Happy Canada Day, folks.
For the longest time, Unturned has celebrated a great diversity of vehicles and transportation virtually unrivaled in other survival games. However, one hugely underdeveloped area with a lot of potential is the prospect of human powered alternatives to motorized transportation. This suggestion serves two purposes simultaneously: to present original concepts that would have unique applications to gameplay/balance, and to serve as a proof of concept for mechanics with promising potential in the realm of modding. While this suggestion is focused on human powered transport, many of these mechanics can certainly cross over with other ideas, some of which I likely didn’t think of myself.
This is not a comprehensive list of human powered vehicles; intentionally so, for the purpose of simplicity to demonstrate proposed mechanics, and because I anticipate Nelson and the modding community will fill in the gaps. I do however, aim for this to be the most in-depth of any suggestion that has ever been done for subject matter of this kind.
This post has been formatted for optimal viewing on PC, with the Dark Theme. Due to popular demand, it is also the first suggestion post I’ve ever done with pixel art, featuring animations to demonstrate key concepts!
First of all, my suggestion will use a few assumptions which I will explicitly state here.
Assumption #1: The content of this post fairly heavily hinges around the assumption that Unturned II will use either a stamina mechanic, a calorie mechanic (further reading: Metabolism Overhaul), or both.
Assumption #2: Items can have multiple uses. For instance, a paddle may be used both as a melee weapon and as a tool for paddling.
Assumption #3: This concept will interrelate ideas from my previously posted Skill System Overhaul. All of the human powered vehicles will contribute towards training physical/fitness related skills, and benefit from a more fit person via stat improvements such as increased stamina/calorie efficiency. A two-way beneficial relationship.
Assumption #4: There will be vehicles in UII that require you to shift gears manually as opposed to an automatic transmission. In my opinion shifting up and down should be initiated by two keys (I would have suggested Q and E, but those are already taken for turn signals, unless Nelson were to move the turn signal keys to say, the arrow keys).
Assumption #5: In-game tooltips will aid the learning of all these control schemes and other new mechanics. Support for these is already present in the current build (source: Devlog #012).
Assumption #6: A modularly designed vehicle modification mechanic of some sort will be present. In this suggestion, you can mount electric and gas motors to some vehicles.
Assumption #7: A new stability system is necessary. Two-wheeled vehicles and hull types of watercraft are affected - how prone it is to tipping, especially in sharp turns, and also how it much reacts to waves and swells.
Assumption #8: Vehicles that are light enough, from bicycles to canoes, can be dragged around by hand.
Mechanics are, of course, the backbone and the heart of this suggestion. The mechanics I’m suggesting here are also hopefully versatile enough to have uses for creative modding.
Mechanic #1: Multiple driver vehicles, and shared forward power
In the history of Unturned, all vehicles have had only one driver. There hasn’t been a vehicle that needs more than one driver yet - however, that is soon about to change.
This new mechanic allows vehicles to have more than one operator to provide shared forward power to the vehicle. Imagine each vehicle having a bar (should this be a UI element, or should be unseen?) which can be filled up by the total power people contribute into the vehicle at any one time (let’s call this the “energy cap”). The energy cap also has a limit for each vehicle, meaning that there is a limit to how much power the vehicle receives at any one time. If you hit this energy cap, you won’t be going any faster. This creates an organic way of implementing top speeds.
For instance, a quadracycle or a paddleboat can have multiple people pedaling at once to produce forward power. You can still operate these vehicles with one driver, but obviously one person can’t produce as much power, so the best performance comes from a minimum of two drivers. This applies to multi-driver vehicles that use strokes as well, such as dragonboats or two person canoes/kayaks, though smaller vehicles like kayaks have a lower energy cap and thus aren’t nearly as penalized for having just a single driver.
This animation demonstrates how two operators can stagger their sprints to conserve stamina per distance. The orange bar is the overall forward power of the vehicle, while yellow bars denote the stamina reserves of each player. There’s better ways to stagger sprints than shown here, but this is just to illustrate how it works. While players are recovering stamina in this case, they are still pedaling forward lightly with W.
Mechanic #2: Kick-based movement controls
One of the new control schemes in this suggestion involves a kick-based system.
