Frontlines: Fuel of War Designer Diary #1 - The Frontlines Mechanic

Senior game designer Martin Raymond explains how Frontlines: Fuel of War will focus the action when there are dozens of players in a single game.

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Frontlines: Fuel of War is an upcoming first-person action game that will let you battle it out in single- and multiplayer battles that feature dozens of allies and opponents. In many ways, it's similar to games like Battlefield 1942 and Enemy Territories: Quake Wars, right down to the fact that the developers at Kaos Studios previously worked on Battlefield 2. However, the game will also feature some innovations of its own, and to explain how the game works, we have senior game designer Martin Raymond. Frontlines will ship in 2008.

The Frontlines Mechanic

By Martin Raymond
Senior Game Designer, Kaos Studios

When we set out to design Frontlines, we knew we wanted to create a first-person shooter that could do it all, from close-quarters infantry combat to intense land and air vehicle battles. After merging our gameplay ideas together, we were left with the question: "How do you combine intense, fast-paced tactical action with large, open-ended gameplay and a huge arsenal of vehicles and weaponry?"

Tanks versus helicopters is just one of the many things that can occur in Frontlines.
Tanks versus helicopters is just one of the many things that can occur in Frontlines.

This was our big design challenge, and our ultimate answer is something we call the frontline game mechanic, which is the driving force behind Frontlines. We wanted to offer a wide selection of gameplay experiences, from tight urban infantry battles to massive, open-ended armored battles (let's not forget about the jets and choppers--however, that's probably for another post). We also wanted to heavily promote teamwork and concentrate the action on specific regions of the map so that you wouldn't have to wander the map aimlessly trying to find someone to kill or trying to figure out what you need to do next.

The concept behind the frontline mechanic is simple: Each map is composed of multiple series of objectives that are either neutral or owned by either the Western Coalition or the Red Star Alliance. Each of these series represents a frontline, and only objectives contained within the current frontline are active and can be captured. Capture all objectives within a frontline, in any order, and the front will advance deeper into hostile territory, revealing the next frontline. Push the front all the way back to the enemy's base and capture it, and victory is yours!

What's interesting about this mechanic is that the game focuses the action on the same frontline for both teams; the action is always centered within the frontline, and you always get a choice between setting up defenses at your objective or going on offense toward hostile territory. Our loadout and role system will make sure to provide you with plenty of cool toys to make both offense and defense equally exciting.

In order to add some variety and strategic elements to our gameplay, we're using three different objective types. We've stayed away from the idea of limiting the completion of any objective type to a certain kind of loadout; it's simply no fun as a player to make it to an objective only to find out that nobody on the team can capture it because they're missing item X. In Frontlines, any loadout can capture any objective. Your team is the only instrument required to be successful.

Destroy objectives - As the name implies, this requires a team to make its way into the enemy's base and place a demolition charge onto the target, which can range from antiair stations [to] power generators and more. The team on the receiving end of a demo charge can capture the objective back by repairing it. The ground support role has a distinct advantage here, as he can repair items much more efficiently with his repair tool.

You have all sorts of cool weapons at your disposal, like remote-control gun drones.
You have all sorts of cool weapons at your disposal, like remote-control gun drones.

Secure objectives - In order to secure an area and capture this type of objective, a squad must keep it free of hostile presence for a specific duration. Teamwork really pays off here, as securing an area is much faster with a larger group of teammates.

Control objectives - This objective will saddle a single player with the task of tapping into a variety of enemy electronics, from computer stations to satellite dishes, in order to take it over. Since only one player can interact with these machines at a time and the process can take several long seconds, it's crucial to have your squad watch your back in order to avoid taking a bullet to the back of the head while you're typing away on a keypad.

Stay tuned for more details into our various weapons and vehicles soon! In the meantime, have a look at our awesome video to get an in-game look at how the mechanic works!

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