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Our vision of the game when we first started out making it. Most of the information listed here is still relevant but everything is subject to change.

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The game

Robograde is a real time strategy game with focus on mobility and combat. The game breaks from the traditional RTS style by completely removing the concept of bases and resource pools. 2-4 players face each other in a battle for complete world domination. Each player starts out with a small amount of basic robots and the aim to build a robot army that can wipe the other players off the map. The players can send their robots to explore the map, multiply, grow stronger and fight.

The map

Players can only see the area close to their units and will have to move units around to unveil the map. On their way players will detect large grass fields, lush forests, and rocky mountains. Even after discovering an area, unit presence will still be required in order to see enemy units. With no friendly units in the area, a player will only see the terrain, even if there is enemy activity.There are different height levels in the terrain. A unit can not simply move from one height level to another. To move to another height level, the unit will need to find a ramp connecting two height levels. Apart from terrain, the world features resources and research centers. More detailed descriptions on these can be found further down in this post.

Squads and units

The player controls a number of squads. Each squad contains a set of units that the player can not directly control. It is however possible to adjust unit behavior by issuing commands to the squad. These commands include move, eat and attack actions as well as formations and attack patterns. Even though the player focuses on controlling squads, each unit in the squad has their own HP (Hit Points), target and position. When the player decides to attack an enemy squad with his own squad, the individual units will, based on their formation and attack pattern, find suitable targets to attack in that squad. While each unit has individual HP, the player should not have to focus on individual HP bars . How damaged a squad is can be visualized in a more intuitive way; as a unit takes damage, it will gradually start emitting smoke, sparks or other visual queues.The player can organize his squads by splitting and merging them, but with some constraints. To split a squad, it must have at least [N] units. To merge two squads, the units in both squads must have the same upgrades.The player can gain more units by telling a squad to eat resources found throughout the map. While a squad eats, the resources will be processed into units automatically, resulting in a bigger squad. The new units are copies of whatever unit the feeding squad consists of. Throughout the game, players will discover new upgrades that they can apply to their units. Upgrading a squad will consume some of the units in that squad as material. Each unit has an underlying value, and each upgrade has an underlying cost. When upgrading a squad, the cost will be calculated and the amount of units corresponding to this cost will be consumed. Of course, players will not be forced to do a bunch of math each time they want to upgrade a squad. Instead, an indication of how many units an upgrade will cost is displayed. Applying an upgrade will take a certain amount of time, leaving the squad vulnerable during the process of upgrading. If enough damage is dealt to a squad that is upgrading, the process will be interrupted. When an upgraded squad eats resources, the rate at which new units are produced will depend on the value of that unit type. Squads with expensive units will require more resources before a new unit is created. If a player wants to change the upgrades on a squad, there is always an option to drop all upgrades from it, reverting all units in that squad to the basic form. This will not increase squad size nor can it be undone. 1 If a player wants to see all units individual health, health bars can always be activated through the game settings or temporarily by holding down a button. A good limit should be determined through play testing. The idea behind this limit is to allow the player to have a large amount of units while still being able to manage them all effectively.

Resources

The resource system in Robograde is designed to avoid conventional mining. Instead of having mining as an unavoidable chore that some units will bedoing constantly, resources will be picked up quickly by units while theycome across them. This will let the player focus on constant unit movement instead of base building around resources.Resources that are picked up will not be stored in an arbitrary resource pool. The resources are automatically consumed to produce new units for the squad, causing the squad to progressively grow while the units eat. The most important focus with the resource system is to convey the right feeling to the player. Playtesting will be important to design a resource system that both preserves this feeling and works in practice. Some possible resource systems that will be explored further during playtests are:
• Finite resources that are scattered evenly across the map.
• Resources that respawn after a set period of time. Long enough downtime to force the player to move on and search for newresources.
• Meteorites containing resources crash down at random neutral locations throughout the game.
• A combination of finite, scattered resources and meteorites.

Research Centers

To incentivise conflict, a few research centers are scattered throughout the map. Research centers are control points used to research new squad upgrades and are thus necessary for the construction of more advanced squads and winning the game. How fast new upgrades are researched depends on the amount of research centers controlled by the player. All research centers start out as neutral and can be captured by players. Once a player gains control of a research center, it can be used to discover new upgrades. The player is able to select one undiscovered upgrade that will be researched by owned research centers. A progress bar indicates how close the research is to being completed. If a player loses all research centers, or decides to research something else instead, the previous research will continue where it left off when reactivated. Players can capture enemy research centers, so it is important to balance available units between protecting owned research centers and capturing new ones. One way to win the game, although not easily achievable, is to gain control of all research centers and keep them for a set amount of time.

Upgrades

All units have 4 slots available for upgrades with a number of possible upgrades for each slot; thus allowing players to build the perfect units to suit their style, tactic and situation. All upgrades have visual modules that are added to the units, allowing players to see their units evolve for each upgrade they add. A player can not create units that carry two upgrades designed for the same slot. The players will therefore have to create squads with different upgrades if they want to prepare for a wider range of scenarios. When the game starts, none of the above mentioned upgrades are available. Players will have to use the research centers to gain access to the upgrades they want to use. Once an upgrade is researched, all squads gain access to it. As mentioned previously, the cost for upgrading is a percentage of the squad size. The cost is rounded upwards, meaning that a squad will need to be of a certain size in order to upgrade. If, for example, an upgrade would cost you four units per new unit, but you only have three units in your squad, your squad can not be upgraded.

Multiplayer

The game can be played by 2-4 players, where a player can be either human or AI-controlled. Games involving several human players are played overlocal network or internet. Players can choose to fight together in teams, or battle each other without any alliances.

Winning

The most straightforward win condition is destroying every last enemy robot. This, of course, introduces a number of issues where a player who is well beyond the point of being able to make a comeback might prolong the game by hiding with a few units left. To avoid this type of pointless chasing, an alternative win condition has been introduced. A player can win the game by gaining control of all research centers on the map and keeping them for a set amount of time. This will be rather hard to achieve unless a player already completely dominates the game, as all the enemy has to do in order to stop that player is to retake a single control point.

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