Zeta's Gundam Game WiP

So for those of you who don’t know what my video game dream is (I mentioned it on an earlier post), it is to create my own Gundam for retail. Now obviously this will take a lot of time, but I’ve been jotting down ideas in my spare time and getting opinions/criticism from gamers and Gundam fans about my ideas. Right now I’d like your opinions on the MS Upgrade System and the Combat System I’ve come up with.

I) The MS Upgrade System
A. A players’ MS can tweaked and tuned to suit their personal style of combat via a variety of upgrades and option parts. Upgrades are accomplished by upping the the base stats of an MS. These stats are organized by the following categories: Melee, Range, Defense, Armour, Reactor, Mobility, and Thruster. The Melee stats show how capable an MS is CQC. The Range stats show how effective an MS is in ranged combat. The Defense stat show how durable your shield is. The Armour stat shows how much damage your MS can take before it is destroyed. The Reactor stat gauges your MS reactor output and efficiency. The Mobility stat shows how quickly a players’ MS can rotate about the x-axis and y-axis (it would be the equivalent of tuning the camera sensitivity in CoD). The Thruster stat shows how powerful and/or efficient your thrusters are boosts.
B. Additionally, you can further tweak the specs of your MS by equipping optional parts you can purchase with virtual money you can earn in multi-player battles. If one has the right amount of upgraded stats and the correct optional parts, you can use these to develop (instead of unlock) a new MS. An example would be that you take a basic RGM-79 GM, and with the right upgrades in the right places and the correct option parts turn it into a GM Striker.

II) The Combat System
A. While some games use a Rock-Paper-Scissors system for combat, I’ve though up of something I call the Double Rock-Paper-Scissors System. To elaborate: in Rock-Paper-Scissors, rock (MS shields in this case) beats scissors (melee weapons), scissors beats paper (ranged weapons), paper beats rock. In a Double Rock-Paper-Scissors System, you can upgrade the weapons and equipment on your MS so that rock can beat paper, paper can beat scissors, and scissors can beat rock. There will be some game balancing so that one cannot triumph over the other.
B. The other part of the Combat System is in multiplayer mode. In a Team Deathmatch of 6 vs. 6 combatants, each team gets a certain amount of redeployment points. Each MS in a players’ arsenal is worth a certain amount of redeployment points. The objective of the match is to reduce the opposing teams redeployment points to zero. This can be accomplished by defeating players in MS combat, conquering certain fields to gain an advantage over the opposing team, and/or a combination of the two. This is going to be a game that in involves both field tactics and overall strategy with the key to victory being communication between teammates before the battle begins.

So… what do you guys think?

I think making weapons/stats a bonus for leveling up in multiplayer is a bad idea from a balance perspective. See my comments on why I think CoD is inferior to other shooters (namely Halo). Make customizing the paint scheme or something equally non functional the carrot for leveling up.

The resource draining mechanic on the other hand is a good idea. Both the Vs series and the F2P online Gundam game use it to varying degrees. It works out really well for both games, despite them not having much else in common with each other.

Technically speaking, you’re upgrading (or as I call it developing) your MS arsenal not leveling up. The base stats and option parts use the money earned in game from either single-player or multiplayer. I got the idea for the upgrade system from other mech combat games like DWG3, Armored Core, Encounter in Space, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire. There is leveling-up in this game, but it is in the leveling-up of your pilots stats as this game uses a Third-Person perspective. Also, the upgrades and option parts are… well, optional. Emphasis is placed on both the individual and the team. It is up to you if you want spend the money to develop new suits like a GM Striker or a Gelgoog Jaeger. The inspiration for this came from actual military logistics and spending (which is where the overall strategy plays a part in this game). As for how upgrading the base stats would work, an example would be if you upgrade the range stat (which should actually be called accuracy) you would increase the MS accuracy with ranged weapons whether they be machine guns, beam rifles, bazookas, or cannons. That being said, each ranged weapon has varying levels of accuracy. Machine guns spray when fired constantly (as do Vulcan guns), while beam rifles take up reactor energy to use but have high firepower, above average accuracy, and good range. The key is figuring out what would be a good balance for your MS.

