Lessons Learned: Making Lemonade from a Failed Unit Design

(Note: the title of this post comes from the folk saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade“)

Right now, I’m working on adding one of the final units to SCRAP. It belongs to the Dendrites faction, and will be an end-tier defensive specialist. The working name for this unit is the “Terminal”, though that’s likely to change prior to it going live.

The original plan was for it to be a “one-man turret farm.” Copied from the Protoss Carrier, the idea is that it would produce and manage a group of turrets, which would all die if their ‘parent’ was killed.

I wrote an article a while ago about what I call ‘categories of action‘ in RTS games, and this unit was intended to be highly “preparatory” in its design. In plain language, that means that it has to sit and do its thing for a long time to give the player its full benefit.

In the case of the Terminal, it would have to sit in one place and build up its defensive force over time. Move too far from the turrets, and they won’t perform as well. Move farther than that, they all die and have to be built again elsewhere.

I thought it was a neat idea.

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2019 update and way-ahead

I really need to start providing updates for my mod on more than a yearly basis. But… I guess that’s where I’ve been for the past 12-14 months or so. I guess we have a bit of catch up to do, don’t we?

This has been a big year for SCRAP in terms of mechanics. Both of the game’s factions got major mechanical overhauls, the game’s win condition was changed, the game got a new map, and I added a 1-player mode so that players can practice and learn the game against AI of varying difficulties. Oh, and I almost forgot: two wonderful artists provided concept art for several of the game’s units, which a phenomenal 3D modeler turned into actual models that are now in the game! That’s right, SCRAP has some custom unit models now. You’ll get to see them below.

And lastly, I’ll go into my plans for 2020, which include a tutorial/campaign and a possible third faction

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Anniversary Patch: Tips, Units, Balance

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I tend to work in cycles, I guess, writing for a while then switching to working on game design projects, with a smattering of actually playing games in between these things. I’m attempting to improve on that, but the frustrating truth of the matter is that I’m not as consistent with any of these things as I like to be.

That being said, for the past month or so I’ve been hard at work trying to get SCRAP feature complete. And along those lines, I’ve completed another minor milestone: 2 more units are in the game. These units are high-tier, some of the latest units that can be unlocked for use. SCRAP, however, doesn’t quite work like most RTS when it comes to high tier units.

Since my last update, I’ve actually released a number of patches, so this will attempt to hit some of the other content I’ve added while focusing on the latest patch.

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SCRAP December Update: Abilities, Renames, Systems Changes

Since I released the ‘public alpha’ of SCRAP in July of 2017, I have released 6 updates to the mod: changing balance, restructuring the map, and working out bugs. During that time, I have started a game design apprenticeship, joining the fine folks working at Dream Harvest Games┬áto work on an RTS project called Failure: NeuroSlicers. This has led to an unfortunate lessening of the frequency of updates to SCRAP as I take on design tasks for Failure. I still manage to find some time to work on the mod, however, which leads us to today: the 7th update to the SCRAP Public Alpha, and my first major content addition to the mod.

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“SCRAP September” Tournament, Sept 14th


Thanks to a partnership with Polygon Gaming, a StarCraft 2 clan that has been supporting my development efforts on S.C.R.A.P. for over a year, I am proud to announce that SCRAP will be having its first tournament on September 14, 2017, starting at 8:30PM Eastern time.

Dubbed “S.C.R.A.P. September”, the event will be single-elimination and has a prize pool of $75 at this moment, with $50 going to the first place contestant. The event has a Matcherino donation page as well, so there’s the possibility of the prize pool increasing.

Visit the tournament’s Challonge page to sign up. You might like S.C.R.A.P. if you enjoy:

  • a focus on territory control
  • RTS with a lower unit count and a big focus on tactical combat and harassment
  • mobile army production not tied to static structures
  • smelting down the burned out husks of the enemy army and using them to bolster your own war machine

On the start date, check out the PolygonSC2 Twitch stream to watch live! Subscribe to them now to get a notification when the tournament starts.

In preparation for the tournament, I will be releasing a series of content and balance patches on September 1 and September 8, including changes and fixes like:

  • Scrap (resources) will no longer block Power Nodes or Generator Wrecks. When unites die near these, the Scrap they generate will be pushed a short distance away
  • Players can observe matches now as Spectators
  • When a player quits a match, their opponent will correctly be awarded Victory
  • The Dendrite Imbuer unit will now convert units slightly more quickly

I hope to see you on the battlefield! scrapbanner01

S.C.R.A.P. Public Alpha Released, Content Updates Under Way

Hello everyone! After about a year of active development (over 2 years since I wrote out the thought experiment that led to the mod) I released S.C.R.A.P. Public Alpha live on the Blizzard Arcade on July 1, 2017. It’s really gratifying to have people actually play S.C.R.A.P. in uncontrolled conditions, and to receive their feedback in real time, and deeply exciting to finally have released the mod, an actual product able to be consumed.

S.C.R.A.P. launched its public alpha on July 1, 2017. It’s currently on the Europe and Americas regions on the Battle.Net Arcade (available through StarCraft 2’s free Arcade Edition). It has an active little Discord community of about 30 people (and growing) and players who give it a chance have seemed to enjoy it. Since launch, I have responded to player feedback by releasing 10 balance and quality-of-life patches, though the rate of fixing has recently dropped off as I focus on longer term changes and additions.

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How to win a S.C.R.A.P. match

S.C.R.A.P. takes place in a post-apocalyptic┬áscience-fiction setting: the players take the role of industrial and commercial support machines who were abandoned on a planet after its populace was evacuated during a nameless war. Much like in a mechanized version of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road‘, resources in the world of S.C.R.A.P. are few and far between, and sometimes taking from others is the only way to ensure one’s own survival.

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