Sometime in 11th grade, I was sitting bored in my US History class (too recent, not fun) and started sketching out some mechanics I thought would make CnC Generals way more interesting than it was at the time.
I have played many RTS games, and have drawn influence and inspiration from several of them.
This initial idea was changed over time (mostly when I was bored, it wasn't a serious design then) and has now become something almost entirely different. What I am about to propose is a work in progress, and I am seeking not praise but feedback, either positive or negative. This is just a portion (the major part) of the concept that I am proposing, and things such as resource management and base mechanics have not yet been really worked out. This idea puts something out that I think is more aimed at the more "hardcore" RTS players. It is not, by design, a "quick play" game for passing time. In some ways it is similar to a turn-based strategy as opposed to a real-time one.
Anyways, some simplistic backstory for those interested:
In the near future, a scientist working on making superior solar panels discovers a way to polarize a material in a way as that it becomes attracted to light, almost like iron to a magnet. There was a correlation with the size of the object and the pull, the larger the stronger. One corporation monopolized on this and, using some advances in surface to orbit rockets, began the privatized space race. While it still took a month or more to reach Mars from earth, we could reach another solar system in a matter of weeks by using hull polarization (weird isn't it?). The corporation sold these polarization systems at great cost, always keeping designs to themselves. Many nations and corporations began laying claim to star systems all over our arm of the galaxy.
While we did *not* find intelligent life amongst the stars, we did find many worlds that where similar to our own, the same distance from a similar sun. Many had plant life like our own, while others had different forms. Animal life showed many similarities and great differences (similar environs breed similar creatures), all for the taking.
Human nature is inevitable, and where there is competition, there is war.
One hundred and fifty years from the beginning of the Great Sojourns, many different conflicts began in many different portions of the galactic arm. Some where epic wars between entire solar systems, while others where small actions between continents on singular worlds.
Entangling alliances being what they are, these smaller wars eventually grew into one large one, then into an all out kill fest, for lack of better words.
Within ten years most of the better words where totally wrecked in the fighting. In our endeavors to kill, we would stop at nothing. Gas weapons, asteroid re-alignment, core-fission -- it didn't matter.
Your world was one of the heaviest hit in the fighting. It was the capital world of the corporation who put us in the stars to begin with. Those left with skill pooled resources and population to create one last-ditch effort to save their ways -- a City Ship.
In the hayday of colonization, there where a few city ships made; literal cities in a flying brick-shape designed to orbit a planet, explore it, then using a hull made of an advanced compound, enter the atmosphere and land on a planets surface. Controlled fall was achieved by modulation of the Polarity Drive; pulling themselves up towards the sun but in decreasing increments to lower themselves down. Once on the surface, the outer shell was cannibalized, leaving the internals intact -- the first major population center of a new world.
Your ship set out for an aqueous world, one with a large central landmass, and comprised mostly of ocean. It used to export exotic marine life for pets and food, but when no world would pledge military support, it was mostly abandoned and left in the past.
Your ship didn't do so well. Plagued by problems from the start, your ship, while sustaining orbit, suffered major malfunctions. Coolant did not feed into the reactors and the nuclear core overheated, burning up all emergency systems and causing a catastrophic meltdown and power surge.
Fortunately for the crew, the whole power core was designed to explode upwards and downwards, as opposed to outwards through the ship; a final safety measure.
With no electronic systems and with life support gone, the call to evacuate was made. The ship contained many 1,000 man pods, the size of large war ships, as evacuation units. Based on the escape units in smaller ships, it serves as shelter and supply storage in case of emergency ejection. The evacuation was only simi-orderly; too few security teams to hold back the mobs, and several decks of escape pods where not properly cleared, launching well ahead of the scheduled evac time. When the other pods cut loose, several supply units went with them. These contained equipment essential to the early scouting for suitable landing sites, now all but forgotten.
Of the 30,000 who left your world, it is unkown how many lived to see the surface.
You came down with a landing group of three pods, one of which was a surveyors pod. After many hours of frantic distress, you manage to assert some dominance to the crowed. Quieting them, you command for an inventory to be made, and for supplies to be organized.
It is here the game begins.
So, while that story might have been corny to some (I'll work on it I promise!), others might have find it ok and now it is time to talk mechanics.
My game has the following concepts:
Make your own faction -- define your play style
Make your own army -- create your "deck", a group of units assigned to your faction that you've created
Make your own units -- creating equipment and putting it onto a infantry, ground, or air vehicle makes a unit to accomplish a task you see fit.
The game has you fighting for control of territory. On this landmass (which is around the size of the US and Canada, though not shaped as so), there are hostile land creatures (predators), people who never evacuated this world during the war, and don't wish to share, and sections of the city ships passengerhood who have issues with you being a leader (you where a corporate manager with military background). To make matters worse, a small contingent of people from a near by solar system have also left their world (which was never one of the Prime, or earth-like worlds), and have staked claim here for much the same reasons you have -- it's there, and it's nice. Technolgy is not researched, but discovered -- the surveyor pod has a molecular fabricator, though it only has relivent data to design what it was carrying in the first place. Loading templates you discover (or create via backwards engineering) allows you to create things.
