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C&C: Squad-Tactics Combat

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So my last game idea didn't really work out so here I am trying again! Still based on managing a squad, but this seems more do-able and most importantly fun. Hmmkay Synopsis The player controls a squad of eight to twelve soldiers with a 2d overhead view. The opposing team has the same sort of squad, either controlled by the AI or another human over the internet. The game is real-time, and though I don't think I've ever seen a real-time tile-based game I'm considering it for the sake of easier coding (especially since I've never done pathfinding before). The player's objective is to eliminate his opponent's soldiers and depending on how soldiers are spawned, perhaps more for victory. The game's terrain will probably be primarily urban. Each team has an indestructible radio transmitter; through this the player is able to request equipment to be dropped from a friendly cargo plane at X interval of time. Equipment such as grenades, more powerful guns, body armor, ammo (?), and perhaps even new soldiers or vehicles can be dropped. However, the booty will only be dropped at the location of the transmitter; thus if Red team steals Blue team's transmitter they will be able to deny Blue their loot for a time. Also important is fog-of-war; I would like line of sight to be very limited. Alright, what about the combat? Are those soldiers just standing around? The player starts with the maximum possible number of soldiers equipped with low-power guns and light to no armor. The player (henceforth 'he'; I'm sexist!) can direct these soldiers via mouse and perhaps keyboard to do things like move to such-n-such location, attack a soldier, pick up a transmitter or equipment from a fallen soldier, follow and back up a fellow soldier, defend a certain area, and perhaps more. I am thinking that since soldiers are relatively few in number and vital to survival, they should be pretty awful tough so a player's soldiers are not immediately exterminated early in the game from light arms fire, no matter what realism has to say about it. While risky, taking the transmitter on a raid would allow soldiers to pick up heavier weaponry or more supplies as they're dropped rather than having a soldier back at base take it to them. Why am I reading this? I was hoping to poll you guys on several things:
  • Does this sound fun at all?
  • How many zillion times has this been done before?
  • Should the player have to manage resources like ammo (making sure to request it in a cargo drop over other sexier equipment) or should ammo be ignored/unlimited? Would ammo just slow down and hinder gameplay or would it add a desirable layer of strategy?
  • Should soldiers be replaceable? How easily?
  • Would a tile-based AND real-time game be too weird or choppy looking?
  • Most importantly - any ideas for how this design could be improved?
Thanks for reading! All feedback appreciated.

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Does this sound fun at all?
It does, but since the game as I understand it is basically rts-style combat with the base building and resource management stripped down, I'd suggest to try to make combat more complex or involving than 'go here - shoot enemy'.

How many zillion times has this been done before?
I'd guess several, but that is true of most ideas so it not something that should put you off the idea with any certainty. It's all about how well you can implement/tweak it.

Should the player have to manage resources like ammo (making sure to request it in a cargo drop over other sexier equipment) or should ammo be ignored/unlimited? Would ammo just slow down and hinder gameplay or would it add a desirable layer of strategy?
Hard to answer so specific questions with little but a rough idea but I'd say a desirable layer of strategy, for reasons stated first above. But going the resource management route is not the only way to make combat more involving/strategic I reckon.

Should soldiers be replaceable? How easily?
Again, this is way too specific to answer. This is probably best answered after a few weeks of playtesting a demo... But it depends on what type of combat you want. If it's hard o replace dead soldiers, you will take more care and not rush in and the other way around.

Would a tile-based AND real-time game be too weird or choppy looking?
Possibly? If the tiles are too large - thus making movement very zig-zaggy. You could use tiles deep down for pathfinding etc., and hide it from the player though...



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I really dig the idea of the transmitter. A lot. :)

However, there's a problem. What's to stop me from just loading up on the best weapons in the game right from the get-go? There should be some mechanic for earning access to heavy weapons and other cool stuff, which is then requested via the transmitter. Also, if I steal the enemy transmitter, can I use it to weapons that are only available to his team?

- Does this sound fun at all?

I think there's potential there.

- How many zillion times has this been done before?

The first thing I thought of was Cannon Fodder, then I blended it with a little bit of X-COM and was playing a good game in my head. :) I think it's pretty close to that sweet spot of being unique enough to be interesting but familiar enough to be accessible. Of course, this is based on what pretty much amounts to a high concept right now...

- Should the player have to manage resources like ammo...

That depends on how tactical you want it to be. For a more arcade-action experience, I'd say no. In either case, soldiers should be limited to one or maybe two weapons, so you have to make interesting decisions about equipment loadout. If it was my decision, I'd make it arcadey with unlimited ammo, and manage weapon balance via rate-of-fire and reload times.

- Should soldiers be replaceable? How easily?

Depends on the game objective. If it's just team deatchmatch, then eliminating the enemy squad scores your team a point, squads are respawned at home base, and you go at it again. If it's more complex than that, like a BF1942-style objective with control points and all that, then maybe you can request reinforcements with your transmitter?

- Would a tile-based AND real-time game be too weird or choppy looking?

