The major draw of a modular design is that you can swap things in and out to suit your needs; that’s why every RDZ Industries mech is built from a solid chassis with interchangeable bits. It’s one of the reasons I chose Unity — units, characters, can be very easily constructed from independent bits.
Recently, I was sketching some odd cabin designs that I couldn’t use, and I got to thinking… What if the company published their module connector specifications? What if third parties could make alternative cabins and guns?
The RDZ Industries mythos revolves around the covert and not-so-covert activities of — you guessed it — RDZ Industries. It’s one of these generic corporation-led sci-fi universes, where a lot of companies have got so big they’ve become nations in their own right, complete with all the territorial skirmishes and tussles over resources that might entail.
Over the course of the mythos’ lifespan, though, from its inception years ago to its current painful rebirth, there haven’t been many other corporations mentioned. G1 Technology and HoverCon made appearances in Project Y4, and I’ve hinted at the existence of a company called Cybrid but never finalised any designs; that’s about it. These would be corporations as big as RDZ Industries (well, HoverCon are smaller but they came from a split with G1 Technology), who would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Mary Sue protagonist corporation and whatever actual countries need to get involved.
But you can’t sustain a universe on so few, and definitely not a roster of complete or near-complete equals. Where are the small guys? Where are the parasites and the symbiotes, where are the people that make the unremarkable stuff like clothes and food and hi-fis? It’s an important part of the mythos that the biggest corporations perform their own mineral prospecting and mining and whatnot for the heavy industry of their primary product lines, but the rest of the bits and pieces? They can come from anywhere.
Modularity can’t be abused of course; it’s very convenient that modularity is the gimmick of our protagonist corporation, but we can’t over-use it so the other companies are going to have to tone it down. G1 Technology’s gimmick is heavy tanks and out-dated technology like the internal combustion engine, so all of their designs are pretty solid barring the odd interchangeable turret, while HoverCon are a more high-tech spin-off with medium-weight hovering vehicles and disposible micro-drones.
(The refusal to adopt repulsors was why people split from G1 to form HoverCon in the first place. HoverCon is named after a fake hover-car I made out of Lego; it concealed wheels under itself. G1 Technology is named after “generation 1” Transformers, as it was originally a home for a failed attempt to model Brawl.)
Obviously all of them have research and development divisions, so while the bog-standard production lines might be fairly boring there will be plenty of whacked-out experimental units that will tend to be the focus of inter-corporation espionage — the most fertile ground for actual levels of gameplay. (At least, before we use Project Y4 Redux to prise open the epic space opera.)
Back to modularity, though: 3rd parties using published connector specs to make their own cheap (or more expensive?) add-ons for RDZ Industries mechs. The hexagonal cabin below, with the big glass window, is probably a cheaper replacement — say your original cab got smashed by a sniper killing the pilot, but the rest of the mech was completely intact. Then there’s the one with no glass at all, which is all armour for when you really don’t want your pilot getting hurt.
Maybe they don’t look like much from this angle, but in the final game it’ll be a good chance to give opponents a bit more personality. The colours will also be swapped around on top of this, so the final game will be a proper visual feast. (I can’t compete on photorealism, so I’ve got to make up for that somehow.)
The physical modularity will go much further than the conceptual modularity, mind you. It won’t just be guns and shields that are draped over the model — it will be every single posable part.
Why? Because when a unit is destroyed, each posable part will then replace itself with a broken version, that is actually a physics object. When these are born, they will be given the same position and rotation as their progenitors — meaning that when something dies, it will seamlessly disintegrate, regardless of its current pose. We can worry about explosions further down the line.
So my units won’t pop out into the world fully-formed, no sirree. In the grand tradition of Lego, they will come in pieces and require some assembly. This is the glittering future Warcraft 3 could never provide.