Your donations keep RPGWatch running!

Colony Ship - A Post-Earth Role Playing Game - All News

Show news in a year(yyyy), month(yyyy/mm) or day:
Show news of type:
Tuesday - April 06, 2021
Tuesday - March 30, 2021
Sunday - March 21, 2021
Sunday - December 27, 2020
Sunday - November 01, 2020
Saturday - September 19, 2020
Saturday - July 04, 2020
Monday - May 11, 2020
Monday - April 20, 2020
Sunday - April 12, 2020
Wednesday - March 11, 2020
Thursday - January 30, 2020
Thursday - December 26, 2019
Friday - September 13, 2019
Sunday - September 01, 2019
Sunday - May 12, 2019
Tuesday - April 09, 2019
Saturday - March 16, 2019
Monday - February 18, 2019
Sunday - February 03, 2019
Saturday - December 22, 2018
Monday - November 12, 2018
Sunday - October 14, 2018
Monday - September 17, 2018
Saturday - August 18, 2018
Sunday - August 12, 2018
Wednesday - July 11, 2018
Monday - June 25, 2018
Thursday - May 31, 2018
Thursday - May 24, 2018
Wednesday - May 02, 2018
Wednesday - March 28, 2018
Monday - March 26, 2018
Sunday - March 25, 2018
Sunday - March 04, 2018
Wednesday - January 31, 2018
Tuesday - January 30, 2018
Sunday - December 31, 2017
Wednesday - November 22, 2017
Friday - October 13, 2017
Wednesday - September 27, 2017
Thursday - August 24, 2017
Sunday - August 20, 2017
Tuesday - July 18, 2017
Wednesday - July 05, 2017
Saturday - June 03, 2017
Wednesday - May 17, 2017
Wednesday - April 05, 2017
Wednesday - February 22, 2017
Wednesday - January 11, 2017
Sunday - December 25, 2016
Thursday - November 17, 2016
Thursday - October 27, 2016
Sunday - September 04, 2016
Friday - June 17, 2016
Saturday - May 21, 2016
Monday - March 21, 2016
Wednesday - February 17, 2016
Box Art

Tuesday - April 06, 2021

Colony Ship - Early Access Version released

by Hiddenx, 14:17

The Early Access version of Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game is now available:

ABOUT THIS GAME

It is the Year of Our Lord 2754…

loading...

You will never feel the sun’s warmth under a blue sky, never hear the wind in the branches of a tree, and never swim in the ocean, all because you had the misfortune to be born on the Ship, chained to a fate you didn’t choose. You have never seen Earth and you’ll never see Proxima Centauri either. You’re doomed to live and die on the Ship in the name of the Mission, like your father before you, like his father before him.

The Ship is old. She had already been twenty years in service when she was rechristened Starfarer - a pretty name for a retrofitted interplanetary freighter. No one is certain the Ship will actually reach its destination, and nobody much cares, since no one alive now will live to see it. Might as well get on with your life and try to make the best of it.

Features:

Colony Ship is an isometric, party-based RPG inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. Your character's world is a “generation ship,” a massive spacecraft on a centuries long voyage to colonize a distant planet. The Ship's original government has been disbanded following a violent mutiny and you must negotiate a treacherous path among your fellow passengers and the contentious factions striving to dominate the Ship. Your choices alone will determine who your friends and enemies are.

  • Skill-based character system, with feats and implants.
  • Tactical turn-based combat, featuring standard, aimed, and weapon-specific attacks.
  • Multiple quest solutions, mutually exclusive questlines, and a branching main storyline.
  • 10 recruitable party members with different personalities, agendas, and beliefs (only 3 available in the first chapter).
  • 3 main factions and a score of lesser factions and groups
  • A large arsenal including melee weapons, firearms, energy pistols, grenades, and futuristic gadgets like the Energy Shield, Reality Distortion Generator, and Cloaking Field.
  • Different environments to explore, from the Engine Room and Hydroponics to the dystopian cities of the Habitat and the Mission Control ruined decks (only the Pit, Armory, and Hydroponics are available in the first chapter)

Thanks Henriquejr & Pladio!

Tuesday - March 30, 2021

Colony Ship - First Look @ Colonel RPG

by Hiddenx, 16:10

Colonel RPG checked out Colony Ship, the game will be available for purchase on the 6th of April:

Let's Play Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game - Part 1 - Here's the new Age of Decadence!

loading...

Colony Ship is a turn-based, party-based role-playing game set aboard a generation ship launched to Proxima Centauri. The game features a detailed skill-based character system, multiple ways to handle quests, choices & consequences, and branching dialogue trees. The Age of Decadence was fantastic, this is from the same developers, so let's play Colony Ship!

 

Sunday - March 21, 2021

Colony Ship - Early Access on April 6

by Hiddenx, 17:18

In CSG Update #51 is revealed that the Early Access phase of Colony Ship will start on April 6:

CSG update #51 - Early Access on April 6

Sorry for the radio silence, we worked non-stop for the last 6 weeks and I didn't want to post anything until the bulk of work was done, meaning no unexpected delays. It's done now (all that's left is visual polish), so the first chapter will be released on April 6. At this point we can honestly say we did our best. Hopefully you'll enjoy the game and help us make it better.

I updated our store page with 12 new screenshots; a new trailer is coming next week.

Thanks Couchpotato!

Sunday - December 27, 2020

Colony Ship - CSG Update #49

by Hiddenx, 16:05

Pladio spotted the new development update for Colony Ship:

CSG update #49 - Hydroponics and progress update

We hoped to wrap up everything in December and start the beta in mid-Jan, but we're still 3-4 weeks of work away from the finish line. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time we get there, another month of work would pop up out of nowhere, but let's stay positive and hope it's the final stretch.

On the programming side, the last hurdle is the non-human enemies. They have properties such creatures never had in our previous games, which required more work and changes than anticipated. They can be placed on walls (see the old wasteland concept), have abilities humans don't, different THC formulas that doesn't factor in stats and skills, different movement (a frog jumps over several tiles), etc.

The other task is relatively minor. When you enter a stealth mode, the designated infiltrator is removed from the party (provided you have one), which waits outside. If combat starts (if you're spotted by guards or fail to kill a guard from behind, we need to switch to the party mode and teleport the party inside the building (at the entrance point, not next to you).

On the scripting side, the framework is done. What's left to script are the journal entries, quest rewards, and reputation modifiers. Overall, the game is shaping up well and we hope you'll enjoy it. The first chapter has 3 locations (the Pit, Armory, Hydroponics), 22 quests with multiple solutions, and 30+ fights.

Speaking of Hydroponics:

The Hydroponic Division was originally conceived to adapt Terran plants to the anticipated environment of Proxima Centauri. Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code.
 
Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles. When men returned to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle...

[...]

Sunday - November 01, 2020

Colony Ship - Multiple Quest Solutions

by Silver, 22:40

A new update for Colony Ship talks about multiple quest solutions.

We continue working on quests and mechanics, aiming to start beta-testing the first 3 locations in Dec and release on Early Access in March next year.

Now the AI can 'see' and open doors, which will make the game of hide n seek more fun, at least for the AI. We added the first non-human enemy – a turret. You probably saw one in the combat demo, but that was a lifeless 3D model. Now they have stats (for different types), animations (rotate and fire, take damage, etc), and combat behavior. The turrets use proper ammo (not the magical unlimited ammo), so the faster you kill one, the more ammo you'd loot. If it's a friendly turret, you can share your own ammo with it to make sure it won't run out of bullets too soon.

Since you're here for some screens, let's illustrate multiple solutions in combat-heavy scenarios and show our new turret. As you probably know, the starting town's conflict is between Jonas representing freedom, Deadwood-style, that some might call lawlessness and Braxton representing law & order that some might call gubment telling folks what to do and – to add insult to injury – charging tax for the privilege.

It won't be much of a spoiler to tell you that the conflict ends up in a shootout, but what if open assault isn't your style? Then (upon request) you'll be tasked with preventing the locals from coming to Jonas' aid while Braxton's forces do all the heavy lifting. So that's two very different options already but the design miracles don't stop there. 

Once you go down that path you get 3 new options: diplomacy (which in turn branches into relying on Impersonate to con the local yokels and Persuasion to convince them that resistance is futile), combat (in case you change your mind and decide to fight after all), and a mix of thievery and jury-rigging.  There's an old turret there that's been stripped for parts. You can explore the nearby area while you have time (Lockpick will help a lot here), find the parts and some ammo, and use your Computer skill to fix the targeting module.

^ the last option won't appear unless you fixed the turret. Let's go with 1.

[...]

Saturday - September 19, 2020

Colony Ship - The Stealth System

by Hiddenx, 10:45

Couchpotato spotted CSG update #47 that explains the stealth system:

 CSG update #47 - The Stealth System

Role-playing means different things to different people. To us, it means handling quests and obstacles in a manner fitting your character. You can solve all your problems with violence, you can talk your way through the game, 'making friends and influencing people', or you can rely on stealth (and science) and have a lot of fun in the process.

One of the early quests tasks you with recruiting Lord's Mercy and her gang for Braxton (more on the conflict here link, written by Primordia's Mark Yohalem himself).

The (relatively) easy way is to convince Mercy to switch sides, but it requires skills like Persuasion and Streetwise. If you fail, you'd have to kill her to weaken Jonas, which will be a very hard fight as you'd have to fight the entire gang in their 'fort', where the negotiations take place. Obviously, if Mercy and her gang are a valuable ally in the upcoming fight for the control of the Pit, they need to be appropriately tough.

Alternatively, you can sneak inside, assassinate Mercy and leave before anyone realizes what happened. 

[...]

Saturday - July 04, 2020

Colony Ship - The Armory

by Silver, 23:13

A new update for Colony Ship talks about the armory and conversation screens.

We're wrapping up the Armory (the second location), so we can finally show you something other than the starting town. Let's start with the intro:

With row after row of gutted depots, the Armory stretches before you as a shell of what it once was.  The mutineers hit it fast and hard, overrunning the surprised security forces and stripping it of supplies. Weapons and armor meant for the future colony flooded the Ship, turning the Mutiny into a full-fledged war. The Ship Authority held its own in the end, keeping control of the lower decks, but at a great cost that went far beyond the Armory's lost supplies.

Your destination lies ahead – a reinforced door flanked by twin auto-cannons drawing on a seemingly inexhaustible power supply. No one made it past during the Mutiny, and no one's made it past since. Like the proverbial flaming sword outside of Eden, it sits as a guardian, a symbol of ancient strength, and a promise of marvels beyond.


You get the access card from Tanner (as mentioned in the combat demo), so getting past the automated security on that floor will be easy. However, you'd have to get past the local thugs first. You can fight or talk your way through or simply sneak past them. Multiple quest solutions are one of the cornerstones of our design philosophy.

- The old dialogue box at the bottom of the screen wasn't big enough to fit all the text and PC options in more heated conversations, so we went with a vertical setup. It's still work in progress (we switched to it a week ago) so feel free to offer suggestions for improvement.  I can't say I like it but it's either this or what we had in AoD or using a scrollbar to make sure you see all the options.

- We wanted to show the skills (you can see them leveling up while talking) but you'll be using all skills not just speech and there's no room to fit them all. Maybe something like index tabs on the side?

- On the dialogue design itself: in AoD it was easy to fail a check and end up dead or in combat. In Colony Ship failures and successes modify the disposition, giving you a chance to recover from your mistakes. For example, this reputation check leads to 3 outcomes:

low rep: disposition -2

“You high or somethin’?” Sharp Face asks, grinning wide. Clearly, he’s a man who appreciates quality entertainment.


medium rep: disposition +1

“Big words,” says Sharp Face, licking his lips. “The fuck you want here anyway?” The sudden change of tone indicates that he no longer sees you as an easy mark.


high rep: disposition +4

“Easy there, friend,” says Sharp Face, raising his palms to show he comes in peace. “No need to get all worked up over a joke. So, uh, what brings you here?” The forced casualness makes it clear that you’ve been promoted from prey to rival.

Let's show him the card instead:

[...]

Monday - May 11, 2020

Colony Ship - Demo Updated

by Silver, 22:20

A status update on Colony Ship announces an update to the demo.

CSG update #44 - Demo update and status report
May 09, 2020

The combat demo:

Overall, it went spectacularly well (for a change). Of course, the beta test was encouraging but there’s a huge difference between handpicked battle-hardened veterans and the general public. It could have easily gone sideways but didn’t, which is encouraging.

To-date the demo’s been downloaded 3,754 times (no idea whether it’s good or bad, but surely it’s better than nothing), the average time played is 3 hours 2 min. We gained 4,359 wishlists in the last 30 days (and lost 227 - I assume they were disappointed with the demo), so our total is 23,261.

We spent the last 3 weeks processing the feedback and improving the overall design (added Recoil Control (a derived stat), close combat engagement (can’t do reaction shots at other combatants, cover bonus is halved), displayed initiative in combat as well as bonus APs granted by feats, full party weapons reload, etc). We’ve also added feat icons, more hairstyles and facial customization options (tattoos and scars), as well as the interface improvements.

The demo is now updated, so you can take it for a spin and see the current changes. We’ll continue improving the character & combat systems,  and interface (and thus the demo), so stay tuned. In other news:

Quests:

We’ve started implementing quests and we expect all the Pit’s quests to be done in 2 months. Let’s say 3 months to be safe, which will give us plenty of time to finish the Armory (half-done) and the Hydroponics (only the first area of the Hydroponics will be available in Chapter 1, the other two areas will require heavy gear and skills) to launch the game on Early Access by the end of the year.

Here’s the very first (optional) quest you recieve. If you talk to Tanner in the demo, you know that he wants you to go to the Armory but it’s a dangerous trip and you might need a buddy, either to become a life-long traveling companion or to shield you from bullets and die a noble death so that you can live and prosper.

The first companion is Evans the Rifleman and he will gladly help you if you help him first.


Animations - much improved; we’re slowly working through the combat animations, then will start on non-combat animations, different poses for bar patrons and such, and creature animations.

Various models - working on more energy weapons, including shotguns (more like that concussion rifle in Dark Forces) and SMGs.

Creatures - four out of six creatures are done, so we’re right on schedule there.

Stealth - next on the list. Sneaking and generating noise are the easy part. The tricky part that determines if the system works or not is what happens when you make enough noise to attract the guards’ attention. It works on paper and screen mockups, hopefully it will work well in-game.

Monday - April 20, 2020

RPGWatch Feature - Colony Ship Interview

by Myrthos, 16:45

Pladio reached out to Iron Towers Studio and got to ask them a couple of questions about Colony Ship.

RPGWatch: Now that introductions are out of the way, please tell us a bit of the Colony Ship RPG. What is the background of the game ? How will it play ? Mechanically, is the game Age of Decadence in space ? How will players move from location to location in this new game ? How will exploration work ?

It's a generation ship game, meaning a colony ship traveling at sub-light speed, the voyage taking centuries (and many generations of the would-be colonists). Naturally, the game would be boring if everything went according to plan and everyone knew their place, so a mutiny brings in much needed chaos, destroys the old order and half the ship in the process, and creates three main factions plus a score of smaller groups.

While Colony Ship is based on the same design principles as AoD, I wouldn't call it AoD in space as the differences are fairly significant: party instead of single character, turn-based stealth instead of text-adventure, learn by using instead of point-buy, stronger focus on exploration and secondary locations, etc. 

As for the travel system, you'd have to reach each new location 'manually' since they are all interconnected. You start the game in a container town sitting in one of the cargo holds. You'll be able to explore the locations surrounding the cargo hold, although you won't get far without better gear and skills. If you want to get to the Habitat (a mega 'building' housing the three main factions), you need to cross the Factory (industrial decks between the cargo hold and the Habitat). Crossing such locations will always be a challenge, so you won't be able to simply run for the exit.

Once you've reached a location, you'd be able to fast-travel there.

Sunday - April 12, 2020

Colony Ship - Demo April 15th and Steam Page Up

by Silver, 21:21

Colony Ship will release a demo April 15th according to this tweet from Iron Tower Studio and the Steam page is now available.

We've submitted the final build to Steam for approval. If everything goes well, the demo will be released on Apr 15.

In the meantime please wishlist and follow Colony Ship on Steam:https://store.steampowered.com/app/648410/Colony_Ship_A_PostEarth_Role_Playing_Game 

[...]

It is the Year of Our Lord 2754…

You will never feel the sun’s warmth under a blue sky, never hear the wind in the branches of a tree, and never swim in the ocean, all because you had the misfortune to be born on the Ship, chained to a fate you didn’t choose. You have never seen Earth and you’ll never see Proxima Centauri either. You’re doomed to live and die on the Ship in the name of the Mission, like your father before you, like his father before him.

The Ship is old. She had already been twenty years in service when she was rechristened Starfarer - a pretty name for a retrofitted interplanetary freighter. No one is certain the Ship will actually reach its destination, and nobody much cares, since no one alive now will live to see it. Might as well get on with your life and try to make the best of it.

Features:
Colony Ship is an isometric, party-based RPG inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. Your character's world is a “generation ship,” a massive spacecraft on a centuries long voyage to colonize a distant planet. The Ship's original government has been disbanded following a violent mutiny and you must negotiate a treacherous path among your fellow passengers and the contentious factions striving to dominate the Ship. Your choices alone will determine who your friends and enemies are.

  • Skill-based character system, with feats and biological implants.
  • Tactical turn-based combat, featuring standard as well as targeted attacks and weapon-specific special attacks such as Fanning and Long Burst.
  • Multiple quest solutions, mutually exclusive questlines, and a branching main storyline.
  • 12 recruitable party members with different personalities, agendas, and beliefs.
  • 3 main factions and a score of lesser factions and groups.
  • A large arsenal including melee weapons, firearms, energy pistols, grenades, and fancy electronic gadgets like the Reality Distortion Field.
  • Different environments to explore, from the Engine Room and Hydroponics to the dystopian cities of the Habitat and the Wasteland, the now uncharted corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny.

Wednesday - March 11, 2020

Colony Ship - Taking Care of Business

by Myrthos, 10:40

Vince takes us through the development years of Colony Ship that shows it hasn't been an easy ride.

