Talon Game

Refractory Studios

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Version 1.2 released; new game mode, new map, misc improvements

#1 2013-09-29 01:41:19

CDN_Merlin
Beta Tester
Registered: 2013-09-25
Posts: 75

Tonights game

I have to say I'm rusty but it was a lot of fun.
My wrist hurts like hell but oh well.

I didn't realize when Krom and Scotty came in as I was to busy fighting.  Maybe there should be a more audible ding when a human enters.  Something like a voice saying "New player"?

I'm still playing around with my setup cause I can't switch missiles on my stick yet. 

I do find that the warehouse level is a bit small.  Maybe it's just me but the ships seem very big and I feel like I'm constantly hitting walls.  Never felt like this in D1/2/3.

Other than that Scotty, I'm very impressed with this game for a 1 man operation.  You've so far been the only person to put out a playable Descent like game in over a decade.

Thanks and will test as much as I can.

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#2 2013-09-29 02:03:07

Krom
Beta Tester
Registered: 2013-09-25
Posts: 11

Re: Tonights game

CDN_Merlin wrote:

I have to say I'm rusty but it was a lot of fun.

Not as bad as me I think. wink

I also bump the walls a lot in the warehouse level, we are both still really used to the mechanics of D3 where the ships stop on a dime as soon as you let off the controls.  It is possible to navigate around pretty quickly but you have to apply counter thrust to some of your movements.  I also found that setting the normalized vectors off slows the ship down enough that I was able to move about pretty freely without hitting walls (I also disabled the automatic afterburner).  The ships basically have a very high top speed, but take a considerably longer to accelerate and decelerate than Descent ships so you tend to crash and bump a lot more in confined spaces.

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#3 2013-09-29 02:13:09

CDN_Merlin
Beta Tester
Registered: 2013-09-25
Posts: 75

Re: Tonights game

I don't have the auto burner on.  Prefer to activate it myself.
Yes, I've noticed this plays more like Freespace in terms of ship momentum.

Overall I'm very happy.  Thanks again.

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#4 2013-09-29 13:55:40

Krom
Beta Tester
Registered: 2013-09-25
Posts: 11

Re: Tonights game

So now that I've had some time to think on it and a couple rounds to try it out, I think the weapon balance needs a little bit of work.  Mainly the quad raser and disruptor are difficult/clumsy to use on a joystick because of the slow rate of fire.  In Descent 3, the only primary weapons that fire that slowly are the fusion and the mass driver, and both of those have a major difference in fire control: they fire when you release the trigger instead of when you depress it.  This makes a BIG difference in accuracy for joystick users because it allows much more precise timing of when you actually fire the shot.  I'd often find myself unable to hit reliably with the disruptor or raser because they fire so infrequently and timing it to line up the reticules with the actual shot was off because it would either fire too early or too late.  If a weapon fires that slowly, we need more accurate control of when we actually fire the shot.

I think the game could use a few more iterations on weapon balance, possibly remove the quad raser and pulse laser entirely just leaving the blaster with unlimited ammo.  Actually it is probably not the best idea to think of limited ammo as being something that can balance out the primary weapons, it is better to just think of them as always having unlimited ammo (or actually making them have unlimited ammo).

The spike mine needs to be given a little more push by default, in real life you don't gently drop a grenade at your feet, you throw it.  Also in a dogfight it is extremely easy to set off your own grenade at near point blank range if you fire it while firing primaries.

I'll need some more time with the spaz cannon to really make up my mind on that one, aside from the bounce it is pretty boring otherwise.  It is struggling for a reason to exist other than showing off the bounce mechanic which makes it more or less totally useless in the wide open space/surface levels.

If you look at Left 4 Dead for instance, you don't need a lot of variety in weapons, you just need three good ones.  Descent 3 on the other hand has 10 primary weapons and people only ever really use 2-3 of them (depending on what ship they are flying) when given the choice, variety makes things more interesting but they should be useful before they are just different for the sake of variety.

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#5 2013-10-13 08:31:59

Scott
Refractory Studios
Registered: 2012-08-07
Posts: 454
Website

Re: Tonights game

CDN_Merlin wrote:

I didn't realize when Krom and Scotty came in as I was to busy fighting.  Maybe there should be a more audible ding when a human enters.  Something like a voice saying "New player"?

