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A sneak peak into designing our Weapon Customization System for the upcoming UETF Chronicles: Complete Anthology.

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I love good customization systems. They add depth to gameplay by allowing you to subtly or radically change the way you play. Good customization systems should involve trade-offs as well. If there is one option that is the best in all situations, it becomes pointless to provide the others; Ideally, each option fills an equally important niche.

I think trade-offs are what made weapon customization in System-Shock 2 great and Bio-Shock lackluster. By the end of Bio-Shock I was walking around with max upgrades on all my weapons and killing everything with ease, while in System Shock my soldier could gun down a Shambler but could still easily get chewed up by a turret. COD4 is another great example of this. I can take a SAW with stopping power and extra ammunition or go stealthy with a Uzi, double tap and dead silence. Each offers a different style of play, with their own strengths and weaknesses.

So when creating our own system to customize weapons, we decided a few goals to focus on.

Our goals for Weapon Customization

* Customization should encourage different styles of play
* Simple system - don't force players to customize parts for 10 different slots
* No item collection/random drops - new players should be able to access options as easily as vets
* No straight 'numeric' upgrades (no Assault Rifle + 1 unlock);
* No upgrade should be unbalanced or replace another upgrade
* No permanent customization - players should be able to modify weapons w/o penalty at appropriate times

The system we designed

* Each weapon has 2 slots to customize.
* The first slot (ammunition) generally affects the primary fire of a weapon
* The second slot (attachment) generally affects the secondary fire of a weapon
* You can use any combination of ammunition and attachments for a given weapon
* Ammunition and attachments start locked; Each item cost the same amount to unlock.
* You can adjust your ammunition or attachments during the resupply period

Some examples

* If you're a Ranger and want to be accurate at long range, take the Assault Rifle with ballistic tipped rounds (higher accuracy but lower damage) with the reflex scope (increases max zoom)
* If you're a Fade and want to kill heavily armed targets, take the Rocket Launcher with HEAT rounds (no splash but high damage) with the Laser Guidance attachment (rockets will follow laser beam)
* If you're a Grunt who wants to lay down a lot of fire, take the Heavy Assault Weapon with caseless rounds (higher magazine capacity, faster reload) with the powered loader (higher fire rate).

We hope the ability to radically modify the way your weapons perform combined with class specific special abilities (more on this later) will allow players to develop a character that supports their own unique style of play and team interaction. This system is also a big part of our 2-week update plan; we've developed a framework that makes it easy for us to design and add new upgrades - expect to see new ammunition types and attachments for each new update.

'UETF Chronicles: The player-defined shooter.'

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