Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hexalicious

I can't get hexes out of my head. I see them everywhere. Literally. The streets of Sofia are paved with hexagonal paving stones, constantly reminding me of my misspent youth with countless SPI and Avalon Hill board games with hundreds of tiny little cardboard counters. As standard in these games, map positions were defined by a hexagonal grid, with each space known as a 'hex'. More recently I have admired the impressive 3D hexagonal playing fields of the excellent miniatures game 'HeroScape'. And so it came to pass that I had to have a hex based map for Chaos Reborn - and with multiple levels, just like HeroScape.
The good news is that I have just finished programming the terrain editor for Chaos Reborn, which I shall make publicly available shortly. I have decided to keep things relatively simple, with just 3 height levels and simple rules (basically as in 'Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars'). Here are the rules:

  • There are 3 height levels, 1 is the lowest, 2 is the middle and 3 is the highest.
  • Non-flying creatures may move freely between level 1 and 2, and between 2 and 3, but not between 1 and 3.
  • Creatures may not attack in close combat between levels 1 and 3
  • Creatures do not engage each other between levels 1 and 3
  • When attacking from a higher level, creatures gain a combat bonus
  • When being attacked from a lower level creatures gain a defence bonus
Maps may also contain various objects which occupy a hex, such as walls, rocks, trees, monoliths, etc. These objects will block movement, but may be attacked and destroyed.
I will make the editor publicly available shortly, but for now here are some screen shots from the editor with some of my crude, place-holder graphics. You will have to imagine the final result with something more organic and visually impressive.

Firstly, here is an example of a two-player arena.

For the Kingdoms mode, there will be more interesting terrain, as in these examples.



31 comments:

  1. It's going to look so fantastic with some textures (and nice mention of Heroscape!)

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  2. This is going to be amazing! Those screens remind me a bit of Escape From Atlantis :) Can't wait. Looking forward to seeing the difference of 6 directions rather than 8 - it worked really well in Civilization 5.

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  3. Nice work on getting the editor together so fast.

    I must concede, perhaps because I love the original so much, its quite hard imagining such a beloved game in something looking so alien, but you can see the big picture far better than anyone else, so I trust you know what you are doing. After all, UFO.E.U. was great in 3D.

    Also, the addition of optional elevation does not require that every map uses it, and I assume by you releasing the editor that users will be able to forge their own maps? Do you have an idea of the maximum arena size (in rough x,y (hex compensated) terms)?

    It does also create some interesting dynamics for the magic fire and gooey blob. I would assume that blobs cannot spread across levels, but that fire can spread between adjacent trees on different levels?

    I like the idea of wizard safely trapped on an island surrounded by a sea of blob. Quite a cool idea.

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    1. No, not every map needs to use elevation, and there will certainly be a classic arena mode with a similar size to the original Chaos (probably 11x15).
      I assumed the gooey blob and the fire would follow the movement rules (i.e. they can move 1 level but not 2).

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  4. If you have water doesn't that make it 4 levels, and will you have creatures that can swim?

    I must admit it's going to be hard to get used to the hexes for me - simply as I'm not used to board games or games on the computer that use them. Maybe you want to prototype something using the hex system to see how it works as soon as you can?

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    1. The water is not necessarily water. It will be depicted differently in different types of region and also dependent on state of total law and chaos. It could be a magical, misty void. In every case creatures cannot move onto these spaces, but flying creatures can fly over them.
      Hexes should be more natural and user friendly. They approximate distance better than squares without the uncertainty of whether you move diagonally or not. My tradition system of 2 APs for orthogonal movement and 3 for diagonal is OK, but hexes are definitely more WYSIWYG. Prototyping movement and interface will come next.

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  5. Nice ideas! That wizard's hex battle environment with those castles/water terrain reminds me more or less old Celtic Legends. Did you ever played that in Amiga/ST Julian? Nice times. :)

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/celtic-legends/screenshots/gameShotId,224359/

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/celtic-legends/screenshots

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  6. No I have never played it, and I don't remember it, but the similarities are intriguing.

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    1. More intriguing and funny is that C.Legends is a... Ubisoft game! So must be from the atmosphere where you worked in last times :D
      Actually the same guys at Blue Byte made some more hex games in that era. Remember History Line 1914 and Battles Isle's series? Also from them. Other interesting facts is that they used a bit (or a lot) of Laser Squad/X-Com gameplay in their turn-based Incubator.