There is a sound, but there are two problem with it: first, it's subtle, which is good insofar as it isn't too distracting or obnoxious when you're busy fighting, but it makes it easier to miss; and second, the AI bots triggered the player quit/join sounds and displayed the same player quit/join messages that real players did. This I found desensitizes users to these events so that they do not notice when it is indicating a real player joining. I have corrected this second part; bots no longer trigger those messages or sounds, so this should help. Further study is required, I feel, to determine whether the join event sound, as it is now, is reasonable and sufficient.

I do find that the warehouse level is a bit small.  Maybe it's just me but the ships seem very big and I feel like I'm constantly hitting walls.

It's not just you; but as Krom points out, it is probably mostly due to the inertia of the ships, which takes some getting used to. On the plus side (I feel), it is a mechanic which rewards practice, insofar as one can learn to control the inertia and become better at piloting the ships in tight spaces. And indeed, turning off the "Normalize Thrust Vectors" setting does help with this, as it gives you multiple effective speeds.

Also, I have slightly tweaked the physics of the Sparrow and Orion to make them a bit easier to control (more drag/less inertia).

And as I (and hopefully others) build additional maps, some of them will be more spacious.

Other than that Scotty, I'm very impressed with this game for a 1 man operation.  You've so far been the only person to put out a playable Descent like game in over a decade.

Thank you. It was not easy. I was not sure I could do it. I am glad I did.


Thank you both for the feedback. I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to this thread.

Re: Krom in next post.

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#6 2013-10-13 08:38:11

Scott
Refractory Studios
Registered: 2012-08-07
Posts: 454
Website

Re: Tonights game

Krom wrote:

they fire when you release the trigger instead of when you depress it.  This makes a BIG difference in accuracy for joystick users because it allows much more precise timing of when you actually fire the shot.

Does it really, though? Is there something about releasing a finger vs closing a finger that is an innately more precise action? Or is it a matter of familiarity?

The truth is that I did not setup the Disruptor in the same way as the Fusion simply because it was one of those things where the it felt too much like copying Descent. I wanted the big gun with the slow, deadly projectiles, but I left out the charging mechanic because I found it more expendable. There was something enjoyable about holding the trigger to charge up a shot and then letting it fly at just the right time, but there is a cost to that as well, and that leads me to my counter-point with regards to precision of timing shots:

I think it is just as precise, firing on trigger pull instead of release; perhaps even more owing to the fact that in order to release the trigger, you have to pull it first, so firing the Disruptor on trigger down literally takes half the time it would take to fire on trigger release. Unless you plan ahead. The Fusion trigger mechanic that Descent used forces one has to plan further in advance in order to make the shot, and this can be problematic. How many times have I missed a good opportunity to score a deadly hit with the Fusion because the gun was not charged? Or charged up the Fusion in anticipation of a good opportunity approaching, only to have the situation not play out as anticipated, leaving me with a wasted shot. I'm not saying it was a bad mechanic; like anything it took practice to use it most optimally. I'm just pointing out the cost of not having the shot ready to go at the tap of a trigger. In Talon as it is, you do have accurate control of when you fire the Disruptor; it fires exactly when you press the trigger.

Actually it is probably not the best idea to think of limited ammo as being something that can balance out the primary weapons, it is better to just think of them as always having unlimited ammo (or actually making them have unlimited ammo).

But that would remove a strategic element from the game: ammo management. Would we really want to eliminate that? Descent had limited ammo, the only difference being that most of the primary weapons shared the same ammo source. In Talon, the only difference is that once you deplete your Disruptor ammo, you still have your Blaster ammo... Or you can go with the Pulse laser, which while being comparatively weaker, does actually have unlimited ammo; an option that you didn't have in Descent.

True, using ammunition capacity as a method of balancing weapons is problematic, owing to the variations in availability of reload opportunities from map to map and situation to situation. But then, those are issues when balancing weapons on any metric. Some situations, some map layouts, some areas of maps will inevitably favor certain weapons over others. Changing a weapon to balance under one condition may throw off the balance under another. It is tricky business; "perfect balance" will never be achieved. Nor should it, really, because that would eliminate the strategic component of choosing the right weapon for the right situation.

