
4] the legs...come in a few varieties
a] normal legs...good mobility with medium speed + the ability to jump
b] wheels...fastest speed lower mobility...must use ramps to jump
c] pogo-stick...best jumping (it is always jumping)...and great mobility...but speed is slow (more energy is used to jump then to carry the player forward...so it jumps 3 times inorder to carry the same distance as the legs cover in one step)

when players pick up items they can no longer use their weapons until the iteam is dropped...this forces the team to cover them (boosts the teamplay experience)

there are no pits...the core body can swap out weapons/legs/and head as it finds them in the field...this would take a second or two...and the part being replaced is dropped.

Each side has a team colored "end zone"...the first team to get all the heads in thier zone wins (with the score being the time it takes to do this)...each zone can be entered by both teams (to reclaime heads, etc..) and this acts as the re-spawn point for the team members once down...the robots can function fine without the head (but it effects weapon accuricy and potential damage when not mounted on the bot)

The robot body is actualy a small robot that can crawl around very slowly...each body is identical and can mount any head/weapon/legs it finds...when "fully loaded" players (that have head/weapon/legs) are damaged they lose one of thier axcessory body parts (head/weapon/legs)...when they lose all of them they can only crawl around and pick them back up (or hit respawn...the only time they can do this) and the body self destructs damageing anyother players in the area (so the player useing the body could crawl up behind the enemy then respawn to damage them)...at the start of the game each player spawns with a head and random weapon/legs...every respawn after that is done without a head and a random weapon/leg load out...the body cannot be killed (except by the player respawning) but it can use the power-up the crowd throws out (more speed = crawl faster...more damage = bigger self destruct..and shield = allows the body to "kick" body parts by running into them)

of course there would be some arena basied interactive weapons that are triggered by switches...

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sounds great! I am not a big fan of random power ups, I think they would take away from the stratagy of the game, it would kinda of throw the whole team work out of wack, you and your team get a game plan but as soon as someone grabs a power up the plan either changes drasticly to accomidate the poweruped player or it is wasted. this reminds me of the old movie Robojocks, which btw is a great 80''s B movie you should check out.

anyway i love the idea.

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Does sounds like a nice game, be sure to post the website when you start development.

Bleu Shift - www.bleushift.tk

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Thank you all for the feedback and suggestions.

Regarding the pit crew area, I did not envision it as a "pit" per se, but as a safe area within each team's base that only that team could access for repairs and returning friendly heads for respawning. For example have a snaking hall in Team A's base that has a clearly defined checkpoint that only allows members of Team A to pass beyond. Members of Team B who attempt to pass beyond the checkpoint power down and become immobilized, and, thus, easy pickings for Team A. At the end of the snaking hall is a door to the repair/respawn station.

I believe the respawn system is limited enough as it is. Knocking out the ability for anyone to respawn early in the game would frustrate more than entertain the majority of the players.

On the subject of respawning, however, I would like to share these additional thoughts, and that is first, that it might be interesting to have a friendly head return area in addition to the repair/pit crew area. One idea would be to have a chute near your goal area to drop the heads in. The chute, of course, leads to the repair/pit area. This would make respawning a bit quicker and would perhaps encourage more folks to help out their teammates. One in need of repairs or rearming, who also is carrying a friendly head, could go straight to the repair shop for his repairs and to drop the head off for respawning.

Second thought regarding respawning/returning from the pit area: it would be interesting to let the players have a few choices regarding where the reenter the battle after respwaning. Of course, a player could exit the pit crew/repair door at their Team's base, but it would be interesting to also give the player the choice of reentering the battle through a elevator shaft near their goal area or through another elevator near the center of the map. At these sites, a portion of the floor would simply slide back and the respawned mech would rise up and step into battle. This would help alleviate spawn camping, would promote team coommunication, would help last ditch goal defenses, and would help with flanking maneuvers.

On the topic of crowds, it would be nice to have an active crowd that reacts to the play in the arena, but I think their active input or influence on the battle should be limited to rewarding stellar individual play between rounds with certain upgrades. I agree it would be a little frustrating to have a well executed team strategy disrupted by a random invulnerabilty ball.

On picking up things, the mechs could have hands and the ability to carry weapons in hand or have some mounted to their arms, shoulders, etc. to allow hands to remain free. Or, as mentioned in my original post, certain parts of their body could be switch magnetized to pick up heads, weapons, etc.

Regarding setting up a web site to develop this game, one thing I mentioned in my other post is that I don't have the technical ability to create this game and am too far along in my chosen career path to enter the games industry full time. I also have no illusions that I can sell this idea to a game company. I would like, however, to give the legal rights to the idea to a group that is interested in making it fly. I really want to play this game! And I think there are enough novel elements here that would get the game some serious gaming press coverage. If anyone here is interested in developing this game, please contact me at warrendl@directvinternet.com

-David aka Lochnar

copyright 2002 David Warren

[edited by - Lochnar on September 16, 2002 5:51:27 PM]

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