Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

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wilbefast
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Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

This post is really long but I've sectioned it and provided one-sentence summaries so you can skip the boring bits :wink:

[list]In a Nushell[/list]
"Help! I'm in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell!?"


"Doomed RTS" (working title) - so named because I'm working on it all by myself and have no experience whatsoever - is a fantasy mod for Spring. The basic idea is as follows:

HAS
  • Lots of big explosions.
  • Mostly ranged attacks.
  • Charged rather than reloaded weapons ("spells").
  • Heavy emphasis on upkeep and economic accountability ("spells" cost energy to charge).
  • All units are creatures summoned/animated using magic.
  • Emphasis on unit personality (see all Blizzard games)
  • Asymmetrical balance: 4 unique factions
  • Minimalist unit lists for easy pick-up-and-play.


HASN'T
  • Living humans of any kind, except the commanders.
  • Elves, Dwarves, Orcs or any other high-fantasy races.
  • Emphasis on m├¬l├®e, formations, cavalry charges.
  • Bows, swords or non-magical weapons of any kind.
  • Guns, catapults, steam-engines or non-magical technology of any kind.
  • Large numbers of structures and base defences.
  • Large numbers of nuanced units.
  • Any dedicated naval units (boats).


For a more detailed descriptions, read on (at your own risk)!

[list]Eye candy[/list]
"Hey! This candy is covered in fluff and tastes of old man smell..."


Pandora's Box

Image

The Pandora's Box spins as it hovers ponderously over the battlefield. Don't underestimate this slow-moving transport: it may be unarmed but it is heavily armoured, and can carry a large number of units across difficult terrain and bodies of water. In addition it can teleport around the map to lend the daemon faction even greater mobility, along with some much-needed durability. A word of caution though - this unit becomes far more vulnerable when charging up its teleport or loading and unloading units.


[list]A Fantasy about Fantasy[/list]
"I've had this idea for, like, ages, so it's totally going to work out!"


I bought TA when it was released and loved it. I borrowed TA:K off a friend and loved it. Then I bought Supreme Commander and it crashed my computer. 2 computers later I still can't get a descent frame-rate: not so with Spring, but that's another story.

I was looking forward to Supreme Commander as of about a year before its release, back in 2005, and I'd been hoping against hope that Gas Powered would make a new version of TA:K too, because much as I like giant robots exploding each-other with lasers I also like fantasy monsters with personality, exploding each-other with fire-balls. I eventually decided that if they didn't do it then I would - even though my only experience modding was making Warcraft 3 maps, which doesn't really count. Somewhere along the line a started this thread: Supreme Commander: Kingdoms? - that was back before I decided to go ahead and make it myself, back before I gave up.

Despite Supcom being a bit of a disappointment and Spring still being too much in its infancy for me to see its potential the idea survived, slowly growing into the absurdly ambitious plan of building my own TA:K-style RTS with "Strategic Zoom" from the ground up, some time in the far future (I was quite good at Gamemaker at the time - anything seemed possible).

Now I've left Windows (Ubuntu ftw) and Gamemaker behind, am in my second year of University (Informatics), learning to make games using C and SDL in my own time, and hoping to graduate to C++ very soon. What C has taught me though is that making a game engine is a hell of a lot of work: I'd only have the resources if I worked for a big company, but if I worked for a big company I'd have to make other peoples' ideas and not my own.

Then I (re)discovered Spring. With Supreme Commander a badly-optimised mess and Supreme Commander 2 promising a gutted economic model and experience points (yuck!), Spring seems like the last refuge of "true TA", and although there's a lot of stuff that doesn't conform to my totally unrealistic master-plan it's easier to modify an engine than scratch-build one.


[list]Giant Robot Overdose[/list]
"Spring isn't made for fantasy settings? So what!?"


Spring is attempting to be the "best RTS ever", but it suffers from a lack of variety: most of the mods are TA-based, and even those that aren't generally involve giant robots or tanks or giant tank-robots blowing each-other up. Don't get me wrong, I love giant tank-robots as much as the next guy-with-no-social-life, but it would be nice to also see some mods that don't have modern or sci-fi settings. So far Kernel Panic is the only example I've found.