Like I said, it’s a bad idea in terms of balance. Crossfire wasn’t exactly the best Gundam games to begin with, but even it had the good sense to leave the leveling up to the single player mode. Balance is key to a good online competitive experience. Why do you think hardcore fighting game fans get so pissy about unbalanced/“broken” games/characters. It’s because it takes the fun out of the game when somebody can infinite combo scorpion’s harpoon and teleport punch, and there’s not a thing the other player can do about it, no matter how good he is. A simple standard case like this can be easily fixed in a patch, and often is. A leveling up/upgrade system in a competitive game creates problems.

Let’s say you have a big open map with little cover in between the two bases; in other words one that’s perfect for snipers. Team A has all the experienced players, they’ve unlocked better scopes/guns and/or more stat points to dump into their range skill. Team B has mostly newbies who are starting with the base equipment and stats. Team A just has to know how much farther they can hit Team B from, without Team B being able to hit them back, and then line up and create a wall of sniper fire, and Team B pretty much has zero chance of winning, since they can’t get close enough to hit Team A back. This is the problem with upgrade systems in competitive multiplayer games boiled down to a relatively simple example. Armored Core multiplayer runs into this problem as well. It’s poor game design that only serves to stroke the egos of people who don’t want to actually learn how to play the game better, so they rely on arbitrary game design to keep them ahead instead, plain and simple. What makes Halo, Perfect Dark, Unreal, and Quake superior to CoD and it’s ilk is that anyone can drop in, play, have fun, and maybe even win a match within an hour or two of playing, even when facing more experienced players, because the game design puts everyone on a level playing field. All a player has to do is learn the controls and the map, and it won’t matter who they face in the match. They’ll at least have a chance, because the game isn’t rigged before the match even begins.

Again, if you want different varieties of GM in the game, assign each a share of the team’s resource points (as is the case for mobile suits in VS series), and allow ALL players the chance to use the suit they want, regardless of if it’s their first time playing or their thousandth time playing. An equal footing always provides the best matches.

Okay, see what you mean. Modern Warfare 2 has some preset classes in multiplayer before one can start making their own classes. So I think what I’d do is have an assortment of various MS from the four classes laid out so that one can get used to the system before they start making their own custom units. Such units should include the RX-78-02 Gundam (single player mode is going to be based on Gundam: The Origin), the RGM-79 GM, the RX-77 Guncannon, the RX-75 Guntank, the GM Command, the RX-79[G] Gundam Ground Type, the RGM-79[G] GM Ground Type, the GM Kai, etc. Another way to balance the field is to assign matches between players based on their overall skill level (i.e. newbies vs. newbies and experts vs. experts). I think some suits though, like the GP03 Dendrobium and the GP04 Gerbera, will have to be unlocked via single player as they are very special suits. Some though, like the GM Striker and the RX-78NT1 Gundam Alex, can developed using the base plans of their respective suits, upgrade their base states, and equip the right parts to get the new suit. As for maps… I haven’t got that far yet. I’m just jotting down ideas, but will take into account map design. One thing I should mention is that if your target is moving, you will have to track it.

Preset starter classes do little to fix the underlying problem. Remember I was using CoD as my example of what NOT to do. Again, locking crap for multiplayer breaks the balance. For single player, lock away, it adds replay value, as long as it isn’t done in an asinine way. But for multiplayer, the replay value comes from how fun the matches are, which can be completely undermined by locking game play elements for some players but not others. Arbitrary XP systems can also undermine team balance. Say you get 10 points for participating in a match, 100 experience points for winning a match, and 200 for winning without dying once, and 10000 points total are necessary to reach rank 10, 20,000 for rank 20. Assume four different players are in the match. Each team has one level 10 and one level 20. According to XP the teams are balanced. But in reality they are not. Team A’s level 20 got to her rank via flawless kills (let’s call her “Haman”); its level 10 got his rank via flawless wins as well (let’s call him Char). Meanwhile Team B’s level 20 got her rank by merely participating in a lot of matches (let’s call her Fa), and its level 10 got there by winning normally (let’s call him Apolly).

