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Author Topic: Thoughts on ground-based combat  (Read 3788 times)

Cort

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Thoughts on ground-based combat
« on: May 15, 2008, 11:51:38 PM »
I'd like to discuss the ground-based combat some more.

The combat itself is a lot of fun imho, I really enjoy it. I do think the penalties for fighting are too harsh, though.
I just took my first 'kill X' mission. It paid 10k, but I do get around ~400k in fines and 32 days of ban time. That's about the amount of cash I have and half the time I'm playing Ascii Sector overall. I think I can halve both if I only stun the bodyguard, but it's still a lot. If I take more of these missions (and I'd love to), I'll soon be banned in the whole quadrant.
While that might be realistic, I don't think it's motivating for the player.

In addition to that, I'll have to manually maintain a list of bases I'm banned from so I don't accept missions involving those.

In my opinion, you have a great feature there that has to be avoided by the player if he wants to continue his game.

Or maybe there's some way to avoid that I missed. There was a police officer around, but at the other end of the base. And it wasn't Loye or something. It was Euris in Jovius, not exactly a base run by outlaws, but not a major administration center either.



Some more general suggestions I'd like to make regarding ground-based combat:
  • Practising on the shooting range takes way too long, imho. It took me maybe three hours to get to 'experienced' with guns and rifles. While I'm dedicated and can't help it, this is definitely too much for a casual gamer. Let's just say that I did get a lot of reading done. ;) I'd suggest making the first levels very easy to get, and then make it progressively harder to reach the next level.
  • 'Dragging' one object in the equipment screen onto another should make them change places, so you don't have to put one on the ground first.
  • I think the final (deadly) blow in a fight should also be displayed with the dropping health bar.
  • The 'm' button should also work while aiming with a ranged weapon.
  • The shooting range asks you to press Space to reset after ten shots, yet any button seems to have that effect.
-- Cort

Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 12:19:03 AM »
One more issue I just noticed, even though I don't have an idea how to solve it.

I killed my target, and stunned his bodyguard. I left combat mode and starting going about my business on the base. After a while, I re-entered combat mode... and couldn't leave it anymore, because I was supposedly under attack. I went back to the bodyguard and noticed that he was now only 6/7th stunned again. I couldn't leave combat mode and therefore also couldn't save. (But launch! Should that be allowed?) I had to re-stun him to get out of combat mode.
However, it seems like that doesn't happen if I don't manually re-enter combat mode. Then it doesn't seem to matter whether he's 'waking up'.


-- Cort

PS: You also can't leave the game normally (ESC) then. Alt-x works, though.

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 08:52:25 AM »
When I think about assassinations I have troubles imagining a context where "motivating" would be the right term to describe them.  :D
They could be a bit better paid, though. A quick and dangerous way to make money, but it should have its price on the long run.

Quote from: "Cort"
(But launch! Should that be allowed?)
I did this several times. I killed the target and simply ran from the bodyguard chasing me. I imagine this to look a bit like Han Solo escaping from the Death Star (or Han Solo escaping from Bespin, or Han Solo escaping from Hoth - That guy definitely is good at running). My ship just lacks the ability to fire the turret-mounted gun while on ground.

Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 09:40:46 AM »
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When I think about assassinations I have troubles imagining a context where "motivating" would be the right term to describe them.  :D

Well, yeah, that term wasn't very well chosen. :)
But I think Privateer and Ascii Sector always followed the route of: give the player some freedom, but make him live with his choices.
Think about smuggling for example. I haven't done a lot of smuggling in Ascii Sector yet, but I think the only two penalties are a) fines (which are up to now meaningless) and the confeds/militia hunting you down. Now if I'm willing to run from or kill the confeds and militia, this doesn't restrict my options. The effects of murder restrict my options a lot, though. That is okay for a very limited time, but 32 days for one 10k mission is very harsh.
In addition, I can actually directly influence the penalties of smuggling with my own actions, by changing my ways and hunting pirates with the confeds. I can't get the ban lifted through respectable behaviour, afaik.

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They could be a bit better paid, though. A quick and dangerous way to make money, but it should have its price on the long run.

Depending on where Christian intends to go with the fines, I don't see a reason why anyone should accept an assassination mission that pays less than the fines you have to pay for them.
If they stay meaningless, I think there should be a (difficult/dangerous) way to dock on a base you're banned from. I have no reasonable suggestion how to do that, though.



