Warning! Due to its length and comprehensiveness, this is a multi-topic discussion. Read the “Prologue” before entering the thick of the post, and take breaks between each of the three posts. I suggest listening to music while reading, in order to keep stimulated.
I highly recommend reading all of the parts to The Turned, in order, from top-to-bottom.
You are currently on part 3 of 3.
PART 3 OF 3 of this multi-topic post covers many of the gameplay elements for the mega-post. This includes the complications of such wild enemy designs, how Excursions would function, and the unique loot in the game (primarily coming from Excursions).
The ideas are intentionally “far out” as to best start discussions over many different gameplay elements related to The Turned.
Nelson’s idea behind Excursions was that they would functionally replace the purpose of Horde Beacons. He has also not been against the idea of proper boss fights compared to previous games. Consider the following for part 3 of 3:
Even with some of the complications of designing crazier enemies, do you support their inclusion irregardless?
How do you feel about certain enemies having weak points, and armor that can be broken off to reveal even more weak points?
The loot being suggested for Excursions is intentionally unique as to incentivize players to do them for that loot specifically, and as to better separate such loot from issues that can arise when certain items become too easily obtainable (e.g., LMGs for raiding). At one point do you feel that the loot become “too advanced”, or “too silly and gimmicky”?
How important should Excursions be to the core game design and progression systems? How would you go about their implementation?
What is your opinion on certain events (such as Excursions) being instanced and forcing PvE on the players, rather than allowing anyone to enter at any time and allowing random betrayal PvP during such events (at least during vanilla gameplay)?
Should the end-game be with Excursions, or should something more challenging exist past Excursions? Would it be better for Excursions to be more “tiered”, so that players are almost always able to perform an Excursion, it just won’t always be for end-game loot?
How should enemy progression be handled?
Where do you draw the line and say something isn’t important enough for the game?
Zombies would always be the most common enemy type. Anomalies would function closer to mini-bosses for most players, and would only rarely spawn.
The chance for a player to encounter more advanced Turned increases the closer a player is to a high-end area, such as a spore-heavy Fastigium zone, rift gateway for Excursions, or deadzone.
Potentially Force a Timed Progression for Spawning
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On official servers and in singleplayer, more advanced Turned might not even spawn initially. Instead, their spawn rates would increase from 0 over time, and the areas they would be allowed to rarely spawn in would expand outward from rift gateways.
This potential timed progression shouldn’t be an issue for servers that never wipe, as it would just cap out and the enemies would still be “rare” irregardless. Additionally, while they’re “more advanced” Turned, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re impossible to kill without end-game gear.
Some enemies conceptualized become harder just based on the area they’re fought in (e.g., the Glaciopath, the Technopath, the Behemoth).
Some enemies have variance in their design that makes them harder (e.g., zombies with varying height/speed/damage/dexterity/health).
Some enemies make other enemies stronger when in their presence (e.g., the Apex, Overseers).
Excursions take players to an alternate reality, putting players at the forefront of long-ruined fortified complexes overrun by the Turned. Very dark and overgrown, it is impossible to survive in them for very long. The players’ objective is to get in, loot, and extract as quickly as possible.
Excursions are an important gameplay element to all players, regardless of whether or not they have reached end-game equipment.
Rift Gateways and Rift Complexes
Excursions take place in “rift complexes”.
Players can reach these rift complexes through “rift gateways” created by the Fastigium. Players must use an item to stabilize and activate these gateways when they are in a certain stage of their growing/decaying lifespan cycle.
When performing an Excursion, PvE is forced upon all the participants (unless altered by the server). PvP combat is not the objective of players during Excursions. All players are treated as a part of the same group.
Procedural Generation, and Instance Dungeons
Specific Excursions important to the story are manually created. Others are procedurally generated (during runtime) by connecting modular rooms together.
- Procedural generation is important to Excursions in order to provide a unique and tense experience each time, as players may never true learn the layout of the complex and must not only prioritize looting but finding the escape.
- Meaning that other players attempting their own Excursions wouldn’t be teleported into the same rift complex as the first group of players.
