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tdphette

Airship Combat Game Concept

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tdphette    154
I've got a concept for a multiplayer airship combat game that I am currently working on. Much of the actual graphical rendering code is already finished, but I still have a lot to do on the actual game logic and interface. In many respects it will be like existing space empire building games in which you build up your economy, establish trade, defend against enemies... the twist here is that instead of spaceships you have steam powered airships. Instead of gas, the airships are lifted by a mineral with anti-gravity properties that increase when heated. Large rocks and islands composed of this mineral float in the air. There is no land below, only a dangerous layer of clouds called The Maelstrom from which nothing ever returns. Players can construct flying castles that serve as the 'space stations' one might visit in a traditional space empire game. The airships will be very customizable. The shapes and arrangements of major components (the lifting body, gondola, props, and cannons) can be altered. Custom textures and images can be applied. Also, internal machinery can be customized. Boiler pressure capacity, ratios of steam to the lifting body versus the engines... even the cannons are steam powered and thus weapons use can effect performance of other systems. Even the control panel is customizable. Instruments can be customized, themed, and even dragged around and hooked to different edges of the screen. Nevertheless, the overall look I am going for is industrial revolution era technology, with a tendency toward analog/retro. Still, I've made the controls mostly translucent so as not to obscure the action overly much, and there is a neat feature where you can rotate them offscreen when not needed. For those of you running Linux, you can check out some of the early alpha rendering code by downloading the code at: http://www.glaci.com/downloads/blig-0.1.tar.gz I'll eventually port to Windows and Mac also, and I'll get some screenshots up in a few days also. Eventually I'll announce another release and post details at www.gridslammer.org (which currently only has information about and old isometric game engine of mine). I'll be sure to mention it here when I do. In the mean time, I would love to hear from others with thoughts about the overall game concept. Does it sound interesting? Too similar to some other game? Any interesting features you would love to see incorporated in this sort of game? Any pet peeves you would like me to avoid? Thanks, Thad

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Edtharan    607
There are now many different types of Multiplayer games, so it is not just enough to call them multiplayer games. There are team based games where each member of a "Team" has a certain role. Then there are Massively multiplayer games and finally the general multiplayer games.

MMO games generally have team aspects to them as this forms part of the social dynamic element of them.

Games like unreal Tournament and Quake are the general type of Multiplayer game as each person does not have an overly distinct role in the game.

Multiplayer games like the Battlefield series are weakly team based games as each member of the team does have distinct abilities, but the main role (shooting guns, etc) is shared between all the member types.

If you are going for a team based multiplayer game, then you might think about the combat paradigm you want to use. An easy one is the Combined Arms Theory (CAT).

Under CAT each element has a weakness that another element can exploit. For instance in Medieval warfare the Pikemen would be able to beat Cavalry, Archers could beat Pikemen and Cavalry could beat Archers.

For you Airship combat you might have: Capital Gunships beat Fighters, Fighters beat Bombers and Bombers Beat Gunships.

Gunships would have lots of defence weapons. They would be used to hold territory and provide defensive cover for the rest of a team's fleet.

The Bombers would be strike craft capable of attacking and destroying the bigger Capital Gunships. They would have long range missiles, but relatively little defensive capability.

The Fighters would be designed for speed and manoeuvrability. They would be able to chase down the long range missiles shot form bombers (or have a chance to do so), and have the fire power to easily tackle the bombers in a straight up fight. But, being fast they would need to have very little armour, and so be vulnerable to power of the Gunships. Also, as the Gunships would have much heavier armour, the fighters would not be as capable of penetrating it as the Bomber's long range warhead does.

This creates a system where the player need to take one of 3 roles, Gunship captain, Bomber Captain or fighter pilot (and you could have roles within the Gunships or Bombers). Each role is necessary for your team to be effective, although it would be possible for the team to just take fighters, the team would have to be extremely good to defeat an opposing team consisting of mainly (or completely) Gunships.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I love your setting. What I think would fit in nicely is biplanes in fighter role. Just say that internal combustion is available but fuel is expensive, so all ships that are big enough to accommodate steam engines do so. And perhaps there is a certain minimum of that antigravity mineral so small crafts can't use it.

There is just something so cool about swarms of biplanes buzzing around two huge flying castles that are bombarding each other with heavy artillery while shredding the aforementioned biplanes with flak.