There are four types of "units" in life. Naval, infantry, air, and land vehicles. Cutting Naval from this (you do not start near a coast), this gives us three archetypes to play with.
At the beginning, I will prompt you to pick one of the three to begin shaping your play style from the beginning. The surveyor pod you got in the beginning is the source of one of these three units. The options are:
* A 10 man security team, armed with weak sidearms designed to "severely harm" evil-doers on your city ship. They are weak as to not damage vital systems. This choice has an advantage in numbers by default.
* A pair of buggy's, used to scout landing zones for the city ship. They have two men each, and they are armed with somewhat stronger sidearms. The buggy is armed with a military-grade machine gun. Mobility advantage by default.
* An air shuttle-craft, used as a utility unit to carry supplies around, it has a crew of two men armed with the same sidearms the scout crew has. Has an energy cannon (energy weapons require a larger power source, and are ill choice for infantry weapons, being inferior to the bullet still). Default advantage is firepower.
I will also prompt you to choose one of three technologies. There are three categories for all tech in the game: Offensive, defensive, and doctrine. Offensive deals with weapons and equipment designed to help you kill or remove things (demolition stuff is offensive, as is a rifle). The beginning techs are generic, and provide a small boost in early game intel (and by extension, early game unit designs). They do different things with different units.
Infantry: Gain SMG's for the original squad. Can equip all designed units with SMG's from the beginning. SMG's are more powerful and longer ranged than pistols.
Vehicle: Gain AP ammo for your MG. Does more damage to vehicles. Can engage the air unit and damage it.
Shuttle: Gain a pair of (expendable) missiles. Explosive but does little to armoured units.
Infantry: Gain light body armour for the original squad. All designed human units have the option of body armour.
Vehicle: Uparmoured, becomes less vulnerable to the missiles from an aircraft.
Air: Gains speed via evasive maneuvers.
Infantry: Gain "Ambush" for the original squad. This conceals them from sight and gain a damage bonus on the first shot they fire. All infantry designed afterwards gain the ability to train this skill.
Vehicle: Gain the ability to overcharge engines, gaining speed.
Air: Gain the ability to grab tech without leaving the ship.
The whole purpose of the game is the ability to completely tool up your units to have what equipment, weapons, and skills you want them to have. The technologies mentioned all fall into a category, and interact with each other to unlock other features. For example, Advanced propellants by itself make aircraft faster, and metal density I gives you more advanced vehicle armour, but mix them and you unlock something similar to a modern depleted uranium cannon, for an odd example.
To create these units, outside of the individual skermishes, you start at the base elements. I had originally thought it would be awesome to even go so far as create the weapons, but for abstraction I figured I'd cut that out.
Basically, to create an infantry unit "card", I decide what its purpose is. A cheap "Soviet style" unit would have a rifle, but no other equipment or any special skills. Because the length of time to train is calculated via base + weapon difficulty + equipment difficulty + skill training, this guy would be something like 4 seconds to train; 2 for being infantry, plus 2 for a simple rifle. This caters to the "wave assault" style of play. From that idea you could create a variant armed with a cheap SMG, so they've higher firepower at shorter ranges vs the semi-automatic long ranged, powerful rifle the former had. Alternatively you could create more "line" infantry (2) by giving them a better weapon, a weaker but more complex assault rifle (3), medium armour (3), grenades (2), and a skill that allows them to ambush (2), and wait 12 seconds to get them. Extending the idea of creating units, I had the idea of being able to take these lesser parts and squad them up. Given a limit of five for example, you can team five of these guys into one unit to train at a time. The whole unit takes as long as the slowest training member. This said, a unit of five "Soviet" riflemen would take four, giving you five men in four seconds, vs the other of five in twelve (though they are more effective with more gear and skills). In addition, with a specialization doctrine, you could allow x men / squad (a percentage, say 20) to carry a separate weapon. With this, you could further enhance your (expensive) line infantry squad with an anti-tank specialist.
I've yet to work out base mechanics completely so that's up in the air right now.
Game play wise, I had considered having a very large, singular campaign map sort of like you see in the older total war games. As you move through a region you annex it into your control. This will give you something, unsure as to what yet.
Now that I've rambled on enough (have I actually said anything? I'm unsure, I've never had to present an idea like this before), I think I'll take some time to let you all read through this, and give me the feed back you think I need to hear. Let me know if I need to clarify anything.
This is my "long term" project; I have another smaller one I'm using to learn how Crystal Space and CEL can help me do the one above, only the small one involves cave men, because theres so few Meso/Neo/Chalcolithic RTS games out there!