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tdphette

Airship Combat Game Concept

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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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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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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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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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> 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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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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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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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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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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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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