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evanofsky

Grenades, Reloading, and Shields

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Three topics I'd appreciate some feedback on: 1. Grenades. What kind of grenades do you like? Why? In my current idea, the player would have two different kinds of grenades, easily accesible by two different buttons: explode-on-impact grenades, and normal frag grenades. The impact explosion grenades would leave a very noticeable trail of thick smoke and probably emit a lot of light, so it would be easier to see and dodge. 2. Reloading. Do you like reloading? Why or why not? More on the "aesthetic" side, what do you think of this non-reloading idea: the player carries two guns on his back and one in his hands. He has three ammo cartridges on his belt that feed via three chains on his arm into the gun. When the player switches weapons, the three chains rotate to the proper type of ammo, a "gun-switcher" device somehow puts the gun on the player's back, and the player slides the desired gun off the gun rack on his back with a satisfying "shinggg!" 3. Shields. Do you like shields (ala Halo)? Why or why not? I'm still wrestling with an innovative type of shields. Certain enemies (and all vehicles) would have shields that will deflect bullets, no matter how many times they are hit. Artillery, missiles, and grenades would still kill the enemy instantly, depending on how close they explode. The only other way to take down the shields would be to fire a special kind of bullet that would unfold before impact and attach itself to the enemy (vehicle). Vehicles would take more of these bullets before the shields went down. I think the grenade and reloading ideas are pretty well developed, but I'm still thinking about the shield concept. Comments? Questions? Criticisms? :)

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It all really depends on what kind of shooter you want it to be. But I would say:

Frags

1) If its a grenade, it should be GENADE, it explodes, ok, its not a toy. So make them powerfull.

2) In fact go donwload America's Army Operation and check how frag should work. They have perfect frags. Damage power and the way they handle player possition: standing gives you more damage, prone with head away from explosion gives you minimal.

3) Make sure that your frags bounce. The tactical advantage of a frag is not about hitting someone in open field, but reaching enemy hidden behind an obstacle, inside a room that kind of things. Crucial feature is physics with which your nades will bounce from a walls. You can check the way rifle grenades work in Wolfstein Enemy Territory.

4) If you can add "cooking" feature, again check America's Army for perfect cooking. (basicaly a nade explodes N seconds after a throw, but if you want to catch enemy up close you can drop the pin and still hold the nade, so it will explode N seconds after that action, and its up to you when to throw. If you dont, you kill yourself). It's hard to explain how it extends the tactical features of the game, but it does a lot:)

5) Dont get obsesed with killing features of a frag. If you only have hand size atomic bombs its not a good game design because it is plain to see how good it is and how to use it. Think about non lethal or for this matter "not aimed to kill" frag types. First - smoke ones. If you can make a real smoke in a game, so you can hide behind it, smoke grenades are great tactical feature.

Second, blocking sometimes is more the killing. So think about some time of blocking frag so a player could secure a narrow passage for some time. Such as tear gas to fill a room with so enemy wont be able to get through, but bullets can. A flame frag, which creates a burning spot for quite some time which can kill if you walk into it. But the difference between frag and flame is that frag blows up and kills at bigger distance, but flame burns in a smaller spot for longer time blocking enemy movement.

Stun, I have nothing to say but again go check Americas Army flash nades to see how it should be done. (In general AAO has best nades ever tbh). Just make sure you can make stun work. If a table plant in a room can block you from the stun effect while eveyone else gone blind its not real, mmkey?

If you have any science fiction stuff, add electromagnetic pulse frags to disable electronics or whatever you might have. Like surveliance cammeras.

Reloading
Extremely dependant on type of gameplay you want. But even serious sam has to reload i think. The design principle behind the reload is that you have to aim better and shoot less while managing to reaload at the times you think its the best. By the way this is why reload should take time, how much time depends on your game though.

