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star_bounty_hunters

Star Bounty Hunters

A Metroid knockoff with with RPG elements that uses a Metroidvania Level Generator to create the levels.

Mercenaries

You can hire mercenaries to assist you. They will want a cut of the pay, usually 10% or more. You can also act as a mercenary, taking a small cut of others' missions.

If you hire someone with their own ship, they may insist that you pay their launch and return costs in addition to any percentage of the trip receipts.

Mercenaries may want an upfront payment in addition to the percentage cut.

Ally AI

The game will need a good enough AI to make hiring mercs worth the cost. AIs would need to handle:

  • Basic maneuvering
    • Recognizing footholds
    • Climbing and descending platforms in vertical shafts
    • Use of Climbing Line to swing
    • Use of Climbing Line to rescue people
    • Shooting destroyable blocks to create platforms
  • Following the leader
    • Staying near the leader
    • Repeating the leader's actions
  • Basic Combat
    • Selecting a target from multiple enemies
    • Dodging multiple enemies
  • Tactical awareness
    • Weapon selection (missiles against hard enemies)
    • Staying back when damaged
    • Assisting damaged allies
    • Using Refueling/Recharging items when needed
    • Dropping loot to fight and picking it up again
      • Dropping loot in a safe place
        • Unless they need to fight now
  • Retreating
    • Discovering path back to ship
      • (Can be faked after AIs leave the main party)
    • Dragging a wounded player back to the ship
      • (Can be faked by changing player control)
  • Use of environment
    • Doors
    • Lifts
  • Quitting - after a few returns to the ship, they may have had it and tell you it's time to leave.

Specialists

Certain mercenaries are Specialists with Special Skills. Your character will not have these skills. You will have to hire someone who has them and guide them successfully to the target.

Teer

The Teer (Gadgeteer) is able to open certain doorways and activate certain lifts. One may be needed to complete certain expensive missions. If you do not have a Gadgeteer, you can try to operate the device yourself. This has a chance of failure and will cost several minutes of game time (spending too much game time allows the bounty target to escape). Teers may do extra damage to technology-based enemies.

Zark

The Zark (Xenoarchaeologist) is able to activate alien devices. These devices are rarer than gadgets and cannot be activated without a Zark. Most Zarks will demand a share of loot found. Alien devices hide the best treasure rooms and may themselves be treasures that you cannot recognize the value of without a Zark.

Scarcity

Teer skills are much more common than Zark skills. You can almost always find a Teer at some price, but sometimes there is no Zark on the station.

Mission descriptions will tell you if a teer or zark is absolutely required for the mission to be completed.

Map generation

Several map generation algorithms will be needed:

  • Fortress Definition: Given a bounty target and the target's stats, this will describe the size of the fortress, the number of minibosses and bosses, and the amount of loot that might be found in the fortress. Also define the general location as being in space or on a specific type of planet.
  • Overall Map Generation: Generate the key rooms, connecting rooms, and graph of ideal movement between them. Mark rooms with multiple connections as being large, long, or tall.
  • Treasure Room Generation: Add a few loot rooms to the map.
  • Region Generation: Mark clusters of connecting rooms as having a certain tile set. Compare to Metroid's separate tile sets for Norfair and Brimstone. This will depend on the target location, as different tile sets will be used for a planet or a space station, or an M-class planet versus a dead planet.
  • Internal Map Generation: Build the internal room structure based on the region, the room specification, and the needs of nearby rooms. Rooms should generally be rectangular and not overlap if one were to draw a map of them all. Any paths leading to the target should be traversable by any hunter, although many bonuses will only be accessible to the most nimble and highest jumpers.
  • Monster Populator: Place defenses within the rooms. The types of defenses will be determined by the target location (more technical defenses in space stations and bio on planets), the target's wealth, and the target's attitude towards bio and tech weapons. This might be done at the same time as internal map generation, or in a 3-step process where the enemy strength is guessed, the room is generated for enemies to be fit into, and specific enemies are then planted.
  • Bonus populator: Add a few bonus items to the map, such as missiles and energy. This populator would need to guess where they might come in handy to the player and whether the bonuses should be hidden or openly displayed. This may be done before the internal map generation.
  • Fake secret generator: Remember the secrets in Metroid that did not lead to anything? They really pissed you off, right? Populate the map with a few of them.

Time Limits

When on a mission to capture a sentient target, you have a time limit before they get away. The counter begins when an alert is thrown at the target's base. You may or may not be notified. It is possible to advance stealthily for the first few minutes of a mission.