Excursions are tiered, so that players have any progression stage may attempt to obtain better loot and enjoy the mechanic.
The tier of an Excursion could be decided in one of a few ways:
The tier is manually chosen by the player when attempting to procedurally generate the instance.
When a rift gateway forms, the gateway itself leads to a specific tier.
There are multiple items that can be used to activate and stabilize rift gateways, with a different tier associated with each item
Selecting story/quest-based Excursions would just be a UI option while players are setting up their instance dungeon.
Excursion Setup and Wait Room
After stabilization of a rift gateway completes, players can enter for a limited amount of time before the Turned overrun the gateway and it shuts down.
For the players that make it through the gateway, they are put into a PvE-enforced “waiting room”. From here, players can create parties, start generating a rift complex, and select the Excursion tier (or story/quest-based Excursion).
Once the rift complex is generated and the party is ready, they can enter into the rift complex that makes up the Excursion zone. This is effectively an instance dungeon.
The only required objective of the players is to escape the rift complex without dying. Their side objective is to loot the rift complex.
Looting can be achieved through:
- grabbing items off the ground from various rooms
- killing enemies and searching their corpses for loot
- destroying Assimilation Nodes in order to obtain additional loot after leaving the Excursion
Throughout the rift complex “Assimilation Nodes” spawn that players can destroy with substantial damage.
Destroying these nodes will reward players will additional loot upon leaving the Excursion. The more nodes the players destroy, the more plentiful and advanced the loot can be.
However, some players may choose to focus on looting through other methods due to the increased presence of more advanced Turned species (such as Anomalies).
Players must be cautious while in an Excursion. Turned spawn endlessly, and more advanced Turned species (such as the Mega Zombie, Technopath, Behemoth, or Volatile Acid Zombie) are more commonplace at higher tiers.
Rift complexes are very overrun in Fastigium overgrowth. It is difficult to navigate, spores make breathing increasingly difficult for players, and Fastigium grapplers can easily immobilize players.
The Apex functions as the ultimate hazard in a rift complex. As time passes, the spore density increases and the Apex will begin to attack with its own Fastigium tentacles if players are entering rooms that don’t lead towards the exit. Turned will eventually become hyperactive, and zombie hordes will spawn behind players.
- Perhaps a mechanic could exist to increase the length of time it is safe to perform Excursions, if not just outright make it indefinite as long as players have enough gas masks and filters.
Upon completion of an Excursion, surviving players are teleported to the “reward room”. This room is a buffer between the rift complex and the normal gameplay world.
In this room, players can manage their inventories. This is also the room where loot is rewarded for having destroyed Assimilation Nodes.
From this room, players can individually leave to head back into their own reality. Players would be able to choose from multiple exit locations, and immediately upon leaving the reward room players can initiate in PvP again (although in most cases the relevant participants would have been in the same group anyways).
This post touches on a lot of unique concepts for damage, armor, enemies, and Excursions. This section helps to cover some of the corresponding loot that could potentially exist.
EMP devices could be throwables, or placeables, that allow players to deal substantial amounts of EMP damage in an instant.
Tasers and Stun Batons
Tasers and Stun Batons would be effective at dealing substantial electrical damage to a living target.
Such items could also include a miniscule amount of EMP damage, so that someone with enough determination could use such items not necessarily for base raiding but instead for disabling environmental hazards at more “end-game” areas.
Drones would be primarily obtainable through Excursions. They spawn as a part of a Technopath’s arsenal, and Excursions make Technopaths (and other advanced Turned) spawn more frequently.
The main gimmick behind drones would be their modularity. Players would be able to salvage drones from Technopath corpses in order to build their own.
Using the new modular attachment system, players would be able to substitute things like the chassis and rotors, attach wheels or buoys, and add on specialized equipment like:
- simple weapons
- explosive payloads
- GPS trackers
- small storage
Generally, I’m not worried about drones being deadly in combat because while they’re small and mobile, they’re something that’d be hard for people to easily control and they’re relatively fragile. Additionally, it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to aim the drone to face the gun at a player anyways.