I've been perusing the forums for a fortnight or so, looking for fantasy/historical mods and trying to figure out why there don't seem to be any - the answers seem to be as follows:
  • The animation system was made for rigid bodies, not living, breathing creatures.
  • Combat attacks are supported but AI for swarms of close-ranged units isn't.
  • All told Spring is more in its element when it comes to ranged weaponry and explosion.
Great things can be achieved none the less: Azaremoth's Cursed mod and CA's chicken mode show that organic and close combat units are possible, and indeed can even look quite good.
The important thing is to think within the bounds of what the engine is capable of: human swordsmen are probably going to moving and attacking in an unnatural way: 1944's tanks are beautiful, but their infantry fall straight down into the uncanny valley. Also if the Cursed is anything to go by, melee will probably get rather muddled up when there's too many of them and only the front 30% will ever attack.
Solution: avoid using humans and too many close-ranged attacks.


[list]The General Idea[/list]
"Giant monsters exploding each-other with fire-balls!"


When it comes to the basic premise, not a lot has changed since the idea's original exposition - here's a quote from the above link:
Modern warfare, from which SupCom draws most of it inspiration, tend to involve small, highly mobile units of infantry, and highly mobile armor units in relatively loose formations [...] Fantasy worlds tend to take a lot of inspiration from classical and medieval periods, when warfare often involved vast armies of foot soldiers in very tight formations.
Total War is indeed a great series, but it's also fun to play around with base buildings sometimes, and I do like the fantasy setting. The problem is that a couple of peasants can't build a huge stone wall in a couple of minutes, it would take years! Most fantasy RTSs are very unrealistic in this sense: troops emerge from your barracks without explanation, while serfs chop wood just a couple of yard from the fighting line.

However, in Supreme Commander you can assemble a factory and be churning out tanks in mere minutes, which is equally unrealistic. The difference is that in SupCom and TA everything is explained in the typical, vague, sci-fi manner (nano-lathing I think, whatever that is) while nobody explains why our peasants can build so damn fast, or how we can reinforce our army without having a standing population to draft troops from. We just have to suspend our disbelief.

TA-K didn't go by this formula: We built buildings and mustered units in mere minutes because "a wizard did it", an excuse that worked pretty well. The problem was that many of the troops in TA-K were actual people, thus born, raised and living and working in a city somewhere off-map: This means that you aren't a Supreme Commander anymore because you aren't autonomous, and this was the cool thing about Supreme Commander and TA: Even if the rest of civilisation is wiped out (eg: TA), if your commander survives, you can rebuild your whole army, your whole base. You can continue the war effort even if you're the last Aeon/UEF/Cybran person alive in the universe. You're it!

So we need an autonomous body controlling a vast army of automatons. This isnÔÇÖt that much of an alien concept in fantasy: we have necromancers controlling reanimated corpses, golems made from clay (Prometheus) and so on, so we can simply have rival wizards (because ÔÇ£a wizard did itÔÇØ) summoning armies of creatures to kill each-other with. Whether their respective home nations exist or not is irrelevant, they can keep trying to kill each other with their creations, and because they are not fighting with conventional troops or drafting them by conventional means, they donÔÇÖt need to be restricted by the conventional ÔÇ£vast armies of foot soldiers in very tight formationsÔÇØ style of warfare.
In other words, giant monsters exploding each-other with fireballs :mrgreen:

[list]The Less General Idea[/list]
"Let's be absurdly ambitious!"


