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TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallBrigador: isometric vehicle combat, a Space Tank Western
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Author Topic: Brigador: isometric vehicle combat, a Space Tank Western  (Read 36374 times)
HughSJ
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« on: January 02, 2014, 03:11:16 PM »

--edit-- Brigador released on June 2nd, 2016. Available on Steam, Humble, & itch.io --/edit--

BRIGADOR
Isometric vehicular combat, real-time with full environmental destruction. Pick your vehicle, guns, and equipment, then let the destruction ensue. Scratch built engine in C++, team of 4. Now released (though we're still workin on it)!



--Home Page!--
--Steam Page!--
my twitter & devstream (balancing / game dev)
other dev's twitter & devstream (asset creation)
----presskit, if you're really curious----

(update) We've officially changed the name from Matador to Brigador; had to do with some lurking TM issues-- hadn't got a cease and desist or anything but after consulting with an attorney we realized it was a possibility, so wanting to be proactive about it we just went ahead and changed the name entirely. Overall turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the new name is more distinctive and proves to be waaaay easier to find via search.

-------

Hey guys! Brigador is an isometric real time vehicle combat game that our team of 4 have been working on for over a year. The finished game will be for PC, Mac, & Linux, and was written in C++

About time I finally got a devlog going here.

(update)

Here's a talk I gave at the Full Indie Summit about our experience shipping Brigador. May be of help to people, especially anyone on their first rodeo:



Trailers!







... and here are some screenshots (click for full res)











The goal of the game is to do a clean sweep of the city; the player has their pick of suped-up ride and equippage then runs through the 9 city districts to wipe out all armed opposition.

some basic info:
  • the engine is scratch built and is sprite based, not 3D
  • single player
  • game is in real time, and projectiles move in 3-space so aiming is harder (can under/over shoot your target)
  • short, highly iterative session length; a full run shouldn't take more than an hour
  • levels are prefab but enemy spawns and factions you face are randomized
  • fully destructible environments

We're shooting for a spring / early summer release. Still have a long way to go but most of the basics are in place. UI is near non-existent atm (it's fun to design but awful to implement), and we're just now getting sounds in. We hired the inimitable Tapio Liukkonen (guy who did the foley for Amnesia: Dark Descent and Overgrowth) and he's knocking it out of the park.

The in-game assets you can see in the screen are mostly final, we're now just trying to churn out a much broader variety. For the final game we're hoping to have a large (20+) variety of playable vehicles and usable weapons, as well as 4 distinct enemy factions to fight.

On a final note, the two programmers and I (I'm the game designer / spreadsheet monkey) are new to the game dev scene, but the other designer (and my older brother) a few of you may have heard of: Jack Monahan, who worked on Darkest of Days and did the Design Reboot site way back when.

I'll be posting more soon, and more WIP stuff as we go along. Mean time check out our homepage, twitters (me) (gauss), and devstreams (me) (gauss). We're pretty active on the latter two, esp. on the devstream. Try to have that going nearly every day.

Thanks for checking this out guys, and I appreciate any feedback.

« Last Edit: January 03, 2017, 12:26:40 PM by HughSJ » Logged

HughSJ
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 03:38:33 PM »



here's a sample of the slums tileset we're currently working on getting integrated. After that it's a suburbia / sprawl set. I should also mention that we use Tiled as our map editor-- took a bit of work to get it to play nice with our engine, but once it was plugged in it's been a huge time saver.

I realize I should also get some gifs up of the game in action; something we recently added are flashes when vehicles are struck with shields intact. Seemed a small thing at first but it's a really useful visual feedback for the player, and has allowed us to tone down the enemy health bars.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 03:49:16 PM by HughSJ » Logged

HughSJ
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 05:56:53 PM »

close cropped action shot-- by and large the engagement distances are much larger than this, but i wanted to get a close shot on this one so you could see the detail:



And yes, that is a mech stomp for the killing blow.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 06:41:21 PM »



New ammo depots emblazoned with the glorious leader's likeness. The icons are much more obvious and readable for the player now, and we're trying to maintain a color code for each weapon across the entirety of the game. Old temp depots literally had their ammo type just written across the front, which was bad news bears.

Also, here's a sample of the new 'burbs tileset-- should be getting this and the slums into the game soon, where I'll be able to whip up new maps specific to the tilesets. Going to be so much fun stomping through those houses...

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Connor
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 06:45:02 PM »

is there any kind of story this thing will follow? or will it purely be sheer chaos with no real goal?
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blitzkampfer:
https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=52009.msg1280646#msg1280646

too bad eggybooms ents are actually men in paper mache suits and they NEED to be agile
HughSJ
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 06:56:44 PM »

I don't plan on being very explicit with story / background in the game beyond a basic primer for the player. Dictator dies with no heir leaving a power vacuum-- 4 factions are about to vie for control, decimating the city, which is where the player comes in. Outside interests set you up with a deal (or blackmail you somehow, not sure on the framing yet), where you get kitted up with a super-swank vehicle to go in and wipe out the 4 factions yourself before open conflict begins. A preemptive assault to cleanse the city.

