Project Rumble: Deciding my battlefield I

For those who haven’t been following Project Rumble, I’ve become sort of stuck with where I want to set my multiplayer deathmatch style top-down shooter. For the full story, check this post. My next posts about PR will take a look at various settings that I could use, and evaluate them.

Underwater

It’s fitting that I start with this particular setting after a post about BioShock. BioShock was praised for its inventive setting as an underwater city, a sort of Atlantis. It had never been done before and this setting gave the game a distinct feel, both aesthetically and functionally.

For my game, I require a setting which provides interesting physics (for a challenging and interesting ‘flight’ experience), flexibility (for crazy weaponry and crafts) and a distinct visual aesthetic (to distinguish my game from the billions of other multiplayer shooters).

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Welcome to Rapture

 

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Physics

The original Rumble in the Void (the basis of my game) had simple but unique physics that simulated flying in space. Since there is no resistance, crafts would continue moving at a constant speed even if the throttle wasn’t used. Energy for weapons charges when your throttles are disengaged, so the players have to try to use the throttle as little as possible so that they can maintain their killing ability. The flight experience is really unique and it takes a while to master, especially as different ships have different manoeuvrability settings.

The ocean is a lot less simple than the nothingness of space. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about oceanography so I’ll need to do a lot of research to truly replicate the physics of deep-ocean movement. Here’s a primer from wikipedia; Physical Oceanography. From a quick read, the main physics feature that I would like to include would be ocean currents (the Gulf Stream for example). Certain areas of the map could be currents, which improve movement speed in a specific direction and hinder it in the opposite one. It would force movement so players could drift without using throttle. Apart from that though, I’ve got to admit that someone better can analyse this than myself! Therefore I’ve posted a question on Quora, so hopefully someone who knows Oceanography will give me an answer, then I’ll update this post! My main worry is that underwater physics would result in sluggish movement and give me no way to explain high manoeuvrability, which is a necessity in a dogfighting style game.

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Ocean Currents in 1911

 

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Flexibility

For crafts, the flexibility of the ocean is pretty good. Just look at some of the crazy shit in the deep, dark sea. No problem at all coming up with a cast of interesting combatants here!

One thing that is bothering me regards weapons. Water isn’t exactly the best setting for a wide variety of weaponry, what do you have? Harpoons, Torpedoes, Mines… Tridents? There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount that can be used in water.

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Sorry Poseidon but I'm gonna have to steal this...

 

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Aesthetics

Underwater aesthetics are definitely a strong point. Not taking into account the difficulty in producing these effects, the explosions and water animations will be pretty cool looking. The sound would be cool too, perhaps not as varied as any other setting but it would undoubtedly be unique. The potential for adding wreckage and debris would give some interesting map designs, although I do worry that water is water and it’s difficult to really jazz it up that much. Don’t want all the maps being samey.

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Shipwrecks and Schools (of fish)... just some of the treasures of the ocean.

 

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Conclusion

In conclusion the water theme seems a bit of a tricky one to design for. While crafts and maps could be rather interesting, the limitations on weaponry is a real downer for me. In addition, I fear the physics (one of the best parts of the original Rumble) will result in sluggish and slow gameplay… and not the fast paced dog-fight style I’m aiming for. I’ll do an update if Quora yields any exciting news, but I think the idea of an underwater shooter will sink into nothingness.

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Sam

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