For the front weapon of the gunner, we wanted to get a quick and versatile weapon, in opposition to the torpedoes, harder to handle but stronger.
In this scope, we designed “the harpoon”, a weapon did not need to be loaded manually, had a limited range, made some damage, and was recovered after each shot.
We had difficulties to find a proper balance between making it truly useful and encouraging players to use torpedoes. We tried many damage, speed and range parameters, but we were never satisfied.
The harpoon was then transformed into what has been named the “flechettes”. It was a sort of miniature torpedoes: flechettes made low damages and were automatically reloaded with infinite ammo. The range was widened, while its maximum angle was reduced so that the weapon was not overpowered… It didn’t really work as we planed: unlimited ammo made it too easy for the gunner to use many flechettes instead of carefully loading and firing a limited reserve of torpedoes. We increased the number of flechettes required to destroy an enemy or a obstacle, but it lead players to spam it, which is not what was intended!
We then got back to the initial idea, a weapon which reels back after each shot, has a short range and do little damage. It proved to be a good complement to torpedoes: it can be easily fired at any time, but torpedoes are much more efficient.
But we realized that players used it for everything, including to destroy rocks and other obstacles: it didn’t fit with the lore of the game (destroying a piece of rock with a harpoon?). And the amount of damage was hard to define: too high, and the torpedoes were not useful anymore; too low, and people spammed it to destroy a single enemy or obstacles…
So we decided to transform the harpoon in an “attractor”: it could attract crystals, scraps and other metallic obstacle towards the submarine. It gave something to do for the gunner outside combat, and it fitted better with the lore.
However, a last problem appeared: in some occasions, the submarine could become stuck if the gunner attracted an obstacle too close to the submarine!
We then added the “repulsor” mode for the front weapon, which works similarly as the attractor but in the other direction, so that the gunner always have an option to repel any obstacle and avoid the submarine to be stuck. And to switch from the attractor mode to repulsor mode, the gunner simply has to double press the front weapon selection key (“W” by default)!