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c-Row

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  1. (note: there is ambiguity about where the line is drawn between raypunk - or raygun gothic - and atompunk as used in games like Fallout. I have attached a couple of images to illustrate the style I am talking about) Lately I have started browsing artwork and pictures of old science fiction movies from the 50's/60's again and started wondering - why isn't that aesthetic explored in videogames more frequently? It's a fresh and most of the times vibrant look at a future that never was, far away from the sleek designs of Mass Effect and the bleak colour palette of your average first person shooter. Let's face it, how many games can you name where the skies are a nice and warm yellow colour? Illustrators and film makers alike didn't care about realism and explored the realms of their imagination while throwing the laws of physics out of the window of their saucer shaped spaceships, and they gave us movies like This Island Earth or Forbidden Planet and the classic Star Trek series in return. So I have been trying to come up with a genre or game mechanic and I think a more campy and over-the-top version of something like Age Of Wonders would work great (yes, Planetfall might be set in a sci-fi setting but it's going in the complete opposite direction). Who wouldn't want to engage in diplomatic conversation with this friendly fellow while your fellow band of spacemen and -women fight off strange creatures with their trusty rayguns? What do you all think - is this a theme/idea worth exploring? What would make you want to play the 4X version of a 50's science fiction movie? Or would this lend itself better for a different genre instead?
  2. Definitely sounds like the right direction. Thanks for the suggestion!
  3. Some friends and I thought about the possibilities of asynchronous games since we are living in different parts of the world at the moment, and one thing that came to mind was a football management sim where everybody could setup their teams during the week and have matches on weekends (or whenever all players from a league have finished doing the weekly things). Now, due to different time zones matches would have to be resolved automatically, especially when two player teams compete against each other. A lot of online F2P management games do it this way, so that's not really uncommon. However, to keep things interesting I think there should be some way to at least influence the match even when you cannot actively get involved in any way, so now I am looking for possible mechanics to solve this issue. I have been playing some Hattrick over the last few months, and while it allows to set individual orders for players it's pretty complicated to a degree where I usually just skip it altogether. One possible mechanic I could think of is dividing a match into phases, maybe 15 minute segments, so each halftime consists of three phases. For each phase you can set a general strategy or maybe even a tactic your team trained during the week. Think of Endless Space's battle phase cards for example - if your team trained offside traps during the week you could have them use it during a certain segment of the match (and hope your opponent hasn't chosen to play defense during that phase of course). The nice thing about this would be that you see a direct connection between weekday trainings and matchday tactic settings. Furthermore studying your upcoming opponent's general strategy would be vital to prepare before the match. Do you think this would be a good idea? Any changes you would suggest, or maybe even better ideas than the one above?
  4. The point of this thread is to find ideas on how to make that "boring arena of empty space" interesting, though.  :wink:  Spicing up the grand strategy side of it is a welcome bonus of course.
  5. Some great suggestions there! On the topic of technology and engines, ship design should certainly be more engaging than trying to cram everything into a blueprint to make some bars fill up.     In the context of the game I could imagine the attacking player being able to spend a number of "Admiral Points" to split his forces and choose which side of the battlefield he wants to attack them from so a defender can't just point all his scanners into one direction and wait for the first radar blip to pop up on his screen.   Actually I would love to do a simultaneous movement system like it was used in Frozen Synapse for example, both for it's tactical possibilities and entertaining replays. ;)     Something like the Citadel from Mass Effect which was clearly larger than anything else on the battlefield? Yeah, I like that.     Introducing a newtonian movement system might make things too complicated for most players, though I like the idea that at least smaller spacecraft doesn't have the thruster power to simply "stop" in space. One possible middle ground would be raising movement costs for sharp turns, though.
  6. There is a thing that bothers me about turn-based ship to ship combat in 4X games. While squad games like XCOM have a whole range of level architecture at their disposal to create choke points and personal cover, space combat seems a bit like group jousting to me - two parties line up at their respective side of the map and charge upon each other until one of them gets in shooting range.   I do realize that the thing about space is that it's usually empty and therefore (imho) doesn't offer too much strategic depth, but I am sure there are some ways around this.   "Natural" obstacles like asteroid fields and nebulae as well as debris from previous battles could offer cover to units inside/behind while also offering further tactical options - asteroid fields and debris might be impossible for larger ships to enter (or only at the risk of severe hull damage) while a nebula might create a scanner shadow, therefore not revealing units to enemies on the other side.   Scanners might become much more viable once you have to actually spot units at long range, and a clever player could actually flank his enemy and get behind enemy lines. This could be similar to XCOM's concealment system.   Can you think of some more things to make space combat more interesting? Is ship/weapon/shield orientation a good or a bad thing in your opinion?
  7. Thanks for your article. I had been working on a similar idea some time ago ( https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/24097519/Mover/mover_04/mover_04.html - 2 years now) but abandoned it since I had no idea how to come up with interesting level layouts. Guess I should look into it again.  :)
  8. Browsing sections on DeviantArt, mostly Infographics/Vector Art. Some of the more abstract images sure get my brain juices flowing.
  9. A fixed camera has the advantage that players don't have to care about where Up/North is. Fixed points are easier to locate in your world space when the entrance to the graveyard is always in the lower left corner of the map for example.
  10. Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers and David Perry on Game Design: A Brainstorming ToolBox both make for an excellent read on game design in general. The former appears to be more suited for arcade-style, action-oriented games while the latter is a very extensive (1000+ pages!) collection of topics, ideas and suggestions.   If you want to get more specific, I can only recommend Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering by David Freeman. While some of the topics Freeman writes about tackle general game design as well, he concentrates on how to create a believable game environment populated with characters the player would care for. I read it regularly every few years.
  11. c-Row

