Doctor Who Cyber Assault


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cyberman.jpgMattAfter the BBC revived the classic sci-fi program Doctor Who, they began creating a number of fun games on their website, which, unlike some BBC games, I was able to play outside Britain (I'm in the U.S.). One of their games that really stood out was the Cyberman Game (a.k.a. Doctor Who Cyber Assault), which is really three games in one, all of which include some innovative thinking that I'm compelled to 'borrow' the next time I create a game.

The first (and main) game has many similarities to Risk! in that you move armies around a map of the Earth trying to conquer it. But Cyberman has a few twists that appealed to me as a fan of this kind of game:

  • Troop movement is done before the attack, allowing you to quickly double the size of an attacking territory
  • Recruitment of new troops is an alternative to attacking, and you get one new troop in each territory you command
  • Each side controls a number of bases that must be destoyed by the other player, and become focii of defensive strategy

Attacking an enemy territory then brings up a mini-game of sorts, a modified 'roshambo' (rock-paper-scissors) in which each player chooses to Attack, Defend, or Outflank, and each of those three options is strong against one of the two and weak against the other. The results are weighted with the number of troops on each side, resulting in a satisfying scenario even if you lose: instead of yelling at dice for bad rolls, you can only blame yourself.

Once you control a territory with an enemy base you have the option for a Base Attack, which brings up the third game, a run-and-shoot activity that is very attractive but which doesn't quite fit with the other parts. It could be a fun standalone game, but action segments in strategy or puzzle games always seem out of place.

Cyberman was created by the team at Fish in a Bottle who have some other fun puzzle and racing games they've made on their site.

Analysis: The Risk!-style game has some very clever aspects that I would like to see developed. The AI seemed very weak, so I would consider the game more of a 'proof-of-concept' than a finished version. The AI in the roshambo portion of the game also seemed weak. I couldn't tell whether it was learning/predicting my patterns or not, but I think it was, as those games got harder each time. Again, using modified rock-paper-scissors to resolve attacks seems a very clever twist.

The action game is very attractive and fun, although it was painfully slow (it looks like they use a scrolling vector background, which must be re-rendered each frame. Flash does much better when moving bitmaps). The levels are well-designed although there isn't a lot of strategy, making this mini-game not quite fit with the rest. It usually doesn't make sense to spend a turn in the map game on a base attack, so I was left with all the action mini-games at the end.

Over all Doctor Who Cyber Assault is interesting and new in many ways. With improved AI it could be an excellent game.

Play Doctor Who Cyber Assault

18 Comments

this is just like Conqueror!

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MetalJesus January 8, 2007 7:46 PM

The base bits are like The Chaos Engine. Hooooooray!

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Comments:

* MAN is the base assault slow. It would be much better if they would improve the frame rate as suggested.

* Enemy AI on the base assaults definitely needs work too. Not only can you 'catch' baddies on edges of buildings/platforms/ladder areas, but also if you attack them at medium/long range you can just put up a hail of gunfire that they'll always walk straight into and not need to worry about getting zapped (though the second could easily be solved by just improving the frame rate/speed of the game, thus making enemies move faster).

* I liked how there is a stealth aspect (intentional or not) to the base assaults, but unfortunately it doesn't play a very large role (and in some ways doesn't work all that well, and due to the low enemy difficulty in any case is very ignorable).

* Do you get extra chances to attack bases if you have more armies in the area? If not, you should.

*

The human enemies (while playing as CyberLeader) were more interesting than the robot enemies thanks to having guns, but unfortunately they were one of the ways in which the 'stealth' aspect failed, since by the time they actually noticed you you were pretty well bearing down on them anyway.

*

I also found it strange that you only had to destroy the radio bases of the humans to win as the CyberLeader. It's consistent, but still rather strange, as you'd think that the robots would want to make sure that there weren't any humans left that were aware of/able to fight them.

*

The obsoletion of the CyberLeader after winning the war was fitting.

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I couldn't bring myself to play the game again as CyberLeader--it was just way too slow! The base attacks slow the game down to a crawl. Forget improving the base attack scenarios--just replace them with something as elegant as the rock/paper/scissors battles for territories!

Here's a hint for shooting faster during the base attacks:

When firing, just alternate quickly between directions and for some reason your bullets will fire a lot faster in both directions (two to three times faster). For example: say you're shooting straight down. Hold the down arrow while holding control to fire, and then quickly and repeatedly tap one of the side arrows. Your little guy will fire both down and on the diagonal, but both streams of fire will be a lot faster than just holding down the control key. Yeah, I know it's cheesy, but anything that helps speed up the excruciatingly slow base attacks is a good thing in my book.

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:/ I kind of liked the base assaults as action bits, though.

