Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

GTB game mode thoughts.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the different game modes in Gratuitous Tank Battles. Here are my current thoughts:

Classic (Tower Defence) Mode

In this mode, you play a standard tower defence game. The enemies come at you in pre-scripted waves, and have to get across the map in sufficient numbers to win. When the final wave ends, the player has won. The player earns supplies for shooting down incoming units, and spends supplies by placing new turrets and troops in one of the many pre-defined squares along the multiple attack routes in real time.

Reverse (Tower Attack) Mode

This is the same, but swapped over, with you as attacker. The player earns a steady stream of supplies over time, and these supplies are spent on new units. The supply level is capped, so you can’t just sit there for ages and not place anything, as you waste potential troops in that way. The victory conditions are just like classic mode. This requires a fair bit of AI by the defender, who will intelligently (I hope) place defences along the routes that are most under attack, and select defending forces that balance out, and can best deal with what is being thrown at them.

Assault Mode (attack OR defence)

This is a mode that will also work online in challenges. The player, either as attacker or defender, has a fixed budget to build up an entire army in one go (or for attack, possibly in a number of separate waves). The army then tries to storm past all the turrets without any interaction by the player. The army can be uploaded as a challenge either by an attacker or defender.

Pitch Battle Mode

This is like GSB, but without any pathfinding :D Essentially the maps series of paths meet in the middle and big armies start at one end or the other, marching / driving towards each other and blasting away until one army is destroyed, or everyone is out of range of each other. The last (or biggest) army standing wins. This can also be done as an online challenge game. This is the only mode where both sides have moving units.

Of course, it’s impossible to really say which of these game modes will really work, and which will suck, A lot of it depends upon the exact implementation and numbers. I really think I should implement at least this list though, and give them all some decent testing before deciding if they work or not.

There is SO MUCH to do.

Why no ‘special editions’of classic games?

I know that there are a lot of games companies that release sequels which, we all shout and complain, are just a re-hash of the previous game, but I wonder if they aren’t missing a bit of a trick here.

Everyone moans that TIE fighter was awesome and we don’t get a sequel. Ditto syndicate. Ditto all sorts of games. I always enjoyed Age Of Empires II.¬† Also Thief 2.

The problem is, big companies are obsessed with re-doing EVERYTHING and then charging full price as a sequel. I suspect there is a mid-market opportunity.

Lets say lucasarts took TIE Fighter, redid all the textures so they were higher res, re-did the models to be higher poly, and made the game play nice under directx9 on windows 64 bit etc, then re-released the game as a special edition for $10. Would people buy it? Would it pay for the art costs of doing so? I strongly suspect it would.

The trouble is, the big huge mega corps that control those old classics are simply not wired internally to do this. They either spend $10,000,000 on a game and expect a $100,000,000 return, or they do nothing. The fact that they have some old IP and an old (but classic) game design, where they could spend $200,000 to make $600,000 just doesn’t compute. It doesn’t fit their plan, marketing, financial or otherwise.

I’d like to think some canny executive at those companies could see that if they just sold the rights to re-release an updated, re-skinned TIE-fighter/Thief/insertnamehere, they could make a nice easy chunk of change, but I won’t hold my breath,

Bad idea? Good idea?

(I know GOG games make old stuff run on modern operating systems, but they don’t update the graphics in the way I suggest).

Gratuitous Tank Battles, and designing units

One of my gripes with standard Tower Defense games¬† is the lack of control over upgrades of towers. The decision the player has is basically ‘upgrade a tower, or build a new one’. I think that’s a little limited. gamers these days are happy to look at a choice of ten guns in an FPS, and choose the one whose weight / accuracy / rate of fire / ammo suits their playing style. I think we should at least give the player those sorts of choices when they pick their turrets in GTB.

A problem that Gratuitous Space Battles had, was the huge range of different weapons, and no hints as to what one is best for any particular situation. All the stats were there, but comparing them in the initial (1.0) release of the game was tricky. later patches fixed this, but it was still a bit overwhelming. Add in the extra DLC weapons and there are even more.

One of the ways I’m fixing this in Gratuitous Tank Battles is by sharing weapons across classes. Another is augmentations.

In GSB you had cruiser guns, frigate guns and fighter guns. GTB has large, medium and small units (mech/tank/turret) plus infantry. The difference is, a lot of the guns are interchangeable this time. So a fast gatling laser, for example, might be mountable on a medium or heavy tank, mech or turret. There are suddenly a LOT less overall choices to keep track of.

The second feature is augmentations. These are like little mini-bonuses to a component. One of them is a range-booster augmentation. This could be applied to ANY weapon. So you can combine it with missiles to get long range missiles, or with a ballistic weapon to get a long range cannon. Again, this means a lot less choices to suddenly spam you with, but still a lot of interesting combinations.

Some units have 2 augmentation slots, some 1, many have none.

I think this system works very well, it solves a lot of the design issues I had with GSB, and I wish I’d thought of it before. It’s similar to the ‘perks’ in Call of Duty, which is pretty much what made me consider it.

Hopefully this moves GTB towards the holy grail of strategy games which is ‘quick to learn, lifetime to master’. GSB was more ‘lifetime to learn’.

See… I do listen to gamers opinions :D Tell me what you think. Is this a good move? If not, why not? :D

Gratuitous inverter and cat pictures

Just biding time till I talk about GTB. I bought a new camera, so went snapping. here are pictures of what a solar panel inverter, and a cat of mine (called jack) look like, in that order: