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Talroth

First Person Shooter with Squad Leader elements.

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Talroth    3247
Note: See later Post for clearer details. ####### TECH Back Ground ####### I have been working on a concept for a terrain and vegetation graphics engine for awhile that allows fully deformable terrain with massive LOD shifting and content streaming as part of the design. I'm in the early stages of 'final' pre-code design, most of the algorithms are mapped out and unless I've mucked up some numbers some where I should be able to store all the major battlefields of the European Theater of WWII in fair detail and using only a few hundred Megabytes at most. (and the stuff in between can just be generated for 'fluff' in not much more) Basically, the engine is designed around variable mesh density hight maps (Something that isn't new) Initial startup should be only a few minutes on modern hardware, and allow travel of about 100km/h with a high res local, or even faster with a lower res local. I think I should be able to come up with a way to do buildings procedurally based on a simple location, stored seed value, and a few parameters to control generation, and still allow destructible environments on them. (Still debating if I want to do this in C++, which I'm not overly familiar with but want to do a large project in, or C# which will be more familiar to me. Either way I think I will go with OpenGL.) ####### END TECH Back Ground ####### But the question is what to do with such an engine should I complete it? Originally I had designed this with a space game in mind, to allow full planets to be designed/generated, then explored and actively changed in an online environment. However I've been playing Red Orchestra lately and thinking about how a war simulation could be done with my design. For those that don't know it, RO is a WWII combined arms first person shooter that is set on the German and Russian conflicts of that war. Many maps include both tanks and infantry, and things are modeled to work as 'real' as they can in a game. You have no on screen crosshairs, and if you want to actually aim you use your weapon's iron sights. Different classes are usually limited in number of players using them, and tanks have 'real' armour. The angle you shoot them at actually matters, as your shots can simply glance off without harm to it. One of the biggest problems with RO is that the bots suck, and no one in the pubs really works together. People hop in a tank alone and drive off in something that needs 3 people in good communications to function fully, and battles tend to be between just a hand full of soldiers with respawning waves. So, what if we cut the respawn, and replaced each 'player' with a fire team, section, or squad leader? Should he die, he gets plopped into the body of the next in line in the chain of command for his unit. If everyone in his unit dies then he is out for the rest of the match. This would likely limit the number of people that could join a multiplayer game to far less than the 50 found in RO, but it fields far more soldiers even with only 4 players per team. (upwards of 100 or so) In short, I'm looking for thoughts on the design and practicality of a first person tactical strategy game. Now, another aspect of this design concept is going above and beyond simple matches, and going to a full war. Because of the small number of human players required, I don't think it would be too hard to expect friends to be willing to fight longer campaigns together. Of course there would still be the option for quick battles, load up a historical battle field, and each side gets a preselected load out of weapons. But do you think a feature that would allow each side to play an abstracted high level strategy game between FPS sections, and the human players take charge of the spear heads of major defense/assault sections, their outcomes affecting the wider area. After a battle how far the whole army advanced would depend on how well either side preformed in their own battle. Do you think such a design is worth working toward? [Edited by - Talroth on April 21, 2008 10:53:58 AM]

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Funkymunky    1413
wow that sounds pretty f'ing badass. So you would roll around as the leader of a small group, more or less? So if you, as leader die, you basically john-malcovich the next in line?

Sweet. One thing I'd like to see is "RTS-elements" in an FPS. Building your base from the first-person.

If your stuff is procedural, though, then it seems like the game should take full advantage of that. Maybe just make people giants, such that you only really swim when far out at sea, and you can run across a continent in a minute. Interstellar FPS? Damn I wish I had a good terrain implementation...

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Talroth    3247
Well, I was thinking of doing a WWII (or maybe a different war, as long as I could include tanks and stuff, and large enough explosives to make use of the deformable land and buildings) themed game, that is mainly a squad based first person shooter.

No building tanks and weapons in game, the most I would include for direct first person battles would be fox holes, sand bag walls, and camouflaging of positions before the battle started.

Maybe a "Strategic" building between battles so users could setup things like major defensive lines with reinforced machine gun nests and stuff, but that would likely be done in third person on a topographical map.


