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ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #1 
That's right, after three years of waiting, Artemis Away Team is finally playable and ready for testing. I have a working prototype for Android phones, with two roles and a playable mission. It can be found here:  http://www.phan.org/games/ArtemisAway.ArtemisAway.apk

Here are pictures of the game screens:

AwayTeam1.jpg  AwayTeam2.jpg  AwayTeam3.jpg  AwayTeam4.jpg  AwayTeam5.jpg  AwayTeam6.jpg 

The two roles that are available are the Marine and the Doctor. The Marine has a blaster as well as several types of grenades, and can change the setting of his blaster to do more stun damage or more health damage, or to take advantage of weaknesses discovered by the Doctor. The Marine has to choose his targets and decide when to attack, as the enemies will seek cover behind the green objects on the map, and are harder to hit when under cover.

The Doctor has a medikit with the ability to heal himself and the Marine over time. He also has a hypo with Stims that will counter stun, and Boost that will completely heal the player, or even bring him back to life! Stun (the top bar on the display in the middle of the screen) makes your screen black out for a second, but recovers quickly. Health (the bottom bar) is your physical damage and is healed by the Doctor. (You can heal a little bit over time if at less than 25% health) 

The Doctor's screen also shows his secondary purpose, which is to scan the enemies and monitor their health. Again, the top bar is Stun, and that's all the Marine can see, so the Kraliens he is fighting are stunned, not dead. The little diamond shows the Kraliens are below half HP, but not close to dying. The Doctor's screen shows he is targeting some Arvonians, and he can see their HP directly.

The Doctor also shows his resistance indicators, which is like the shield resistance in Artemis. The Doctor can only see the resistances for the Stun, Aim and Full settings, only the Scout can see all the settings of the Marine's blaster. Note the Marine can see both his targeting reticle and the Doctor's on his screen above. (The Doctor is playing solo, which is why only his reticle is visible and only his button is lit up in the interface)

On the Marine's screen, you can also see a convenient feature on higher difficulties, a circle of force fields protecting the way team's position. He has turned them on, and the white arcs mark the radius of the force fields. Enemies can't cross the field, although they and you can shoot through them. If enemies are stopped by the field, though, they will fire at it instead of you, dealing damage to the control console until it is destroyed.

The scenario that has been implemented is Elimination, the enemies are heading for you from all directions and you have to kill them all. As those of you who have read my preview post know, you have to turn around and point your phone behind you to see the enemies behind you. This makes this a very active game, and you'll want to play it standing up. I have other movement modes planned, but for now you and your team are Stationary and can't move. You might consider yourself defending the bridge of your ship against invaders. (Or you've captured the bridge of an enemy ship and they're trying to drive you away)

More gameplay modes and scenarios are on the way, but of course first I want to complete all of the roles. Just as an added bonus, I am including an incomplete implementation of the Scout. As noted, the Scout can see all five blaster resistances, and he can see specifically which Kraliens are carrying suicide bombs, and which Skaraans have Stun grenades, EMP grenades, or even healers!

I welcome comments or suggestions about potential scenarios or gameplay ideas. Since this is a playtest, I'm also hoping for a lot of feedback about errors and bugs. I've seen some odd behavior, such as disconnecting for no reason (and often the phone continuing to try to connect even after you exit the app -- just Force Stop it) and the client losing connection and the screen just freezing up. If you can identify the actions that happen to lead to those bugs it will help a lot.

I also want to test out balance. As with Artemis SBS, this isn't intended to be a solo game, but if you can manage to beat difficult 3 or 4 solo, that's about what I am expecting. Please let me know if there doesn't seem to be enough Health, enough Power Cells, or anything else to complete the game. The idea is that it will take a full team of five to beat difficulty 15, so if you're running out of Power Cells, that's intended. (The Tech will be able to recharge Power Cells)

Since this is a unpublished apk file, you will have to turn on the "Install Unknown Apps" option in Android. If you know how to do this, you're probably all right to download and playtest the game. 😃 BTW, the version number 0.2.0 indicates that this is an unofficial pre-release. I incremented the version number of 0.1.0 to 0.2.0 when I switched from Android Studio and Java to Visual Studio and Xamarin in C#.

Be sure to check out all of the options. There is a "How to Play" feature, and the Host can pause the game from the options pane, brought up by clicking on the circular icon to the top right of the screen. I plan to add a slider to set the sound volume, and some other options. You should also notice the compass accuracy indicator to the top right, which is very important for seeing how well your phone should be able to run this game.


ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #2 
Here's a picture of the Doctor's display from the two player game the Marine was playing above. This was on a tablet with different dimensions, so it shows you how the game adapts itself to different screens. Basically, the radar section is perfectly square, and the control panel grows or shrinks to take up the remaining space. The light blue dots are Terran allies, BTW.

You can see both reticles on the screen in the left image, but the Doctor's target is different from the Marines. (Even though they are both Kraliens) On the right is the Doctor's screen in blaster mode. The Doctor's button is now greyed out because the Doctor can't give Power Cells to himself.

AwayTeam7.jpg  AwayTeam8.jpg 

For those who have not read the original thread, I will repeat my concept for the game here. Basically, this is meant to be an complementary game to Artemis SBS, where a bridge crew can play an "away team", beaming down to a planet and facing off against the Kraliens and other enemies "face to face".

Of course, you can't actually see the enemies, but the idea is they are hiding in the environment, and you have to track them with your scanner. There are five members of your team, with cooperative, interlocking roles like in Artemis SBS:

Leader - Coordinates the actions of the other members, and communicates with enemies, native life forms, and if necessary the ship. This role is optional, as there won't be many scenarios where communications is required for success.

Scout- Responsible for scanning the surrounding environment and reporting the location and purpose of all important objects, including enemies. Finding a mission objective will be much harder without the Scout. (Originally called the Surveyor)

Marine - Carries a blaster (or blaster rifle, if you want to build a custom prop) that is the primary defense for the team. Other players get a much weaker blaster, but a Combat scenario will be all but impossible without the Marine.

Doctor - Treats the other team members, including the Marine, for injuries suffered in battle. Can report some information on enemies normally conveyed by the Scout. Required for scenarios involving a Plague or Combat, but optional for others.

Technician - Operates consoles, which are special objects used in Repair scenarios, or to open doors or otherwise manipulate the environment. The Scout and Technician often work together to scan equipment, figure out what is wrong with it, and repair it. 

In keeping with these separate roles, there will also be different scenarios available that will offer non-combat possibilities. The Scout will be more suited for missions that are build around exploring the environment and gathering resources, while the Technician will be the primary focus if the warp core is about to explode and the team needs to stop it.

You can see the Scenarios on the example image above. The Host is in charge of selecting and configuring the scenario, the clients go straight to the Role selection screen. The Scenarios are:

Combat - Combat involves defeating a bunch of attackers who are trying to kill you. The Marine and Doctor tend to be the most important roles in these scenarios, but the Technician can recharge power cells, and of course the Scout provides the same information as the Doctor and Technician combined.

Research - The Scout is the focus of the Research scenarios, with the exception of Plague which is the Doctor's specialty. In Plague, the team will have to control a number of allies or natives that have been struck by a plague while the Doctor scans then for a cure. Other scenarios will be gathering resources for the ship, or investigating a mysterious artifact. Enemies can complicate these scenarios, but only at high difficulties.

Repair - The Technician's stock in trade. Repair scenarios take advantage of the synergy between the Scout and the Tech to gather information, and then manipulate the internal workings of a device to repair it or bring it under control. Two scenarios will be Core Breach and Radiation Leak, with the different being that Core Breach will kill you suddenly if you fail, but Radiation Leak will be killing the whole team slowly. (Making the Doctor important)

PvP - A catch-all category, it includes any scenario that involves more than one team of players. There will also be a Game Mastered mode in this category.


ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #3 
A bit more information. As I said above, only Stationary movement mode has been implemented, but I intend to have three other modes that allow you to move around. Since some scenarios will require movement, in Stationary mode there will be only one scenario per category.

Stationary - Your team cannot move and the threats will come to you. Mainly for phones that don't have accurate gyros or location sensors, although this will be where I will start.

Virtual - The Leader will have button controls for movement. The Leader is also in charge of having his team take cover. (so you can't take cover without a Leader) With no Leader, the Host controls movement in this mode.

Augmented - Your movement in the real world determines how you move in the game world. Will require a lot of space to play, possibly a vacant lot or a park. Or a hotel, such as for a convention...

Bluetooth - The same as Augmented, but the players will be able to build Bluetooth beacons which serve as "anchors" on the map. You will be able to interact with these real objects as well as in the game.

