Modder’s Diary – Name Changes and Milestones

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Back in July,  I wrote a post covering the progress I’ve made on my StarCraft 2 mod, whose working title was “Remnants.” In one short month, I’ve come a surprising way (given how slowly I’d been working, any progress feels like a lot) and I wanted to share it with anyone who might be interested.

Screenshot2016-08-06 22_34_35.jpgFirst off, there’s been a name change. I published the first private version of Remnants to the Blizzard Arcade about a week ago, and realized that there are several mods called “Remnants” out there. I briefly flirted with the title “Remnant Reclamation” which was not well received. Then, a friend on twitter (the estimable @HFishbackJr) came up with a name so good I knew I had use it. The mod’s current title is S.C.R.A.P which is an acronym of “Scavenge, Collect, Reclaim, Attack, Prevail.” I’ve taken to using the hashtag #SCRAPmod on twitter when talking about the game.

In an effort not to drag on too terribly long, I’ll not recap what I wrote in the last post, since most of that still holds true. If you’re interested, here are links to the game’s core mechanics, and the rest of the Constructor’s Tier 1. Here’s what’s been added in the past 6 weeks.

Observation Module

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I’ve added a new thing the Constructor can build right out of the gate: a turret called the Observation Module. By itself, it doesn’t do much. It’s a detector and has a pretty long sight range – these structures mostly serve as early warning systems for incoming enemy raiding parties. It’s what they can turn into that I hope will interest players. I’ll cover that under the Engineering Module below, since the Engineering Module unlocks those upgrades.

Engineering Module

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I have fully implemented the Engineering Module and all of its upgrades and unit unlocks. The Engineering Module houses defensive upgrades for the Constructor. First and foremost, it houses 3 sets of upgrades: 2 damage upgrades, 2 armor upgrades, and 2 Energy upgrades. The Energy upgrades, which I’m calling “Increased Reactor 1” and “Increased Reactor 2” represent a substantial increase in the Constructor’s autonomy from base structures and Power Nodes, while the armor upgrades make the Constructor feel less like a liability on the front lines.

The Constructor now has the option to pick from one of 3 different weapon types, and can choose between any of them with the new Survival Module (see below). The weapon upgrades apply to all of these weapons. The armor upgrades work just like those found in other Blizzard games, but pending a rebalance of the damage system may end up having more overall impact on the Constructor’s survivability.

Excavator Mines

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Additionally, the Engineering Module unlocks a slew of structure types for the Constructors faction. First, it allows the Constructor and Recyclers to build land mines. These so-called Excavator Mines provide the Constructors with some passive area denial and are designed to slow rather than foil an enemy advance. They are invisible, and start a .8 second countdown when an enemy unit enters their blast radius. If, at the end of that countdown, there are any ground units in their detonation radius (friend or foe) they will detonate, dealing a small amount of damage and slowing anything hit by their blast. Given the large size of the SCRAP map contrasted with the conservative number of units players will be managing, static defenses like this are likely to be an important first line of defense for Constructors forces.

Both the Constructor and Recyclers can build Excavator Mines and Observation Modules. The Constructor must expend Energy to build these, but it does so significantly more quickly than Recyclers do.

Observation Module Upgrades

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Lastly, the Engineering Module unlocks three upgrades for the Observation Module structure: the Impact Driver, the Cascade Arc, and the Laser Array. These are, in fact, the same three weapons choices that the Constructor itself has (the Constructor starts a match with the Impact Driver weapon). Choosing one of these options permanently converts an Observation Module into one of these 3 turret types.

Impact Driver turrets have a medium range, can hit air and ground targets, and deal additional damage to Armored units. Cascade Arc turrets have the shortest range of the 3 turrets, hit air and ground targets, and deal damage in an area, with damage decreasing out from the point of impact. Laser Arrays are the most fragile of the three, but have the longest range. They can hit only ground units and are primarily useful against masses of low-HP units.

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Survival Module

Where the Engineering Module unlocks zone defense and survivability options for the Constructor, the Survival Module opens up offensive options. The Survival Module has 5 total upgrades for the Constructor, grouped into 2 sub-categories. First, the player is asked to make a choice between an area damage ability called Flame Dispersal, and passive energy regeneration in the form of the Solar Cell.

Flame Dispersal might sound like the obvious choice: it does decent damage in an area over 15 seconds, serving to break up fights, kill low-HP units, and/or assist in covering a retreat. However, since it costs energy it’ll keep the player’s Constructor going back to base locations for recharges more than ever, limiting the player’s effectiveness on the field. This is contrasted by the Solar Cell, which enables slow but meaningful natural energy regeneration in the Constructor, unchaining them from base locations for longer periods of time and granting them additional autonomy.

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Flame Dispersal is the red fire you can see center screen.

The complexity of the choice between the Solar Cell and Flame Dispersal is increased by the addition of 2 new weapons options for the Constructor: the Laser Array and Cascade Arc weapons can be chosen as upgrades for the Constructor from the Survival Module. The Constructor is able to freely switch between the Impact Driver, Cascade Arc and Laser Array weapons, but incurs the cost and research time of the chosen weapon each time it switches. Two of these three weapons do area damage, reducing somewhat the attractiveness of Flame Dispersal relative to the Solar Cell. Hopefully, these weapons and upgrades will represent interesting and non-trivial choices for a Constructors player.

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The Constructor’s version of these weapons differs slightly from those found on defensive turrets, but the basic principles remain the same.

Pattern Archive Upgrades

The Pattern Archive is the first structure I implemented in SCRAP. It unlocks the Junkslinger and Ram units, as its always done, but now also contains 3 upgrades for the Constructor that greatly change the way players will be able to use it. These upgrades are mutually exclusive, meaning when the player picks one they are unable to choose either other upgrade in the match.

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First, there’s Tracking Algorithms, which increases the attack speed of all Constructor weapons. Then, there’s Reinforced Plating, which greatly increases the Constructor’s health. Lastly, Engine Overcharge, which is of course a speed upgrade. Choosing one of these will be a cornerstone of the player’s use of the Constructor, really helping determine the role the Constructor will have in their army.

Recycler Changes

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The Recycler has gone from an uninteresting but necessary resource drop off to perhaps one of the key utility units in the Constructor’s arsenal. Not only do Recyclers sell units and structures (important in a limited-resource game where repurposing your existing resources can be easier than acquiring new ones; likewise important in a game where you  capture your enemies’ bases and then sell off their structures at a profit) but now they are able to lay down defenses, as well. They’re able to build Observation Modules, and once unlocked at the Engineering Module, Recyclers can build Excavator Mines as well. I’ve found that this creates an interesting dynamic, as players must now make positional choices with their Recycler, and aren’t just parking them near resources for Scrappers to mine.

What Follows

With the inclusion of the above-listed structures and upgrades, I’ve finally completed the Constructors faction Tier 1. There’s still so much left to do, including:

  • Constructors Faction Tier 2, which will include 7 structures, 12 additional unit types, and 12 additional upgrades. Tier 2 units will include powerful spellcasters, units capable of rapidly destroying Scrap, harassment units, utility units, and more.
  • A full map redesign
  • Implementation of the game’s true victory condition, and UI to support it
  • A retreat mechanic that will be applied to virtually every unit
  • The Dendrites faction, which has a similar Tier 1/Tier 2 split, but will be mechanically very different from the Constructors faction
  • An AI pass to make units actually work as intended when controlled by computer players
  • An art pass to make the game feel a little more distinct from StarCraft 2 (probably no additional unit models or anything, just some new art assets and maybe UI tweaks)

3 Comments on “Modder’s Diary – Name Changes and Milestones

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