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Legacy:Araes/Design Document

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All work Copyright © 2004 by Team Araes

Version 0.5

March 10th, 2004

Introduction[edit]

The purpose of this mod is to create a Total Conversion for Unreal Tournament 2004 in the form of an RTS like space mod. Initial plans for the first release are to have a single playable map with two teams. Like a standard RTS, the gameplay will progress from a relatively low technology level at the beginning of any match, through a series of increasing tech advances, which give access to further weaponry, vehicles, and tactical options. Within each of the teams, there will be a single individual whos purpose it is to coordinate the actions of his team and provide the rest of the players with the resources they need to achieve conquest.

General Structure[edit]

The important features of this mod are as follows:

  • RTS like game play with advancing tech levels and upgradable weaponry.
    • Automated or Commander controlled resource gathering.
  • Varying classes of vehicles progressing from light fighters to heavy cruisers.
  • Varying classes of weapons progressing from light weapons to heavy capital guns.
  • Primarily ship-to-ship combat emphasis. Light if any troop combat.
    • Formations of ships controlled by a single individual.
    • Coordinated fire from within these formations.
    • Turret fire from within capital cruisers (Probably adaptable from standard UT2k4 space combat).
    • Scouting ranges for each ship (Either hard-coded or swappable sensor statistics)
  • At least one ship for each side from each class of ship, and a mothership for command duties on release.
  • At least one weapon of both projectile and beam types for each each weapon class.
  • At least one playable and balanced map for use upon release.
  • At least one original ambient music track for inclusion with the first map.
  • A set of general plug-ins for the normal GUI.
  • A specialized GUI for the commander in which all ships within the scouted range may be seen, selected, and given orders.

Currently this is just planned as a fun, personal project, with few goals for something like the MSU or similar. Most of the coding is intended to be done by the creator, but I may change my mind later if it looks too immense.

Game Environment[edit]

More fully fleshed story coming in a bit. Generally, two races are at war. However, due to the energy limitations of travel, they have found that it is most efficient to take only what is required to manufacture the weapons of war with them when they move. To actually engage in combat, they will find locations of high resources and manufacture the implements of their enemy's destruction as needed.

Special Features[edit]

As I did a quick listing of all the features up above, I'll just jump right into the specific sections for each new feature and the subtopics of vehicles, weapon design, sounds, ect...

Ship Formations[edit]

The purpose of this feature is to allow small groups of players (as little as 16 to a map) to engage in large scale space warfare. Not much fun flying around in the vastness of space when there are only a few ships to fight, so I propose instead to allow each player to control as many ships as needed to achieve their goals (within reason for the engine) and use attack formations to organize them for whatever their goals may be. These formations will start as single ships of any class and will be expandable through shape algorithms. For instance, in a simple arrangement I might like to have my ships organized into a cone to allow every ship in the group to fire their forward mounted weapons. As such, I will control the movement of the cone as if I were the point dragging the rest of them along. The cone itself can extend off to the rear as far as it wants, since new ships can simply be added in a circular stair-case or ring pattern. The same would work for X's, strings, walls, spheres, ect...

I have several options which I have been considering for the creation of these constructs. The first is based upon an expandable vehicle model, in which each additional vehicle's position is hard aligned to the lead ship, and the entire assembly moves as if it were a single structure. i.e. 8 ships formed into the above cone concept would simply move as if they were one really big conical ship.

The next idea was instead to use something like the behavior which mines exhibit, possibly even tapping into this code. During movement, there would be a position to some reference of the main ship, which would call each of the other "follower" ships. Rather than working over the limited range of a mine, however, this calling would function over any distance, and if the main ship moved, this reference point would also ship accordingly. As such, the entire assembly would move forward in a huge game of follow the leader, with each subship always being a slight step behind. This would have the advantage of a more loosely based structure, which could accomodate things like two large groups colliding, without all of them becoming hopelessly entwined. In addition, you would also be able to do things like chose a ship you wanted to have from the assembled lot and just have it fly out into position.