2019 was a stressful, no good, very bad year. The loss of a friend and a team member who’s been with us since the beginning (2005) was a harsh, surreal blow, and it fell during the hardest phase of game development (hard enough even without such losses) where many indie projects (those not destined to make it) falter and fail.

Anyone who’s ever followed such projects knows how it usually goes: Year 1 - making bold promises, proudly showing concept art, weapon models, the main menu (the most important part of a game, no doubt), etc. Year 2 - the first playable, barren like a desert, noticeable drop in the team’s enthusiasm, the first wave of volunteers leaving the project. Year 3 - the grim year(s), progress slowing down to a crawl, waning support (the crowd that cheered every time a new weapon or vehicle was posted is less enthusiastic about vital but invisible things like pathfinding, functioning inventory, and object classes), more and more people leaving until only 2-3 guys remain, at which point the project enters the state of suspended animation and stays there until someone makes the final announcement.

We had a couple close calls with AoD and CSG, but we made it through our first game and we're over the hump of our second full-scale game. The purpose of this update is to take you backstage and walk you through the whole process. Maybe it would even help teams ready to throw their hats into the RPG ring prepare for the inevitable challenges ahead.  Without further ado, here's a recap of how those last three years have gone for Colony Ship:

Year 1 was about Dreaming Big:

- Designing the systems (character, combat, inventory, stealth, dialogue, etc) and mapping out the storyline in broad strokes (branching main quest, locations, factions, and key players)
- Developing tools and editors, adjusting the engine to our RPG needs, building the foundation: animation system, character and item classes, grid and pathfinding, switching levels, basic AI so that combatants would know what to do, etc.
- Defining locations (concept art) and creating art assets based on the concept art (mainly time-consuming 3D models: weapons, armor, level props).

While “dreaming big” takes a backseat to far nobler tool-making, the former defines the latter and affects it in every imaginable way, making changes in Year 3 nearly impossible (without redoing half the systems).

Last year we received three publishing inquiries, one from a well-known company, which means that our humble efforts, completely ignored by the media, weren’t overlooked by publishers. To be honest, I have the same reaction to a publisher reaching out as a medieval peasant to the devil tapping him on the shoulder and inquiring if he’s in need of any assistance. Such a deal comes with limitless and exciting opportunities to get screwed, so usually I decline politely just to be on the safe side.

Among other things, the publisher offered to test our design theories (via focus groups and market research) to see if that’s what the market really wants and was surprised to hear that our ‘business model’ (for the lack of a better word) is to work our butts off for 3 years on a faint hope that our target audience would actually like it. It *is* a gamble and we were far from certain that the players would like the combat system. Tweaks and improvements are to be expected, of course, but radical changes would be nearly impossible.

The point of this story is that the design done in Year 1 sets the course for the next 3-4 years and you end up betting on a favorable outcome without any certainties. Who wouldn’t want to be an indie game developer?

Thursday - January 30, 2020

Colony Ship - CSG update #41 - Closed Combat Beta

by Silver, 01:03

The Closed Combat Beta for Colony Ship has begun.

Believe it or not, we finally hit this very important milestone. After 3 years of work I can hardly believe it myself (it's a very surreal feeling). Anyway, the first group of colonists is already playing the demo, so far no crashes or other unpleasantries. If everything goes well, we'll add 10-15 people this weekend and keep adding more each week until we have all the missing pieces, then release it to the general public.

What's left to do: replacing some old animations that Ivan never had a chance to finish, female animations and models, coats (the models are nearly done, need to be textured), all customization options including hair and beards, some GUI tweaks here and there, and extra sounds.

The latest screens:

[...]

Thursday - December 26, 2019

Colony Ship - Why the Silence?

by Hiddenx, 20:24

Pladio spotted news from the Colony Ship team:

Why the Silence?

As you probably know, Ivan Soloviov, our animator, the guy we worked with for 14 years, died on Sep 5 after being ill for months. It's a hard thing to deal with, so I didn't post any updates since his death (it just didn't seem important). Ivan handled animations, creatures, and everything that goes onto the character model, from weapons and armor to facial hair. The armor system is a lot more complex than the one in AoD which had only body armor and helmets. In Colony Ship we have boots & leggings, combat vests, jackets and coats, armguards, helmets, goggles, and breathing masks. When Ivan got ill, our progress in these two high-visibility areas had slowed down to a crawl and what we expected to wrap up in early 2019 was pushed back over and over again. We’re making progress now but we’re way off schedule, of course.

What’s done: vests, boots & leggings, armguards, helmets, goggles, respirators, weapons; energy armor, implants, most ranged and melee animations for male characters.

What’s not done: combat stimulants, jackets and coats (we have the “prototypes” that have been much improved and optimized; so we need to make variations which is relatively easy but like everything else it takes time), female animations (won’t take long once all male animations are done), and hair styles. Jackets are being work on right now; should be done by the end of the month.

We have enough to start beta testing the combat demo and this time around we fully expect to finish the rest in 2-3 months. We will start the first round in mid Jan (closed beta with new participants added each week) with public release around mid or end of Feb. Better late than never and all that.

[...]

Friday - September 13, 2019

Colony Ship - Third Iteration

by Myrthos, 09:25

In an update for Colony Ship, user interface changes are discussed.

As you probably know, we're waiting for the missing animations (the once long list has been reduced to two-handed weapons and grenades), portraits (8 NPC portraits to go), and armor (all vests, boots and leggings, helmets, goggles, and gas masks are done; waiting for the jackets and coats, which will be done after all animations are in). While we're waiting, we made some changes and improvements.

  • removed all caps from the textbox, added a corresponding skill and level to the weapon slots, the character level, plus replaced words like DMG and AMMO with icons to reduce clutter, added a reaction chance, resized the overhead portraits.
  • replaced the disco floor with the movement range but if you prefer the grid you can bring it back via Options.
  • still working on the firing range as we need to show both the effective and maximum ranges
  • added proper cursors for all occasions (pointer, examine, target, interact, open, climb, etc)
  • replaced the old targeting info with a new one (blue - critical, green - hit, yellow - graze, red - miss; pressing ALT gives you a full breakdown of each value)
  • replaced the old overhead icons with new ones (the eye shows the effect of your cover,  its effect on the enemy's THC; the shield shows the enemy's cover, its effect on your THC)

Thanks Pladio.

Sunday - September 01, 2019

Colony Ship - Demo Update #5

by Silver, 06:25

Demo update #5 for Colony Ship.

News from the front:

- Progress on the portraits and animations is still slow. Meet generic combat NPC 05 and 06:



The helmets and goggles reflect the in-game headgear models. Ivan finished tweaking the rifles animations, going over the pistol animations now (over 200 animations).



- Programming and design are right on schedule, which is a lot more important as I'd rather wait for portraits and animations than for the programming tasks to be completed.

- Scott and I are working on dialogues for the side quests; I hope to have all the quests and dialogues for the Pit ready by the end of the month.  Random snippets:

* * *

“What can I get you?” The bartender has spotted you looking over the assortment of unlabeled, plastic gallon jugs, each with its own unappealing liquid in some shade of brown. “We got Gutwarmer, Rat Poison, High Voltage, Firewater, and Absolution. Special on the Rat Poison right now, every third round is free for as long as you're able to drink it.”

* * *
Three men stand silently about a portable heater, the Ship equivalent of the frontier campfire, minus the good cheer.

“Do you have it?” the man in charge says in a voice hoarse and low. The left side of his face is disfigured with gruesome, saucer-sized scars, like vicious sucker marks. From one of these rippled craters, the angry orange light of an ocular implant is doing duty for a missing eye. You suppress a shudder thinking about the tentacle that must have delivered that kiss. Everyone’s heard the stories, of course, but you felt better telling yourself they were exaggerated.

1. Continue.

Chance hurriedly yanks a dusty old control module from his belt bag and passes it to Scarface. The Granger glances down at it, no more than a quick take, then tosses it to ground.

“What’s the deal?” asks Chance, his righteous indignation more than slightly overplayed. “You wanted a tower control module, I brought you a tower control module. Now where’s my money? I got shit to do.” He cuts his eyes at you, both in a naked appeal for support and to give himself a break from looking at his mark.

Scarface isn’t looking at Chance anymore, though. His implant is giving you a hard stare, and you’re guessing it’s not interested in your haircut. Judging by the design, it’s military hardware, already locked in and analyzing its target.

1. “The money, like he said. Best if you don't make us ask again.”
2. “What if I can get this module for you?”

* * *

Finally some screens to illustrate the latest playthrough, feats, and grenades:
[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Sunday - May 12, 2019

Colony Ship - Demo Update #4

by Silver, 09:22

A new demo update for Colony Ship Game which announces a delay and shows some new screenshots.

CSG update #37 - Demo update #4

We're still working on animations and armor, I doubt we'd be able to to wrap it all up before Aug. Ivan's doing a bit better but he has a long way to go before he fully recovers. He'll focus on animations from now on and all armor and clothing tasks will be handled by Maria, our new armor specialist (you can see some of her work in the previous update). We've been working with her for a while and I hope she'll stick around as our next project will be even more "armor-intensive".

In the meantime our programmers have improved the building interior system and map navigation, and added character outlines in combat (you can turn them off if you don't like them) and when your character is blocked by an object or wall. All weapon meshes are in now so each weapon has a unique model. Oscar is working on the Pit, which looks better and better (not to mention bigger) so the delay on one front doesn't affect the rest of the team's progress.

The screens below are work-in-progress:

pic1

pic2

pic3

shows the location off more
^ navigation meshes; what you see is about a third of the Pit, so it's not a small place.

Thanks Couchpotato!

Tuesday - April 09, 2019

Colony Ship - Demo update #3, more screens

by Silver, 09:52

A new update for Colony Ship shows off some more screens.

1) Programming: We're feature-complete for the demo as of 2 weeks ago. In plain English it means that all the systems (character, inventory, combat, gadgets, dialogue, trading, etc) are done and working well other than the stealth system which we won't need for the demo). Right now we're bug-fixing and tweaking things. For example, what happens when a bullet misses the target by an inch (you see the bullets flying) but hits the energy shield? It's a minor thing but there are lots of them. Enemy's shields didn't shut down when they were killed, fixed it too. Things like that.

2) Art assets:

- armor is still about 30% done, which is our biggest workflow problem to-date. Ivan, our animator who also handles armor, got very ill and spent the last 10 days in a hospital. He's recovering now. We hope to finish armor needed for the demo by the end of the month. By armor I mean all wearable items: vests, jacket/coats, helmets, boots, goggles, masks, breathers. At 8-12 items per category that's quite a lot, but once it's done we won't have to worry about it and would be able to focus on building content.  

- portraits: we're making progress, but still behind; we'll probably need 8-10 weeks to finish all portraits needed for the demo but we can start earlier with some placeholders.

- animations: probably 2-3 weeks of work, minor tweaks as we have all animations already. It's not just the animations but setting up the blueprints (Unreal 4 thing) and fixing problems like a character in cover standing up to fire a one-handed SMG even though we have a proper animation for that. Etc.

- the gadgets and the gadget parts are done (3D models and icons), still need to do the implants but won't need any for the demo

3) Design & Balance

- since we keep playing the demo daily ironman style, the balance gets better and better (meaning dying gets easier and easier but good tactics can still save the day).
- all dialogues and ending were done (written and scripted) a long time ago; the demo is playable from start to finish.
- we still need to set the prices for the store and write most item descriptions.

4) Interface
Everything is functional but that's about it. We have a lot of (necessary) changes planned already, but we can do during the beta test as so far it's a low priority item.

That's about it. And now some screens for the easily amused:

conversation
Fight #4 (out of 14).

[...]

Saturday - March 16, 2019

Colony Ship - Demo update #2, More Screens

by Silver, 01:24

The latest update from Colony Ship has more info on the demo and some new screenshots.

We made good progress with things that matter (but hard to show) like programming, balance, and scripting but poor progress with relatively minor but highly visible things like armor models and portraits. As (probably) mentioned previously, the demo is fully playable and has 14 fights, 2 of them optional. We're still playing it on a daily basis, ironman-style as there's no save/load system yet, so the demo has already received 2 balance updates as a result. The engine is great and very stable. I didn't have a single crash yet (despite daily updates); there were some occasional freezes earlier (for example, if one enemy knocks you out and his helpful buddy shoots in the face, scoring a knockdown) but I didn't have any in my last 2-hour long play session.

The feats are now working and two gadgets out of three are done (the energy shield and the distortion field). All gadget parts (each gadget consists of 3 upgradeable parts that increase its properties such as shield's regen rate or damage resistance) are nicely modeled and textured. The main new addition is the targeting info (see the screens below). It gives you a full THC breakdown, which will help the player to understand how it's calculated and helps us make sure that bonuses and penalties are implemented properly. RNG is working great, so far the balance between hits and misses is perfect.

So far the armor thing (the delay) is our biggest problem, which is a good indicator as I can think of worse things to screw up. It's slowly moving forward, so I hope that we'll have it done in 3 weeks. Similar to the weapons, the armor is split into 2 main categories: common Ship-made ballistic armor and rare Earth-made combat and anti-riot armor. You can expect 10 unique models for each category: helmet, body armor, jacket/coat, boots, goggles, mask/respirator. Right now we have about a third (talking about the models).

Anyway, some screens for your amusement:

combat scene1

combat scene2

Here you can how a weapon range affects THC and why having a long gun is always a good idea. While the damage is about the same (because the caliber and craftsmanship are about the same), the rifle is a lot more accurate. While I managed to hit twice, the second hit was merely a graze.

example of weapon range

example of weapon range2   

Not a good start, he crippled me before I could run for cover, so by the time I reached it I had no AP left to shoot. This revolver is great at close range, especially when Fanning but it has low range so I can't hit much and the shotgun isn't much help in this situation either. These Looters are armed with better weapons so losing this fight is very easy.  I started again, managed to beat them with better planning (I forgot to switch weapons before that fight) and - in the best traditions of AoD - was rewarded with a really challenging fight that starts a series of very unfortunate events (liberty-loving Brotherhood fucking hates when someone kills their assassins):

mission conversation

[...]

Monday - February 18, 2019

Colony Ship - Sequel Planned

by Silver, 22:00

Iron Tower Studio has posted its business report for 2019 and nestled amongst it is plans for a sequel to Colony Ship.

Another year has gone by, so let's tally up the numbers and see how we fared in 2018.

The Age of Decadence

2013-2014 (Early Access & Direct Pre-Orders): 13,124 units - $320,157 - $24.39 avg.
2015: 20,771 - $472,869 - $22.76
2016: 48,798 - $620,914 - $12.72 (50% discount is introduced in March)
2017: 43,808 - $293,714 - $6.70 (75% off on sale events throughout the year)
2018: 27,121 - $151,786 - $5.60 (reduced the base price from $29.99 to $19.99; 60-80% off sale events throughout the year)
2019: 7,110 - $24,316 - $3.42 (reduced the base price to $14.99 - I think it's a fair price for those who want to support development and buy at a higher price, everyone else will wait for the next sale anyway


160,732 units in total. Since the game was released 3 years ago, which is a long time for games, we decided it was the right time to do a bundle with Fanatical, which sold 43,081 units, so overall including the first 6 weeks of 2019 we sold 203,813 units.

Wishlists - 282,105 total, remaining 112,731, conversion rate 26.5%. The average seems to be 10-15%, so it seems we did well there. The demo was downloaded 49,703 times, the conversion rate was steadily climbing from 5.2% back in Early Access to 21.7%.

Dungeon Rats

2016: 13,442 units - $85,383 - $6.35 avg.
2017: 17,951 - $89,720 - $4.99
2018: 13,152 - $44,453 - $3.38
2019: 1,562 - $4,800 - $3.07


46,107 units overall, $224k in sales. So far we spent $74k on Colony Ship (payments to contractors), so at very least Dungeon Rats is doing a fine job paying these bills as we're far from done here.

Wishlist - 48,938 in total, remaining 24,296, conversion rate 22.7%

Colony Ship, formerly known as The New World

As the last update says, we finally have a playable build, so we hope to release the combat beta in 2 months and a full demo by the end of the year, so it should be a very busy, stressful, but exciting year for us. In unexpected news, our efforts were noticed and we've received our first publishing offer from a well-known company (in fact, I was very surprised to learn that not only they're aware we exist but that they also read our updates occasionally). Some folks are destined for greatness and greatness does call for strategic alliances and capital injections. Sadly, we're too small-minded to dream of such things, so we'll stick with our 0.0003% of the global market.

Anyway, we've been working for 2 years building the "infrastructure" (RPG-izing the engine, developing systems: character, combat, stealth, inventory, dialogue, etc), working on items, models, effects, etc. Even though we're far from done, the time and effort investment is already considerable. Starting from scratch every time is painful, so we'll have to brave the dangers of the "more of the same" curse and do a proper sequel, instead of another small tactical game or a brand new project.

Naturally, investing 3 years into a sequel and selling 30% of the original will be equally painful (as Dungeon Rats' sales data shows, you don't have to spend 3 years to sell 30% when a single year will do), but what we in mind is so crazy it might actually work.

The main problem with sequels is that the setting and gameplay remain the same. It's nearly impossible to switch gears and offer the player something radically different. While your best fans may be enthralled with the initial game and crave more of it, part of what they are craving is the sense of exploration (of a land and a rule set), novelty, and wonder that accompanying a new RPG - things that will almost inherently be absent in a sequel. Obsidian's Deadfire, for example, plays the same way as the original (which is to be expected, of course; after all, Fallout 2 plays the same way too - you know what works, what doesn't, so you follow the established path and know what to expect from the enemies and factions). With Colony Ship, this problem is easy to solve, not because we're so clever, but because the setting itself implies its solution: we land the Ship and start the Colony.

A Tentative Sequel

From Colony Ship's intro: "...after the Ship's launch a deep space probe transmitted highly detailed images of the surface, which revealed one minor setback: this very habitable world is already inhabited. Since the voyage is estimated to take close to 400 years, it's possible that by the time the Ship arrives the colonists will encounter a mature civilization, corresponding to Earth's Middles Ages."