Which brings me to the issue of "how many weapons do we need?". I did not add weapons to Talon for the sake of variety. They are all intended to have a purpose or some particular appeal:

  • The Pulse Laser is comparatively weak, but the projectiles travel fast, it has a high rate of fire, and it never runs out of ammo. This makes it a good choice for protracted, open-space dogfights.

  • The Blaster has a high rate of fire and does quite a lot of damage, if you can keep it on target; but the projectiles are slow. Deadly in tight spaces, but less effective in open environments, or from a distance.

  • The Spaz is purely strategic. While difficult to use for direct confrontations, it is may be used to flush out hidden or entrenched players, campers, base defenders, and such. It is also an effective way of exposing cloaked ships, by filling a room with bouncy projectiles.

  • The Disruptor is more about playing style, with low rate of fire and slow projectiles, it's difficult to score a hit, but the damage is substantial if you do. For those who like high risk, high reward. Also good for base defense where your targets are often funneling down a predictable path.

  • The Autocannon is of course for outdoor, long distance kills. Small projectiles means your aim must be precise, but it has the longest reach of any weapon.

  • The Rasor is intended to be fairly general-purpose. It works about as well indoors and out. It is not the easiest weapon to use in either environment, but it deals a lot of damage per shot. (Incidentally, I halved the damage and doubled the rate of fire since the initial beta. You should try it in the latest version if you haven't already.)

  • The Dart is fast and damaging, with a high rate of fire. Unguided, it is practically useless outdoors, but indoors it can be most effective, and difficult to defend against owing to the speed of attack.

  • The Seeker is a guided missile intended for long-range attacks. It's fast enough to catch up to most fleeing targets, or surprise an unsuspecting enemy from a distance, but the limited turn rate makes it difficult to use at close range.

  • The Swarm missiles are close-range guided missiles. They track hard, they are persistent and difficult to shake, but they are not fast enough to cover long distances, nor catch up to an opponent who is flying away. They are most effective when engaged in a close circling dogfight.

  • The Spike Mine is primarily for small spaces. Especially useful to take out an enemy who has gone into a small room to repair or reload, or to toss into a base or checkpoint to take out attackers. It can be very deadly, but it is also hazardous to use if not "thrown" properly. The weapons inherit the ship velocity, so to properly launch the un-propelled mine, you must give a bit of forward thrust, launch, and hit reverse. It requires a bit of technique, and this is intentional. (Is this not like the Impact Mortar? It's been a while, but IIRC that didn't launch very far if you just dropped it either.)

  • The Inferno is supposed to be a tactical, area denial weapon, designed to close off corridors, block entrances/exists, or temporarily deny access to a control point or landing pad.

  • And the Buster, well, that's really just there because big fat missiles are fun. It's rather slow, and dangerous to use owing to it's large blast radius, but it can do a lot of damage, especially in tight spaces where you have the added damage of the secondary explosions. It's kind of high-risk, high-reward for those who like that, because it can be used anywhere, does a lot of damage, but you can't carry very many.

That is the intent, anyway. They are all supposed to have a purpose, which I think they do fairly well. Not saying they couldn't be improved, but I like them, and not just because of the variety, although that is not without merit. If you only want to use 2 or 3, that is perfectly fine, as Talon lets you choose 2 or each type to use as much as you want. You don't even have to hunt around for your favorite powerup each time you die, so I don't think the variety really hurts the game; although it feels like a waste if there are weapons so ineffective that they are never used at all, or one weapon so effective that no one bothers using anything else.

Also in a dogfight it is extremely easy to set off your own grenade at near point blank range if you fire it while firing primaries.

So don't fire it while firing primaries. tongue It is a bit of an adjustment from Descent, I know. I blew myself up like that many times when I first implemented the ability to detonate missiles with gunfire. It took some getting used to, but in time and with practice, I learned to avoid doing that, and found great strategic benefit to being able to detonate my own Spike Mine.

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