Monday, 23 March 2009

WAR Europes story contest

Over on the WAR Europe forums there's a contest to win a Skaven cloak for some fan fiction. You're given a paragraph from various pairings and you finish the story off. This is the opening paragraph for the Greenskin story...

"The strangely attired gang of Orcs bulled through the wood toward the lonely Dwarf tavern. Gragnak ‘Eadsplitter, greenest, meanest and biggest of the warband sniffed the air, listened to the rumbling chatter of the boyz to his back and snorted in disgust. He wasn’t just stronger, he was smarter too and much as he wanted a good dust up with the stunties this was a chance to prove his cunning to da Warboss.
“Oi!” He roared twisting to plant his Choppa into the forehead of the bemused Orc behind him. “Keep yer gobs shut, dem Stunties will know we be coming.”
Reaching up the unlucky Greenskin wrapped dirty stained fingers around the weapon embedded in his thick skull and with a quizzical raise of its beady eyes fell forward. Gragnak retrieved the cleaver with a brutal yank before he’d even hit the ground.
“Listen up! Dem stunties won’t know we be Orcy until we’re well inside. I ‘eard off Gagna, an ‘e ‘eard it off Bugrag dat we done dis trick wid Stunty beards right? Well dat worked so fink wot we’ll do wid dese.” The mammoth Greenskin strode out of the tree line and toward the Tavern door.
Stumbling forward in his unfamiliar garb Gragnak slammed the door open, adjusted his wig and stepped inside.
“Ahhh,” came a voice behind, “dats why we needed da skirts.”"

And this is how I finished the story... *Clicky*

On my command, unleash waaaaaghhh!

You know, I was trying to find a nice trailer or some sort of cinematic clip on YouTube with some siege warfare on a castle but really couldn't find anything, but never mind, all it takes is a bit of thinking to get in the mood.

So sieges or keeps and forts. Staring at the enemy as the ram goes up, oil boils and is poured onto the defenders as they burn and scream (well OK, burn). The cannons and ballistas are built up, ready to rain untold destruction on the defenders, except they don't. How pathetic are the siege weapons in WAR? Seriously, anytime a cannon hits me I might fall over and get a tickle from the 200 damage I take but that's it.

There's no fear in standing in the range of siege weapons other than the boiling oil over a keep door (and even that's not a huge worry), it's the bloody AoE stacking that defends keeps and forts. There's a lot of untapped potential in the siege weapons and possibly a few balance fixes at the same time. So lets look at the two main weak points for siege weaponry in WAR.

It's crap. Honestly, absolutely pathetic. There is NO point in sitting with a catapult, flinging rocks at the enemy when the damage is so pointless it does nothing more than a scratch.

Righto, so I have the inclination to setup some siege equipment since as a tank I'm pretty much limited in my siege taking abilities (apparently a ram isn't a siege weapon anymore either...). So out of boredom I set one up to tickle a few defenders on the walls. Except they're out of range.. Every single person on the walls is out of range of a giant bow and arrow, unless you happen to be standing on one corner of the walls, which is miles away from the action. Waste of time, money and effort.

So how would I go about making the art of siege more interesting, while at the same time discovering a cure for world poverty and possibly making some toast at the same time?

I'd leave the existing siege weapons as they are.

Wot? You gone off yer noggin dere Lokax?

Nearly, but not quite.

Instead we add a new trade skill to the game Siege craft (nicked the name from DAoC). Siege crafters would be able to make improved versions of the weapons which would increase the range, damage, give unique looks and also give special siege weapons for each faction.

Gathering profession
The skill would be linked to Cultivating and Salvaging. from cultivating you can grow trees that once harvested would provide wood, from Salvaging you would be able to refine items to get metal (in addition to your normal goodies). The higher types of siege weapons would require higher levels of wood and metal.