With kick-based vehicles such as skateboards and kick scooters, holding W allows you to lightly coast forward, but you tap Shift to perform a kick that actually propels you. This consumes a bit of stamina, and allows for control. You can time your kicks to be as efficient as possible, gliding between kicks as far as you can, or you can perform quick bursts of kicks for extra speed in an emergency, but rapidly drain your stamina.
There could be an option in clientside (or maybe serverside?) settings to make kick timing automatic (as in, just hold down Shift instead of having to tap Shift), but automatic kicks will be a fixed, sub-optimal timing as opposed to the range of timing possible with manual kicks.
Kick-based movement controls still retain holding A and D to turn, and holding S to slowly reverse, though you’d be far better off just turning 180 degrees than reversing due to the extremely agile nature of these vehicles.
Kick-based vehicles will still be a lot more energy efficient than running. You can do it for quite a while without getting tired.
Mechanic #3: Stroke-based movement controls
Stroke-based movement for watercraft will perhaps be the most interesting of the movement mechanics, and the hardest to master.
Holding W will perform a weak paddling instead of a full stroke, similar to the behaviour of bicycles. Holding A or D will allow the player to turn on the spot by paddling, and moving forward is not necessary to turn (though it will let you turn faster than staying still). Holding S will also perform a weak paddling backwards.
In order to perform a full stroke, hold Shift while holding W, storing up its power. A bar on the UI will show this stored power as it rises (think Fishing Rods from U3, except the bar only goes up), and the player can time the releasing of Shift to perform the stroke. Hold Shift for longer to do a stronger stroke which consumes slightly more stamina but pushes you a lot harder. Once the upper limit is reached, holding for longer will not store up any additional power. Different vehicles can have different limits to stroke strength, and skills may affect this too. Borrowing an aspect of Minecraft’s horse jumping mechanic, there is also a free power bonus for timing a stroke perfectly at the limit (illustrated above in purple).
There could potentially be an option in clientside (or maybe serverside?) settings to make strokes automatic (as in, having to just hold Shift normally instead), but automatic strokes will intentionally be slightly slower than the optimal timing of manual strokes.
This adds a lot of skill into the movement mechanic, as a skilled player will learn the optimal timing for strokes to travel as fast as possible.
Mechanic #4: Deployable and stowable vehicles
Perhaps the most interesting implications to modding would be a mechanic allowing players to deploy a vehicle from the inventory, and later pick it up and stow it again for redeployment. This wouldn’t apply for full size vehicles, but rather, pseudo-vehicle transport options such as a skateboard or kick scooter.
Dropping the item would deploy the vehicle in its proper vehicle form instead of as an item like U3. However, there should be an option for modders to bypass this manually and have vehicles with unique item forms.
I could imagine modders having the most fun with this mechanic by creating all sorts of portable vehicles or contraptions (for instance, recreating the hoverbikes from Destiny by allowing the player to deploy them at a whim with an item).
Mechanic #5: Momentum with regards to top/maximum speed
Conservation of momentum (especially downhill) already exists in a degree as of the Vehicle Demo. For many of the modes of transport in this suggestion, their top speed attainable under their own power is intended to differ from their true maximum speed. This would open up a lot of interesting avenues regarding vehicle design and balance. Generally speaking, heavier and more aerodynamic vehicles can retain momentum stronger, and for longer.
Generally speaking though, I hope for substantially improved vehicle physics over U3, including physics with regards to watercraft, current, and hydrodynamics. It’ll likely be difficult to code though, so who knows.
A prime example utilizing this is the quadracycle - a 4-wheeled pedal powered vehicle which has a maximum speed comparable to that of cars, despite reaching only bicycle speeds under its own power.
Mechanic #6: Forced ejection from a vehicle
Crashing or taking too hard of a fall while using some of these vehicles, such as bicycles, skateboards, and kick scooters, should forcefully eject you from the vehicle (and this speed will differ for every vehicle, as some are safer than others). In addition, the faster you are travelling, the more damage you will take from getting out. This also applies to normally exiting any vehicle while it is moving (though you shouldn’t take any damage from exiting at low speeds).
There is potential to add a mechanic where you can attempt to reduce the damage taken ejecting from a vehicle by rolling with it, but that is out of the scope of this suggestion.