The typical space opera trope is that when we make first contact, it is with aliens either corresponding to very primitive indigenous people (such as in Avatar), consisting of a nightmarish swarm (as in Starship Troopers), or at some extraordinary level of technology themselves (as in Star Trek or Babylon 5). Here, however, while the aliens are pre-industrial, they are well past the spears and face-paint stage, and have well-established political, economic, and military systems.

More importantly, they are alien, which means that while they may be humanoid (to make our animator's life easier), the fundamental logic of their society, religion, and power should be truly alien to ours and vice versa. The result is a highly asymmetrical kulturcampf.

For the record, it won't be a retelling of the conquest of the New World but on another planet. The ragtag Terrans who'd land on Proxima B after 400 years of space travel and in-fighting will be at a disadvantage and will have to fight for survival and adapt to this less than welcoming arid new world. Reinforcements won't be coming, so the Terrans will be on their own and each defeat will bring them closer to being wiped out for good. They will have to rely on crude firearms more than ever as the high-tech weapons and gear intended for the future colony were used up during the Mutiny and the civil war that followed. New factions will emerge in response to new threats, each offering a different way to survive and become part of this world.

While we're playing around with the basic concepts, we're exploring what the alien civilization might look like. Joan Piqué Llorens out of Barcelona thinks it might look like this:

colony

[...]

Sunday - February 03, 2019

Colony Ship - Demo update, New Screens

by Silver, 13:04

A new update for Colony Ship and some new screenshots.

Demo progress update:

We play the demo daily, ironman-style (since we don't any have save/load functionality yet), then report issues and observations. Naturally, it's a very important step that highlights balance and interface issues, and suggests better ways of doing things. In Jan we fixed a lot of bugs that were getting in the way, implemented textbox messages (now the player gets a full picture of what's going on), reworked feats, and did the first balance pass. Combat is very challenging and even a single opponent can put an end to your career. Going alone against 3 guys tends to result in a very quick death, cover or no cover. The AI flanks you like there's no tomorrow and uses a full range of attacks.

Grenades are done, but we're still working on the visual effects. Gadgets are still not done (didn't have time); we got about half the armor/goggles/gas masks modeled but not textured yet; and we only have a handful of portraits needed for the demo. The demo is in a better shape than it was in Dec, but we aren't there yet.

Anyway, this is boring to write and probably even more boring to read, so let me walk you through some screens instead:

first fight
That's the first fight, so you start the demo with traditionally crappy weapons. The damage is about the same, but the rifle has a much better range and slightly better accuracy. As you can see the textbox gives you very detailed info now:

- attack type (tells you how the enemy is fighting)
- attack outcome: critical, hit, graze, or miss (explains the damage or lack thereof)
- damage and DR breakdown (shows the effect of penetration on DR, among other things)
- rolls (I assume it will be easier to accept 3 misses in a row if you see what you're rolling and the breakdown)

char sheet
I opened the character screen to see how my skills are doing. The character screen is also work in progress, we'll move things around, add more derived stats that should be there, move things driven by equipment like penetration to the inventory screen. Anyway, as you can see, the increase by use functionality is there. In the future we'll add this info to the main gui; here is a rough and somewhat disjointed mockup:

grenade slot
^ you can equip grenades right now; if the belt slots are empty they won't show on the main gui.

[...]

Saturday - December 22, 2018

Colony Ship - State of the Game

by Silver, 19:49

The state of the game update for Colony Ship announces that it has reached a playable state for the first time. Screenshots at the link.

After nearly 2 years of work we finally have a playable build, which is very exciting. First, we finally get to see how things work in-game, not on paper, and second, it's great to see the game rapidly changing with every daily update. It's very rough, of course, as it's the First Iteration: a promise of things to come rather than an actual game, but the promise IS there and it's a good thing. Right now you can talk to people, fight, loot bodies, increase skills and equip new gear. The dialogue scripts are working like a charm, so you can go through all the fights and get one of 5 endings. The AI is doing a pretty good job seeking cover, flanking, and using different attacks. Collapsible textbox, pop-up attack icons with tooltips, status icons that tell you which enemies your character has a line of sight on, if the enemies are in cover, and most importantly, if you're still in cover when the enemies are flanking you; the cover provides the highest bonus when the cover is between you and the enemy; less when the enemy is at an angle), etc.

The only feature that's not done yet is the gadgets (energy shield and such), which gives us time to focus on the basic mechanics, iron them out, then introduce the gadgets. The armor sets are almost done, waiting to be textured. Plus tons of small things like various GUI improvements, proper textbox messages that show rolls Battle Brothers style (it's much easier to accept missing 3 times in a row when you see what you're rolling), blood splatters, a balance pass or two (changed AP from DEX+10 to DEX*1.5+5, working on the attack and weapon stats now), the cursor, etc. All in all, I'd say we need 2 months to get the combat system into shape before we start beta-testing, then another month before we release it.

It's longer than we expected but late is always better than never. In comparison, it took us over 5 years to reach this point with AoD (due to working part-time and being inexperienced), so overall the game is progressing nicely.

Anyway, here are some screens. Keep in mind, that's it's work in progress, as rough as the very first build can be:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your families.

Monday - November 12, 2018

Colony Ship - The Skills & Learn by Using

by Silver, 04:19

A new update for Colony Ship focuses on the Skills & Learn by Using. Thanks Couchpotato!

But first let's take a look at how the Pit is shaping up:




Combat skills

Weapon skills – increase your to-hit chance by 10% per rank.
Evasion – reduces the enemy’s to-hit chance with guns by 5% per rank, with melee by 10% per rank.
Armor – reduces armor penalties by 10% per rank.
Critical Strike – increases your chance to score a critical hit by 5% per rank

Our goal here is to raise skills you’re using the most, ideally reinforcing your gameplay style, while eliminating all possible exploits to raise skill fast. Here is the design overview:

XP – experience points that go toward increasing your character level and gaining feats
LP - learning points that go toward increasing your skill level

  • Eeach attack that does X points of damage gives you X learning points multiplied by the enemy-specific modifier; the points go to the skill matching the weapon used. So if you hit an enemy for 8 points of damage and the modifier reflecting the enemy’s type is 1.5, you get 12 learning points.
  • Each critical strike gives the character who scored it 10+[critical damage] lp, so if you critically hits enemy for 17 points of damage, he gains 27lp. Certain weapon and attack types increase your CS chance and/or CS damage multiplier, so to put things in perspective, if you play a Riddick like character your CS skill will be much higher than if you play a Conan like character.
  • Evasion & Armor. This is where it gets a bit tricky as we have to limit exploits (the obvious one would be rotating your characters while letting the last remaining enemy to attack them to milk every last drop of LP). Each enemy will have a pool of learning points (i.e. what you can learn about defensive skills while fighting this enemy). Once the pool is depleted, the lesson is over. The points can go to one character or split evenly, based on how you fight. The frontliners will get the highest share while your sniper will learn very little or nothing at all.
  • Evasion: When the enemy targets your character and misses, that character gains 5 lp x the modifier until the above mentioned LP pool is depleted.
  • Armor: When the enemy hits your party member, that character gains learning points equal to damage resisted by the armor until the pool is depleted, so the heavier the armor the faster you’d develop the skill. Keep in mind that the pool is the same for both Evasion and Armor, so which skills gain learning points depends on which characters will be targeted first and whether the enemies hit or miss.
  • Each fight gives your party Y xp that's divided between the party members, so if you have 4 guys and you got 100 xp after a fight, each gets 25xp; if you have 2 guys, each gets 50xp. You’d gain most XP from solving quests though.

Science skills:
 
Medical:

  • Heal yourself and you crew after fights (i.e. how many hit points you gain after a fight). Very handy when you have to fight several battles in a row.
  • Extract implants from corpses after fights and in scripted events
  • Governs the use of combat stimulants

Mechanics & Electronics:

  • Repair broken devices and mechanisms
  • salvage parts for repair and upgrade

The ship is falling apart so if you want to explore it, meaning get past various obstacles, you won’t get far without these two skills. The best example from AoD would be the broken generator in the Library ruins. You need to fix it to gain access to an optional area but you can’t fix it without parts. In Colony Ship you’d have to salvage parts as you explore and then use them to repair various devices to gain access to optional areas.

Plus if you like restoring old things such as a murderous anti-riot droids, you should use every opportunity to practice these skills.

Stealth skills:

  • Lockpicking– open mechanical and electronic locks, meaning locked doors and containers. At level 10 you can even beat retinal scanners, so if you firmly believe in redistribution of wealth, this skill is for you.
  • Hacking – gain access to various computer systems, from intrusion detection and countermeasures to multi-purpose terminals scattered throughout the Ship.  These terminals were designed to get the future colony up and running, so they can be easily hooked to various machines.
  • Sneaking – infiltrate restricted areas and live to tell the tale. The higher the skill the longer you can remain undetected, meaning you can take your time cleaning up a place or get into high-security places with faster detection.

Obviously, you’ll need all 3 skills to do any serious breaking and entering, but lockpicking and hacking will be very useful for explorers as well. 

You’ll gain LPs every time you pick a lock, hack a terminal, or infiltrate a place. Needless to say each lock and terminal pays LPs only once and sneaking is a special event, kind of like decking in the new Shadowrun games – you can’t do it at will but only during quests and special encounters while exploring.

Speech skills:

  • Persuasion – convince people to do something through reasoning or argument, the art of debate
  • Streetwise – manipulate and deceive the gullible, the art of urban survival. 
  • Impersonate – pretend to be someone else, the art of acting.

You gain 10lp every time you pick a tagged line (the points go to the skill matching the tag) plus 100 bonus points if you solve a quest with diplomacy. This way a pure talker would have much higher dialogue skills than a chatty killer (a man who clicks on all dialogue options first to gain all LP, then kills everyone anyway).

Sunday - October 14, 2018

Colony Ship - The Interface

by Silver, 15:16

A new update for Colony Ship focuses on the interface.

We’re implementing the interface right now so let me show what we have and get some feedback. Let’s start with the standard features:

  • Two weapon slots showing equipped weapons and selected attack’s stats (damage, AP, ammo)
  • An optional textbox giving you detailed blow-by-blow info during combat
  • A combat queue we used in Dungeon Rats to show who gets to act when
  • 4 belt bags so you can throw grenades or use items in combat without moving them to the weapon slots


Weapon and Portrait

The combat interface is familiar, but instead of selecting attacks via a drop-down list, which was a bit messy and not very intuitive, you’ll use icons that appear when you click on a weapon slot:

Combat Interface

The icons are grouped in 3 different categories:

  • Basic attacks (fast, regular, power for melee; snap shot and regular shot for ranged; there are no power attacks with guns)
  • Aimed attacks (self-explanatory; you get an extra bullseye shot with ranged)
  • Special attacks (double shot, short burst, long burst, double strike, flurry (3 strikes), and swing (hits 3 tiles).


Your feedback here would be much appreciated.

Next is the dialogue window:

^ we don't have Mercy's portrait yet so we're using a placeholder portrait.  As for the design:

  • The dialogue window won’t take the entire screen, as in AoD since it added nothing but extra work (the camera had to be manually positioned)
  • The checks will now display the skill or stat level required to avoid playing a guessing game; if there is no value listed (see the first response), the stat acts as a modifier (strengthening or weakening the reaction) not a check. Strength can be used as a modifier too if you’re trying to intimidate, for example, so it’s not Charisma only.
  • Since we’ve decided to show the check values, might as well show your skill levels so that you don’t have to rely on memory alone. Green means your skill level is equal to or higher than the check value. Yellow means it’s lower but you can still make an attempt. Red means no go (what used to be hidden options in AoD). Before you start freaking out, remember that the check system was changed and it’s no longer a binary ‘succeed or fail’ setup, so green lines won’t always be the best and yellow lines won’t always lead to failure and death, so we aren’t highlighting the best and worst options for you here.
  • The tags can be turned on and off in the options, so if you don’t like them, turn them off.


Thoughts?

Monday - September 17, 2018

Colony Ship - There Be Monsters

by Silver, 09:35

Colony Ship is the new name for The New World. The latest update for Colony Ship discusses monsters.

First things first: we had to change the name so now the game is called Colony Ship. While it's not the most original name, it's the most straightforward one.

Colony Ship Cover Art

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about what RPGs are really all about - monsters. As a wise man once said:

“As one would expect, the game shines the most during the fights against humans. This is true because of all the reasons that made AoD combat great – humans are the most tactically diverse in terms of abilities, weaponry, armour, etc, which makes almost every fight against them unique to some extent.

But then you have the monsters, which are more or less the anti-thesis to everything that makes AoD combat good. Sure, the first time a new monster type appears, you might be surprised by what it can do, and act accordingly to counter it. However, monsters don’t really go beyond 2 types (and even that is usually limited to “small scorpion”, “big scorpion”), and don’t present any tactical flexibility. They are simply one-trick ponies that stop being interesting dangerously fast. Scolopendras rush forward and hit you and poison you, and that’s it. Same goes for scorpions and ants. You’ve been to one of these fights, and you’ve been to them all…”


It’s a valid and helpful point, so naturally, we want to do better. In AoD/DR most critters were melee ‘fighters’, half of them poisonous, with high DEX (to close the distance fast) and two attack types. Predictably, this design didn’t bring anything new to the table and what little it did bring got old fast.  

So when it comes to creatures our goals are:

  • Tactical flexibility
  • Unique abilities that humans don’t have
  • Focus on various effects rather than direct damage (i.e. no 'fighters')
  • Different enemies working together or taking advantage of other critters’ abilities
  • Effective counters of ranged parties


Of course, having lofty goals is one thing, achieving them is another, so we’d like to run some ideas by our core audience and see what you guys think. Nothing is set in stone yet as we won’t start implementing the creatures until 2019, so we can easily make change at this point. We’re planning to have 6 creatures, mostly found in the Hydroponics and Wasteland. Let’s start with the creatures’ origin:

The Ship is en route to Proxima B, an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Ninety percent of its surface is covered with water, but the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, providing approximately half of Earth’s landmass.

Losing Terran plants and crops to local pests and fungus would be catastrophic, so the Hydroponics Division was tasked with adapting the plants to the anticipated environment of Proxima B and developing biological forms of pest control (introducing predators from old Earth to change the native ecosystem and eliminate all local threats was the most cost-effective way to ensure that the colony would survive and grow).

Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code. Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles.

When human beings finally decided to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle...

So today we’ll show you 3 predators from old Earth:

Frogs

Frogs are already used in agriculture as a form of biological pest control as they have a healthy appetite for insects and are highly resistant to insecticide. Plus they have a wide range of natural abilities: jumping, toxic venom, hallucinogen, even retractable spikes (the wolverine frog), which would make them a top choice when it comes to cost-effective terraforming.

The frog is a 'hard to hit, easy to kill' critter (high evasion due to the small size and mobility, low hit points and no damage resistance). They will attack in packs and come in 3 varieties: fighter, poison spitter, and 'mind flayer'. It's a low level critter that prefers easy prey (i.e. low level, poorly equipped parties). They aren't very aggressive and won't attack unless threatened. When you run into them for the first time, they'll be busy feasting on a corpse. If you want to go through that corpse's pockets, you'll have to kill the frogs first.

Starfish

An avid predator and an opportunistic feeder, the starfish is one of the keystone species which makes it an excellent addition to any terraforming arsenal. It can regenerate damaged parts, swallow its prey whole, and it even comes with its own body armor (hardened plates and spines).

The mutated version will shoot its stomach (yeah, it's actually a thing) to drag the victim within the attack range. It will also release a spore cloud, greatly reducing the visibility and your THC with ranged weapons. During its turn, the starfish will envelop you and drain your HP, regenerating some of the damage it sustains during the fight.

Unlike the frog, the starfish is easy to hit (with melee weapons) but hard to kill due to DR and accelerated regeneration. One starfish isn’t a serious threat but 2-3 would be able to ruin your day pretty quick.

Jellyfish

It’s a mutated jellyfish originally adapted from the Portuguese man o'war and designed to hover over crops and zap insects, while turning away larger animals. Things got a bit out of hand during the Mutiny when the mutation cycles ran wild and now the few remaining floaters haunt the ruins of the Mission Control Center.

Upon detecting oversized insects, the floater will slowly move to intercept them. Bullets have no effect on it but energy weapons would bring it down in no time. In the absence of such weapons or cells to power them up, you can hack it to pieces, which isn’t an ideal solution because the floater will zap every enemy next to it (crowd control), dealing energy damage. On top of it, the floater is equipped with a primitive version of brainwave disruptor, so the closer you get, the higher the chance to forget what you were doing and just stand there, drooling like an idiot (aka skip turn).

In short, the floater is easy to kill if you have energy cells to spare or hard to kill with melee weapons if you don’t. Certain implants and helmet will increase mental resistance.  Other creatures and rival parties might (surely will) attack while you’re busy fighting the floaters.

Anyway, if you like these creatures, you'll definitely like the other three, including Old Beelzebub. If not, let's discuss.

Saturday - August 18, 2018

The New World - Steam Page Up

by Silver, 09:37

The New World now has a Steam page which lists a fall 2020 release date. Check out the new concept trailer below.

loading...

It is the Year of Our Lord 2754…

You will never feel the sun’s warmth under a blue sky, never hear the wind in the branches of a tree, and never swim in the ocean, all because you had the misfortune to be born on the Ship, chained to a fate you didn’t choose. You have never seen Earth and you’ll never see Proxima Centauri either. You’re doomed to live and die on the Ship in the name of the Mission, like your father before you, like his father before him.

The Ship is old. She had already been twenty years in service when she was rechristened Starfarer - a pretty name for a retrofitted interplanetary freighter. No one is certain the Ship will actually reach its destination, and nobody much cares, since no one alive now will live to see it. Might as well get on with your life and try to make the best of it.

Features:

The New World is an isometric, party-based RPG inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. Your character's world is a “generation ship,” a massive spacecraft on a centuries long voyage to colonize a distant planet. The Ship's original government has been disbanded following a violent mutiny and you must negotiate a treacherous path among your fellow passengers and the contentious factions striving to dominate the Ship. Your choices alone will determine who your friends and enemies are.

