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Some D2TM gameplay & plot ideas


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Stefan once said that it'd be a good idea to combine elements of Dune 2 and Cryo's Dune, so what about the following:

The Emperor is extremely anxious to harvest the spice quickly and repay his debts. To encourage rapid spice harvesting, Frederick has offered a unique opportunity to the House that delivers the most spice: sole governorship of the planet Arrakis and a share of the tax revenues. He has made this offer to the three great Houses: House Atreides, House Ordos, and House Harkonnen, and granted them special concession to mine the spice.

This is from the Dune 2 manual, and I think it's a good beginning for the Dune 2: The Maker Campaign story. This implies that, apart from conquering the territories, the player will receive requests from the Emperor to deliver Spice shipments (like in Dune). Perhaps it is wise to add day/night cycle, so that Emperor's requests occur every several days, so the player has to act quickly and conquer more territory => harvest more spice, as the Emperor's demands will grow, no matter how much spice the player has harvested and how many territories has conquered. Should the player delay the shipment, he will risk having trouble with Sardaukar (up to the possible end that the player's House is driven away from Dune and deprived of concession or even physically exterminated).

As you may remember, in Cryo's Dune Duncan Idaho would offer Paul to send more Spice than the Emperor requested - in order to please him. Perhaps it's useful to give the player an option to define the amount of Spice to send, according to the current supplies. Thus, sending the exact sum is OK, sending more will please the Emperor and grant you some benefits in future (as Sardaukar reinforcements and permanent alliance with the Emperor against other Houses), and regularly sending less will result in Sardaukar attacks and high probability of facing the other House(s) allied with Frederick.

This will imply that the Emperor and sardaukar are NOT necessarily the ultimate enemy in the game. Moreover, I suppose its a good idea to have a secret faction that plots to conquer Arrakis and the Imperium, thus being a threat to everyone - the Emperor, Houses Major and Minor, the Guild, CHOAM, etc. The secret faction may plan to have spice monopoly or to create synthetic spice equivalent, etc. Player must learn more and more about this latent menace during the gameplay. Say, these bad guys begin with small attacks 'from nowhere' (using Ixian no-chambers for stealth bases on Arrakis) and then come to large-scale attacks against all the Houses. They may build nukes and aim them at the capitals of all three Houses on Arrakis, etc. etc.

As for the other non-playable factions, there may be: Fremen, Smugglers, Landsraad forces, Water Thieves, Civilians, all of them playing some role in the game process (allies, quest givers, quest targets [say, local Fremen ask to exterminate a water thieves band], irritating enemies, etc.)

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This sounds like a good start for the game.

At the current state i want 2 things, but i see i lack time and i have to decide what to do. Basicly i will try to accomplish what i always wanted to do. Create a better dune 2 like game. I can create a dune 2 clone, its not that hard anymore. Basicly you can even find all elements in Arrakis. So instead of redoing that... i want to do more. So i will focuss solely on D2TM. No more mods, its sad, but i have to cut myself some slack.

This sounds good. A request for an amount of spice, sounds good.

I will have to figure a way out how to do the time in the game, day/night, etc. I can probably darken the screen at night... I'll see what i can do. It sounds like a good start though for the next version. :)

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There was an old RTS back in 1996, called War Diary, where the day/night cycle was created by using several different palettes for different daytime phases.

Apart from that, maybe sandstorms should be implemented too? Say, looking like the Whirlwind spell from Warcraft II, at least... ???

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I was thinking about this subject; however, only paying a substanional amount of credits to the emperor wont make a real big difference in the overal gameplay.

I was thinking of having real vilages in the game, with people. Like, when you are in an area with citizen. You have the area '100%' in control. But perhaps the people are not glad with ur presence, and you must gain their convidence. Things like that would make it more fun to conquer a planet.

Firepower alone is not enough. I see things like, being able to sabotage other factions (or being sabotaged) by 'terrorists' (civilians, etc) who do not like your presence there, etc. Or gather intelligence by other vilages..

This should be all going through the mentat i suppose.

Anyone has other ideas to make the game more diverse?

1. pay money to emperor

2. day/night cyclus

3. more factions to talk to, ie, civilians (fremen, etc).

4. ????

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i mentioned city maps ;)

I think it should be even possible to have cities on maps you build on. Or, even better, you should not build bases on all territories, but simply have troups (while there are no enemy troups) will give you the area. I think its dull to build 27 bases, 27 windtraps * buildings that eat up a lot of power. Then 27 refineries.. etc. It might be wiser to have just carryalls going out to different areas perhaps..