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Talroth    3247
sounds a lot like an old game: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/stratosphere/screenindex.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gsimage

Your game does sound fun, but a few questions:

If there is no land at all, where do they get resources?

Or are nodes of this floating ore heated far below on the surface, and then naturally float up with other hunks of stuff attached to them?


Also, a note on combined arms. Combined arms is NOT about rock paper scissors, but about something doing something another thing can't, in support of each other. On earth, we have a huge range of different 'spaces' that war is fought in, therefore we have a huge range of different arms to fill those roles. On land we have wide open spaces, like plains and deserts, and then closed spaces like forests and cities. There is also the air above it, and seas around it. Each of these spaces have different practical requirements, and some also need special counters for overlapping spaces and subspaces. And then there are also general special case counters within sets of subspaces.


Now, your game appears to have only one space, the air. There isn't anything below it, and I'm assuming you can't go above it. Without land or mountains that become practical to position units on, all you have is the air.

The question then becomes, what is physically possible? Are your only weapons mid-long range steam powered cannons? (Personally I would include gunpowder, and traditional cannons, and use steam power to move and aim them) if so then you are going to be mainly limited to dreadnought style battleships and their support ships of pre-second world war. Large, fairly slow ships, blasting away at each other, with smaller slightly faster ships being able to take a large ship down if it gets caught alone against several smaller ships, at the risk of sinking a few small ones.

If you get missiles, or fast and small aircraft then things move to a post second world war aircraft carrier fleet, with smaller support fleets. (If there isn't an 'underwater' then there are no subs to fear and need to protect against.) War becomes an issue of trying to draw a carrier's air wing away to the wrong target, and then move your own against it, or drawing the air wing into a general trap. You also need your carrier support ships to help guard against other types of attack, like forced rush of smaller 'surface' ships to gun down your carriers.

From the point of game play the question has to be answered: How fast do you want your game to move? Even with aircraft carriers, the game should still run at less than a frantic click fest needing you to be clicking more than once every few seconds.


I really think the idea of the resources floating up from below in random nodes, that would then drift around, cool off, and sink back down would be really cool. Keeps you from being able to try and wall yourself in around a large resource node, as you may find a few minutes later that it has cooled and fallen back down. Also means you have to keep scouts moving (should be fairly automated, no one likes having to give scouts their every order, we just want to be able to say "Scout around here and report back, or keep scouting till you die/need to return for fuel") finding where new resources are popping up, and where the other side is exploiting them.

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tdphette    154
> If there is no land at all, where do they get resources?
>
> Or are nodes of this floating ore heated far below on the surface,
> and then naturally float up with other hunks of stuff attached to
> them?

Thats not a bad idea... or perhaps they drift down from The Canopy (a higher layer of atmosphere where the air becomes two thin and cold for the airships to journey). Resources might rise and sink between the Maelstrom and the Canopy in some cycle that is not completely
understood but actively studied and contemplated by the the researchers of the Realms. I've even thought that much of the back story and help screens might be presented as historical or scientific papers printed and artfully illustrated in a retro style.

Resource management and trade will play at least a large a part in the game as combat. Indeed, If you settle a Realm that is closer to the 'civilized' areas, you might play a mostly commerce based game (establishing trade routes and the like), while if you journey out to the wilder sections, piracy and military action is more common. The difference could be enforced with NPC 'police' ships that patrol the civilized zones.

Thad

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Also, a note on combined arms. Combined arms is NOT about rock paper scissors, but about something doing something another thing can't, in support of each other.

Yes, That is true. I was keeping is simple and as there was only 1 space (air) I didn't include any of the other layers.

Quote:
Resource management and trade will play at least a large a part in the game as combat.

Oh, ok. Is this more of an RTS than a game where each player controls 1 ship (or several players in 1 ship)?

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Xtlk    126
You could have tall mountains popping out of the "maelstrom" in various areas covered with a variety of resources and also providing impassable barriers for these floating castles and other flying contraptions.

Of course this idea would be for a rts styled game. You could have multiple types of units that you control. Maybe half of the units would be fighters, others for collecting resources, and others for repairing. You could have multiple floating castles that act as HQ's/aircraft carriers.