Coordinated Firing[edit]

To control firing from both formations of ships and large batteries of turrets, it would be necessary to create a system for aligning their targets. For example, when manning the broadside guns of a capital ship, some fire arcs would naturally be out of direct alignment with the gunner. If not compensated for correctly, these extra shots would essentially be wasted, as they couldn't be accurately aimed at small targets with any precision.

My initial thought for correcting this problem was to have a single, instantaneous, tracer shot which would be fired with each button press. This would have no animation, but would provide a painter for Bot manned weapons to home in on. Each of these Bot guns would then fire their own weapons in time with the gunner's to simulate the effect of coordinated battery fire. The same concept holds for a ship formation as well. Naturally, someone else has already run into and corrected for this problem. Namely Foxpaw with his Cosmic Fury mod, so maybe he'll have further insight once I get out of the n00b stage.

Characters/Classes[edit]

  • Commander - This class is the one calling all the shots. They are housed within each team's mothership and have access to overviews of the total action. They can't directly attack anyone, however, they can command Bot controlled vehicles to perform tasks, issue commands to formations of human controlled ships, and provide needed tactical information for assaults. This position would best be served as a voted position for each team, or an automatic appointment for the player with the best score from each round (possible waived for good performance by the prior Commander).
  • Pilots/Grunts - Basically everybody else. These players fly most/all of the ships, man the capital turrets, and perform the majority of tactical assaults. They have few special abilities per say, except for an ability to man nearly any form of weapon known.

Weapons[edit]

The weapons section is divided into two sub-segments. Weapon types (beam/projectile/mine) and weapon classes (Light/Medium/Heavy). Each basic weapon concept has three levels of power which correspond to its class and there are several variations within the basic beam and projectile classes.

Projectile Weapons

Series of weapons which use rechargable ammunition that is flung from the ship/turret at high speeds. Ammunition can be renewed through the steady expenditure of resources. Generally greater damage per shot than beam weapons, but require more skill to apply their full damage. No problems with energy drain, however.

  • Gattling Cannon - A weapon firing high speed streams of shots, which shifts form rather than power/shot with each class increase.
    • Light Form - A single stream of shots which hits only in the center of the targeting region and has minimal spread due to vehicle compensation.
    • Medium Form - Three streams of shots, which can have their angular alignment adjusted using the right mouse button. i.e. The spread and coverage of the shots can be widened or concentrated for the application.
    • Heavy Form - Six streams of shots, which cover varying angular cross sections and can be expanded and contracted in the form of two aligned cones with varying base diameters. (The second group has a slightly wider spread)
  • Flak Gun - A weapon firing exploding shots which send off further cascades of exploding debris in a spherical pattern.
    • Light Form - A single projectile shot which explodes on impact or at a set distance from the ship (can be set with right button).
    • Medium Form - A single shot which explodes at a set distance which can be set or triggered and fires off four smaller exploding shots when it explodes.
    • Heavy Form - A single shot which explodes at a set distance that can be set or triggered, fires off four smaller exploding shots when it explodes, and each of which also fires off 2-4 smaller shots when they explode.
  • Seeker Missiles - Quick homing missiles that fire in greater and greater numbers with increasing class and have a fast fire rate.
    • Light Form - Fires one heat seeking missile that tracks on any target in the reticle, much like an Avril.
    • Medium Form - Fires two missiles, but functions similarly.
    • Heavy Form - Fires three missiles, but functions similarly.
  • Torpedoes - Limited or no-homing rockets that are meant as counters to larger ships. Slow rate of fire and travel time.
    • Light Form - Fires a single torpedo that has a good ratio of damage per second and per shot, but is easy to dodge.
    • Medium Form - Bulkier form of the torpedo that is meant for taking down medium and larger ships. Fighters will rarely be hit by it.
    • Heavy Form - Huge torpedo that is meant for taking down capital monstrosities and beats even the heaviest armors.