Now for the actual vehicles and items that comprise the applications of the mechanics, and assumptions, into gameplay.
Modes of Transport
Pedal-powered land vehicles
Examples: Bicycle variants (Urban Bicycle, Tandem Bicycle, Mountain Bike, BMX Bike), Quadracycle
These are perhaps the most easy to understand, because a bicycle already exists in U3.
Pedal-powered land vehicles overall all operate in the same manner at a basic level. Hold W to lightly pedal forward, or W + Shift to perform a pedal sprint that costs stamina/extra calories. A and D steer, while S allows reversing at a much slower speed. Vehicles in this category can have gears, and there is a tradeoff - lower gears reduce the movement slowdown when going uphill, while higher gears allow improved efficiency and speed per stamina/calories on level ground or downhill.
There’s room for many bicycle variants that have different advantages on different terrain, ease of repair, or agility, creating many niches. Urban Bicycles would be light and stamina efficient, Tandem Bicycles seat two players and use shared forward power, Mountain Bikes excel on all terrain and have many gears for climbing hills, and BMX Bikes can very tightly turn to avoid obstacles.
Quadracycles can be very unique, as they have 4 wheels for unrivaled stability, very many gears, and multiple sets of pedals for up to 4 passengers. They also have the space to carry more cargo than bicycles, and as previously mentioned have a very high maximum speed as their heavier weight maintains momentum downhill.
Bicycle variants can all be stowed onto a vehicle with a bike rack, and along with quadracycles also be locked/chained to a stationary bike rack, streetlight, signpost, or other applicable object if necessary. They cannot be locked in the same fashion a regular vehicle can.
Vehicles in this category allow the main driver to use one-handed weapons. Other operators and passengers can use two-handed weapons.
However, most of these vehicles are not designed for going off-road, and will suffer acceleration and top speed penalties by doing so.
Examples: Skateboard, Longboard, Kick Scooter
Kick-based vehicles utilize a new control scheme as outlined above (Mechanic #2). This allows for more precise control, in terms of being able to space out time between kicks to maximize distance for stamina, or to perform rapid bursts of kicks to get away from a threat much faster, but with a significantly heavier toll on stamina.
These modes of transport also happen to have a unique advantage (Mechanic #4): due to their small size, they can be deployed and stowed repeatedly! This makes them ideal for use in urban areas.
The key disadvantage of kick based vehicles, however, must be kept in mind at all times - hitting any obstacle will easily hurtle the user out and cause injury! None of these vehicles are off-road efficient either, nor do they have gears.
Examples: Inline Skates, Roller Skates, Snowshoes, Ice Skates, Skis
These items serve a very specific niche as they are not vehicles. They can be stowed away in the inventory easily, or brought out for use. However, they are not deployed like the kick-based vehicles are - they are worn! All of them occupy the shoes slot of the clothing system.
As opposed to custom movement schemes, all of these will use stat multipliers to affect movement. All of the wearable transport options have a particular terrain type which they excel at in mobility. They will substantially improve the efficiency of stamina/calories required to travel a given distance.
Stat multipliers will be set up in a way that forward speed on ideal terrain is significantly multiplied, but backwards and sideways speed is greatly reduced. Thus, when using these, you will probably be holding W and simply facing a different direction to turn.
Unfortunately, many of these almost completely hamper the player in non-ideal terrain types. In addition, taking any fall damage while wearing these will damage their condition.
Rowing stroke-based water vehicles
Examples: Rowboat, Racing Boat
Our first category of watercraft in this suggestion are rowing watercraft that utilize a new stroke-based system of propulsion (Mechanic #3). These boats also seat multiple people, and in many cases can have more than one person contributing to forward power.
Now, as you’re reading this, you may have noticed that rowing and paddling watercraft have been split up into two categories, but what even is the difference between the two?
Well, it’s a technical difference that doesn’t affect gameplay too substantially - rowing watercraft involve the use of paddles that are mechanically affixed to the watercraft, while paddling uses paddles that are completely free from the watercraft. This means is that rowing watercraft will always come with paddles that are attached by default (though they are removable, and can spawn with one or more paddles missing), while using a paddling watercraft requires the player to bring their own paddle, using up inventory space.
