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Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #35: Follow Up on the Prison Demo

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Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #35: Follow Up on the Prison Demo

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 September 2013, 01:16:16

Tags: inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

In the latest Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update, inXile officially respond to some of the criticisms that have been levelled at last month's prison demo. Here are the parts about combat and exploration:

Combat Systems

On to some of the gameplay points. One often seen discussion was the change from hex grid to squares. This is one of those points where crowdfunded games are unique; in a standard development cycle you would not get to see how mechanics like that work until they’re fully tested, iterated on and polished.

Here is a little backstory on the change. Originally, we didn’t intend to have any hex or square grid during combat. It was going to be more free form movement. One of our engineers added a hex grid as a debug test to approximate spacing of characters in combat encounters. When we saw that grid turned on, our mouths watered. A few days prior to recording the first video, we made some tweaks to get our movement working with the hex grid. It worked great for our early combat. One unfortunate side effect was that since it wasn’t in our original design, we didn’t account for it from the beginning of development. We had already done tests and created our tile set sizes, including doors and surrounding props. We could have redesigned the size of the tile sets and doorways (which would have been a huge amount of work since we had grey boxed many of the levels) or look into other options. Squares came next. We had introduced cover at this point and squares lined up nicely with the doors and cover.

Of course, while the advantage in positioning, production time and map layout is there, many of you justifiably pointed out you’re losing flexibility in movement, from a grid’s six-way movement to a square’s four-way movement, and that creates undesirable situations where you move four squares east and four squares south to move to a relatively close position. With the help of backer suggestions, here are two points we have already implemented to improve the mechanics and feel:
  • Moving around the world in combat is much more free form. Your player won’t just follow the exact grid, which created an unnecessarily artificial look. They will take the shortest unblocked distance from the point they are standing to the point you are moving to. Movement is still calculated based on an underlying (optional on/off) grid and is displayed to you in your AP cost.
  • Moving diagonally in the calculation costs 1.5 times as much as a straight movement. Do note that your speed attribute changes the AP cost used as movement for all characters, so the calculation is never very simple.
Another pattern we saw discussed had to do with stances as a tactical choice in combat. Stances may not seem like a big deal to implement, but it is a deceivingly large amount of work to do correctly in our game. There are a few issues to consider when evaluating this as a feature. First, is the amount of work necessary to get it done vs. how much it will add to the game as a whole. It involves additional code to simply implement the base feature, UI work to get the HUD elements, a large amount of AI to have enemies react to it differently (assuming we don’t just have the rangers use it…which would be lame), design work to fit it on to all applicable humanoid enemy NPCs, gameplay balancing, bug testing and the finally largest risk comes from animation. Our animation system is pretty robust. We’d essentially be adding 2 additional states (crouching and prone), which need to have our full suite of animations related to all weapon skills. 9 skills (or 7 without melee skills) doesn’t seem like a lot but when you break them down, it gets unwieldy quick. Each weapon has firing, jamming, equip/unequip, reloading, aim up/down, multiple player damages from that pose (i.e light, medium, heavy, crits) plus all of the blends in and out that make them smooth from different player states. In all it turns into around 15-20 animations per skill, per stance. Finally, there would be visual issues from our 6 foot tall rangers with a 3 foot long sniper rifle lying prone. Weapons would clip through the world props all over the place. As we continue iterating and polishing, we will evaluate all options as they are available, but as you can see, this is not a particularly easy decision to make.

Exploring Environments

And as a final note, a few said that this early part of the Prison in the demo gave an impression of linearity. This is mostly due to it being a demo run, with us having a specific path and sequence in mind. Wasteland 2 is incredibly varied in regards to the feel of the levels. Some are more town based, others are underground maze/cave-like areas. We have large interiors of buildings, huge canyon areas (like prison) and more desolate plains. There is no template that is universal to Wasteland 2.

We’ve made sure to design a ton of missions that will take you all over. Many are optional, meaning that you will be able to do them or not do them as you wish. Others will open up (or be shut down) based on decisions you’ve made before. There will be no lack of exploration and discovery.​

Besides all that, the update also comes with a nice new Mark Morgan track. Man, this game's OST is gonna be like "Redding: The Soundtrack".

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