You should be able to see the movement selector on the Scenario selection screen above.

Difficulty level: As with Artemis SBS, difficulty goes from 1 to 11, with 11 being half again as tough as 10. Damage is proportional to difficulty (with difficulty 11 doing 15 damage) and the number of enemies will also increase. Currently, the Elimination scenario has 5 enemies plus 1 per difficulty, so 20 enemies is the maximum.

Races: Enemies have different damage and health levels depending on their race. Except for Torgoth, all dots on the radar map actually represent a group of enemies of one race:

Kraliens - Low damage, Moderate HP. Some groups will carry bombs.
Arvonians - High damage, Low HP. They can do a lot of damage if not dealt with, but they have a high chance to surrender if asked. (by the Leader)
Torgoth - Low damage, High HP. There is only one Torgoth per dot, and if it gets to you it will crush your whole team, killing you instantly.
Skaraans - Moderate damage, Moderate HP. All Skaraans carry grenades. 3/4 will have Stun grenades, which will instantly stun your whole team. (The Doctor's Stims are meant to counter this) 1/4 have EMP grenades, which will totally drain the shots in your blaster. You have only a limited number of power cells, but they are shielded from EMP. Finally, 1/2 of Skaraan groups have healers. (or Doctors) I have considered the idea of adding more "specials", and welcome suggestions.

On the scenario screen, you have the option of playing Shipboard or Planetary. Shipboard allows you to select the race of the ship you want to attack. Skaraan and Torgoth ships will be "hard mode", you will encounter nothing but that race. Either an army of grenade throwers or an army of steamrollers are going to be a nightmare to deal with. 😃

You can also choose Terran or Ximni ships, at which time there will be Terran or Ximni allies to help you fight. In the Stationary Elimination scenario they will run towards you, just like the enemies, firing back at enemies and seeking cover as they run. When they get within interaction range, they will stop and continue fire on the enemies. Your Doctor will be able to heal them. It can be a fun challenge to lower force fields long enough to let allies through without letting enemies through as well.

For Planetary missions, you will face off against a random assortment of enemies (the same as Terran or Ximni Shipboard) but there will also be a number of neutral natives. They will run towards you, like allies, but if you shoot any of them, that target will turn hostile and try to kill you. Natives come in types that resemble the main races, with the same damage and HP modifiers. They don't get the special weapons, though.

Since Torgoth don't fit on other races' ships, you will only encounter them on their own ships, or on planets.

Terrans and Ximni have moderate stats, just like Skaraans. In PvP, you will be able to choose your race, getting those advantages to damage and HP. PvP will probably be one of the last things I implement though.
HaydenBarca

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Posts: 220
Reply with quote  #4 
Sounds super cool.  I was able to install it on two devices with no problem (save dire warnings about not being Play Approved).  Installed on:
  • Pixel 4 XL running Android 10
  • LG V20 running Android 8
I messed around on it but haven't played a real scenario yet.  I found myself wanting to hold down the Fire button instead of repeatedly tapping it.  No crashes or disconnections when playing over the same home wifi network.

I'll try to play it for real this weekend.  Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to seeing it develop.
ryleyra

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Posts: 3,014
Reply with quote  #5 
I think an autofire option might be a good idea. I too have found repeatedly pressing the button until it fires to be tedious. I plan to include on the options pane an option to turn the blaster arc on and off, for those players that want to ignore blaster mode if they aren't playing the Marine. I also want a zoom text mode for those who have trouble reading the tiny text. 

I think autofire might have a tendency to run out of shots too quick, though. Forcing you to fire each shot keeps you focused on how many shots and power cells you have left, and keeps you from just firing blindly. The cover feature also makes you think about how best to conserve your ammo.

As an option I think it would work okay though

Be sure and let me know what you think once you've played a full game.
HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #6 
My son and I did a playtest.  We tried some additional hardware.  It worked fine on a Moto Z Play running Android 6, but for the Moto G Power, it couldn't detect it's own IP address to host (I checked the network settings and it definitely had an IP address).  But the others worked so we played.  There's definitely a learning curve.  I think some sort of feedback would help (if there's some quick way of saying "enemy under cover, missed!", for example.  For my Pixel 4XL, I had to switch over to a compass app and do a lot of calibration to get it to finally work right (before I would get compass drift in the scenarios which made them unplayable).  Of course, I have a magnetic car mount stickered to my case, so that probably doesn't do the compass any favors.

