How would YOU make Car Wars into a video game?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Backov, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. Backov

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    Car Wars is one of my favorite old games. I don't really have a good reason for that, as with what I remember of it, it's quite simple and not great gameplay wise. For instance, the one thing I remember is that the Security Seven always wins. :)

    Mind you, I haven't played it in 20 years.

    That said, how would you do it? Thinking of combat only (not any metagame, which would be pretty easy to make interesting) - I would use top down 2d or 3d, with the car controlled with WASD, space, etc and the turrets controlled either by AI or by the mouse.

    My problem is, even if you totally nail it with a GTA1-style overhead car engine and gameplay, does the Security Seven still win? How is it interesting?
     
  2. Aldacron

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    I loved Car Wars :)

    I've thought about this off and on over the years. My ideal version would involve both arena combat and open road combat much like the original pen and paper game. The player would join the auto dueling circuit with a low-end car, working his way from arena to arena, using his winnings to upgrade, moving from amateur to pro, and so on. The open road combat comes en route to the next arena. Something like:

    1. enter duel in arena
    2. fight duel
    3. open control panel (provides access to upgrade shops, duel lists and the world map)
    4. upgrade if possible
    5. select the next duel to enter
    6. watch Indiana Jones style travel sequence (line moving across the map)
    7. fight any random encounters en route (open road combat)
    8. goto 1

    I've always wanted to play a game like this.
     
  3. andrew

    andrew New Member

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    I spent 3 years of my life working at a AAA publisher trying to essentially do a 3D version of Car Wars. I discovered a few things:

    - Realtime 3D car combat is fundamentally boring. It ends up either being a) a bunch of circle strafing on a 2D plane, or b) a bunch of auto-turrets firing at each other.

    - Combat with people vs cars is difficult to balance. People move really slow, and cars move really fast. Locking weapons aren't fair to cars, and the speed of cars isn't really fair to people.

    - You can drive, or you can aim, but it's hard to do both. And you pretty much have to focus on the driving in a car case. Thus, the shooting ends up being more automated than one would perhaps like.

    Cars and guns can be cool, but I think to really make it work you have to focus on other elements, and have the cars largely be transporation and occasional combat elements. Have the majority of the game be on foot, ideally indoors.

    - andrew
     
  4. Pyabo

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  5. Backov

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    Ya I remember that, but you can't really compare a game that old. Did they even have mice as standard equipment back then?

    EDIT: Answering own question: No, I don't think so..
     
  6. Backov

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    Yep, that's pretty much the meta game right there. As I said, that's the easy part. What about making the combat interesting?

    Andrew,

    What game, if I can ask?

    There's been some 3d CW-likes. There was I76/I82, both pretty good. There was Twisted Metal as well, somewhat CW-like.

    Car Wars has the concept of "linking" turrets, so that your one gunner could man multiple turrets - that takes care of the mouse turrets, you could link them all or most and have AI gunners for the rest (if you had another gunner position).

    I do agree about the circle-strafing though. It seems like that would have been the only possibly strategy to beat the Security Seven, but since it had turrets with big guns, even that wasn't that useful.
     
  7. andrew

    andrew New Member

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  8. Allen Varney

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    Blast from the past. I worked at Steve Jackson Games, publisher of Car Wars, in the mid-1980s. I was even Assistant Editor, briefly, of the Car Wars magazine, Autoduel Quarterly. I can't comprehend how anyone can consider the game "quite simple." The rulebook topped out at 100+ pages with all the expansions. We filled pages of every issue of ADQ with answers to rules questions.

    If I were adapting the game today, I'd go for a boutique text-based management MMO along the lines of the soccer managment simulation Hattrick. You create and manage a whole fleet of cars and take them into NASCAR-style autoduel arenas. You win cash prizes you use to repair damage and upgrade your vehicles. You'd also need to manage your drivers, train them, keep them healthy and happy, etc.
     
  9. Backov

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    Sure, it was top-heavy mechanically, but that didn't necessarily make it any more complex. There was just a lot of bogus book-keeping.
     
  10. electronicStar

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    Why not just simulate the boardgame look and feel? like the "dangerous high school girls" game,and keep the rules identical.
    IMO one of the interest of boardgames is the complexity of the rules (and wrapping your mind around the rules is one of the key ingredients to stimulate the imagination IMO). But most devellopers nowadays just want to make a shiny engine and don't want to bother with complex game rules...(I can understand them since it's hell to code)
    Of all the videogames I've played , Fallout was the one that felt closer to a boardgame to me.
     
  11. KNau

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    Have you checked out Mexican Motor Mafia?

    There was also a sorta interesting game back in the Sega Genesis days called Outlander. It had in-vehicle driving and combat mixed with on-foot exploration bits.
     
  12. wazoo

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    *bows to Allen*

    Car Wars was one awesome franchise. If only they made the bumper sticker "Drive Offensively: the life you save may be your own".

    Wouldn't one of the Big Three turn themselves around by releasing a GrassHopper vehicle? :)

    I'd actually be happy with a one-to-one representation of the actual road grid pieces on the screen in the same turn-based format. This way you could incorporate a web-based interface methinks.

    What a perfect microtransactional game to pick as well...you want the grasshopper? Do you want Gold Cross coverage? Give us a $1.00

    oh man, I would so love to play this now! :D
     
  13. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    Wasn't the Twisted Metal series based on Car Wars somewhat?

    edit: I see it's already been mentioned.
     
  14. Artinum

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    A group of Car Wars afficionados hang out at www.dark-wind.com - a MMORPG involving cars, and guns, and a post-apocalyptic world. It's deeply addictive.

    If you decide to sign up, quote my number in the referral box (13687).
     
  15. Jim Buck

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    Twisted Metal was actually a Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter game.
     
  16. Coyote

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    Heh - when we were working on Twisted Metal, I really pushed to make it more like Car Wars. It's a good thing they ignored me - it probably wouldn't have done as well. (But *I* probably would have enjoyed it more...) Nobody else working on the project had even HEARD of Car Wars.

    I believe Jim Buck worked on one or two of the TM games, too..? (Jim, am I remembering correctly?) But yeah, Dave Jaffe really pushed the Street Fighter angle on us. It owes far more to that style of game than Car Wars.

    I think that Activision's Interstate '76 probably came a lot closer to Car Wars than anything else.
     
  17. Jim Buck

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    Yeah, I worked on 3 and 4, the black sheep of the series. Our "style", if you can call it that, was more toward FPS deathmatch rather than Street Fighter. TM3 was critically panned, but sold better than the previous entries into the series, and TM4 did better critically and sold still pretty well given it was just before PS2 development started coming online.

    I, too, would be curious to see a more "Car Wars"-oriented version of these games.
     
  18. Mattias Gustavsson

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    I would definitely go with a turn-based approach. A lot of house-keeping and calculations could be handled automatically, but there'd still be a fair amount of hard numbers exposed, I'd imagine.

    I feel that if any realtime elements at all was introduced to the mix, it would really kill the game...
     
  19. Sectarian

    Sectarian New Member

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    I agree with Mattias, Go with turn based.
     
  20. Sammgus

    Sammgus New Member

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    There was Interstate '76 as well, though I'm not sure how well that did in terms of sales.
     

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