Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Phantom Brigade: X-COM with giant robots

Discussion in 'Strategy Gaming' started by Galdred, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. bac9gender: ⚧ Tetragon Works Developer

    bac9
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    Hey there, I'm Tim, tech artist on this project (I make most of the art and do programming on stuff like the level system)
    Wanted to clear up a few things :)

    Base building is not a priority to us - it's an interesting area to explore, but we want to tackle making an interesting campaign first. For now, base is just a nice environment where you customize and manage mechs and pilots, manage equipment, choose your missions and so on.

    Those are just random names that happened to be generated in a current character pool, we won't have exclusively Scandinavian characters. I think I only filled neutral US-based and Scandinavian name pools in the random name generator at the moment, which results in half the characters getting those names. The game takes place in Strangereal-like setting, so there is no real geography or countries involved and we're free to use whatever names we want.

    We're making it to be as open as possible to modding. Loading new models, implementing new abilities, weapons, items, missions, maps and so on should be possible. As a bonus, modding-friendly games are more fun to work on - you don't have to rebuild whole game to fix some item stats or insert a new level, which is very valuable when you have just an hour to go before an important expo and makes iteration faster in general. :)

    Current animations are really wonky in many places, and I dislike running the most, yeah. Current running animation was made when only lightweight onehanded weapons were in the game, so it looks exceptionally goofy with stuff like huge shotguns. We're currently working on an overhaul to the animation system to allow more elegant movement and per-weapon animations, so that area should improve with time. I've been waiting for a while to for mechs to grip two handed weapons properly and slide around to arrest momentum, so rest assured it's on the list haha.

    Oh, and climbing up and down, vaulting, jumping over small ravines, use of shields and melee, proper pilot ejection animations, proper arrivals to the map and so on are in the works too.

    Yeah, FM is a huge inspiration to us. We try to avoid all the awkward and wonky stuff from it, through, like the firefight battle system that becomes unnecessary when everything is correctly simulated for every unit in the level.

    It's not a proper game about mechs if you can't stomp on cars and level buildings. Since our levels are voxel grids internally, we can do nice stuff like punching holes in buildings. And as of last internal update, you can drop buildings on someone's head - unsupported parts of voxel grid fall down with physical simulation a-la Red Faction. Still got to tweak visuals (get per-tileset debris piles in and so on), how area of effect damage is applied from falling roofs (I want to set up special effects that show how some chunks of debris hit mechs standing too close to a falling building, otherwise AoE damage looks a bit unjustified), but I'm really proud of how that system is coming together.

    We're developing it on our own, no crowdfunding planned. As about exposure, we didn't want to focus on marketing too early (can't make a juicy trailer when your mechs run funny :D ) and we haven't had any marketing help on board until recently, but we'll be ramping it up into 2018. I appreciate any word of mouth, of course. :D

    Yup, they are in the works. We have initiative based turn order, so no XCOM-style "5 units on one side fire first, 5 units on another side fire last" scenarios can play out, but that still didn't feel granular enough, so we're implementing interruptions mechanics where depending on pilot skills you can dodge an attack, or raise a shield to block something flying past your unit, or counterattack and so on. Pilots are key here. Mechs are cool, but it's just passive equipment that doesn't magically level up. Skilled pilot in a subpar mech should be able to dance a bit around a rookie in an expensive mech, so interruptions are an important system for allowing that.

    Ouch :D

    We designed the basic skeleton in a way that would allow it to bear very differently styled armor while reusing animations, so hopefully you'll see something to your tastes when we ramp up art production in 2018 and start working on dozens of varied armor sets. Can't wait to have the time to work on cool rounded designs, sleek Japanese inspired light armor and so on.

    Both will be there, we'll get them showcased once we update the animation system and mechs are capable of more than just running with one-armed firing animations. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
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  2. Make America Great Again Taka-Haradin puolipeikkogender: ⚧ Arcane

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  3. ArchAngelgender: ⚧ Magister

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    Best.Game.Ever!
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Alienmangender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    Awesome news (especially the thing about animations) bac9 and welcome to the thread :)
     
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  5. Make America Great Again Jack Dandygender: ⚧ Arcane

    Jack Dandy
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    Thank you for the detailed repsonse, bac9 !

    BUT WHAT ABOUT ROLLER DASH?
     
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  6. Habagender: ⚧ Harbinger of Decline Patron

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    Looks nice.

    Since you are going in the deep end with the pilot relationships, hopefully they also influence gameplay. Like with someone with a deep grudge focusing a specific pilot or enemy opting for a kamikaze rush when disabled instead of ejecting.

