Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Infiltration: open design points

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Inspired by tag discussions on bay12forum, I want to share some thoughts about future directions for this prototype.

I've written before that scope for this project is only to be a prototype, and like other prototypes, should answer questions. In this case, questions are about game mechanics and how they interact each other to form player experience.
Current status about mechanics is the following (see this msg about mechanics discussion )

https://image.ibb.co/nHWhXJ/Statemachine_Diagram0.png
gameplay mechanics tree, green: completed, yellow to be done

Notes:
- pois: point of interest
- TBC: to be completed

- game world: game world generation on this stage is mostly completed. For sure I can add variation, more procedural content, procedural generated map, better graphics.. but is out of scope right now. Have a group of pois (cities for now) is enough, or I want to say, the minimum foundation for start to play. For me this side is completed!

- point of interest: now pois are completed: with districts cities are now a stage for npc confrontations, battles and so on. I want to stop now on this side, because I can add more special pois (dungeons, crypts, villages, battle fields..) but is only variation on the same idea. What will bring more, in term of gameplay, is add new special mechanics for particular pois. For example, add "unlockable" pois, after some events are triggered (see below)

- poi triggers: (TBC) one of the "core" feature I've identified for this prototype is possibility to add some triggers on a poi. A trigger in my mind should be defined as a series of condition on poi variables and some actions on poi. One example I've come in mind is to create some hidden poi, like a dungeon.
This dungeon will provide unique quests for npc ( and also tags!) and some kind of tag (bonus) for player too (for example bonus on manipulation action, but is only an example). So player will unlock this poi after first rebellion in another city, with an event. I think that this kind of triggers, if used correctly, will provide more options for gameplay and my reference model are Xcom games, where player complete missions and acquire more experience and this advancement trigger tier 2 mission and so on.

- characters: on this side I'm on maintenance mode right now. This means that my focus is to fix bugs. I'm satisfied with "city simulations" and characters interaction. Maybe I will work on relation side, bug always to add more possibility for players
- ancient one: inspired from TWS, I have considered a lot of specific ancient one power, instead of "generic one" (like corrupt), but I want to keep it simple. How it's possible to design ancient one's power without know which elements can be modified by player ?

- ancient one level up: (TBC) for now this is covered knowledge unlock and special "tags" for ancient one, maybe after a manipulated npc complete a particular quest. After observing how paradox games are made (EU4 or HoI4 for example), seems that add a lot of small bonuses, unlocked often are a good way to keep player busy. I don't know right now how this fit in my prototype, this is one of my research questions. I don't want achievements, but something player can have influence on. For this I'm thinking about ancient one religion. Because player take role of ancient god, what fit best of a religion? After first unlock of player power, this mechanics will be unlocked and with a new dedicated interface, with more and more corrupted npc (and many followers!) you can build on top of this base your cult. My idea is to use npc followers in the good old sacrifice way and in this way unlock new tags. These bonuses or tags will provide bonuses for player challenges or can be used for power-up and npc ?

- player action: here I've done for now. I have a lot, I mean a list of dozen and dozen of possible actions, but I want to KISS (keep it simple stupid!). Focus to corrupt (maybe is better corrupt?), calling for doing stuff in a poi and manipulate for interact between two different npcs. Of course actions could be complicated, but.. not for this prototype!

- corrupt characters: see above

- character actions: (TBC) npc fight for poi dominance, but I think is not right choice. Dominance is not the only way npc could be, so my idea is to add a "nature" or "destiny" for every npc. For example good old Uzbar, the barbarian, will be violent by nature and every interaction or challenge will be solved with a physical challenge or a fight. Of course with madness this will be worse, but I think that different natures will provide more variability for each character when they interact each other, for fight in a poi or not. Why all npc should fight? Maybe some npc can start to study, connect the dots, or improve abilities. I want to be KISS even here and just try little variation, not too much

- follow clues/ uncover ancient one: I know from various reports that this is a simplified version and most of the runs npc cannot find player hidden in the world. This is fine. I mean is a matter of balance right now and even if I have some ideas (like chosen one from TWS.. keep it simple!)

- move characters: (TBC) This is something I want! For example bobby2hands made a great work in Shadows behind the throne (see here  ) with a lot of characters moving on the map. Keep in mind that for this prototype graphics, animations and so on are not a focus, so I want to implement very basic movement: and action that characters can do on some triggers (to escape death after a manipulation, for example!) or after a calling from player. This an important point: right now cities are islands with no interaction. If characters can move around, they can start to mess with internal city equilibrium and of course player with it. But instead of TWS, based on direct control on few key adepts, I want to experiment some indirect control over npcs, like force them to leave a city, move to another city and start to search knowledge there

- solve quests: completed!

