Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Design Process II: Start your engines...

So we've checked out some cool pics and watched some tank shows on Discovery. We now know enough about tanks to design something that might pass for one.

Next thing to consider is some parameters. Firstly the scenario.

MAD is set in a post apocalyptic future world with a mixture of high and low technologies, and limited logistics and resources. Although high tech construction methods are available and elements like weapons and engines are futuristic and efficient, the types of vastly complex battlefield systems available to modern military forces are no longer functional. Without GPS and satellite tracking, the actual business of warfare would change dramatically, re-assuming a WWII type dynamic. Our new unit must fit into this world seamlessly.

Our tank will be Kautylian, and a heavy siege tank cos that's what I'm up to. Check the other Kautylian units and note the style. Kautylian ground vehicles are fairly conventional in terms of look because they will be the first faction the player gets to command and therefore need a high level of visual familiarity to ease the transition of the FPS player into an unfamiliar RTS style command role.

A Kautylian.

They feature more or less straight lines and flat panels because they use composite carbon fibre/ceramic armour plating on vulnerable areas. The style is slightly bulky and industrial, as if these vehicles have been refitted and pressed into military service. Note the slight asymmetry which helps the illusion of function. However our new tank will be a little more military and substantially less conventional than it's siblings...

MAD's gameplay and engine requirements are the next parameters that need addressing. MAD vehicles can feature 2 to 8 wheels, 1 turret and a cargo bay. Turrets are considered to be automated since there is no facility for adding pilot geometry to a manned vehicle or turret to simulate a gunner. For similar reasons all vehicle cabs are enclosed and opaque. Plotwise it's a toxicity thing, that lets me get away with enclosed motorcycles. This is obviously less of a problem for a tank.

However one limitation of MAD that will fundamentally affect the design is the lack of support for tank treads - our heavy siege tank must be wheeled. Now it's getting interesting.

It seems reasonable that tyres are easier to replace than tank track in a post apocalytic wasteland so fair enough, we want a big ass wheeled tank. The Antiarch analog is a huge mutant battle truck thing - our new unit must be able to stand toe to toe with it, both functionally and visually. So it's gotta be big and mean looking too. It also needs to be able to mount a similarly big gun as well as a light anti personal weapon onto it's single turret, and use them effectively without clipping into the chassis. Finally it must at least look partially amphibious, since MAD tanks float and can navigate slowly through deep water.

That then is the brief. Next: Sketching out a look.

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