Beam Weapons

Series of weapons which are powered from the ships systems. Usually lower power per shot, however, they are easily tracked in most cases and require only the power of the ship to function. However, they must be monitored or they will empty the ship reserves and hamper its other functions.

  • Pulse Beam - Classic "zapping" beam weapon, which has a short initiation time, a somewhat quick travel time, and then a short pause before the next firing cycle.
    • Light Form - Pencil thin beam that does a minor amount of damage. Very small initiation time before firing.
    • Medium Form - Slightly larger beam which scales up the damage accordingly, and has a slightly longer initialization time.
    • Heavy Form - Arm or greater width beam that can punch through every form of armor, but has a long initialization delay.
    • Macross Style? - Possible super capital weapon that requires devotion to one ship. Takes up a large number of forward firing slots, has a long delay, but basically eradicates things in its path. Only an idea, probably bad for balance.
  • Energy Blades - Shot like beam weapon which fires out gliding discs of energy. Each form has curve arcs which can be adjusted with the right button of the mouse.
    • Light Form - Single stream of discs which can be curved side to side in flight.
    • Medium Form - Two streams of discs which naturally curve and can have the distance at which the beams cross adjusted.
    • Heavy Form - Similar to the medium form, but with three discs that cross at 120 degree angles.
  • Ring Beam - Ever expanding beam that decreases in power the wider it gets. Probably be fairly nasty in close or in tightly packed formations of ships. Increasing power increases the damage per ring while the rate stays constant.
    • Light Form - Orange rings which propogate along a 30 degree arc in front of the weapon.
    • Medium Form - Orange/Red rings which are similar in operation to light version but more powerful.
    • Heavy Form - Red rings which are similar to medium version but more powerful.
  • Shock Shield - Cascading energy shield that simply zaps foes which get too close to the ship.
    • Light Form - Minor static discharges with decent damage per second for their class, but limited range.
    • Medium Form - Similar in terms of good damage per second and function, but slightly improved range and a bit of a travel delay.
    • Heavy Form - Same, but with an additional range upgrade and increased travel delay.

Mines

Class of weapons which are meant to serve as a tactical deterrent rather than a true offensive tool. Most will be of a form which hampers progress, imobilizes foes, or degrades system performance.

  • Concussion Mines - Explosive mines which do a high damage individually, but have a very low damage per second when used as a weapon.
    • Light Form - Small, self propelled mines that move fairly quickly to catch fighters but have a hard time beating more than light armor.
    • Medium Form - Larger, propelled mines that move near cruiser speeds and can tackle medium armor and lower.
    • Heavy Form - Huge, slow, or even stationary, mines which knock big holes in capital ships but can be evaded easily by lesser classes.
  • EMP Mines - Electromagnetic mines which send off an electronics disabling pulse when approached by ships.
    • Light Form - Similar to concussion of same size but disable weapons and thrust on ships they hit for a short time.
    • Medium Form - Similar to the above, but made to handle the heavier systems of cruisers.
    • Heavy Form - Huge EMP weapons that can disable capital ships for a short time, but are easily avoided and visible.

Vehicles[edit]

This mod will contain four groupings of vehicles which will roughly be divided by their physical size, function, and potential firepower. Three of these subdivisions will be the purvey of players and will consist of vessels which can be used to take the war to their foes. The fourth grouping will only house two vessels per map and will function more as a mobile command-post for the war effort than a true vehicle.

Listed in order of increasing size, the three vehicle classes will be:

  1. Fighter
  2. Cruiser
  3. Capital
  4. Command

Each of these classes will possess the same ability to assemble into formations and may eventually possess the ability to mix formations. However, within the first generation, single type formations will be the norm to simplify group and battery fire. To handle weapon allocation for each type of ship, they will have a selection of weapon or equipment "hard points" which will vary with size. The vision for these hard points is that when allocating equipment to a ship or group of ships, they would choose varying sizes of weapons which would each eat a certain number of points on the surface. Then, depending on the numbers of weapons chosen, the effects would be generated from a turret or barrel location corresponding to the first section of each block.

