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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
The Independents Faction
By Robert Basler on 2015-09-25 01:15:47
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

I hate it when I hit Friday afternoon and I haven't finished what I was working on that week. I like to be able to do demos on the weekend. It looks like that's going to work out for me this week.

Since the end of July I've been working on a full set of units for Miranda's Independents faction. It took an amazing amount of time to figure out just how to get all the game elements I wanted, and put them into the framework I've set up for Miranda. I've worked on lots of other things as well - I can only spend so many hours in a spreadsheet without doing any programming - but an initial full set of units for the Independents was the big goal. After doing a lot of research and game testing and building a stack of messy spreadsheets, that goal is now mostly achieved (although many units' special abilities have yet to be implemented.)

[ATVs on the move, Hover Tanks & a Few of the Independents' New Units.]

One of my challenges has always been how to do infantry units. Animating models of people was something I just didn't want to tackle, so instead I've planned to use ATV's as standins for the standard C&C infantry units: GI, Spy, SEAL, Tanya, Dog, etc. Initially I implemented these units simply as weapons on an ATV chassis. A couple of problems quickly became apparent: it was going to be impossible to tell different infantry units apart, and I was going to end up with the possibility of some really strange and undesirable units. At one point the most powerful unit in the game was a harvester with a shield and a commando's machine gun.

[Advanced ATV.]

To solve the messy units problem I added two component types unique to Infantry units: the Specialist and Light Arms. Only the ATV & Advanced ATV chassis can accept either of these component types. The ATV is the equivalent of infantry, the Advanced ATV is the equivalent of infantry in an APC. The Specialist component provides unique abilities to a unit. The Engineer Specialist allows the unit to capture enemy buildings and instantly repair friendly buildings, the Spy is stealthy and can steal enemy funds, the Spyhunter can unveil Spies and gives any weapon a one-hit-kill on infantry units. The Independents have 7 Specialists at the moment. Light Arms include the Machine Gun, RPG, Sniper Rifle and Compact Assault Rifle.

Customizing the appearance of models is still only partially solved. I'm considering ways to make it possible to tell what sort of weapons a chassis has on-sight, but those customizations are a little down the road. For now, weapons will have different effects, so players will have to wait until the shooting starts to get complete information.

[Independents' Ore Purifier - The middle part spins!]

[Guardian Tower heavy base defense.]

In addition to the new infantry units, I've been spending a lot of time in Blender adding a complete set of new buildings. The Independents' buildings look quite similar to the Empire's buildings, but they're a little more high-tech. I had a lot of fun kitbashing new models out of pieces of the existing models - I have to admit I'm pretty pleased with how these worked out. The Ore Purifier increases the yield from refineries 25%. The Guardian Tower is a new heavy base defense. There is also a new Advanced Tech Centre which enables superweapon construction (it can be seen in the far right of the screenshot above.)

Currently Miranda has 16 different types of components, the Independents' have 68 components, 43 standard unit designs, and a total of 6157 possible unit designs.

The Empire faction is next, and it should take considerably less time.

By Lex on 2015-09-29 07:14:27
Homepage: email:
Reminds me of Red Alerts IFV's (which you customised/enhanced by loading with a troop type) they were a little tricky to tell apart too.

I'd be interested to see how you did your spreadsheets, those things are strangely fascinating. I remember spending some hours pouring over Cnc/RA ini files back in the day and tweaking numbers the idea of having it doing calculations on that sounds a weird sort of fun (for a while at least!).
By Robert Basler on 2015-09-29 12:27:39
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I considered customizing the weapon appearance based on weapon type, that is doable, but with so many different specialists even that doesn't really do enough. You really need completely different appearances for spy, engineer, commando etc.

I might post something on the unit designing process later, thanks for the idea.

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