Combat system update and prototype video

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.

Why turn-based?:

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!

About Brendan Drain

Director @ Brain and Nerd
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8 comments
AndrewN
AndrewN

As soon as you started moving the ships I could really see how the tactics in this system could become very interesting! Curious, what are your thoughts on larger ship sizes? As in capital ships or something that may take up multiple tiles of the combat area. Also, one thing that came to mind for me when watching the ship movement was that with a large combat area and ships with high movement that being able to select the route the ship takes when moving to a destination could become very important. An example would be to be able to select a mid-movement tile for the ship to move through so as to avoid hitting a mine that might be in the "optimal" path that the ships automatically takes.

Nyphur
Nyphur

I do plan to add capital ships that take up multiple tiles. They might take increased damage from area effect weapons since each square could be hit, and they'd be slow or even stationary. Good idea on letting people select routes or waypoints. Picking a non-optimal route will naturally take up more movement points and so shorten the distance you can travel. Right now you would have to plan your move in your head and then make it manually, so if you wanted to set a waypoint in the middle you'd just click there first. But I could put in an option to plan your move, tracing the line it would take. Since you can do it manually at the moment, this is a bit of a low priority but I definitely want to get it in. I'll come back to this idea when I've got more of the core mechanics in. Thanks for the feedback!

mzprox
mzprox

A simple, clean system with many possibilities, I like it and nice to see that the game you want to make to play is similar that I'd wanted for myself. One question: Do you focuis on single player, multiplayer or both? I'd like if the primary focus woulfd be multiplayer with several game options (fast chess-like games but also possiblity for long immersive gameplays- like civilization pbem or even more pitboss game modes) An advantage for multiplayer that ai is not that important :). But since it's a tbs game it's important to make it dynamic, not so slow. Orion's way for simulateous turns works great (two phases: colony management, movements then the battle phase. )

Nyphur
Nyphur

We're aiming for both, but AI will naturally have to wait until most of the game is feature-complete. Until then we'll be using hotseat and multiplayer testing. The combat system will be the first test version released, and we'll hopefully be able to make that an online game. In the final game, fleet combat will be a phase like in MOO2. You'll manage your colonies as the main game phase, then at the end of each turn all that turn's combats will happen in order. We'd definitely like to include free online multiplayer in the final game if development time permits. Watch the blog for future updates and announcements on this.

Vadim
Vadim

awesome! is this a final size of battlefield or just for testing?

Vadim
Vadim

That's good. are you planning to do a static size of battlefield like in MOO2 (no differense between the battle 1x1 or 50x50) or dynamic for more units will be more large battlefield?

Nyphur
Nyphur

Just for testing! The battlefield can be as large as I want to make it, so we can have very large combats. There'll also be tactical elements like nebulae and asteroids to contend with when I'm done.

Nyphur
Nyphur

I'm not sure about that yet. If I do a fixed battlefield size, I'll need to limit fleet sizes. I may end up making it dynamic to avoid this problem.