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"Enemy AI on the base assaults definitely needs work too. Not only can you 'catch' baddies on edges of buildings/platforms/ladder areas, but also if you attack them at medium/long range you can just put up a hail of gunfire that they'll always walk straight into and not need to worry about getting zapped (though the second could easily be solved by just improving the frame rate/speed of the game, thus making enemies move faster)."

I'm a big Doctor Who fan, and this actually reminds me of how unmenacing many of the villians in that show are. Yet, the characters are always strangely afraid of them.

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If they would have programmed the AI to move troops before attacking, I think they game would have been much more challenging and fun.

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It was a great concept, but I agree that both the base assaults, and game in general, have poor AI.

I wish the general AI was smarter and would use troop movements and have different strategies it could employ...just having me move gave me more than enough leverage over him. Likewise, the base assaults were very simple because the bad guys were horribly dumb.

I had fun, but this game could have more replay value if it was more challenging or had different levels of play. (or a human verse human version?)

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Are the people who complain about poor AI actually familliar with the show?

As an avid Doctor Who fan, both the ancient series, and the more recent ones, (as well as the torchwood offspin,) I have to say that the game does capture the attitude and linear thinking of the Cybermen.

The Cybermen in the show only care about 2 things. Deleting unfit humans, or upgrading ones they deem worthy. (Everyone who doesn't fight them is deemed worthy.)

They do not really care about troop placement, and only chase after things right in front of them, in visual range, as well as move slow. They have depended largely on people coming to them, instead of chasing them down. They feel they are far superior, and therefore don't bother with fireing weapons, or troop management.

Catching the cybermen on obstacles, or just gunning them down from far distance is the same thing that happens in the shows.

I'm not denying that the AI couldn't use a work-over. All I am trying to say is, that if that happens, it's not going to be a proper representation of the cybermen, and the game would need a graphics and style overhaul subsequently.

For a Human vs Cybermen game, this does very well.

Another thing to remember is that Doc. Who, and subsequently the games as well, are aimed at a teenage / young adult audiance. If you want full on adult issues, deeper and hidden meanings, more excitement, and tension, check out Torchwood.

And as for that strange faster shooting tip up there:

You could also just tap the Crtl-key fast instead of doing a wierd bi-directional dance'n'shoot move.

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Simplified version of RISK. Interesting. I beat it in an hour or less but had fun. I got my borders to over 99 before attacking. The enemy will thin itself out quick. Then you attack the strongholds straight on.

You can get more than 99, it just doesn't show it.

The shooting maze game was pretty easy and the guy was really slow.

This would be worth playing if it was multi-player.

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ah pah, a submission like this belongs to newgrounds, not jayisgames. Im better quality flash in idea and design used than 0815 implemenations like this :(

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I liked this game in spite of its obvious shortcomings. What I liked best was breaking through the walls behind an unsuspecting human soldier when playing the Cybermen (muahahaha).

The low AI does not bother me too much, but what I would really like is a button that allows you to send all available troops to the next area so you don't have to left-click a hundred times.

Just leaving an enemy base undestroyed in an area you have conquered evidently was not a thing that the game designers reckoned with; it makes the game too easy. There should be some kind of little bonus if you spend (waste) a round on infiltrating the base or a problem (think guerilla warfare) if you don't.

Another thing that I'd appreciate would be randomized events that occur once you have gained the upper hand on the map and have little to do apart from getting the bases destroyed.

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saw this on the doctor who site a while ago...

I absaloutly love doctor who!
I have loads of doctor who stuff,dalek,posters,tardis,mags,and i even have a sonic screw river

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Would love to play the risk side of the game without the long boring base attacks cant b stuffd after the 1st base.

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Ai oi... just found out that you can type in the number of armies you want to move... stupid me...

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rock paper siccor = good
risk = good
boring,notgivinganadvantagebaseattacking = bad
lack of ai = who cares..? the bases are boring anyway :D

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wow, not that ai is bad, it's useless. has no strategy whatsoever.

it will abandon it's base to attack a neighboring country, dividing the defenders by 2.

spreads itself too thin. love risk-type games, tho. the third character that's hidden at the beginning is awesome to play the shooting game with, so try and beat the game to unlock it, it's worth it.
also,

at the beginning of the game, keep recruiting; while the ai divides its forces. when all have moved, and after some more recruiting, somewhere around 17, start moving to his bases. spend the first few turns conquering a path straight to his base city, leaving yours with no defenders. after taking all of his over start the base attacks. oh yea, leave 1 of your bases fully stocked, don't abandon it. and don't worry, he'll never take more than 3 of yours.

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The reason why the "Al" in Cyber Assault blows is because the computer recruits until it has as much as or more troops than you! And if you control much territory than it makes it harder for the "Al" to recover and it shall not attack.

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