Wednesday 9 November 2011

Kitting Up, Deploying Out, Inventorial reFlummoxing

Interface for "one-off battle-mode", choosing your squad and tooling them up to the nines. Also a total rewrite of the inventory system ... again.


With the vast majority of the dirigible moving, hex gobbling, Strategy Campaign Mode gamelogic completed, it was back to the Squad Tactical stuff.

To make testing and debug rather easier I developed the "one-off Battle Mode" to cut out having to go through the Campaign mode to spark a battle. In the final version, the single Battle Mode will be the training mode for the player to familiarize themselves with squad combat, or just if for a quick and casual "get to the actung, baby" mode.

There are various preferences with this, from squad objectives of clearing the area of the enemy, to defending or assaulting team headquarters ... which will probably end up as being a sort of first to grab the enemy colours wins when I get it sorted out.

Difficulty controls how much money, veterans, quality of veterans, class based items are available. It works as a balance, "Easier" gives more of the opponent's default ratings to the player, "Harder" strengthens the opponent and reduces what is available to the player.

There are also options for terrain type and weather conditions, with weather reducing visibility and spotting chances. Weather also acts as a factor to which of the eight offensive strategies the Ai opponent squad will decide to use.

And of course the player can choose which ever of the six factions to play as.

This then leads to the "deployment and equipment screen" which is the same before any battle regardless of game mode. Here you can select which veterans, or untested militia troops to deploy, areas where they'll start, and all the equipment and ammunition that they'll be carrying into battle.

There are six individual classes of squad member - each with four levels of specialized equipment, which in Campaign Mode have to be researched and purchased, and in Single Battle Mode are dependant on the Difficulty Setting. Save for a few highly specialist items, any class can use another's equipment, but they will usually incur some form of penalty. For weapons this is usually a reduction in accuracy, for armour a penalty in the squad member's Action Points. For some very basic items there is no penalty, eg: everyone can throw the Recce's flashbang without penalty as it's used just like a standard grenade.

This equipment and deployment section brought me round to the terrible task of redesigning the whole inventory system ... again.

Terrible because apart from it being fairly convoluted and time consuming ... it's also as boring as hell.

But it does look and work better now, being much more user friendly. Gone are the segregation of weapons, ammo and equipment - now replaced with a scrollable up-down list of everything together. Originally I'd seperated so that you could have weapon and ammo displayed together - but the fact is that you can do that with this method AND show an additional 60% of items with a lot less scrolling involved to get through them all.

The squad member deploys into the game with the first weapon or item in-hand that was in it's deployment equipment list. And the deployment equipment order is now matched in the in-game inventory.

I've also prevented live explosives from being picked up. There's a two-fold reason for this; firstly, putting something that is about to explode in your backpack is a very bad idea and secondly, I wanted to eliminate the "live grenade relay" that was common in the original X-Com, were you lead scout spotted the enemy, and then the guy furthest away pulled the pin on a frag, and tossed it from one side of the map to the other, along a chain of squad members in a highly unrealistic and rather cheaty manner. This is now a no-no.

And that's about it for this blog. Next up is sorting out the enemy Ai team to successfully use one of the eight different offensive tactics I've come up with for them, and generally sort out the whole tactical battle system and make sure it works. Also work out a formula to how the Ai opponent decides to deploy and equip it's forces. After that it's integrate it into the campaign mode with team member promotions for successful survivors with extra experience, and adding militia who did well (got a kill and survived) to the core of veterans.

In the meantime, vidya of the above in action.