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 Post subject: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 5:29 am 
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Hi Everyone,

(Note: This system is still a work in progress and may be tweaked, but as of today this is how it all works. )

I am really excited to reveal something new about the metagame, the part creation process. It is pretty much the cornerstone of the whole game and where the combat game meets the strategy game. Anyhow here goes. I have been working on this for weeks and now that it is working, I am thrilled.

So in order to survive in SPAZ 2, you'll need a bigger meaner battle wagon than the guy chasing you. This is where the parts come in. We initially were going to make a scaling random parts system much like the weapon system in Diablo, but then Richard came up with a sweet idea one day and I ran with it. His idea, instead of random parts, how about territorial based parts! This blossomed into what we have now. This may get long...

Provinces:
In SPAZ 2, the current map has 52 provinces. Each of those provinces can have a starbase that is controlled by one of 5 factions (or no starbase if uncontrolled, zombies can also take over). Now inside the provinces, there are resource locations. At least 1 per province, but sometimes more. The resources are Rez, Goons, Scrap, and XP. Yes you can mine XP. :)

Locations:
Ok so now we have resource locations. These produce a resource over time (no more AFK mining). You cannot harvest the resource until it is ready and an indicator shows how "ripe" it is. For all intents and purposes, that resource belongs to the starbase, and it will even dispatch a transport to collect the resource, but that doesn't stop an enterprising young lad from scooping the resources before the transport arrives, or even taking out the transport after pickup. These resource nodes are quite attractive and battles routinely break out over ripening nodes. The local resources provide all resources to keep the economy chugging along. No magic money comes from the outside. It is a closed system.

Location Features:
Now things get more interesting and where Richard's idea shines. Each location gets a "Feature"; this is a theme for the location. So imagine that a Rez field also has a "Shields" feature. This means that the starbase that controls this node is better at making things have shields. Now it is important to talk about subsystems.

Subsystems:
Each part is a collection of 7 subsystems (and mass) Health, Armor, Shields, Thrust, Maneuverability, Reactor, Capacitor. And also N weapons. A ship is a combination of all the subsystems that are contained in all of its parts. So if there are 3 parts each with 3 shield subsystems, the ship will have 9 shield points. If a part gets knocked off, the ship will have 6. If a part gets damaged, the ship will have 7/9 for a time. One nice thing done last week was to unify the units. It has made tuning and clarity much better. SO: 1 mass unit is offset by 1 thrust unit, is powered by 1 reactor unit etc... This makes it really easy to see where your ship needs optimizing.

Parts:
So now we have a part that is a collection of subsystems. Each part also has a theme. So wings by default have N maneuverability sub systems, engines do thrust, cores do reactor and capacitor, noses do shields. They all have a smattering of health and armor. Even though a part has a theme, it can be so much more under the right circumstances.

Now back to locations features:
Remember that Shield feature at the Rez field? Well parts all come from somewhere in SPAZ 2. They are not randomly generated from a magic hat. A part is built at a starbase, and this starbase just so happens to be really good at shield stuff because of the shield feature in the Rez field. So you know that wing that usually just does maneuverability? It now also guarantees an extra shield subsystem for the ship.

So now we have a strategic game map that is determining what part characteristics are built at a specific location. This means province A is truly different than province B since their specialties differ due to location features now. Now that is a HUGE reason to take over one territory over another. But then it went deeper. What if EVERYTHING used this system.

Part Sizes:
So we have 3 part sizes. 1, 2, and 3 "bangers." Originally we were going to unlock these through flow, but instead now we unlock through territory. Say you have a location feature that is "Wings". Guess what, wings made at that starbase now tend to be bigger (and it produces more wings on average. It becomes the one stop wing shop). In general a one banger has subsystems of value 1, 2 bangers 3, and 3 bangers 5. SO say you were covering 3 engine attach points. If you used 3 1 bangers, you would have 3 points. A 2 and a 1 banger gives 4 points, and a 3 banger gives 5 points. So taken together bigger is better, but MUCH more rare/expensive!!!

So to EVER manufacture a 2 banger your faction needs to own 1 wing feature location. To EVER manufacture a 3 banger, your faction needs 3 wing locations. Now it is important to talk about factions and part denial strategies.

Factions and Provinces:
Factions are a set of agents who control a set of provinces using starbases. Each faction has a unique starbase type and a specialty. For example, Science faction is good at shields. All their base parts have slightly more shield subsystems. Every group is good at something. A faction's true strength is in its shared resources. Every CONNECTED province within a faction provides the "possibility" of those resources to the whole faction. SO If you have a faction with 5 territories in a line, all the location features of those territories are available to all member starbases. Note: They are only available, not guaranteed. Only local features are guaranteed. This ensures even within a faction territory A and territory B produce different subsystem profiles for parts. SO what happens if you cut this chain of 5 provinces in the middle. You cripple them. We have gone from 5 shared provinces to 2 sets of 2. Ensuring contiguity is critical. Now imagine that the province you cut was the one allowing sharing the 3rd wing location feature with the faction. You just crippled their ability to make giant parts. Huzzah! But wait there's more!