That needs some pondering, perhaps you should be able to let the local civilians get some spice for you, so you don't need to build bases all the time, and that they need to meet a quota for you.

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I forgot to mention that the day/night cycle in War Diary affected the gameplay in the way that at night there was fog of war enabled while at day you could observe all the unshrouded areas, no matter whether they were currently observed by your units or not. What d'you think of this?

The idea with civilians is excellent. The natives have the advantage over the regular House forces that they know everything in the immediate area (that applies first of all to Fremen). They are also a good source of intelligence and sabotage, as someone mentioned above. We could have 3 types of civilians: neutral, loyal to player and loyal to the enemy (who disguise themselves as neutral until it's too late ;)). Say, pour some poison into the water supplies (water supplies are located in windtraps, I think ???), or other acts of sabotage (rebellion?)

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I think saboteurs must be extremely efficient at nignt. Also at night visibility and spotting capacity should be lower than during the day. The day/night cycle should cause oscillations of the sand and air temperature which should have a certain effect on machinery performance, water supply, human health, sand worms activity.

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yes, thanks Ant ;)

I am currently buying a new computer (well, i finally made my order for all the parts, i will build my computer tomorrow...). After that, and reinstalling a lot. I can work on things again. And, it would be very interesting. Having 2 computers now hehe ;)

I probably need to rewrite a LOT of stuff, but from my long holiday & break from coding i feel its itching again. All in time though :)

Saboteurs sound neat! Yes, i also like the day night stuff, so on day you see everything. On night you only see what your units see. Thats kinda cool. I was also thinking of having some lights and such, if possible. THere should be light effects in the game.

I think there should also be another element, water... So, you deliver spice/credits (i prefer spice actually) to the emperor. But, another form of power is having water. So, perhaps windtraps also should generate water in that case. Making it possible to limit troops numbers, (ie troops use water, etc)...

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Thanks, Stefan.

Yes, i also like the day night stuff, so on day you see everything. On night you only see what your

units see. Thats kinda cool.

Thas was proposed by MrFlibble (I misspelled your nick, sorry) (as the day/night cycle itself) several posts above with a reference to War Diary. I find this toggling fog of war on/off feature very unnatural. I meant nothing of the kind.

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Let me reply tomorrow on your topic ant ;) Its not that i am not interested, but its that i am very tired. I am going to install a new computer tomorrow, so i hope to get some time tomorrow, read the big post (again, but more intensively) and reply on it :)

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Another suggestions release. I thought them out at night.

...maybe sandstorms should be implemented too? Say, looking like the Whirlwind spell from Warcraft II, at least...

Sand storms are a good idea, but they should look not like a 1-cell or a 4-ceel whirl, but like a big formless cloud of chaotically moving sand with some whirls in it. It will breake radio communication, make units get lost and loose control. And a very powerful storms will write off infantrymen and materiel.

There should be light effects in the game.

First that comes to my mind is snadows: they should change their length and direction as Canopus passes across the sky.

What about an 'office assistant'-style mentat? Click on the mentat button and Cyril, Ammon or Radnor will pop up and help you mail merge your siege tanks (or just give unit descriptions). And if you ever extend or mod the game to include the ixians, you know where to look for a metallic mentat...

Regarding the mentat-assistant, I meant more along the lines of having them ingame instead of in a screen of their own: so rather than pressing F1 and requesting info on a unit, you could hace the mentat 'talking' onscreen to inform you about a unit.

This Microsoft-style mentat seems bad to me. It will be very uncomfortable to have a mentat consultation on-line (with the game running). As to me, I'll always press 'Pause' when adressing my mentat in this case... In the good old Dune-2, when I was tired of fast decision making and very fast clicking to realise that decisions, I always made a visit to the mentat.

Another probable improvement is unit selection. In the current D2TM you can select a single unit by clicking on it or several units with a rectangle frame. I propose to add two new ways to select units:

1. Ctrl+click - to allow for selecting multiple units by clicking on them (like files in MS Windows).

2. Custom selection. Like Lasso tool in Photoshop, so that you can select units in any 1-connected reginon (not only rectangular).

After adding these, every time you need to give one common order to multuiple units, you won' have to make several selecton and give several equal orders, just one selection (of any form) and one order.

High-level fremen control.

