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Thurrock Deathtank Clan
Website design and implementation by Tom Russell © 2004
Last modified: Thu Apr 15 21:46:53 BST 2004
HelpNote: the help currently applies to version 0.1 of Groundfire. I will try and keep it up-to-date with the latest release but it might lag behind by a few days. I'll add more detail to the help later...
Setting up the Controls
Groundfire supports up to two players on the keyboard and up to eight players using joysticks (or joystick-like devices e.g. joypads). If you have them, I recommend using joysticks in preference to the keyboard. For a joystick to be useable in groundfire it must have at least 2-axis and 5 buttons, otherwise not all the controls can be mapped onto buttons and the player will be severely handicapped. Digital joypads are the best choice of controller but analogue joysticks will work (although the analogue axes will behave like digital ones.)
The 'Set Controls' Menu
Before you can use an input device you need to set the control layout for it. There are default layouts for all devices but these may not be to your liking (The default layout works well with the Microsoft Sidewinder gamepad). The layouts are configured from the 'Set Controls' menu, available from the options screen. This menu is shown below:
The top part of this menu allows you to change the layouts for the two players who can use the keyboard. These layouts are named 'Keyboard 1' and 'Keyboard 2'.
Below this, is a list of all the joysticks currently connected to your computer. Groundfire can support up to 8 joysticks. If you have more than this, they will not appear in this menu. Each available joystick can be assigned one of eight layouts. Each layout can have a different set of mappings between the joystick controls and the game commands. Clicking the arrows next to the layout name will change the layout assigned to each joystick. You can assign any layout to any joystick. If you have several joysticks of the same kind, it might be convenient to give them all the same layout and alter that layout once only.
The 'Edit layout' buttons next to each keyboard and joystick entry will take you to the 'Editing layout' menu for the layout currently selected for the joystick or keyboard.
The 'Editing Layout' menu
This menu is shown below:
From here you can change any of the control mapping for a layout. This screen is practically identical whether you're editing a keyboard layout or a joystick layout. The menu lists all the game commands on the left and the current control mapped to each command on the right.
(Note: not all the controls shown in this menu are used in the game yet. Later versions of Groundfire will use these controls)
To change any control mapping, click on the name of a command and push the desired button or axis direction on the joystick (or press a key on the keyboard).
(Note: Some commands are linked to another and will automatically change when their linked command is changed (e.g. if the 'Move Tank Left' command is set to be 'Joystick/Pad Left' then 'Move Tank Right' will automatically become 'Joystick/Pad Right'.))
One thing to be aware of is that it is currently possible to map a control to more than one command.
Once all the control mappings for a layout have been set as desired, clicking 'Done' will automatically save the new layout mappings. Pressing 'Reset To Defaults' will revert all mappings to their defaults.
Starting the game
Selecting 'Start Game' from the main menu takes you to the 'Select Players' screen. Before the game can start, at least two players must join the game. A player joins by pressing the 'Fire' command on a joystick or the keyboard (see 'Setting up the Controls' for how to configure this command). Each player who joins is assigned a tank with a unique colour.
(Note: The current version of Groundfire does not allow you to set your player name. This will be added in a later version.)
Once two or more players have joined, the Start button becomes available. Before pressing this, the number of rounds to be played can be set. Anything between 5 and 50, in increments of 5, is possible.
Playing the game
The Status Panel
Along the top of the screen are a number of status panels. Each panel holds the current state of a player's tank. The panels look like this:
The small tank picture tells you who's status panel this is. The top bar shows the health of this tank, it gets shorter, the more health is lost. The second bar shows the amount of jumpjet fuel available to this tank in the current round. This bar gets shorter the more fuel is used up. The small circle next to the picture of the tank, shows the currently selected weapon. The one shown here is the normal 'shell' weapon. To the right of this, would be the amount of ammo remaining for this weapon. However, the standard weapon has infinite ammo so this is not shown.
Firing a weapon
To fire at an opponent, a player first aims their gun. The arrow leading out from their tank represents the direction the gun will fire in. The length of the arrow represents the power of the shot that will be fired. When the arrow turns green, a shot can be fired. Pressing the fire command will launch a shell:
Once a shell is fired, the arrow turns red for a few seconds. Another shot cannot be fired until the arrow turns green again. This is called the 'cooldown' time of the weapon. (Hint: use the cooldown time to correct the angle/power of the gun to hit an opponent's tank).
Shells will explode when they hit something. If they hit a tank or they explode near enough to a tank, they will cause damage to that tank. The health bar on the tank's status bar will show how much health remains for that tank.
Once a tank has sustained enough damage, they will be out of the round. When this happens, the targetting arrow will disappear and the tank will begin smoking:
Moving the TankWhile on the ground, a tank can move slowly left and right using the tank left/right commands. This is useful to avoid enemy shells and to make it harder for your opponents to hit you. Tanks can only climb slopes slowly and if they are over a certain steepness, they cannot be climbed at all.
Jumpjets are not available until purchased from the shop. To use jumpjets hold the jumpjet button. The tank will lift off the ground. Tank's can be steered in mid-air using the tank left/right commands. Fuel is used up all the while the jumpjet button is helded down.
Once another weapon has been purchased, a player can select a weapon by using the weapon up/down command. The icon in the status panel shows which weapon is currently selected, as well as the remaining ammunition. When switching weapons, you must wait for the cooldown time for that weapon before you can fire.
Missiles can be purchased in sets of 5 from the shop. Missiles are guided. They are launched like the normal shells but, once launched, can be steered using the gun left/right commands. It takes practice to control missiles properly.
Nukes behave exactly like the standard shell weapon but are much more powerful. Nukes do more damage and have a large blast radius when they explode. Nukes are purchased one at a time from the shop.
Winning a round
A tank wins a round by being the last tank alive. However, it is more important to destroy as many other tanks as possible. This is where the majority of the scoring comes from.
After each round, you will be shown a screen detailing the scoring for the round. This looks like this:
Each player appears on the table in order of total score. The middle column of the table shows which tanks were killed by which player in the previous round. A coloured flag signifies that the leader was killed (the flag colour is the same as the leader's). Killing the leader is worth double points. Extra points are awarded for winning the round (not dying).
(Note: killing yourself will actually give you a negative score, so be careful!)
Between each round, there is an opportunity for each player to purchase new weapons for their tank. Money is awarded to each player at the end of a round, the amount of money depends on the number of tanks killed and score gained. The shop menu is where all the shopping happens. This is shown below:
There is a columns on the left for each tank. The list on the right shows all the weapons available for purchase along with their price. The players can move their tank icon down or up a row using the gun up/down command. To purchase a weapon, a player presses the 'Fire' command. After each player has done all their shopping, they can go to the 'Done!' row at the bottom to exit the shop.