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    2. Just to correct myself. My mistake sorry. Celtic Legends is indeed a Ubisoft game as some of done by Blue Byte but apparently the team behind were not from Blue Byte. But anyway is remarkable the many games in that time from Ubisoft with similarities with your game universe.

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    3. I remember Celtic Legends on the Amiga. That was another good game, although it took a long time to play a game, it was mostly campaign. You had to capture these points on the battle maps. I vaguely remember a strange spell that if you cast it at the wrong time, lightning would arc down out of the sky over the battle field, at random. I would use that tactic when I was losing, guessing that with fewer of my own men left it would be more likely to strike a foe instead. And sometimes it did!

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    4. That would happen if you tried to cast a spell when your wizard wasn't stood beside a pentacle if I recall correctly but as you say can work to your advantage.
      The one thing I remember is that it was too easy to abuse because castles stopped the enemy wizard from casting spells, very easy to defend and pick off creatures with the blood spell (drain health)/fireball combo.

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    5. Hey! Kingy is also posting now here! Julian that fellow "The Recursion King" made during those years so many clones of yours that will have to make a special section in Chaos Squad just for his games. Nice to see also your feedback around Pete :)

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    6. I really like what you have done Julian. Chaos is the best game after laser squad and ufo xcom. I'm the old school fan of ufo and chaos and I simply cannot stand the new xcom from firaxis :) Is there any real boardgame made from Chaos?

      By the way, best chaos remake was made for Atari ST. I think there were also remake for amiga.

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  7. Looks like an environment I'd like to play around in!
    Like the 2-player one with the cliff overlooking each players safe area, to rain down ranged fire :)

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  8. Very nice!

    Would the different levels have an effect on line of sight, assuming line of sight is still used?

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  9. Does the elevation-based combat bonus include range bonus? I imagine that would be quite a significant advantage on small maps.

    Oh! Any spells to affect the terrain? That could be interesting.

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    1. I could add a range bonus. There are certainly going to be dramatic spells that effect the terrain - volcano, earthquake, magical explosions. Magic fire will burn trees down.

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  10. This looks absolutely brilliant I must say Julian and very similar to my vision of what you were putting together with your descriptions of Chaos Reborn. It's funny how people are likening it to Celtic Legends - I think that game was inspired by Chaos but a great game in its own right.
    RE: Sofia. My wife is Bulgarian and i've been there many times. It seems the Bulgarians like their hexagons as this is the same in her home town - Sliven.
    You'll be ok up until the point you are thinking to yourself - I can only move two spaces along this street and start a new turn!

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  11. Also, can I just say: Terrain editor - what an awesome idea.

    This could appeal to a new crowd of gamer as well.

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  12. It is looking great, I can just imagine getting chased by a gooey blob around this map!

    Spells that effect the terrain would be great... also you mentioned the inclusion of total law and total chaos which could have some interesting affect on the terrain... Volcanoes, earthquakes...

    One of the best bits about the original Chaos is the randomness of fire / blob, so I think that a an earthquake randomly swallowing up hex's could be a lot of fun.

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  13. Given what you've done with yourself, I'm not sure you could describe your youth as misspent.

    I was very pleased when I coded pinball games. It made my university habits retrospectively justified.

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  14. If you love hexes have you ever been to Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland?

    http://www.drumnaheigh.co.uk/the-giants-causeway

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  15. This looks very exciting (editor graphics remind me of 'little big adventure' - if we are all going to play 'retro-trivia' :) ) . The concept does remind me of my old PBM games - I know Chaos was always a quick affair, but hope the option is there for those of us who love to play over days rather than minutes. :)

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  16. So will these maps be randomly generated or the world will be composed of premade battle maps?

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    1. The multiplayer arena maps are designed or random, according to game setup preferences, but the maps for the kingdoms of chaos mode are random.

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  17. This post made me go and buy HeroScape from ebay %)

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  18. Chaos is great, Heroscape is great. I have far too much Heroscape if such a thing is possible!

    Literally can't wait for this.

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  19. Will creatures be categorised as Earth,Air,Fire or Water too?This would add a great play dynamic.Green(earth)Dragons(for example)would be affected far less(or even strengthened)by Earthquakes etc.

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