In the original D2, when playing for the Atreides, you couldn't control fremen. I propose to make it possible to give them some general orders such as:

1. Assult on the enemy base,

2. Guard (a) selected space field(s)

3. Hold a place.

4. Patrol.

5. Guard your base

6. Collect spice (?)

7. ...

The possibility to give such orders may depend on fremen motivation (Dune-1).

Fremen control over sand worms.

A must have for D2TM (I know it is implemented in D2SD, but I haven't seen it). Since when driven by a fremen the sand worm is fully above the surface, it's more vulnerable to fire weapons (not almost immortal like in Dune-2). And there should be only a few of fremen capable of driving a worm, and the process of capturing a Shai-Khulud should also take a while...

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Thanks, Stefan.

Thas was proposed by MrFlibble (I misspelled your nick, sorry) (as the day/night cycle itself) several posts above with a reference to War Diary. I find this toggling fog of war on/off feature very unnatural. I meant nothing of the kind.

Fog of war is a matter to be discussed, I think. If it's in, then the sight range of units can vary according to the amount of light during each time of day. If it's not in, diferent measures of hindering observation at dusk and night should be done. Don't forget also that bright sun of Arrakis can blind the unprotected eye, so daytime is also imperfect.

Day is your enemy, night is your friend

(I,m not sure I quoted 100% correctly, but I'm too lazy to find that place in the book. You get the idea)

More to the fog of war question, it must be decided what type of player observation model is used. By this I mean that C&C games implied that player has the battlefield simulation maintainde by high-tech equipment, and every area once discovered by player's troops is constantly monitored somehow. The War- and Starcraft model, on the contrary, suggested that only units could observe the area, and info on regions that were recon'd but no longer observed by units or structure crew (I mean structure sight). IMHO, the latter model is more realistic. As for War Diary, they just meant you can't observe the enemy at night - and there's some sense in it too.

Making windtraps a source of water and thus 'troop limiters' like Warcraft farms has occured to me several times. Good idea! ;) Also, unit maintenance and navigation should not be hindered only by lack of lighting (or overdone lighting) but also by poor weather conditions such as sandstroms, etc. The stroms from EBFD are a very poor example: they should not only suck infantry into them but also deviate (in non-ordos sense of word) vehicles and air units.

EDIT: Sorry ant222, I missed your last post while I was writing mine, so the part about sandstorms almost duplicates yours. A small idea: what about making sandstorm graphics (as they really have nothing to do with Warcraft [and EBFD] whirlwinds) as numerous small 'wind-and-sand blow' and 'whirls' graphic overlays over the area that is affected by the storm? 'Shifting sands' would also fit, I think.

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As to fog of war, I mean the following. Everything a unit can see may be divided into:

1. Landscape features (dunes, rocks,...) //Once discovered, should be always visible

2. Units //Only visible when your units or radar station reveal them.

3. Buildings // hmmm... Maybe like paragraph #1?

IMHO, this should be satisfied all day round, with the exception that the possibility of spotting something should highly (and differently for various units) depend on the lightning conditions (and, of course on the spotter and the object to be spotted).

The night is a friend for fremen with their tactics and capabilities. As to highly mechanised forces of Harkonnen, darkness will hinder their sighting and control capabilities: only in the presence of good lightning their gunners will be able to spot enemies at high distances, effectively aim and engage them. Overlightning may be treated more easily (optical filters) than lack of light, so for hi-tech forces the day is more friendly, but, of course, not perfect.

So, the fremen-harkonnen confrontation will be very interesting when projected on the day/night cycle.

A samll idea: what about making sandstorm graphics (as they really have nothing to do with Warcraft [and EBFD] whirlwinds) as numerous small 'wind-and-sand blow' and 'whirls' graphic overlays over the area that is affected by the storm? 'Shifting sands' would also fit, I think.

I think, in your proposal sandstorms will look too tily (consisting of many small tiles) wich would be not very good for such large objects. They shouldn't reveal their cellular (tile) structure. Small seamless tiles will not be the cure. Of course, it may be difficult to implement... And yes, shifting sands would be very good.

Now I am leaving for the sunny banks of the Oka river. I'll be back on Sunday evening. See you later.

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Would be nice to see what they look like.

When I was working on the (unfinished) Dune game with Falknhayn, I thought civilian buildings are best made based on barracks and starport elements, with probable colour changing. What to you think?

