After my IndieCade submission and my subsequent break, things have been getting back on track, albeit rather slowly, mainly designing the main set pieces and the player experience within those.
The physical locations of the areas isn't that hard. I've set out ten of them, each serving to progress the story and mission. After the on-paper design I take it to a conceptual level where I start to put scale, objectives and difficulty into place.
I've spent a very long time mulling ideas around about how to make shooting infrastructure fun, and not having it feel like a hum-drum simulation. Each area is also unique, and should provide unique challenges, but also invite different strategies. It's difficult thinking of all the various approaches players might take, but to take them into account is crucial.
What I'm after is discovery. In the old days the player learnt game mechanics through discovery, and not through on-screen instructions, QTEs or tutorials. Since flying a chopper isn't second nature to most people I will have to make some concession as to that bit. But as for taking on an enemy, my goal is to let the player discover. And not just how to target a jeep. I want the player to discover things about the area and the location, for example choke points in RTS games. In Stingray, things like chain reactions, splash damage and environment manipulation.
Without dropping spoilers, each specific set piece I'm building has unique 'things' that can be used or manipulated either on their own or in conjunction with other 'things' to disrupt, cripple and even destroy the defences or objectives of the area. It's not exactly branching story lines but I think will generate some awesome game play and surprise moments.