Pushing for Memorable Content


Lately I've been adjusting my focus towards cleaner content generation... by that I mean missions and encounters rather than map variance and weapon variety. My current quest system seems... fragile... right now and I need a more compelling arc to the player. That means less of a soup of basic sandbox missions but more of a crafted arc.

To remedy I'm probably going to go a little too far in the crafted direction, by laying out my overworld sectors a bit more deliberately and creating an easier method for predefining some of the more story-driven quests within. I originally had a campaign map of 10x10 overworld sectors (each with multiple combat zones within) and I brought that down a little to 6x6 so that I can pull the player through a bit easier. Adding sectors back in later should be easy, and I'll still need all those generated quests to glue together the rest of the content.

Anyway there's a common case for the fact that pure procgen top-to-bottom runs the risk of being "sandbox soup" (a peer to the 10000 bowls of oatmeal problem).  Maybe I'll make some Roguelike purists sad, but the games that they revere still have some kind of structure.  You know you're going to kill the Foozle at the end, you descend deeper into the dungeon, you get the ultimate item, then things happen on the way up.  I'm interested very much in generating more dynamic stories but I'm pulling back a little just to get a more robust system for content.

On the upside, I've created highway maps that connect each sector together, so when you head north from overworld sector 2,3 you have to brave the open road to reach the next sector. Right now that's pretty bare bones, but the goal is to both make some really hazardous runs, and to ultimately support Convoy Missions which are the lifeblood of Mad Max and Car Wars' storytelling. Maybe even some Eastbound and Down haha :-)


I also leveled out the difficulty and base it off a health, damage and loot table with a level 1-20 scale. Enemies have a "difficulty band" that they appear in based on the area, and an adjustment to their stats within that band (e.g. 0.6xhealth, 1.8x damage, loot level +1). This isn't "leveling to the player" (which is one of my least favorite features of certain RPGs) but rather keeping me sane by using a set of tables as an anchor for balancing. It also means those stats I have to balance with aren't buried in the vehicle definitions like they were.

Gameplay

To add a little more emphasis on shooting and driving, we have some delayed action effects now. The first place it manifests is in guided rockets that take a few turns to reach their destination. This was a little quirky because of the team-based turn updates that are part of the system right now. Rather than each move being interleaved, the player executes a full turn of moves (for example, 3 moves if they are moving at a speed of 3), then the enemies do all their moves (based on their vehicle speeds). This means the rockets use the same stop-start logic. It reads a bit funky but I think it still works.


As part of this I started making a bunch more of the world destructible. This wasn't a big deal, but going through the exercise of breaking up the models I had into parts and assigning them physics properties was a good process for future adds.  

Plus driving through a windmill feels good.


Fame Building

Finally, as part of the overall "fame" experience, I brought back my old "classic" combat log and reinvented it as a social media feed with only limited gameplay information (kills, item pickups) conveyed within. Yes, the populace in the walled citadels are following the player's exploits and voting with their "likes" and slinging emojis. Your rivals and your stunt driving will tie more and more into the social experience as we go forward.  

Cheesy?  Perhaps, but this world is intentionally not a pure dust-n-misery place that you might guess from the first glimpses of the desert landscape.  People are living out their dull lives workin' for the man in their high-rise condos behind the citadel walls, and most of them never have even seen an open road with their own eyes.  Drivers are their heroes, the ultimate in Reality TV, in Stream, in Tweets (Toots?).  This is how the story will take shape.

Until Next Time

Excelsiorrrrr!


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Hi ! Any news regarding PC Linux support ? 

Hi there!  I know you're gunnin' for Linux, and I'd like to give it a shot...  but for now my content takes center stage leading up to the Kickstarter.  I haven't forgotten you!

Haha, thanks. Me neither !