Or if it is a MMO you enter the scenario as different units. In this case everyone would have the capability of gathering resources from which they could use to upgrade their to better ships or what not.

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tdphette    154
Quote:
Original post by Xtlk
You could have tall mountains popping out of the "maelstrom" in various areas covered with a variety of resources and also providing impassable barriers for these floating castles and other flying contraptions.

Of course this idea would be for a rts styled game. You could have multiple types of units that you control. Maybe half of the units would be fighters, others for collecting resources, and others for repairing. You could have multiple floating castles that act as HQ's/aircraft carriers.


Yes, this will be an RTS, with each player having a base castle and multiple flying ships to command. Over time they can build additional structures and ships, expanding their domain. You can take command of a single ship and control it directly, or stand back and give more general commands to ships (even entire groups of ships).

I like the idea of mountains... I've been considering a few ideas like that. Some sort of barriers and obstacles is important to enhance the strategic parts of the game. Some parts of the game universe could even be like flying in large caverns. I've also considered giant portals that connect various realms (relics from an ancient race?). It would certainly provide a convenient way to tie multiple game servers together into one universe. The portals would make natural choke points that must be defended.

Work on the game engine continues nicely. I've created some slick targeting code that allows one to easily select game objects using the mouse. The mouse 'cursor' is a 3D rendered crosshair that changes color when it goes over a selectable object. My next step is to add a control panel widget that spits out some info about the object when you mouse over it. That will actually be rather easy given the component based control panel I've already developed. Then its on to a few optimizations, like depth sorting the render list and culling hidden objects. I hope to do another release in a about a week, including Windows and Mac so as to get more feedback.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Thad

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Xtlk    126
I good idea would be to make these portals floating shrines made of the anti-gravity mineral - that would explain why they are floating in mid-air and the whole relic thing.

Otherwise it sounds like a fun game to play.
Good luck.

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WorldPlanter    266
I'm curious. Is this supposed to be a parallel reality based on Earth or is the game world a completely fictional planet?

I also thought it might be interesting if the anti-grav minerals were delivered to the planet in question via a mysteriuos meteorite shower that occured 10-100 years before the time period that the game starts in. Any mass of land that was impacted by chunks or fragments of this mineral were ripped from the surface of the planet to the natural elevation that the mineral hovers at in the planet's atmosphere.

There would still be land mass below the cloud layer, but the planet's surface would be in such disarray as to make settling and living there impractical and dangerous. In fact, maybe a large dust cloud still exists below the cloud layer produced by the meteorite impacts that blocks out most sunlight.
This would make plant and animal life scarce on the planet's surface and hard to maintain. Only the floating continents/land masses would offer viable agricultural zones required to maintain civilization and complex life.

This could also create some interesting story elements. What if the settlements of the floating worlds believe that they were only spared because they were on land masses that were impacted by the anti-grav minerals that allowed their region to rise above the dust cloud. Maybe they assume that everyone below the dust cloud is dead. Or maybe some peoeple believe that there could still be survivors below the clouds but aren't sure. It could be a mystery that requires unlocking throughout the game. In the meantime, you're trying to survive and establish the best conditions for the success of your civilization/colony and make a new future in the clouds among the floating continents and islands.

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Tesseract    285
As an earlier poster stated, you could have islands which include the antigrav mineral being heated deep in the maelstrom, then floating up to habitable levels, where they would cool off and then sink back into the maelstrom.

You could have part of the game being "capturing" these islands, and installing heaters to keep the islands floating, and maybe building engines into the islands so they can be maneuvered...

Just my $.02. That, and I think this will be an absolutely beautiful game when it is completed. I am looking forward to screenshots!

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WorldPlanter    266
Quote:
Original post by Tesseract
As an earlier poster stated, you could have islands which include the antigrav mineral being heated deep in the maelstrom, then floating up to habitable levels, where they would cool off and then sink back into the maelstrom.


Although an interesting idea for game play, it seems likely that the anti-grav mineral's temperature would eventually reach an equilibrium and find an optimal elevation in the planet's atmosphere. I also like the idea of the floating continents or islands being more substantial and permanent. It's kind of nice knowing that a certain location won't disappear when you leave.

