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Author Topic: Weapon Creation / Design / Balancing... because cheese graters ain't weapons!  (Read 12297 times)

Gazz2

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With the release of 0.60 it has become practically impossible (for me) to design a weapon that is even equal to a store-bought template. Forget it if you want to design a weapon with a specific look. It will probably have 10-15% of the attack stat of the equivalent store-bought weapon.

The current rules / mechanics are a worst case scenario.
Strictly vertical balancing with zero lateral balancing factors and no practicable gating mechanisms because it's a sandbox game.

Your construction rules favour the design of stupid weapons, like swords that look like lace lattice. The only way to harm someone with such a sword is to tie it around his neck and strangle him.
Good looking guns are always ineffective because the distance between trigger and muzzle is a major factor. Create a Dirty Harry .44 Magnum? It blows.
That seriously hurts the creative crowd who you want to churn out pretty things to make people go ohh and ahh.

Right now the player can create one "best weapon" and that's it for the rest of the game because there can be nothing different.

This post focuses primarily on firearms but the same principles can be applied to melee weapons.
(I split it up because no one likes a wall of text =)

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Gazz2

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My suggestion:
  • Player makes design decisions instead of battling the construction formula.
  • Crafted items are better. Period.
  • The game "rolls" the stats of the created weapon - within tight limits.
    Repeated "creation rolls" for one and the same item grant a temporary "roll buff", which is cleared on any save or load.
    That favours players actually creating things... and getting better stuff out of it... instead of save-scumming for the best random roll.
    Some will still do it but there's no point at all in trying to counter it. Keeping things in line is the job of the balancing concept.

    I'm not sure if this randomness if even necessary - or desirable. No one likes burning precious resources on a lemon weapon.
    Can be done but I'd rather see randomness in the weapon's actual hit damage.
  • The only thing that the shape of the weapon model influences is weight.
    The more voxels/pixels/whateverxels you use in creation, the heavier the item.
  • What weight does?
    Heavy items draw stamina when used.
    Heavy melee weapons do more damage but swing slower, guns are more stable.
    Heavy weapons reduce run speed while readied and after a certain point, should disable the evade roll. Like a quad barrel heavy machine gun. You would be nearly stationary with this thing. If you want to run&gun, create a SMG and have different gameplay. Possible with this system!
  • You do not use a dozen different materials during item creation. All you do is create the shape. (you can use dyes)
    Then you select somewhere between 1 and 4 materials. (probably 2, then 3 with special / unique / DLC weapons =)
    How many resource items you need is determined like it is now. Volume.

    That's a conscious choice you're making and all materials have their pros and cons.
    If you only select one material, you get 105% of it's abilities for having a "specialised" weapon. If you pick two, you get 50/50. With three...

    Materials: (I just made up this list on the fly - the actual abilities don't matter)

    • Sand (60 % damage) Chance to temporary blind target.
    • Dirt (50 % damage) Slows target movement, possibly by creating mud at it's feet.
    • Wood (75 % damage) Makes weapons a lot lighter, decreasing stamina use.
    • Stone (110 % damage) Just that.
    • Limestone (40 % damage) Neutralises poison effects that the target may be using.
    • Marble (80 % damage) Bullets can ricochet, decent chance of them "accidentally" hitting an enemy when doing so.
    • Copper (130 % damage) Fragmentation. This is your shotgun. Damage split between multiple submunitions, great scatter.
    • Iron (100 % damage) Increases rate of fire but also barrel climb / scatter.
    • Silver (50 % damage) Poison. Damage over time.
    • Steel (75 % damage) Armour piercing. Target defense reduced by 33%.
    • Gold (60 % damage) Scope effect. 2x or 4x visual zoom when aiming depending on how much gold was used. For melee weapons: reduces chance of knockdown.
    • Aluminum (70 % damage) Makes weapons more accurate, reduces barrel climb / scatter.
    • Diamond (90% damage) Joker. This will have the properties of one other random material, it can have up to 130% of that material's effect or it can have 90% plus up to 30% of an additional material's effect.

    What these damage % mean?
    If you choose 2x Steel + 1x Copper for your weapon, each third of the damage is adjusted by this %.
    So... (33 * 0.75) + (33 * 0.75) + (33 * 1.3) = 92.4 % total damage... plus 2x armour piercing (diminishing returns...) and shotgun effect.
  • I don't mean to neglect melee weapons. They would have to have different effects attached to the materials to make sense.
  • Templates like barrels:
    • Pistol grip: Good damage but low stability so takes a long time to "center" after a shot. Like now, rate of fire is not enforced. As long as you can hit something...
    • Rifle grip: Lower damage, more stability when firing full auto, can have multiple barrels.
    • Barrels: Also about the same as now except: while multiple barrels greatly increase firepower (through rate of fire), they make guns impossible to control on long bursts.
  • Accuracy is super important!
    Barrel climb / scatter / accuracy is all represented by the size of the crosshairs - like in just about every shooter. Large crosshairs, large angle for the bullet to land in.
    Right now every firearm is 100% accurate on the crosshairs. That won't do.
    The only thing that can ever be allowed to be 100% accurate is a scoped sniper rifle.