The biggest issue with the design I think is the interface with your squad. While I think I could get some fairly decent AI that allows them to follow you and take up defensive positions, how large of a group should players spawn with for infantry?

For Armour Units, I think the player controlling 1 to 3 tanks (in first person from the commander's view) would be best. Smaller weaker tanks like Russian T-60 Light tank would get more under a player's control than larger ones. Maybe directly include infantry and an APC as support if you have a large tank like a King Tiger, which you would only get one to control?


While three or four AI players going with you should be easy to design an interface for, I'm not sure if I could design one that worked well on a squad level (10 to 20 men or so, so 9 to 19 AI players), but if I could then I could make battles at Company Level with around 20 players.

(And I'm not sure I see a point in taking a procedural system designed to present the user with large, realistic spaces, and then make them giants so the world is small and tiny again.)

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thk123    180
I am a little unclear about how this would work, but sounds awesome! I think I picked up that you would be in a squad, one person would be the leader but all people are played by real humans? 2 issues with that, how do you decide who the leader is going to be, would that just be random, would people be able to make their case at the start and then the team vote? Also, what options would be available to the command for subordination. Because, let's face it, the online world is full of idiots and the fun of the game would be working as a team rather than just playing a Halo like game.

One thing I did think of that would be quite cool is this. What if, at registration, you choose which side you want to be on, maybe there could be a side for each major country or just allies and axis. Either way, the player can't change side. They are assigned the rank of private. Then, people who have registered when the game first started would be higher rank and their could be a big chain of command for the entire side. So a private would join an infantry squad led by a sergeant. The Sgt. could give experience points (which would eventually lead to a raise in rank) based on their performance. The sgt. would be awarded XP based on how well the squad completed it's objective by someone one up the command rank. The commander-in-cheif would decide on the overall strategy for the battle. He would be able to examine a map which had all the his units and all sighted enemey units mapped on it. The only way he could issue commands is through the people directly below him in the chain of command, who would have to relay the infomation down one rung and so on.

Also, specialist XP could be awarded by the sgt. to the privates for areas they have shown prowess in. For example, if they are given some tanks to use, and one player does amazingly well in it, then the sgt. might recommend him to the tank division. If a player did, and his men didn't take him to hospital quick enough then he would loose his rank. Obviously, minor wounds would have lengthy time limits to get them to hospital. Let's say a stg dies, one private would not be chosen to lead. However, some people are likely to show more leading prowess and they might tell one person to take the sgt back to base for treatment. It would be in in the interest of the privates to do this as the sgt may be grateful and award XP.

Woah, I didn't meant to write the much. And the worst bit is, I have much more :P This is one of those dream games that I would love to make. Your terrain engine sounds very impressive.

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epsylon    182
Quote:

Sweet. One thing I'd like to see is "RTS-elements" in an FPS. Building your base from the first-person.

This is a bit off-topic, but there are a few games that match the "RTS within an FPS" description. There are the old Battlezone series (98 and 99 as far as I remember), though it's been years since I last played these two.
There are also online games like Tremulous (Quake 3 engine based), Natural Selection (Half Life 1 mod) or Savage 2 which mix a FPS gameplay with RTS elements (resource control, building). The first two are a bit old (but you can still find servers), the latter was just released in 2008 and you can play online for 5h for free with the "demo".

As for the OP, the concept sounds interesting but there are a few problems associated with it. First and foremost, you force people to play like a team unless the benefit of acting like a team completely outweighs single player actions. Typically, this involves having complementary skills and "classes" : the medic and the tough guy, the machine gunner and the guy carrying ammo, etc..
This typically requires that when separeted, these classes are fairly weak. Example: Team Fortress 2, medic and heavy.
Creating a game which instantly brings the average players in a teamplay mood is very difficult : keep that in mind and don't be disappointed that despite your best efforts people keep acting like rambos :-).

Another point which disturbed me is the fact that you want to have a limited number of "spawn tickets" for every class in your game (with classes being the elements in your "chain of command"), how do you intend to process the transition ? Would you have your "empty soldiers" already following their leader (which would require them to be controlled by bots) or do you have in mind some other respawn system ?

