FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

Tanks and Mechs

Tank simulations seldom implement the complexity of tank battles as they really happened in World War II, the Arab-Israeli wars, or the Gulf War. Real tanks have a top speed of about 50 MPH, have limited visibility, and carry only a few types of weapons, so they don't appeal much to the casual gamer. Like military flight simu­lators, tank simulators are typically about a lone tank operating against other tanks and a variety of other enemies.

From a gameplay standpoint, the most interesting characteristic of a tank is its rotating turret, which enables it to shoot in directions other than the one in which it is facing. (Notice the example in Figure 17.5.) It can be difficult to design a good user interface for this. You will need to provide a mechanism for rotating the turret that is separate from the mechanism that steers the tank and a separate view win­dow for aiming and firing the gun. Real tanks have a commander and a gun crew as well as a driver, but as with bombers and other multiseat aircraft, you will have to find a way to let a single player control everything.

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A popular alternative is the mech, which is a science-fiction cousin to the tank that is usually depicted as a large armed and armored walking machine (see Figure 17.6). Because mechs aren't restricted by reality, they can carry all sorts of imaginary weapons and hardware, and they can be optimized for single-player play.

Spacecraft

There are almost no simulations of real spacecraft—except for quasi-educational ones about the space shuttles—because real spacecraft respond far too slowly and move too deliberately to make for an interesting game. The majority of spacecraft simulations, therefore, are science fiction, and they typically consist of either fighter planes in space, such as the Wing Commander series, or capital ship (large warship) simulations, such as the many Star Trek games. The fighter types are sim­ple action games with only a few variables to manage: fuel, ammunition, damage, shields, and rarely anything else. Capital ship simulations are more strategic, giving the player control of a wide range of weapons and other equipment.

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