Here's a basic run-down of the races - unlike in TA I want to try and make them very different from one another, so not everyone has access to stealth and teleportation, although everyone will have an equivalent of radar. Also most units will use ranged weapons: balls of magic power that shoot out of their eyes/mouths/chest-cavities.
  • Undead: slow but relentless horde army made up of cheap corpse-constructs and vengeful spirits:
    • Only undead builders can resurrect friendly/enemy undead units on the field.
    • Undead do not regenerate.
    • Eat (reclaim?) undead bodies to regain health.
    • Play dead/burrow in order to ambush enemies.
    • Can drain life from the enemy to replenish their own.
    • Decay aura: damages all nearby enemy units.
    • Corpse units can move underwater.
    • Ghost units hover and are immune to physical attacks.
  • Promethian: army of stone and metal golems focusing on tough, expensive units and defence:
    • Feedback aura: converts part of all mana drawn (see below) by nearby enemies into damage.
    • Mana-steal aura: steals part of all mana drawn by nearby enemies.
    • Earth-bind: deploy unit to gain increased armour protection (creates a tower)
  • Fae: fragile army of forest spirits which use stealth and hit-and-run tactics to succeed
    • Fae are the only faction able to use stealth - their builders can go invisible so that they can gather resources un-interrupted.
    • Regeneration Aura: heals all nearby units.
    • Hallucination "Aura": fake doubles of the unit follow it around as long as the ability is turned on.
    • "Radar" jamming.
    • Quickly travel between dams (using the steam - see below).
  • Daemons: weak but terrifying quick an adaptable army with many fliers
    • Daemon builders cannot heal units.
    • Daemon builders and some other units can teleport.
    • Daemons can morph into "daemon spirits" which move quickly over all terrain and can morph back into any unit of the same tier.
    • Daemon spirits can also be built directly from factories at a very low cost.
    • Daemon "factories" can "recall" units from other parts of the map as well as summoning new ones, allowing for forward bases to be quickly reinforced.
    • Slow Aura: causes all nearby enemy units to move more slowly.
    • Haste Aura: causes all nearby friendly units to move more quickly.
    • Stop = EMP/Spider stun-gun.
    • "Scuttled" daemons go "wild" and attack everyone.
    • The daemon team alone can generate mana - this is highly unstable and creates an explosion and wild daemons if interrupted.
Here are some features I'd like to at least try to implement - I do realize that some are quite outlandish and are unlikely to make it. However, if anyone can explain how any of the below can be done I would be very grateful.
  • Only one actual human per side (the wizard) who begins the assembly of the army.
  • Emphasis on units rather than structures: builder units fullfill the roles of extractors and factories. Defences are provided by specific units "channeling" (being deployed into a given area)
  • Only one resource - Mana:
    • Mana is vital for the upkeep of your army (as explained below) and can only be generated by "daming" specific points.
    • Mana "flows" in a stream from one point to another - if you dam a point "up-steam" of another then the yield of points "downstream" of it will be decreased. This should inspire interesting strategies.
    • Unlike it TA:K where each unit had their own mana-reserve that regenerated by itself (broken), all units will draw on the player's reserves in order to use their "spells":
      • "Spells" include missile attacks as well as shields, radar and anti-radar, stealth and "auras" (project an effect on the surrounding area) among other things. They are activated and deactivated rather than being micromanaged as in something like Warcraft 3.
      • Single-use spells (energy weapons) warm up before being fired, rather than cooling down after being fired. This is an important distinction: if I want to teleport from A to B I need first "buy" the spell by drawing x Mana: I can't "buy" it in advance, nor can I move while preparing to cast my spell. This is how Supreme Commander balanced commander teleportation (it took time to prepare - but it took way too long).
  • Singleplayer campaign! Something I'd really like to see in Spring: it's being worked on apparently, and I have a good 16 missions planned out in various notebooks (this is before I read that planning too much can be a good thing).

[list]Conclusion[/list]
"If you've read this far, glasses aren't your problem"


If I can achieve a tenth of what I've put done here I'll be happy - I'm going to take this very slow and steady, learn how to tools work and practice using them, and whittle away at it. I want to use this thread as an open brain-storm and as a way of holding myself to the project, even though I have a couple of things to finish first. I'm also rather daunted by the scale of the project and unsure of where to start, so I thought I'd at least get the initial idea written down.

