Devblog 10 : Redesigned Terrain

After much consideration, much frustration, and much time, I have redesigned the terrain system.  Instead of players choosing to raise or lower the ground, now they create “bricks” which can be stacked on top of each other.  These are hollow spaces which can be explored, and enable players to craft as much of the 3D space as possible… battle everywhere!

This has a few benefits compared to the old system, the most important of which being that the line between types of space is blurred.  There’s no distinction between natural or urban terrain.  It’s entirely up to the player, creating the terrain becomes part of their strategy.  And because the space is hollow, this should allow many different tactical opportunities for all players on the map.

I really wanted to make a terrain system inspired by a children’s playground, with lots of places to explore in three dimensions.  I feel like I’m close to delivering that experience, which will be really unique for the RTS genre.

Devblog 9 : New Home! New Ideas!

Some of you may [not] have wondered where I’ve been.  Turns out relocating for a new job soaks up a lot of time and money.  I’ve moved from Edinburgh to Belfast.  I really like Edinburgh, and will miss seeing the baby swans in Inverleith Park grow up.  I disgress.

For now Norn Industries is back in the homeland!  The time away from my project has allowed me the chance to reflect, and I have had some ideas… some ideas which will require a lot of work to realise.  But that’s fine.  When I started this project I was under no illusions that it would be easy or quick.

From the start I have wanted to blend buildings and terrain into one big playground the player has complete control over.  Real time map design becomes part of your strategy.  But I’ve always felt nagged that as my design has evolved, it has stayed too loyal to old RTS paradigms.  The building is now navigable in a way it has never been before, but it’s still just a building.  And that just isn’t innovative enough.  My aspiration feels unsatisfied.

It has been said that you should always discard the first idea that comes to mind.  Lots of other people will likely have the same idea.  The second idea should also be ignored.  Less people will have thought of it, but still quite a few.  The third, fewer still realise.  But fourth or fifth?  That may be interesting.

It feels like I’ve redesigned the terrain and building systems enough already.  This will be the fourth iteration of the terrain system, and perhaps the fifth redesign of the buildings.  But the new idea is definitely the best I’ve had yet for this project, and I’m really excited about trying to make it a reality.  I’m also more than a little tired after three weeks of rapid change.  I’m going to enjoy a long sleep tonight.

Devblog 8 : Weapons and Tactics

Players can create expensive and powerful weapons, and these can be picked up by any unit… friend or foe.  So you’ll have to watch out for thieves.  When a unit dies they will drop their weapon, and again it can be picked up by anyone.

Each weapon is a specialist tool which is best used in a specific situation.  It is possible to use these weapons badly.  One weapon has a superior rate of fire, another has superior damage, another shoots projectiles in a high arc like a mortar, and another is a suicide bomb.

Whether the enemy is fielding superior numbers or superior quality, weapons can be created which, if used correctly, can easily destroy the threat.

Devblog 7 : The Lion the Witch and the Stealth Witch Hunter

I may have taken liberties with the word lion… and there’s no wardrobe yet.  But the last part is definitely accurate.  Each unit in the game belongs to a Clade and a Role.  These two terms represent types which have unique strengths and weaknesses.

The most basic Clade is the Amphibian, and the most basic role is the Regular.  If the player chooses to research more advanced technology they will unlock more Clades and Roles.  Advanced Clades include Mammal, Reptile, and Bird.  Eventually, when I can afford something better than programmer art, the units will looks like robot Egyptian gods; humanoid with animal heads.

Unlocking all basic Roles allows the creation of Regulars, Counters, and Guards.  Counters specialise in defeating their own Clade, but not much else.  Guards invert their Clade’s normal strengths and weaknesses, but not much else.

Advanced unit Roles include Armour, Witch, and Stealth.  These are powerful specialists who excel at specific combat roles.  Armour are very strong, and can absorb a lot of damage from basic unit types.  Witches are fragile, but they can steal enemy units.  Stealth become invisible while they’re not attacking, and deal a lot of damage to witches.

For most units one Armour is an intimidating threat, but the biggest threat to any Armour is one Witch.  Witches can be easily killed by a mob of basic units which would otherwise be destroyed by Armour.  Stealth are the best witch hunters in the game, and can provide invaluable intelligence on the enemy given their invisibility.


Devblog 5 : Units

There are four unit types, each with common subtypes.  These types and subtypes have armour and damage bonuses in a rock paper scissors style.  The player has access to as much of this information as possible.  I didn’t want a game which hid information, I wanted it to be obvious so the player can quickly figure things out.

Unit types also have different projectiles.  The most basic unit type’s projectiles simply deal damage to the thing they’ve hit.  More advanced types vary, some deal splash damage, other pass through multiple targets and so deal damage in a straight line, and others pass through everything to only deal damage to the target area.

The player can choose to change their unit’s combat stance.  Aggressive by default, units normally shoot and chase any hostiles they can see.  Defensive units will shoot but not move, and when units are told to Hold Fire they won’t do anything unless they’ve been told.

Units can use their ranged weapon or a melee weapon.  When a unit engages another in melee it forces that target into melee.  This can be useful if you want to deny an enemy unit the use of a powerful ranged weapon.

Players can choose to purchase super weapons, which can be picked up by anyone and enhance the unit’s ranged stats.  If the unit using the weapon dies, it will be dropped and again can be picked up by anyone.