Is Haman and Char (Team A) vs Fa and Apolly (Team B) a balanced match? No?

How about we give the level 20s better range stats. Fa can’t aim worth a damn; Apolly has decent aim but since he hasn’t played as much as Fa, he doesn’t have access to the stat boost. Meanwhile, Haman can aim perfectly, as can Char. Fa also has a tendency to blow herself up. Does this sound like a balanced and/or fun match? No?

Doesn’t it seem like a match where team assignment is based on recent performance (K/D/A/S), and everyone has access to the same equipment/stats. Basically, doesn’t Haman & Fa against Char & Apolly with everyone having access to the same equipment sound like a more enjoyable and balanced match?

First off, the focus of my game is going to be the One Year War. After some thinking, you’re right. Players entering multiplayer matches would be matched to other players not by their overall rank, but instead by win/loss and kill/death ratio statistics which are stored in a multiplayer file in your game system. Those with similar win/loss and kill/death ratios are placed in matches with other players with similar statistics. Also, having everyone have the same MS stats is kind of boring. MS plans can be attained in battle (a la DWG3), however these plans have varying stats between each other (no two plans of the same MS are exactly alike). The inspiration for this came from World of Tanks where you only start off basic tanks and as you progress, you can gain access to new equipment to upgrade your tank (or in this case MS). If everyone had the option to have access to something like the G-3 Gundam or the Neue Ziel right off the bat without having put some effort into it, everyone would pick just those units. In my game, you have to earn the right to pilot such high performance machines. If you put in the time and effort into the game, the rewards will be plenty. That being said, including base units like the Gundam, the Zaku, the Gelgoog, and the Gouf is a good idea. Without a proper foundation, a building cannot stand on its own.

First of all, I used character names to distinguish the players in my example, so it wasn’t Players 1, 2, 3, & 4. I then chose the names that I did because everyone here, by name alone could place overall skill to the name, without needing to go back and check specifics. For instance, every one already knows that Fa is a terribly incapable MS pilot in the anime, so it stands to reason that she’s the weakest participant in my mock battle.

Secondly not everyone will rush to play as the biggest, toughest MS if you balance it right. People pick low rank stuff in Vs all the time, because the cost of using those units is lower, and thus the player gets more lives. Dynasty warriors is the last freaking game one should look to for balance. It has none.

Finally, it’s time for me to be completely and brutally honest with you. As it stands, I would personally steer clear of your game’s multiplayer (at the very least) because the way you have it laid out would result in the game being an unbalanced mess just like Call of Duty is. Sure, you might be able to get some (or even a lot of) people to buy it, especially if you market it heavily enough, but real gamers will ignore it, assuming they don’t mock it instead, and play some other game that’s better designed, just as they do with Call of Duty every time Activision craps a new one out. If you only care about money (as Activision does), it won’t bother you, but if you genuinely want to make a good game, the hardcore gaming community ignoring/mocking your game will bother you greatly. I’m not telling you all of this to be mean-spirited; I genuinely want to give you honest feedback, so that you can one day make a game that myself and others like me will actually want to play.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by an unbalanced multiplayer. Money is a factor, but this is a game that has to be done right. As Gundam defined the Real Robot genre, I wanted something that emphasized real world military R&D and logistics, yet at the same could be built around mecha combat, have a mild learning curve (games with very high learning curves are proven to turn-offs for potential buyers). That’s where the idea of developing (versus unlocking) mobile suits came from. Single player campaign would include Gundam: The Origin (from Side 7 to A Baoa Qu), The 08th MS Team, Lost War Chronicles, Zeonic Font, Thoroughbred, The Blue Destiny, 0080: War in the Pocket, Rise from the Ashes, and finally ending at 0083: Stardust Memory. This is supposed to be a Gundam wherein anyone (even those who haven’t even heard of Gundam) can pick it up, learn about the meaning of Gundam, and have fun beating the crap out of each other in giant robots. Suits in the game would run the gamut of grunt suits like the GM and Zaku II, to prototypes like the Gundam and the Efreet, obscure MSV’s like the Zogok and the Aqua GM, and everything in between. Battlefields would include those found on Earth and in space. The maximum amount of players allowed in multiplayer would be 12 vs. 12 Team Deathmatches. That is my vision.