However, I think the better solution would be something completely different. Maybe that you could avoid getting fined/banned in some way. Maybe if you only get the penalties if a police officer spots the murder? You'd still get a short ban for firing a gun on a base (~1 day/shot?), but they can only sentence you for murder if it's actually spotted.
That would also make using melee weapons a lot more interesting because you can avoid the firearm fines that way.

It would obviously be a lot harder on a major base like New Beijing or Loye Naval, simply because there are police officers walking around everywhere.

It might even be possible to add some strategy to that (without much effort) by giving the police officers predictable patrolling routes. I'm thinking in the direction of Commandos here, just obviously a lot simpler.


-- Cort

Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2008, 09:58:29 AM »
Addendum:
Quote from: "Cort"
After a while, I re-entered combat mode... and couldn't leave it anymore

Now I remember why I went into combat mode again. There's no other way to determine your current health level, is there?


-- Cort

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2008, 10:04:40 AM »
Quote from: "Cort"
  • Practising on the shooting range takes way too long, imho. It took me maybe three hours to get to 'experienced' with guns and rifles. While I'm dedicated and can't help it, this is definitely too much for a casual gamer. Let's just say that I did get a lot of reading done. ;) I'd suggest making the first levels very easy to get, and then make it progressively harder to reach the next level.
Hmmm... I think the problem here is that the shooting range gives a short-cut to gaining experience that you should otherwise get by engaging in actual combat. I think you're right in that the first level should be easier to reach, and then it should get progressively harder. I'm thinking that as long as you're at Unskilled, you're targeting crosshairs will be all over the screen, as if you've never held a gun in your hand before. Shooting at the targets should get you to Basic quickly and give you enough skill to be able to aim at characters close to you. After Basic, the shooting range will increase your skill very slowly, encouraging players to gain skill by actual combat instead of the shooting range.

Quote from: "Cort"
  • 'Dragging' one object in the equipment screen onto another should make them change places, so you don't have to put one on the ground first.
Agreed.

Quote from: "Cort"
  • I think the final (deadly) blow in a fight should also be displayed with the dropping health bar.
I'll add that.

Quote from: "Cort"
  • The 'm' button should also work while aiming with a ranged weapon.
And that as well.

Quote from: "Cort"
  • The shooting range asks you to press Space to reset after ten shots, yet any button seems to have that effect.
I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think I made both SPACE and ENTER work.

Quote from: "Cort"
One more issue I just noticed, even though I don't have an idea how to solve it. I killed my target, and stunned his bodyguard. I left combat mode and starting going about my business on the base. After a while, I re-entered combat mode... and couldn't leave it anymore, because I was supposedly under attack. I went back to the bodyguard and noticed that he was now only 6/7th stunned again. I couldn't leave combat mode and therefore also couldn't save. (But launch! Should that be allowed?) I had to re-stun him to get out of combat mode.

Yeah, that's some issues with how I check if you can exit combat mode. The program checks all characters and if one currently has you as his target, you won't be able to exit combat mode. As long as the bodyguard was stunned, he wasn't checked. But as soon as the stunning began to wear off, he was checked and flagged as being a threat to you -- which he probably isn't all that much, as he's moving quite slowly due to still being affected by the stunning. The game would only place you in combat mode automatically, when he actually attacked you, and you would then be unable to exit it like you were when you entered combat mode manually. I guess there's a couple of ways I could fix this: One is to have the bodyguards' "orders" reset when the stunning wears off, so he won't be flagged as a threat immediately. Another is to not let the stunning effect slow him down until he's completely stunned. That way he'll move towards you immediately when he's woken, and more clearly seem like a threat.

Quote from: "Cort"
You also can't leave the game normally (ESC) then. Alt-x works, though.

Yeah, that's because ESC is used to exit the 'sub'-categories, such as combat mode, equipment menu, Quine, and so on, and will only exit the game if you're in the 'top' category (i.e. moving about normally on the ground or in space). When you can't exit combat mode due to being under attack, you can't get to the 'top' category and use ESC to exit the game.

Quote from: "Default Settings"
Quote from: "Cort"
(But launch! Should that be allowed?)

I did this several times. I killed the target and simply ran from the bodyguard chasing me. I imagine this to look a bit like Han Solo escaping from the Death Star (or Han Solo escaping from Bespin, or Han Solo escaping from Hoth - That guy definitely is good at running). My ship just lacks the ability to fire the turret-mounted gun while on ground.

