Natural Selection is an action-strategy game for the PC. It is a "Half-life modification", which means it is written on top of the Half-life game engine. "Mods" are a new sort of underground game development that enables small teams to create games using the technology of existing games. This means less expensive and lower risk game development, which allows experimentation and innovation. This arrangement also implies that "mods" are made as art, not for making money. When complete, Natural Selection will be released for free to all owners of Half-life, which is required to play Natural Selection. Game summary Multiplayer-only Half-life mod where one team plays marines and the other plays aliens. The humans must keep their cool and work together to assault an alien-infested spacecraft or colony. Marines vs. marines and aliens vs. aliens scenarios are also supported. "First-person strategy" with a real resource model and consequences for actions....

Post news Report content RSS feed Damage Types in NS2

Hey everyone, I wanted to discuss damage types in NS2 briefly, and it's a bit much to discuss properly for tweet.

Posted by TychoCelchuuu on Jun 6th, 2010

Hey everyone, I wanted to discuss damage types in NS2 briefly, and it's a bit much to discuss properly for tweet.

Damage types are standard and crucial in strategy games. Ie, this unit does 10 damage to armored targets, but only 7 damage to everything else. This creates much more interesting unit combinations and tactics. For example:

  1. If I have an A that does +30% damage to your B, so I move it in for the kill.
  2. But you know that your B is vulnerable to my A so you try to use your C to keep my A away from your B.
  3. I see this happening, so I reinforce with my D which I hope will kill or delay your C long enough for my original A to attack your B.

At this point, the combinations start to explode. What appeared to be a simple battle is now becoming something much more - we have ambushes, planning, scouting (counter-planning), etc. Where does the rabbit hole end? This emergent depth is one of the big reasons we play strategy games.

By contrast, without variable damage types (payoffs), everything just does damage and there is little maneuvering, tactics or interest. I just build more and better units and so do you. They fight, and whomever built more wins.

But there's a down-side of course - adding these damage types makes the game more difficult to learn and understand. Which targets are armored? How can I see the damage bonus at work? When my army meets your army and mine gets decimated because I didn't realize my units only do half damage to yours, I may get frustrated and leave. For this reason, and because most FPS players aren't thinking in terms of damage types (and don't want to have to read online to see why their one-shot sniper shot didn't kill their target), damage types are largely omitted in FPS games.

For a game that blends RTS and FPS like NS though, damage types are a must. The thing to remember is that damage types will bring all the depth and less of the difficulty if you strive to make them intuitive. This means checking the 'look' of creatures and weapons and trying to be faithful to how players THINK they should fare against each other.

The lerk looks "unarmored"

Here are some of the goals for damage types in NS2:

  • Technology shouldn't obsolete other technology. Ie, skulks will be seen throughout the game and not just because they're cheap!
  • There shouldn't be overlap between weapons or abilities. We are a small team so we can't afford to do this anyways.
  • A basic marine with a rifle, and a vanilla skulk should always feel effective. This is to make sure new players joining a game in progress have fun.
  • Single-minded strategies should be counterable. Ie, a room full of hydras should be assailable.
  • An Onos shouldn't be ripped apart (or even really bothered) by sentries, nor should he be demeaned by spending a lot of time taking out structures. It does not befit his position in the food chain.
  • The more armor that appears in the art, the more armor the unit has (marine structures have some, the Onos has tons, marines have a little, etc.).

There are more, but these are the basics. With these in mind, here are the basic damage types that are currently in NS2 (in development, not final):

  1. Normal - Regular damage (Rifle, Bite)
  2. Light - Half vs. armor (Sentries, Hydras)
  3. Heavy (was Puncture) - Extra damage vs. armor (Fade swipe, Pistol, Shotgun)
  4. Puncture (was Piercing) - Extra vs. players (Minigun, Lerk spikes)
  5. Structural - Double against structures (Onos gore, SwitchAxe, Rifle grenades)
  6. Gas - Breathing targets only (Spores, Rifle nerve gas grenades)
  7. Biological - Living/organic targets only (Parasite, Flamethrower)
  8. Structures Only - Doesn't damage players or AI units (MASC, Whip Bombard)

Here are some beneficial effects of these simple types:

  • Basic marines and skulks are versatile.
  • Shotguns won't absolutely waste skulks but are especially good at more advanced lifeforms and armored structures (Crags).
  • Lerks aren't especially effective at taking out structures from a distance (something that was a problem in old versions of NS1).
  • Marines can take down alien structures relatively quickly when they aren't defended (ie, when they have taken down defenders and pull out their axes).
  • When heavy marines are gassed by lerks, they aren't affected.

