The Weapon Special

mgsThe weapons in Matador have evolved quite a bit since we started, both functionally and aesthetically. So let’s talk about that. Below is the first pass — the breakdown of weapon types as listed is still correct (MGs, howitzers, artillery, lasers, and flamethrowers), as are the three mount variants:


  • Heavy Mount: highest overall damage, but cannot traverse independently of the chassis.
  • Auxiliary Mount: smaller version of the heavy mount — lower damage, but typically with a much higher rate of fire and with an additional independent traverse (15°-60°).
  • Turret Mount: largest traverse (180°-360°) with damage and rate of fire falling somewhere between the auxiliary and heavy mount types.

And some additional notes:

  • Available mount types are defined by the vehicle chassis.
  • Vehicle type, chassis, and weapon loadout are all chosen by the player before launching a mission.


Unlike what’s shown in the above image, we’ve decided to cap the number of equipped weapons on a vehicle at two. The original game design involved weapon switching, ammo management, and combat salvaging. What we discovered is that managing simultaneous fire for two different weapons alone occupied much of a player’s attention. Ammo conservation and weapon swapping work fine as gameplay mechanics, but once we add friendly units into the mix then all these elements together just overburdened the player. Were we to stick with a single unit isometric shmup these other elements could have worked in some variety for added depth. But instead we’ve streamlined the individual units and their control in favor of a larger battlefield and a more tactical style combat. Players sets out on missions equipping not only themselves but also squads of various support units which can be given orders as groups during a battle. This is also where the pilots come in; players can assign pilots to squads to confer a passive bonus to the units (e.g. + accuracy), and provided the pilots survive this bonus will increase over time. But back to guns — the point is that we’ve somewhat simplified the player unit in order to add extra complexity to the gameplay and allow for player controlled friendlies.

Another exciting thing about Matador is that the projectiles are actual physics objects traveling through space (there are hitscan weapons, -lasers-, but that’s because, well, they’re lasers). The player must manually aim, and in doing so must lead targets, accounting for projectile velocity. Additionally, the trajectories can be affected by vehicular momentum as well as global effects like wind. In the end we’ll have a large variety of weapons within these 5 categories, and currently the code for the weapon system is probably one of the most finished and robust components of the game engine to date. Once we get some more weapon effects in and I properly flesh out more of the individual weapons I’ll do another post detailing those as well as what I’ve only briefly addressed here like bullet trajectories and our damage modeling.

Until then enjoy this great big beauty shot of the current turret variants:

guns guns guns!

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