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Talroth    3247
Note to self, stop posting things while doing other tasks at the same time. (A hazard of being able to type without looking at keyboard or screen, and having a dual monitor setup)

Complete rewrite of concept.

A First Person Shooter with VERY large maps, for a combined arms Second World War game.


Each player is ranked as a Corporal or Sergeant (Or whatever fits the proper rank in history for the size of the unit they lead) everyone is an equal in the standard FPS game, each map would have pregenerated objectives, mainly: Defeat Enemies. Some premade scenario maps may have objectives like hold off the attack for X minutes, tactical withdrawal from superior forces and you must maintain X number of soldiers and Y number of vehicles/tanks.

The game focuses on Combined arms, so players may choose to utilize rifles, machine guns, sub machine guns, grenades, cars/jeeps, armoured troop carriers, armoured scout cars, tanks, and field guns.

Meant for 2 to 20 players, each player starts the Match as a soldier in command of a squad of soldiers. There are 2 types of soldiers, Player controlled Leaders and AI controlled followers.

Should a Player Character die, they resume play as their next ranking AI Follower. Should they run out of followers they may not respawn for till the end of that match. (Or until reinforcement squads arrive if the map settings allow it)

The biggest design problem is (beyond technical issues of actually implementing my engine) is how to actually control the unit of AI soldiers you lead.

Part of this is a real world problem which has been addressed with unit structuring.

A Squad is made of up 8 to 16 men, depending on how it is actually implemented. Those men are divided into Fire Teams.

As an example structure we will have a 14 man squad.
Fire Team A: 5 rifles
Fire Team B: 5 rifles
MG Team A: 1 MG, 1 rifle, 1 SMG
Squad Leader: 1 Player SMG

Options on how to control them? I'm thinking that because you are unlikely to have more than 4 Fire/MG teams that a hot key for each of them could work. Hitting the hot key would bring up a radial menu for orders. A fifth key would issue orders to everyone.

I think 8 orders per menu level is the most I should use, 7 most common + uncommon menu?

I really like the concept of a project like this because it lets me play with AI (which also makes the project likely to fail, but oh well I'm not getting paid for this anyway)

The AI should handle the soldiers realistically. (And given that each player can run their own AI on their system, except shooting which would be server side, it should be doable on upper mid end computers these days) They'll try to find cover when under fire, you don't have to direct them to it. They'll naturally try to seek points of cover even while not under fire. They will use the weapons they're given as they see as proper (Provided you haven't issued orders that limit them, such as hold fire, conserve ammo, hide, etc) throwing grenades into groups of men, or into rooms they 'hear' enemies in. They won't fire their rifles at tanks, unless someone is sticking their head out of the tank, and they won't waste their anti tank weapons on infantry.

I still need to work out how many orders, and what kinds players will actually want to give. That is a big part of what this thread is going to be about I think, besides just giving the orders.

A common order is going to be Defensive Position/Base of Fire. You select your Fire Team/All and issue the order. You now aim your "Order Cross Hair" that comes up (I think I like the Iron Sights only for weapons, which also makes it clear to the user when they're issuing orders and when they're shooting) at where you want your men to go and click a general direction for which way they're aiming. The AI soldiers will head to where you clicked and take cover there, positioning themselves on the side opposite the direction you pointed of any cover they find.

That might be the most complex order really needed, others orders would be things like "Cease Fire", "Fall Back", "Use (Special Weapon): Target"

Do you think this would be simple enough for a single user to work with in a first person environment? Or would leading a Fire Team alone be easier and more interesting?

For some orders, I think an option where your view can be released from your Player Character's body and move some what freely could be useful. This way you can still issue orders to move/do things without getting shot instantly when you pop your head out. However, it would only render in detail what your player sees, and in grayed out what your player has seen. Highlighting any enemies you can't actually see but 'THINK' are there in red. (You can hear the rumble of a tank, or the movement of infantry, so the game renders what you/your men think is there. Also what your men might see and tell you. This may be off by a little or a lot.



Campaign mode would be something above and beyond the base gameplay, an extra feature and completely optional. Include something like the pre match chat in RTS games where you wait for more players for the basic match setup. Players decide on what and where they want to fight, the rules of the match, how much materials they get. Or this is replaced with a strategy game if the server is running Campaign Mode, where each side is locked to their teams after they join. A 'spec' team for those that might join late while they're in planning so they can work out what team they should join.