Yes. I agree with Wombah that you could maybe use tiles behind the scenes to simplify pathfinding or something, and you could certainly construct the map out of tiles if you want, but units should not appear to move on a per-tile basis unless your going for a tactics-RPG style game.

- Most importantly - any ideas for how this design could be improved?

I would have a more interesting objective than just eliminating the enemy team. Like in Counterstrike, you have the "detonation" game mode (or whatever the hell it's called) where one team places a bomb, and the other team tries to stop them, or disarm the bomb before it explodes. You *can* win by eliminating the opposing team, but there's an extra wrinkle there to add focus.

-Josh

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Thanks for the responses guys!

Quote:
Original post by Wombah
Does this sound fun at all?
It does, but since the game as I understand it is basically rts-style combat with the base building and resource management stripped down, I'd suggest to try to make combat more complex or involving than 'go here - shoot enemy'.

Fair - what I'm aiming for is sort of like an rts except rather than "send 20 spearmen here to attack these cavalry, did my gold mine run out?, now where are my barracks at I need more archers" I'd like "Cover this man, hide behind this building - there's a sentry on that route so if we want to take their transmitter we'll have to take the long way and they might already have heavier weapons than we can manage by then." This necessarily means throwing out things like resource gathering and complex unit production in favor of focus on tactics. Rather than sending a mob of units at another mob of units, ideally the player will be controlling which soldier each unit attacks and how, along with where they're running when things go bad.

Quote:

Would a tile-based AND real-time game be too weird or choppy looking?
Possibly? If the tiles are too large - thus making movement very zig-zaggy. You could use tiles deep down for pathfinding etc., and hide it from the player though...

Interesting! Thanks.

Quote:

invicticide
However, there's a problem. What's to stop me from just loading up on the best weapons in the game right from the get-go? There should be some mechanic for earning access to heavy weapons and other cool stuff, which is then requested via the transmitter. Also, if I steal the enemy transmitter, can I use it to weapons that are only available to his team?

Re: heavy weapons - I was thinking of either making each piece of equipment you order have a certain cost so if you order two big ol' machine guns, the cost of ordering that is equal to the other team being able to buy body armor, sensors, and perhaps some ammo and grenades, with the ability to buy stuff building up over time. Of course, ordering machine guns also submits to the risk that if you lose your machine gunner, he just dropped his really expensive gun on the ground for any old rookie to pick up and wield against you.
Alternate systems for making sure everybody doesn't order only rocket launchers all the time are more than welcome, of course. :)

The other is something I meant to post in the questions section but forgot - what happens when you steal the transmitter? I'd certainly like to incur a penalty for the team that lost it (or a gain for the other) but neither do I want to go overboard. I'm thinking the team whose xmitter has been stolen could queue up something like a large bomb to be dropped where the xmitter is so 1) the lost xmitter's team loses out on a round of useful cargo and 2) the team with 2 xmitters has to stay away from the stolen one and doesn't get too much from it other than denying the other team for a while. Better suggestions are much appreciated!

Quote:

- Should the player have to manage resources like ammo...

That depends on how tactical you want it to be. For a more arcade-action experience, I'd say no. In either case, soldiers should be limited to one or maybe two weapons, so you have to make interesting decisions about equipment loadout. If it was my decision, I'd make it arcadey with unlimited ammo, and manage weapon balance via rate-of-fire and reload times.

Hmm. I guess when the time comes I'll see how much the player already has on his plate and decide if ammo is going to improve things or just be an irritation.

Quote:

I would have a more interesting objective than just eliminating the enemy team. Like in Counterstrike, you have the "detonation" game mode (or whatever the hell it's called) where one team places a bomb, and the other team tries to stop them, or disarm the bomb before it explodes. You *can* win by eliminating the opposing team, but there's an extra wrinkle there to add focus.

There's a heck of a lot of ways to go with this and I'll certainly think about this one. How does the prevent-the-bomb team disarm the bomb in CS? Is it just a matter of getting a soldier to it? Something that would put emphasis on the player's limited line of sight could be interesting, too.

Quote:

Wiggin
In case you aren't familiar with it, the first in the genre and a great game:

Cannon Fodder

Looks cool; it reminds me a little bit of General Chaos. The game that I've played that's most related to what I'm talking about here is Team Buddies but I gather it's not that well-known and frankly it didn't take too terribly long for it to get easy/shallow-feeling. Thanks for the link!

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To create an interesting tsactical game, I would have different weapons better in differnt situations. One way is to apply a scissors/paper/rock system.

If you had 3 basic loadout classes (Scout, Marine and Heavy) and each type is more effective against one type than the other (Scout -> Heavy -> Marine -> Scout) and each type has 3 weapons, each designed to take out a specific troop type (but can be used to lesser effect on other types), you can make a system where there is no "Best Weapon" and make sure that it is the player's use of strategy and tactics that wins the game rather than "the first to get the best loadout wins".

