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WH40K table top style gameplay

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I had a discussion with a coworker the other day about a game play system that combines the awesome customization of creatures/vehicles/objects (a la Spore) with the game play of Warhammer 40K (table top version, turn based). I was wondering if anyone had made a game that does this or to some extent created a turn based system that is similar to WH40K? If not, then what do you guys think of such a game (think starcraft, but turn based, and with custom looking units and stats).

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One thing I really liked about WH40k was (and I hope it still is, but I haven't played since 1st addition) was the whole "point" system for building armies.

You had a massive selection of troops / customizations / weapons, but they each had their respective value. Each side would build an army using the same number of points. So, yes, you could have an eldar avatar (their god incarnate), but it would cost you 300 points, or a 3rd of your army in a 1000 (the usual size in the circles I played in) point army.

I would really like to see this in a video game; Where you build your army and just fight other armies that the game "point" value determines as equal. Obviously it would require a large amount of balancing, but I think it would be nice to see in a game. Building your personal army would be just as important as how you used it on the battle field.

The french semi -MMO dofus arena has a similar system on a much smaller scale, but I really don't have much experiences with it. I believe it is still free: give it a try.

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I played WH40K on tabletop as well, and I was thinking of incorporating the point system into the game as well. So that you battle against an army of equal size/power. (I remember having 12,000pt matches back in the day. Crazy.) But on top of this, you would be able to design the actual units. So your units would be broken down further into smaller subobjects.

For example, a unit, lets use Space Marine since I'm very uncreative this morning, costs 30pts total. But he can be broken down into smaller objects. The unit itself costs 10pts, Armor types range from 5 to 15pts. Weapons are customizable and also range in points. On top of that, you could customize the Unit's abilities (Strength, Dexterity) much like you can in RPGs. Furthermore, you can design and edit each of the items and things you give your unit, much like you can edit the size and look of accessories in Spore.

Gameplay, I envision would be similar to the way WH works. Turn based, scatter dice type combat, etc.

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For example, a unit, lets use Space Marine since I'm very uncreative this morning, costs 30pts total. But he can be broken down into smaller objects. The unit itself costs 10pts, Armor types range from 5 to 15pts. Weapons are customizable and also range in points. On top of that, you could customize the Unit's abilities (Strength, Dexterity) much like you can in RPGs.

Actually, this could be quite annoying if you can't save your designs. So I would say that that would be an essential part of the game.

Although I like the idea of customisability, I think this would be difficult for new players to learn.

The human brain is only capable of handling around 7 options at any one time. More than this and our brains are overwhelmed. However, the more other things we need to think about the less mental resource we can devote to the decisions. this means that practically, we really only can handle around 5 options at a time.

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I would really like to see this in a video game; Where you build your army and just fight other armies that the game "point" value determines as equal. Obviously it would require a large amount of balancing, but I think it would be nice to see in a game.

Actually Point systems exist in any RTS (and some TBS) games as they are. You have to spend resource to build the unit, and these are the equivalent of the points that you would in a game like Warhammer.

As for balancing, it is not different than with current designs.

I feel that if you create a balanced underlying system, then it should be far easier to put additions to this basic system without breaking the balance.

I think the biggest problem for this kind of system for balance is between flexibility and specialisation. If I can just have a squad equipped with the best gear and tooled up to take out any type of enemy, then this should be more expensive than having multiple squads that are specialised for a specific (or a few) task.

The reason this is the biggest problem is that without a lot of testing, it is hard to determine how much of an advantage flexibility will bring.

As an example, if you have a squad of enemies that are easy to kill, but large in number (say a hoard of goblins) and another enemy that is tough but there is only 1 of them, then a team tooled up to kill only one type (the specialist) will do poorly against the other. This would make manoeuvring and positioning very important for the strategy of the game.

However, if you had a squad that was a generalist and c9ould take out hoards or toughs with equal ease, then this is valuable in its self as it means manoeuvring is no loner a big concern.

