Simultaneous Development Squad Tactics Prototype
A simultaneous battle system for a tactics-RPG
Camera moves forward, back, left, right and rotates
Camera zooms in and out while changing from a downward facing orientation to a more oblique one, giving the player varied perspectives.
Characters are selected by clicking on them, or on their portraits.
When a character is selected, the character's portrait disappears, but will re-generate the next turn.
Orders given to characters can be queued.
Orders given to the selected character are displayed on the left side of the screen.
Orders can be changed or overwritten.
On "go" the orders are executed one by one. As soon is one is completed, another is started, until time elapses, or the character runs out of instructions.
Characters will navigate around obstacles.
A line is drawn from the character to the goal over the path that the character will take, giving the player vital strategic information.
When the timer is up, the all actions pause, but the action queue remains, unless overwritten, and will resume in the action phase.
Click dragging gives the character a facing order.
The green cone represents the field of view and firing range of the character.
The field of view is occluded by obstacles, to give the player more feedback.
Ability to attack is partially determined by line of sight.
When attacking, chance to hit is determined by distance, and can be checked by mousing over enemies.
If a character is next to cover, they gain a status that denotes them as under cover.
If fired upon, the chance to hit is diminished, provided the character is both behind cover, and the attacker is firing through or over said cover.
Characters, if idle and armed with a loaded weapon, will automatically fire upon an enemy that is within the field of view, and the chance to hit is above a certain threshold. That threshold is set by the player on a per character basis.
If a character has an unloaded weapon and are idle they will automatically reload.
Needs and Constraints
For a long time, I’ve been playing around with how to make tactics system feel vibrant and less slow paced, which seems to be an obstacle for many players, who are new, (or in my case not so new) to tactics games. Simultaneous development is an under-explored mechanic for this genre, and part of the aim of the project was to find out why. Is it because that's just how things have shaken out, and this is a rich, largely untapped genre, or there is something intrinsically unfun about it?
I wanted to have a system that could be adapted for a RPG or mercenary management game, with each character having a meaningful role, and room for classes, inventory systems, and skill trees. I also wanted a simple interface, but with meaningful tactical decisions to be presented to the player.
I took a very step-by-step approach, focusing on functionality. Selection, turns, movement, pathfinding, attack rolls, and cover where mechanics that I tried to build one by one, in an attempt to make things as simple as possible for myself. I focused on making sure the controls felt good, before concerning myself with larger design considerations. That was a major task, as my process was very experimental - grand plans rarely survive unaltered after implementation.
I was largely learning how to code as I went, so I had to circle back a few times, and fix or update early code which complicated things further. It became a balancing act as I progressed; to build functionality that supported the vision of the project, against the understanding that this was just a prototype, and that if I become a perfectionist, I would never make any progress.
This successfully communicates how a game like this might work, so I mark it as a definite win. Solving the various problems that popped up along the way was profoundly satisfying to me.
Despite that, it is a very skeletal prototype. Whole systems that I envisioned, have not yet made it in. Probably the most important of these, which would help to assess how viable the whole idea is, is to have important events pause the game and play an animation, which would make the action both more exciting as well as more decipherable to the player. Also important, is to make use of “stances” (standing, kneeling, prone), as well as develop a melee combat system. I fully intend to continue to develop this, so stay tuned!
This was mostly a solo project, but special thanks to Sophia Arnaout for sketching the character portraits.