Saturday, May 05, 2007

The 'Practise' Game Mode

One of the things I'm exited about outlining, apart from the core of the mod, is all the small things around it to make sure it has a solid solid foundation for the gaming community. For instance, and I'm sure I'll talk more about this in a future posting, is the ambition to fully support competition-games, with all the surrounding features like warm-up phase, 'ready'-state, ingame game-referee option and all the way up to fully support a distributed broadcast stream of the action to viewing gamers connecting to broadcast-nodes.

Another one is to from the beginning have an alternative game mode around 'practise'. In regards to the amount of server options, for instance what kind of practise-setup to run, it could almost be considered a small sister mod to AvsB in the sence that it will only use a limited amount of the same reasources, primarly the weapons, and sport its own dedicated maps. In a sense it's like taking the concept of aim-maps the community did for CS, BF42 and so on, but give the server owners much more flexability as how to run them. For instance, while playing in rounds (waiting in limbo until everyone on one side is out) is fun, it's not very time efficient. So add option to run sub-modes of the practise mode, for instance 'no deaths' (or whatever name one might call it) that instead forces a player 'killed' into kneeling position, unable to do anything, until timer allows them back into the action. Add option for how much damage one can take, all the way from 200% and down, with additional option of 'one shot'-mode that renders anyone, no-matter what armour, to be considered 'out'.

Or how about sub-mode 'weapons random', where each player are assigned the same weapon and that weapon only and after a pre-set time, again a server setting, every player drops this weapon and gets another random one, again the exact same for everyone.

Optional weapon-list to remove some weapons or for instance only allow one or one kind, as in 'sniper only' and so on, to allow dedicated and focused training.

Properly implemented, all of these sub-modes would be cumulative and a server-owner would be advised to put their usage as info in the server-name. And depending on how much we are able to touch the server-broadcast-code, sent as a game-mode string to allow for easier sorting/filtering in 3rd party browsers. Since we do hope ET:QW will support 3rd party browsers even though many games lately has gone in the opposite direction, allowing only in-game browser or a specific tie-in product.

The practise mode above anything else will be about improving ones handling with the weapons and the the current skill-level. Improving ones 'aim'. But also learn how to manouver on a small map to handle aggressive enemies you know has as only goal to take you out.

We have a lot of small ideas that we are pondering about right now and since we are in pre-production this is your best chance to get any ideas or suggestions you have looked upon and perhaps implemented. The Suggestions-part of our forum is open.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weapon-design that rewards practise?

Sometimes when one tries to outline how something should or ought to be it can be easier to start outlining what it shouldn't be. It won't get you all the way, but atleast it will get you a chance to formulate a rough cut and a general direction of your idea.

Weapon-design, especially the behaivor, is one of those areas. Or atleast it is when your overall design in very handgun focused - as ours are - with infantry, men with weapons, in focus.

So when I started outlining the gun-handling from this perspective I took a cue from weapon-designs from famous games and mods. They are easily accessable for other team-members to relate to and one doesn't have to spend too much time explaining the unique points one is refering to.

The weapon-design, the gun handling, in AvsB: PMC Warfare has from the start been described as aiming for 'intuative, accurate and rewarding'. These words will undoubtetly mean something completely different to some other designer, and might to another team-member that wasn't with us in pre-production, so here is a basic lineout of what it means. Using the above 'what it is not'-setup.

It's not a game where the guns have very low recoil and a lot of initial and built-up spread, where the bullet-placement ends up being very random. This can partly be seen in several games but perhaps most notably in BF2. Also, unlike BF2, any and all spread-indicator must accuratly show the spread. No using max and min-values of the GUI to limit the amount the crosshair travels, even when the spread goes narrower or grows out to a lot more. A player must always be able to accuratly judge how precise their shots will be launched at their intended targets.

It's not a game where the spread of bullets will be located anywhere else then directly down the barrel. The exact opposit is in Counter Strike, where the bullet-pattern travels up above the crosshair, making a player aiming for the enemies feet at the end of the burst. It's syntetic way of saying 'you/your character might be well trained but cannot handle this burst and will loose control of the weapons up-rightwards travel due to recoil'. In most cases, this just isn't true. Yes, the up-rightwards recoil due affect the ability to precisly land bullets upon ones target, but it can 1) be countered via training 2) isn't as dramatic as is usually the case in many games. Not with finer caliber weapons and supposedly highly skilled personel - something a player is usually representing in games.

It's not a game where you will press the trigger and hope for the best. Randomly spraying bullets towards a target will sometimes land you a hit, but in many cases it will not. But while a tre-round burst or two-round tapping will give you the most accurate delivery of fire, even fully automatic fire can be used in the proper situations to effectivly lay down the target. Some of the supposedly 'realistic' games (especially Rainbow 6 games suffer from this) have a very harsh stance towards being able to handle fully automatic fire for anything but hitting the broadside of a building, while standing directly against it. The exaggerated effect that happens once you're holding the trigger for more then the initial shots in these games isn't intuative, especially for anyone with any experience handling weapons themselfs. We never want a player saying 'hey, wait a minute, I'm only a grunt but even I could hit target x at y meters!', since it means a player wont be able to jump into the game and be able to count on the weapons behaiving like expected.