So if you could customise your squad with say a flame thrower on one arm and a laz cannon on the other, then this would be a generalist.

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I had never envisioned this as your army as something "un savable" I wholly agree that it would quickly become frustrating to re-make your army every time. I thought it went unsaid honestly.

I have been seeing this 7 options at a time number thrown around quite a lot recently (usually in discussions about User interfaces rather than game choices). But anyway I was seeing all army building as a separate entity with no time constraints and also no need to go too in depth in your customizing if you didn't want to. So, for example, you make an army using standard squads and play a few games with them, lose some / win some; then alter your army through the available customizations.

As for RTS' already having a type of point system: This is true, along with build times each unit has a set "cost" that is balanced against all other units. But there is much more to the levels of balance in RTSs, a faction could have incredibly "cheep" units as far as resources go, but they have very poor gathering skills etc. The simplified nature of a up front point system is very appealing to me.

I, for one, like the idea of getting away from the "on the fly" armys of RTSs and wish the OP the best of luck with his project. And don't let the "real time" part get to you...there are still people out there looking for turn based games (me among them).

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Original post by Edtharan
Actually, this could be quite annoying if you can't save your designs. So I would say that that would be an essential part of the game.


Oh you would be able to save all your designs, Its kind of backwards if you couldn't. Sorry I wasn't so clear about this.

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Although I like the idea of customization, I think this would be difficult for new players to learn.

The human brain is only capable of handling around 7 options at any one time. More than this and our brains are overwhelmed. However, the more other things we need to think about the less mental resource we can devote to the decisions. this means that practically, we really only can handle around 5 options at a time.


This is easily over come if you present everything in a very structured way. For example, a weapons category, an armor category, etc. Then break them down into more options, such as plasma weapons, conventional weapons, etc. Then you limit everything by scope.

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As for balancing, it is not different than with current designs.


Its nothing unique, but its a tried and true game concept that has a good chance of getting market appeal (At least, I hope so).

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I think the biggest problem for this kind of system for balance is between flexibility and specialization. If I can just have a squad equipped with the best gear and tooled up to take out any type of enemy, then this should be more expensive than having multiple squads that are specialized for a specific (or a few) task.


That's the foundation of this game. A heavily geared unit will cost a lot but also have profound effects on their stats. For example, a marine wearing 500lbs of armor will have a substantial penalty to dexterity, so that he may not be able to dodge bullets very well or move through difficult terrain very well. But on the other hand will be strong enough (ie. Mechanically assisted armor) to bust some heads when in melee combat. Such a unit might cost the same amount as a lightly armored unit with a smaller weapon.

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The reason this is the biggest problem is that without a lot of testing, it is hard to determine how much of an advantage flexibility will bring.


Agreed. I was just talking about testing with my friend and we both agree it needs to be there before the game even is coded.

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So if you could customize your squad with say a flame thrower on one arm and a laz cannon on the other, then this would be a generalist.


I was aiming for a generalist squad rather then a generalist unit. A squad with two flame throwers and would be good for hoard units (ie. Tyranids) but might be useless against heavily fortified units, like tanks. I was going to follow WH40K to a broad sense when it came to weaponry. But, when you build an army, you would be able to populate it with squads that you have created beforehand. So if you have a tank buster squad, you would use them when the opponent has Tanks and other vehicles.

Essentially its WH40K on a computer, but without the trademarks. And with a ridiculous amount of customization.

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I have been seeing this 7 options at a time number thrown around quite a lot recently (usually in discussions about User interfaces rather than game choices). But anyway I was seeing all army building as a separate entity with no time constraints and also no need to go too in depth in your customizing if you didn't want to. So, for example, you make an army using standard squads and play a few games with them, lose some / win some; then alter your army through the available customizations.


You would have this option as well as creating an army completely from scratch. The game would come with stock armies that you can use as a base.

