Sometimes you just want to implement fun things that have no impact on gameplay. But they make the player feel good… Right?
Let’s face it, Starcraft II is just a clone of the original with added gimmicks like cliff-jumping and a campaign unit that can shoot while moving. Oh my!
Okay, maybe they did add to the gameplay (in a gimmicky way), but they were still gimmicks (even though certain other RTS titles that did actually advance the genre a little bit (at least in terms of interaction and unit control) took shooting-while-moving as a beautiful given).
So… forget all of that. Let’s look at the useless gimmicks I’m looking to implement/have implented for Project Y4.
Warcraft III doesn’t provide the ability to hot-swap textures during a game… or does it?
The first method I tried a long time ago was replacing the hero glow textures; there are twelve of them, one for each team colour, so that got plenty of variations that could be switched by changing the unit’s team-colour. This would be an easy and wonderful option, if it wasn’t for the fact that the hero glow images refuse to be replaced without a full scale custom self-executing MPQ. And I really don’t want to open that can of worms this time around.
The second method is delicious, and it’s actually really obvious once somebody’s told you. In case you, like me, hate melee and have probably rarely played it, there is an ability on the Night Elf Mountain Giant called War Club. This involves the giant picking up a tree and hitting things with it until it disintegrates. What you probably don’t pay any attention to is the fact that the tree is embedded in the Mountain Giant model (and is not an attachment) — and its texture swaps to match the texture of the tree the unit just picked up…
Since this map is probably going to end up feature creeping as bad as the original RDZArena, I felt that it was my duty to add in a colour selection screen. Let’s face it, the entire point of having a single standard texture map is that making alternate camouflage versions is super-convenient.
And chicks dig customisation.
This basically arose out of Andrew Kelly berating me for the fact that dazzle camouflage doesn’t when it’s only applied to the shields (see the last entry); it requires the entire thing to be dazzled up and the background to be of a similar colour scheme. (My core dazzle texture is based on the cover of OMD’s Dazzle Ships (naturally) and it’s only a gameplay mechanic, so it doesn’t have to work… Foo’!). Anyway, this got me thinking about how you can’t hot-swap textures in game (as if getting the shields could repaint your mech appropriately)…
Then I remembered the War Club hax. You can, and it’s not even difficult.
I suppose dazzle camo could actually have been a full upgrade rather than a pair of blast shields, but that would ruin the fun of selecting a paint job at the start… Unless I put in a respray option at a special repair pad you can get to any time you want…
Since this map is singleplayer and offline, that means I can abuse the game cache. Traditionally, the game cache is used to transfer data between campaign maps, by writing it to little packets on the disk and then loading it again at map initialisation.
So, to continue the paint-job theme above, completing the map might, say, unleash the legendary purple camouflage or even the dreaded hornet colour scheme (all invented to fill all twelve hero glow texture slots, because I ran out of real camouflage ideas for some colours). By dropping a couple of boolean entries into a standard cache when you achieve certain objectives, like completing every quest or killing a hundred drones…
It wouldn’t take much to implement, and you know how much of an achievement whore I am.
Another potential option in the unlockables vein is to have additional scenarios that can be played once the main game is finished, perhaps an arena versus AI mode reminiscent of the map’s original purpose…
What sci-fi is complete without them? As soon as Metal_Sonic (yes, he keeps getting mentions because he’s one of the few people that actually talks to me) mentioned I was missing these, I knew they had to be added.
I’m not sure I should really call them a gimmick, actually, because they do introduce new tactical options (especially when a single EMP Bolt is enough to set one off and they chain beautifully). Some have been strategically pre-placed next to pre-placed enemies in a really obvious way, while others are just floating around (as they would be in an industrial facility), just ripe for you to one-shot a nasty enemy without wasting a valuable artillery shell.
At the very least, they introduce MORE MASSIVE GLOWING EXPLOSIONS.