If I was building a shooter it would be like this:

- If a weapon is a clip based, like and assualt rifle, then you reload a clip all ammo in it is wasted (basicaly you drop the clip on the floor, you migh pick it up if you have time, but in engagement you dont have time).

- Clips would be counted separately with different ammo in each of them. Not some generic int for ammo type.

- If you have chain feed... Well. Its hard to say whiout seeing the actual game and all backgound of it. But the more ammo a chain has, the longer reload time should be.

- As for ammo types, its a nice idea to have same gun with different ammo, but most of the time its hard to manage UI so people just make different guns with different ammo and player just switches to appropriate gun type.

Shields

Can't say a thing here, depends on what logic you want you game to follow.





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Yeah, I should have given some more info on what kind of game it is. It's an FPS (you've probably guessed that) taking place ~100 years in the future. The player will be fighting humans, not aliens, with ordinary guns (no lasers, plasma, or whatnot). There will be hover tanks, hover cars, and ordinary cars. Hopefully this gives you an idea of the desired gameplay.

On grenades, I really, really, really want to avoid grenade cooking. It just takes too long; you're standing there holding a grenade, not doing anything with it, while people are shooting at you. That's why I'm playing with the idea of explode-on-impact grenades. Other than that, I like the idea of lots of different grenade types (EMP, smoke, stun), and I'll try AAO to find out how to balance them properly. I'm thinking about a very large range (10-20 feet) but relatively low power; only an explosion within 1-5 feet would kill.

On reloading, I'm starting to think that certain weapons would be chain-fed with no clips, while others would be clip-based. I really hate reloading automatic weapons, but I see your point about making shots count. What might work is to chain-feed the automatic weapons, but make long-range weapons clip-based.

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If you dont want reloads make gun "heat up" to archive same effect.

You could check Wolfstein Enemy Territory to see how it can work. Basicaly you have lets say sten - a submachinegun which has very good accuracy. Then you fire the red bar goes up indicating temperature of the gun. Then you dont fire it goes down. If temperature reaches some level the gun locks up for some time and you can't fire or reload it at all.

Logic behind it is the same - if you just hold mouse down and spray bullets you will lock you gun pretty soon, but if you take single shots or burst with a bit of intervals you can fire forever, well in case of ET you have to reload the clip anyway, but heating will never stop you.

PS
Cooking nades is only valuable then:

A) Enemy can move fast to avoid explosion
B) The initial timer on the nade is long enough for enemy to see the nade and run away.

Problem is that if the timer is too short you wont be able to toss the nades at any decent distance.

Frag exploding on impact is bad idea because it wont let you bounce the nade, and this destroyes a lot of tactical options to get nades behind an obstacle. But if you dont have much obstacles... well again, depends.

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Your shields idea sounds less like Halo shields and more like damage types and armor classes.

A tank has a high armor class, so no weapon that deals less than 50 HP damage at a time can hurt it. You can fire at it with a pistol all day, and neer scratch it, even if you use enough ammo to kill a battalion of soldiers. A rocket, however, which does 120 damage per hit, will deal 70 damage to the tank.

Give each vehicle's armor a set of resistances, so maybe it can take 100% damage from ballistic sources, like railgun slugs, 20% damage from incendiary sources, like flamethrowers, and 150% damage from explosive sources, like artillery shells.

THen have each of the hero's weapons do one tyle of damage. Give him a machinegun (ballistic) and flamethrower (incendiary) and a rocket launcher (explosive), so he's got to switch between them and conserve his ammo according to what he's fighting against.

I'm a huge fan of the tactical consideration of reloading. It's been brilliant since Goldeneye. If you're using a big crazy cybernetic weapon array, then it might not be necessary, but reloading your guns after a big fight is a very satisfying moment, and reloading then during a fight can be a tense tactical scenario, encouraging use of cover and whatnot.

