I had planned on making regular blog posts about my two personal projects, a mobile strategy game and a simulated Wii-U tech demo, as I made progress on them. Unfortunately, I hit some pretty big roadblocks with those two pursuits, and had to put them on the back-burner. Besides having been busy with college and wrestling until I graduated last week, the cruxes of those projects were two areas of programming that I am lacking experience in (AI and networking). I am currently not working on either game, but I’m planning to take some time to improve my background before taking another crack at development of these projects. In the meantime, I thought I’d do a breakdown of one of the levels I built for The Roughnecks.
Because the game’s designed for mobile, levels are rather small compared to most strategy games. Levels should on average take 2-5 minutes to play through. This level is supposed to be the entrance of some huge military outpost. It would be a part of a series of levels related to the fortress. Your goal here is to storm the gate, eliminating all of the units guarding the entrance. Before I get into the particulars of this level, I’m first going to introduce the units showing up in this level. More info about the game can be found here.
This artistic masterpiece of mine is the infantry unit. For reference, that ball floating above his head tells the player a unit’s alignment (blue is your guys, red is bad). The infantry is the most common unit in the game, and also the weakest. He does this neat little penguin waddle around the map when you send him to put some bullets into somebody. Enemy infantry act as patrol units (each unit has its own behavior pattern), travelling along a set path until they detect one of the player’s units. After dealing with the threat, they go back to their patrol. Essentially the pawns of the game, they can easily be rolled over as long you don’t happen to walk into a group of them by accident.
This baby right here is the tank. He rolls into town with his big set of wheels and blows everyone to kingdom come. With all his health and damage output, he definitely the workhorse of any winning outfit. Enemy tanks follow the Assist behavior. They will sit at point they were created unless a nearby enemy comes under fire. This will send them into battle to help their allies out. Tanks are tough, but far from unkillable. The one thing you don’t want is to attack an enemy too close to a tank and have this guy crash the party unexpectedly.
Next is the artillery. As you might have guessed, the artillery is the long range expert. They can fire on units long before they are in attacking range, and can even attack over some walls. Where they fail is direct combat, due to the long wait between firing artillery shells. Enemy artillery use the Defender behavior. They are given a point to protect, and will fire on anything that comes near it. They will move from they starting point to engage in combat, but will not stray far from their defense point.
The final unit to appear in this level is the helicopter. Helicopters are pretty versatile units, able to lead ambushes, rush to support units in danger, or scout ahead for trouble. Their ability to fly over obstacles like mountains or buildings allows them great freedom in getting around. Just be careful not to charge in too deep without backup, and remember both teams can use helicopters. Enemy copters act as Seekers. They wander the map looking for player units to harass and open fire on sight. This can become a problem during fog-of-war maps, and if they catch a loan unit while you are trying to coordinate an attack.
For this level, you are supplied with 4 infantry, 2 tanks, an artillery unit, and a helicopter. As much as I wanted to make provide an extra helicopter so they could fly around and start a Chopper Gang. I felt that would that would make this a bit too easy. You have enough firepower that you can stand up to enemy forces, but you still need to think about your approach. The enemy forces consist of 6 infantry, 3 tanks, and 2 artillery units.
The main entrance is guarded by two infantry and a tank. The infantry walk in a square path surveying the entrance, and the tank sits at the point shown in. Depending on the player’s timing, it is possible to pick each of them off one at a time. A poorly timely attack will launch in result having to fight two or even all three units at once. Of course, this is only one entrance into the base.
The player can also follow this path in between the main gate and the mountains to the east. Vehicles will not be able to drive though this path, but foot soldiers can squeeze through into the “hidden” opening into the base. It’s possible to get the copter in, as well. This gives the player some options as to how they proceed.
As you might have noticed earlier, there was a wall behind the tank guarding the gate. Hiding behind the wall is an artillery unit, ready to open fire on any unwelcome visitors. The wall in front forces any attacking unit approaching to take the long way, leaving the player’s units in clear range and unable to retaliate. It’s up to the player to decide how they want to proceed.
Towards the rear of the fort are several infantry with patrolling paths that lead around the place. As with the gate, it is up to the player to find a route to best dispatch them. hiding in the corner is a tank, waiting to ambush any unit that attacks the infantry on patrol nearby.
On the left side of the fort is another artillery unit watching out for any troops that may come wandering by. In addition, the long way around to sneak up behind the artillery is being guarded by a tank. The open space in front and area to the left of the artillery is part of the patrol path that gets surveyed by an infantry unit seen in an earlier shot.
This is my first pass at the level, but I currently have two concerns about this version. Right now, I think there might be too much space in between enemy units, making it too easy to gang up on them and take them one at a time. However, this is difficult to test since my unit AI doesn’t work properly. Whether or not this is an issue could change once all of the game’s mechanics function as intended. The second concern is at what point the player gets access to the level. I haven’t decided exactly what number level this , which would change where on the difficulty curve I want this level to fit. This is an issue I wouldn’t address until the game has more polish, and I reach the point where I’m simply adding more content.
My first order of business is to redo the AI so they actually act how I want them to. While I’m act it, I’d probably look into redoing the touch controls so they are less hacky. Once that is taken care of, I can start to polish and fine tune features in the game.