Thursday, April 23, 2009

Posting hiatus

Well you will have probably noticed posts seems to have dried up. To avoid the situation which happened last year on my other blog I am posting an official hiatus notice. Due to exams, posting on this blog, (and my game news site) will halt. Posting will resume on June 15th with a post about the resource model in Frozen Kangaroo.

In the mean time, I will leave you with some links.

I am really enjoying the Three Moves Ahead podcast from Flash of Steel. If you want a taster of what the podcast is like, my favourite one was about symettry and asymettry in games. The podcast is well worth a subscribe because it combines genuinely interesting discussion about games design with some funny personalities. Better yet, it doesn't just focus on the latest game release.

Finally, an odd link. I am linking to this site primarily so that it can be found by Google. It is a website I designed (email me @ if you fancy one for yourself) and so I need Google to index it. However, if you are looking for plants in your work place, and you are based the home counties, this is the site to go to - Renaissance Plants

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Frozen Kangaroo Concept: Nuclear Weapons

In a series of posts I intend to explain the more detailed elements of Frozen Kangaroo, the real time strategy game that I am working on. You can read an executive summary here. I hope to make it so that the posts only rely on things explained before them. However, please excuse me if my posts either digress to explain some concept, or don't make any sense because of no digression. If you have any questions, leave a comment (if it is an old post, I would recommend posting it on a newer post) or email me @

As with the real Cold War, nuclear weapons will play an important part in Frozen Kangaroo. Not only do they add a devastating weapon to your arsenal, they can be used as a diplomatic bartering tool and even a direct path to victory.

Types of Nuclear Missiles

There are three types of nuclear missile in this game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They are: long, medium and short range nuclear missiles, or ICBM, err normal, and tactical nukes. Sadly, Blogger doesn't support tables, so I will have to explain it in paragraphs.

The long range nuke has, as you might expect, the longest range. Indeed, it can shoot anywhere on the map, including the proxy nation's colony cities (Will explain this in a later post, but they are basically where the civilians live. Each proxy nation has an associated colony city which contains millions of civilians who have been moved to keep them out of the way of the war). These missiles also inflict the most damage. Sadly, the pay off is in cost and speed. Cost is fairly self explanatory, but the effect of speed I will explain in a moment.

The medium range missile can reach most of the map, but cannot reach the proxy nations colony cities. Damage is similarly weakened, although it is still very powerful. However, it is faster and cheaper.

Finally the short range missile, which can only fire in provinces within a 4 province radius (subject to testing), and deals far less damage, particularly to buildings. It is, however, significantly faster and cheaper.

Missile Launchers

To fire these missiles you have three options; fixed, mobile and submarines. Fixed missile launchers can be constructed by your builder units. They can fire any of the above missiles.

The mobile missile launchers are a trainable unit. They can be moved about on the map, but need to be "deployed" before they can fire. These can only fire medium and short missiles.

Finally, the submarine is a normal unit. It can carry two small nuclear missiles with it. Further nukes must be collected from a port. However, it does not need to set up. Also, as they are water based, they can quickly manoeuvre very close to key enemy provinces and threaten them before they have a chance to respond.

With the exception of the sub (which needs to take its nukes with it) the launchers can only store one nuke at a time. Further nukes must be stored in a silo and then transported to the launcher. These silos come with stationary launchers, so you don't have to constantly arrange the transport of nukes. Trucks carrying nukes can also be "parked" in to either of the launchers, allowing all the connected nukes to be fired.

However, if you wish to use a mobile nuclear launcher to target deep within the enemies territory, you will have to advance it with a truck carrying a nuclear missile. It may also be wise to accompany the truck and the launcher with some form of defence, as neither have any attack capabilities.

The Nuclear Missile Management Screen

So how does speed factor in to all of this? Well, nuclear missiles aren't instantaneous. When you fire a nuke, your opponent is immediately alerted to this development and are taken directly to their nuclear missile management screen. On this screen, for each of the provinces there is a count down till the missile will hit... if its been targeted. The opponent, however, does not know which province has been targeted and so all provinces will have a countdown clock running. I hope to make this quite a tense screen to be on, with flashing red lights, constantly ticking clocks and maybe even a siren!

What can you do with this information? Well, each one of your provinces can be sent into "bunker mode". This significantly reduces the damage done by any potential nuclear strike. However, going into and coming out of bunker mode takes time. During this time (and the time in bunker mode) all buildings production queues halt, units stop moving and you can't enter the province.

You must then decide which provinces to put into bunker mode. Obviously, the opponent is more likely to target high value provinces, but if one of them is producing something very important, does the nuclear missile pose a big enough threat to warrant halting production.

This is also where the speed of the nukes comes into play. A short range nuclear missile gives the player virtually no time to react, let alone put any of their provinces in to nuclear bunker mode.

The other important thing with nuclear weapons that I want to cover in this post is retaliation fire. When a nuclear missile is sent your way, you have the option to hit a big red button marked FIRE. Prior to any nuclear strike, preferably during a quite period of the game, you can target your nuclear missiles at specific provinces. Then, whenever you hit the red button, they all simultaneously fire at these predetermined locations. This means that if the opponent launches a huge, devastating barrage of missiles at you, you can retaliate before they even hit.

From the nuclear screen, you can set up retaliation fire, deploy provinces in to bunker mode and watch the approach of oncoming nukes with suitably tense flashing red lights.

Nuclear missiles are clearly a very powerful weapon. However, they come with a severe cost. Using nuclear missiles is highly frowned upon by proxy nations and their colonies. As I explained in my post about the proxy nations, firing nuclear missiles, particularly in a province associated with them, has a strong negative impact on your relations. If you fire at their colony city, that will make them sworn enemies to you, and will strongly effect everyone's opinion of you.

I will be explaining this is more detail, but nukes are, in some ways, more useful when not fired. You can use them in diplomacy to threaten your enemy or "persuade" other proxy nations to join you, lest they fall foul to your rain of terror. Also, as I said earlier, you can use them to win. Although I will be covering ways to win more fully, if you manage to significantly out-build your opponent on nuclear missiles, you can force them in to surrender.

For my next Frozen Kangaroo concept I hope to be covering either the resources or diplomacy (including how you can use nuclear missiles in diplomacy - I never said it was friendly diplomacy).