Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rant: How You Know Things Went Wrong

I mentioned earlier a discussion on the SJGames Board about what is the most 'useless' weapon/accessory in Car Wars. Useless is the key, because many of the suggestions were for things that were rendered obsolete by later finagling. The following are quotes from that discussion (and then my commentary):
Oil Jet - it's a classic, but the Flaming Oil Jet weighs about the same, doesn't cost that much more, does some tire damage, forces a control roll at +D2, increases the chance of catching fire, creates a smoke screen, and goes away before too long.
He has a good point. The designers to make the FOJ more expensive, a twinge heavier, and more volatile. But it may need to be increased more to make the vanilla OJ more worthwhile.
[Twin lasers are useless]. You'll be better off with a high intensity Laser.
High-Intensity got renamed Pulse Laser; and he's really right. The Twin-Laser (also a late addition) was a balanced weapon - for a guaranteed +6 on damage you needed to sacrifice 250 more lbs. And as I've argued before, weight is *way* more important of a game balancer than cost. Cost means nothing in Car Wars design except at the very low levels. Weight is everything. And every change should have a weight component to it, or else it's begging for game-warp. And so instead of the TwL ($10000/750/2d+6) there's the pulse-Laser (12000/500, 3d+3 damage). Whoever introduced Pulsed lasers should have just gotten rid of the TwL, lowered it's weight, or raised the weight of pulsing.
Ice vs. Stickyfoam: Stickyfoam gives all of the penalties of ice but also causes a point of damage to all tires, slows the opponent by 5 MPH, can't be removed by fire weapons, weighs less, and only costs $250 more? Poor ice dropper, you look so lonely.
As I've mentioned before, a quick way to get me angry is to mention 'stickyfoam' (but that's because I'm old school). However, this discussion is my WHOLE POINT in a nutshell. Leaving aside the fact that ice-droppers are new equipment to my extreme Old School eyes, how can a new weapon like icky-foam be such an easy replacement for an old-school weapon? Just get rid of one or the other.

These are just three examples of what happens when Feature Creep afflicts a role-playing game. Any new device needs to establish why it fits an unfilled niche - that can't destroy a previous device/weapon. And if it will make the other weapon obsolete, either the original weapon just wasn't useful - and so the new device is just an updating - or the new device hasn't been designed with enough disadvantages.

There needs to be a real reason for new stuff that also preserves a real reason why someone would choose the old stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear JC,

Oil should immediately affect a vehicle's speed, ability to accelerate and ability to brake.

If you do not know already, many of the items you mention on your blog that are not in CWC 2.5 or UACFH can be found in the two Uncle Albert's Catalog Supplements available on Pyramid Online. You will need a subscription to Pyramid to download the Catalogs.

Please send me your e-mail address so we can talk more about gadgets like stickyfoam offline.

Wishing you an autodueling-filled winter holiday season,

Michael P. Owen
SWAT Webmaster