After loads of arguing and a pile of note cards, my group settled on game mechanics and a control scheme for Mach-Arena. We figured two control options and a radio button would be best. Check out what the game will be like after the break.
Constant Motion Deathmatch –
Players are constantly moving forward at one of six speeds: normal, slow, fast, boost, tunnel, and tunnel boost. Camping is virtually impossible and players balance the predictability and unpredictability of opponents that are always on the move.
Deathmatch standard rules are: time limit of 10 minutes, blowing up an opponent increases a player’s score by 1, being blown up by someone else decreases a player’s score by 1, and the player with the highest score wins. If a player reaches a score of 20, the game ends early and that player is declared the winner. In the case of a split-millisecond tie a winner is randomly decided.
Open Field Combat –
Much of the game takes place in open areas where players roam and fight each other. In these spaces players can move more freely, able to tilt upward, downward, left, and right. Players can turn more quickly by pointing their reticle further in the opposite direction and strafe left and right. Players can also spin left or right to dodge once before needing to recharge (so no one can avoid oncoming fire forever). Power-ups are not found here but can be used. In order to find power-ups, players can go into tunnels. All players have a mini map that charts the locations of the other players and.
Players can only shoot directly forward and cannot see oncoming fire from behind. Player shots only travel a moderate distance before deteriorating, giving the shots a set range. Each shot grows smaller over the distance, and the impact damage it causes decreases with its size until it reaches a minimum size and dissolves. This makes point-blank shots more powerful and power-up shots more meaningful. Shooting at a player across the map will not work and players will need to move within range to cause damage.
Different vehicles have different attributes/stats and players can select a ship based on their preferred play styles. The stats are Speed, Power, Range, and Health. Crashing into another player causes both vehicles to explode. Contact with walls damages players at a constant rate and emits a scraping sound and sparks to notify the player of the harmful contact.
Tunnel Traversal –
When in tunnel paths the vehicles race forward at high speeds and players can rotate along the tunnel walls. Traversing the tunnels is incentivized by the randomized power-ups players can pick up but deterred by the obstacles and the risk of another player’s ambush at the opposite end. Power-ups can be utilized here and players still have visible mini maps. Tunnels can lead down alternate paths if a player moves into a hole on the tunnel wall.
Tunnels contain obstacles like stalagmites and moving spikes. Crashing into stalagmites damages the player and crumbles the stalagmite; however it will respawn after a few seconds. Players can shoot at the stalagmites to crumble them as well. Stalagmites are weak and crumble with any contact from players or even weak shots.
Moving spikes rotate along the tunnel walls the way players do, but do not move any deeper into or out of the tunnel. Unlike stalagmites, the spikes are short and metal so they do not crumble, but just roughly scrape the bottom of the player’s ship causing damage. Multiple spikes may be aligned next to each other, giving players a larger obstacle to dodge. Spikes are indestructible and do much more damage to players than stalagmites so it’s best to move around them.
Both the obstacles and the power-ups provide players with challenge and give reasons for players to look ahead and maneuver along the tunnel walls to benefit themselves as opposed to simply racing through with no input.
Power ups add a layer of strategy and empowerment. Players acquire a power-up by crashing through power-ups in the form of large floating icons located deep within the tunnels. One of each type of power-up is lined up along the tunnel walls and players can maneuver themselves in order to get the power-up of their choice. When acquired, players can activate them at any time. Once taken, the same power-up will reappear in the taken one’s place after a few seconds. The aligned power-ups slowly rotate along the cave walls in a similar fashion to the moving spikes. Players cannot shoot power-up icons to obtain them and must contact them physically.
Shield protects the user from harm for a short time, Frenzy rapidly fires shots with a longer range for a short time, Blast fires one powerful homing shot, Trap lays a stationary floating bomb behind the user for other players to run into, and Boost greatly increases the user’s speed for a few seconds.
Frenzy shots temporarily eliminate the shrinking mechanic and sends differently colored shots forward. Those shots do not dissolve until they impact a solid object, whether it be a player, another shot, or the environment. Blast shots automatically lock on to the player closest to where the reticle is pointing. If there are no players within a set range, the blast just goes straight to where the reticle is pointing. The blast makes a louder noise than most shots and if players know it’s coming they can try to move behind solid objects in order to make it impact the environment or another player instead. The Blast shot takes the quickest possible path to its target with no regard to environmental navigation.
Shield power-ups act as an extra amount of health that slowly depletes over time. By combining damage with decay time the power-up eventually dissipates.
The reticle on the middle of the screen steers the player’s ship and casts a ray that detects solid objects closest to the player. When it detects a non-player object it is grey and unsaturated, but when it points at a player it is colorful. It draws attention and shows what things could be shot at. When the reticle detects a player that is nearly out of firing range, it is much less saturated, but still colored. If the target is completely out of range the reticle is completely unsaturated as if it were pointing at a wall. The reticle disappears in tunnels and players have to rely on aligning themselves and shooting anything directly ahead of them.
The mini map on the lower left side of the screen has colorful dots representing the players moving around on a diagram of the level map. It allows players to keep track of each other and strategize accordingly. The player’s icon on the map is colored differently to make it stand out among the others.
The player’s health is displayed on screen and emits an alert tone when the ship’s health is dramatically low. The player’s health bar depletes from right to left and represents the percentage of health a player has left. When the Shield power-up is used it changes into a more brightly colored bar that represents how much time is left before the effect wares off, depleting to zero when the power-up time is over.
The health bar is labeled with the word “HEALTH” which flashes red and white when health is dramatically low and changes into the word “SHIELD” when the Shield power-up is activated.
If the player has obtained a power-up an icon representing it is visible.
The thrusters on the back of the ships are not necessarily GUI elements but do play a part in giving players information. When players are moving at a fast pace, the thrusters grow brighter, when moving slowly they are dim. It helps give visual feedback to assure players that their input has affected the game.
Names hover over opponent’s ships to help players identify each other. Players can create names for themselves when selecting their ships. Players cannot see their own names during gameplay however.
Vehicle Control –
There are two control options to choose from but all inputs have control over the same actions. The options are slightly different in terms of ergonomics and convenience. Players can switch controls whenever they like. The actions are: slow down, speed up, dodge left, dodge right, use item, shoot, move left (tunnel), move right (tunnel), aim ship, and turn ship. There is a radio switch that determines how ships enter alternate paths in tunnels via one of three input options. The only compatible input device for this game is the mouse & keyboard.
Being that Mach-Arena is a multiplayer style game, players are unable to pause. However, pressing a button brings up a semi-transparent diagram illustrating the player’s chosen control scheme. It somewhat obscures the player’s vision but player controls still behave normally. The diagram can be dismissed by pressing the button again.
Control Options –
slow down - D
speed up - E
dodge left – A
dodge right – G
use item – Shift or Right Click
shoot – Spacebar or Left Click
move left (tunnel) – S or Left Arrow
move right (tunnel) – F or Right Arrow
aim/turn ship - mouse
strafe – F and S
slow down - S
speed up - W
dodge left – Shift + A
dodge right – Shift + D
use item – Right Click
shoot – Left Click
move left (tunnel) - A
move right (tunnel) - D
aim/turn ship - mouse
strafe – A and D
Enter Hole: Choose from – Automatic, E, or Spacebar
Game Controls Image On/Off: R or Center Click