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While players would be able to obtain sentry guns without encountering a Technopath, Technopaths also use them as a part of their defensive arsenal. Killing Technopaths would more easily allow for players to obtain sentry guns, especially more advanced (yet higher maintenance) sentry guns from Technopaths spawning during Excursions.
Flamethrowers, Molotov Cocktails, and Incendiary Bombs
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Players can craft, research, or loot their own incendiary weapons. Thermal damage is effective against flesh, and the Fastigium is just a mass of flesh.
Fire can burn targets, but more importantly it can set things on fire and spread to other objects. It’s an effective raiding tool against wooden structures, and is highly effective against many enemies.
Depending on how the Fastigium overgrowth is designed, some areas could be locked off entirely unless fire is used to clear the path.
Fastigium Mass would be a resource component (crafting material) for various end-game items. It would be obtainable from various Fastigium and Anomaly enemies, but would be most plentiful from completing an Excursion after destroying Assimilation Nodes.
This could be one of several “end-game” or “advanced” crafting resources tied to enemies rather than scavenging through the debris of the old world, mining, farming, or cutting trees.
Fastigium Mass would be used for maintaining infested weapons, and maintaining player-built Fastigium structures (such as effigies). It would be used as a resource in researching more advanced Fastigium-based items.
Design Philosophy for Infested Weapons
Lore-wise, Infested Weapons are conventional weapons that have been sent through an Assimilation Node.
As far as the weapons actually implemented go, the examples I’ve conceptualized are based on assimilating “weaker” weapons and making them more useful even in the end-game, for players that enjoy using a bow or handgun more than an assault rifle.
These weapons are also unique in that they could have their own rail system. Rather than use the conventional rail systems (e.g., Picatinny) they could be unique in having a “Fastigium” rail system that accepts nearly anything.
Really, the weapons are just meant to be silly and gimmicky, while making traditionally less useful weapon types more useful and fun.
Making bows relevant in the end-game, the Fastigium Bow is obtained through high-tier Excursion Zones, which a higher chance of acquirement as you destroy Assimilation Nodes.
One of the gimmicks behind the bow would be that it could be used to fire specialized arrows (crafted from Fastigium Mass) that deal physical damage in addition to something like Viral damage (making it both a PvP viable weapon and also useful against Bandit NPCs).
- An alternative gimmick would be to make the arrows it fires actual entities that attack the target for a brief period of time in addition to the initial damage of the actual arrow impact.
The main drawback would be the maintenance cost of needing Fastigium Mass to both repair the bow and to craft the arrows, which cannot be researched until having obtained the bow and arrows.
Making pistols relevant is the Fastigium Handgun. While it’d still have the poor range and low caliber of a typical pistol, it could have a gimmick of being more modular than normal handguns or functioning based on infinite but time-recharged ammunition.
Alternatively, it could have the effect of creating spore clouds, making it effective in PvP (or against Bandit NPCs) as a way to initiate fights.
Players can build an effigy out of Fastigium Mass that helps to repel zombie hordes. Zombies will still attempt to attack irregardless, and will attempt to avoid passing near the effigy directly, but are otherwise generally discouraged.
When an effigy is confronted by more intelligent Turned, the effigy is not as powerful.
Modular Powered Exoskeleton
Exoskeletons would be a modular system, with most of the pieces coming from performing Excursions. The “core” piece of the exoskeleton would be the Exoskeleton Harness, which would be obtainable in various tiers but offer the same “modular attachment” functionality. Could potentially take up the “backpack”, “vest”, or “overcoat” clothing slot.
From there, players can find other exoskeleton parts to attach at the cost of clothing slots. Exoskeletons are a gimmicky addition, in that they could provide a wider variety of stat bonuses to specific actions and situations, or boost the effect of certain skills via multiplier, rather than just outright make a player always better.
More advanced exoskeleton components may suffer from compatibility restrictions, forcing players to only use certain pieces together.
