Joined: 16 Oct 2004, 18:40 Location: I still have more posts than you.
When you're developing a project from scratch you can't just start modeling at random from some idea in your head. If you do, your units don't share thematic similarities and it doesn't look like a professional product at the end. Or worse, you'll model units and then realize it's not possible for them to function properly in-game for some reason without extensive reworking.
A while ago I said I'd figured out the tech tree, now I've figured out the design style and I can start making adjustments to the models I've finished to make sure they are consistent. Going forward, modeling will be faster too.
This is part of the reason I don't want to post any pictures just yet, it wouldn't make any sense to show you something that is in no way representative of the final product. It would be about as helpful and informative to you as posting GEM screenshots or some other project of mine.
Example: Some douchebags got very upset about how in Supreme Commander, air units didn't fold up when they landed or weren't fighting. I can tell you this was done most likely for balance reasons (unfold animation takes time, during which you would be shot at but not be able to shoot back) or performance reasons (in order to counteract the above, longer LoS ranges would be required).
But people still pissed and moaned about it... and it was such a minor thing. So what reason could I possibly have for posting things I *know* will not resemble the final product? It's the stupidest thing I could do as a developer.
GEM is blocked by the engine's archaic lack of hitbox support and a single tag nobody wants to put a switch on so it'll be usable, AWS is already being done so I've lost my motivation to finish the last few units, AA has reached its peak and will now be in maintenance mode once I get the next couple versions out.
I want to start a new mod, one featuring only tanks and aircraft, no fancyass infantry scripting, no bullshit crazy LUA stuff, just tanks and aircraft, maybe hovers, blowing the hell out of each other. I'm making it, say I'm lying, I don't care, I'm starting a new mod with obscene detail levels and shameful polygon counts that would make Crysis blush. I'm going to make original textures and models, but it's going to basically be TA in all but name and appearance, only a hella lot cooler looking since there's no way in hell I'm going to stick with the established standards like "3 guns per unit" and "everything has to look like it came from 1997" and "it must run on Pentium 2 with no graphics card" nonsense.
If anyone is interested in helping, please PM me with your skills. As usual I'll probably do most of the work on my own by preference, but scripting and texturing help might be helpful. Also testers and commentors and whatever else. Oh, yeah, if you know anything about sound effects, that would probably be good, I'll need lots of those, and if you're any good at making explosions, etc... I've fallen behind the curve on that. PM if you're interested in any way shape and form with your MSN and I'll try to keep people informed.
Why am I announcing something that I haven't made a single model or line of code for? Because I'm really going to go crazy on it. I mean, I'm going to go to work, come home, make 30 units, then go back to work. I'm going to freaking go nuts on this.
The project's goal? I want to make TA look like crap in comparison. The idea is to basically make a carbon copy of TA but without restrictions placed on me like, "no you can't remove that unit because then it wouldn't be TA" - that sort of thing. I mean, for crap sake, do we really need to have so many identical units on both sides? I've done what I can to seperate them but it's still "TA but with changes".
So, what scale are we talking about here... Generally here's what I'd like to have by the time the project's complete: -50+ units on each side at the bare minimum, not including structures -At least 3 sides on initial release, and possibly more just for shits and giggles later -units ranging from 1x1 to 10x10 -Entirely new classes of units that don't fit in with TA -Totally different tech trees and specialties -A large map pack (btw any mappers interested, PM me too) -More
What prompted this? I think, mainly, 8 years of pent-up modding frustration. If anyone quotes that and replaces "modding" with something else, I'll ban you. Even though I'm not a moderator. Also, I'm struggling so hard to just make TA's sides seem different, but at the same time realizing, once this new version's out, the sh!t's going to hit the fan because it's too different. EVEN THOUGH THE CHANGES AREN'T VERY BIG! It's just too different because all we've known for 11 years is TA and we like TA. We like TA because it's the best RTS that's ever been made.
Also what prompted this is that I finally have the kind of cash that I can afford all the equipment I need to set up a proper development environment.
I want to make something so good it's like a commercial game. I want to make something so good, I could sell it if I wanted to - but I won't. I think. Probably not. Especially since you're all dirty pirates. Anyways, I'd really like to eventually get into game development, and I'd like to do it without going through 10 years of bullshit education so I get a piece of paper that says I know how to model or whatever. I'm a freaking awesome modeler, I'm a competent texturer (now - don't look at my old work), and I've been working on AA for well over 8 years now and at its peak it had over 75% of Spring's players and over 20,000 downloads per release
So what's the mod going to be all about... hm... well let me put it this way, it'll be like Supreme Commander but without TA-style balance with identical units on all sides. And a lot more units, with a lot less fluff.
Here's the good part. You know how in TA, everything is so simple? Generally speaking, everything just bloody well works? There's no UFO that only fires half the time and is actually more useful as an unblockable nuke to drop on your enemies. There's no units that only work sometimes, and there's nothing impractical like nukes that will never get built. Everything will be useful. There most certainly will not be BS like units that are more effort to use than there is payoff. No, "super strong unit that needs to stand still for 3 years while it unfolds". No "commando unit that must be microed to be useful, and your base is going to get destroyed in the meantime". None of the frustrating garbage incompetent game designers throw at us because they have a moron in charge who thinks units need to be upgradable in order to give the game "depth". No, I can go further on that, NO ARTIFICIAL "DEPTH" THAT JUST PISSES YOU OFF BECAUSE IT'S USELESS.
