We went to see 'Mad Max: Fury Road' last night and it was everything I hoped for, and more. Mind you, I wet with low expectations, so having them exceeded wasn't going to be hard, but it more than lived up to the very favourable reviews it's been getting.
I came away with loads of ideas for things I can do to model cars to use in Machinas, although I also came away with a view that my efforts so far have been paltry compared to some of the vehicles in the film.
Anyway, I decided to try another road-chase today, mostly to try out some tweaks to the AI for NPCs and also to try out some modifications I'm looking at to the way vehicles are classified in terms of weight and take damage from shooting.
I ran my Big School Bus. It's slow, but heavily armoured and fitted with machine-guns and a big spiky ram-plate.
I randomly selected some pursuers, and this is what I got. The two cars are gun-armed, with one being fast and the other armoured. The bike is also fast, and the rider has molotov cocktails. I'm still using my improvised paper bikes, because the ones I ordered haven't arrived yet.
The chase is on!
All of the pursuers moved out to pass the bus.
The lead car lined up its quad machine-guns, and bullets raked the length of the bus.
The bus's armour prevented any serious damage, but the bus swerved and its attacker was now ahead of it.
The other car, and the bike, also passed the bus, leaving me with the strange situation of being the pursued vehicle, but being at the back of the pack. However this position would lengthen the chase, making it more likely that other vehicles would join.
Some changes of position in the pursuers saw the grey car in front of me, so I piled on the speed and moved into the attack.
Big metal spikes tore down the length of the car ...
... and it was out of the chase.
I sat behind the attackers as the jostled for position. The bus is too slow to really make a serious attempt to pass on a straight, and the road didn't generate any curves. Neither the car nor the bike showed any inclination to drop back either; they were obviously playing for time, hoping for reinforcements.
A near miss.
We kept running. No reinforcements appeared.
The car gave up the chase.
The bike swerved, and I almost ran into the back of it in a savage display of the lack of scale of some of my vehicles.
We scraped as the bike ran down my side.
And I ended up in front.
Gunning his engine the bike moved into the attack, but in a perfect display of how fickle the game's AI can be he chose to pass me rather than hurl a molotov cocktail ...
... and ended up back in front.
He the skidded, and we almost went through the whole process again. However the bike maintained control and our positions were maintained.
Frustrated, the bike ran away ...
Leaving me to continue my journey in peace.
The pursuers were unlucky not to get any reinforcing vehicles, despite the chase running for several turns longer that it would have normally done. Their AI-chosen tactics of maintaining a position in front of me, rather than dropping back, didn't help either.
I still need to tweak the chase mechanisms in Machinas, as the games don't seem to flow as well as the races. The rules for dropping back become more important, for example, but they aren't very well-defined and don't work that logically. I tried a second game with slightly modified vehicle responses, and that played a little better. But owing the the bashing and shooting results including the target dropping back a space I still ended up with most of the vehicles in front of me as they closed up from behind, shot or bashed me, the swept past. Once in front they seemed incapable of forcing me to pass them.
I'll get there though; the position mechanisms in Machinas are too good not to be used for this kind of game. It's just building the right rules around them that's tricky.