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Weapon control design challenge

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by snacktime, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. snacktime

    snacktime

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    So we have a multiplayer fantasy Rpg with a good amount of siege type weapons. And we have land and sea combat, and the two can interact. Ships firing on land structures, land weapons firing on ships.

    The goal is to find control methods for the weapons that are balanced, so that when you have land vs sea fights one side doesn't have a decided advantage just due to how weapons are controlled.

    Plus, the controls have to fit the context well, and that's been the primary challenge.

    On ships, every player gets a ship and has an npc crew. Players don't fire guns directly. They (optionally) select targets and navigate the ship so the guns have field of view of targets. If in FOV and in range and not on cooldown, a gun calculates the velocity needed to hit and fires.

    On land it's different, players can control weapons directly. I have seen this handled in other similar games in one of two ways. One is the player gets a target reticle and can position it over the target, but only along the forward axis of the weapon. The other approach is you can rotate the weapon left and right, but the fire velocity is determined by how long you hold down the fire button.

    Both of those approaches are problematic in our game. With the first one, ships can simply position so they are not in direct LOS of a land weapon. With the second approach, it's a bit unbalanced compared to ships. Players don't have to reason about firing velocity on ships, but on land weapons they do.

    If we do a third approach like use a target reticle that can the player can move on any axis within constraints, that works. But it just seems a bit too modern for the genre.

    The land weapon approach of being able to control left/right rotation and have to hold down for velocity is one I like in other games that do it, although they don't have ships to design for. It adds a small element of skill that players seem to like more then just place a target reticle.

    One thing I guess I could do is separate land weapons into vs land and vs ship categories. That would give me some flexibility in the controls to fit the context better. Although I'm wondering if it would seem odd to players, they might wonder why is that a thing.
     
  2. YBtheS

    YBtheS

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    For the land weapons, couldn't you make them affected by gravity so that they can lob shots over terrain? Also if a ship is at a standstill behind some object, they lose the advantage of being a ship: maneuvabiliy. At that point they'd probably just be a weaker version of a land fortress. I think the ability to lob shots over objects plus a target reticle would balance it using my best judgement. I don't have a clear image of what the game looks like so I could be wrong about this.
     
  3. snacktime

    snacktime

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    they do lob shots like you describe and it is a bit difficult to form a picture with just words on how it all works.

    The issue with land weapons is if they can't rotate, while ships always can. So it's not an issue of an obstruction, it's land weapons would have a fixed forward direction while ships being mobile can always change the forward direction of their guns.

    I think I'm going to take the route of land weapons use a target reticle. The weapon forward position will just follow the reticle at some maximum speed and unable to fire until it's aligned. And it will calculate the velocity to reach the target like ship weapons do. That makes the mechanics for all weapons fairly consistent, and if with land weapons it comes off as 'too modern' well that seems like the lesser problem the more I think about it.
     
  4. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    My idea would be to give them both the same system, which would mimic the old catapult games. You aim by rotating the weapon, no reticle, and you control how much force is behind the shot. So you got to walk your rounds in on target.Very fun. Never gets old. Same thing they did in angry birds.

    THen, both sea based and land based weapons require the same skill to operate. Balance can come from adjusting rate of fire, rate of maneuverability, and impact of shots (and/or blast radius.)
     
  5. Volcanicus

    Volcanicus

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    If you want to base yourself off reality, sea siege ships are limited due to recoil. So they have slow moving projectiles and they cannot fire too often due to recoil since they are not anchored (unless we're talking about advanced military ships). What I would recommend is to make a damage formula and put in factors. Land weapons would be more direct whereas sea weapons would not. To balance, one would have a longer cooldown with more damage while the other wouldn't.
     
  6. snacktime

    snacktime

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    I like the having to rotate and control force also, it's I think the most popular approach in similar genre's, ie mmo's with siege weapons.

    But on ships it just can't really work that way. I don't want players to have to choose between moving or firing, which is what it would come down to. Most games in the genre have players controlling the weapons, because they have relatively few ships with multiple players on a ship. This game is every player has a ship with an npc crew.

    So I think the approach of land uses a target reticle and the weapon forward can slowly follow that, makes both land and sea fairy close. The mechanism to move the forward position of the guns is different, on ships it's your ship movement/direction and on land it's weapon forward follows reticle. But that makes both similar enough where it's easy to balance one against the other. The firing would then be very similar also, both are really working off of targets and the game calculates the math needed for the projectile to hit.

    I appreciate the ideas so far. I'm not 100% set on what to do yet, but this is a game that is fairly far along in development and I have to balance the choices here against others already made and implemented and working well, so that limits the options quite a bit. This has just been one of the nagging issues I've been punting on for a while.
     
  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner

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    What I see is that your ships have an advantage over ground based fortresses because they’re mobile. I would suggest then making the act of movement hinder the boats ability to dish out damage.

    This is what happens in real life too. Battleships can only really fire a small subset of their weapons when facing a target head-on. The idea attack is to turn broadside so that you can use all of your guns at once. Of course then you are moving perpendicular to your target.
     
  8. snacktime

    snacktime

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    Ship weapons do have less base damage. But if the controls/targeting of one or the other are so different then balancing damage becomes even more difficult. Which is why I've ended up going with an approach where there are the most similarities for both in terms of the core mechanics.

    I had to give up some amount of skill based control on the land side for that, but I didn't see another better option.

    So the way I have it now after the last iteration land targeting looks like the image below. The weapon rotates at some rate and has to align to fire. For ships weapons are immovable, so the ship has to position itself so it's weapons have Fov. So now I can balance land weapon rotation vs ship speed along with damage and I think that will work fairly well.

    We also have a lot more variety in our combat system then just a historic/realistic ship combat would have. We have 3 core weapon types with distinctive differences, magic weapons that are mostly constrained to buff/debuff roles. Plus multiple types of aoe that can mix and match with direct or over time damage, and we can stack those so a weapon skill can set off more then one. So we have a lot I think we can use to offset the lower skill targeting paradigm.
     

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