  • Skill-based character system, with feats and biological implants.
  • Tactical turn-based combat, featuring standard as well as targeted attacks and weapon-specific special attacks such as Fanning and Long Burst.
  • Multiple quest solutions, mutually exclusive questlines, and a branching main storyline.
  • 12 recruitable party members with different personalities, agendas, and beliefs.
  • 3 main factions and a score of lesser factions and groups.
  • A large arsenal including melee weapons, firearms, energy pistols, grenades, and fancy electronic gadgets like the Reality Distortion Field.
  • Different environments to explore, from the Engine Room and Hydroponics to the dystopian cities of the Habitat and the Wasteland, the now uncharted corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny.

Sunday - August 12, 2018

The New World - On C&C and Storytelling

by Silver, 12:51

An update for The New World highlights the importance of choice and consequence for the game.

As you probably know by now, Choices & Consequences are more than just a feature for us. It’s the foundation on which the game is built and a concept we’ll continue exploring and evolving as long as we stay in business. The reason it’s so important to us –and hopefully to you – is that the players need a steady stream of choices to craft their own tales and it is the consequences that give meaning to those choices and alter the tale.

AoD was our first attempt at C&C and I’d rate this attempt at 6/10. We did many things right and – predictably - we did many things wrong. We also learned quite a lot in the process and we hope that The New World will take C&C to the next level, offering a less restrictive and more engaging experience.

Essentially, there are 3 types of choices:

  • Multiple quest solutions to let you handle quests in a manner fitting your character. Keep in mind that you will not be able to handle every situation (aka side quest) with brute force or clever words, so some exceptions will apply, but you will be able to beat the game with combat, stealth, or diplomacy.
  • Taking sides in various conflicts, big and small, thus leaving your mark on the gameworld and defining your character through actions (aka role-playing). These decisions aren't based on skills but on your opinions, allegiances, beliefs, past decisions, etc. It works best when there’re plenty of double- and triple-crossing opportunities, like going to kill Lorenza in one of the assassins quest in Maadoran and letting her talk you into killing Darista and Gaelius instead, which affects your options with Hamza when you run into him in Ganezzar.
  • Big Decisions that alter the story (i.e. branching), affect the gameworld, and have far reaching consequences.


Since Big Decisions are appropriately rare (you can’t alter the storyline every 5 min) and multiple quests solutions are often determined by your build, the meat of the game is taking sides in conflicts, which is a lot more complex than pointing at some ruins and saying ‘there be monsters’.  

First and foremost, the player has to give a damn. Obviously, it’s a very subjective criterion and a major risk factor, especially in a non-fantasy game. Fantasy, ancient mysteries, sword & sorcery hold a certain, deeply engrained appeal. The sci-fi does not, unless it’s reskinned fantasy. However, since we can’t do much about it, we’ll put these concerns aside for a moment and focus on things that are actually within our control:

  • The conflict should be properly designed, meaning it should have a past and a future. The player should see how the conflict came to be, all the factors that led to it, and how the events might unfold after the player’s interference.
  • Since the player will take sides, both sides should have strong positions and offer compelling arguments. The player should feel that he/she is doing the right thing. Whoever the player sides with are the good guys fighting the good fight, the other side automatically becomes the evil that must be stopped (i.e. good and evil shifts with perspective).
  • Since the player will take sides, both sides should have strong positions and offer compelling arguments. Unlike in a traditional or reskinned fantasy setting, there is no "good" or "evil" faction; every faction presents the upsides to its strategy, and players will be able to see the downsides as well. Once you pick a side, other factions' beliefs become obstacles that amplify the downsides to your faction. As Mark Yohalem said it, “in a world where you can only make an omelet by cracking eggs, they keep trying to knock eggs out of your hand on the floor, mess with the heat on the stove, or slosh the pan.”  Players shouldn't feel like paladins, but they should feel that they’re doing the right thing under the circumstances.
  • Handling the conflicts in different ways must have different consequences, ideally ripple-effect style. The player should see the short-term consequences (hooray, we won!) but not the long term effects as the player wouldn’t have all the info (especially on the first playthrough) to consider all the angles. Well, Luther could hardly imagine that his fiery proclamations would eventually result in a bitter divide and a 30-year war…


Now back to the above-mentioned concerns:

We don’t expect everyone to like the conflicts and the themes we offer to explore, but we hope that our core audience would enjoy and appreciate the attention to details. Unfortunately, hope is not a very reliable tool, so we have to seek feedback to make sure we stay on the right track.

Since I talk to Mark Yohalem (the developer of Primordia who’s currently working on Fallen Gods, one of my most anticipated RPGs) quite often, I casually dump my files on him every chance I get. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I praise him, he praises me, everyone’s happy. It’s not like that at all. While I do praise his work and think that his Fallen Gods updates are really awesome, he is merciless, relentless, and tenacious in his criticism. You guys should see him tearing into my work like a fucking chainsaw. It’s a sight to behold.

Recently I did manage to score some positive points and I’d like to share them with you:

* * *

A few weeks ago, I had the painful pleasure of reviewing a small dialogue from The New World.  I say “painful” because I adored The Age of Decadence and had managed, despite its very public development, to go in without knowing much about its story or setting.  Every time I learn more about TNW, I’m taking a usurious payday advance against when I finally get to play it in a few years.  Sure, it’s fun to have a little something now, but I’ll be destitute when the release roles around.

And now I get to offer the same bitter pill to you, dear reader, because Vince asked me to share my analysis of the dialogue for this update.  This is doubly brilliant, since it not only lets Vince put up a long-winded pretentious discussion about narrative themes while maintaining his own laconic reputation, but also will make his future posts seem even more practical and modest in contrast to this one.  Given that Vince is basically a real-life Miltiades, I’m not sure why I keep following him into these alleys…

The dialogue at issue is a quest and mirror-quest where the player meets Lord’s Mercy, a gunslinging lady at the head of a gang of toughs.  Mercy is currently in the employ of one Jonas Redford, the owner of a brothel and the de facto boss of the Pit.  A powerful outsider gang, called the Regulators, was recently brought into the Pit to help keep out another faction, The Brotherhood of Liberty.  But now the Regulators are themselves trying to take over the Pit, and their leader Jeremiah Braxton (erstwhile Faithful Gunner of the Church of the Elect) is hoping to take down Jonas.  (Anyone familiar with the television show Deadwood should have an immediate sense for Jonas and the interlopers trying to give him the boot.)  The player winds up on one side or the other of this conflict and needs to either make sure Mercy stays loyal to Jonas, or flip her to Braxton’s side.

At the outset of my conversation with Vince about the mechanics of the dialogue, I gave him my thoughts on what I understood the dialogue’s themes to be.  (That’s because Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing persuaded me that when the writer knows what thematic significance a dialogue has, it helps him keep the dialogue lean and focused.)  Now, with a little bit of editing, I share my thematic assessment with you.

  • The struggle over the Pit is, like in Deadwood, basically a story about frontier independence being swept away by powerful forces from back in “civilization.”  Also, as with the overrunning of Greece by Rome (or any other of a hundred historical examples), it's about how the shortsightedness of internal factions in inviting outside powers leads to all the insiders losing their stature.
  • This struggle is taking place against the backdrop of a failing colony ship, so there’s also an undercurrent that as the world breaks down, power can perversely become consolidated into a few factions’ hands because the middle-class prosperity and law-and-order that maintain individual freedom are lost.
  • Jonas is a stalwart of the frontier/insider old guard: a rough and ugly man, but ultimately an exemplar of rugged/ruthless independence.  Braxton represents the more sophisticated, more cultured, more connected, more powerful, more modern outside/civilized strength.
  • Being a Badass Lady, Mercy already starts halfway off third base in terms of player sympathy.  She values her Word, her God, and her Gun, which is to say, she's an All-American Hero.  Given that she's an All-American Hero, she's naturally on the side of rugged independence, which is where we find her.  
  • The effort to flip Mercy to Braxton is thus about the prostitution of Lady Liberty to wealth and power, no?  It's Arthur Miller’s Death of a Gunswoman in one short act.  (Ironic that her prostitution should entail abandoning a pimp in favor of a churchman, but life is rich with such little ironies.)
  • Conversely, the mirror interaction with Mercy is a matter of saving her from such prostitution.
  • Because a huge part of AOD's appeal, and I think TNW's appeal, is the squalid bargaining the player is tricked(? enticed? invited?) into carrying out, it's excellent that the interloping powerful faction should be in many ways more appealing than the local independence faction because that lets the player think, for a while, that he's doing the Right Thing when helping Braxton and the Wrong Thing in helping Jonas.  And in neither case does he come off clean, since it's not like Jonas is George Washington and of course Braxton is a straight-up warlord.
  • So, with this set-up in mind, helping Braxton to subvert Mercy’s loyalty to Jonas should be about humiliating Mercy and/or undermining the values that are important to her.  It’s about getting her to trade her code of ethics for blood money, cheap status, or personal safety.  Logically, helping Jonas to keep her loyal should be about the flipside, but in order to make it work within the bleak message of AOD/TNW, Braxton’s men should have an opportunity to point out what kind of scum Jonas is.  Ultimately, the proviso to “fight for the American dream” given by The New World is “on behalf of an aging pimp who beats his whores and slits kids’ throats.”  The game is set at a point where the gangrene has gone too far—mutilation, death, or mutilation followed by death are the three options for the colony ship.  There’s neither a Flood nor a Redeemer coming.
  • If I'm right on these themes, I think the dialogue could use just a little bit more length (probably one more node's worth) so that you have more room for Mercy to waver and falter.  And rather than having her persuaded in a way that makes her decision seem increasingly reasonable and confident, I would do it in a way that makes her seem increasingly weak and fearful, or at least compromised.  My suggestion would be that the two roleplaying paths you’re offering the player (other than just fighting Mercy) are:

    (1) You establish an awful Et tu, Mercy? in which you show that even the steely-eyed, gang-leading, gun-slinging, hand-over-the-quickdraw-holster, views-the-scripture-like-Sam-Jackson-in-Pulp-Fiction-before-he-goes-soft lady can be bent and broken by the shabby corruptions of the world.

    (2) You carry out the grim work of convincing a good woman to lend her gun to a petty pimp so that he can keep the Pit as his fief, which is really another way of saying that we are doomed to have at best the devil we know.  And, of course, having bumped off the Protectors and having lost a good swath of his own gunmen in the process, Jonas has simply exposed the Pit to domination by some other outside faction down the road.

    (3) You might also offer a “player is also naive” path in which he persuades Mercy to side with Braxton because he’s a Good and Noble Man in contrast to Jonas, leading to the inevitable discovery that actually Braxton is simply a better class of bully bastard.

    Ultimately, I think this early quest will pull of the neat trick of simultaneously establishing that the player is a free agent capable of tilting the balances of power in a world of deadlocked factional struggles and establishing that there isn’t really room in this setting for a “good guy with a gun” to drive out the bad guys.  After all, Mercy is the good guy with a gun, and at the end of the day, she’s just a trigger lady for one or another of the bad guys.
* * *

You can convince Mercy to join your cause, whatever this cause might be. If you aren't much of a talker, you can kill her (either in a more or less fair fight or via stealth assassination) to weaken your enemies. Alternatively, let Mercy convince you to side with her when she makes her own play for power (she will help Jonas defeat Braxton, then you'll help her take out Jonas). Thus, the outcomes are:

  • The meddling carpetbaggers are defeated, the Pit remains independent ... but virtually defenseless. Now that the Regulators are gone, the Brotherhood might will surely come knocking on their door again.
  • The Regulators take over, bringing much needed law & order. Being a realist, Braxton knows that he must make an alliance with a major faction. The question is which one but we can leave it up to you. It will be relatively easy to make a deal with the Protectors of the Mission, the hardest with the Church as you'd have to convince Braxton to make amends and do some groveling for the greater good.
  • Lord's Mercy takes over. Maybe now is a good time to tell you she's an Old Testament kinda woman. Her God is a vengeful God and said so Himself in the Good Book. He's all fire and brimstone to His enemies, never thinking twice when it came to righteous retribution. If that’s what her name means, Mercy does her best to live up to it.

Hopefully, this update will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of quests, conflicts, and themes. Your comments, questions, and complaints are always welcome.

Thanks Farflame!

Wednesday - July 11, 2018

The New World - Power Armor

by Myrthos, 12:47

The latest update for The New World, is short and focussing on power armor.

There isn't much to report at the moment (we're making good progress, the combat AI is now taking the first steps and attacking the player with extreme prejudice; the starting town is looking better and better; Joao is working non-stop on the assets which helps us tremendously, Mazin is working on randomizing portraits*, Ivan is making armor models, etc), so let's talk about the power armor and armor in general.

I dislike linear progressions in all forms, which is why we went with damage resistance vs chance to dodge (the heavier the armor, the harder to dodge attacks) in AoD, instead of generic Armor Class, whatever that is. Still, two key stats would only take you so far, which is why we added different types of damage: melee, ballistic, energy. Now you can have great ballistic armor, for example, but if you let some bersekers get into your personal space, you'll find yourself at a major disadvantage.

Anyway, the problem with power armor is it has to be awesome, which isn't bad in itself, but this awesomeness tends to make all the other armor obsolete (not to mention that *traditional* power armor should be pretty good against all types of damage, which would make the different types of damage pointless the moment you get your hands on such armor).

So we decided to explore a different direction. The power armor isn't really 'armor'. It's a device that creates a defensive field around you. As such it doesn't have any damage resistance whatsoever.

There are 3 basic types: light, medium, heavy. You wear it like a vest. You can't wear other vests, so it's a trade off: damage resistance vs shield vs deflector. More on that in a moment. You can wear a jacket or a trenchcoat with it, so you will have some DR, just not as much as with a tactical vest.

At the moment the armor comes in two varieties:

- an energy shield that absorbs all damage until depleted (no DR). Essentially it grants you immunity for the first couple of turns, then you're on your own. If you can't use this immunity wisely and kill a couple of enemies fast, the armor isn't for you. The other energy shield (the gadget one) is weaker and doesn't absorb all damage (i.e. has DR), and can't be moved (i.e. you 'cast' it on a tile). Light, medium, heavy - 20, 40, 60 HP.

- a deflector that turns a critical into a regular strike, a regular into a graze, a graze into a miss. The deflector will lose power with every turn, so we'll need to count turns and reduce %. For example, a heavy model will start with 90% chance to deflect at turn 1, 80% at turn 2, 70% at turn 3, 60% at turn 4, and so on until the deflector is out of juice (0%). Medium will go with 90, 75, 60, 45, 30, 15, 0. Light - 90, 70, 50, 30, 10, 0

Thanks rjshae.

Monday - June 25, 2018

The New World - Design Topic: Dialogue Checks

by Myrthos, 17:34

In the latest design topic for The New World, more information is provided on how dialogue checks will be handled in the game and enabling you to vote for this new system or retaining the system that was in place for AoD.

When designing AoD dialogue system, our goal was simple: your character’s skills must determine conversations' outcomes (i.e. success or failure). The dialogue checks were equally simple: if your skill is high enough, you pass the check, otherwise you fail. It created 3 problems:

1. You never had to consider what the NPC would respond best to. Any tagged line would result in instant success if you have the skill, meaning that your dialogue option was not an attempt (as it should be) but guaranteed success, which made considering the options redundant.

2. Since all dialogues had multiple checks to simulate realistic conversations, it didn’t matter how many checks you passed and how well you were doing until that last check that resulted in failure (i.e. early success didn’t contribute to anything and thus didn’t matter).

3. The rigid nature of the system forced us to lower the checks to make the hybrids (i.e. jacks of all trades with lower skills) viable, which in turn made playing talkers an easy mode.

We did have a couple of interesting dialogues. When you talk to Lorenza, she asks you some questions to understand your motivations better (before she makes her decision), and your answers modify the checks later on, making them easier or harder.

In The New World we’d like to engage the player, make him/her consider the options instead of clicking on the line with the tag matching your highest skill, yet still keep the system skill-driven. It’s not an easy task as this problem doesn’t have a perfect solution, so I’m asking you to consider both systems (see below) and vote for the one where the pros outweigh the cons.

...

Thanks Pladio.

Thursday - May 31, 2018

The New World - Design Topic: RNG

by Silver, 13:39

The New World forum asks for your opinion on RNG.


DESIGN TOPIC #2: RNG

"My THC was 70% but I missed 3 times in a row, which can only mean one thing – the game is horribly broken" is one of the most popular complaints, so let’s talk about it. Let’s start with what 70% THC really means. If you attack long enough, you will reliably hit 70 out of 100 times. It does NOT mean that you’ll reliably hit 2 out 3 times, but that’s what many players expect.

Overall, the phenomenon of player’s expectations vs actual probabilities is well documented:

https://www.pcgamer.com/the-gollop-chamber-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-rng/

Quote

I now understand that human beings are not very good at evaluating probabilities. In particular when an RNG generates repeated sequences a human will cry foul. For a human, randomness usually means ‘evenly distributed without any detectable pattern or repetition’. This is basically how random numbers are manipulated in many games to meet player’s expectations. One poor result immediately results in a bias towards a better result.


Players without any board game or pen-and-paper roleplaying game experience tend to be a lot more hostile to the explicit use of RNG in video games. They do respond well, however, to the more subtle psychological manipulations of randomness which developers and publishers employ these days.


https://www.nexusmods.com/xcom2/mods/482

Quote

Ever do all the work getting your soldiers into position, flanking the enemy, making all the right moves to set up the perfect shot, one your soldiers just can't miss then BAM, that 95% chance to hit misses wide? But no big deal, you planned for this and still have another shot, except, holy crap the next 90% shot also misses! You played perfectly, made all the right decisions but now you are out of actions, your turn ends and the enemy proceeds to wipe your entire squad on their turn. That's it, mission failed, all that work for nothing. How UNFAIR does that feel?

Well then this mod is for you! To put it simply, it aims to make the Random Number Generator and the resulting combat rolls "FEEL" more fair. You're going to miss those 95% shots less often, about as much as you'd naturally expect. Double-extremely-low-chance misses should come up so rarely that you hopefully won't be as upset by them. Basically this mod aims to change the RNG to make it feel and play much more FUN!

