Erik, I and Martin are working hard on working out the details of the game concept right now. However, while this is our main activity I'm already looking into some of the technical challenges and choices ahead of us. Otherwise, how would we know if some of these great ideas we have are feasible? :)
So basically the first technical order of business will be to create some proof-of-concepts. In other words, create some quick prototypes to test some of the more challenging features we want to implement. This will also have the added advantage that we can test some of game engines out there and see which one suits our needs best. I'll be making a post about this choice for a game engine at a later time in the process.
So what are the main challenges we foresee in this project. Let me outline a couple of them:
Let me be completely clear here. The old control panel is gone. There is no way in hell I am implementing it again, regardless of the warm fuzzy feeling I get when thinking about it ;). It was clunky, ugly and unintuitive for new players. We need to create a modern interface that is unintrusive but allows easy control of soldiers. The latest developments with Windows 8 (and mobile of course!) show us that there is a future for touch controls, so at the very least it should be possible to control soldiers using touch. So I'll be experimenting a bit with different ways to control soldiers in a first prototype.
Lets be honest here: I believe multi-story buildings belong in a tactical war game like Call of Combat. High-rise buildings can be of tremendous strategic interest in a game. The player that, say, controls a church tower has a clear tactical advantage by providing him with a nice location from which to spot and shoot at enemy soldiers. You simply add a whole new strategic layer to the game and allows us to create a whole host of interesting scenarios which would not be possible otherwise. But it is very complex to implement properly. I mean, how do soldiers navigate between different floors exactly? Is there a way to make combat 'work' between floors? How do you visually display different floors exactly? We'll need to do some usability tests with this.
Like multi-story buildings the addition of terrain elevation clearly does add more tactical depth to the game. You can build missions around capturing high ground for example and elevation could impact line-of-sight, movement and/or shooting accuracy. But how exactly? And what to do with map objects on slopes? Testing required!
Tiles and Cover
Cover is one of the core game mechanics in Call of Combat, as a battle is essentially a run from cover to cover. The old system of cover directly depended on the tile you were on and in what direction you were facing. This worked decently well, but do we want to depend so much on tiles? Why is there no easy way to move half-way between two tiles? We need to at least explore some sort of 'tile-less' setup, or at least a system with a lot smaller tiles allowing for more precise placement of objects and soldiers. This affects cover as well. I want to explore different ways of 'going' into cover, for example by clicking on the cover rather than on the tile next to the cover! We need to make a prototype for this.
There are of course many others features that could benefit from such a proof-of-concept approach, but I think these are the major ones. So just to clear what this means. It means I'll be implementing these features separately in a bare bones test system, so without fancy art, animations or multiplayer support. We can use that to test some of these ideas and later re-implement them in the actual game code. We'll keep you all updated on progress on these prototypes on this blog!
As you can see we have our work cut out for us! ;) Happy holidays all!