One thing that seemed to make it more confusing is when the doctor and marine were both in blaster mode and (I think) the targeting reticles looked the same.  I seemed to encounter where I (as the doctor) would target something at 90 degrees, then I would flip around to 270 degrees, where I see an enemy already targeted (turns out, by the Marine).  I try to shoot but nothing hit until I select it to target it as well.  I might be wrong on that as I can't exactly take notes during the experience, but that's what appeared to happen.  

Some other random impressions/thoughts:
  • I would love to be able to "use" more of the map during this defense mode.  This might be to give me more scanning time as the doctor or for the enemies to stagger their approach so that they don't all hit firing range at the same time.  As it is (at difficulty 1) I can scan 2-3 incoming dots before it's time to get out the blaster and fight for our lives.
  • Do the rifle and pistol have the same range?  Giving the Marine's rifle extra range might create a little more strategy among the team.
  • Once we died, the only way to reset the game was to back out to the first (host or join) screen and then start again.  I'm sure this is just part of the alpha state, but it makes it harder to play test than a pop-up "Would you like to try again?".
  • Being able to access "How to Play" when not in a scenario would be ideal.  We would just launch a scenario, then pull up How to Play, read it and then return to find that we died while reading.  No biggie, but reading out of a scenario would be nice.
Overall, I am so excited about the prospect of this.  If there's something specific you'd like us to test, please let me know.

I have some notes about a half-implemented app in Android App Maker that revolves around repairing a Command Station (what do you fix first, the beam, the shields, or the torpedo launcher?) using a "circuit" design reasoning.  In the Artemis mission, I created different versions of the same base that had variations on which systems were operational.  As the live action players run around and scan QR codes in a real space to repair things the GM gets notes about what's working, which they use to then change the base.  I'm happy to dig up the notes if that would be helpful.
JordanLongstaff

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Reply with quote  #7 
Wow, looks neat! I have a couple of questions:

  • Is this open source?
  • Are there any plans for an iOS release?
ryleyra

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Posts: 3,014
Reply with quote  #8 
Let me start here since Hayden's post will take me more time to work through:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanLongstaff
Wow, looks neat! I have a couple of questions:
  • Is this open source?
  • Are there any plans for an iOS release?


At this time I have no plans to make this open source. On the other hand, I don't intend to develop it as a commercial product, instead charging maybe $1 or $2 on the app store just so I'm not giving it away. So perhaps once I'm further along with a released product I would have to maintain I might make it open source. I'm not making any promises, but I'm not ruling it out either.

And yes, I am definitely planning for an iOS version. That's one reason I wrote it in Xamarin. However, I don't personally have an Apple phone, so that would make testing difficult. Again, once I start thinking about releasing an iOS version, that might be a good time to release the code to a few programmers here in the Artemis forums, or even make it open source.

Basically, either way I go I will need to set up some kind of organization, with some sort of repository that I will have to pay for, and right now with just me working on it I don't have to think about things like that. In fact, I'm not even using a repository at this time, just backing up revisions of my code manually. A bit dangerous, I know, but I'm still in extreme alpha...

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #9 
Okay, there's a lot here to reply to so let me get to it. And thanks a bunch for the long and involved review. I'm looking for folks to give me a lot to work with, so I really appreciate that you took the time on it. 😉

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaydenBarca
My son and I did a playtest.  We tried some additional hardware.  It worked fine on a Moto Z Play running Android 6, but for the Moto G Power, it couldn't detect it's own IP address to host (I checked the network settings and it definitely had an IP address).  But the others worked so we played. 


I expected it to run on a Moto Z Play since that's what I've got. I've also tested on a Quanta Ellipsis 8 tablet. I'm a bit concerned about the Moto G issue, but I'm not really sure which CPU selections I should be using in my release package, so I'll fiddle with it and see what works.

Quote:

There's definitely a learning curve.  I think some sort of feedback would help (if there's some quick way of saying "enemy under cover, missed!", for example. 


There is a unique sound for the richochet when you miss an enemy under cover. It can be a bit hard to distinguish from the normal sounds of battle, but once you know it's there, you can hear it. Or that's what I found. The "How to Play" for the Marine says to listen for this sound but it could be more explicitly spelled out.