Each team in Campaign gets detailed info on their side, their opponent's details are hidden. Any time there is an attack on the Campaign mode, all players get information on the attack, what their side has, what they Think the opponents have, and if they wish to lead this themselves. If most people vote to Lead themselves, then they get to vote on which part of the battle they fight in. After which each user gets to select what portion of their side's army they want to control.

Just how the campaign mode would function is another side issue. And I really am looking at this game as something friends play together, and not so much as random pubbers that know nothing of each other. That is the whole reason for AI squads, so that a few players can have a first person BATTLE together, not just two or three 'soldiers' running around a 'battle field' with no feeling of a war going on.

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Given the vast size of the maps that your engine would allow, I'd be afraid that infantry combat wouldn't show it off very well. After all, if you've got 14 guys in your unit and you want to take a motorcycle somewhere, do you have to have Fire Team A run along behind? How do you do it?

So you'd have to make sure you aren't restricted to one small(ish) arena area. Some kind of courier missions, maybe a convoy escort scenario, that sort of thing would be handy. You drive around with your dudes n a troop transport truck, and when you find a target, you all dismount and go bounding off into the brush.

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swiftcoder    18437
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
You drive around with your dudes n a troop transport truck, and when you find a target, you all dismount and go bounding off into the brush.
Something like Halo3's warthogs (esp. the unarmed variety) would fill this niche very nicely. Especially if they are destructible, and thus you need to dismount when engaging, to keep them under cover from artillery fire.

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Talroth    3247
While the terrain system theoretically allows you to drive from Normandy to Moscow without a load screen, the goal was really to allow large scale tank battles where you have real room to move.

Of course you wouldn't expect players to hoof it all the way across a large open desert battle field, that is why infantry squads would either take a truck, jeeps, or APCs. (Or even ride on top of the tanks if nothing else)

This is no different from real war, tanks die in forests and cities with little chance to fight back, infantry die in the open with little chance to fight back. If you are deploying to a large open battlefield then you'll want to make sure you have the means to get around. If you are deploying to a forest you'll want to make sure you have the means to fight in it. With 4 players on a team, it wouldn't do well for them all to take King Tiger Tanks if they're trying to assault a forest, and it wouldn't do them good to all take rifle squads with no motor units if they're going to charge across a north African desert.


The other big issue I just thought of is time. Since there are limited reinforcements, and not all real battles are decisive, there needs to be a means to accept an end of non-decisive battles. If there are only a hand full of infantry left on a large map, and they're both hunkering down for the long stay battles could last hours. But at the same time while one team is digging fox holes behind a hill, the other could be swinging wide around it. A simple time limit would be unfair and unrealistic. After all in real war there isn't a ref with a whistle and stop watch.

Do you think an option (Hold fast till relieved or something like that) where the battle 'ends' in a draw if all units are set to it would be useful in preventing the two campers from spending hours waiting for the other to make their move? How should such a game be handled in a non Campaign match?

Food, water, ammo, and soldier fatigue could also be factored into battles. A soldier with next to no bullets left isn't going to be effective, and a tank that has run out of gas is a turret just asking to be bypassed or flanked and blown up.



But it is a good point about the battle space. How best to limit it to an engagement that 10 people can work in? Most battle spaces are easy enough to draw a box around. You have either side, and the ends where the armies start. Would having one of your AI members of your squad telling you there will be hell to pay from command if you don't get into the action be enough of a limit? I was never really a fan of the random land mines on either side of a battle field, or that unseen sniper that only shoots at you if you cross an invisible line.

What other methods can people think of to realistically limit the battle field to a manageable size? I think that having the maps being deformable is a larger impact to gameplay than their massive size.

Score. I'm wondering if a game like this, a highly team based game meant to simulate a realistic battle, really needs any score points beyond you won, lost, or tied. Maybe collect after action Merits or Demerits? A demerit for getting your squad killed, letting an allied squad get killed while you barely engaged in battle. Merits for killing/routing enemy squads or vehicles, and for taking/holding objectives. Any others?

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