Hi PS.Blog dwellers,
Because Mat has already gone in to how racing skill and split-screen are key in ModNation Racers, I’m here to chat about a key part of the title — weapons. Specifically, it’s what we like to call the “Boom Box” weapon system.
Take a peek at our new trailer for a taste and read more below on how ModNation Racers will bring the BOOM on May 25.
Designing the Boom Box
When making ModNation Racers, we realized the need to advance the kart racing genre to the next level with a more physical driving model, but we also wanted to change how players use weapons. Nothing feels better than taking an opponent down, but that feeling of euphoria is soon forgotten when you are on the receiving end of an attack. Weapons can change the course of a race — it’s one of the defining characteristics in this genre, but we wanted to reduce the frustration of unskilled randomness. We wanted to give players more options.
Strategy – Using the Ladder
In ModNation Racers you can choose to upgrade your weapons to make them more powerful, but that doesn’t always come easy. When you get hammered with a lightning bolt from the sky, at the very least, you know your opponent had to work for it. In addition to having the choice between upgrading and firing, we also wanted players to plan out their attacks and try to utilize weapons in different ways. With that in mind, we designed each to have three distinct levels – so when you upgrade, you change the properties of the weapon, which then gives you a different style of attack.
Level 2 Bolt attack will hit multiple karts / If the driver a head of you is bringing the HEAT, these puppies will SEEK it.
Using the Bolt ladder as an example, players can decide to fire off a level-1 Bolt attack for a quick, but risky electrical takedown. They can save up to a level-2 Chain Bolt for a homing attack capable of electrocuting multiple opponents, or they can wait until they have a level-3 Bolt Storm (the most powerful) and try to shock entire pack. Finally, any level of weapon can be dropped behind the kart as a mine. The higher the level of weapon dropped, the more potent the mine.
Drop it like it’s Hot
This is a great way to leave traps for your opponents, and incidentally, gives the player in the lead the ability to still be able to use the weapons they have collected. Now you’re probably asking, “Why would I not just save up and always fire a powerful level-3?” Well, a number of reasons actually, but first and foremost is that your weapons can be knocked out by an opponent’s attack, so holding a weapon for too long might cause you to eventually lose it.
This is going to hurt.
Also, level-3 weapons take time to work their way through the pack, so your opponents might finish the race before they are hit, or they may have built up enough boost to shield your attack.
One of our core mantras when balancing the weapons was to ensure that there aren’t any “silver bullets.” No matter how powerful a weapon is, there is still a chance to evade it. We also wanted to ensure a tight race, so the power of each stun is scaled based on your position in the race and distance from the player attacking. What that does is allow anyone in the pack to always have a chance. This isn’t so much a “punish the leader” situation, but a way to prevent stalemates. If players in positions 7th to 1st are hit by the player in 8th and stunned for an equal length of time, nothing will change. By having the weapons stun time (slightly) increase as it passes through the race pack, it helps to create a more dynamic race. This then opens up more opportunities for everyone to have a chance at changing their position.
Sonic Bombs will give the kart in front of you an earful / The Sonic Rift blasts all the racers between you and first place
Let’s be clear though, there isn’t going to be a significant difference between the weapons power on the last racer as compared to the leader, but enough to make the leader worry that there are always racers on their tail. We have raced thousands millions of times in the office, and a skilled driver utilizing all of the tools at their disposal can maintain a lead, and that was an important factor for us. Skilled drivers should be rewarded for skilled play, which in turn causes other players to have to think and play differently.
We have a particular useful strategy we sometimes employ here at the office to take down a skilled driver. Two players will “team up” to swap positions and then each fire at the player in front in quick succession, the first to hopefully drain their shield, and the second to take them out. Very effective, although normally those alliances last about as long as the distance it takes to get to the next set of item pods, at which point all bets are off.
That’s weapons in a nutshell. I’m sure everyone is going to find all sorts of fun ways to take out opponents online when the game is released, so until then I will leave you all to your plotting.