As to fog of war, I mean the following. Everything a unit can see may be divided into:

1. Landscape features (dunes, rocks,...) //Once discovered, should be always visible

2. Units //Only visible when your units or radar station reveal them.

3. Buildings // hmmm... Maybe like paragraph #1?

IMHO, this should be satisfied all day round, with the exception that the possibility of spotting something should highly (and differently for various units) depend on the lightning conditions (and, of course on the spotter and the object to be spotted).

That's the Blizzrd model. I like it too. What about warcraft 3-like change of unit sight range according to time of day? IMHO, it's the easiest way to give certain units advantage at night (like Fremen) if their sight range diminishes to a lesser degree at night.

What about this: vehicles begin to have overall poorer performance if being in desert for too long, due to constant contact with hot sand?

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On visibility

What about warcraft 3-like change of unit sight range according to time of day? IMHO, it's the easiest way to give certain units advantage at night (like Fremen) if their sight range diminishes to a lesser degree at night.

In the proposal of mister Flibble visibility range (VR) is the strict border between what a unit can see (within the circle of a radius equal to the VR) and what it can't see. And it should depend on the lightning conditions (differently for diffeent units). I think this can be improved is several ways.

Let A have a VR of 7 and B of 8 cells. If B can shoot at a distance 8 cells, it can be located somewhere at this distance from A and fire at it with impunity. That should not happen. It may be corrected by adding the possibility for units to detect (more or less precisely) the direction to the firer, only if the latter reveals itself by taking a shot, and move in this direction until the enemy is seen.

Anyway this interpretation of VR seems too primitive if compared to what happens in reality. My visibility is restricted only by obstacles and lighting conditions, not by a strict VR. But I can't see objects of angular size less than a certain value. So, the angular size is one of the factors of the spotting capability. Another factor is contrast: how sharply the object stands out against the background. This deals with camouflage. A third factor is time: a badly visible thing requires more time to be marked. A fourth factor is motion. Moving objects are more noticable than motionless. And here we need the tangential speed constituent.

Given the first, second and fourth factors, we can determine the probability of spotting the object for a certain amount of time. Here I mean the time during which the object has been in the spotter's field of view.

Every units should have two vision characteristics. The first - responsible for the time factor (how attentive the unit is). The second - for the optical capabilities of the unit (the other factors). And for every object to be spotted the four factors should be calculated. The only factor non-obvious to calculate is the camouflage. So I propose to preset this value for every unit for every terrain type.

Here I haven't given a precise algorithm of calculating visibility, but if this proposal is found useful, I'll invent it. The same concerns all my proposals.

On the astronomical day length

Another problem I see is the solar day length in D2TM (in real-time units). Of course, it is impossible to set it equal to real Arrakis day length, so what do you think it should equal to? I propose to measure the average battle lenth and choose the day length so that 2-3 (or do you think this must be higher?) astronomical days will pack in one battle. Of course, until we measure this time, the value in question should be set by guess-work.

A new unit class

I think that missile launchers in Dune-2 by their properties (range, rate of fire) rather resemble artillery. A missile laucner should have a higher range, higher covering range of the missiles (not one cell as in Dune-2), much lower rate of fire and a higher cost. So I propose to replace missile launchers by self propelled guns and add more appropriate missile launchers. May be this will be the only unit class with limited ammo? Two missiles and, then, reload at the base. They will conduct indirect fire with the help of gunlayers (trikes, scouts (light infantry)). The only problem I see is that it will be too easy to inflict a serious damage on the enemy base. How can it be sovled?

What about this: vehicles begin to have overall poorer performance if being in desert for too long, due to constant contact with hot sand?

This proposal (as well as some mine) will make it more difficult to keep control over your forces. I am afraid, should we continue in this way, it will be necessary to turn D2TM into a TBS ;). Of course, it should be tested before.

All proposals have to load the CPU rather than the player so the game doesn't become infected by clickomania.

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We shouldn't forget that vehicles (at least some of them) are most likely equipped with devices that help with orientation, maneuvering and enemy spotting (i.e. radar, motion tracker and whatever). I don't know whether infantry has (or should have such devices). Anyway, these devices are needed mainly because of harsh weather conditions that hinder navigation of aerial as well as terrestrial vehicles.

Just a note: if we still follow the original Dune, then there are not so much sight-hindering oblstacles since the terrain is totally flat (with the exception of man-made structures, rare rocks and hulking vehicles like harvesters or devastators).

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We shouldn't forget that vehicles (at least some of them) are most likely equipped with devices that help with orientation, maneuvering and enemy spotting (i.e. radar, motion tracker and whatever). I don't know whether infantry has (or should have such devices). Anyway, these devices are needed mainly because of harsh weather conditions that hinder navigation of aerial as well as terrestrial vehicles.