    Fire full auto with multiple barrels and your bullets start going everywhere. Unless you built a heavy monster of a weapon...
    A large caliber barrel would let you do a lot of damage in one shot but it would have a lot of recoil - meaning that one shot kicks the crosshairs to huge size... and then it contracts slowly as you bring the weapon back on target.
    An assault rifle would best be fired in controlled bursts, letting the crosshairs reset to a bearable size inbetween.
    (where all the modifiers like shrinking.speed get attached to is something I'd need some time to tinker with)
  • Needs shotgun.
    All other weapon types can pretty much be handled as generic slug throwers.
  • Monsters don't need to have huge variations in hit points because "late game weapons" are not intrinsically better - they are more varied.
    Players would  be expected to defeat monsters with new and better tactics instead of just using a bigger hammer.
    Or they create heavy weapons. That's a bigger hammer but requires different tactics because you are less mobile.
  • You can always generate "rare drop" "pure" materials that can only be used once but make a particular weapon material work a little better.
    Add a spoonful of Diablo 2 for taste. =)
  • Ammunition.
    Right now you have "bullets", which is a problem.
    If you want to create diverse weapons, you want diverse calibers. A SMG that fires lots of small bullets or a recoilless gun that fires a 25mm projectile.
    I suggest: Ammo Sticks. (with technobabble =)
    "These are stacks of very thin projectile plus propellant fibers. They are pressed into the weapon's chamber, then the closing bolt shears the desired volume off the top of the stick. This is how an ammo stick can feed a weapon of any caliber. Frangible of flechette projectiles can be achieved by special bolt and chamber designs. Obviously, large caliber weapons go through an ammo stick quickly."

    In game terms it means that weapons can use different amounts of "ammo" per shot. With your current "bullet" system, that is not possible. One bullet is one bullet.
    Ammo sticks can still be made of different materials but you would only ever need one type of stackable item for all firearms!

    You would need one thing. To record the "fractions" of the currently in-use ammo stick for every gun user.
    When you switch to a sword and back, you would still have to have the same "half" ammo stick in your gun.
    You can probably get away with not recording this for every material but only one value for "the" fraction. It would be exploitable but only with an effort that makes the player earn that advantage. =)
  • Bow and arrow.
    This weapon (beyond providing a very basic thing that shoots) is the perfect delivery system for oddly shaped weapons.
    A Rambo-style explosive arrow, poison gas, caltrops, and any other nasty surprise we can think of.
    It's slow to fire and much more difficult to aim so we can attach considerable more power to these projectiles.
    ...and the entire weapon category "bow" does not vanish from the game as it progresses!
  • Durability.
    I know that it's planned but this little item has the potential to turn into a micromanagement orgy.
    If you can do it "in the field", all it creates is a lot of boring clicking to go through all your items. And if there's a repair-all button, what's the point?
    Resource drains are important but I would suggest temporary boni rather than never ending maintenance work.
    "Combat drugs" potentially create trouble with the game's rating so it would have to be... technical means. =)

    A barrel cooling tape to increase rate of fire.
    A disposable laser range-finder to increase accuracy.
    Nano lubricant to make ammo sticks load more effortlessly, saving 5% ammo.
    All of these are temporary buffs... and don't induce maintenance work.

    PS: This was written long before 0.60 when durability was actually put in. =)
  • Adding "research" is possible.
    You could research different minerals (like gold) and that increases the bonus you get from selecting gold as a material.
    It could also unlock different kinds of abilities that you could then add to a weapon.
    Weapon construction still doesn't get any more complicated.
    All these materials / abilities affect is what kind of materials and how much are on the "cost" list.
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Gazz2

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As a result, the player creates a pretty model and then selects what materials it should be made of.
That way a pretty ISO can be re-used without re-doing hours of modeling work! Just change the material selectors...

Instead of twiddling numbers and gaming the system, the player makes a decision on what kind of weapon he wants - and it's largely independent of the model!