    Other ways for punishment than restarting

    Racing games sometimes use a mechanic known as "rubber banding", whereas cars behind you get faster while those ahead of you keep a slower pace to allow you to always catch up with the lead while keeping up the pressure from your pursuers. The biggest challenge with this approach is not to make this too obvious to the player since it can easily break immersion if cars behind you suddenly drive alot faster.   What about a mini league rather than a knock-out tournament from the start? Think of the group matches at the FIFA world cup - if you lose your first match you are simply awarded less/no points but you would still have the opportunity to battle your way back to the top of your league before the knock-out part starts, adding a sense of accomplishment in the process.
  12. More great input - thank you so much.        A time limit would certainly add some tension since the infiltrator couldn't just take all the time in the world but would force him to advance. Extra time could maybe earned by completing voluntary bonus objectives like stealing important employee PDAs to introduce a risk/reward mechanic.       It probably wouldn't take too much time to close a door, therefore I think it might end up being perceived as an unnecessary chore. Maybe not an instant notification, but only visual feedback instead? It would keep Player 2 busy having an eye on the whole map to watch out for clues like open doors, but zooming out too far should be disabled then. Guards alerting Player 2 when spotting something unusual is a great idea indeed.   Targeting one of out n possible objectives would be another great way to keep Player 2 on his toes. I would have to make sure that the infiltrator's target isn't too close to his entry point, remove choosing one altogether or automatically place the exit at the complete opposite end of the map, though, but that's no problem some good level design couldn't take care of.  :)         I see the game needs more than just one single game mode.        Being detected would not mean immediate defeat for the infiltrator, so chasing him down is meant to be part of the fun. Sorry for not being entirely clear about that.
  13.   The idea originated from an online discussion about games people would like to see and the idea of a multiplayer Deus Ex, and that got stuck to the point where I lay awake at night fantasizing about gameplay. If that isn't a good sign, I don't know.    It would also be a great opportunity to learn something new, like multiplayer implementation and a bit of AI.   Game would be realtime. The infiltrator could only be discovered when being spotted by guards or security cameras, though the defender would get some additional feedback from the game. If a door opens somewhere without anybody being around, it's a sure sign that the infiltrator must be around that area, though you wouldn't know if he just opened that door to set a false lead for the defender.   Basically killing/catching the infiltrator is the goal for Player 2, but I would limit control over his minions so it doesn't end up as a game of Cannonfodder.       That would certainly give him something to do, yes.       I guess you would have to limit control over your minions to avoid having to micro-manage them and your infiltrator, but that's a pretty good idea indeed. Might require more symmetrical level layouts, but it wouldn't seem out of place with the non-realistic approach and would introduce an element of time pressure to finish faster than your opponent. Maybe two competing companies sharing office space in the same building?       Thanks, I will have a look at it.
  14. I am currently throwing ideas around for a comic-style competitive third-person stealth game.    One player will assume the role of the infiltrator whose goal is to steal a certain asset or hack a computer while remaining undetected by enemy guards, defense bots and security cameras. At his disposal is a standard set of equipment including a stun gun and hacking darts. If he sucessfully completes his task(s) and leaves the map without getting caught, he wins.   The second player is in command of said guards and surveillance equipment and has to prevent the first player from completing his task. If he can catch the first player, Player 2 wins. However, while Player 2 has all the manpower and technology at his disposal, he can only see what his minions can see at any time or what the surveillance system messages back (lights out in room x, door opened at point y, camera out in hallway z etc.)   Both players would invest points in and set up additional equipment before the map starts. Player 1 might want to buy a camo suite to make him invisible for a short amount of time to get around guard posts and cameras or disguise himself as a water dispenser or flower pot (fun before realism  ), while Player 2 might buy some additional/better guards or place thermal cameras which could even trace the residual heat of an infiltrator sneaking through. In a way, one player is playing Deus Ex while the other is playing Dungeon Keeper.   The problems I am stuck with right now is how to keep the game interesting for Player 2 while keeping it balanced for Player 1 who seems to have all the fun while his opponent is playing the waiting game.   I have already decided that there should be multiple entry and exit areas for Player 1 on each map to prevent Player 2 from just spamming all his guards  and cameras around a single point or cram them all into one room to wait for the infiltrator to arrive (though a stun grenade might take care of that). Introducing multiple, randomly chosen objectives might be another idea to counter that playstyle. Or would it make sense to have Player 2 start all his guards' patrol routes on "his" side of the map to allow Player 1 to leave the entry area before everybody rushes at him?   Another idea might be a possible cooldown on guard orders Player 2 can give - he could go check every four sides around a guard by making him turn, but once he orders a guard to look/walk somewhere it will take a certain amount of seconds before he can issue another order. Or maybe guards who stay in one single spot for too long have a reduced perception (boredom!) or doze off completely.   I am thankful for any input you folks can give. 
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