There are a couple of things I didn't even mention of course - I'd wanted to do a sort of unit builder that would let the player customise their units and their abilities (as in Impossible Creatures) so that the great choice of strategies that TA-likes offer wouldn't be too confusing (each unit has a specific use, but if I made each unit I know what that use is).
This of course would require procedural animation, a whole hell of a lot of code and completely surrendering the authorship of the finished project to the player :?
Still - perhaps this could be a proof-of-concept for some later game (let's not get ahead of ourselves...)

Think I've outdone myself when it comes to post length :o

Please let me know where I should start learning how to mode, what tools I need (and can use under Linux) and what other programming languages I need to familiarise myself with. Also tell me what you think of the idea: feel free to bash it all you like - ideas are easy, it's programming that can be tricky :wink:


William


William
Last edited by wilbefast on 03 Nov 2009, 22:27, edited 5 times in total.
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jeykey
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by jeykey »

Nice.
wilbefast wrote: Please let me know where I should start learning how to mode, what tools I need (and can use under Linux) and what other programming languages I need to familiarise myself with. Also tell me what you think of the idea: feel free to bash it all you like - ideas are easy, it's programming that can be tricky :wink:
I am no programmer, but I think it would be the best to join an existing project like CA in order to learn how to mode and then start your own project.
This could be helpful too: http://springrts.com/wiki/Engine_Development
and especially: http://springrts.com/wiki/Mod_and_Unit_ ... evelopment


Regards, jeykey
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MidKnight
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by MidKnight »

Exactly what jeykey said. Joining an existing team is a great idea, especially CA.

Also, if you PM me on the game lobby ([1uP]MidKnight), I can tell you about Colossal, which is a concept I've had that you might like. :P

Thirdly, maackey is also working on a fantasy mod, consider talking to him.

Best of luck,


MidKnight


MidKnight
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zwzsg
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by zwzsg »

Stop telling everybody to join CA. If there's any mod wilbefast should join, it's The Cursed.

But I would advise to start by modelling a unit in Wings 3D, then texture it, ten put it ingame. Just one single unit, but learning how to do all the stage yourself. Just make sure you start with something like a cube and not a 10,000 polygon dragon, since you'll most likely make lots of mistake the first time (bad unwrapping, finding out pieces are done in a way too ankward to animate, etc..). Then once you've learnt how to make one decent quality unit, start churning all planned units, one race at at time, one tier at time.
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wilbefast
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

Thanks for all the replies guys :-)

Reckon CA's a little too big for me though - that might sound a bit hypocritical seeing as I just penned several thousand words worth of concept, but to be perfectly honest I don't think I'll achieve a tenth of that :? Still, good to have some framework.

I don't know enough to be of help to anybody else anyway, I'd just get in the way. Nor am I going to ask anyone for help (that's "help", not "advice") because they'd end up doing it for me.
zwzsg wrote: I would advise to start by modelling a unit in Wings 3D, then texture it, ten put it ingame. Just one single unit, but learning how to do all the stage yourself.
Wings3D - any reason why this is preferable to Blender? Not that I have much experience with Blender, just curious. Anyway, I think this is pretty sound advice - if you can make one unit you can make two, and if you can make two... Baby steps :o

Let's see if I can't model my wall clock...
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Guessmyname
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by Guessmyname »

Wings3d is infinitely simpler. It's also better at unwrapping, and has no support for animations, bones etc so you won't be tempted to much around with those. It's easy to use, excellent for low poly modelling and exports in all the formats you need for building s3os. Blender is for more 'up tech' models ie FPS characters and so forth. It's like using a super computer to calculate 2 + 2.
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zwzsg
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by zwzsg »

Blender interface is nightmarish.
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MidKnight
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by MidKnight »

wilbefast wrote:Thanks for all the replies guys :-)

Reckon CA's a little too big for me though - that might sound a bit hypocritical seeing as I just penned several thousand words worth of concept, but to be perfectly honest I don't think I'll achieve a tenth of that :? Still, good to have some framework.