However, I think a compromise could be made that would allow more permanent locales to exist while still providing for non-fixed resource nodes as others have described them. I was thinking that the larger the mass that was attached to the antigrav minerals that the slower it would have to pass between the maelstrom and the canopy, so it would naturally obtain the aforementioned equilibrium described above as it was exposed to a more moderate temperature over a longer duration. But smaller deposits that are connected or associated with less additional mass from land and such would still oscillate between the maelstrom and canopy at fairly regular intervals.

This would allow there to be both permanent floating locales in addition to temporal anitgrav mineral resource nodes. Of course the most concentrated source of the mineral would be found on the floating worlds but mining them would have damaging consequences since it would cause the location's floating ability to decline or fail, thereby losing all settlements, bases, etc. attached to it.

I also like the idea of having mountains stick up through the clouds to make the environment more interesting. I definitely think you have something with this concept.

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WorldPlanter    266
Quote:
Original post by WorldPlanter
However, I think a compromise could be made that would allow more permanent locales to exist while still providing for non-fixed resource nodes as others have described them. I was thinking that the larger the mass that was attached to the antigrav minerals that the slower it would have to pass between the maelstrom and the canopy, so it would naturally obtain the aforementioned equilibrium described above as it was exposed to a more moderate temperature over a longer duration. But smaller deposits that are connected or associated with less additional mass from land and such would still oscillate between the maelstrom and canopy at fairly regular intervals.


I guess the best analogy of this I can think of is the circulation of water throughout the planet. It starts off at it's liquid temperature in the form of lakes, rivers, and oceans. As it gets hot enough a small percentage of it turns to water vapor and enters the atmosphere until it collects and gets cool enough to revert into liquid form and fall back to Earth again to continue the cycle. The smaller the body of water, such as a puddle or small pond, the more rapidly its temperature can change and thus evaporate or freeze over. Large bodies of water such as lakes or oceans don't evaporate or freeze nearly as quickly because they retain heat better. The vast majority of ocean water will never know any other state than liquid because of this.

So using water as an analogy I thought it'd be cool if the greater the concentration of the antigrav mineral the more slowly it changes its temperature and consequently the less likely it is to oscillate back and forth between the mealstrom and the canopy. Just something to think about.

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Xtlk    126
Sounds to me like a good idea actually,
The people living above the maelstrom would obviously need a permanent landmass to live upon. The floating castles could just be fortress built upon chunks of land with plenty of anti-grav material. They keep it floating and maneuver them with engines. Of course if they moved it would be very slowly - they would be the hq and not really meant for battle.
Then the smaller land masses that continuously ascend and descend would provide temporary barriers and mines for the anti-grav, making strategic ideas more necessary.

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
The floating castles could just be fortress built upon chunks of land with plenty of anti-grav material. They keep it floating and maneuver them with engines. Of course if they moved it would be very slowly - they would be the hq and not really meant for battle.
Then the smaller land masses that continuously ascend and descend would provide temporary barriers and mines for the anti-grav, making strategic ideas more necessary.

So these large land masses would effectively be like my Gunships, the smaller land masses would be able to transport troops to assault the larger landmasses, or hold weapons capable of assaulting the defences of the larger landmasses, and then you could have tiny land masses (or even just vehicles with some of this anti-gravity mineral) that are fast, and are good at taking out the assault troops or even destroying the smaller land masses. The tiny land masses would not be able to hold enough troops or weapons (and ammunition) to make an effective assault against the Fortress land masses.

This gives a nice and simple Scissors / Paper / Rock relation ship between the different types.

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WorldPlanter    266
Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
Quote:
The floating castles could just be fortress built upon chunks of land with plenty of anti-grav material. They keep it floating and maneuver them with engines. Of course if they moved it would be very slowly - they would be the hq and not really meant for battle.
Then the smaller land masses that continuously ascend and descend would provide temporary barriers and mines for the anti-grav, making strategic ideas more necessary.

So these large land masses would effectively be like my Gunships, the smaller land masses would be able to transport troops to assault the larger landmasses, or hold weapons capable of assaulting the defences of the larger landmasses, and then you could have tiny land masses (or even just vehicles with some of this anti-gravity mineral) that are fast, and are good at taking out the assault troops or even destroying the smaller land masses. The tiny land masses would not be able to hold enough troops or weapons (and ammunition) to make an effective assault against the Fortress land masses.

This gives a nice and simple Scissors / Paper / Rock relation ship between the different types.


