It all started with a simple question – could we somehow convey the health of particular unit without having to display an annoying health-bar above it?
Health-bars, while being very practical gameplay-wise, are also working against the effect of immersion.
This has made us ponder about the idea of representing damage as... actual damage of units! It has been partially explored before, with the smoke being an indicator of heavy damage. But it only came so far.
Thanks to brilliant work of Ivand we are now able to.
The new shader applies slight deformations to models, with a magnitude proportional to the damage dealt to it. Metal pieces bend, twist and fracture with every harder blow. On top of that, textures get modified along with more and more damage received.
When loosing HP, unit textures slowly change into their damaged counterparts for the wreck texture atlas. These two effects working together give absolutely remarkable results during battles.
With this damaged-based look, combined with smoke, exploded robot limbs flying around and wrecked planes falling from the sky the battle scene in BAR can now easily compete with Hollywood high-budget productions!
What is more you can now quickly tell if your army should engage or go for a repair simply by looking at it.
If you are going for total immersion in the game, you can turn on show health only when selected in the Advanced / Interface settings. When a unit is being attacked/damaged we only show the health-bar shortly, then hide it after a second or two.
To put a cherry on top of this news, we are also remaking unit wreck models with intention of making them look more unique, physically realistic and pleasing to the eye. In the past due to the simplistic workflow used for generating wreck models has resulted in many models feeling a bit boring and repetitive.
In BAR we really believe in the attention to detail
Which is why we are literally tweaking every wreck model individually with a bit of artistic touch to it. We are also thinking about applying randomized deformation to every single wreck on the battlefield so even same unit wrecks will always slightly differ. Even wrecks themselves will twist and turn the more damaged they are, since yes, wrecks also have 'health'.