How about if your primary machinegun has a secondary feature, like an underslung weapons module? Let it be loaded with a variety of ammunition, like the 20mm grenade launcher thingie on the OICW (a terribly impractical weapon design, but what a boon to video games!). You could put six heavy armor-piercing shells in there, or four little homing rockets, or a dozen phosphorous flechettes or something, so your primary gun is a bullet hose, but the secondary fire is a dynamic and tactically interesting gameplay element. Or just put the novelty gun on your other arm.

As to Grenades, they're tricky. It's tough to balance them in a game. The temptation to make them realistic should be avoided. Hand grenades are very dangerous and difficult to use in real life, and your players will spend a lot of time blowing themselves up (see America's Army for examples). I like the Halo frag, but I don't like the speed with which they can be thrown. In multiplayer, it's not uncommon to see players charging in with their arm swinging, lobbing all eight grenades as fast as they can. That's weaksauce.

If you make impact grenades, make them slow to deploy. Timed grenades are fine. You can adjust damage types, duration of effect and whatnot as you see fit for the gameplay.

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I always loved the hand-grenades from Quake II. Although they don't really do enough damage (nothing does except the railgun, since you can survive being shot in the head), the way you throw it further the longer you hold it lets you manipulate both range and timer, and using them is really fun. I also second the point that bouncing grenades add a big piece of tactics to the game.

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In WW-II, the German stielgranate were approx. 50% less powerfull than the American handgrenades, but their shape and weight allowed a (much) larger range. So the idea of variating damage/range is actually quite normal. I'd put them under the different sides you can choose, rather than giving the player a 10+ grenade array to choose from.

As for cooking, I wouldn't go and stand on top of a hill while doing so. I would duck behind some cover and only stand up when I think it's the right time to throw. I wouldn't cut cooking out just because you don't like it - others may like it so it is there for them.

As for contact-grenades, I find such things usually a pretty strong type of weaponry, especially when launched instead of thrown. While it's less tactical than handgrenades are, it's faster and meaner - the grenade hits its target faster and also explodes instantly. Not so much tactical, but deadly whenever an opponent hasn't found sufficient cover against them. You may want to limit the availability of this strong type somewhat for that reason.

As for shields, type-specific shields might be usefull. I can't see projectiles actually being deflected by an energy-shield anytime soon (well, maybe the can be slown down a bit or cooled off, or such), but actual physical armour does a good job at spreading the impact energy. An energy or gas-based weapon would probably fit better in conjunction with energy shields.


But, question remains, are you going for a more 'realistic' fighting model, like Counter-Strike, or the other way, like Unreal or such? Not reloading and having shields sounds typically something for the latter type, while the tactical array of grenades feels better fitting in the former...

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With the grenades why not flip the cooking effect. You could have the longer a player cooks the grenade the longer it take to detonate (if this is a sci-fi game then it could be handeled by an electronic timer and detonater for the grenade). So if a player just taps the button then the grenade will explode on impact, but if they hold the button down before releasing the grenade, it will be able to bounce before it explodes. Or maybe you could set a timer using the alternate fire for the grenade.

As for shields on vehicles, if you are allowing multiple players to opperate a vehical then you could be very innovative with them and have the driver able to do more than just stear it. If you have a "generator" on the vehical then you could have the driver of the vehical able to reassign power to the different functions of the vehical (not all power needs to be used though and some could be in a "reserve" of un assigned power). You could have multiple shields that cover different directions and the player can increase the power to a specific shield at the cost of power to the others. This could be handeled in the UI by using the scroll wheel of the mouse (or its equivalent) select the device on the vehical, the left button increases the power to this device and the right mouse button decreases it.

This might be used like so: The Driver decides that they need to get to their destination fast and so raises the power level to the enigines giveing them more speed, but this means that the other systems' power are lowered (shileds, weapons, etc). As they near the destination the Driver decides that they will need to increase power to the weapons and shields, but the speed is not as important and increases the power as needed. During the fight the front shield is being hit hard and the rear shield is not taking damage so the Driver decreases the power to the rear shield and increases it to the front shield.