    Are you going for fully randomly generated pilots or is there any hand crafting involved? Would be cool to have pilots with a bit more personality (think Jagged Alliance). Even relatively simple things can add a lot of depth and it looks like you already have lots of the underlying systems in place.

    Can pilots actually get wounded in battle? Ejection pod launch mechanism getting damaged or pilot getting a bleeding wound seems like a good trope for a game like this.
     
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  7. bac9gender: ⚧ Tetragon Works Developer

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    Personally working on it once new animation system is in place. :D

    For sure. First thing you mention is already in - it's pretty fun watching AI traversing a large map and ignoring some fire just to hurt someone they hate :)
    Self-destruct option, melee with bare hands, torso slams for mechs with torn off arms and so on are in the works too.

    Some hand crafting is involved (e.g. if someone is a commander or a certain type of special character, we want to make sure they have certain behavior and are randomly generated from a certain curated set of outfit and appearance options not necessarily intersecting with ones used for rookies), but we want to get as much randomization as possible in to make playthroughs different. Nemesis system in SoM is an interesting example of that approach - they used some carefully designed "traits" coupled with curated appearance possibilities to generate characters that are not nonsensically random, but still different enough for every player.

    Yep, that's the idea. We don't want to leave only the mech-related gameplay systems detailed while leaving pilots in the role of passive skill containers. Pilots can panic, can be shredded with a bad shot through worn down pod armor, can be wounded with effect on aim, can be temporarily knocked out etc. One thing we don't want to push too hard is bad outcomes with no valid options, though - straight up killing pilots left and right won't be very fun to experience and would just make most players reload the savegame. We want systems that tell you "you got hit, but you can still do A, B, C to salvage the situation", not "you got hit, your unit is useless now". For instance, critical systems like reactor give you a chance to reboot and partially repair them the first time they are knocked out. Same with pilots - I much prefer a system where a bad hit knocks a pilot unconscious for a turn, making death a consequence of several intentional poor decisions, not a sudden unpreventable outcome.
     
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  8. Make America Great Again Jack Dandygender: ⚧ Arcane

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    You just earned yourself a follow and a D1P, my friend.
    (Will be great if it has some bonuses\penalties, beyond just movement range! Like, better for melee attacks, worse for ranged attacks, better for dodging..)
     
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  9. Alexandrosgender: ⚧ Cipher

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    Looking good, I am definitely interested.
     
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  10. lightbanegender: ⚧ Arcane

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    So, will flame-throwers and energy-based weapons be a thing? I doubt the latter, but the former is a must if terrain destruction is highlighted. Will we have limited ammo for special guns (ie: rocket-launchers), or can these be adjusted? Anyway, I'm eager to hear more details.
     
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  11. Ventidiusgender: ⚧ Educated

    Ventidius
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    Very promising-looking project indeed, can't wait to see more updates. Have you thought about implementing verticality mechanics? Perhaps give some mechs the ability to propulse themselves to high ground and maybe complement that with the destructible objects by making them fall down and take damage if you destroy whatever platform they are standing in, like in XCOM.
     
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  12. bac9gender: ⚧ Tetragon Works Developer

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    Both will be, we just preferred not to commit to authoring too many weapons until mechs are able to hold two-handed weapons and ultraheavy weapons properly. I plan on making railguns, subsonic ballistic weapons, shock weapons, laser weapons, old-fashioned gigantic rotary cannons, grenade launchers, rocket artillery, guided launchers and everything in between. Plus shields and melee stuff. Ah, and weapon slots on the arms shouldn't be the only options - we're working on pods attached to the backs behind the shoulders, which would house more weapon systems like drone bays, vertical missile launchers, EMP emitters, active defense and so on. I'm not that big of a fan of short and stubby repeater rifles to seriously intend to leave them the only choice in the final game, - even if current alpha gameplay mostly has those on offer. :)

    [​IMG]

    Some weapons have less damage potential vs. environment or disable enemies in less violent manner with certain drawbacks, so you might need to use one set of weapons on a mission in a densely populated civilian area (e.g. EMP and rifles firing subsonic non-explosive rounds) and another set of weapons on a mission in an enemy camp (high explosive rounds, rocket artillery, etc.). Some missions penalize destruction, others very much welcome cooking off reactors melting everything around and buildings falling down left and right.

    We're on it, all mechs will be able to jump over holes, drop down, climb up and vault low obstacles.