REASONING

OK, first of all I'll address the obvious, the RNG in XCOM is already fair, it's been proven to be mathematically accurate many times.  So why this mod and why this name?

For many people who have played this game and previous in the serious, you quickly realize that despite the mathematical assurances, it sure doesn't FEEL fair. Missing a 90% shot twice in a row, is like a punch to the gut, especially after all the work maneuvering to set it up in the first place. And depending on the difficulty level (especially in this sequel XCOM 2, which seems more punishing), what those key misses might mean to the missions success/failure. Yeah sure, it's technically accurate, it's "Good" mathematics and statistics, but it's also BAD game design.

The solution seems to be simple: rig the RNG to deliver what the player expects (or at least avoid what everyone hates – missing 3 times in a row despite seemingly high THC), so I have two questions for you:

1)   Should we rig the RNG to meet players’ expectations?

2)   If yes, how? Meaning what should we aim it? What outcomes should never ever happen when your THC is 70-80%?

Keep in mind that both your party and the enemies will use the same system. Remember that awesome turn when your enemy missed you 3 times in a row? Well, if you won’t be able to miss 3 times in a row, neither would your enemy.

 Choose wisely.

While you’re thinking, here is how our RNG works. It draws numbers like cards from a deck, meaning you can’t draw the same card twice until the deck is out of cards and reshuffled. We round up, so if you draw 17, for example, you cannot get numbers 11 to 20 until the deck is reshuffled. This approach ensures that if your THC is 70%, you’ll miss 3 times and hit 7 times. If it's 63% though, you're not guaranteed to get 63 out of 100. Each 10 rolls you'll get 6 guaranteed hits, 3 guaranteed misses and 1 can go either way.

Ideally, your misses would be spread out evenly but as bad luck would have it, sometimes you’d line up your 3 misses in a row and then hit 7 times in a row. Nobody ever complains about hitting 7 times in a row, but missing 3 times does tend to agitate some folks.

To be fair, nobody wants to miss 3 times in a row IF your skill is high enough –  this simply isn't fun, especially if the enemy hits you every time. So we can count consecutive misses and once you hit 3, the next roll is on us and it's a hit! The hit card will still be removed from the deck, so you won’t be able to draw it twice, i.e. we will simply spread out your misses evenly but won’t give you free hits or help you win.

Thanks Pladio!

Thursday - May 24, 2018

The New World - The First Animations

by Myrthos, 10:55

A new update for The New World, provides an update on the current status of development and shows the first animations (follow the link).

Our train seems to be speeding up. Here is what we managed to scratch off the list in the last 3 months:

- Loot screen
- Trade screen
- Character appearance customization (the system is in place, all we need are the art assets)
- Options menu
- Char creation screen
- Attack effects / Status effects (different effects can be assigned to attacks and applied on hit)
- Clothes and weapon items visual mechanics: showing/hiding, opacity masks
- Visual attack effects: muzzle flashes, sounds, particles
- Party inventory
- More animation states: more characters' body poses and better transitions between them
- Attacks of opportunity, interrupt attacks, reaction shots
- Combat AI (in progress)
- Grenades (in progress)

Thanks Pladio!

Wednesday - May 02, 2018

The New World - The Monks

by Silver, 13:03

The latest from The New World explores the monks faction.

Exploring and dealing with different groups and societies is the main focus of The New World. The core political factions (representing totalitarianism, revolutionary democracy, and theocracy), along with the freemen and various armed groups, are familiar enough from our real world. More science fictional are the mutants and the monks, as they’re commonly known.

The former are the result of an evolutionary mutation that allowed the first “mutants” (those born deformed due to radiation) to adapt to highly toxic and radioactive environments. The latter represent not a biological change but a technological one: cybernetic augmentation.

Keep in mind that augmentations are fairly common on the Ship, and you’ll be able to outfit your own character with up to seven implants, if your body can handle that many. So sporting a datajack and a shiny new eyeball won’t make you stand out. Much like having an artificial heart valve or a titanium knee today, such implants don’t make you any less human.

The monks, however, went far beyond that. Out of necessity, they found a way to overcome the limits of the flesh, becoming something more – and something less – in the process.

* * *

/infodump

When the Mutiny broke out, the Chief Technical Officer promptly sealed the Environmental Control and Life Support System center, declaring that neither side will use the ECLSS in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.

Miller knew that the warring factions would be coming for ECLSS.  They might come with guns, they might come with butter; ECLSS had always depended on outsiders for both its safety and its supplies.  There might be a promise to keep providing that help, but at a price.  Or there might be raw force.  Either way, the outsiders would want control, power over life and death on the Ship, something their enemies could never permit. The fight for ECLSS would make the fight for Mission Control look like a border skirmish, and Miller knew how it would end:  with destruction of the Ship’s essential systems, the failure of the mission, the death of every man, woman, and child aboard the Ship.  That, he could not permit.

The only hope lay in true independence.  But how?  They would need strength of body, to resist force.  They would need strength of will, to live apart from all society.  And they would need all the intelligence they could get, not only to maintain Ship systems put under terrible pressure by both the civil war and the mere passage of time, but also to navigate the Ship’s shifting politics.  Outsiders would need to believe the inhabitants of ECLSS to be above petty human concerns; and inside, they would need to be above petty human limitations.

The answer lay buried in the Ship's databanks: augmentations meant only for the most extreme circumstances, for small or even individual deep-space maintenance missions, augmentations that would make a man more than a man, and less – able to survive alone, smart enough and strong enough to deal with any challenges that might arise on years-long expeditions.  

These augmentations went beyond the artificial eyes and reinforced bones common to the Ship, and amounted to a fundamental reworking of the human body.  Functions inessential for long space missions, such as reproduction or immune response, would be removed altogether, freeing the body’s resources for more practical needs. A person who underwent this process would not really be a human being at all any more, but something as much inorganic as organic.

With this transformation, the ECLSS crew would become what they needed to be:  just as the God of Ecclesiastes was above human struggles for power, for fame, for wealth, so too would the superhumans of ECLSS be above the Ship’s passing struggles, devoted solely to its survival.  Outsiders would be able to see them as something other than a foe or friend; and they would have the strength to carry out the heavy task before them.

* * *

Due to their extensive augmentations, the monks are stronger, faster, tougher, and smarter, at least when it comes to data processing, than any human. Yeah, that’s a lot, but keep in mind that they are few in numbers so need a “natural” edge. A human’s natural stat limit is 10. A ‘monk’s stat limit is 12. If you start the game with STR10 and then get yourself a high-end Exo-Spine implant, your strength will also go to 12, so the monks don’t have access to tech that you don’t (whether or not you manage to get your grabby hands on such tech is a different story). They’re just wired differently (literally) and can handle more implants without having to worry about their bodies rejecting them.

Ava Miller

On the design end, our goal was to create a very different faction with a very different culture, unique place in the Ship’s ‘ecosystem’, and an existential threat:

Over the decades the conditions slowly worsened and by the time Ava Miller took over, most systems operated far below their capacity. The length of the voyage had exceeded the ECLSS capabilities a long time ago and it was a miracle that it was still operational.

Thus Ava faced a dilemma. The ECLSS needed help fast but requesting it, let alone accepting it, threatened everything her family built. She knew enough of the outside world to know that such help would come with strings attached, that whoever helps her will control the ECLSS whether she wants to or not. On the other hand, doing nothing like her father had done will doom both the ECLSS and the Ship sooner rather than later.

The monks will be directly affected by the main quest, which can bring either doom or salvation to ECLSS. Choosing salvation will put you at odds with everyone else but gain you a Liaison Officer who will show you how to make friends and influence people:

Liaison Officer 1st class Eli Brown’s augmentations were geared toward combat and communications. To Eli, the Ship's inhabitants are a volatile cocktail of 27 distinct emotional ingredients, a naked chemical equation to be balanced or imbalanced as the situation requires, whether with a word, or a look, or a bullet.

Eli Brown - scholar, gentleman, vermin exterminator

[...]

Wednesday - March 28, 2018

The New World - Weapons, Armor, and Attacks

by Silver, 07:07

A new update for The New World focuses on weapons, armor, and attacks, and has quite a lot of fun attention to details.

Since we’re implementing the combat system, let’s go over the weapons, armor, and attack types.

Notable changes from AoD:

  • In AoD all combat skills had a passive effect which grew stronger with every point you put into the skill (i.e. Dodge’s passive ability is Counter-Attack; the higher the skill, the higher the chance to counter-attack when you dodge an attack). The problem was that all dodgers of equal skill level had the same chance to counter-attack, regardless of the weapon or stats. We added a bonus to passive chance for certain weapons to differentiate them more, but it didn’t go far enough. In The New World we move the passive affects to feats, weapons and attack stats, so if you want to have a good chance to counter-attack you’d have to pick proper feats and equip weapons with a high Reaction stat. More on that later.
  • In AoD we had a traditional, linear progression: an iron sword replaced a bronze sword, a steel sword replaced an iron sword, etc. Same weapon model, higher damage (+1 per tier). The New World has 4 tiers representing the overall quality (crude, decent, good, excellent; these are internal tags, so you’ll never see a ‘crude revolver’ in-game) with multiple weapons per tier and different stats (so you can pick whatever weapon that fits your combat style better). To give you an idea, AoD has 40 unique weapon models, The New World has 87 unique weapon models, so you will have plenty to choose from.
  • The downside is that there’s no crafting system. It’s much easier to tell the player that he/she forged a sword that’s better balanced and properly hardened. It’s more complicated with guns as it’s unlikely that your tinkering will add +2 to damage and +1 to penetration.

 ^ tier 2 pistols: an all-purpose revolver with a good interrupt chance, a low-accuracy multi-barrel pistol for 'up close and personal' situations, long-barrel pistol for those who favor aimed shots.

[...]

Ranged combat

It’s a new design, so let’s go over the key concepts first

  • Unlike melee , your effort doesn’t modify damage, so fast, regular, and aimed attacks do the same damage, which puts the focus on accuracy (i.e. the longer you aim, the higher your accuracy). Thus unlike melee Fast attack that gives you a THC bonus, ranged Snap Shot gives you a THC penalty; similarly melee Aimed attacks give you a THC penalty as they are easier to dodge, whereas ranged Aimed Attacks give you a THC bonus, so the concepts are reversed.
  • Range is an important stat for balance purposes (shotguns do a lot of damage up close but lose their accuracy fast, rifles take longer to aim and fire than pistols but have a long range). For example, the famous Sten SMG was described as wildly inaccurate beyond 30 meters, so weapons with short effective ranges are certainly realistic.
  • Each tier (i.e quality) increases damage, accuracy, and modifiers, representing better quality and precision, but not by far. Whereas in Wasteland 2 the starting pistol does 5-8 points of damage and the endgame pistol does 100-135, in The New World a pipe pistol does the same 5-8 points of damage and the best unique pistol does 9-14 points of damage, but the overall quality increases accuracy, range, penetration, which are equally important stats.
  • So while all pistols of the same tier (i.e. same quality) that use the same ammo do the same damage, we ‘randomize’ the system via bullet types:
    - 9mm – generic, no modifiers, cheapest
    - 0.45 – heavy bullet, damage +1, packs a strong punch (bonus to stagger), higher chance to cause critical
    - 5.56 – light bullet for high velocity guns (rifles and long SMGs), - 1 to damage, +10 to magazine size, +10 to penetration
    - Shotgun shell – high CS, high graze, penalty to penetration
    - Energy cell – its own group, doesn’t mix with the rest. The unique trait is that each cell contains 10 charges; pistols take 1 per shot, so 10 shots, rifles take 2, so 5 shots, cannons take 5, so 2 per cell but they do massive damage. Mechanics wise it’s like a burst where you fire several bullets at once.
  • Penetration – instead of going with a vsDR value that reduces enemy’s DR by a fixed amount, we’ll go with % that would either increase or decrease the armor DR value, similar to how different arrowheads worked in AoD.
  • As mentioned in the past, there are 3 firearm types (pistols, rifles, and SMG) and each type has 3 subtypes. For example, rifles include one-handed guns like sawed-off shotguns and “mare’s leg” type short rifles, shotguns, and proper rifles, ranging from bolt-action to sniper rifles, so if you specialize in rifles, you won’t be stuck with the same type of weapon doing the same thing.
  • Attack types: Snap Shot, Regular, Aimed: Head, Central Mass (torso), Arms, Legs, Bullseye (+6AP, highest bonuses if hit), Fanning for revolvers, Double Shot for multi-barrel guns, Short Burst, and Long Burst.
  • Graze range – As mentioned previously, I wanted to implement it in AoD but we were out of time and the fast attacks were basically grazing attacks, doing a lot less damage. The ranged combat is perfect for it. Let’s say you have 80% THC (to-hit chance). You roll the dice and as luck would have it, you’re 1 point short but the binary miss-hit system doesn’t reward your near excellence and treats it as you weren’t even close. So, we’ll change that and go with 4 roll 'ranges': miss, graze, hit, critical hit (instead of rolling for critical separately). This will give us some flexibility with damage ranges and allow you to trade damage for THC.

A tier 2 one-handed shotgun, damage 8-11, THC -5, Aimed THC -10, CS chance +10, Graze range +15, Penetration -20%,  Stagger +15%, Knockdown +5%

[...]

Monday - March 26, 2018

The New World - Assuming Control

by Silver, 00:36

A design topic on The New World forums asks the question about assuming control.

Design Topic #1: Assuming Control


Now that we're slowly implementing things, different design issues start popping up, so we might as well discuss them openly and get some feedback.

Imagine a situation where you're helping a group of armed men (Jonas and his thugs) to attack another group of armed men (Braxton and his Regulators). Let's say that Braxton has less men but they're better armed and trained (aka quality) and Jonas has more men but they're poorly armed and trained thugs (aka quantity). Let's say 8 Regulators vs 12 thugs plus your party, so it's 8 vs 14-15 avg and the Regulators have the advantage of properly fortified headquarters.

If you control only your own party (which could be just you if you're playing solo) and you have to wait until 20 guys take turns shooting at each other, it will get boring very fast. We can reduce the Regulators to 4-5 and Jonas men to 5-6 but it won't solve the problem but make the fight less interesting. Thus it seems that the best solution is to let the player assume control over all allies and have a bit of fun, instead of waiting.

Basically, it's like attacking Antidas and his men in AoD but controlling not only your own characters but the Imperial Guards as well.

Let's take it a step further though:

To make it more manageable I think we should split the attackers in two waves (the first wave will soften up the Regulators and the second wave will go in for the kill) and let you control the first wave (the suicidal thugs destined to die) as well, trying to inflict as much damage as possible before your party and the remaining allies go in.

If you're having trouble visualizing the scenario, there was a somewhat similar situation in AoD in the thieves questline, where you recruit Rusty and some local scum, pump them full of drugs, and send them to soften up the assassins hiding in some house, before you finish them off. In AoD you're told of the outcome of this attack and then you go in. Imagine taking full control of Rusty and his crew and overseeing the attack personally. Basically, having fun instead of being told about other people having fun while you're waiting for your turn.

Other examples of such control would be attacking several targets simultaneously (your party attacks target #1, your allies attack target #2, then combine forces) or splitting your party to lead different groups.

I know that this design is definitely not for everyone, so we want to hear what you have to say before we start designing fights.

Sunday - March 25, 2018

The New World - Interview with Vince D. Weller

by Silver, 07:47

Vince D. Weller was interviewed by indiegraze about The New World.

Inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky, Iron Tower Studio’s The New World stands as a turn-based generation ship RPG with a style that should turn the heads of sci-fi purists and Fallout fans alike. With striking concept art and the team’s highly detailed updates in mind, I chatted with lead designer Vince D. Weller on the project’s finer points.

 

Erik Meyer: The New World draws inspiration from Heinlein’s writing and the Fallout series, so from a setting and atmosphere standpoint, what must-have elements do you take from these predecessors, and what do you see yourselves adding to these iconic works?

Vince D. Weller: From Heinlein we borrowed the concept: a colony ship flying through space for hundreds of years, many generations destined to live and die on the ship, all in the name of an idea nobody remembers or cares about, with eventual mutiny and loss of purpose.

As for Fallout, it was the first game (for me, at least) that shifted the focus from killing and looting to dealing with people and exploring different ways of adapting to this new post-apocalyptic reality.

From this perspective, there isn’t much we can add there as it’s a direction rather than a formula, so we’ll continue exploring this direction further and focusing on factions, choices, and dialogues.

EM: The fact that the game world is a generation ship gives you a certain freedom as storytellers to repurpose the habitat and the cultures/religions/daily lives of the populace to your own ends. You can create factions that arise from the needs of spacefaring people, so what unique challenges come with fleshing out NPCs, locations, customs, and the quirks therein?

VDW: We prefer to stick with realism whenever possible. As Joe Abercrombie of The First Law fame said, “Now some folks might say, “hey, it’s fantasy, it doesn’t have to be real,” but I’d say the exact opposite. It’s happening in a made up place, so it has to be more real than ever.”

Thus, our main challenge is how to make the factions and characters (motivations, beliefs, agendas, goals, etc) realistic and believable in the context of the ‘made up’ setting. To do that, we turn to history: the French and Russian revolutions are a handy guide to class warfare, reigns of terror, and post-revolution factions, the early days of Deadwood are a good blueprint for our container town, plus the fascinating story of SMS Königsberg, New England’s Puritans, etc. It’s quite a mix but the same could be said about the AoD world.

[...]

Sunday - March 04, 2018

The New World - The Wasteland

by Silver, 08:09

The New World has a new update about 'The Wasteland'. There are also some nice concept art pieces at the link.

The desolation known as the Wasteland, a span of decks torn apart by the unfathomably destructive weapons of Old Earth, was called Mission Control in better times. This was the Ship Authority's domain, an impregnable stronghold and the seat of power.

The mutineers’ attack was months in the making, a decisive, disabling strike at the electronic heart of their world. It should have been over in less than an hour, but such things rarely go as planned. The Ship Authority was made of harder stuff than anticipated and the first assault was driven back.

In the following months of attack and counterattack, the mutineers’ failure to quickly secure the complex cost them much in lost lives and spent firepower. When forced to surrender ground, both sides adopted a policy of destroying anything not of immediate use, so as to deny it to the enemy.

