One of many core rules of Cogmind’s unique stage design was to separate the world into two forms of areas: the principle advanced vs. branches. I wrote about this idea right here on the weblog shortly earlier than Cogmind’s first alpha launch, however one perform of this method is to supply a tamer extra predictable central path to the top sport, one containing loads of challenges however general few to no excessive surprises aside from what hassle the participant stirs up by way of their very own actions (and in addition little to no intrusion by the story). Branches, alternatively, are typically extra harmful whereas additionally providing considerably higher rewards and even entire new play kinds.
Because of this division, the principle advanced will appear a bit same-y in comparison with the variability supplied by branches, however it accounts for a minority of the overall space of the world, and one’s route is non-obligatory in spite of everything, so there’s all the time loads of alternatives for adventures into branches. Once more, by design the principle advanced maps are meant as a type of “hub-like” space the place you possibly can loosen up your thoughts a bit as a result of there aren’t distinctive threats everywhere in the place–it affords comparatively constant forms of challenges no matter depth, conducive to planning and preparation for these riskier department excursions.
They’re, nonetheless, the most important maps in Cogmind’s world, and with a lot room to play with and the principle sport lengthy full now (who cares about model numbers :P), as we begin to broaden into actually non-obligatory dev territory I feel it’s time to think about new choices for “sprucing up the principle advanced.”
Technically from early on we’ve had a number of small-scale shock/random occasions that may happen in the principle advanced, however these are principally uncommon encounters that solely individuals who play loads will ever see, sticking to the unique aim of conserving that type of content material from turning into the norm in the principle advanced. This class contains Derelict or Assembled incursions of varied varieties, amongst different faction actions.
Additionally after all there are some main player-triggered plot-related occasions initiated by way of branches, however these don’t really matter on this context.
Cogmind Beta 11 is including an occasion that belongs in a complete new class of its personal, which may be summed up as basically “non-obligatory excessive risk-reward content material shifting by way of the principle advanced.” In comparison with the opposite forms of occasions talked about above, this new one is the primary dependable risk-reward occasion that everybody can encounter, and the truth that it’s cellular reasonably than requires being at a particular level on the map offers it an additional distinctive slant.
Introducing “cargo convoys”…
Convoys are centered across the A-27 Freighter, a brand new Hauler variant which is itself based mostly across the new Cargo Storage Unit launched with the Beta 11 storage overhaul.
Haulers (affectionately dubbed “loot piñatas” by gamers) are usually inexperienced non-combat bots ferrying components across the advanced, typically escorted by Grunts. Ambushing one in a direct assault with out instantly destroying it typically leads to reinforcements being despatched to the world, however more often than not it’s not all that harmful to intercept a Hauler and hope it’s carrying one thing helpful (or concentrating on it exactly since you already know it’s ;)).
Freighters are a unique story, solely dispatched as a part of a particular convoy containing an enormous stock packed stuffed with Undoubtedly Very Good OOD components.
Though Freighters nonetheless flee when attacked, not like different Haulers they’re armed with a close-range weapon for defensive functions, thus as a substitute of utilizing the conventional inexperienced colour they seem yellow, incomes them the nickname “yauler” (yellow hauler) from gamers.
The yauler itself isn’t all that scary, since even with excessive core integrity it strikes comparatively slowly and may’t struggle again at regular ranged fight distances, however anybody taken with intercepting a cargo convoy is often going to must cope with the escorts, that are decidedly extra problematic.
Shadowing the Freighter are two ARCs (Carriers) and a Protector class bot to defend all of them. The ARCs are fairly a big focus of energy since they’re even deadlier than high-security assault forces, every carrying 4 harmful bots together with a variety of prospects (even Specialists) and making for prime variability by way of capabilities. On that latter level, one of many dangers of partaking any ARC is that till it opens you possibly can’t be certain what sort of fight bot(s) are inside, and due to this fact might not have the ability to as successfully plan for that a part of the struggle prematurely.
Anyway, it’s lots of firepower (and defenses!), so excessive danger, excessive reward.
Some Freighters might even be hauling a severely good piece of distinctive tech that may solely be discovered on convoys, one thing I’d in all probability love to do extra with sooner or later however for now haven’t added extra distinctive components for that function, only one up to now to entice and reward would-be hauler robbers.
So you’ve gotten this concentrated deathball of robots making its manner throughout the map, one can think about how nasty it might be to show a blind nook and be staring down one among these convoys… Okay earlier playtesters certainly reported this type of tragedy which led to numerous refinements 😉
Whereas working right into a convoy whenever you least count on it or need to is all the time going to be totally potential (SURPRISE! *cue volley of gunfire and lasers*), there are a variety of issues we will do right here to make them a greater expertise general whereas nonetheless preserving their distinctive challenges.
