KKND 2: Krossfire Development Diary
I've been talking to the team about what makes KKND2 different from its previous incarnations. First off we talked about the big things, like the new units and new race, as I mentioned early on, but there are also a series of smaller improvements which should add to the KKND experience. I guess that's the advantage of having a prequel already under your beltyou have a great understanding of the genre and a good idea of what to do to enhance the game and gameplay.
One of the coolest new things in KKND2 that the team wanted to show me is how you can now build your own units. Constructible units become a menu option quite early in the gameat Tech Level 1and from then on you can combine pre-defined turrets with different bases to get completely wacky combos. They're a bit more expensive than regular units but they look very cool and sometimes do things you otherwise could not do.
Another too-cool feature is the built-in Unit Editor that comes as part of KKND2. Shane's worked hard to make the editor comprehensive and user friendly. Want that tank tougher, or are those missiles really pissing you off? You can change almost any of their statsrange, speed, damage, number of shotsyou name it. And (luckily) there's a "Reset to Defaults" button for if you've changed things so wildly you can no longer cope. This editor "officially" is only useful in a multiplayer setting, but I'm told there's a cheat to allow you to use it in single-player missions as well. That's one of those things that's good to know!
Speaking of multiplayer, that's a new feature in itself! Louis is responsible for that code, although credits Shane with the user interface. Finally we can play KKND with any combination of AI or human opponents, up to a total of eight. All my real-time strategy-mad college friends can't wait to get their hands on the game for this reason most of all. And it's going to be a Friday night hit here at Beam. I predict it will surpass networked Quake, and that's saying something!
The game now includes radar, which will help gamers to keep track of their immediate situation and surrounds a lot better than was previously possible. Paul's incorporated it into the game as a small square down at the bottom left (or top left)of the screen. There are three levels of radarbasic, which allows close range radar; standard, which shows all allied and enemy units within firing range; and advanced, which showed allied and enemy units on terrain you've traversed and expands visual range around the outpost.
Frank showed me the Altar of the Scourge. It's the advantage the Evolved have to counter the Series 9's superior unit toughness and the Survivors' generous turret options when building constructibles. The Evolved can create and sacrifice themselves at this Altar (with little death screams) to summon demons to fight for them. These mutant guys are terribly screwed upthis is Dark Ages stuff! Don't they know it's the year 2064 (or something like that)? I guess that's why the Survivors continue to feel compelled to straighten these guys out. Orerjust wipe them out.
Oil is now not the only source of power. Each race has a different source of alternative powerfor the Survivors it's Solar Collectors, the Evolved use methane (pig gasI was immediately taken with Jeremy's cute pig factory), and the Series 9 get Windmills. Higher tech levels net you more energy from these renewable power sources.
Players can now direct their units to a destination point via a series of waypoints. Andrew demonstrated that by joining a new waypoint to one that had been created previously, units can patrol an area in quite a complex pathsomething that, especially when playing in Fog Of War mode, could help ensure no-one's going to waltz up next to your army unannounced without a great deal of cunning.
Shane told me that armies in KKND2 can now build wallsthey're definitely a feature that will improve the game, slowing down or redirecting the enemy at strategically crucial points. You can place down section after sectionclick click clickwithout having to wait for each individual section to be built, so they're very simple to create.
Frank points out that buildings can now be recycled for a percentage of their build cost if the owner decides to do away with them after placing them. It's a sensible addition for beginning players who are unfamiliar with the buildings they need to place, and also for people who just can't decide where to put things.
It's about time I told you a little about the Enemy AI.
Paul's implemented a better smarter movement system for the computer player. The units check the map for sizable obstaclesthey also note small obstacles, but figure they can get around those using pathfinding at close rangeand based on what they find, divide the terrain into traversible divisions. They then find clean paths through each division of territory, and keep track of the map as a series of lines joining to and radiating from each other's end points. When searching for an optimal route, the units take into account not only the shortest path to a given destination, but also the enemy's threat in their own and adjacent divisions of the map. They'll often take the path of least resistance rather than the shortest one.
The upshot of this system is that the computer player understands the terrain a lot better than it used to. It can work out how many routes there are to your base, or its own base, and defend or attack more effectively.
The enemy AI checks regularly on a number of thingsjust like theplayer has to. It creates and repairs buildings as it needs them and searches for oil. It also keeps an eye on the other players and keeps track of the level of threat that could be mounted against the AI's army. It constructs new units in response to a given threat, or to defend its base, and groups and sends out units to attack the human player.
There are a number of commands your troops will respond to. Andrew has implemented Stand Ground, Disperse, Fight and Guard. Stand Ground causes the units to stop where they are and fire at nearby targets. Disperse scatters the units up to four or five grid squares before they resume a firing stance. Fight causes units to seek a target in visual range and attack it. Guarding units stand their ground until they see an enemy, and then they summon backup from their nearby friends to help in the fight.
Our new web department recruit Daniel suggested Kaos Theory as the new name for KKND2. We've been told there is some sort of naming plan in the works, so we're waiting to see what happens before backing one suggestion or another.
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