Though the mutineers were able to ultimately capture and hold key positions across several decks, the complex had been gutted and irreplaceable resources lost. Too late they would discover that during the protracted struggle over Mission Control, Ship Authority loyalists in the Habitat had firmly entrenched their position, preparing to fight to the last man and woman. And child, should it prove necessary.

Weakened and shocked by the brutality of Mission Control’s demise, the mutineers weren’t eager to unleash the same horrors on the Habitat. A truce was offered under the pretext that the Ship Authority was finished anyway and there was no reason to waste lives trying to speed up the inevitable. Yet the same inferno that purged the old order also forged the new. The Protectors of the Mission were destined to reclaim everything their predecessors had lost. They would take it all in the end, whatever the cost.

***


Decades later, deteriorating conditions at home began to drive explorers and treasure seekers farther and farther afield, until a lucky group wandered into the fringes of that fabled battlefield. When the first news trickled back of decks littered with the technological marvels of Old Earth, the scavengers swarmed like maggots devouring a carcass.

Inside of a month, the first two decks were swept clean, but moving deeper into the seemingly bottomless ruins was a more daunting challenge. The entire zone was unpowered and bitterly cold; portable lamps provided the only light. Fused doors and warped bulkheads made a maze of the original corridors and descending to the lower levels, now accessible only through jagged holes in the decking, was a treacherous proposition. Add in the traps left by the long-dead defenders of Mission Control, or by ‘prospectors’ hoping to dissuade the competition, and more often than not it was a one-way trip.

Once the easy pickings had been gathered up and sold, the less principled scavs decided it was easier, and healthier, to let someone else take the risks. And so a new tradition was born: ambushing the suckers returning to the 'surface' with their relics.

Yet those who survived the dangers of both the Wasteland and their murderous colleagues returned with accounts of more than just mummified soldiers and half-melted energy rifles. They told tantalizing stories of security doors with still charged and fully operational turrets, of functioning retinal scanners blocking access to forbidden vaults, and of the Holy Grail itself: the Admin Center, the very brain of the Ship, sealed from within at the height of the Mutiny and never breached. They also spoke of cadavers seemingly unharmed but drained of blood, of mysterious floating lights more terrifying even than the darkness of the void, and of Beelzebub himself. Called Ol’ Bub for short, this terrifying beast was said to dwell deep within the ruined complex, and to feed on any weary prospector foolish enough to let his guard slip.

***


With the Wasteland our goal is to create a proper, thematically-fitting 'dungeon' with the following features:

1. The focus is on exploration not combat. Navigating the dungeon, finding a way past the obstacles and into the deeper levels is more important than killing monsters and clearing levels.

2. Non-linear with multiple directions and goals. While the Admin Center is the top prize, there are lesser 'prizes' located in different parts of the complex. None of these locations will be easy to get to, because the lore says that many prospectors tried to find these places for years, so you can’t just waltz in, but unlike AoD’s Abyss which had a single path to the central chamber and required a very specific build, there will be multiple ways supporting different stats and skillsets.

3. You’ll be frequently stopped by some obstacles (such as a retinal scanner, for example, or poisonous gas, or tough enemies, humans or otherwise) and would have to leave and return later when you acquire what you need. In other words, you won’t blast though the entire 'dungeon' in one go.

4. Every dungeon needs some enemies and they will come in two varieties:  humans (rival prospectors, thugs looking for easy money, the Regulators if you piss them off) and creatures. While every RPG and every dungeon need some 'monsters' we believe that in this setting less is more, so the entire game will have 5-6 mutated creatures and we won’t throw them at you the way we did in Dungeon Rats but handle it very differently and hopefully more memorably.

So, ol’ Beelzebub is a one such enemy. First, you’ll hear the tales, so it won’t be just some creature waiting for you in an empty hallway:

"Guess who got caught with his pants down last night? Big Jim Wilson! Him and his boys got themselves grabbed in flagrante at the whorehouse. They didn’t even get a chance to squeeze off a shot," chuckles the Magistrate. "Best get ready for trial. If half of what I’ve heard is halfway true, it’s going to be a wild ride.

"Story goes that Jim’s the only person alive to do a dance with old Beelzebub and come back mostly in one piece. I heard when he crawled into the prospectors’ camp –literally crawled, on his hands and knees– the left part of his face was missing. Flesh just hanging there like torn rags."
   "What do you mean Beelzebub? Like the devil from the Bible?"

"Well, here’s what the Good Book says:  the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

"Ol’ Bub is supposed to make his home in the Mission Control complex, which around here is about as close as you can get to a bottomless pit. He’s supposed to be a giant serpent, thick as a Factory transformer, and fast as he is huge. Likes to swallow folks whole, ‘cept for Jim. Guess there’s a reason they call him ‘Big’."



Then you’ll have your first encounter. Odds are, you’ll have two options:

- sacrifice a party member and run away (I know, I know, you’d never do that but this option will make a lot more sense in the, um, heat of the moment)
- fight it off

Then you’ll decide if you really want to go after it. Keep in mind that dead party members tend to stay dead instead of getting up after the fight is over, so if you really want to get that trophy, you’ll have to pay the blood price. Coincidentally, that’s why I dislike different difficulty levels. You want to take it easy? Then avoid tough fights. Problem solved. You want to be a mighty hero? Earn it.

5. If you do manage to find a way into the Admin Center, it will affect the endings (extra options, pre-req. for a different ending, etc.)

* * *

Wednesday - January 31, 2018

The New World - Update

by Hiddenx, 20:50

Screeg spotted a The New World update:

CSG update #23 - State of the Game (the first screenshots)   

2017 was a busy year: we did a lot of programming and animation work, produced a lot of art assets, defined locations (quests, places of interest, key characters), factions (leaders, relationships, goals), expanded the Pit’s quests, finalized the systems, and did a lot of work on the first two locations, so we started 2018 in a pretty good shape.

Our main goal for this year is to release a combat demo.  It’s a major milestone as it’s practically a game in itself. We do that, it means we have the engine (fully customized for what we need), all systems except stealth, all art assets and animation, interface, and TONS of small things that take a lot of time. It’s a massive amount of work and it took us 5,5 years to reach this point with AoD. If we do it in 2 years this time around, it will mean that we’re right on schedule for 2020 release and give us 2 years to work on quests and locations.

Here is Nick, our programmer, reporting live from his bunker:

What’s done:

  • Map grid. In CSG, the tiles are aligned according to the surface angle and look better by not sticking into the ground;
  • Non-combat and combat pathfinding. Two separate systems now, which allows smooth movement when exploring locations and good old tactical tile-to-tile movement in combat. Your combat path is also displayed with a nice spline, so no more uncertainty of "where exactly will my character move when I click here" kind;
  • Map checking system that spawns warnings if certain map objects are not configured properly - this should decrease the amount of level-design bugs;
  • Hierarchical item classes and visual item editor;
  • Chargen;
  • The flexible structure of character classes that allows adding new creature types with a different appearance, item slots and behavior easily. Implementing new creature type was a big task in AoD/Torque and required writing a lot of code from scratch every time;
  • Party system. Better-looking party following, comparing to DR;
  • Animation system based on a proper state machine this time. Animations blended with ragdoll, which should help to avoid situations like dead/knockdown characters sticking into the wall;
  • Inventory system and screen. Inventory space is now grid-based;
  • Character screen;
  • Dialogue system, screen, and visual node-based dialogue editor;
  • Cover system which provides defense bonuses based on cover type and angle of enemy's fire;
  • Combat exit areas - special tiles, Fallout-style, that allow player to flee from combat and execute attached scripts;
  • Overhead icons, more informative than in previous games, since they now can display progress bars, numbers, and other useful context-based information;
  • Discrete hitbox/collision system. We got rid of the chaotic line of fire and attack results that were animation-based. In AoD/DR the cursor could report you that you are able to hit a target, but then, when you click, your enemy would turn around or scratch his butt, and your arrow could fly past him despite all the odds;
  • RPG Camera, replicated from AoD, also includes optional orthographic projection mode;
  • Doors (prototype, not final)
  • Basic destructible environment;
  • Building system (floors visibility, interior/exterior objects)
  • Basic combat system (weapons, attack modes, THC calculation, hitting, missing, simple RNG) and combat flow (start, end, combat queue, detecting enemies, advancing turns). No status effects yet.
  • Global and local quest variables and game states;


We still don't have:

  • Combat and non-combat AI;
  • Feats;
  • Implants system;
  • Learn-by-doing XP mechanics;
  • Nice visual effects (laser beams, muzzle flashes, etc);
  • Character creation screen and PC customization (currently in progress);
  • Combat status effects (knockdown, bleeding, etc);
  • Gadgets and grenades;
  • Travelling between areas;
  • Saving/loading games;
  • Options menu;


It will take us probably around six months to finish these tasks.

Here is our work in progress. We finished the first armor set 2 weeks ago and were still tweaking it 5 min ago, so it’s as rough as it gets, function over form. Same goes for everything else – the models, hair, animations, and clothing will be worked on and improved over many months.

We posted these screens for two reasons:

  • Show the state of the game (that proverbial picture that’s worth a thousand words)
  • Show the targeted level of details, the art direction, and what to expect from the new engine

[...]

Tuesday - January 30, 2018

The New World - Progress Update & First Screenshots

by Silver, 20:57

The New World has a new update on progress so far and shows off some in-engine screenshots.

2017 was a busy year: we did a lot of programming and animation work, produced a lot of art assets, defined locations (quests, places of interest, key characters), factions (leaders, relationships, goals), expanded the Pit's quests, finalized the systems, and did a lot of work on the first two locations, so we started 2018 in a pretty good shape.

Our main goal for this year is to release a combat demo. It's a major milestone as it's practically a game in itself. We do that, it means we have the engine (fully customized for what we need), all systems except stealth, all art assets and animation, interface, and TONS of small things that take a lot of time. It's a massive amount of work and it took us 5,5 years to reach this point with AoD. If we do it in 2 years this time around, it will mean that we're right on schedule for 2020 release and give us 2 years to work on quests and locations.

Here is Nick, our programmer, reporting live from his bunker:

What's done:

- Map grid. In CSG, the tiles are aligned according to the surface angle and look better by not sticking into the ground;
- Non-combat and combat pathfinding. Two separate systems now, which allows smooth movement when exploring locations and good old tactical tile-to-tile movement in combat. Your combat path is also displayed with a nice spline, so no more uncertainty of "where exactly will my character move when I click here" kind;
- Map checking system that spawns warnings if certain map objects are not configured properly - this should decrease the amount of level-design bugs;
- Hierarchical item classes and visual item editor;
- Chargen;
- The flexible structure of character classes that allows adding new creature types with a different appearance, item slots and behavior easily. Implementing new creature type was a big task in AoD/Torque and required writing a lot of code from scratch every time;
- Party system. Better-looking party following, comparing to DR;
- Animation system based on a proper state machine this time. Animations blended with ragdoll, which should help to avoid situations like dead/knockdown characters sticking into the wall;
- Inventory system and screen. Inventory space is now grid-based;
- Character screen;
- Dialogue system, screen, and visual node-based dialogue editor;
- Cover system which provides defense bonuses based on cover type and angle of enemy's fire;
- Combat exit areas - special tiles, Fallout-style, that allow player to flee from combat and execute attached scripts;
- Overhead icons, more informative than in previous games, since they now can display progress bars, numbers, and other useful context-based information;
- Discrete hitbox/collision system. We got rid of the chaotic line of fire and attack results that were animation-based. In AoD/DR the cursor could report you that you are able to hit a target, but then, when you click, your enemy would turn around or scratch his butt, and your arrow could fly past him despite all the odds;
- RPG Camera, replicated from AoD, also includes optional orthographic projection mode;
- Doors (prototype, not final)
- Basic destructible environment;
- Building system (floors visibility, interior/exterior objects)
- Basic combat system (weapons, attack modes, THC calculation, hitting, missing, simple RNG) and combat flow (start, end, combat queue, detecting enemies, advancing turns). No status effects yet.
- Global and local quest variables and game states;

We still don't have:

- Combat and non-combat AI;
- Feats;
- Implants system;
- Learn-by-doing XP mechanics;
- Nice visual effects (laser beams, muzzle flashes, etc);
- Character creation screen and PC customization (currently in progress);
- Combat status effects (knockdown, bleeding, etc);
- Gadgets and grenades;
- Travelling between areas;
- Saving/loading games;
- Options menu;

It will take us probably around six months to finish these tasks.

Here is our work in progress. We finished the first armor set 2 weeks ago and were still tweaking it 5 min ago, so it's as rough as it gets, function over form. Same goes for everything else - the models, hair, animations, and clothing will be worked on and improved over many months.

We posted these screens for two reasons:

- Show the state of the game (that proverbial picture that's worth a thousand words)
- Show the targeted level of details, the art direction, and what to expect from the new engine
[...]

Thanks Screeg!

Sunday - December 31, 2017

The New World - The Leaders of Tomorrow

by Hiddenx, 09:52

In CSG update #22 Iron Tower introduces the faction leaders of The New World:

The Leaders of Tomorrow!

A setting is defined by the factions it spawns. For example, 9th century England is not defined by dudes sporting swords and chainmail but by the warring kingdoms, Viking factions, puppet rulers, the Danelaw, and a clash of religions. In turn, the factions are defined by their leaders who reflect the current state of affairs, and the leaders are defined by the challenges they face.  

Thus the time has come for you to meet the finest sons and daughters of Starfarer: the elected, appointed, hand-picked, hereditary, and self-proclaimed leaders who hold the fate of the Ship’s inhabitants in their hands. Let’s start with the three main factions fighting for control over the Habitat – the central living complex housing 80% of the Ship’s population. For more information on the Ship’s factions, see our website.

PROTECTORS OF THE MISSION

When Silas Reis was promoted, he was handed the same unfulfilled mandate as every Commander before him: restore order. The meaning of this directive was simple: to exterminate the Brotherhood wherever they skulked, crawled or hid, and finally end the generations-long Mutiny. If Reis were to doubt the likelihood of carrying out this objective, he was careful never to acknowledge it. Defeatism is heresy, and heresy is punishable by death.

Every member of the Mission Control Council which appointed Reis could trace his lineage back to the original crew. Since these wise elders occupied a perch far above reproach, any failure in furthering the directive must lie with the Commander. Failure at this level was also punishable by death.

Silas’ mentor, Commander Matheson, had been eight years in the role before his execution at the Council's order. They gave no reason for their decision but it was widely believed Matheson had been too timid in his persecution of mutinous filth. Immediately after his promotion ceremony, Commander Reis began planning a major assault against the Brotherhood. Whether or not his tenure would end in execution, no one would call him timid.

BROTHERHOOD OF LIBERTY

Bill Hanson, the Chairman of the Brotherhood's Executive Council, has served longer in that position than anyone before him due to his deft handling of the Council itself - a nest of bickering, backstabbing vipers. They were a never-ending headache and more dangerous, in Bill's opinion, than their archenemies, those blowhard fools calling themselves the 'Protectors of the Mission'.

In order to keep their teeth off his throat so he could bloody think for a goddamned minute, Bill had orchestrated a few small victories for the Protectors. The rapid reversal of those victories proved that the Chairman was a necessary evil to keep people safe, and talk of removing him from power had finally died down.

Taking advantage of this tiny bit of breathing room, Chairman Hanson had established an understanding with the Protectors' Commander Matheson, which may have blossomed into a working relationship and - just imagine it - an end to the hostilities. Then one of the snakes on the Council got wind of it and scuttled the whole deal.

Matheson was executed shortly thereafter and the Protectors appointed Colonel Reis, a known straight-edge and all round git, in his place. To Bill's mind, this kind of instability and rapid change didn't bode well for anyone. As for the Councilman who got Bill's maybe-friend killed... well, if there's one thing he could not abide, it was a snitch.

CHURCH OF THE ELECT

Chaplain-General Abraham Davis had been chosen by God to battle the Devil aboard Starfarer and to deliver her crew from evil. It was at times a wearisome burden. Some of his flock questioned the Devil's very existence. Hadn't they left the Father of Lies behind on Earth? Weren't they flying away from sin, and through the heavens at that? But Davis knew better, for God had opened his eyes.

The Mutiny had not been made by man. It was one of the Devil's sideways deceptions, pushing folks to choose either Protectors or Brotherhood as their saviors when both were the Devil's guises, diversions from the true path.

A less experienced leader would have struck at once. The two groups had been weakened by their endless skirmishing. But to bring the Church into their conflict prematurely, to leave themselves vulnerable to a counterattack, would invite the infection of the enemy's lies. The Chaplain-General was no such fool. He knew that once the Devil has made his home inside your door, no military victory would save you.

Instead, Abraham would bide his time and watch the two deluded factions like a hunter scouting dangerous prey. He would learn the enemy's habits and weaknesses. Sooner or later the Devil will make a mistake and then Abraham will strike. Then will be revealed the power and fury of the Lord.

* * *

Next we have 4 lesser but nonetheless important factions: the Covenant, House of Ecclesiastes, the Pit, and the Grangers:

PEOPLE OF THE COVENANT

As happens every generation, when old age had left the Great Mother too withered and bent for her duties, she turned to her Handmaidens, the unquestioning instruments of the Mother’s will on the Ship. From among these young women her successor would be selected based on her intelligence, and most importantly, unemotional good judgement.

After seventeen long years of service, Pale Glow was chosen to wear the ceremonial hazmat helmet and sacrifice all ties to family and friends. Upon the Mother’s death, she would become matriarch of all mutants, her edicts more binding than law, for they are not subject to argument or appeal.

Her fellow Handmaidens she would know no more, as they took on the mantle of the Harbingers and scattered to every distant corner of the world. The Harbingers’ duty is to spread the word of God to the un-marked masses outside the collective, those passengers doomed to remain on the Ship during the implosion of Judgement Day.

With the old Handmaidens disbanded, it would fall to Pale Glow to select a new group of young mutant females to serve alongside her until age and infirmity would force the cycle to turn once again, until the Dawn.

/to read more about the mutants' origin and history or see what they look like without fancy helmets, click here.