What I'm concerned with is long-term balancing.
With your current system you create a single weapon of the highest quality material and then you're done with the entire "weapon crafting"... for the rest of the game. In MP, everyone will be using the exact same weapon!
Boring and completely unsuited for interesting multiplayer where people should use different weapons and work together. There should be one to use a mud shotgun to slow down a pack of approaching critters while the largely immobile "heavy" with the machine gun does the killing. You can have interesting teamwork that way instead of everyone being a carbon copy of everyone else.


It's really not my intention to tell you that you suck and that I have all the answers (no, really!) - only that you need to consider what boxes you want to check with the concept of your weapon design / balancing.
A designer starting from scratch would do almost the complete opposite of what you did.
Sounds harsh? Compare...  =)
  • Quick and easy to design a competent first weapon - even if it's ugly - but every idiot can do it without learning all the "secrets" about volume, surface, and pattern repetition in the forum.
  • Depth is added slowly while the player is getting access to more diverse materials. That way the learning curve ramps up slowly but constantly.
  • You can gate player progression through access to better weapon parts like barrels or hilts.
  • Entire (material) tiers of weapons do not become useless when a new material is available but rather they add to the tools available to the player.
  • The player's "work" is not discarded every time he wants to create a weapon from a new material because the model is separated from the materials.
  • The "end game" is a huge candy store of diverse weapons instead of being pigeon-holed into a single weapon. That keeps players wanting to play because the game "gets better".
  • In multiplayer, more weapon effects can be applied at once, creating different tactics.
  • People can spend weeks on the forum discussing the correct synergies of particular "builds"... which keeps them busy talking about the game.
  • And last but not least: With "effect" weapons you can add "uniques" with generally balanced but impossible-to-create stats to the game... or you can sell them as DLC. I saw that shopping basket icon. =)

Adding "research" is possible.
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Gazz2

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Sentry turrets could also be opened up for design because these are more or less on scale for personal weapons.

Adding the "turret base" increases magazine capacity but that's about it for changes.

You could even go one step further and make weapons dual purpose.
Create a machine gun like weapon that you can use personally but add a folding tripod and auto-targeting thingies.
If this weapon is deployed in the world, it is a sentry turret.
Alas, this would make a lot more sense in a typical FPS where your weapon inventory is actually limited and you can use your heavy weapon personally or as a turret.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 12:27:52 PM by Gazz »
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yarnevk

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I think one thing that should happen at a minimum is if you recreate the stock gun/swords with the voxel editor, it should function identically because the fiction is that is how the NPC created them in the first place.  The only difference there should be time to make vs. meat to buy.  Use that to establish the editor performance baselines.   Simple plot consistency, which then you can try to improve upon with your creative skills.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 03:25:10 PM by yarnevk »
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matty101

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i had an idea about melee weapons i'll put here, some of it mirrors a lot of ideas around the forums, first i'll explain a couple of reference words i use.


base material = highest volume of material closest to the handle core co-ordinate

contact material =  material furthest from the core

weapon type = can be blunt/sharp depending on base material volume(with blunt being a large amount of base material), if sharp the base damage stat is set by contact material hardness, if blunt the base damage is set by total weapon weight

weapon contact durability(wcd) = a stat that acts like armor against degradation, the higher the wcd the lower the degradation rate

so imo rules for making melee weapons would then be...

total material weight:
-weight determines base swing time
-determines base damage stat that increases with weight if it becomes a blunt weapon type(to indicate a hard heavy weapon like a hammer)
-as weight damage increases the bonus damage effect from contact material decreases

base material hardness/volume:
-base durability stat

contact material:
-hardness determines base damage if weapon is classed as a sharp weapon
-gives a small bonus +damage if the weapon is determined as a blunt weapon type
-surface area gives +damage bonus but -wcd
-volume/hardness determine base wcd stat

degradation should be about 4x slower, and should be broken up into areas that affect the weapon differently, like:
0% = weapon broken
<30% = weapon slowed by 20%
<80% = weapon ignores damage bonus' from contact material for both sharp and blunt weapons
100% weapon is fully functional and damage bonus intact




the idea of all this is to put weapons into a spectrum type system where many types can be just a powerfull for instance the rules:

"as weight damage increases the bonus damage effect from contact material decreases" means a mace/morning star type weapon can use the damage from heavy  and blade effects

"surface area gives +damage bonus but -wcd" and "<80% = weapon ignores damage bonus' from contact material for both sharp and blunt weapons" means cheese graters and shiv type weapons can deal a lot of damage but lose their bonus' quickly if not maintained.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 04:18:57 PM by matty101 »
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Thunderbird

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Gazz, marry me?

i really only have one issue with your suggestion - rifle grip should base off "more" damage rather than less, rifles are generally more powerful, thats why theyre rifles  :)
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Thunderbird

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one thing, mainly for melee weapons...