I don't know enough to be of help to anybody else anyway, I'd just get in the way. Nor am I going to ask anyone for help (that's "help", not "advice") because they'd end up doing it for me.
What a lot of people don't realize is that CA, the game, is actually a pretty small project. CA, however, hosts many smaller 'pet' projects by the CA devs and other assorted people. These include Springie, SpringDownloader, MessageBot, ModelBase, PlanetWars, the map Tartarus, and many, many other projects. These are known as 'CA umbrella' projects, as they operate under CA's development framework. The CA umbrella is a great and flexible way to host new projects, but it also takes quite a bit of maintainence work to keep all of these projects up to date and stable, so people working on the actual game are in demand. :P

Anyway, back to the point. When I joined CA's dev team, about a year ago, I was a know-nothin', BA playin', internet-acronym using NEEB. I can vouch that the CA team is top-notch at accommodating neeb devs. Now, a year later, I have contributed an assortment of models, a variety of art assets, one lua gadget, quite a bit of writing and way more than enough craziness to CA. :mrgreen:
Wings3D - any reason why this is preferable to Blender? Not that I have much experience with Blender, just curious. Anyway, I think this is pretty sound advice - if you can make one unit you can make two, and if you can make two... Baby steps :o

Let's see if I can't model my wall clock...
zwzsg, GMN, that's a bit harsh. :P
I myself use Blender to model, but while wings is an arguably less powerful tool, it is much easier to use for most people, with a UI that doesn't resemble abstract art. It really comes down to personal preference; try each for a week, see which one you like the most. :-)
Last edited by MidKnight on 25 Oct 2009, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.
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KDR_11k
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by KDR_11k »

Blender is like Vim. Cruel to learn but once you're there it's awesome.
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wilbefast
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

KDR_11k wrote:Blender is like Vim. Cruel to learn but once you're there it's awesome.
Hmm - well since I don't have that much experience with 3D modeling (I did some 3DsMax ages ago) it's probably a good idea to start with Wings - it certainly does seem a lot simpler than anything I used before - here's what I made in about an hour (I call it the "Fugly Tank"):

Image

I learnt how to write code by first scripting (they call it "triggering") in Warcraft 3, then using Gamemaker Drag and Drop, then using the "Game maker language" (~ C++), then C with Codeblocks. In other words, I'd vouch for starting really simple and working your way up.

Anyway, what do I do now that I have my Fugly Tank all modeled? Let's see... tutorials... :|

MidKnight: what sort of things are the CA devs working on at the moment/what do they need help with?
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manolo_
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by manolo_ »

ur right, its a fugly tank :D
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zwzsg
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by zwzsg »

For a first model, it's quite good.

Now, go skinning and texturing. (While doing so, you'll hopefully notice that having so many polies on the wheel axles wasn't a good idea).
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wilbefast
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

I got told-off for having non-planar surfaces so I got rid of them :shock:

Image

Now I have many more polygons and more polygons is bad - I think :|
Maybe I'll remove some. Hopefully it'll all stay planar (fingers crossed)

Any suggesting when it comes to good texturing tutorials? I'm not sure which one to pick :?


William
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KaiserJ
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by KaiserJ »

i wouldn't worry too much about the extra polygons in that model, looks like a decent amount to me (although, the axle does seem a bit needlessly complex, for the next model, less detail on that part!)

not sure about texturing with blender but you're going to want to find a tutorial that handles mirroring of faces.

keep at it! your ideas are good
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zwzsg
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by zwzsg »

He's using Wings3D, KaiserJ. Just got with the wiki and forum tutorials:
http://springrts.com/wiki/Units:CreateModel
http://springrts.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=10612

But while it's not too difficult to make a first uvmap, doing it properly takes a lot more skill and experience. The challenge is to do it so painting the texture is easier, so you use the max of your texture space, so you reuse texture area whenever possible, so you match texture resolution to how important that face is, etc... But you'll find that by yourself in time.