Teer and Zark work opening doors will cost game-time, allowing the target to raise defenses, hide items, change strategy, etc. You may be ambushed while waiting for your specialist to finish.

Enemy Strategic AI

Defender AI actions:

  • Attack - Approach and engage the intruders. If the target thinks they can beat you in a fight, they will try. They will retreat if the fight goes badly.
  • Move to a Combat Room and wait to fight the intruder. The Combat Room is on the critical path between regions and will usually contain automated defenses, platforms, etc. This decision basically sets up a boss battle.
  • Hide - Move to a Shelter Room. These rooms are usually small rooms off the critical path.
  • Escape - Move to an escape vessel. Targets will usually do this only when they are severely outmatched by the intruders.

Defender commander AI can give orders to specific units:

  • Meet with Commander / Subcommander - Target AI moves to a location and begins taking orders from whoever is there.
  • Scout - Search for the intruders and attempt to slow them down, but do not engage in a drawn out battle.
  • Distract - Briefly engage the intruders and attempt to draw them off the critical path.
  • Engage - Attack and attempt to destroy the intruders (you). AIs will fight until their commander is down, and then they will act independently.
  • Take position - Move to a location, usually on the critical path, prepare defenses, and engage the intruders if they arrive.
  • Move materials from A to B - Move valuable objects and data from a forward location to a rear location.
  • Escape - Leave, usually taking valuable objects with them.

Equipment

Suit types

There are lighter suits and heavier suits.

Heavier suits will give you more hit points and grant heavier carrying capacity for heavier weapons at a cost to jump height and maneuverability. Lighter suits provide the opposite.

Lighter suits reveal enough of the character's hair and skin color to allow you to distinguish between them.

Climbing line

A device attached to the forearm of every Heavy Suit. Lightsuit owners may have to buy separate adapters and a load-bearing connector to the main suit in order to have a Climbing Line.

The Climbing Line works like Super Metroid's Grapple Beam in allowing the user to swing between certain blocks.

The Climbing Line can also grab onto an ally, allowing one hunter to swing down a cliff while the other stays atop holding the line. A large squad can create a chain of Climbing Lines to save an ally from a lava pit.

Two Climbing Lines can also grab onto each other, allowing an extra connection distance for hunters who cannot quite reach each other.

The Climbing Line may be able to grapple certain enemies. Of course, reeling them in will let them hit the operator, but a skilled player may be able to pull walkers off of ledges and knock flyers out of the sky and stun them.

Holding the fire button and pressing DOWN will slacken the line, while pressing UP will reel the line in. The hunter on the line can also press DOWN or UP to slacken or reel in the line; the assumption is that they told the operator what to do.

Enemy

Enemy classes

The two major classes are biological and technical.

Bio

Biological enemies are large creatures genetically engineered for killing, with claws able to pierce advanced armours. Their primary advantage is that they respawn after a hunter leaves the room and re-enters.

Tek

All technological enemies are single-use and do not respawn, although they may be repaired between missions if a target survives a mission.

BSU

Biological Single Use creatures generally have a short life span and are unable to reproduce. They are grown in a tank and released to serve as mini-bosses when the base comes under attack. In the game, they do not respawn after being killed.

Sen

Sentient enemies include humans and aliens who use an exosuit to augment their physical capabilities (since those who don't go down in one hit). They do not respawn after being killed. They may be “wounded” instead of dying, and you can drag them back to your ship for a bounty.

Ships

Launching and berthing fees

You will need a ship to take on missions of your own, but ships are expensive. In addition to the initial investment and upgrades, it will cost money to store the ship in a hangar and for fuel to launch and return a ship. Larger ships will have higher berthing fees and fuel costs.

For these reasons, novice hunters and even some veteran hunters will often go merc so they can tag along on someone else's ship during a mission.

Uses of ships

The most obvious use of a ship is to fly between destinations.

  • You can go from one station to another to seek a place with higher bounties. If a Federation fleet enters the area, bad guys will leave and prudent bounty hunters will follow.
  • You can travel to planets to attack target bases. There are fuel costs for both coming and going, so some distant bounties might simply not be worth the travel costs.
  • You can catch a target if they escape the planet and you can get to your ship quickly enough and your ship can outpace the target's.
  • You might be able to engage in piracy by attacking a transport route. This could get bounties placed on your head.

Ship-to-Ground Combat

Certain bases may have anti-air defenses which would require you to land the ship further away from the target and walk a distance to the main base. If multiple ships are attacking, the hunters from the first ship to land may be able to take out the defenses so that others can land closer.