That's exactly the scene I had in mind when deciding to allow players to escape from an attack in their ship! So that's intentional.


Lastly, I agree that fines and banning periods are too heavy. I guess I went a bit overboard with that. :)

Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 04:03:44 PM »
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
Quote from: "Cort"
  • The shooting range asks you to press Space to reset after ten shots, yet any button seems to have that effect.
I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think I made both SPACE and ENTER work.

I'm pretty sure ESC does as well. I would have expected it the player leave the shooting range.

Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
Lastly, I agree that fines and banning periods are too heavy. I guess I went a bit overboard with that. :)

I still think allowing the player to avoid getting caught is the way to go. But you're the man. :)


Something else. I just noticed that while you don't get banned, murders on pirate bases are added to your criminal record. Does that make a lot of sense? I don't see how the quadrant administration would care about pirates shooting each other, nor how they would know about it. ;) If at all, the act of docking at a pirate base might get added to your criminal record.


-- Cort

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 04:39:36 PM »
Quote from: "Cort"
However, I think the better solution would be something completely different. Maybe that you could avoid getting fined/banned in some way. Maybe if you only get the penalties if a police officer spots the murder? You'd still get a short ban for firing a gun on a base (~1 day/shot?), but they can only sentence you for murder if it's actually spotted.

That's certainly something I've been considering. To expand upon that, maybe there's also the risk of getting penalized if a civilian spots it (I could just do a random check for the nearby civilians and maybe have them shout "Murderer!" or something to alert the player that his actions have been spotted).

Quote from: "Cort"
Addendum:
Quote from: "Cort"
After a while, I re-entered combat mode... and couldn't leave it anymore
Now I remember why I went into combat mode again. There's no other way to determine your current health level, is there?

No, that's right. Your overall health level isn't visible in the equipment menu, only the health of your different body parts. I can see how that's a problem. I guess I can just add the option to use the 'L'ook feature on yourself. That way you'll be able to check your overall health without having to enter combat mode. Then again, it might be better to just have your health bar and left/right equipment visible whenever you're walking around, and have something else indicate that you're in combat mode (maybe the border will turn red instead of white?).

Quote from: "Cort"
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
Quote from: "Cort"
  • The shooting range asks you to press Space to reset after ten shots, yet any button seems to have that effect.
I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think I made both SPACE and ENTER work.
I'm pretty sure ESC does as well. I would have expected it the player leave the shooting range.

Just checked my code. ESC resets as well. I've changed it to just have ESC exit the shooting range.

Quote from: "Cort"
Something else. I just noticed that while you don't get banned, murders on pirate bases are added to your criminal record. Does that make a lot of sense?

Nope. No sense at all. That's a bug. :)

Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2008, 05:17:46 PM »
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
No, that's right. Your overall health level isn't visible in the equipment menu, only the health of your different body parts. I can see how that's a problem. I guess I can just add the option to use the 'L'ook feature on yourself. That way you'll be able to check your overall health without having to enter combat mode. Then again, it might be better to just have your health bar and left/right equipment visible whenever you're walking around, and have something else indicate that you're in combat mode (maybe the border will turn red instead of white?).

I actually think just showing the health bar in the equipment screen would fix the problem at hand. However, I do like the idea of showing it always and using the coloured border to indicate the current mode.

Using the 'look' on yourself just to achieve that feels a bit unintuitive to me.


-- Cort

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 07:33:27 AM »
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
That's exactly the scene I had in mind when deciding to allow players to escape from an attack in their ship! So that's intentional.


Would it be possible to have targets run to a ship, then launch so you would have to track them in space? Or have a target in space land so you hunt them on the ground? I think this would be a fantastic feature that would bridge the gap between space/planets nicely. On that note, are you going to have future plans of traders/mercs/etc land and take off in real time eventually? Or is this a process that is only going to be left to the background?

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2008, 12:08:32 PM »
That would be pretty cool. It would also require some major rewrites to different parts of the code, so I'm gonna save something like that for after 1.0.

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Re: Thoughts on ground-based combat
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2008, 02:25:49 PM »
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
That would be pretty cool. It would also require some major rewrites to different parts of the code, so I'm gonna save something like that for after 1.0.


Last post was me, guess I didn't realize I wasn't logged in. Aye I figured it may take a lot of code work to get that done, understandable.