I’ve been away on holiday! Whilst sitting in the sun, (in the UK too…woot), I read ‘The Design of everyday things’, which is an old, but great book. It has nothing in it about game design but nevertheless I found it inspirational. Mostly the book complains about doors, phones, windows and other things that often get strangely redesigned to be inferior, and impossible to use. It was fitting, as I stayed in a hotel that had some of the worst usability design imaginable. A computerised fancy-ass lighting system that lets me select ‘relax’ or ‘ambient’ but doesn’t let me have 1 bedside lamp on and 1 off, and isn’t even consistant. The lighting had coding bugs…. Also the phone was unusable, and the idiots running the place tried to overcharge us. Grrrr. At least the food was awesome.
One of the points in the book is that usability is partly tied to giving feedback. A good switch turns on a light when you press it, or at least clicks, so you know something happened, and hopefully, what happened. In reading endless rants about this, I concluded that the lack of feedback is one of the BIG design mistakes in GSB. It’s all very well being the case that experimentation and tweaking is a bit part of GSB, but how clear is it that weapon X does Y damage, and that weapon A is better vs shields than weapon B?
Given this, I think a lot of careful thinking is required to get the design of GTB right. Some things I am considering:
- Making shields a Mech-only item. Tanks don’t have them. Nor do turrets. They look best around moving mechs anyway. This keeps things simple.
- Weapons do different damage vs unit types in some cases. Specifically, flamethrowers totally massacre infantry, but do little or no damage to anything else. The same is true of machineguns.
- You fight shields with lasers and armor with ballistics. Maybe lasers do 10% damage vs everything but shields, and ballistics are the reverse. There are no fancy exceptions. Fight an army with mechs (and shields) and you need lasers. Otherwise, you use ballistic weapons.
This would, I think be easier to remember, and still make quite a lot of sense. I can’t see a problem with it, because many tower defense games have used similar restrictions. Some towers battle flying units, others ground, others both. In any event, I intend to do a lot of thinking and experimenting with these mechanics before I spend any more time worrying about any new features or any graphical fluff.