Quote:
For my Pixel 4XL, I had to switch over to a compass app and do a lot of calibration to get it to finally work right (before I would get compass drift in the scenarios which made them unplayable).  Of course, I have a magnetic car mount stickered to my case, so that probably doesn't do the compass any favors.


Yeah, that. Magnetic mounts will interfere with the compass. Unfortunately, the whole concept of the game revolves around use of the compass, so there is nothing I can do to change that except try to make my code more robust and give the accelerometer and gyroscope more weight than the magnetometer. But without the magnetometer you can't tell where north is.

I want to add an option to the Options Pane to rely only on the accelerometer or gyroscope. But either will introduce drift if you have an app that can help with that calibration maybe there is more I can do. I'll look into it. The accuracy indicator to the upper left is intended to let you know when there may be compass problems. I have found that it seems to appear and disappear at random but it usually works fine even with an indicator showing. I will note that if your compass is unreliable, it can help to move it in a figure eight motion until the indicator changes color to indicate more reliability, or goes away.

I may also add a "no compass" mode where you swipe with your finger to rotate, but that would be for worst case scenarios, where your phone just isn't advanced enough to have a compass.

Quote:
One thing that seemed to make it more confusing is when the doctor and marine were both in blaster mode and (I think) the targeting reticles looked the same.  I seemed to encounter where I (as the doctor) would target something at 90 degrees, then I would flip around to 270 degrees, where I see an enemy already targeted (turns out, by the Marine).  I try to shoot but nothing hit until I select it to target it as well.  I might be wrong on that as I can't exactly take notes during the experience, but that's what appeared to happen.  


Yeah, I made the cursor change to the red reticle when the device is in blaster mode. In retrospect, that probably was confusing, but I wanted a visual indicator that you could now fire back. Unfortunately, I can't change the color of reticles (or maybe I can -- I'll check) but I should probably just use the same reticle in both modes. Other players WILL see your base reticle on their screens, even when you are in blaster mode.

The Scout and Doctor's reticle look similar, but the Scout's is darker blue, and the "corners" are slightly moved out. The Leader and Tech will have their own different reticle, and the Leader's will be white while the Tech's will be yellow. So you will mainly distinguish them by color.

Quote:

Some other random impressions/thoughts:

I would love to be able to "use" more of the map during this defense mode.  This might be to give me more scanning time as the doctor or for the enemies to stagger their approach so that they don't all hit firing range at the same time.  As it is (at difficulty 1) I can scan 2-3 incoming dots before it's time to get out the blaster and fight for our lives.



I was hoping the pathing algorithm and force field generators would stagger the approach of enemies more. I'm thinking of extending the radius of every other generator to allow you to hold back enemies at a greater range, or perhaps stack fields. I think enemies also may be doing too much damage to the force fields, or even to players. If the Doctor has to fight, there's too much incoming damage.

I'm not sure how else I would stagger enemies. Maybe the further they are away from the players, the slower they move, or they wander from side to side more? That's really intended for the force fields to handle, at difficulties 1-3 you shouldn't have any trouble handling them all at once. (You should also be prioritizing. Don't worry about Kraliens if there is a Skaraan or Arvonian in range)

I'll add that if it would help, I could just slow down the enemies, and not stagger them, if that will result in a greater "set up" time for you to scan everyone. Or I could extend the time they spend under cover.

Quote:
Do the rifle and pistol have the same range?  Giving the Marine's rifle extra range might create a little more strategy among the team.


They have the same range, (10 meters) however the Marine does about twice the damage the other players do. At long range this is half again, so the Doctor should only be fighting if enemies are within 5 meters.

Making the ranges different would mean I would have to draw two arcs for range, or an arc at one distance for the Marine and at a different distance for everyone else. It is bad enough that the arc at which your shots become less effective isn't marked. (Actually, you gave me an idea, I can mark that range in the blaster's pie-wedge)

At long range, the Marine should be lobbing grenades, and taking pot shots at enemies as they run from cover to cover. Note they can't fire back at you at this range, so you're not wasting time by not firing. Note also the settings effects. When an enemy is running between cover objects, use a Stun setting to slow him down. Then when he stops because he's stunned, switch to damage and kill him.

And if you're not doing it, use the Doctor's resistance info. Note you should be able to pick out a good stun setting AND a good damage setting, even with only three resistances showing up on the Doctor's display. In the version I'm working on right now I've make this even easier since the "good" resistances now show up in green and the "bad" ones in red.

