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Power Weapons

As I said before, Power Weapons should compliment the Geometry of your map, not usurp it. They should offer players decisions that help the map play better, not offer decisions that radically alter how the Game Play unfolds on the map. And they should form meta games – games within the game.

Secondary Objectives

A Must Have Power Weapon typically creates a secondary objective in any game, offering players decisions regarding the acquisition of the Power Weapon, thus forming the basis of a meta game. To better understand this, let’s explore the importance of acquiring rockets to achieve a significant advantage over one’s adversaries.

Rockets are so important that the knowledgeable players will learn the location and timing rules of the rockets’ spawn and work to control that section of the map whenever the rockets are scheduled to spawn. This strategy of controlling rockets becomes another game within the main game. Attention on the main game is temporarily put off to the side while the rockets are being acquired.

While the primary objective of Slayer is killing, and the primary objective of CTF is capturing the flag, the secondary objective of the meta game introduced by the rockets is acquiring the rockets themselves. And while the primary objective adds score, the secondary objective adds advantages within the Game Play itself. So much do rockets add advantage that they can in some cases become necessary to winning the match itself.

The Advantage

Adding a Power Weapon could be used as incentive to draw a player from a power position. Should they abandon one advantage for another? Should they remain back and risk losing what advantage they have to the Power Weapon? Or even use the Power Weapon as bait to pick off adversaries trying to acquire them?

Forcing the player to make a decision enhances the Game Play, adding additional strategies that would not exist without the Power Weapon, all the while not altering the Game Play at any fundamental level. Forcing them to think beyond the most basic of instinct of aiming and shooting makes your map interesting.

Better Map Usage

Snipers are a good example of giving players a weapon that can best be used by specialized areas of the map – areas that are further from most fire fights and thus more out of range, but work well for the Sniper. These areas of the map may tend not to be used much during most of the Game Play, but can be very useful if one has a Sniper.

You can include one Sniper on each side of a map near each team’s base where one can then move to an ideal sniper position that is also way out of position to be much help if the action goes to another area of the map. This kind of game breaking decision is exactly the kind of decision you want to temp your players with.

Stripping Depth Away

Consider the Halo 3 Rockets that spawns in the center of the map. A team will note when the rockets are picked up and used and begin to count to the next spawn. Before the next spawn they try to take control of the spawn area. The meta game is that of knowing where and when the rockets will spawn. All of these things a player is conscious of, because he can improve his Game Play by being aware of them.

Now consider the Halo 4 model of ordnance drop. The player cannot know where or when or even what weapon will spawn, because all of that was randomized. Having nothing to think about regarding the Power Weapons, he is left with only thinking about the primary objective. This elimination of decision making and the predictability necessary to form intelligent decisions makes the game shallow.

When confronted with this dilemma, some forgers simply chose not to forge ordnance drops onto their map, or at least not the random variety. The initial ordnance drop timer was fixed by the publisher and acted much the same way as the Halo 3 weapon spawn, except that it presented a way point indicator when a weapon became available (from spawn to acquisition).

Summary

Power Weapons are one way to offer players decisions by giving them secondary objectives to acquire, forming a game within the game.

Power Weapons should enhance the Game Play on your map, never alter the Game Play in a radical way.

Adding depth makes your map more interesting to play on and increases the life of enjoyment your map has to offer. Shallowing the map can reduce the Game Play to simply killing your adversaries, which will get old real fast.

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