Just one thing to know: UPSpring shows texture inverted (unless it's .dds).
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knorke
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by knorke »

thats wings not blender
i think i used this tutorial: http://springrts.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10612

noob to noob tip: where it says "Select all of the lines except the bottom ones." just select eveything. this way you will end up with lots of unconnected triangles which makes it harder to see what goes where but really, your texture will probally be so ugly (at least mine are) that it doesnt matter.
your 4 wheels for example will create 4 x 20 (or whatever you used) rectangles. its not nessecary to paint them. just select them all and use "move to center" on the uvmap thing. maybe you must rotate some. the aim is to get them all on top of each other. this way the texture on this area will be used for all rectangles of the wheel.
the red faces all share the same texture:
Image

edit
wtf!
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wilbefast
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

Thanks for the advice :lol:

edit: sweet - you're all pointing to the same tutorial - it must be good :mrgreen:

Here the final version of "Fugly Tank" - I'm going to texture it and put it in game to see if I can, then I'll try to make something fantasy-ish (I'm thinking: a demonic box full of evil-ness).

Image

edit 2: think I'll make a start on that tomorrow - have to write a letter home or my parents will think I've died of pneumonia or something. Parents :roll:
Last edited by wilbefast on 26 Oct 2009, 06:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Google_Frog
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by Google_Frog »

Looks great but it's very ambitious. You should defiantly start with a getting a few units from 1 race ingame then slowly building up that race to near completion so that you've got something to play around with while you work on the other 3. Daemons could be a good starting point, they look like a fairly interesting well rounded race that could potentially stand alone.

On languages to learn. You need to be able to animate units which can now either be done in cob or lua. Everyone else uses cob as lua scripting has just been implemented so there are many examples to learn from. Lua has the advantage of also being used to write gadgets. You will need gadgets to add a lot of your gameplay features such as teleport, 'streams' of mana, morphing, auras... basically any spell or ability outside emp, cloak or stealth. There's already a morph, teleport and burrow gadget which I'm sure people will let you use. Gadgets are probably the least of your problems though as Spring has too many lua people compared to modellers. There are plenty of people around to help you with Lua if you already have models and units.
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Tribulex
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by Tribulex »

FUCKING AWESOME
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wilbefast
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Re: Yet another doomed fantasy mod?

Post by wilbefast »

d_b : thanks for the vote of confidence :-)
Google_Frog wrote:Looks great but it's very ambitious. You should defiantly start with a getting a few units from 1 race ingame then slowly building up that race to near completion so that you've got something to play around with while you work on the other 3. Daemons could be a good starting point, they look like a fairly interesting well rounded race that could potentially stand alone.
Yeah, I know, that's why it's called "the doomed fantasy mod" :P
Still, I've being messing around with Wings and I'm feeling pretty confident since my forte is programming and not art. In case you're interested, here are a couple of Gamemaker projects I've worked on:

Supersoldat
Abomination
4 Other prototypes (direct download)

What I mean to say is that I know that this sort of thing is really hard work - I know what I'm getting myself into :mrgreen: but still, I'm going for it!
That said you're right, I'm definitely doing this race by race, if not unit by unit :?
Google_Frog wrote:On languages to learn. You need to be able to animate units which can now either be done in cob or lua. Everyone else uses cob as lua scripting has just been implemented so there are many examples to learn from. Lua has the advantage of also being used to write gadgets. You will need gadgets to add a lot of your gameplay features such as teleport, 'streams' of mana, morphing, auras... basically any spell or ability outside emp, cloak or stealth. There's already a morph, teleport and burrow gadget which I'm sure people will let you use. Gadgets are probably the least of your problems though as Spring has too many lua people compared to modellers. There are plenty of people around to help you with Lua if you already have models and units.
That's very helpful Frog :-) I'm doing a uni course that's very theoretical, the disadvantage being that I have no deep knowledge of any one language but the advantage being that moving from one to another is very simple, because the concepts don't really change. I've already had a look at LUA, I'll have a look at cob too - first thing I need to do though is texture my Fugly Tank.
Then animate it.
Then put it in game.

Then I'm going to make start on my first actual unit: the evil demonic cube of doom. Wish I had a scanner, I'd post my sketch...
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