if the creation system could take into account rough item dimensions and mass distributions, it could distinguish between tip-weighted swords (more damage,slower - modifier applied on top of stats made out from item base stats) or a heavier pommel would allow the sword to be more balanced (swinging faster) if there was a bit more weight just under the given grip, and stuff like two-bladed swords and battle staves, crescents, etc. - not as a category but making the weapon act more like them stats-wise

with guns, more weight on the front (muzzle brakes ftw) could drop the weapon recoil and/or barrel lift after each shot

ofcourse each of these modifications would still increase the sword/gun/whatever weight and have an impact on stamina, but hey, thats how it works in the real world anyways
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Gazz2

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@Thunderbird

I'm using complete magic to (not) explain the freaky abilities of the different materials and the differences in grips are only there to define roles for weapons.
I'm well aware of little issues like bullet energy, rifling, barrel length, trajectories, and all those things... that don't actually make a game more fun. =)

This system is set up in such a way that you have to know nothing at all about physics in general or gunsmithing in particular.
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Thunderbird

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well, weighting is common sense...
and i just want to walk around with a hip-held high-tech enormous autocannon that i'll spend hours designing and every aspect of which will work as intended... just a little crazy dream of mine  ;D
also, power armor, but thats for a different topic  8)
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Gazz2

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This isn't about common sense. How do you implement something like that and visualise the effect during construction?

That it matters how you arrange the pixels is the cause of the current problems!
Don't even go there! Shape is artistic design. Only.

Stats are stats. The only stat I would tie to the shape is total weight.
That is the only thing that is truly obvious to everyone. Big sword heavy. Doh!
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Gmr Leon

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If I understand what you're getting at, I think I really like the ideas presented. Also, minor thing, ammo sticks...Wouldn't these basically be modified magazines for the gun? That aside, the material used having some form of additional effect in the weapon behavior would be really, really interesting. Add this to vehicles and how the attached weapons behave as well, and you get something even more amusing and interesting.

For instance, take your sand example or dirt example, and you have helicopters flying about not only dealing damage, but blinding and slowing their targets. It would literally be a support helicopter in every sense of the word, including laying covering fire and providing transport. Er, sorry, I don't mean to sidetrack this too much, it just came to mind as I was reading over your suggestions.
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yarnevk

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I like how Defiance weapons are done.   Lots of variety for different styles of play and customizable with different parts for small improvements and effects.  Not just one shotgun or one sniper rifle but several subtypes of each.

http://www.defiance.com/en/game/technology/weapons/ 
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 11:56:07 PM by yarnevk »
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Gazz2

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Also, minor thing, ammo sticks...Wouldn't these basically be modified magazines for the gun?
They are an abstract implementation of ammunition. They fix the problem of needing 140 different types of ammo and calibers. Instead you have one.

Scrounging bullets may make sense in a scavenging setting like Jagged Alliance but when you have a personal magic building device that creates a helicopter from a pile of rocks, such micromanagement would be ludicrous.

The result is that you can have many interesting weapon variants. A "six-shooter" revolver as well as a 100 round machine gun - both fed from the same stack of ammo sticks.


Besides, you can't allow the complexity to multiply.
Arrows are the more advanced and individual ammunition, bows are bland and generic.
Firearms are advanced and individual, ammo sticks are bland and generic.
Both systems have manageable complexity because one side of the equation is abstracted. Both systems are interesting...
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Gmr Leon

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They are an abstract implementation of ammunition. They fix the problem of needing 140 different types of ammo and calibers. Instead you have one.

Scrounging bullets may make sense in a scavenging setting like Jagged Alliance but when you have a personal magic building device that creates a helicopter from a pile of rocks, such micromanagement would be ludicrous.

The result is that you can have many interesting weapon variants. A "six-shooter" revolver as well as a 100 round machine gun - both fed from the same stack of ammo sticks.


Besides, you can't allow the complexity to multiply.
Arrows are the more advanced and individual ammunition, bows are bland and generic.
Firearms are advanced and individual, ammo sticks are bland and generic.
Both systems have manageable complexity because one side of the equation is abstracted. Both systems are interesting...

Oh...OH. I think I better understand what you meant there, maybe. When you say stick, you really mean like a sort of "stick", or block. As you fire the weapon, it's generating the bullet itself with the qualities that make sense for the template/weapon design, yeah? I'm not sure I completely understand why you'd want that, except to reduce the number of bullets and bullet scripts for various bullet types. Instead, it sounds like you'd reduce it to a craftable ammo stick that just works and maybe multiply the number of grips/barrels?

Sorry if I'm being dense, you explain other sides of this much better I think than this particular area.
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