- character experience: with tag system is completed, at least for this prototype. Experience could be much more (xp, levels, items, powerful followers and so on..) but KISS again!
- organization: guilds are simplified right now, again for scope. I have ideas on this side too, for example a guild could hide a piece of forgotten knowledge somewhere (a hidden poi, see triggers ) and as player to uncover this secret you should help your corrupted agent to climb the ranks inside the organization. This could add some variation on the main formula, but not for this prototype

- organization bonuses: originally this idea comes from "rank" inside a guild for a npc. If a guild is powerful, win wars, get more points and provide more assistance on npc with higher rank. A simple formula.. but is something connected to organization rank and want to keep it out from this prototype, maybe in the future

- organization diplomacy: this is also out of the scope. Right now guild can start wars each others.. and this is a mess caused by player too! For example if a manipulated npc kill another npc in a city.. this will cause problems between guilds. I don't understand if this is something that players can see right now, maybe with a proper guild's relations window, this could be more easy to follow


So far my points on design side are the following:

1) work on unlockable pois, using triggers to add more variation and more re playability for the game
2) design and think ancient one religion, to unlock bonuses, based on number of corrupted npcs and followers
3) destiny types for npc, this will guide actions and reactions to a changing world
4) moveable characters between pois

On next builds I will focus in find my way to solve these points and like always, any comment, feedback, critique are welcome!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Infiltration 0.0.6 - Better user interface!

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In last months I have started a new project (some info on bay12 forums), called Infiltration, and my vision is:


a turn based single player asymmetric game where player take control of an agent and manipulate actors and organizations to obtain victory






You are not dead, you are not living.. yet.
Aeons ago, in a time before mith, your enemies sigil you in a realm far from reality. Weakened and far from your power, your will simply.. disappear.
One echo, from time to time, hit your dreams. Something called humanity is playing with arcane power and forgotten knowledge, part of you.
You simply awaken and take a look into the world. These "humans" will serve you as puppets in your quest to become powerful, again.
You can see a preview of current status of the game in this video:




In this version I've worked on many feedback I've been received on version 0.0.4 and 0.0.5 and improved user interface.
In particular now it's more clear what user can click, because every clickable element in the game has an "on over" image,
so just move the mouse and click.. you will see the effect! I've improved a little bit the general feeling of the game with new icons from Skyrim map set and a little new icon
near every city, so you get quickly the idea where you have already corrupted agents and where not.
There is also for every NPC a little quest log, so you can follow every win and losses for every actor in the game,
without lose everything in the "main log" on bottom part of the interface.
Now it's also more clear what an NPC is doing because in actors list there is a quick view on current action and a counter:
this counter is the time that action require in order to be completed. This will include both player actions (focus, calling) and
NPC actions (investigate for example).

The game has now a radical change that will alter how do you play this prototype and, even if I like ui changes and feedback on this side,
I'd like to know if this change it's okay for you or not. I'm talking about the link between a district in a city
and a secret.
As you know, in this game you are an ancient evil trapped in a prison and you have to find hidden knowledge of the world
in order to become powerful again. To do so, you will focus your power on mortals, establishing a link to their mortal minds,
then send them in active search of hidden knowledge, using calling action.
This action is really powerful, but after is completed, you will gather information on where the secret is located.
If you are lucky, could be the same district that belong to your puppet, but if you are not lucky.. you have to decide.
It's better to send my puppet against the mortal that own the district, or focus and then calling again the mortal?

I believe that this little change is a radical change in how player will play the game and a fundamental stone on how player can manipulate mortals in following his plan.

Let me know what do you think!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Infiltration 0.0.5 - fixing bugs!

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In last months I have started a new project (some info on bay12 forums), called Infiltration, and my vision is:


a turn based single player asymmetric game where player take control of an agent and manipulate actors and organizations to obtain victory






You are not dead, you are not living.. yet.
Aeons ago, in a time before mith, your enemies sigil you in a realm far from reality. Weakened and far from your power, your will simply.. disappear.
One echo, from time to time, hit your dreams. Something called humanity is playing with arcane power and forgotten knowledge, part of you.
You simply awaken and take a look into the world. These "humans" will serve you as puppets in your quest to become powerful, again.
You can see a preview of current status of the game in this video:



In version 0.0.5:

- fix bugs on user interface
- enhanced and corrected text from Rowan
- new build system, with all resources included and two separate build, one for windows (.exe file) and one for linux/mac (.jarfile)


In this release I have solved some problems reported on running the game, more specifically on windows. This time there is an executable (.exe file) for windows and a .jar file for linux or mac. I have also included all resources inside the archive, so any problem related to not able to load external resources will be solved!
I have to say thanks to Rowan for his support on enhance game's text fixing typos and more in general grammar. I'm sure with your evocative words now game could be even more interesting and fun! Thanks!