This makes rowing watercraft more accessible balance-wise, but also, more stamina/calorie efficient as a person uses less energy on a fixed paddle.
However, many of the larger watercraft will suffer slightly reduced performance with only one operator.
For this category, the boats come in a vast variety of seating sizes and hull shapes, and there’s lots of room for stats to vary. Generally smaller craft are more agile and efficient but have less seats (for both operators and passengers) and lower energy caps than the forward power of larger vehicles.
Paddling stroke-based water vehicles
Examples: Canoe, Kayak, Dragonboat, Inflatable Dinghy
Our second category of watercraft, as mentioned before, is distinguished by the fact that they don’t come with paddles.
You have to bring one along with you, and paddling without the paddle being affixed to a point on the vehicle is harder on your arms (and drains stamina more quickly).
The key advantage is that any person seated in a vehicle of this class can contribute to forward momentum if they bring a paddle! They are not limited by points at which a paddle can be attached, unlike rowing watercraft.
Canoes and kayaks are 1 or 2 person watercraft, but have the specialty of being so light that they suffer minimal penalty to efficiency with just one operator. They can also be stowed onto a larger vehicle with a compatible rack.
Dragonboats and Inflatable Dinghies have huge amounts of room for people and cargo. In addition, Inflatable Rafts can be deflated to make transport easier, and smaller models of Inflatable Rafts deflate so small that they can be carried in the inventory. Inflatable Dinghies are unfortunately very vulnerable to puncture damage however, and holes will need to be patched up and the dinghy reinflated or you risk it all sinking.
Pedal-powered water vehicles
This is a fairly niche category and functions identically to pedal powered vehicles on land, but in an aquatic environment.
The Paddleboat is a low tier watercraft. It’s slow, sluggish, and unremarkable, but it is decently durable, very stable and can utilize shared forward power. The wide base of support also allows for the easy carrying of cargo. They can be very commonly found at civilian docks, especially at lakes.
Bike Lock & Bike Lock Key
As stated above, a Bike Lock is a relatively common household item used to lock bicycle variants and quadracycles to objects. Can be broken using heavy tools (or heavy munitions if you’re crazy enough). Each key is unique to a single Bike Lock and is also not constricted to one player (as long as you have the correct key, it doesn’t if you’re the one who locked it). Bike Lock Keys will always spawn alongside Bike Locks.
For immersion, perhaps bicycle variants and the quadracycle have a chance to spawn already locked to something, requiring the correct key or brute force in order to obtain it.
Epoxy Glue is a new type of item that can be used as a versatile crafting material and bonds wood, plastics, and fiberglass. In the context of this suggestion it is also a key material needed for repairing various vehicles and items, including skateboards, longboards, skis, snowshoes, and most watercraft.
Epoxy Glue can be found more commonly in industrial locations and hardware stores, and more rarely as a household item.
If you really wanted to, you could drink it, but unlike in U3, all it’ll do is make your death exponentially more painful as you wither away to poisoning.
Ski Poles are a new item specifically added for the skis, and allow you to push yourself forward easily. You can try to use the skis without Ski Poles, but you won’t be able to generate much momentum with just the Skis alone.
You will need two Ski Poles for maximum maneuverability on skis, but it is possible to use just one, potentially while using the spare hand to wield a weapon. Ski Poles themselves can also be used as melee weapons in a pinch, acting as spear-like puncture weapons. Using them this way will very quickly wear them down however.
Ski Poles can be found in the same alpine locations as skis, and a single one will take up 3x1 slots in the inventory. Two Ski Poles will stack though, so carrying a set of two will still be 3x1 slots altogether.
BONUS Expansion - The ability to motorize vehicles
I’ll keep this relatively open to interpretation due to the lack of clarity surrounding vehicle modification, but you have the ability to motorize some of the vehicles in this suggestion with either an electric or gas powered motor, vastly improving their speed at the cost of requiring fuel or battery charge.