It’s simple people who play more get an advantage over those who can’t play as often, even if the less frequent players have more skill all because of the damn XP system. It’s not a single player RPG where some people have the time to explore every nook and cranny while others can only afford the time to go through the main quest. In that scenario, the player’s experience isn’t fundamentally ruined because they can’t or won’t dedicate their every waking moment to this one game. In multiplayer games, XP systems can and do create real balancing problems. Even if you set up your game exactly as you want it, player 1 being unable to choose anything but a basic Ball, Guncannon, or GM all with no (or even token) stat upgrades or option parts is at a fundamental disadvantage against a player who can choose between fully upgraded versions of the Gelgoog, Gouf Custom, and Zeong with all possible option parts available to them. This is what we call unbalanced, and it inevitably happens to every XP based competitive multiplayer game that remains popular long enough.

I haven’t played Halo 3 regularly in years, but I can go right back to it, start a fresh save, and within an hour or two of playing online become competitive again based purely on playing the game. If I tried that on a game like CoD with an XP system, it wouldn’t matter how good I was, I’d be at a competitive disadvantage until I unlocked/upgraded all of my gear again. Again, that’s an unbalanced game. I can’t explain it more simply than that.

I see what you mean. Perhaps one way to fix this is to encourage the use of single player mode first in order to get used to the system, unlock base MS plans of the four classes, and gain XP and gold for option parts. I’ve also decided to edit the upgrade system. Instead of being able to tweak the individual specs of of each MS plan you receive as a reward for winning battles, you can buy equipment parts from the gold earned in battles that can affect the specs both positively and negatively. For example, say you have the RX-78NT1 Gundam “Alex” as one of your suits in your arsenal. If you got enough gold, you can get the Full Armor pack and equip it to the Gundam “Alex” and turn it into the FA-78NT1 Full Armor Gundam “Alex”. On one hand, the defense (shield health) and armor (MS health) specs go up, but the thruster (speed gauge) and mobility (turning sensitivity) go down. You also lose access to the 90mm Gatling guns mounted on the arms. And if you want the Gundam “Alex” added into your arsenal, all you have to do is complete the War in the Pocket missions and you’ll get the parts necessary to make it (Panoramic cockpit, new thrusters, the 90mm Gatling guns, new beam rifle, etc.) and add them to your already existing RX-78-02 Gundam. Conversely, you can turn your RX-78-02 Gundam into the G-3 Gundam if you don’t want the Gundam “Alex”.

I think you need to spend a few days playing this, http://mwomercs.com/ It is similar to how your wanting your game,And let me tell you the learning curve is HIGH! you will get mauled, molested, striped and cored in a matter of seconds your first couple of matches,also due to how its setup,it will take at least two weeks of solid play to have more than one meta build mech that can survive the frenzy. Also if you do play,you get a cadet bonus on your first 25 matches…the money after that is slow! which means you can spend a month playing just to buy one mech so use the trials and spend that cadet bonus wisely.

You just don’t get the objection. I’m through.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wanting too much to have variants like the GM Striker and instead should settle for a straight unlock system as you progress through single player. It’s just… when I saw that GM Striker and all those other GM variants on the Gundam wikia, I thought I could try a make an upgrade tree based system on unlocking new suits. Maybe that idea wouldn’t work as well as it sounds in my head. If I could make a diagram I could show you what I mean.

Edit: So I drew up a diagram in Word and tried to upload it here but it was too big (it was only 23.5 KB). Is there any way to increase the file attachment size in here?