Quote:

Once we died, the only way to reset the game was to back out to the first (host or join) screen and then start again.  I'm sure this is just part of the alpha state, but it makes it harder to play test than a pop-up "Would you like to try again?".


I intend to do something about that. It is easy enough to force the activity back to the Role selection screen, however, forcing the host back to the Scenario selection screen isn't that easy. Plus, I'm still having trouble getting the same game to reset and start another scenario. It works better if the host backs all the way out to the Host and Join buttons and starts all over.

Quote:

Being able to access "How to Play" when not in a scenario would be ideal.  We would just launch a scenario, then pull up How to Play, read it and then return to find that we died while reading.  No biggie, but reading out of a scenario would be nice.


Pause the game on the host. None of the clients can pause the game, but the host specifically has the ability to pause the game on his Options screen. The intention is for the host to pause the game, and then everyone can read their "How to Play". 😉

I think I will have the host auto-pause when he goes into "How to Play". That should solve the issue.

Quote:

Overall, I am so excited about the prospect of this.  If there's something specific you'd like us to test, please let me know.



There is nothing specific I have in mind, but just testing out the gameplay, reporting on the balance, and strategies you may develop, will help me out a lot. In particular, I'd like to see what difficulty you can get up to. As I said in the first post, the difficulty you can reach will very much depend on how many players are on the team. Difficulty 11 is very much intended for experienced players with a full team of five.

Of course, you can't have a team of five yet, but I'm making progress, and I think that version 0.2.1 just might have all roles available for testing. 😉

Quote:
I have some notes about a half-implemented app in Android App Maker that revolves around repairing a Command Station (what do you fix first, the beam, the shields, or the torpedo launcher?) using a "circuit" design reasoning.  In the Artemis mission, I created different versions of the same base that had variations on which systems were operational.  As the live action players run around and scan QR codes in a real space to repair things the GM gets notes about what's working, which they use to then change the base.  I'm happy to dig up the notes if that would be helpful.


Oh, that would definitely be helpful! The one role I am saving for last is the Technician, because his ability to repair equipment is going to require a whole new interface which I haven't quite worked out in my mind yet. I know that it will require following instructions from the Scout, like Spaceteam or Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, but the interface itself I have only a vague picture of. I'm thinking of a grid of lines at this point, something like the Engineering display in Artemis only 2D, but I'm open to suggestions.

While I don't know if you had any graphical designs in your notes, I would be happy to see them, just to see if there is anything I can use. It looks like you were definitely thinking along the same lines, especially with the other players gathering information for the repair player to use.

ryleyra

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Posts: 3,014
Reply with quote  #10 
BTW, I am not sure if this is what you were talking about, but the game radius is limited to 35 meters for a reason. Ten meters is the range of the blaster, and 3 meters in interaction range. The total diameter of the circle that defines the map is 70 meters, which is about the width of a moderately sized hotel or convention center. Just as an example, I can point the phone down my hallway in my apartment complex, and 35 meters would be about to the end of the hall.

So the enemies in the game are quite close to you. If you were on the main deck of the Enterprise, the enemies would be halfway across the saucer from you. I want to make sure that if you are playing in Augmented mode, you will be able to move around within a fairly limited area and still cover most of the map.

I have considered doubling the range to 70 meters radius, or 140 meters diameter, but I want to see how well the game works in the smaller area first. I can make the enemies start further away, or even from outside of the playing area if that will help add playing time. I just don't want the players sitting around getting bored while waiting for the enemies to come to them.
HaydenBarca

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Posts: 220
Reply with quote  #11 

Yeah, once I removed the magnetic mount and calibrated the compass it worked well. Turning on the sound also helped provide some feedback (like empty energy cell).

I'm definitely still on the learning curve. Playing alone with a Marine only, I can only defeat difficulty 1 one in three times. I've not found any shields but I think I saw that they only arrive at more difficult levels.

Playing with the Marine only is largely an exercise in laying some limpet mines early on then waiting for the enemies to all hit you at once. I know the game isn't intended for solo play, but at difficulty 1 I thought maybe I could do it.

For the two ranges you may want to make the long range narrow (like now) with the short range being a wider arc. Once the enemies get in close trying to line them up in the sliver of an arc close to you gets a bit difficult especially if there's the slightest drift in your compass.