In the v1.1-update to our previous project Silentheroes I incorporated something, that I also first had released as mini-mod for Bf42 some months before, that I dubbed 'Recoil-driven spread'. In short it tries harder to mimic the actual cause of a soldier loosing aim of its intended target via the recoil pushing the weapon off-center (predominantly up-right if used by a righthanded shooter) and the soldier having to re-set the aim between fast single-action shots or constanstly work with the aim during full auto.

What was very clear was that in the beginning, not only because if was a big change from the normal behaivor of the weapons in both BF42 and SH before, it was hard to keep ones gun on target during full auto and any firefights over medium distances would have to be done with single-shots or short bursts, but that almost every player trying it instantly started getting better and increasing their aim. And continued doing so the mor they played and was able to read and predict the behaivor of the different weapons. At last I really felt that not only was the system rewarding towards experienced players, but it also more normally allowed the players to be able to push their skills more the more they practised. Using normal spread in games, that is something in a 50/50-mix between recoil and random spread in a circle around the crosshair, there is always a critical limit one can reach where it's just impossible to gain any more experience to improve ones aim. This can most eaasily be detected in any games that support modding by removing any and all recoil, aim upon a intended target some distance away and fire full automatic. The placement of the bullets and the amount of the landing on the intended target vs the total count shot will give you a very good idea of not only the spread but the amount of spread no training will ever be able to remove, since it's hardcoded behaivor towards the weapon. If instead the weapon is purely recoil-driven, with only a mechanical spread (not counting any from running, jumping or anything else for now), every bullet will reach the intended target if placed within proper distance for the weapon. This means that the only limit to how good one can become is ones own reflexes and rutine on the weapon in question.

And that is according to me much more rewarding.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ET:QWs DevDiary with the development of editWorld

Over at the ET:QW DevDiary Jared 'jRAD' Hefty just posted part 5 of their behind-the-scenes walk-about into the world of ET:QW and the process of creating it.

This latest part talks about the development of their toolbox and gives a great insight to what has changed with Radiant and ultimatly lead them into creating a full new editor called 'editWorld'.

Both modders and gamers might find it interesting to read about. So what are you waiting for, head on over to the ET:QW DevDiary.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Guess release-date and win a copy of Quake Wars

To have some fun with the 'To be Decided' release-date for Quake Wars, we decided to put up a competition.

To view the game board and read rules, please go here:

To post a prediction and have a chance to win a copy of Quake Wars, go here:

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Current status/What does pre-production mean?

As have been stated, AvsB is currently in the stage of pre-production. But what does this mean? Or to parafrase a question recieved due to our profile at stating '10% done' - "How can you work on the mod before the game is out?".

First off, the number of 10% isn't accurate, but ModDB only allowes multiples of ten to be selected (a drop-down box). But entering 0% would indicate we haven't done anything, and that is far from true.

Pre-production essentially means one starts to plan the development-phase and everything around it.

First thing one has to do before a large project is to get a basic 'design document' going. It might only start out focusing on the idea, the unique feature or whatever you are aiming for. However, especially if you are a group of designers, this will quickly be extended to grasp the whole upcomming game - and more often then not a whole lot more. It's usually better to come up with more features, items, ideas you have to cut then not enough...especially at an early stage to avoid being stuck in 'have to make up the last thing we though would be so easy once the game started taking shape'-trap. As it usually end up sucking anyway...or you end up stealing something directly from a competitor. Yes DICE, I'm looking at you...

So...first thing I did, next to us having two nights of brainstorming over the original idea [that we now have extended upon and reduced to a feature of many], was to start writing down what should be included. And since this mod is about infantry-combat the first thing one has to do is list what the players will get to play I started listing guns. And projectiles. And materials. And formulas to calculate drift, drop, penetration, damage-reduction, deviation and fragmentation...

This was the summer of 2006 (yes, we decided to start in time, besides by that time people still thought ET:Quake Wars might be released around the time of the QuakeCon-event) and we have continued on from then with the documentation, albeight at a somewhat slower speed then during those first months. A sideeffect of knowing that we cannot get the hands on the engine for many more months. =)

We are now confident that the release-date is starting to close in of ET:QW. No, not this month, nor next...but close enough into the future that posting job-ads has a point. Especially concept artists, to convey the design document to the modelers, written ideas for the mappers and so on. Things are starting to pick up speed again and you can expect more updates more frequently now.

Oh, and did I tell you we started prototyping using the D3-SDK already? Well, more about that some other time...

Devblog for AvsB is launched!

This is the devblog for AvsB - the Quake Wars modification.

You might wonder what the difference between this blog and the news-section of the forum and homepage is? Here all and any teammember can share their experience and whatever comes to mind as the development goes along.

One might say that the news-section contains the big announcements, but here we will write things like 'background of the project', 'initial design we had to alter', 'why we desided on something in some direction' - and this is just regarding design that is one of my areas. In the meantime modelers, texture-artists, mappers and so on will write about what is most current in their area of interest.

Please also note that while every teammmember can write here, nothing written here is to be counted as any official statement in any capacity. Those are always, and only, ever posted as news in the proper sections.