Some screenshot of Rowan's work:





Friday, July 20, 2018

Infiltration 0.0.4 - living cities

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In last months I have started a new project (some info on bay12 forums), called Infiltration, and my vision is:


a turn based single player asymmetric game where player take control of an agent and manipulate actors and organizations to obtain victory






You are not dead, you are not living.. yet.
Aeons ago, in a time before mith, your enemies sigil you in a realm far from reality. Weakened and far from your power, your will simply.. disappear.
One echo, from time to time, hit your dreams. Something called humanity is playing with arcane power and forgotten knowledge, part of you.
You simply awaken and take a look into the world. These "humans" will serve you as puppets in your quest to become powerful, again.
You can see a preview of current status of the game in this video:



In version 0.0.4:

- living cities simulation: now characters can solve quests, acquire followers, get power and fight other characters for city control
- city panel show character fight on districts
- character panel now display number of followers, money and influence values
- console panel display all little details about living cites simulation
- many little fix on user interface, now more stable!


And some screenshot for updated interface

Now a city have districts, ultimate goal for characters

characters will use money, followers and influence to solve quests and fight for districts



My plan for this release was to integrate city simulation (more here) into game and I'm really satisfied for the result. Now cities are more alive, with characters acquiring resources, fighting for districts control and player manipulate them in the shadows.


Let's play and let me know what do you think, where I can improve to make it more fun!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Infiltration game mechanics

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TLTR: I was on vacation and doing some work at home, but I'm back on design side for this experience, after reading an amazing book.


Last month was a little bit "strange": first work at home, then I was on vacations (yahoo!).
So I had a lot of time relaxing, thinking and reading a book about game design. I've read some books in topic during years and found them a little bit too much abstract or too much in a specific "angle" to be useful. This time, however, I found a nice mix, in Designing Games: A Guide to Engineering Experiences, by Tynan Sylvester.


In my first post on this thread, I've put in a single line my vision for this project as follow:

"a turn based single player asymmetric game where player take control of an agent and manipulate actors and organizations to obtain victory"

(sorry for my English btw!)

and I need to focus more this vision to answer two simple questions:

1) which mechanics my game does it have ?
2) what are the core mechanics?

After think a little bit, I'm trying this "design exercise" and I'm thinking could be valuable to anyone want to start and build a game.. so let's start:


Mechanics

To formalize and think on the right track, I want to write down what is a mechanics (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics for some reference about this huge topics): "a set of rules designed for interactions on game state" and more important an emphasis on "mechanics is the way game create events" and events are what players wants.

A reasoned list for my Infiltration test could be:

poi = point of interest in the map
characters = not playable characters, agents, etc..
challenges= contest between characters statistic or environment


- characters can move between different pois: characters interactions could be during travel or in pois and found new hidden poi
- characters gain experience, levels and tags: winning challenges, found hidden pois, solving quests will provide experience and on each level unlock tags. Like in promised feature on TWS, characters can reason on tags presence (for example hate an archimage? love a warrior full of scars?). Base statistics will be also increased and characters will be more powerful and able to solve more difficult challenges and quests
- characters can solve quests thought challenges: solve a quest could provide effect also in a poi, for example, raid merchant guild could provoke panic on a poi
- specific triggers in pois unlock new quests: some specific events (killed character, solved quest, character with specific tag) could trigger new quests in a poi
- player corrupt characters and force them to do what he want, leaving clues around: player can move to a specific poi, to a specific quest or challenge, to get a specific bonus and broke sigils and win
- organizations give bonuses to characters : organizations can give new tags or bonuses to organization's characters
- organizations could make war/peace with other organizations: events, quests, challenges can change organization's view on other organizations and trigger war or peace, so organization's member start to fight
- player can grow ancient one in power and unlock new abilities: new abilities can create quests, triggers or give tags to characters, or event create poi
- characters can follow clues and uncover player presence: corrupted characters can find and hide these clues and characters can unlock a "clue quest" and reason on clues, make a challenge and increase "ancient one awarness" in the world

During this writing I've realized that many ideas are already put into my prototype, but also mixed together, so it's hard to change a part of the software without move everything  My bad about this!


Core mechanics

Core mechanics are important because will provide the foundation for the game. An example I've found on the book is for Starcraft 2: core mechanics here is to control scv, build a barracks, train marines and kill enemies. All other units, mechanics, etc.. are build on top of that.
For my game the most important think is for the player:

   player corrupt characters and force them to do what he want, leaving clues around
  
But is the core mechanic? I've found this question hard to answer, because if you think to build a house, this seems to be like a nice door for the player, not foundation to build on it.
So I've tried to build them in order, trying to visualize dependencies between them:



In this diagram what I need to see are dependencies (thanks Tynan Sylvester!) between mechanics. I have mixed up a little bit mechanics with "general concept", like "game world" but I think this should display how this kind of prototype should be made: from bottom to top, for example:

1) corrupt a character without any character available is not possible
2) organizations are mostly independent from what characters do or even from ancient one
3) poi triggers does not involve organizations diplomacy

In green you can see what it's already implemented so far.

Looking at this diagram, my choose for core mechanics are the following:

1) game world / character definition / character action
2) characters move between pois, following internal logic
3) character solve quests
4) ancient one / player action / corrupt characters: now player can move a character to a poi and solve quests

These mechanics are the foundation for the game, what do you think ?


So my next steps are:

1) answer these design questions
2) work on core mechanics, don't waste time on other stuff for next release