Beyond that I may write some stuff / think about it more, but it's an action game so outside of some intro text and a cutscene or two that's going to be about it I think.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 01:41:47 AM »

If you'll indulge me I'm going to editorialize for a bit. Just spent the last several days doing a complete overhaul of the data / design of the game, and it's got me feeling all pensive and articulate now (though the truth of that sentiment is yet to be seen).

The fundamental structure of Matador hasn't changed-- it's too late in the ballgame for that, but we have re-evaluated the pace of play in a major way. The main issue for a long time now has been figuring out where exactly to place the game on a scale between action vs tactically oriented gameplay. How many hits can the player take? How many hits for enemies? Movement speed, firing rates, all of these incremental elements that are part and parcel with game design. Partly what makes design so challenging is that it's impossible to modify elements in isolation; the game must always be taken as a whole. Changing the movement speed of the player ripples out to affect how fast projectiles need to be, how fast the enemy units should move, &etc. -- you're creating an entire ecosystem from scratch, and each addition or change typically necessitates adapting other elements, which then echo back and cause another round of changes still again. A *lot* of experimentation is required, and you often need to temp out large segments in what feels like a very impromptu, sketchy fashion.

This... flourishing of game elements isn't something to be afraid of. Quite the contrary, it's something to be embraced in the early stages of development. One of the biggest mistakes I've made as a designer on the project was trying to be too precious and precise in my designs. At the beginning of a project even the best designers are shooting blind; there's no point in trying to carefully line up a shot when you don't know what you're aiming for. Which I guess brings me to the points I'm trying to articulate.

1) Allow your designs to flourish with wild abandon -- Game design, especially in the early stages, is a numbers game. Theory can only take you so far, and 99% of what you design is going to be terrible, no matter how much time you spend working on it. You're best served by throwing anything and everything out into the wild. As an extreme example, I mocked up an entire faction (~12 units) for Matador in under an hour. Were the units terribly designed? Yes. But in building these horribly balanced units did I learn more about what exactly the game I've been working on for the last two years is? Yes. Propagate your game with as wild an array of flora and fauna as you can imagine, and then

2) Don't fear the ice age -- The next step after populating your game with all sorts of designs is killing off all but the hardiest ideas. Just as trying to be too precise in the early stages is stifling, so is trying to manage the resultingly vast system of elements you've created before the game has matured. For a while I let iteration on the game slow to a crawl because instead of managing a few guns and a few enemy units and 1 playable vehicle, I was trying to iterate on a system that had 15 guns, two dozen enemy unit types, and 6 playable vehicles. The boom is how you find the best ideas of a new crop, but then you need to kill everything else off before you can figure out how exactly those new elements can fit in.

3) Find your linchpins -- After you've cycled through the boom and bust however many times, you should find at least a few elements that really jive. Your game might still play like shit, but damn does the jump-kick feel awesome. That's a linchpin. The first few elements that hit that sweetspot are the foundation around which you can start building the rest of the game. With Matador our first real linchpin was the heavy cannon. For a long time the game was a mire of bad ideas and design, but hot damn landing a shot with the heavy cannon, especially on a moving target and most especially on one at the other side of the screen felt amazing. After that we got the movement on the player tank to feel just right, and with those two elements we were able to start triangulating more and more of the other gameplay elements.

So we certainly still have a long way to go on the game, but we now have a much more stable set of elements with which to build the rest of the game around. Hopefully we've been through our last ice age, and now our new additions to the game can be of a much more permanent cast.

As a final note, I realize most if not all of what I've just articulated is probably very obvious, but in my experience it's helped to hear what may be the same advice spoken from various perspectives. That and the fact that ultimately the most important thing is getting the firsthand experience to work through these kinds of design problems, no matter how simple the project may be. I'm happy with how this project has gone, but I believe I could have come to the same design ends at a much faster pace had I worked through more smaller, faster projects before shifting to such a large, long term venture.

So hey, live and learn. I hope this proves to be at all helpful, or at least an inoffensive read. With how well this last pass has gone for crafting the game, I'm hoping we can get this project launched on greenlight and as a paid alpha by sometime in february.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 04:10:49 AM »

oh, forgot to post this earlier-- one of our testers went ahead and recorded his playthrough on a recent build of the game. Until we get a proper gameplay trailer up or something playable it should give you a much better sense of what the game is:





Obviously the game is still very rough around the edges, but generally playable. The build you're seeing here has only part of one faction's units running, though we have finished assets for most units from 3 of the 4 enemy factions. After the latest design cull it's going to take me some time to redo the units from the various factions. Ditto for the guns and other player vehicles; ultimately we want the player to have a very large range of options to pick from, between their vehicle, weapons, and defensive kit.