Examples of Exoskeleton Components
Vests meant to improve a user’s ability to lift heavy objects, at the cost of proper armor. Some exosuit components may take up multiple slots, such as using up the “vest”, “overcoat”, and “necklace” slots at the same time.
Strain-reducing soft exoskeletons, such as those used by skiers, which help maintain balance and improve skiing performance. Leg-based exoskeletons would take up the “belt” clothing slot.
Power loaders for increased weight tolerance and lifting strength, allow for car-based shenanigans and alternative methods for reorganizing bases at the cost of mobility and maneuverability.
Advanced visors interfaces that, when combined with other exosuit gear, increase their effectiveness. Rather useless without certain gear, and having a full set of exosuit gear could be a hindrance to the player due to providing more specific bonuses rather than general passive bonuses like physical armor.
Gauntlets that provide a multiplier bonus to punching-based skills. Arm-based exosuit components take up the “gloves” clothing slot.
Power supplies, as required for more advanced and integrated exoskeleton systems. Would likely take up the “backpack” or “sling” clothing slot.
While I imagine that most pieces would be obtainable solely through Excursions, it’s possible that the Exoskeleton system could be expanded to have some weaker and even more niche components spawn at medical centers, firefighter stations, or industrial locations.
Perhaps these weaker variants would function without a harness, but be bulkier and not modular.
Used to stabilize rift gateways for Excursions. Could potentially be obtained from killing specific enemies (e.g., Riftweavers), or through crafting. Potentially available in different tiers or efficiencies, and impact the difficulty of an Excursion.
EMP Shields, Capacitor Dischargers, Signal Outputters, and Initiators
In order for bases to properly protect themselves from EMP damage, part of the addition of a more advanced electricity system in Unturned II would include devices to help against the EMP discharge mechanic.
EMP Shields could take the blunt of the damage and reroute it, frying itself but protecting the electronics for a set amount of time.
Capacitor Dischargers could safely prevent major energy discharges from occurring when a device is sufficiently EMP’d. Although the device would still become inoperable, very little energy is lost.
Signal Outputters would read information about an electronic and output it for other electronics to use (such as an Initiator). Information that it would read could potentially include when the device discharges, when a major discharge occurs, when a device shuts offline, when a device’s discharge meter gets too a certain number, or the energy reserves.
Initiators would initiate functions with other electronics (such as turning them online) when they receive a signal.
The Complications of Enemy Hitboxes and Unique Mechanics
Due to the wild nature of the concepts, there’s some things to consider with how they could actually be implemented (if even realistic or worth the time and effort).
Complications of the Zombies
The zombies that have been conceptualized are very traditional enemies, and within the realm of possibility for Unturned II. Mechanically, they are all things that we have seen in U3 with the exception of “generally more advanced AI”.
Something to note in particular is having AI that branches off from the pack to flank players, and AI that can effectively traverse more difficult terrain or even scale buildings.
Additionally, the ability for explosive zombies to knock players back or down, and the ability for blunt weapons to knock zombies back or down.
Complications of the Anomalies
Issues with the Anomalies arise from their more diverse combat mechanics and more unique designs. These issues were intentionally left in, as it’s a part of trying to understand how much development should actually go into the Turned.
The BEHEMOTH is a large enemy, which makes it easier to cheese. This is resolvable by improving other Turned AI by making them start to flank players when they hold up in a building against a Behemoth, or by adding more destructibility to the world.
The TECHNOPATH is a levitating enemy, and has a lot of physical contact-based attacks and abilities. It also has abilities that manipulate its environment based on proximity, and can move other objects.
The PHLOGOPATH spawns smaller enemies. PHLOGOCYTES explode, and make other specific enemies explode too.
The GLACIOPATH burrows underground, and could potentially have exposed weak spots. It attacks based on sound, rather than visually recognition.
The ETHEREAL fades in and out of invulnerability and existence.
Complications of the Fastigium
The Fastigium’s biggest issues stem from functioning a lot like an object or environmental hazard, rather than a traditional enemy with artificial intelligence. While this is often achievable by large game studios providing a linear single-player experience, Unturned is an open-world sandbox game with a support for mods (including custom maps).