Using Siege craft on the field of battle
I don't think any profession should be chucked on an alt and left to rot while you send mats back and forth, I like the idea of each profession having a place on the battlefield. So what can you do to get people to take Siege craft on mains? One simple way, and one more complicated but involving. The first is to grant a straight range and damage bonus for a siege craft using a siege weapon. +5% damage and +10% range bonus (for rams, +2% damage bonus for each siege crafter using it). The second one would be to make Siege crafters the only ones to 'activate' the siege pads on the ground (keep the oil and ram pads active for anyone). A siege crafter would need to right click on the pad to activate it to allow people to build on them (imagine it as clearing away the ground and setting it ready for a siege engine). Add more pads to the area around keeps and even a few inside them (requires higher levels of skill to activate a pad in the higher tiers and forts)

Da weapons!
Now the fun bit. Each type of weapon you can buy from the Quartermaster would have an improved crafting version which as said, does significantly more damage and has a much larger range, one which will make any tower defenders think twice about showing face on the walls rather than standing there immune to everything. Of course, allow siege weapons to be used on the doors (though increase the damage that doors can take) . Rams can be upgraded to say 6 man versions, doing more damage and giving a buff to everyone who uses it mitigating incoming damage by 50% (a concerted effort should still break down people, but you're mean to to be hidden under the canopy really, even if your character is at the side on the screen). Of course, give oil a larger area of affect, longer lasting burns and possibly up the damage a bit. Make them meaner, siege weapons should make people scared when they see 10 cannons appear in front of the keep. Remember, siege weapons are on both sides, so no one side would have an advantage.

New weapons
OK, little fun idea. I LOVE the Troll boulder thrower it just feels so damned orcy it's great. So how would you be able to add this into the game on a permanent basis?

Simple really ('onest guv). Add a special BoP seed for cultivators (Troll Fungus - da trollz luv it), upon growing it, they can harvest it and give the fungus to a siege crafter. Adding this as a 'special ingredient' in the siege crafting window would turn the weapon into a Troll boulder thrower (in affect, you've promised the troll more nibbly bits if he lobs more rocks at da stunties). This theme can be repeated for the other races. For example, poison/acid throwers for the Dark Elves (special apothecary potion), Demon Forged cannons for Chaos (uses a special salvaged part). And the same for Order (Ogre mercenary with the cannon on his arm for Empire with shinies from salvaging) , special oil from apothecary for the Goblin hewers for Dwarves and you could give the high elves some sort branch from cultivating to make a nasty bolt thrower (I didn't think that idea through entirely did I....)

In game effects
OK, so how would this change the game as it stands? My immediate thought is that it would address the AoE for the initial taking of forts and keeps. You wouldn't have everyone stacked in one place (the door) for them to be obliterated by mass AoE stacking, no need to change aoe damage that way or the mechanic. You can have siege weapons spread out, blasting the door from a distance and trying to pop off dangerous targets on the wall. The defenders can take out other siege weapons and players to keep healers aware and players from going afk while attacking. It gives melee classes something to do other than stare at the wall while the siege is going on, they can easily handle the war machines and feel as if they are contributing.

It opens a new possibility of the defenders sallying forth to take out a few siege weapons before retreating while under the cover of there own siege weapons from the keep. Gives a reason to push the attackers rather than just waiting for the inevitable final assault on the lord. Get out there and break down some of the nice shiny weapons they have to give them something to curse you for.

It spreads the field of battle out, rather than being focused on one part (the door), hopefully giving rise to more tactics than AoE spam and zerging the door (seriously, huge iron door getting broken by witch elves with flimsy little daggers...)

Other random ideas...
You could expand the idea to defending BO's. Add pads to them which can be used for palisades, pit traps (imagine charging into a BO, only to find yourself snared or rooted as you 'fall' into a pit trap), or blown back as you stand on a mine. Caltrops could be used to cause damage to any attackers getting nearby as well. Gives something to the BO anyway.


Bloody hell, that was a lot of writing, really not gone into too much detail since it's really only for fun and unless Mythic sends me an email I don't think I'll elaborate on it any further. It's all speculation on game balance etc as well, who knows what the true affect could be. I'm not a designer, nor will I ever claim to be but to me it's a fairly good idea though I am sure as with all ideas, the person who thinks it through doesn't always see each side.