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This is really interesting. Thanks for all the ideas. Keep 'em coming!

After thinking about impact grenades some more, I'm thinking the only reason I like the idea is because ordinary grenades are so hard to use on vehicles. If you've ever played Halo, you know how hard it is to kill a moving Warthog with a frag grenade. So, what do you guys think of timed grenades that bounce and can be cooked, but will explode on impact with a vehicle? I'm also thinking that instead of having a timer, a grenade would explode once it stopped bouncing (or at least slowed down).

On reloading, yes, the player would still have to wait for the chain-fed weapons to cool off. I just think the chain idea would add so much to the "coolness" factor, even if I decide to make the gun behave exactly like a clip-based weapon. @Iron Chef Carnage: I see your point about reloading after a long battle. I was thinking the player should have a "reload" animation of sorts that unloads the chain, attaches an ammo cartridge picked up from the smoking remains of your conquered foe, and feeds the new, longer chain back into the gun. "ZZZZip!" Ahh, very satisfying. :)

With the shields, I'm getting a decidedly negative reaction. Do you think it could become an interesting addition to the gameplay with a little work, or should I drop shields completely?

Again, thanks for all the feedback guys!

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Hand-Grenade are designed to be used from a protected area. Current era grenade shouldn't be cooked. The fuses aren't that accurate.

The only contact grenades current available are launcher fired and most have a minimum arming range of 200+ meters.

However since your timeline is at least a century in the future:

Grenades
I really like the idea of having a Grenade Launcher on the standard infantry weapon. Make the launcher single-shot, reloadable to reduce spamming.
The grenades could be configurable for contact, timed, or sticky-proxy via a mouse-wheel controlled UI. You could even setup a system where are target is ranged via laser and the launcher select the correct configuration for the target.

Hand-Grenades could have a click to set timer interface that will cycle from 5 to 60 seconds in 5 second intervals. You could also activate nano-glue in the grenade to make it sticky against any target.

Grenade Types:
High Explosive
Fragmentation (Less Blast Damage Than HE. I would use probability to simulate hundreds of fragments)

Incendiary (The original infantry anti-vehicle weapon)
Smoke
Stun (Flashbang or Neurological)

Reloading
Reloading is necessary in any game that isn't pure arcade. Also vehicles should have limited ammunition and a reload time.

Shields
"Energy" Shields are impractical unless your primary threats are Energy or Plasma based.
Advanced armors are very practical. Look-in current anti-ballistic research.

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F.E.A.R.'s grenades had a fuse, but would "smart-detonate" if they hit enemies. It was good, because you could bounce them through a window or rolls them through a door, or you could go into super slo-mo and paste a guy between the eyes with a fastball of horror.

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Since users are what in the end counts, here's what I observed in the few LAN parties I made, which are always good methods to observe "real" players. In my case, the players were ranging from newbies to average (some of them are beginners some occasional).

Grenades
What I have observed is that being killed because of a grenade slipped in the path is remarkably boring. If they have to wait before explosion, they should explode very soon. I would say that 1) they should explode after a few seconds on the ground, still being visible and 2) the player should not be able to have more than X (say 1 or 2) grenades around, meaning very slow throwing. I have seen a game (don't remember what) that allowed you to shoot a ton of grenades before the first explodes.

Grenades should be much more powerful that rockets - at least this is what the observed users expects - because they are much more difficult to use.
However, this hold true only for "fast" games. If the game is "slow" then grenades, being able to bounce, have a definite advantage. In this case, maybe they should be less powerful.

Reloading
Controversial at least. The observed pattern is that stockpiling players get less advantage because they can get only limited advantage (this is good) however, in all the games with reloading we played, everyone sooner or later screamed because he ran out of bullets. I would say it's game dependant but I'm confident reloading is good.

Shileds
Bad idea as far I've seen because they have limited visibility. I noticed players feel much better with a decent armor system... if you have one.

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