You may already have plans, but it would be cool to have some of the in-game objects be weapons lockers where you could find extra energy cells or grenades.

As for "using more of the map" I was just referring to much of the map being waiting for the enemies to arrive and then the part in which you could do something about them being relatively small. But since this is just one mission among many it may be that way in service of later missions.

HaydenBarca

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Posts: 220
Reply with quote  #12 
For my repair the space station game the basic idea is that there's a connection schematic of the base that relies on a chain of undamaged subsystems for a system to function.  There is the Reactor at the center of everything and then it branches to four systems: Beam, Torpedo, Shields, and Manufacturing (new torpedoes for resupplying ships).  If any one link in the chain is broken, that system won't work until it's repaired and there is a "chain of hot" subsystems from the reactor through the final system.  For instance the chain for the Beams is:
1ReactorComponentFuel Line
2ReactorControlPower On
3ReactorComponentReactor Core
4ReactorComponentContainment Field
5ReactorComponentMagnetic Relay
6ReactorControlTo Beam
    
10BeamComponentInbound Power
11BeamComponentAmplifier
12BeamControlSafety Off
13BeamComponentBeam Emitter
14BeamComponentTargeting Mechanism

When the players arrive, some random subsystems of each system are damaged.  Which ones? Well, that requires some investigation.  In my original plan I printed QR codes to hide in a physical space as the "access panels" for different subsystems.  They scan the QR code which brings up a screen on their phone which lets them open the case, run a test, remove a part, or install a new part.  The good news is that testing the "chain of hot" can be done with a SQL query because of how I structured the data table.

Next level development involves specific parts needed to repair a particular subsystem.  The players may start with some parts, but will have to find some on the station (parts box, for instance).  Or, they might decide to cannibalize a working part from, for example, a Manufacturing subsystem to get the last Torpedo subsystem working ("we'll worry about manufacturing later -- Kraliens are here!").  

Next level development after that is making sure a subsystem isn't hot while you're working on it (hence the control systems).  So you need a friend to run to the reactor to shut down power to the Beams so you can replace the Power Conduit in the Inbound Power Modulator.  If you try to replace it while hot you take damage.

There's more development plan after that like medical supplies, PPE, fabricating/repairing parts, character abilities (Jury Rig expert, Safety expert, etc.), but the above is the core of it.

That's the big idea.  If you want to see more, PM me your email address and I can share some files.  Unfortunately, it's about as well-documented as you'd expect an amateur working alone to do, which is to say "I know what I meant".  But I'm happy to flesh it out if it's something you want to pursue/collaborate.  I'm a much better game designer than I am a programmer  :-)  .
ryleyra

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Posts: 3,014
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaydenBarca

Yeah, once I removed the magnetic mount and calibrated the compass it worked well. Turning on the sound also helped provide some feedback (like empty energy cell).



I should probably put a note "Turn up your sound". 😃

Quote:

I'm definitely still on the learning curve. Playing alone with a Marine only, I can only defeat difficulty 1 one in three times. I've not found any shields but I think I saw that they only arrive at more difficult levels.



Force field generators appear at difficulty 4. They have the same hit points and effect all the way to difficulty 11, but really they will fail pretty quickly if you don't have a Tech. They form a circle around you, right at Interaction range. I think I changed them to six before the release, but there could be eight.
Quote:

Playing with the Marine only is largely an exercise in laying some limpet mines early on then waiting for the enemies to all hit you at once. I know the game isn't intended for solo play, but at difficulty 1 I thought maybe I could do it.



I want a player to be able to play solo at difficulty 1, and have a decreasing chance of success up to difficulty 3. For the Marine, the biggest issue should be running out of health. Basically, Limpet Mines and Stun Grenades should be your weapons of choice, plus the Stun setting trick I mentioned above. Since you have no Doctor, the damage you do will just be guesswork, so the idea is to stun the enemies to buy you time until you can kill them.
Quote:

For the two ranges you may want to make the long range narrow (like now) with the short range being a wider arc. Once the enemies get in close trying to line them up in the sliver of an arc close to you gets a bit difficult especially if there's the slightest drift in your compass.

I have noticed that the arc gets narrow near the base, but I want you to have an active role in lining up the enemies in combat, so the arc is supposed to be narrow.

One thing I have tried is adding a new zoom level below 1 (Zoom 0) which reduces your view to just 5 meters. This actually seems to help a lot with the roles that work with the interaction range, and it should also help the Marine with close up shots.