Last, you may notice that unlike in the screenshots posted at the beginning of the thread, there aren't currently any shadows in the game. They do exist, but currently the code is in desperate need of optimization, and so until we get that issue more happily resolved the builds we send out for testing don't have the shadows implemented. Hopefully we can get a lot of these outlying graphics issues resolved over the next month or two.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 04:20:20 AM by HughSJ » Logged

HughSJ
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 02:17:47 PM »

Well that's odd... I guess dark rituals are a more effective weapon for the infantry than guns.

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John McDonald
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2014, 02:30:47 PM »

Looking Great! I'm going to put this on my "must watch" list.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2014, 03:04:27 PM »

"this game has occult rituals involving mechs!?? My Word! *followed*"

Matador, serving all your mech-worshipping needs since 2012  Evil

(but thanks! Excited to get more eyes on the project)
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2014, 05:20:10 PM »

close cropped action shot-- by and large the engagement distances are much larger than this, but i wanted to get a close shot on this one so you could see the detail:



And yes, that is a mech stomp for the killing blow.
Really like the 3D augmented reality kind of aiming here.

Oh, so we got biped mechs. How big with the mech variety be? Will I be able to go all melee focused with swords and stomping? (Yes I just saw Pacific Rim yesterday)
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HughSJ
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 07:48:01 PM »

Glad you like it! We wanted aiming to have a major skill component, so the projectiles all travel in 3-space. Cursor distance from the player vehicle determines the declination of the guns, so it's possible to overshoot or undershoot targets.

Anyway, you can play as mechs, tanks, or hovercraft, so there will be a large variety of playable vehicles. And while we will have melee-ish weapons like a thermic lance there won't be things like giant swords or maces. Sadly none of our mechs have arms...
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HughSJ
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 08:14:48 PM »

Did this a while back, so it's not entirely up to date, but it gives you an idea of what the data structure for units are like.

(sorry should have done this before-- click for full size)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 08:52:48 PM by HughSJ » Logged

Kyle O
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2014, 03:13:12 AM »

I like your flow chart.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2014, 08:59:52 PM »

Thanks @aldo. The amount of data that goes into each individual unit in the game is actually a bit bewildering. About a month ago we took some time away from direct dev to re-arrange how the data is structured and to excise old entries for data that no longer apply to the game.

Another thing that doesn't come across in this data chart is that most entries shown in this chart actually have pointers to lists now instead of single items. For example, for each weapon mount instead of specifying a single weapon for a single mount we have a list file where one entry from the list is randomly selected. This allows us to build in more elements of randomization into the way units spawn.

While we tried to plan out as much of this structure as possible, it really just grew out organically as we realized the units needed to change more and more. Hopefully in the future we won't need to do too many more changes and can instead just focus on finishing a full balance pass.
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Gregg Williams
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2014, 12:34:35 AM »

This is looking very cool, though I'd of course highly recommend getting some sort of 720 or 1080p gameplay footage for people to be able to see. Any chance for co-op or competitive multiplayer?
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2014, 04:18:03 AM »

This looks interesting and I get a cool DOS game vibe from it. Was that the intent by going for gritty sprites instead of 3D?
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HughSJ
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2014, 10:07:46 AM »

@Gregg - cheers, and you're right that I need to get some proper hi-res footage of the game in action, which is a bit of an issue actually. For some reason my main rig has a stutter when recording full resolution footage at 30 fps, so I'll either have to burn some money on new hardware or farm it out to someone to get footage for me (neither of which are too appealing at the moment). The current footage of the game was taken by a tester so I could review how he's playing the game.

We actually have a whole press push ready to roll, but RPS requires you to have either a proper trailer or a playable demo, the former of which we don't have and the latter I'm not comfortable releasing yet. Although, once I finish a new data pass I think I'll go ahead and post a build here-- hard to talk about things when you guys can't really get a good look at it, and I need to stop being so precious about everything.

And as for multiplayer... I wish man. This project is already on the cusp of being too large to manage, and as we wrote our engine from scratch, writing netcode for a real time game with physics based projectiles would be a nightmare. If we were a more experienced team, or at least a larger one we might be able to handle it, but as it is we just have to put that on the wish list if we ever do a sequel.

@Fuzzy - the DOS vibe is both intentional and happenstance; Jack (the other designer / artist) and I were both heavily influenced by golden era 90's games like

and

and so are happy to beg comparisons to those games. On a visual side one thing that's always bothered both of us is how difficult it is to get lo-res 3D objects to not look like tonka-toys. With sprites you don't have those issues, though there's a lot of other things you have to deal with, like the fact that we have to put a hard limit on the variety of leg chassis active in the game because of how enormous their sprite sheets are.

Also originally the game was top-down 2D instead of the current dimetric camera, so there was no reason to consider using a 3D engine. Funny how things evolve on a project and you kind of get stuck with past decisions, for better or worse.
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HughSJ
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2014, 01:03:40 PM »



Hey guys we've got a devstream live going on right now-- going over design of the game and some graphics bits and bobs. Tune in if you're interested! http://twitch.tv/gausswerks
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