To start with there’ll solely ever be one convoy on the map directly, and its impending arrival is introduced prematurely within the type of an ALERT message.
For equity, the convoy’s entry level additionally gained’t be close to the participant, and earlier than the convoy itself is dispatched, a bunch of Swarmers is distributed out to clear the “switch hall” as talked about within the above alert. As implied, this implies they’ll observe the meant convoy path to make sure there aren’t any threats forward (which can embrace Cogmind :P), and observant gamers seeing these guys on sensors will know one thing is up since they transfer at full velocity, which is generally one thing Swarmers solely do when chasing down targets. In order that’s one approach to get a glimpse of the place the convoy might be headed. (And even simply working right into a squad of Swarmers after the announcement is ample to be suspicious.)
Convoys can also be detected by way of a wide range of different signifies that require proactivity from the participant, equivalent to after all common robotic/visible sensors and bot monitoring strategies, or putting in a specific Hauler-tracking Trojan, or utilizing varied different types of intel.
One of many extra extensively obtainable choices on shorter discover is to salvage a Transport Community Coupler from any Hauler and use that to pinpoint the Freighter, and as an added bonus the TNC will even present the complete deliberate cargo route, making it simpler to arrange an ambush or (keep away from the trail totally).
Cargo convoys do depart the map as soon as they attain their vacation spot, both a Garrison Entry or 0b10 map entrance some other place on the map (often removed from the place they entered in order that they’ll cowl extra floor).
After all even with none of those strategies one may simply typically watch out when there’s an lively convoy out there–this information impacts how one would possibly determine to path by way of rooms and corridors on the off probability you may run into such a big pressure. The probability of an undesired encounter additionally adjustments relying on basic map format, the place routing by way of obvious bottlenecks will increase the possibility of assembly hassle (though that is all the time true no matter convoys!).
Other than early testing hiccups like being jumped by an surprising convoy arrival (which had been additionally extra frequent on the time to permit for extra encounter alternatives), gamers typically just like the idea. Convoys add fascinating new prospects to the principle advanced, tapping right into a little bit of that risk-reward aspect extra plentiful in branches. It’s the kind of addition a number of gamers have expressed a want for over time, however as talked about earlier I’m solely extra snug working a few of it into the sport now.
It’s good what number of fascinating tactical choices there are for confronting a convoy, every with their very own advantages and downsides, be it of the stealthy, hackish, or damaging method. A part of the problem comes not purely from having to cope with the escorts, both, however the Freighter’s excessive core integrity making it tougher to shortly destroy and thereby rising the problem of doing so with out taking an excessive amount of harm from the escorts, or as a substitute prioritizing the escorts whereas the Freighter itself will get away in the course of the battle.
That it’s a cellular occasion additionally makes the encounter much more dynamic and due to this fact more difficult to tug off a profitable ambush, however doing so is often fairly rewarding, and never even only for the cargo since salvaging the highly effective escorts also can internet some good components.
Beneath is my take a look at run of the Beta 11 prerelease during which yaulers had been launched, the primary encounter I feel is the one at 1:56:23. We met a number of on that run, and so they had been fascinating however I didn’t do all that properly with them 😛
The next part/the rest of the article comprises spoilers however is related from a design standpoint so I’m together with them right here with a discover in case some readers need to simply expertise these items in sport.
Cogmind isn’t the one one who would possibly need to cease a cargo convoy in its tracks. Gamers might be conversant in a specific warlord able to sending in forces to intercept the entire bunch. This potential occasion doesn’t have something to do with Cogmind instantly, although Cogmind can technically profit from it by looting the battlefield because the odds overwhelmingly favor the ambushers.
I added this as a approach to sometimes give gamers some free rewards in the event that they know the place the convoy went down (or get fortunate sufficient to occur throughout it at the beginning is cleaned up!).
Additionally it’s intriguing when a world ALERT pops up reporting that the convoy is underneath assault however the participant perhaps isn’t wherever close by :P. Simply one other manner of reinforcing that the world goes on with out Cogmind and preserve gamers questioning till they uncover why.
After all, even when Cogmind wasn’t concerned within the ambush (however hopefully bought one thing out of it regardless xD) they nonetheless might must cope with a few of the fallout, which entails a brand new sort of response by Complicated 0b10, one which I can also use for future conditions however that is the primary and just one up to now. “Entry Lockdown” redirects Heavy bots posted at junctions to exits throughout the map, and if needed calls in further Heavies to defend another unprotected exits.
What are Heavies? Properly that’s a subject for later 😉
(Replace 210928: Learn all about Heavies and their design in Spicing Up Major Maps 2: Space Denial.)