HOUSE OF ECCLESIASTES

John Miller was nearly seventy when he decided to step down and pass the Chief Technical Officer chevrons to his daughter Ava. When the Mutiny broke out, his grandfather promptly sealed the Environmental Control and Life Support System center, declaring that neither side will use the ECLSS in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.

Fearing that the ECLSS will fall apart after his death, Miller reshaped it into a religious, monastic order, following the teaching of Ecclesiastes: “one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” The struggles outside the hallowed halls of the ECLSS were meaningless squabbles of children who didn’t know better. There was no greater purpose than serving the Ship and supporting life.

Over the decades the conditions slowly worsened and by the time Ava Miller took over, most systems operated far below their capacity. The length of the voyage had exceeded the ECLSS capabilities a long time ago and it was a miracle that it was still operational.

Thus Ava faced a dilemma. The ECLSS needed help fast but requesting it, let alone accepting it, threatened everything her family built. She knew enough of the outside world to know that such help would come with strings attached, that whoever helps her will control the ECLSS whether she wants to or not. On the other hand, doing nothing like her father had done, will doom both the ECLSS and the Ship sooner rather than later.

THE PIT


Wasteland is the affectionate name used to describe the now uncharted miles of scorched corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny. It is even rumored that the hull has been breached in certain sections, leaving them open to the void of space. This unstable no-man's-land is the principal hunting ground for folks willing to gamble their lives against the chance of finding old and outlawed tech.

For a scavenger, Jonas Redford was more successful and more ambitious than most. One of the key difficulties for a professional scav is to extract your finds as quickly as possible, since anyone else stumbling across your good fortune will quickly try to make it their own. In order to facilitate more efficient runs into the Wasteland, Jonas set up a base camp in Cargo Hold #3, right next to the action. Such a good idea couldn't remain secret for long, and his fellow scavengers soon began pitching their tents nearby. With its increasing popularity, the camp attracted a growing crowd of traders, whores, and other hangers-on, and people began to see it as a rugged alternative to the Habitat, which promised safety, but insisted on submission in exchange.

At some point Jonas realized that more money was waiting to be made right there in the Pit, as it had come to be called, than out in the Wasteland. Thus he opened The Promised Land, the finest and only whorehouse in town. The success of this venture, and his own popularity, led to his role today as the de facto mayor of this frontier town.

* * *

THE GRANGERS

The Hydroponics Division was originally conceived to adapt Terran plants to both the anticipated environment of Proxima Centauri, and to unanticipated threats. Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code.

Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles.

When human beings finally decided to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle: animate vegetable guardians that would attack any warm-blooded thing, and a virulent fungus whose spores could kill a man in minutes.

Carlos Maney was one of the few to survive the first expedition. What he had learned from that foray earned him a well-paid position as leader of the second expedition. He was also the only one willing to return. The second expedition also failed to secure any kind of foothold, but Carlos was now able to recognize the dangers and had developed a new strategy: coexistence over extermination.

He mounted the third expedition himself, at little cost since the equipment left behind by his predecessors was free for the taking. Within a month, Carlos and his team had reclaimed the first Tower and were supplying the Pit with edible algae and leaves. They call themselves the Grangers and need little in the way of arms or security. The environment itself is enough to deter any but the most foolhardy.

* * *

Last but not the least we have three distinguished groups of fighting men (not counting the various gangs): the Regulators, Jackson’s Riflemen, and Thy Brother’s Keepers.

THE REGULATORS

Rumor has it that Captain Braxton once served a higher power, that in the days before his crisis of faith and the subsequent falling out with the Church of the Elect he was known as Faithful Gunner Jeremiah Braxton. Speculation about why he left is abundant, but as is often the case no story is more compelling than the others.

Backed up by a few like-minded men and picking up more willing recruits along the way, Braxton left the Church behind and ended up in the Pit, a place where reliable fighting men are always in demand. Around the time of his arrival, the Brotherhood had started showing a keen interest in the Pit, eager to establish a foothold there. Braxton and his newly christened Regulators offered the good people of the Pit their services and after much debate they were hired to drive the Brotherhood’s men out, which was accomplished with brutal efficiency.

JACKSON’S RIFLEMEN

Adopted by one of the gangs roaming the shattered compartments of the Factory, Moses Jackson started learning his trade young. Home was a metal shelf, preferably high off the floor and with open sightlines, and what passed for meat had to be boiled in disinfectant, but despite the hardships he was free for the first time in his life.

At the end of his first real fight he earned a battered old energy pistol by stabbing a man to death. With no cells to arm it the pistol wasn't particularly useful, but he decided to keep it anyway. Moses was scavenging for a proper holster when his prize caught the eye of one of his mates. The man was six feet tall and scowled at the world through a single blue eye, having lost the other to radiation burns. He claimed the energy pistol for himself, as compensation for keeping Moe alive. A week later he vanished. No one knew for certain he'd been killed, since there was no body or blood, but shortly thereafter Moses was wearing the pistol again, now in a sleek leather holster. None of his other confederates thought it was worth taking since, they said, there was no ammunition for it anyway.

By the age of 25, Moses was running his own crew with some success. Thinking their superior numbers would carry the fight, he had attacked a group of mercenaries guarding a still-working rail transport. Moses had the numbers but the mercs were better armed, and when one of them got sprayed with the brains and blood of the man next to him, he didn't panic. He kept right on shooting. Moses lost half his crew in the assault and still didn’t secure the train. It was a costly lesson, but he learned to temper his ambition with consideration and better planning. Over the following year, he came to be known for picking the right jobs, for sniffing out trouble and finding a way around it.

When the time was right, Moses set his sights on an even bigger prize. The Shuttle Bay was a well-fortified base with a machine shop specializing in custom weapons. After many months of intelligence gathering, and finding and training the right people, Moses’s crew took the Shuttle Bay in an action that people in the Factory and the Pit would be talking about for a long while.

Though he seemed to be sitting pretty now, Moses Jackson never forgot his most important lesson, the first the Factory had taught him: it's not enough to get what you want. You must be ready to defend it against anyone willing to take it from you. To that end, he hasn’t stopped improving his crew, their armaments, and their training. Everything points to Moses becoming a major player, perhaps the major player, outside of the Habitat.

THY BROTHER’S KEEPERS

Thomas Stanton had always been good with guns so it made sense that's where he would make his living. Robbing traders and prospectors would have been the obvious choice. The payoff was quick but picking targets was risky work, and the chance of a fatal error always high. Instead, he organized a small crew to offer protection services. They called themselves Thy Brothers' Keepers and quickly established a name for reliable service in the Wasteland.

It was around this time that traffic through the Factory sharply increased, and when Tommy caught wind of the escalating violence that came with it, he smelled opportunity. He relocated his entire operation to the Factory, a decision which at first looked like a serious mistake. The Keepers lost more men on their first day in the dead city than they would have on a paying job. In return they had advanced all of four blocks. That’s when the idea of the Toll Road was born.

Leaving the rubble-choked ground level to the gangs, Tommy and his Keepers secured the remains of the rail overpass and the upper floors of a few key buildings. High above the strife and mayhem of the Factory floor, they began work on establishing a safe route through the area. The first month was rough; their waypoints were attacked almost daily. But the ragtag gangs didn't have the organization or mentality to maintain a real siege. The Keepers fortified their positions while their attackers received an education in the many disadvantages of attacking from low ground.

The rough part is all behind them now, and Tommy's business is flourishing under the best conditions: he offers what nobody else can, and is free to name the price for his services. Since Tommy decided on quite a high price, he's also keen to discourage competition. The Keepers have a standing order to fire on anyone armed or suspicious looking who isn't under their protection, making it impossible for anyone else to get a foothold in the Factory.

Thanks Farflame!

 

Wednesday - November 22, 2017

The New World - Grenades & Headgear

by Silver, 02:30

The New World has a new update on Grenades and Headgear.

There are 3 main tactical elements:

Different attacks with pros and cons AoD-style
Cover (natural and energy shields) and gadgets
Grenades

The first two are self-explanatory, the third one is something new and hopefully exciting, so let's go over the design as we're about to start implementing it.

Ship-made Grenades (cheap and fairly common, many enemies will have several grenades on their belts).

1. Gas Grenade - creates a visible 7x7 poison cloud that hovers over the affected area for 2 turns and does X damage per turn for Y number of turns (once poisoned).

If poison gets through the respirator or mask (i.e. the mask doesn't block the poison entirely), it causes low damage to physical stats (STR, DEX, CON), which is worse than 2-3 points of damage per turn.

So the gas grenades' stats are:
- Damage per turn
- Number of turns once poisoned
- Stat damage (damage range is 1-3; 1 is common, 3 is rare).

Defense:
- respirators (half masks), gas masks (full masks), full helmets to reduce poison DR
- implant (synthetic heart with blood purifier) to reduce poison stat damage

2. Flashbang Grenade - instant flash in the middle of a 7x7 area that sets all affected enemies' PER to 1 (thus lowering THC), reduces their AP by 10 (disoriented), and sets Evasion to 0. All effects last 1 turn, Evasion penalty starts during the player's turn and ends after the enemy's turn.

Defense: Combat goggles, full helmets, or implant (bionic eye) to reduce PER and AP loss

3. Smoke Grenade - creates a dense 7x7 cloud that hovers over the affected area for 2 turns. The cloud greatly reduces visibility: if your target is in the cloud or behind the cloud (i.e. there is a smoke cloud between you and your target), your THC is set to 5%, representing zero visibility.

Basically, it affects both parties (if you're in the cloud, you can't see anything outside of it either), so it's best suited for charging melee attackers to generate some cover while they are on the move.

Defense: Goggles, full helmets, or implants (bionic eye with different properties) to increase visibility (thermal vision).

We assume that your THC is THC under perfect conditions. If the visibility is reduced, your THC is reduced with it. So if combat goggles give you visibility of 80% and your THC is 60%, then your adjusted THC is 60*0.8 = 48%

* * *

Earth-made Grenades are much more powerful but rare. They are a last resort weapon and you won't have more than 5-7 such grenades in the entire game. Defending against them is much harder and will require equally rare gadgets.

4. Stasis Field - creates a 3x3 stasis field that lasts 2 turns. You can't attack those trapped inside and they can't do anything either. It's a ‘divide and conquer' grenade.

Defense: None

5. Brainwave Disruptor - instant spiral effect over 5x5 area that tries to make the affected characters go berserk and attack nearby targets (most likely their own allies).

Defense: Helmet's mental resistance stat (Neural Shield), we roll to see if you manage to resist the urge to kill nearby people. If you pass the check, you are unaffected.

6. Pulse Grenade - instant pulse over 10x10 area. All energy shields are disabled, all gadgets are fried and can't be used for the duration of combat. All droids are disabled for 2 turns.

* * *

Defensive Gear and Stats, come in different varieties with different stats:

1. Respirator (half mask)
- Toxic Resistance 2

2. Gas Mask (full mask)
- Toxic Resistance 4

The gas mask provides superior protection but takes both slots, meaning you can't wear goggles and thus are vulnerable to flashbangs and smoke grenades.

3. Tactical Mask (gas mask and combat goggles combo) - Earth-made gear, rare
- Toxic Resistance 3
- Thermal Vision 40%

4. Combat Goggles
- Optic Resistance 4 (meaning that your PER and AP aren't reduced to 1 and by 10 respectively but to 5 (1+4) and by 6 (10-4).
- Thermal Vision 60%
- Targeting 5% (aimed THC bonus)

5. Power Armor Helmet
- Damage Resistance 12
- Toxic Resistance 8
- Optic Resistance 6
- Thermal Vision 80%
- Targeting 15%
- Neural Shield 75%

The AI will target your weaknesses, so if your character has high-quality goggles but a cheap gas mask, the AI will use a poison grenade, etc. This way reloading and equipping a better gas mask won't make a difference because the AI will target a different weakness. Your headgear will be useful not only in combat but also while exploring the ship, so non-combat characters will still have a reason to look for better gear.

Thoughts?

Friday - October 13, 2017

The New World - Secondary Location Design

by Hiddenx, 19:45

Screeg spotted Iron Towers's CSG update #20 for The New World about secondary location design:

CSG update #20: Secondary Location Design

When designing AoD non-urban (i.e. secondary) locations we wanted to show a desolate, dying world, but as is often the case with low budget games it’s hard to tell the difference between a desolate world and ‘empty maps’ with a single point of interest.

We’re always eager to learn from our mistakes plus the Ship shouldn’t be desolate, so today we’ll demonstrate a new and improved approach to location design using the Factory as an example.

A bit of history:
As you probably know by now, the Ship isn’t a state of the art colony vessel but a retrofitted interplanetary freighter (in the best traditions of Mayflower) with cargo holds big enough to fit entire districts. Cargo Hold #2 was split into two miles-long areas running in parallel: the Factory and the Hydroponics.

The Factory is an industrial area dedicated to the learning of skills the current generation of colonists would never use to pass them down to the descendants of their descendants who would one day claim the new world as their own. 

Before the Mutiny, a rail system running high above the factories would deliver citizens to the dismal warehouses and facilities where they spent their working days. Unsurprisingly, the Factory was where the revolt had started, quickly spreading to the rest of the Ship. The war that followed gutted the Factory: the train overpass was blown up to prevent reinforcements from pouring in; the factories and warehouses were looted and stripped for parts, the local Environment Control system had to be shut down.

Within a few decades, the Factory had been mostly abandoned until growing trade between the Pit (Cargo Hold #3) and the Habitat (formerly known as Cargo Hold #1) breathed new life into it, turning it into a new Silk Road.

Until Jonas set up a camp in Cargo Hold #3 (which eventually grew into a container town known as the Pit), a few traders cautiously making their way through the ruins of the Factory attracted no attention, but as the camp grew into a town, trade grew into a steady stream of goods flowing in both directions.

With the train overpass lying in ruins, slow moving traders carrying valuable relics of the past looted in the Wasteland quickly became the target of gunmen eager to relieve the traders from their cargo and lives. The traders responded by hiring armed escorts, which forced the gunmen to form gangs and fight both the mercenaries and rival gangs until only two gangs remained: the Black Hand and the Detroit City gang.

One of the mercenary outfits, Thy Brother’s Keepers, that used to offer protection services in the Wasteland saw a great business opportunity and promptly moved their operations into the Factory. There, the Keepers established what became known as the Toll Road, offering a safe passage to the Habitat for an exorbitant fee.

Design:
You start the game in the Pit ('born and raised'). You can explore the nearby area but when you’re ready (or have a reason) to visit the Habitat, your options are:

1. Pay the fee and enjoy a scenic 'high above the ground' trip through the Factory, occasionally interrupted by different events to remind you that it's not a walk in the park. Those who played Dungeon Rats know how we handled the vertical aspect (as you climb up, you can see the area you explored earlier down below), so you’ll see the entire level from above.

2. Brave the dangers and climb down into the unknown, most likely to your untimely death:

  • Sneak through the level - infiltrator
  • Fight your way through the level - fighter
  • Exterminate the vermin; comes with two optional (meaning tough as nails) fights if you decide to clear both gang bases - combat specialist
  • Fight/Sneak past 'patrols', then inquire about employment opportunities (bonus points if you created a lot of vacancies) - fighter/talker or infiltrator/talker

3. You can also *try* to get into the Habitat via the Hydroponics but that’s a different story that puts an emphasis on an entirely different skillset (explorer) and gear.

Needless to say, the very fact that there is a toll road suggests that attempting to cross the Factory on your own is a bad idea. If most players would be able to do that regardless of their builds, it would damage the setting’s integrity so this option should be reserved for 25% of the players (1 in 4) and the difficulty will reflect that.

Wiping out both gangs is an epic feat reserved only for the natural born killers among you (1 in 10 players ). The first base is hard to enter but easy to leave. The second base is easy to enter (just take the elevator), but hard to leave so forget about attacking and falling back. You’ll have to be able to switch tactics on the fly and have good offensive and defensive gear and tactics.

The reward will be well worth it – the gangs have been preying on traders for a while and have accumulated quite a few relics.

If you decide to leave the gangs alone and come back later, be advised that both gangs will grow, both in number and firepower. It’s not level scaling as it won’t be tied to your level/skills but to the passage of time via ‘chapters’.

Using AoD’s mine as an example, assuming you could come back later after visiting Maadoran, you’d find the outpost reinforced by more soldiers and proper watchtowers, regardless of your skill level. Basically, a logical progression with proper consequences for both action* and inaction that doesn’t force you to watch the clock.

* the Keepers might not be too happy about you putting them out of business ; The Detroit City gang has ties to one of Habitat’s factions, so wiping out both gangs will be an action of an anarchist that doesn’t care about the established order, not of a hero vanquishing evil wherever he/she goes.

There will be a few side quests in the area, available to those who can explore the area (rescue & escort, retrieve a stash, breaking & entering, etc). Nothing random or generic. Retrieving a stash is an optional solution to another quest, rescue & escort will open up several quests later on (think Miltiades), breaking & entering will make you a legend and cause more trouble down the road than you can handle.

To sum up:

  • all 16 areas are interconnected (access points and local groups), nothing exists in vacuum, meaning consequences ahoy;
  • initial access to all, deeper access to specialists, your mileage will vary, no character will be able to access all content and fully explore every area;
  • some areas will favor combat specialists, other areas will favor infiltrators or diplomats, just like you can’t solve ALL problems with diplomacy, you won’t be able to solve all problems by going on a killing spree;
  • there will be reasons to specialize in combat because there will be fights that will require “maximum effort”, such fights will offer you optional challenge (and great rewards) and will never be mandatory;
  • multiple points of interest, focus on exploration, blocked/hard to get into areas accessible via combat, stealth, diplomacy;

And finally some concept art (some new, some old for people who are just joining us) to illustrate this update: [...]

Wednesday - September 27, 2017

The New World - The Mutants

by Silver, 03:07

The September update for The New World focuses on the Mutants faction.

Let's start with our Design Goals:

Mutants are a time-honored staple of the generation ship genre, plus it’s an opportunity to do something interesting and add a radically different faction to the three ‘grounded in reality’ factions (totalitarianism, revolutionary democracy, theocracy) controlling the Ship.