Vehicles with motors can still be used with human power, but the weight of the motor will slow it down in terms of acceleration. Fortunately, there is already a mechanic implemented for starting and turning off engines in cars, so that mechanic will carry over to motorized transport here as well. With the motor on, you will be using standard controls akin to that of normal motorized vehicles, while with the motor off, the control scheme will be the previously specified behaviour. (For example, a motorized rowboat with the motor turned on will utilize normal WASD controls like in U3, and with the motor turned off it will use rowing controls).
Motors can be found whole very rarely in applicable locations, but you’ll most likely be assembling one from more common parts (or potentially a makeshift improvised motor altogether). Outboard motor kits for watercraft will also require a propeller/rudder, making them more expensive to construct than a land-based motor. Larger vehicles and watercraft require more powerful motors, and this distinction will be enforced via having separate types of motors that can only be used by a restricted set of vehicles.
Generally, electric motors are incredibly quiet, efficient, and lighter than gas motors, but are more complicated to assemble. Gas motors have the advantage of a full tank of fuel lasting a lot longer than an electric battery’s full charge, but they are of course quite loud, heavier, and less compact.
Here are the different classes of motors available:
Electric Cell: Very compact electric motor for all kick-based vehicles.
Electric or Gas Bike Motor: Small motor for all bicycle variants.
Electric or Gas Quadracycle Motor: Unique motor for the quadracycle. Difficult to build, must be constructed from scratch. Can connect to either front or rear axle potentially, allowing for the choice of FWD or RWD. Perhaps even a modification to have an AWD shaft modification, but that’s out of the scope of this.
Electric or Gas Light Outboard Motor: Smaller motor with propeller and pivot, used by canoes & kayaks.
Electric or Gas Outboard Motor: Large and heavy motor with propeller and pivot, used by rowboats, inflatable rafts, and paddleboats. The heaviest/largest motor out of all of these.
So, I’ve already covered the mechanics and you can imagine how they could be utilized for modding, but how does the actual content of this post fit into the gameplay meta as is? Well, here’s a few specific ideas I’ve had.
Many of these options can be either silent or far quieter than most motor vehicles, in addition to being more agile and able to maneuver in tighter spaces versus more common motorized transport such as cars.
They’re far easier to maintain, and find (especially in working condition!) than cars. They’re also more expendable as a result, and provide a good variety of early game options. However, as a tradeoff to being so accessible, none of these vehicles can be locked (although bicycle variants and the quadracycle can be chained/locked to an object to prevent it from being moved away).
As stated in Assumption #3, they not only benefit off of your fitness related skills, but provide a way for you to continue training them while still having a superior method of transportation than just running or swimming.
Some of these vehicles are portable on your person (such as any of the kick-based vehicles or the non-vehicle items), or transported in a larger vehicle (such as bicycles, canoes, and kayaks on rooftop racks) and allow for a quite versatile alternative to conventional vehicles. They are easy to deploy or put away when the situation requires.
In an environment with lots of snow, human powered transport will be hugely useful, as both movement on foot and most motorized vehicles will be substantially slowed down by the snow.
Quadracycles can reach car speeds in some situations, while also seating 2 or 4, making them perhaps one of the best human powered vehicles.
Inflatable rafts and dragonboats can seat significant numbers of passengers, giving them a special niche of their own. As an additional possibility, inflatable rafts can even possibly be found as life rafts on larger watercraft, complete with paddles to match!
Bicycle variants and the quadracycle have a chance to be found pre-locked to an object in cities/towns for additional immersion, requiring either the correct key or brute force to bypass the lock.
To add to the versatility of all of these, some can be retrofitted with electric or gas motors, bringing them closer up to par with small motorized vehicles.
As I could imagine, a lot of players are going to use all of the things in this suggestion for RP.
You made it to the end!
I hope my effort showed through this time! One of the challenges here was creating a new format that would convey my ideas in a much clearer and easy to understand way by breaking down and sorting them systematically. There’s a lot that could be expanded or worked upon for the future, whether by myself or by others. I put a lot of thought into the implications of this suggestion as a part of Unturned II. Your feedback means a lot to me - past feedback has helped me immensely in the making of this post, as well as influencing my style in general. Encouraging discussion on these points, some within the scope of the suggestion and others far outside of it, will certainly be beneficial. Thank you all, as always, for reading!
A special thank you to @ThatGuyYouDontKnow for providing tons of valuable draft feedback.