I’m almost close at my wits-end right now. My original idea was so that people could upgrade their MS arsenal to suit their personal combat style (i.e. favor melee over range, or armor over mobility). It was supposed to be emphasis on the individual. At the same time, there was an emphasis on the team where each unit you had in your MS arsenal was worth a certain amount of redeployment points. Originally, multiplayer was supposed to be a sort of cheap add-on where players could 6-on-6 matches with the MS’s they unlocked in campaign (could be played as single or co-op). But then I thought to myself, “that sounds boring because everyone will want to play the most powerful suits in the game.” So how could I make the low-tiered grunt suits not suck; the answer was upgrades in the form of components that you could equip, turning a Tier C GM into a Tier B GM Striker, a Tier B Ground Type Gundam into a Tier A Gundam Ez-8, a Tier A RX-78-02 Gundam into a Tier S RX-78-03 G-3 Gundam. I’m not really sure whether or not this system will work. What do you guys think?

We’ve already told you what we think of the upgrade system. As far as different play styles go, if the units are programmed with their own unique characteristics (again like how each unit in Vs feels different), snipers will gravitate towards Zaku Snipers, explosive experts towards Doms, berserkers towards Kampfers, melee users towards Gyans, etc. Think of each unit as a predefined class, and that will let players experiment and find the unit that suits their play style. You already said you wanted a resource based system, so if a team has 200 resource points, make killing a super powerful unit like a Gundam G3 cost the team that deployed it like 25 resource points while a weaker unit like a standard GM could cost 5 and super weak one like a Ball cost 1. That’s how you balance out the stronger units. Make them cost significantly more than a weaker unit.

I think I’m starting to get it now. Would it mean that mobile suits are not only categorized by their Tier rank, but also by their designated role function (i.e. heavy assault, general purpose, close-quarters, etc.) in battle?

I’ve got an idea and I’d run it by everyone and get your opinions. Mobile suits are categorized by class (heavy assault, close-quarters, general purpose, rapid assault, and long-range), and are given a tier rank based on their stats and redeployment points.

Heavy Assault types (Dom types, Guncannons, Guntanks, Acguys, Gogg Types) are heavily armored and have access to heavy weapons. That being said: they are slow and limited melee abilities.

Rapid Assault types (Kampfer, Gerbera Tetra, MS-07H-8 Gouf Flight Type, High Boost GM, Armored GM) are MS built for hit-and-run tactics in mind. They have good melee and range attacks while having excellent mobility. Sadly, they can’t take as much damage as they dish out as their armor and defense is very weak.

General Purpose types (RX-78 Gundam series, Zakus, RGM-79 GM, GM Custom, Gelgoog types) are built to be a balanced jack-of-all-trades. While they lack any sort of specialization, they don’t any obvious short comings.

Close Quarters Combat suits (GM Striker, Gouf and Gouf custom, Efreet, RGM-79FC Striker Custom) are suits designed to engage the enemy at melee ranges. Their armor is slightly tougher General Purpose types and have better mobility than Heavy Assault Types; however they have little to no range weapons and their defense is a little below average.

Lastly, there the Long-Range type suits (GM Sniper II and Zaku I sniper type) that excel that long-range sniping attacks. While their armor and mobility is on par with GP suits, they have low melee and defense specs.

Each suit in the game has a different cost to redeploy, which is reflected by there Tier rank based on their stats (RX-78-02 Gundam is a Tier S, Gelgoog Commander Type is a Tier A, GM Command is a Tier B, and a Zaku II is a Tier C).

So… what do you think?

As long as there are no upgrades and the differences in costs between the various high and low performing suits are scaled properly, that sounds a hell of a lot more balanced than your previous approach.

Upgrading units and such are best suited for single player games; competitive multiplayer games need to favor balance.

While there aren’t any upgrades, you can make equipment changes to suit your combat needs. For example, if you have the RX-78NT-1 Gundam “Alex” you can mount a full armor pack on it turning it FA-78NT-1 Full Armor Gundam “Alex”. This turns from a General Purpose MS to a Heavy Assault MS. You get more health and defense at the cost of low mobility. The same redeployment still applies the either the regular Gundam “Alex” or the Full Armor Gundam “Alex” as both suits are considered to be Tier S mobile suits.