Ships might be able to equip countermeasures and weapons to allow them to fight off the defenses and land closer.

Ship-to-Ship Combat

A second game would be good, but something RPG-like should suffice.

Patrolling

If a large team of bounty hunters is attacking with multiple ships, they can keep one ship in orbit to catch an escaping target.

Characters

Character classes

Character classes double as different routes and difficulty levels.

Humanoid Female (Tutorial, Difficult)

You start off with the assistance of Red Squad, but until you make a name for yourself you will have fewer access to opportunities because space is sexist. Players can learn the game as part of a team and collect a small fraction of the bounty at the end. Players who wish to continue will have a challenge if they want to work independently.

So what's your story?

  • “I want to get some real combat experience before I join the show tournaments.” – You get a bonus to charisma and a lecture about the harshness of reality.
  • “I've always wanted to explore the universe, but I ran out of money.” – You get zark skills and Red Squad's sympathy but your combat stats are down.
  • “I'm a teer. I hear that things often need fixing out here.” – You get teer skills and reduced combat skills.

Humanoid Male (Normal)

You start off with the most basic weapon, armor, and ship with little money and no friends. You have to earn everything for yourself.

So what's your story?

  • “I've always wanted to be a bounty hunter!” – You start with extra money.
  • “I was a soldier. My contract ended and I couldn't find work.” – Your initial combat stats are higher.
  • “I was in Terrance for robbery when they broke us out, and I'm waiting out the statute of limitations.” – You start with a shady reputation but you have some Teer skills.

Alien (Challenge)

Not only are you limited in movement due to a weaker skeletal structure and limited in your gear due to its rarity out here, but nobody trusts you and you have a very hard time making friends. On the upside, you have zark skills.

Getting new armor may require traveling off-map for a long period of game-time, leaving the character unavailable until game-time has passed.

So what's your story, freak?

  • “I am to observe and interact with the featherless monsters that inhabit this region.” – diplomat track, you get higher charisma but weaker combat stats.
  • “I am to assist the regional authorities in eliminating threats to future trade relations.” – soldier, you get higher combat skills.
  • “I am what you might call a wanderer, an individual with an odd set of interests.” – scientist, you get neer skills in addition to zark skills.

Savegame management

Any player can have a save game in all three slots.

Maybe: a player can have one saved character hire another saved character for a mission and switch between them during the game. Drawback: this makes it too easy to build characters.

Maybe: An expensive item may be granted to an AI that will allow the player to directly control that character.

Maybe: Any slot's character may be dismissed. This discourages players from killing off unwanted characters. The player may then re-roll a new character for that slot. Past characters may be recalled if the current character is killed or otherwise unavailable.

Reputation

Reputation is a combination of multiple factors:

  • Missions successfully completed
  • Missions successfully completed recently
  • Missions failed
  • Missions failed recently
  • Persons saved
  • Persons died on missions with you

For a particular person, extra factors are added:

  • Missions successfully completed with this person
  • Missions failed recently for this person
  • Value of favors performed for a person (such as saving them)
  • Malice that the person has towards you

Losing

If you die and are not rescued, “in an alternate universe, you chose not to take this job.” The game is restored from just before you took the mission.

The malus is that the recruiter will not like the fact that you refused the mission at the last minute, and you lose a bit of reputation.

The Darker Path

It would be a fuller game if you could engage in piracy yourself, backstab allied hunters to take their loot, and run off to hide and build your own base to defend yourself against the coming bounty hunters. You might also become a guard or mini-boss for a more powerful bounty target.

At first, you would simply be shunned by most bounty hunters. Then you might be expelled from a station. After that, other stations may refuse you permission to dock. If the Federation fleet finds you, they put you in jail. You have to find a planet and then you have to find a way to refuel your ship.

Potential jobs on the darker path include:

  • Courier jobs: You are asked to carry items of value for a source of poor reputation. You may be attacked in space along the way.
  • Backstabbing: pause the game and mark the friendly hunter as hostile. Answer “Are You Sure?”. Unpause and start shooting. All nearby friendly AIs will attack you.
  • Guarding: You get paid to wait for attackers to come. The game will autocalculate damage to the incoming attackers. You might also go seek them out, hit and run,
  • Jail: Game Over unless you get busted out.

Multiplayer

It should be possible to have cooperative multiplay.

Players will want to be able to create a dungeon and challenge other players.

It may be possible to make the game an MMO.

star_bounty_hunters.txt · Last modified: 2015/06/16 20:45 by deltatango