Here are some suggestions:
Scout
Light armour, but can use camoflage, so it can move fast and remain hidden.
Weapons
Sniper Rifle: Long range, but slow rate of fire. It is good at killing Heavy type troops as it can hit from long range and the Heavy can't usually get to cover or close the gap fast enough.
Knife: If the scout can get close to another lightly armed troop then they can quickly kill them in short order. Against Hevy troops the knife does little damage.
Grenade: Grenades are good against moderatly armored troops (Marines) as the Heavy armoured troops can survive grenades (even at close range) and lightly armoured troops (Scouts) can usually find cover.

Marine
Moderatly Armed with a good selection of weapons.
Weapons
Rifle: This weapon has a lot of stopping power and a long range, however it does have a slow rate of fire. This makes it effective against slower moving, heavily armoured troops, but not as effective agsinst faster moving troops.
SMG: A good ranged weapons, but in close quarters combats it can be a bit unweildy, also it lacks the stopping power to punch through the thougher armours, so it is good at attacking other moderately armoured enemies.
Pistol: This weapon lacks the stopping power to be effective against heavily armoured troops and is not even very effective against troops with moderate armour. However, it is acurate over short ranges and is effective in close quaters due to its lighter weight. This makes it effective against lightly armoured troops like Scouts.

Heavy
Heavily armoured, which makes them slow, but also has access to the most destructive weapons.
Weapons
Rail Gun: This is like a super powerful rifle with DU ammunition. It has a very slow rate of fire, but can easily punch through the toughest armour.
Machine Gun: This weapon fires massive amouts of buletts but is innacurate at long ranges, but does not have the stopping power to punch through the heavy armours. Moderate or lightly armoured troops in its field of fire will be mown down.
Laser Gattling Gun: This uses a laser array, fiered in rapid succession to avoid over heating. It has high acuracy and long range, however moderate armour or heavier will ablate and stop the troop from taking damage. Light armour, however is ineffective and the long range will be able to target snipers.

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The rock-paper-scissors system is a great way to do game balance, but I feel if it is strictly light>heavy>medium>light then it could get stale. If you mix this system with differeing weapons for different game situations, it could work pretty well. Like if you had a weapon that could hit around corners or a gun with ricochet bullets. Or even make some mirror surfaces for your lasers to bounce off of :). And then Area of Effect/Splash damage weapons that would deal less damage than others but they hit multiple people. You get the point.

And also, I don't like the idea of classes as much as the idea of really specific people that you are fighting with. For example, you don't have a light-armor, you have an engineer named Fred who goes with you through all the missions (if you choose to take him) and a choice of a few squad leaders with their own abilities or whatever. And then you have a demolitions expert, a medium-weaponry person who specializes in assault rifles, a sneaky light-armored guy who has especially low visibility stats. For a massive-army game like Starcraft, named units don't work so well. But for something more commandos-style, it feels more immersive and provides interesting differences between two light-armor class people.

Those are my ideas.
Have a nice day :)

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No offence Edtharan, but in order to get away from RTS-like focus on mass-production and soldier type vs. what they do, I think I'll want something more nuanced and flexible than R->P->S.

Quote:
Original post by Kriuq
The rock-paper-scissors system is a great way to do game balance, but I feel if it is strictly light>heavy>medium>light then it could get stale. If you mix this system with differeing weapons for different game situations, it could work pretty well. Like if you had a weapon that could hit around corners or a gun with ricochet bullets. Or even make some mirror surfaces for your lasers to bounce off of :). And then Area of Effect/Splash damage weapons that would deal less damage than others but they hit multiple people. You get the point.

Something like I was thinking (though admittedly your ideas are a little more...bizarre [wink]) - too much body armor or firearms could slow a soldier down, or heavier weaponry somewhat countered with better body armor or perhaps heavy weapons require so much ammo to operate they become a large drain on your new-equipment budget. Or perhaps Wombat was correct in saying I'll have to figure all this out once the actual game is in place (which could be a while).

Quote:
And also, I don't like the idea of classes as much as the idea of really specific people that you are fighting with. For example, you don't have a light-armor, you have an engineer named Fred who goes with you through all the missions (if you choose to take him) and a choice of a few squad leaders with their own abilities or whatever. And then you have a demolitions expert, a medium-weaponry person who specializes in assault rifles, a sneaky light-armored guy who has especially low visibility stats. For a massive-army game like Starcraft, named units don't work so well. But for something more commandos-style, it feels more immersive and provides interesting differences between two light-armor class people.

Those are my ideas.
Have a nice day :)

Losing a named soldier you'd had around for a while in X-Com was always particularly traumatic. I think I agree with the principle of what you're saying but I'm not sure I want to get into RPG-like stats, either, so maybe this is something that could be determined solely by equipment and level of injury - no body armor is faster and maybe stealthier, handguns are lightweight but not very powerful, sniper rifles have ridiculous range but ... (ok what is the downside to a sniper rifle? tunnel vision? Slow rate of fire?)

So, naming soldiers for fun and efficiency: probably in. "Mandy" rolls off the tongue much quicker than "female soldier with heavy body armor, sniper rifle w/ 2 rounds left, grenade, and a wounded leg".

You have a nice day too.

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