    [​IMG]

    We're still debating how to handle destruction of walkable areas - we don't want a situation where players can accidentally break the mission by destroying a critical path or drawing a line of craters over whole map. We'll probably implement non-breakable cells that suffer only cosmetic damage while staying walkable for some critically important objects where it makes visual sense (rocky hill leading to mission objective etc.), but even without those, I suppose we can just keep level design open and let the player fail the missions if they back themselves into a corner. Surrounded someone you had to rescue with a wall of fire and craters? Start an evac and accept defeat :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
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  13. Make America Great Again mastroegogender: ⚧ Arcane

    mastroego
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    Very interesting, sounds great, I just don't like the art style very much - I hope it'll improve in that area.
    But from what I'm reading here it sounds very promising.
    Following thread.
     
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  14. Suicidalgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    bac9

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing some info, I'm even more excited for the game now. More than I am for Battletech.

    A couple more questions:

    1. Will you be able to do research and development in this game, like create new custom mech parts and weapons or will you be limited to what already exists in the game world and only buy/plunder parts and weapons like in Front Mission games?

    2. Will you be limited to the standard bipedal mech with 2 arms and handheld weaponry or will you be able to field something more interesting. It always annoyed me how in Front Mission the enemy could have crab robots with pelvis-mounted rocket launchers or transforming tanks but I couldn't.

    3. Approximately how big will the battles be? Will there be maps where you fight 10+ enemies at once? What would the maximum squad size you can field be? More than 4 units, hopefully.
     
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  15. bac9gender: ⚧ Tetragon Works Developer

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    If by R&D you refer to XCOM style of equipment unlocking through research, then yeah, that's in the cards along with looting/shopping/getting equipment through missions.

    Unfortunately, no plans for that at the moment. We are a very tiny indie production, and multiplying the art and animation work by introducing more than one body type isn't the best idea with our budget and manpower. The plan is to invest as much as possible into producing varied content and animations for a single mech platform. I suppose FM never featured those unit types for similar reasons - to avoid the need to produce a lot more content or spreading the manpower thin over multiple unit types, resulting in poor content variety for every given type. Same as them, we might do non-mech enemies like armored vehicles or aircraft, since content work for non-playable units like those could be manageable.

    For now we're balancing combat around up to four units per squad, since we want to make combat sessions short and varied. Enemies might be more numerous, especially as we introduce more enemy tiers and types - it's always satisfying to occasionally run a mission where you wreck a dozen or two of cannon fodder units, especially if they don't clog up the map too much and land in waves. Large friendly squads are technically feasible, but we're wary of going in that direction - from our playtests, our turn-based gameplay works poorly with huge squads. Navigation gets awkward, you have little opportunity to maneuver and make interesting tactical decisions over multiple turns (because you have to wait dozens of turns to return to same unit). Unless you roll some sort of meta-mechanic where multiple units are ordered simultaneously (like unit grouping from RTS genre), the crowds aren't too fun to control.
     
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  16. Suicidalgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Thanks for answering. Regarding squad sizes - I understand your reasoning but maybe it would be possible to have up to 4 units in "regular" missions but also have big important battles (like alien base assaults or blacksite missions in XCOMs) on big maps where there would be more room to properly position a larger squad.
     
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  17. Make America Great Again Alienmangender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    Will there be any civilians running, driving around on the maps? Maybe someone closing a window when a rocket pass by :)
     
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  18. bac9gender: ⚧ Tetragon Works Developer

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    Ah, something like a 6-unit squad participating in an XCOM style base defense mission would be feasible and might be interesting to play. Great idea!

    Ideally - yeah, having some simple civilian characters run through the level in the intro sequence would be nice and would help illustrate which levels shouldn't be demolished left and right without a care in the world. Though that's pretty low on our list along with other set dressing and polish for the final stages of development. :)
     
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  19. ushasgender: ⚧ Learned

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    Year 2018 simply does not have enough weekends.:negative:
     
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  20. Habagender: ⚧ Harbinger of Decline Patron

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    This looks too good. I don't like it!

    BTW, for those higher buildings, something for you to steal be inspired by:



    With destructible buildings, climbing on top of them seems like an excellent idea!
     
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  21. Make America Great Again Taka-Haradin puolipeikkogender: ⚧ Arcane

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  22. Jimmiousgender: ⚧ Magister

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    There's something about the UI that annoys me but I can't tell exactly what. I guess it's a bit "unclear" ? It doesn't immediately communicate what you chose or what each thing does?
     
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