Thinking about damage types in this way is also a good tool for evaluating a new weapon or ability. If it seems to fit the same role as another, its role needs to be re-thought.

In fact, now I see some changes that are necessary...

More reading

Post comment Comments
NullSoldier Jun 7 2010 says:

Rock, paper scissors, ONOS!

+10 votes     reply to comment
Kriegsherr Jun 7 2010 replied:

you forgot lizard and Spock

+5 votes     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx Jun 7 2010 replied:

The big bang theory ftw!

+1 vote     reply to comment
slayersarge Jun 7 2010 says:

There better be an onos devour as an option. Onos was the best class when you could just devour someone. If people get all pissy about taking to long to be digested. Make it something as simple as, 'Wait to be rescued or press E to end the pain quickly.' The only problem with dieing quickly would be the Onos gets your HP fast but still must fully digest it's prey being the marine.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Vcc2cc Jun 7 2010 replied:

i think they said no devour in ns2... check the official site, they listed all the abilities of the onos. I think there's gore, a duck/shield/huddle ability (absorbs damage at cost of moving slowly), and stomp (which affects structures only now).

+1 vote     reply to comment
NoobSaibot Jun 8 2010 replied:

It's kind of retarded that your defenseless in the first place. You didn't loose your weapon while he ate you so you should be able to shoot your way out.

0 votes     reply to comment
Dra6o0n Jun 8 2010 replied:

They should give you a knife or something so you can knife the onos in the struggle, maybe really make it vulnerable while devouring a marine (being stabbed from the inside isn't good whilst your in a battle against marines).

+1 vote     reply to comment
archkyrie Jun 7 2010 says:

very nice, I love strategy and proper damage balance (many games fail to understand how to make weapons different and yet still relevant)

+4 votes     reply to comment
pedro0930 Jun 7 2010 says:

I don't really think this is really something new. Onos already do double damage against building, HMG do half damage to buildings, gas have no effect on heavy armor, etc, in NS1.

+4 votes     reply to comment
OTPIdARP Jun 7 2010 says:

All classes are epic and are of my interest!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Xylemon Jun 7 2010 says:

Looks amazing

+1 vote     reply to comment
icantfly1 Jun 7 2010 says:

It's a solid idea.. should work out pretty damn well!

+1 vote     reply to comment
sasuke2490 Jun 7 2010 says:

rock paper scissors shoot

+1 vote     reply to comment
ausbushman Jun 7 2010 says:

Would those wings look cooler if they were translucent?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Doommarine23 Jun 7 2010 says:

Not sure why the Pistol is armor piercing but not the Rifle.

"Heavy (was Puncture) - Extra damage vs. armor (Fade swipe, Pistol, Shotgun)"

+1 vote     reply to comment
DuckSauce Jun 7 2010 replied:

Agreed, unless the pistol is in fact a magnum. Boom baby!

+1 vote     reply to comment
spellman23 Jun 7 2010 replied:

Because the pistol is big, bulky, and spews giant death bullets. The rifle decided it wanted to spray moar bullets.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jashin Jun 7 2010 says:

Obviously nobody's played NS2 yet, but I've played NS extensively, and I wanna suggestion that gas at least have a little bit of effect on heavies.

The dynamics in NS were such that aliens are obviously inferior to marines in lategame when both sides are highly skilled.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Lt.SnoWolf Jun 7 2010 says:

I hope that you guys actually dont go to much into the Rock Paper Scissors system like. "Unarmored targets take 1 dmg from Rockets but armored targets take 50 from Rockets" Kind of make it so some things are better at something else but can still do that job just not as effectively.

Glad you guys have a nice idea going! :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
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