In this article, I’m going to explain briefly the fundamental gameplay changes we introduced since Tremulous GPP.
For now, we have the new gameplay isolated on the Development & Testing Server; but we will soon be setting up additional localized servers for the upcoming Summer Tournament. While everything I explain here might be subject to change over the course of development, we will freeze the gameplay as soon as the tournament preparations begin.
In Tremulous there was a fixed amount of build points available for each team that could be spent on constructing buildables. If a buildable got destroyed, build points entered a queue and subsequently became available again after a short time, which prevented quick rebuilding after a successful attack. We wanted Unvanquished to become more of a real time strategy game, with actual resources that get acquired and spent only once. This should make camping a less rewarding strategy, as destroying a structure will irreversibly remove some of the enemy team’s resources.
Build points are now acquired via two structures, the human drill and the alien leech. These buildings have a spherical area of effect that they would like to keep to themselves and thus they need to be spread out for maximum efficiency. Builders will see another bar above the health bar of a resource generator which represents its efficiency. A prediction will be shown when you position the buildable.
The base mine rate of the level decreases over time, so that it gets increasingly harder to acquire resources in a long lasting match. Since a team’s resources will run out at some point, there was no point in keeping the artificial sudden death. If you manage to save some resources for the late game, your chances of recovering from a successful attack will be higher.
For a more detailed explaination of the resource system, read the related article.
Stages & Confidence
Tremulous put a team on a higher stage when they killed a number of enemies, which had two drawbacks. Most importantly, being killed by an enemy not only removed your personal equipment and gave the enemy player a resource advantage but it also made the enemy team stronger as a whole. The other issue was that camping and other forms of passiveness were rewarding since it’s easiest to kill an enemy if you are inside or close to your own base. Instead of using the total amount of personal resources gained, we now try to measure the progress of a team over time, or pace. The resource that represents this is called confidence.
Confidence can be earned by both building and destroying structures but also by killing an enemy outside your own base, as long as that enemy spent personal resources on equipment or a higher class. If your team’s confidence reaches a threshold you will stage up but you can also stage down again if you idle for too long as confidence decreases exponentially over time. When you stage down, you will lose access to anything new of whatever the lost stage provided, but existing upgrades will remain functional.
Again, there is an article explaining confidence in detail.
The reactor now supplies power to every point on the map, but there is a limited amount of energy per region. Human buildables will compete for power and shut down if they don’t get enough.
Human builders will see a new bar below the health bar of their buildables, which shows the spare power a buildable can share with potential neighbors. If you want to place a greater number of buildables in an area, you can build a repeater to increase the available power. Be warned that repeaters will deal significant damage to nearby structures (and players) when they explode!
When the power consumption in a region is too high, the smallest possible number of buildables will power down so that the other strucutres have enough energy to remain operational. The drill is the only buildable that requires a nearby repeater or reactor to work, since resources are transmitted via the power grid.
The basilisk consumes power, too, so it can shut down buildables by its presence. Humans can improve the power supply with repeaters to prevent this.
The flame thrower in Tremulous was merely a more expensive painsaw when it came to attacking bases. It has now gained the ability to ignite alien buildables! If structures are built too close, the fire can jump over to the unfortunate neighbors, making the flamer worth its price.
A small fire has a good chance of going out after a short time but a group of burning structures will keep itself hot enough for greater mayhem. Fortunately for the aliens, the advanced granger’s spit attack can be used to put out fires.
Movement & Combat
Dodge has been removed. As a compensation, humans can now sprint longer.
The grenade price has been increased from 200 to 300.
What will be next?
After the tournament, we will evaluate how well confidence and the resource system work in a competetive environment. The statistics logging facility will help us with that and also give us a good impression of the current state of balancing, as alien and human players are guaranteed to be equally strong in average by the tournament rules (each team has to play both species). With that insight, we will develop new guns, alternative firing modes, alien classes and buildables and continue to evaluate and redesign more parts of the core gameplay. Be sure to give your feedback and ideas!