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Greatak

Non-Command Role in Squad

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So, thinking back over all the games I've seen  that employed a squad mechanic of some sort where the characters are relevant, command has never been a viable role. Squads are always full of specialities: snipers, engineers, hackers, heavy gunners, rocketeers, pilots, a plethora of specializations. Sometimes a stock soldier exists, but there's rarely any point to play as them. And what's worse, even with the auspices of military organization in a huge number of games, rarely do they actually implement command as a gameplay mechanic. Either objectives are assigned and progress is prohibited if order aren't followed, or orders given are totally pointless and you're free to do whatever you want.

 

The idea I was tossing about was to introduce a command role, and give it a real point. Just for a bit of context, the setting involved essentially a 3 man mercenary squad, in which I wanted to emphasize each character being a proper character, not an extra gun for you to boss around. So we give the player a choice between these three people, who fall into a few tropes. A sniper, an engineer and a leader. The idea was that each character had their sphere of action, and the leader, instead of a big gun or a mortar strike or anything like that, would get freedom. The commander is free to choose how to approach objectives, which objectives to approach in the first place and when he issues commands to his subordinates, they will be followed.

 

However, the part I haven't seen implemented before was what might happen if you chose to be the sniper or engineer. They don't get freedom. Objectives are selected by the leader and they're ordered to positions and commanded to perform actions, which the player will have to carry out. The player is of course free to to ignore those commands, if they think there's a better way to do it. But breaking rank would have consequences in a soft karma system. If you run off and choose a sniping roost the leader didn't point you to, there'd be higher chance to get flanked and attacked from behind because you're not somewhere your mates can cover. Or consequently, you might be in the wrong place to cover your mates and they can get injured/killed because you prioritized killing enemies over protecting your mates. Following orders would get greater help from your mates like calling out targets better, or pointing you towards a loot cache they noticed. Even such responses as making the enemies smarter: Thugs often might not know how to tell where a sniper shot came from and duck inefficiently, but a renegade sniper would find his targets hiding better, or being more alert.

 

Just food for thought, trying to spread some ideas I've been tossing around, feel free to discuss and/or implement.

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Do you mean singleplayer or multiplayer games?

 

There is a lot of "commander" games in singleplayer, just more on the realistic end of the scale, e. g. (listed with decreasing freedom) Arma I/II, Operation Flashpoint (1), Mount&Blade, the older Rainbow Six games (games about SWAT generally make you a team leader AFAIK). Star Wars Republic Commando is one that probably is not that realistic, but it is a commander game after all (although I haven't played it so I cannot say how much "command" you actually get there).

 

Vanilla Arma II is especially a lot like the idea you got there, you are a commander of four-man special US Marine squad and so on.

 

All of these games have one in common. You always play the commander. If you had to script for all the player characters, the amount of developer work would be tremendous.

 

As for multiplayer, it simply doesn't work in non-hardcore-simulation games because there is always a percentage of players who are utter idiots (griefers, hackers etc.). Now imagine you would give them a commander role. A disaster. AFAIK Arma and America's Army give you the option to be a team or a platoon leader in multiplayer and it works (more or less), but at the cost that they will not appeal to non-hardcore-simulation gamers. (Even "normal" hardcore gamers will probably lose the interest in the game if it is realistic enough. And those are the people who can spend 24/7 playing games. People are sometimes strange.wink.png )

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Err, I was talking about single player, though the karma system could potentially be applied to multiplayer. Definitely could in a comp-stomp style game, but it would take some work to make it work with player enemies. And what you described is the exact opposite of what I was getting at. Games with squad mechanics always make the player the boss. I was suggesting an attempt to let the player not be the boss. How being a subordinate might be able to work with the incentive to choose a non-boss role as getting to do the 'fun' things like sniping and blowing things up and all the stuff that people like to do in games, at the expense of getting ordered around through the game. Orders you could ignore, but at a cost. A game where you're not the team-leader, nor are you a completely independent man with a gun. Every FPS I've ever played has fallen into one of those two categories.

 

It could be said that being bossed around isn't fun, but that's why each character's skillset would be somewhat limited to encourage different choices and playstyles.

 

And you already have to make AI for the NPC teammates. The 'extra' bits of work is just also having an AI for the leader as well, This could be simplified by keeping the commander off-point, only ever providing cover fire or whatever, making his AI roughly similar to the standard enemy. The only additional parts are the command interface. And this wouldn't be too differently from how the enemy chooses where to stand and fight from. The only significant difference would be that instead of just making an NPC take that position, the player would just be told.

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basically, you want to give a player a bunch of objectives(which come from a boss) yet the possibility to "go on a rampage" while trying to not piss off his boss too much ?

It could be fun, but this means you have to give a player two sets of objectives, one from his boss, and the other could range from anything like "have fun" to "sabotage the mission" and you would need to make both sets reasonably interesting.

a bit like deus ex with team-mates, i like it.

For the fun part, raw violence against both baddies and innocents is always fun, though doing a lot of random crap, using drugs and entering a spacy mini-game, delivering a pizza to earn a few bucks, trying to hit on a woman, all while you 're supposed to be on mission could be very humorous(you would actually have to make sure your boss doesn't catch you doing random things)


for multiplayer there are plenty of team-games, and communicating is greatly supported in most(aka they want you to use skype :P ) the only thing they might be missing(or should i say underusing) is a spy/scout-role who would be specifically developed for the player in the team who makes (most) strategic decisions.

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Presumably, venturing too far from the mission zone would trigger some sort of mission abort, or your commander could come looking for you. Maybe if you go too far, your mates go hostile and hunt you down. Or the old fallbacks of arbitrary walls or just totally vacant uninteresting surroundings too far from the battlespace. Increasingly frequent enemy spawns could deter you as well. Too far and you get absolute zergrushed by enemies, with some sort of notice about 'maybe we shouldn't go that way' when you respawn. Most FPSes have that part figured out. Commonly you're free to do whatever you want, the level just only advances if you go through objectives. Mortars, nothing to do, arbitrarily killing you, that kind of thing would work fine.

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Soo, listening to your orders would be the safest way ?
sounds boring.
Have options like sabotage your radio, so your commander goes to fix it and while he's busy you try to loot a house, make it worthwhile somehow.

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It would be at least as entertaining as any other FPS. Killing people seems to go over well. I'm not proposing redefining the genre, just adding a new mechanic.

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