Units and stats and perks

Units and stats and perks

I’m not happy with how Frozen Cortex’s unit stats system ended up.


It’s too many things at once.  Too hard to work out what kind of player this is.

It’s like this because Cortex is a “sports game” and having really granular stats enables a load of stuff.  But it didn’t work here.  And it went against my best instincts that unit information in a game should be very clear and differentiated.

Frozen Synapse nails it – extremely differentiated units which make obvious sense.  You do not have to think hard to know what the units on the field do.

FS2 introduces several new units.  For example the smoke grenade launcher which we’ve announced, which creates temporary areas that units can’t see or aim through.  In single player I want to have more differentiation than just the weapon types, because I want there to be “special” mercenaries that sign up with you if you do interesting things in the city.  I knew right from the start of development that we weren’t going to be using explicit stats for this.

So special mercenaries are a weapon type and a “perk”.  Examples of perks:

  • A mine layer whose mines only explode when an enemy goes near them
  • A 360 degree viewcone
  • Faster reload on the rocket launcher

It’s hard to add this kind of feature to FS and have it work.  Each perk has to make sense; be obviously different; and not undermine how you play the game.  If you have a machine gunner who is faster while move-aiming then that’s just too complicated.  The perks have to be extremely clear.

If I ever have time, I’ll go back to Cortex and replace the stats system with a “class + perk” system.  Classes would be stuff like “lineman” and “reciever” – a piece of English to help humans understand the unit very quickly.  Perks would be more granular than I’d allow in an FS game – you’d allow a “fast” blocker and a “very fast” blocker.  Text is so much easier to parse than a block of numbers.

As a final aside – I get to be more maximalist (relatively; my games will never be actually maximalist) in single player, because a lot of kinds of mechanics and abilities are fun against an AI (who may not use them in a super optimised way or at all) and not fun against a human.

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