I named this thread "new mod", but what is really happening here is "new game". No copyrighted content of any kind, nothing. Nothing proprietary. Nothing at all. This will not be a mod, a total conversion, or anything else, it is an entirely new game unlike anything else. It will be RTS 2.1, a name I originally was planning on using for a Supreme Commander mod in AA's style, but I'm tired of playing with other peoples' creations and having artificial limits placed upon me. Why RTS 2.1? Because the buzz around Supreme Commander was, it was referred to as "RTS 2.0" because it was such a major step forward. Well, I can't say this will be a major step forward, but it will be superior to any other RTS. Others will have strengths such as fancy animation and explosions, but I'll have the only thing that actually matters: untouchable gameplay.
Think I'm kidding? By the end of the week, you won't. If I don't follow through with that, go ahead and call this a fake and a fraud and anything else, because I'd deserve it.
What sort of timeframe are we looking at here? Well... Hmm... figure, one unit a day on average to model, 0.5 unit a day to texture, 3 units a day to script, 10 units a day to balance, and then a month for polish. So... 6 months or so for serious results doesn't seem unreasonable. Something finished and fully enjoyable should be possible within a year. Something playable within 8 months... Web site within 2 months... model pictures starting at the end of this week... ingame screens within 3 months...
What can break this game? Everything really hangs on my job. Like, the one I get paid for. I've been trying to get a weekend shift for several months, it was promised to me, and everything was peachy until the boss decided I was needed in another department. More specifically, about 8 other departments... So I'm doing a crazy amount of work even while I'm at home lately. Just got trained on a new machine and there's supposed to be training for another new machine sometime after that... It's going to be interesting. I'm still going to try my best to get a weekend shift or at the very least, Fridays off.
What makes this effort different from, say, Star Wars Spring? Or some similar uber-awesome, large scale mod? Two things mainly.
First, there's nothing at all to live up to. I don't need to spend 6 months making Jedi possible when the engine was designed to do nothing of the kind. I don't need to figure out how to do orbital bombardment. There's no standard. In other words, I can have a gun that just blows the hell out of an entire region instead of orbital bombardment. I can have a unit that is just super-deadly instead of a jedi. There's nothing to live up to except my own hype, and since I'm the one making the hype, I can live up to it and then some.
Second, the things that take the longest to get just right, like walking animations for instance, will have NO PART in this mod. Soldiers? Play TA or Gundam if you want some sort of mecha-mod. I'm making tanks, and big ones at that. Mean ones, that eat babies and crap dynamite. Fancy scripting is only there for two reasons, one to wow the audience and two to make something look realistic. The game will wow you on its own, and realism, that's just not happening.
Joined: 16 Oct 2004, 18:40 Location: I still have more posts than you.
Like I said, ideas from all my previous, ah, endeavors, are being used to form one game. The project I spoke of in that post died after a while because I realized I wasn't following a consistent design paradigm. Stuff was high poly here, low poly there, some looked insect-ish, some looked crazy futuristic, and one unit was a "Haro" from Gundam just to piss off Smoth. Kept shouting "haro, haro, haro, haro" constantly at all times. (crawling bomb equivalent, if you were wondering)
But, from that mod's ashes I'm taking the concept of not giving a crap about fancy shit like walk animations that just waste a lot of time and don't make any difference to gameplay.
This time I've actually planned the entire game out before starting. Doing things any other way was retarded, I was over-excited about starting something completely original and I didn't think things through before.
But I haven't just said to myself, ok, units will look sort of like this, and you'll tell them apart by these attributes, bla bla bla. I mean I've taken my experience from AA and from the beginning I'm planning (among other things) the entire movement, resource, tech level, and construction systems completely in advance. I've experimented with a few different ways of modeling units so texturing them later is easier, doing a couple of complete proof-of-concept objects from beginning to end to make sure I won't run into any surprises. I've figured out how different classes of weapons will be differentiated but still be useful, how to make all units usable on any map, even if the terrain isn't best-suited to them. I figured out a unique economic model that makes stupid gameplay styles (all-turtle, all-tech, perfect build order, etc) much less likely to pay off, even for players who aren't on the front line.
AA/BA have a TON of problems under the surface that most people aren't aware of, beyond any real or imagined gameplay flaws you may or may not believe exist. This is also because of inadequate planning on my part. Those problems can't be easily fixed now though, people are used to them being there and lots of things rely on them. It's a little like the transition from Windows 95 to Windows XP to Windows 7. Each time, people were very unhappy that a lot of things they relied on no longer worked, regardless of what improvements were also made.
Everything's very solid now though. All of the above is behind me, I'm currently full-bore into modeling and developing the actual, functional inter-unit balance structures. Tons of work still to go, but a few model shots at least won't be a long way off.
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