Weapon Tiers.
We even expanded this to weapon types. Weapons have 4 tiers right now. Everyone gets Tier 0. To get higher tiers, you need more and more weapon feature locations. There are Turret (beams and cannons) missiles, and special weapon feature nodes. So what a faction can arm itself with is heavily based on what territory it controls as well. But all is not lost poor weak faction with little territory. Supply and demand to the rescue.

Trading!!!
This is a little off the part topic but it is cool. So SPAZ 2 has actual trading and an actual economy that can be exploited (especially by factionless captains). Every part in the game has a base value based on the tiers of its weapons, number of subsystems and part size. There is also one other key factor, rarity. Here are some factors. If a part is from a different faction it is more rare, if it is from an enemy faction MUCH more rare, if it is bigger than we can make, much more rare, if it has weapons we cannot make, even more rare. So the smaller factions pay a premium for exotic (to them) parts, and the factionless (freelance) pilots take advantage of this and spread high quality parts around for fun and profit. The AI captains are already shrewd little shoppers :)

Trading is also affected by faction relations and levelup perks, and even personal relations but that is a story for anther day.

Recap:
This is a lot to digest and even reading it back is seems quite complex, but it isn't when you see it in action. It more becomes the environment behaving as you would expect. So if you see a Rez field with a shield feature icon on it, it pings your brain to look for shields at that starbase.

Part quality and construction is a direct result of the current shape of the galaxy map. There is some randomness in the possible features, but local features to a province are dependable. Bigger starbases can add more "possible" features. Like more rare items in diablo. And these additional subsystems come from connected faction controlled provinces.

Nothing is locked off at the start of the game. If you can collect the right provinces, that part will start appearing at connected starbases. There are so many location features though that specialization and trade will be key. If the Civs make great engines, they may need to buy noses from the bounty hunters for decent shields. And we cannot ignore the location resources either. You will need all 4 resources being produced to keep your faction strong. (more on that another time as well)

Example, Lets generate a wing:
It's a wing: +4 maneuverability default
It's a bounty hunter wing: + 1 maneuverability
Its starbase controls a shield and reactor feature: +1 shield, +1 reactor
We control 3 wing features in connected territory, yay we got a 3 banger (subsystems X 5)

Now for "possible features". We built a big base here, and we rolled 3 bonus features. The connected provinces have a grab bag of stuff and we roll bonuses to Shields, Thrust, and Thrust again.
Final Wing:
25 maneuverability
10 Shield
5 Reactor
10 Thrust
(big pricetag but it's worth it)

Weapons picking time. Boo, we didn't capture any weapons provinces. Tier 0 for us. Dual pulse cannons.

This part was totally a result of the state of the galaxy and the actions of the 200 captains (and you).

I am really excited how this system tied the combat and the starmap together. All your strategy becomes a ship part that you then scoundrel your way into buying and then get to use in a real fight. It is very satisfying to crush a ship with something you painstakingly built/exploited an empire to generate :)

I hope this giant post makes up for my absence. I couldn't post about it until it finished evolving.

p.s. I think Richard is posting a pic of the map this weekend.


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 2:07 pm 
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Tug

Joined: Fri 26 Oct, 2012 11:55 am
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Hm, a bit off-topic, but may i ask about the damage/armor types? Because, now that i think about it, missiles should do at least some kinetic damage (they are a mass too), along with explosive damage (normal missiles/torpedoes), as in some things having Mixed damage.
Anyway, this is amazing :)


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 5:34 pm 
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Damage type wise we will probably stick to the same as SPAZ 1. So explosive kills hull, energy shields and projectile armor. Since each damage type does some damage to the other types of armor too, it kind of is naturally mixed. Were we to make a kinetic missile, we would take the explosive factor out of it all together and label it as projectile damage for the system. Missiles already pierce non boosted shields as do projectiles. We have 2 shield modes now regular (stopping energy and other shields. it does a pretty good job of preventing collisions) and then boosted which stop everything but are power pigs :)


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2014 4:53 pm 
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Don't forget to check out the screenshot of the map

http://www.minmax-games.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=4058&sid=cea2d7aba8bd06edf8e13cb5bf385faa


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2014 5:16 pm 
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The little arrows are all captains, color coded by faction, yes? Damn, this looks cool.

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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2014 6:19 pm 
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Indeed. The large round named icons are starbases, which will also be owned by a captain (maybe you).


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sun 26 Oct, 2014 1:15 am 
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Dart

Joined: Fri 28 Oct, 2011 12:09 pm
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Damn, the map looks beautiful.

Though the interface feels/looks very different to SPAZ 1, it was colourful while this time its grey. Was that intentional change in theme? Or is that just placeholder?

Personally I prefer the colourful interface. It'll take time to get used to the gloomy grey. In any case the sequel is going to be VERY different from the first one. Its a sequel not just in name but in deed.


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sun 26 Oct, 2014 1:40 am 
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Skyrim came out and showed me that "less is more". I'm trying to keep the UI as minimal as possible so you focus on the game itself. I use as much transparency as I can get away with so you can see that beautiful map underneath ;)

It's also dynamically scalable, meaning you folks with 4k TV's will be able to read the UI.


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 Post subject: Re: How it's made, modular parts edition.
PostPosted: Sun 26 Oct, 2014 8:58 pm 
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But, Skyrim had a terrible UI!... that's why most people ended up switching over to SkyUI.

Well, as long as you can make the UI intuitive and easy to grasp, that's all that matters.


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