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As for RTS' already having a type of point system: This is true, along with build times each unit has a set "cost" that is balanced against all other units. But there is much more to the levels of balance in RTSs, a faction could have incredibly "cheep" units as far as resources go, but they have very poor gathering skills etc. The simplified nature of a up front point system is very appealing to me.


I agree, although Its not an RTS, its more a TBS. Hence the object of Time is irrelevant and maybe only used for fluff.

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I, for one, like the idea of getting away from the "on the fly" armys of RTSs and wish the OP the best of luck with his project. And don't let the "real time" part get to you...there are still people out there looking for turn based games (me among them).


Thanks, I am intrigued by applying an RTS paradigm to this concept. This needs more thought (and beer).

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Oh you would be able to save all your designs, Its kind of backwards if you couldn't.

Absolutely

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This is easily over come if you present everything in a very structured way. For example, a weapons category, an armor category, etc. Then break them down into more options, such as plasma weapons, conventional weapons, etc. Then you limit everything by scope.

This is a good way, but new players will either not put enough equipment on them to make them effective (easy to check and give assistance with), or will just load one from each category onto the unit, even if it is not useful (but all part of the learning experience).

You could give assistance with this by further categorising them by "essential" and "Extras". Essential components (the base unit and a weapon most likely), would allow a player to know what is needed to have an effective unit. The Extra components would be what is needed to improve their effectiveness (armour, laser sights, jump packs, etc).

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That's the foundation of this game. A heavily geared unit will cost a lot but also have profound effects on their stats. For example, a marine wearing 500lbs of armor will have a substantial penalty to dexterity, so that he may not be able to dodge bullets very well or move through difficult terrain very well. But on the other hand will be strong enough (ie. Mechanically assisted armor) to bust some heads when in melee combat. Such a unit might cost the same amount as a lightly armored unit with a smaller weapon.

But what about the moderately armoured unit with the moderately powered weapon. they would be tough enough to stand in melee against most units, but also have the manoeuvrability of the lighter armoured unit (can cross difficult terrain). Two squads of these units would be far superior to a squad of the light units plus a squad of the heavy units.

They could move through terrain that the heavy units couldn't (so use hit and run tactics on them), and could bust up the light units and out gun them as well. So a squad of these moderate units would be able to beat both the heavy and the light units. So should they be more expensive (or have some other penalty - or give the heavy and light units some extra advantage) to reflect this? If not, why would one buy the heavy or light units at all?

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I was aiming for a generalist squad rather then a generalist unit. A squad with two flame throwers and would be good for hoard units (ie. Tyranids) but might be useless against heavily fortified units, like tanks.

What would be stopping the player from making a squad all identical?

But that is beside the point. Whether your basic component is a squad or a unit the problem still stands. If you can make generalists that are as effective as specialists, then it is better to use the generalists as they are more flexible.

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I was going to follow WH40K to a broad sense when it came to weaponry.

Here are some ideas about weaponry:

Scissors/Paper/Rock
By its self, this system can only produce a trivial system. It can easily be solved by the player. But if you can add in more complexities, then this system can form a good basis for the weaponry system.

The reason that Scissors/paper/Rock is a good basis is that no choice is better than the other, there is always a way for one choice to be beaten.

It also doesn't have to be limited to 3 options, neither does it need to be a symmetrical relationship.

For instance:
A beats B and C
B beats C and D
C beats D and E
D beats E and A
E beats A and B

So each choice beats 2 others and is also beaten by 2 others.

You could also have something like this:
A beats B, C and D
B beats C and E
C beats D and E
D beats B and E
E beats A

Again, no choice is the best as there is always at least one choice that can beat it, but it is not symmetrical as some options can beat more other choices, and some can beat less than others.

It is more interesting that the symmetrical system, but it is still trivial by itself.

Damage Reduction and Rapid Attacks:
In this system, if you have defences that that have a set value reduction of the amount of damage done each hit, then the this has an impact on the effectiveness of various weapons.

In this case if you have a weapon that can do lots of weak attacks in a given period of time as compared to a weapon that only dose a few strong attacks, then the rapid attack weapon is actually weaker.

Here is the reason with maths:
If you ahve a weapon that fires 10 shots each turn, and a weapon that fires 1 shot each turn but do the same amount of total damage (100 hitpoints), then at first these weapons appear to be just as effective.

But if you are firing at a target that reduced the damage from each hit by 4 then the weapons are no longer equal.

The slow fireing weapon does 100 damage over 1 turn in 1 shot. This means that the final damage done when taking into account the target's defence is: Total damage - (Number of Attacks * Damage Reduction)

or

100 - (1 * 4) = 96

but if we look at the weak but rapid attack weapon the final damage is: Total damage - (Number of Attacks * Damage Reduction)

or

100 - (10 * 4) = 60

That is a difference of 36 hit points of damage. That is a lot!

In fact, if the Damage reduction is equal to (or greater than) 10 for this example, then the rapid fire weapon can never damage the target.

To use this in a balancing system, then you could make the rapid fire weapon do more total damage than the slow fire weapon, but include the damage reduction type armour.

When the amount of damage reduction is less than the amount of extra damage allowed for the rapid fire weapon, then it would be the weapon of choice. When the amount of damage reduction is greater than the amount of extra damage allowed for the rapid fire weapon, it becomes less effective than the slow fire weapon.

By having a graded scale of both number of attacks of weapons and damage reduction of armour with pricing, then you can get a system where by a player can get an advantage by using the light armour (cheaper) if the enemy is using their slow firing weapons, but then if they enemy is using rapid firing weapons, then you are at a disadvantage and the reverse is true for the Heavy armours.

By having a variation of the number of attacks between several different weapons, you also avoid the "generalist" problem. By selecting a weapon with a different rate of fire you change the effective "middle ground" that a generalist could select for their armour.

Finally we get to Lanchester's Laws ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester%27s_laws ):

This consists of two rules of thumb that describe the effectiveness of an army. The first law (the linear law) describes the effectiveness of an army in cases of melee combat or where it is difficult for more than 1 opponent to engage another opponent, or in cases of undirected fire (and assuming equivalent technology).

This is expressed as: Number of troops on side A - Number of troops on side B

or

N = A - B

This give the number of troops you expect to survive on Side A. A 0 or negative result means that Side B will win (well a 0 will be a draw).

The Square Law is better for directed fire where it is easy for multiple attackers to attack any other enemy group or individual.

This is expressed as: The Square root of the Number of Troops on Side a squared - the Number of troops on side B squared.

or

square root of N = A^2 - B^2

These rules really only apply to wars of attrition, which is the situation in most games, which make it a great tool for designing them.

This last rule (the square rule) is quite important. As it is the square of the number of troops that gives the result, it takes an N squared fold increase in fire-power to offset an N fold increase in troop numbers.

This means that someone who field a lot of cheap units, would have an advantage over a player that field a a few tough but expensive units. Swarm tactics will win.

This is why games like WH40K (tabletop) have factions that use lots of cheap units have much weaker weapons (imperial guard or orks as compared to space marines).

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Excellent Post, Edtharan!

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This is a good way, but new players will either not put enough equipment on them to make them effective (easy to check and give assistance with), or will just load one from each category onto the unit, even if it is not useful (but all part of the learning experience).


Good point. I was thinking that there would be a small stats chart on the screen as you are building your unit. So, the more armor you add, the more armor points they get (or general HP, not sure yet). The bigger/better the weapon you add, the higher their damage range gets (1-2 unarmed, 3-5 claws, 10-25 plasma weapons, etc). I like the penetration rating that the WH40K guys came up with, maybe I can use that to some extent.

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You could give assistance with this by further categorising them by "essential" and "Extras". Essential components (the base unit and a weapon most likely), would allow a player to know what is needed to have an effective unit. The Extra components would be what is needed to improve their effectiveness (armour, laser sights, jump packs, etc).