I'd propose to assume that these devices are not good enough to be independent of whether and lighting conditions at all, so that visibility does depend (to different degrees in different units) on the latters. Radars are useless in ground units. They may have laser range finders, passive and active infrared visors, colour filters (for example, to cut off ultraviolet light, to reduce the blinding brightness...). Periscopes may be used by armoured vehicles instead of vision slits, and by infantry in order to safely look from behind the cover. All these devices seem impotent in the face of a sandstorm, but I'm not sure about infrared.

Why at nignt should visibility be reduced nevertheless? Well, maybe because infrared visors don't give as high resolution and high range as human eye (armed with some optics).

Just a note: if we still follow the original Dune, then there are not so much sight-hindering oblstacles since the terrain is totally flat (with the exception of man-made structures, rare rocks and hulking vehicles like harvesters or devastators).

Yes, and in the proposed visibility system there are many other factors which prevent objects from revealing (as limited VR in the classical system).

I thought about a kind of natural relief in D2TM, but I nothing good came to my mind. Natural relief would be: mountains, sand-dunes, ... Sand-dunes should be very slightly sloping, as distinct from mountains and rocks. I don't know how to implement it in an isometric game. We'll have to perform calculations of visibility in 3d. Is it worth thinking about it?

What about my other proposals in the two previous posts?

EDIT: One of main distinctions of my visibility system from the classical one is the fact that in my system large non-camouflaged objects (a harvester) will be seen from higher ditances than small and well-camouflaged (lying light infantry) and another disticntion is that it will take more time to spot the latters than the formers, other conditions being equal.

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I wonder how it can be done ??? According to my observations, all the RTS games known to me have the same system: each unit 'sees' or 'spots' any other unit/structure in a circle with radius equal to its VR, and, if fog-of-war is present, the unit reveals the area within this circle. Naturally it would be better if a unit could observe one segment of this circle at a time, according to its orientation, but it was never done (in RTS's known to me, at least), as it would eat up some CPU runtime.

Also units would spot enemy units outside their VR only if they were shot by these units.

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I wonder how it can be done. According to my observations, all the RTS games known to me have the same system: ...

Do you use your observation about RTS games as an argument against innovations?

I don't know any RTS with my visibility system too. That is reasonable: developers rarely draw their attention to game systems. Once they have a suitable system for a game, they won't change it. It is easier to derive the system from an earlier game and, by a few corrections, fit it in the new game than to develop a new original system. As a result, the original Dune-2 system (visibility and combat engines) is still used in most modern RTS with minor changes or with no changes at all.

Popov and Marconi didn't ask how wireless comunication was possible, when the whole world used telephone...

King's Bounty (all parts), Heroes of Might and Magick 1,2,3 - all have almost the same system.

Warlords 1,2,3

Xcom 1,2

Naturally it would be better if a unit could observe one segment of this circle at a time, according to its orientation, but it was never done (in RTS's known to me, at least), as it would eat up some CPU runtime.

CPU load haven't been a reason against this improvement for at least 5-8 years already. They strenuously improve graphics so that new games run only on the newest hardware, but can't limit viewangle in an RTS? I think there is another motive.

This particular improvement in Dune-2 would spoil the gameplay because units are not smart enough to correctly take this limitation into account. As a result the task to constantly monitor units orientation will fall upon the player and make the gameplay more annoying (micromanagement - as Nema Fakey calls it). Thus, this change will necesserily cause the need for other changes, including one very hard to implement: good units AI. And, after this is implemented, the gameplay will not be improved, but, rather, it will be a totally different gameplay. This implies a hard work and the risk for the game to be commerically non-profitable.

If you really don't know how it can be done then try to write more specifically: what difficulties/drawbacks/contradictions do you see in my visibility system (or, rather, a draft posted on the forum)? What do you think can not be implemented? Shall I describe something in more detail?

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Excuse the lack of reply, i have to work the whole week, did not have time to do stuff for the new computer this weekend so i reply quickly.

Doing a 'segment of a circle' would not eat that much cpu i guess. Its just that it makes the gameplay a lot less attractive i think. Also, there is no easy way to make units look for a particular spot. So you can't force soldiers to look north all the time.

it would be a nice feature though that units behind other units can not be spotted, though you an see them (as a player on the screen). Units in guard mode should only notice units in their FOV.

I think thats doable. Though, i am not a math guru. Its possible though.

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