For example:

A cruiser might have:

  • (4) Forward slots
  • (3) Port slots
  • (3) Starboard slots

These could be filled with:

  • Forward: (1) L-PulseBeam, (1) L-PulseBeam, (2) M - PulseBeam
  • Port: - (3) H-GattlingCannon
  • Starboard: - (3) H-GattlingCannon

Depending on final design, this would allow even the smallest fighters to do signfigant damage to larger, heavily armored groups if they were willing to sacrifice utility to do so. A good example of this might be capital ship hunting torpedo fighters.

Maps[edit]

The maps for this modification are going to be solely space based maps with full three dimensional movement. Due to the nature of a two sided conflict, they will probably be most often aligned along a central axis around which the general conflict is organized. The first such map envisioned for testing purposes was a simple asteroid cloud design, in which the command ships would be partitioned from one another by a large cloud of asteroids within the center region of the map or possibly just by smaller clumps of asteroids.

A secondary idea would be for the rubble of a decrepit space station, from which parts can be disassembled for resources. Mining from such an object would probably produce a more refined form of resources, and as such, might allow for increased harvesting speed and increased game speed.

Currently, the backdrop for such levels was envisioned as a simple black backdrop with stars. However, after looking over some of Foxpaw's work and scanning back over my prior experience with the Homeworld line, it seems as though a colored backdrop which emulated something like the center of a nebula might be a more fitting choice, as it would provide a more interesting world and more "ooo, aaahhh" factor. Plus, it might explain why render distances are low. (The cloud's obscuring them, yeah, thats it.)

Music[edit]

As I'm not currently a mixer of game music, I might have to farm this aspect out to someone who knows what they're doing. However, as the form of music I envision is mainly ambient or electronica with a sparse, "airy" feel, I might be able to pick up the technical know how to create it. Not sure yet.

For examples of the general type of work I'm holding in my wee little brain follow these:

(Watch out for the OCRemix links, as djpretzel fills his site with a staggering number of popups)

destructo - The Lost Horizon

Mazedude - Surface ofthe Moon

The Wingless - One Girl in All the World

AmIEvil - Metroid MindofMother

ABG - Ada's Groove (Possibly a bit too fast and invasive)

Incidentally, most of these are off my own mp3 organizational structure fittingly titled "Space Mixes"

Closing Comments and Appendix[edit]

Alright, from all that it looks like I've got a bit of work on my hands. As I've already received comments from folks doing similar work, it also looks like I'm stepping into an area that's already being explored. The mod mentioned above, Cosmic Fury, encompasses a number of ideas which I could see application for in my own work. (Although the hand construction of ships by component seems a bit large in scope for my own designs. In addition, the Dark Frontier mod seen on the wiki and on NickR's own site seems to cover some of the space warfare gaps quite well. I'll have to look over my design and see what aspects can be modified so that I'm not just rehashing work and so that I can broaden the UT community at large.

-Araes-


Comments[edit]

NickR: Nice idea. :D I would say that though, because I'm doing something very similar! Maybe we should coordinate are efforts so that our features don't heavily overlap.

Araes: I wouldn't be opposed to that Nick, as I kind of figured that since it seemed like a good idea someone had to have already though of it first. Lemme get the rest of the information down for this and then maybe we can discuss some kind of arrangement. I assume the mod you are talking about is the new mod on your Arcade Site, that references improving on Natural Selection?

Foxpaw: I think he was referring to the space combat one, "Dark Frontier." ;)

Araes: Alright, I guess I'll let him respond whenever he gets back, but if his Dark Frontier were to be the next USpace, I would imagine it as less of a tactical RTS type, like Natural Selection, and more of a team, ship-based DM or objective map. Unfortunately, not a lot of info besides his site and the wiki notes. Ah well.

NickR: I was referring to Dark Frontier which will be a space combat fighter mod with undertones of rpg and rts elements, I think I might also do a development journal while I produce this. The other mod I mentioned which is based on the Natural Selection mod is more of a side project.