I like this idea. Cool.

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But what about the moderately armoured unit with the moderately powered weapon. they would be tough enough to stand in melee against most units, but also have the manoeuvrability of the lighter armoured unit (can cross difficult terrain). Two squads of these units would be far superior to a squad of the light units plus a squad of the heavy units.


This will come down to playing around with numbers. Should melee weapons be powerful enough to do anything against massively armoured units? Should moderate units be able to stand up to a swing by a unit resembling a walking armoury? I am not worried about this yet because it involves a lot of tweaking. I will give them generic values for now and tweak them later. But like you said, a moderate unit should be weaker then a specialized unit or possibly make them specialized but against a certain aspect or enemy. But once you give them a bigger gun, that will make them more expensive and might actually cost as much as a heavy unit.

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Here are some ideas about weaponry:
Scissors/Paper/Rock

[snip]


I never really thought of it this way but now that I think about it, a lot of modern RTS or TBS games actually work like this. Most notable is Starcraft. I am essentially trying to avoid the use of a "god" unit because if you somehow manage to design something that is ultra powerful, it will most likely cost way more then a handful of units of lesser quality. That doesn't mean that this "god" until will be completely overpowering. It may have higher resistances to destruction but would not be immune (I will try to avoid immunity). It would be vulnerable to something. But, what I like about the Scissors/Paper/Rock idea is that it is so simple, and from my own experience, simplicity is quick and fun - which instantly gratifies its user (This is a discussion all in itself).

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In this case if you have a weapon that can do lots of weak attacks in a given period of time as compared to a weapon that only dose a few strong attacks, then the rapid attack weapon is actually weaker.


This is true. Comparing the weapon that fires once but hits hard to a weapon that fires three times but hits like a 5yr old girl. The weaker weapon is trumped by the more powerful weapon, agreed. But the more powerful weapon costs three times as much as the weaker weapon. Therefore, if you have one guy with the larger weapon and three with the weaker weapon, it will balance out to some extent. The balance might not be perfect and might lean more to one side but its better then a complete dominance in the game (ie. the player picks units with nothing but huge weapons). Not only that, but if a unit is armed with a heavy weapon, it might actually hinder the amount of dodge ability or armour they have. This will also factor into combat.

but like I said before, its a matter of tweaking values so that they are balanced.

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Finally we get to Lanchester's Laws ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester%27s_laws )


Oh nice. Thanks for the link.

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This means that someone who field a lot of cheap units, would have an advantage over a player that field a a few tough but expensive units. Swarm tactics will win.

This is why games like WH40K (tabletop) have factions that use lots of cheap units have much weaker weapons (imperial guard or orks as compared to space marines).


This is where the different types of weaponry come in handy. Area effect or spray weapons are very powerful for closely ranked units (ie. Tyranids). This is why armies and squadrons are customizable so that you can specialize your entire game to try to trump the opponent.

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RealMarkP
But, what I like about the Scissors/Paper/Rock idea is that it is so simple, and from my own experience, simplicity is quick and fun - which instantly gratifies its user (This is a discussion all in itself).


All RPS does for you is eliminate the need to worry about dominant/obsolete units. Unfortunately, as a side effect it basically turns your game into a glorified guessing game. It's annoying enough in an RTS, but in a turn based game where you have to design your forces at the start, it's even worse. Maybe you guessed your opponent would take Pikemen, and chose lots of Archers, but instead he chose Cavalry. Oops, you lost the game because you guessed wrong. It's all too dependent on WHAT you have in your army, and not enough on HOW you use it. The environment barely factors in at all.

I prefer a role-based approach to unit design; this gives the designer much more scope for creating interesting and imaginative units without having figure out whether it's a rock, paper or scissor. A pikeman unit is not a Rock, it's a heavy melee infantry unit.

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