That's an interesting way to look at it. This shouldn't undermine the emphasis on airship combat though, which is what Thad originally intended. I see the primary role of the floating land masses and minerals as locations for bases/settlements and resource nodes. I guess they could be used as large slow moving gunships, but I think that the airships should still be the primary combatants.

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tdphette    154
Quote:
Original post by Tesseract
This would allow there to be both permanent floating locales in addition to temporal anitgrav mineral resource nodes. Of course the most concentrated source of the mineral would be found on the floating worlds but mining them would have damaging consequences since it would cause the location's floating ability to decline or fail, thereby losing all settlements, bases, etc. attached to it.


I've been thinking something along the same lines. As the rich veins of lifting mineral are mined out (I need come up with a name for this stuff), an island will naturally begin to sink. I'll also deform the 3d model so it looks a smaller and bit chewed on. I've worked out some basic physics that will apply to the ships, and similar rules should be applied to other game objects.

Some of you have mentioned screenshots, and I'll try to get some up later today. I'm working on a model for an island/castle and want to include that with it. That should happen later tonight after I finish up with the day job.

Thanks everyone, this has been a great discussion so far. :)

Thad

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tdphette    154
[
Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
That's an interesting way to look at it. This shouldn't undermine the emphasis on airship combat though, which is what Thad originally intended. I see the primary role of the floating land masses and minerals as locations for bases/settlements and resource nodes. I guess they could be used as large slow moving gunships, but I think that the airships should still be the primary combatants.


Yes, I see most of the game action happening via the airships (which I like to think of as a cross between a steam locomotive and a blimp). The ships will mine and transport resources and perform combat functions. The fortresses can have fixed gun emplacements of course. I had always considered the islands and castles as mostly stationary, but it makes sense that they would gradually drift and could even be slowly towed. Perhaps I should define some air currents that would result in an 'orbit' for the various islands. I've already been thinking about wind and various weather effects (I've implemented fog... very easy in OpenGL).

Thad

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wpdesign    151
A few ideas for you:

1. Have the Maelstorm be where the minerals are. Larger ships may not be able to transport down there without being damaged, but maybe smaller, more armored ships can. That also could save any resource gatherers by allowing them to fly into the area for safety.

2. The idea of the complete customization is a good one, but you seem to be going back and forth between it being an RTS where it is fleet-based, and and action game where it is person-based. The idea of ship customization reminds me of Battlezone, a game from the 90's that allowed customization like this. Unique things like that allow for people to design and create their own custom ships. With that in mind, you should add ALOT of parts that can be customized or changed...this will make it so people can truly get the respective feel of having their own creations.

3. Custom Textures may not be the best idea. Maybe the ability to put a custom design on the side of it, allowing for that final touch of personalization. Massive ammounts of personal textures will just end up eating more and more on the game, and would require alot of work with transfering them when used in multiplayer situations.

4. Will this game be more MMO style where it is always online and expanding, like EVE online, or more situation style, where the game would be started and created with a group of people starting from scratch? This could completely change the way the game can, and should, be.

If I think of anything else, I'll bring it up.

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Xtlk    126
Why is there a war going on though? Is it a need for the scarce land, which would make sense. I remember something about religion which would also make a good war (halo comes to mind).

Anyways I would love to see some screenshots or even a demo.
Good luck.

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tdphette    154
Quote:
Original post by Xtlk
Why is there a war going on though? Is it a need for the scarce land, which would make sense. I remember something about religion which would also make a good war (halo comes to mind).


Ultimately I figure the reason is (like most wars) competition over resources... though
I do plan to come up with some back story and add a bit more depth to things.

Quote:
Original post by Xtlk
Anyways I would love to see some screenshots or even a demo.
Good luck.


I've been busy with work and family obligations, so it took me a bit longer than expected, but here are those promised screenshots.

http://www.gridslammer.org/blig/screenshots.html

Enjoy!

Thad

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tdphette    154
Quote:
Original post by Tesseract
Looks like you are off to a really good start.


Actually, those screenshots don't do it justice. I think I've got an error in my in-game snapshot routine... it looks like it is trying to capture at a different resolution than the screen is drawing at, resulting in rather grainy images. I compared it to some snaps I took using an external program and those came out much sharper. I'll probably generate some new screenshots tonight.

Later,

Thad

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