Daily Design: Day 47
Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on three randomly generated words. Today, they are;
Fight, Sailing and Satisfaction.
As such, the game I’ve designed today is…
Hardships is a competitive multiplayer game where teams of players crew a ship and battle an opposing team (who are, of course, on a ship of their own). The game is set in first person, and your controls depend on your crew role.
Teams are divided into the following roles; Captain, Navigator, Boatswain, Gunners and Rigger.
The Captain’s role is leadership and management. It’s his or her job to plan a battle and coordinate the crew during combat. They do this by bringing up a sketch of their ship, as well as a list of the crew. By assigning crew to certain positions (which is as simple as dragging and dropping) that crew member is notified via HUD marker of where they should be. Fulfilling their duties increases the amount of experience that players earn, which is used to unlock new roles (players start with only a handful of roles, and more experienced ones like Captain must be earned – in the case of nobody being a captain, the most experienced player is assigned).
More importantly, though, this can be used to properly coordinate a battle. Because the game is in first person, the Captain has the unique ability of having an overview of their own ship. While it’s possible to stay in the relative safety of the captain’s cabin for an entire battle, that would mean that they have no idea how the battle is progressing, so risking trips outside (or staying out indefinitely) is a good idea. There can only be a single Captain.
Next is the Navigator, who steers the ship. This is relatively simple, but extremely important. The Captain can give the Navigator directions, accompanied by simple HUD displays, but as with all roles can do whatever they want. It’s especially important to deviate from the Captain’s plan in the case of emergency.
Following Assassin’s Creed‘s example, the front and back of ships is much more vulnerable to damage. This encourages tactical movement and stops matches from becoming a simple shooting gallery. There may only be a single Navigator.
The Boatswain is tasked with repairing the ship during combat. The means patching up holes, pumping water out if it’s leaked in and even healing the crew. While the Boatswain didn’t do all these things in real life (and definitely not during a battle), the game is less than realistic to begin with.
Boatswain players carry a certain amount of wood, and have to return for more supplies in the hold. If the supply room is hit, they can no longer repair once they’ve used the supplies on hand. Killing the enemy Boatswain(s) is extremely useful, but they’re also the crew member that moves around the most, so don’t count on it. There may be as many as two Boatswain players.
The Gunner’s job is to manage, aim and fire the cannons found in various places around the ship. Their role in winning a battle is obviously vital, but since they’re typically found in the same room they’re a common target for enemy Gunners.
Gunners must load, aim and fire the cannons. Loading is done via collecting ammunition and bringing it a cannon, then performing a short series of button presses to load. These are slightly randomised, and getting one wrong results in dropping the cannon ball, which (depending on the tilt of the ship) will roll away and need to be recollected to use.
Once loaded, a cannon can be aimed, albeit only slightly. Then, the fuse can be lit, and the cannon will fire a few seconds later. For gameplay purposes the cannon can’t be aimed once lit, and the movement of the ship and waves will also affect the trajectory of the shot. This means that hitting a general area is usually easy enough, but some skill and timing is needed to hit very specific targets, such an enemy cannon or the captain’s quarters (or if you’re feeling lucky, even the enemy Navigator). There can be as many Gunners as there are spots free on your team.
Finally, the Rigger. The Rigger is used to control the sails, which affects the speed of the ship. It’s very important for the Rigger to follow the Captain’s orders so they can coordinate with the Navigator to get a good position.
The Rigger has to manually move around the sails in order to manipulate them. While they don’t have far to move, it’s important that they’re careful not to fall as the ship moves around or is hit with cannon fire. Once at a sail, they can use a short (slightly randomised) quick-time event to control the sails. A direct hit to the mast of your ship is always devastating, but is practically a confirmed death for the Rigger, so (obviously) try to avoid that. There may be two Riggers.
By coordinating well, skilled teams would ideally have a quick workflow that allows them to quickly take down an enemy ship. I see the game working best when it’s a kind of production line set in a chaotic and atmospheric battle.
As the game would be quite artistically simple outside of the ships themselves (just water, sky and weather), there would hopefully be room to make the battles extremely immersive and atmospheric. Imagine being a Gunner when your team mate is taken out by cannon fire – splinters explode around you, and you hear another cannonball whistle past as the Boatswain runs downstairs to start patching the hole. The Captain yells an order (which I’ve just decided is what happens when s/he decides on a course of action) and you realise that you can’t sit around – the enemy ship isn’t going to blow itself up. Unless they’re bad at the game.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again tomorrow with another quick game concept.