Made good progress on the combat system this week. It now has:
- Movement mechanics: Left click moves ship to the selected square, right click turns toward the selected square, end turn button cycles to next ship in initiative order
- A glowing line indicates the path ship will take to the square you have the mouse over
- A ghost ship shows where your ship will end up and what diredction it will be facing
- Ships smoothly animate along the selected movement path
- Ships now have weapons
- Weapon firing arcs are working and show on the grid when you activate the weapon
To see the system in action, check out the prototype video below. Please post any comments you have on it and I’ll use them to help refine the next iteration.
Next I will add:
- Attacking other ships by clicking on one in range once the weapon’s active
- Shield and armour hitpoint system and basic hitpoint meters (will develop a nice UI for this later)
- Highlighting enemy ships in range when weapon is active
- The Reactive Strike system
- Togglable weapon view: See all enemy weapon firing arcs on the map, move mouse over square to see how much damage you could take in a reactive strike if you enter that square
- UI buttons and hotbar system
- Non-weapon modules: Shield/armour repairers, afterburners (add movement speed, has a cooldown) etc.
A few people have asked me why I chose to go with a turn-based combat system, so I figured I’d answer it in this blog post. The reason I’m making Predestination is that I want to make the kind of game that I’d love to play, and one of the things I loved about the older generations of 4X games is the level of strategy and tactics involved. I think newer 4X games have lost a lot of the tactical gameplay that the classics had, partly because many of them focus on realtime gameplay and controlling massive fleets of hundreds of ships. So I decided to go with classic turn-based gameplay for the main game and combat based around directly controlling a small number of individual ships.
When it came to the fleet combat system, I was torn between turn-based gameplay or a system where both fleets give their ships commands and then all the ships execute their turns at the same time. The latter system has a lot of tactical potential, as you could limit the number of commands a player can give and ships can be destroyed before carrying out their objectives. I didn’t like the way it disconnects players from their moves, adding a lot of unpredictability to combat so that even if you win it might not feel like you really made it happen. I want a system where your commands are immediately carried out and you instantly see the result, which means it has to be turn-based.
Chess-like tactical gameplay:
The combat system will produce gameplay that feels more like a game of chess than an RTS. If you’re the kind of player who loves to strategise, you’ll have the freedom to sit and think about each move for as long as you need, weighing up the options and considering how the other player will react. You’ll be able to build strategies around clever positioning and blocking off areas of the battlefield, and to employ clever tactics to beat an opposing fleet that outnumbers and outguns you.
If you aren’t interested in playing intergalactic chess, you can design simpler ships that don’t use the Reactive Strike system or tactical weapons, or even disable Reactive Strike altogether when starting a new game. We might even make tactical combat optional for people who just like the colony management side of the game.
The response to the combat system has been really positive in the comments and I got some great positive feedback about the idea at QCon. It seems a lot of people are looking forward to tactical turn-based combat where you control individual ships of your own design. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, please leave a comment!