Quote:


You may already have plans, but it would be cool to have some of the in-game objects be weapons lockers where you could find extra energy cells or grenades.


I thought of having a weapons locker in addition to the force field generators in the 3 meter circle around you. However, the Tech will be able to recharge power cells using the generators as a source of energy, and I don't want to take away from that role. I'm also thinking of having the Leader radio the ship for more grenades.

There could be equipment lockers scattered around the map, but those would be too far away to reach in Stationary Mode, so they would just be there for the movement modes. Again, you'd need a Tech to open the locker, and possibly the Leader to radio in for a "supply drop".

This would be necessary for difficulty 11.
Quote:

As for "using more of the map" I was just referring to much of the map being waiting for the enemies to arrive and then the part in which you could do something about them being relatively small. But since this is just one mission among many it may be that way in service of later missions.



Well, I have noticed that the game goes fairly fast, being about two and a half minutes on average for me. I believe adding the movement modes will stretch it out, as you will have to go to the enemies instead of them coming to you, which will give you more time to rest and heal. But for Stationary mode I am limited, because as I said, I don't want the players to get bored. Since all the enemies "hit you at once", though, it goes from boring to frantic.

I probably should consider some way to extend the approach phase. Maybe I could place the enemies furthest away on a timer, so the don't start towards the player for some time. Again, I was hoping the cover algorithm would drag out the approach, but it seems to even the distance out, instead. Plus, the density of cover objects in an area has an effect on enemy approach speed, which is often greater than starting distance.

I'll think about it.

ryleyra

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Posts: 3,014
Reply with quote  #14 
I think I may need to study your subsystems idea more before I can comment on it. I'm not sure exactly how it works yet. I do like the idea of a circuit tree, I might try to adapt that idea myself, but I could be misinterpreting your post.

Anyway, I think at this time I am thinking of a square grid of lines for the Tech, with nodes at the intersections which allow power to be directed to the next node. There will be four or five systems on the left side of the grid, four or five across the top, more down the right side, and the rest across the bottom. Left and top are "sources" and right and bottom are "destinations" and the Scout will generate random instructions to link or unlink a source from a destination.

The Tech will pick a path through the nodes (this display temporarily replaces his scanner display) to deliver power to the system specified, while not disconnecting the last instruction. I'll have to test this out to make sure I don't generate any impossible sequences, but it will generate random technobabble similar to "Connect the P-Coils to the Verniers".

It'll basically be a minigame exclusive to the Tech. I hate minigames, (😃) but I'm hoping this is similar enough to the Engineer's gameplay in Artemis that it won't seem out of place. I've also thought of using a grid of panels, with controls in them, like Spaceteam, but I don't want to rip off that game. It would probably be easier to program, but I think the grid idea will work better.
HaydenBarca

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Posts: 220
Reply with quote  #15 
For the subsystem idea, this would be my interpretation of the first pass in Away Mission:
  • Of the many Tech Items (green dots on the map), 4 are the reactor subsystems, and 4 are the beam subsystems.  When you start, 3 random ones are not working.  All 8 need to be working for the beams to work. (substitute different numbers in for all of these to scale with difficulty and map size).
  • Any character can explore the green dots to figure out which are important subsystems as opposed to coffee machines (gives folks like the Marine something to do before there's anyone in shooting range)
  • The Tech and Scout can Test the subsystem to see if it's working (Works or Broken!) -- it takes time to test (something non-trivial like 10 sec) so it helps to have the Scout out there as well.
  • The Tech can repair a system that has been identified as Broken.
  • Repeat for as many additional systems that branch from the Reactor as well (the Torpedo launcher needs the same 4 reactor subsystems to work plus the 4 torpedo subsystems)
This wouldn't involve any mini-game, just interacting with the map and dots.  Maybe for the purpose of the Defense game it's remote diagnostics to ID and Test and then the Tech actually bee-lines to the broken subsystem as a blue dot to repair and then returns to the center (just automatic movement, not choosing a path).  Others will want to clear the way, throw stun grenades to buy the tech time, etc.  It'll probably flow more naturally from a moving game.  Maybe the invaders will brake/sabotage systems that they take cover at long enough.  We can, of course, make it more complicated from there, but it would give you a core to build from.

All food for thought, use or discard at will.
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