OVERGROWTH would be most optimally implemented as something baked onto maps through the editor. Being able to paint an area, including onto objects, for Fastigium mass to appear on would make it so that any map can implement such a thing.
Alternatively, Fastigium mass (or even plantlike overgrowth like creepers and ivy) could be a part of the procedural generation that layers itself over buildings, and than any building could have overgrowth over enough in-game time.
Then, fire could be used to maintain overgrowth by letting players dynamically remove parts of it from the world (at least temporarily). However, the usage of fire against overgrowth could just be restricted to specific Fastigium “webbing” specifically meant to physically impede movement.
SPORE VENTS would best be done with manual placement however, being an environmental hazard meant to impede movement by restricting areas to those with better equipment. It could be an automatic system too, but the ability to lock off specific areas would be more guaranteeable as interactive than randomly having such hazards placed on an official map.
Larger spores function like actual enemies, while smaller spores are more of an aesthetic thing that could possibly be handled by just boxing an area off for the effect to occur in (or having it occur around Fastigium mass in general).
SESSILE ENEMIES such as grapplers and Overseers function like traditional enemies, but are sessile and hinge on spawning attached to preexisting Fastigium mass. Although, they could just spawn with a lump of mass around them and the mass could decay like how snow works (tessellation).
RIFT GATEWAYS are object-like, but are also dynamic and complex in that they are constantly growing and decaying over time in-game. They’re also responsible for a time-based event, which could be intentionally prevented (or ignored) by the actions (or inaction) of any random player on a server.
THE APEX is a bit like an object, an environmental hazard, and an enemy. It doesn’t actually need a proper model, because players would never fight/see it directly, but it’s something that would be difficult to allow modders to make use of without just baking it into Excursions.
Its ability to force players out of an area is an environmental hazard, but more of a timed event rather than something placed into the world. It could have Fastigium mass impeding physical movement, and function like an object. Then, there could be actual tentacle-like Fastigium masses that could attack players, functioning like a more “traditional enemy”.
- In reality, the Apex would likely not be anything in the code beyond just the Fastigium tentacles that spawn.
However, making Excursions function with custom maps and other mods would be the most optimal. It might be best to just leave the Apex as official content, and then use a procedural generation (modular rooms, specifically) system for Excursions that any map (including custom maps) could use. This system could be kept modular enough for mods to add their own rooms into the vanilla generation runtime, and open enough that someone could potentially create their own “Apex” with an entirely custom Excursion dungeon if they really tried to.
NEOSPAGETOS is a more traditional enemy, but part of the idea for something like the Neospagetos is that it’s meant to provide a “full-on” boss fight. Part of that is having weak points that aren’t just the head, and armor bits that could be broken off to reach those weak points.
So, that raises the question of how much development effort should go into more complex and dynamic enemy design, and if such enemy design is even something people would enjoy in U4.
Complications of non-Turned
Although scarcely mentioned in this mega-post, some things should be considered for non-Turned entities.
- Animal packs (group and move together)
- Pack hunting (hunt together, more advanced combat AI)
- Hunting non-players (bandits, Turned, crops)
- More diverse AI personalities (domesticated, hostile, passive, neutral)
- More diverse AI expressions (growling, rearing, cowering, etc.)
- Using cover (crouching behind objects, or standing behind corners)
- Aiming, shooting, and missing (fine-tuning of bandit AI aimbot)
- Combating non-players (other bandits, Turned, animals)
- Bandit groups (pack of bandits that don’t attack each other, but still attack other bandits)
- Potentially audible dialogue
- Routines (NPCs move throughout the day)
- Guards (some NPCs exist just to maintain order in a safezone, and kill Bandit NPCs or hostile Players that roam too close to the compound
- Advanced vendor system that can handle experience, currency, or bartering
- Potentially instanced quests
- Interactive dialogue trees
- Interaction with players’ gear directly, such as markers on a GPS
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