The mutants should be viewed as abominations by some (meaning they should look ‘different’), yet still considered humans by more open-minded folks, meaning the mutants aren’t the hulking brutes of Fallout or the over the top two-headed, three-armed mutants of The Orphans of the Sky.

Thus when it comes to design, we’ll use the human model (making the grateful animator’s life much easier), which means that all we have to work with are the portrait and ‘accessories’, which limits our options.

Overall, the mutants aren’t monsters to kill but a forced evolutionary branch, a not-so-glorious beginning of a new race, perhaps what our distant ancestors were to the Neanderthals. Naturally, the Sapiens are a notoriously violent race so any challenger will have a very hard time trying to knock them off the throne.

To survive and establish the foothold, the mutants must have a specific purpose (to explain why they weren’t exterminated before) and their own source of strength (to explain why they haven’t been enslaved yet). The best way is to tie all three (mutation, purpose, strength) together:

The mutation makes them uniquely suitable for the engine/reactor work, which no ‘normal’ human would be able to do, which is enough to ensure their survival. This same talent makes the mutants the best scavengers, able to explore areas that remain off-limit to most humans due to radiation, which means they have plenty of pre-Mutiny (i.e. Earth-made) tech.

Such tech isn’t exclusive to the mutants (they aren’t a twisted form of Fallout’s Brotherhood of Steel hoarding all the good stuff) but it makes them a well-equipped ‘faction’, capable of protecting themselves against random attacks.

History

The Ship had suffered extensive damage during the civil war that followed the mutiny. The hull was breached in several places and the reactor was crippled during frantic efforts to avoid a meltdown. The radiation level had increased greatly in some areas of the Ship.

When a small percentage of children in the Habitat were first born deformed, they were immediately shunned and rejected for men always fear that which is different. The young were abandoned, and those whose defects didn't manifest until later were branded Mutants and driven out of the Habitat. Yet the leaking reactor had to be looked after and who better to do it than those already touched by radiation?

Thus, out of necessity, the engine work and electronics were taught to the outcasts by Engineering Officers, and out of "charity" Christianity was introduced by the missionaries. As the number of outcast Mutants grew, they began to settle in what had come to be known as the Engine Room, the vast open space providing access to the Ship’s engines and reactor. With the condition of the fusion reactor degrading to dangerous levels, and the number of volunteers for jobs in areas exposed to radiation remaining few, the Mutants approached the Habitat to negotiate the Covenant, a pact granting the Mutants protection from harassment and violence in exchange for their maintenance of the engines and other vital ship systems.

Living and working in the radioactive umbra of the damaged reactor greatly increased mortality rates for the outcasts, but many generations of shortened lives, afflicted with mutations both minor and severe, have resulted in a people fully adapted to the toxic environment. The resemblance of this new lineage to their pure human ancestors grows more superficial with each passing generation.

[...]

Thursday - August 24, 2017

The New World - Systems Update

by Silver, 14:52

The latest update from The New World focuses on systems design and includes pictures of stats tables and other interesting stuff.

CSG update #18 - systems overview, second iteration

The character system's highlights:

Strength increases *max* melee damage by 1 per stat point (from -2 to +4), so if a melee weapon's range is 4-10 and you have STR 8, then your damage range is 4-12, not 6-12 the way it works in most games, including AoD. If your STR is 4, then your damage range is 4-8. Thus STR gives you potential damage you may or may not roll rather than guaranteed +X to whatever you roll. Before you start complaining, high STR unlocks a feat reducing your attack speed with two-handed weapons, so it's not a dump stat.

Dexterity: DEX+10 (instead of AoD's DEX+2), so the new AP range is 14-20. Weapons' speed will go up a bit for balance reasons but in general you'll have 5 more action points per turn compared to AoD.

Constitution: 10+(CONx5), so the new HP range is 30-60. As before your HP won't be increased when you level up, so don't expect to have 200 HP by the end of the game. Also, CON determines how many implants your body can handle (CON-3). So if your CON is 4, your body can accept only one implant. If your CON is 10, you can get all 7 implants (provided you manage to acquire all 7, of course).

Perception determines your THC bonus, from -10 at PER 4 to +20 at PER 10, as well as your chance to react in combat. Intelligence determines the number of tagged skills that grow at a much faster rate, from 1 at INT4 to 4 at INT10. Charisma determines the number of party members, 1 extra follower at CHA4, 3 at CHA8.

All stats will be checked in dialogues and text adventure elements. CON, INT, and PER will determine your "non-armor" resistances (physical, mental, sensory), which will be checked in combat when grenades and gadgets come in play.

Feats:

We didn't have feats in AoD, so it's an uncharted area and there are many ways to handle it. For example, Fallout had a traditional setup where you get crap feats like Toughness at level 3 and literally killer feats like Slayer or Sniper at level 18 (53 feats overall, although most guides think that only 6 feats are must-have). DnD favors prerequisites: to get Whirlwind, not only you must have higher INT but also Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack, which is a lot of feats you may or may not need to get the one you really want.

We started with a Fallout-like setup and about 80 feats (everything we could think of and then some), then removed all filler, reworked the rest and ended up with exactly 40 feats. We ditched the level requirements, leaving the stat and skill requirements for 12 feats. We will do our best to balance them and make sure they are all useful (at least to certain builds) but the list looks pretty good so far.

We're aiming for 10 levels, meaning you get 10 feats out of 40. Some examples:

  • Lone Wolf (no party members): +10 to evasion, +5% CS chance
  • Adrenaline Rush: +10% CS chance, +20% CS damage when 5HP or less
  • Second Wind: +2AP on kill
  • Gunfighter: +25% chance to trigger a reaction attack
  • Overclocked: Double the implants' bonus, reduce HP by 15
  • Eye for an Eye: Chance to trigger a reaction attack equal to damage taken (stackable with other bonuses)

So the idea is that you don't work your way up to killer feats but gain abilities and increase your bonuses. No single feat on its own will make you a killing machine. Take reaction fire, for example (think AoD's interrupt and counter-attacks rolled into one). Your chance to "react" is determined by your PER, your weapon's bonuses (revolvers have the highest bonus), and feats. Much like AoD's passive bonuses that make a noticeable difference between a novice with a spear and a master capable of holding his enemies at bay, there will be a noticeable difference between a character with 5% reaction chance and 50%. Same goes for criticals or bonus AP or other stats and abilities.

Weapons:

As mentioned previously, there are 3 main categories (melee, firearms, energy) corresponding to 3 different damage types (melee, projectile, energy). Each category has different sub-categories to ensure that you have enough tactical variety. For example, if you're a boxing enthusiast, you can go with brass knuckles, push daggers, and combat gloves, including power gloves if you want to put your energy cells to good use.

If you like pistols, you have 3 types of weapons to choose from:

Long Barrel - best accuracy, range, and penetration, THC bonus with aimed attacks, relatively low rate of fire
Multi Barrel - best grazing and critical range, very short effective range (basically, an "up close and personal" pistol), capable of firing two barrels at once
Revolvers - compared to the other two, it's an average pistol that doesn't excel at anything but doesn't have any drawbacks either. However, it does have the highest reaction fire bonus and the highest rate of fire (on average)

Now about rate of fire: so far it takes 4AP to aim and fire a pistol. We've experimented with different attack costs (like 4 to 6AP for pistols but decided against it for now). Thus the main factors that determine the overall rate of fire are the magazine and reload speed.

A crappy long barrel pistol requires a reload after each shot, which raises the actual attack rate to 6AP. A mid-range pistol can be loaded with 3 bullets, which drops the attack rate to 5AP. A semi-automatic pistol a-la Mauser can take ten 9mm bullets, which reduces the "adjusted" attack rate to 4.3AP. To be clear, the actual attack rate is still 4AP and the adjusted rate represents your ability to fire 10 times without reloading (versus firing 6 times with a revolver and then reloading).

There are 5 ammo types, each with its own modifiers in terms of damage, penetration, and critical chance/damage.

Armor:

We started with a 5-piece setup: helmet, chest, left arm, right arm, boots, which works best in a fantasy game, so we changed it to helmet, jacket, tactical vest, and boots. Each item has 3 damage resistance stats (melee, projectile, energy) plus the already familiar Max AP and evasion/sneaking penalties. You'll be able to upgrade your armor, increasing DR and reducing penalties, but the upgrade slots will be limited and won't be done in a linear fashion the way we did it in AoD since we have 3 different DR types now.

Sunday - August 20, 2017

The New World - Interview @ GoHa

by Hiddenx, 07:39

GoHa has interviewed Vault Dweller aubout The New World - A Generation Ship RPG:

Original Russian version / English version from the RPGCodex:

1 One of the things I liked the most about AoD was the way you introduced the player to the game lore and history. Hints were scattered all around the game, sometimes requiring a couple of playthroughs to learn about a single history moment, while still questioning the sources.

Are you planning to introduce the Ship’s history and past event the same way? Or use a narrator?


The overall setup is different, which calls for a different approach. In AoD the past was long forgotten yet still relevant to the main quest. As one of the reviews said, “it plays out like noir in that you are the detective, piecing together what really happened from differing accounts...”.

In The New World the past is neither forgotten nor relevant. If I have to draw a parallel, it would be the American Civil War. Everyone knows what happened (at least the big picture) and nobody really cares (except for the historians and reenactors) because they have bigger things to worry about: jobs, bills to pay, and things that are happening today.

So we won’t dwell on the past either and will focus on “today’s problems”. As for introducing the setting, we’ll do it in steps to ease people into it.

Step 1 – the old school questionnaire when you create your character:

The Ship was launched by a neo-Christian Conglomerate dedicated to establishing a Christian colony on a distant world. Fifty thousand volunteers had boarded the ship, becoming the First Generation, the foundation of the future colony. True believers in the Mission who sacrificed much, they demanded the same obedience to the laws of the Mission and God from their children.

Unfortunately, the generations that followed didn’t have the same burning need to sacrifice and suffer for the good of the future colony. Dissatisfaction led to mutiny, mutiny to an open revolt against the perceived tyranny, the revolt to a civil war. While the mutineers succeeded in striking down the old order, they failed to eradicate it completely. The Ship had suffered extensive damage but remained operational.

Three main factions emerged from the ashes of the old order: the Protectors of the Mission, The Brotherhood of Liberty, and the Church of the Elect. They offer different answers and different salvations to those who’d join their cause.


You’ve always thoughts that:

1.Rebelling against an established order was a mistake. It may not have been perfect but it was better than chaos that followed.
2.The mutineers did the right thing. Why should entire generations be chained to the beliefs of their ancestors?
3.It was God’s will for the old order to fall. The mutineers were his unwitting agents who thought they acted on their own, but it was His Plan all along.
4.The more things change the more they stay the same, so why worry about it?


The questionnaire will define your character’s beliefs and introduce the setting’s key aspects and events that your character should know.

Step 2 – in-game conversations, introducing lesser but still important aspects:

/gun store

“Well,” says the man, scratching his stubble, “the Mutiny drained the ammunition depots pretty fast and that was what, a hundred years ago? The Ship was provisioned with weapons to secure the future colony, not to fight a civil war.”

“So there are no energy cells left?”

“I’m sure there are a few cells left here and there, but they’re worth a lot of money, so only a fool would use them to charge a gun. Fortunately, there are less fancy but still effective alternatives.”


/medical bay

“Your organs are a product of evolution; their performance is limited by your body’s natural needs. The implants don’t have such limitations and the only restricting factor is how many implants you can handle.”

“What do you mean?”

“The implants tax your body and once you hit that natural limit, your body will reject all further attempts. Few people are tough enough to handle more than five implants so choose carefully. Once an implant is in, it can’t be removed without killing you.”

“Why?”

“Suppose you get your hands on Exo-Spine. It reinforces your vertebral column and taps into your spinal cord. The machine does its work and now you’re stronger and capable of feats you couldn’t even dream of before. A few months later you decide that you’re better off without it but the implant is connected to every vertebrae and spinal nerve. If we remove it, at best you’ll be paralyzed. At worst…”


Step 3 – key characters’ intro, same as in AoD:

Rumor has it that Captain Braxton once served a higher power, that in the days before his crisis of faith and the subsequent falling out with the Church of the Elect he was known as Faithful Gunner Jeremiah Braxton. Speculation about why he left is abundant, but as is often the case no story is more compelling than the others.

Backed up by a few like-minded men and picking up more willing recruits along the way, Braxton left the Church behind and ended up in the Pit, a place where reliable fighting men are always in demand. Around the time of his arrival, the Brotherhood had started showing a keen interest in the Pit, eager to establish a foothold there. Braxton and his newly christened Regulators offered the good people of the Pit their services and after much debate they were hired to drive the Brotherhood’s men out, which was accomplished with brutal efficiency.

[...]

Thanks Infinitron for posting the English version!

Tuesday - July 18, 2017

The New World - Status Report & Art Pipeline

by Silver, 03:59

There is another The New World update. This one addresses where the game is at and the art pipeline, showing the process behind it.

Our next milestone is the combat demo (don't ask me when), which is practically a game in itself as it requires pretty much everything: the character system, the combat system (attacks and NPCs' AI and pathfinding), the armor system, the gadgets, inventory, two hundred items (give or take) just to get the ball rolling, the interface, and god knows what else. It's a very complex task with a lot of moving parts that take awhile to define and even longer to implement. Here is Nick's status update:

Now, more detailed changelog since end of June:

- The core element of combat system - attacks, stored and edited in a data table. Open "AttacksDB" asset in Content\Gameplay\Combat\Attacks\ to check it out. Configure an attack, then when editing a weapon, assign all the attacks it supports;
- General TNW animation system setup;
- Game states and player input states: game running, paused, busy (like when you see the hourglass cursor). The AI shouldn't think when the game is not running, the player shouldn't spam commands when PC is in the middle of attacking, that kind of stuff;
- Interactive cursor, proper cursor scales and hotspots;
- Setting up the human animation state machine. Simply put, it's a network of nodes and connections between them, where a node is animation type (idle, aiming, attacking, dying, etc) and the connection is a rule which controls the transition between nodes;
- Added idle animations, implemented triggering idle variations;
- Coded in combat structure, phases, implemented combat start/end;
- Added pistol and rifle animation sets;
- Implemented relative aiming and full body rotations towards enemy, wrote a framework of math functions to support that;
- Unified the world interactive objects within one class hierarchy;
- Pathfinding update: made characters path around each other in realtime movement, instead of bumping into one another. Finally got to implementing characters occupying (owning) tiles in the combat mode (see red squares on grid), updated grid object instanced mesh components to visually reflect that;

As you can see, most of this stuff sounds pretty basic, but every item on this list is a leap forward and a critical piece of game infrastructure.


Now that "where the game's at?" question has been answered, let's look at our art pipeline. Years ago Brian Mitsoda asked me about our art pipeline. I proudly told him that our pipeline's name is Oscar, but that was a long time ago and things have changed since then:

Step 1 is a rough Excel layout:
[...]

Wednesday - July 05, 2017

The New World - New Website

by Hiddenx, 20:42

Iron Tower Studio created a new website for The New World:

In the Year of Our Lord 2754…

You will never feel the sun’s warmth under a blue sky, never hear the wind in the branches of a tree, and never swim in the ocean, because you had the misfortune to be born on the Ship. You have never seen Earth, and you’ll never see Proxima Centauri either, your past and future both sacrificed by some dim and nameless ancestor to the greater good of the Mission.

Starfarer, they called her, a pretty name for a retrofitted interplanetary freighter. She had already been twenty years in service when she was rechristened, and showing every minute of it. No one is certain the Ship will actually reach its destination, and nobody much cares, since no one alive now will live to see it. Might as well get on with your life and try to make the best of it.

The New World is an isometric, party-based RPG inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. Your character's world is a “generation ship,” a massive spacecraft on a centuries long voyage to colonize a distant planet. The Ship's original government has been disbanded following a violent mutiny and you must negotiate a treacherous path among your fellow passengers and the contentious factions striving to dominate the Ship. Your choices alone will determine who your friends and enemies are.
  • Skill-based character system, with feats and biological implants.
  • Tactical turn-based combat, featuring standard as well as targeted attacks and weapon-specific special attacks such as Fanning and Long Burst.
  • Multiple quest solutions, mutually exclusive questlines, and a branching main storyline.
  • 12 recruitable party members with different personalities, agendas, and beliefs.
  • 3 main factions and a score of lesser factions and groups.
  • A large arsenal including melee weapons, firearms, energy pistols, grenades, and fancy electronic gadgets like the Reality Distortion Field.
  • 16 environments to explore, from the Engine Room and Hydroponics Lab to the dystopian cities of the Habitat and the Wasteland, the now uncharted corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny.

The Ship was launched by a neo-Christian conglomerate dedicated to establishing a religious colony on a distant world. The original fifty thousand passengers, the so-called First Generation, were true believers in the Mission. They sacrificed whatever lives they had on Earth and demanded strict obedience to the laws of God and the Ship from their children.

Unfortunately, the generations that followed lacked their forebears’ fervent will to sacrifice. Dissatisfaction led to open revolt against the authorities, called the Mutiny, and the mutiny metastasized into a civil war. While the mutineers dealt a decisive blow to the old order, they did not eradicate it completely. When the fires died and the smoke finally dissipated, three factions emerged from the wreckage of the old order: the Protectors of the Mission, The Brotherhood of Liberty, and the Church of the Elect, each of them promising their own version of the future.

[...]

Saturday - June 03, 2017

The New World - Iron Tower's new RPG

by Hiddenx, 08:10

Iron Tower's RPG in development got a name: The New World - A Generation Ship RPG:

What do people think of when they hear "The New World", absent a video game?

  • a time when people were migrating in their millions across the Atlantic to the strife and uncertainty of an unknown destination
  • people fleeing an awful life of toil for a new almost entirely unknown life, which unbeknownst to them would also be full of toil
  • people of all different religions, origins and castes jammed together on the voyage; even rich and poor, otherwise always segregated, shared the same boat
  • European pioneers, the migration West, the Mayflower, colonization, it's a package of all the sub-themes

What will people see when they're playing the game?

  • The passengers of the Ship are headed to a New World
  • The Ship itself is a New World, away from Earth for so many generations it might as well be a myth
  • The player is like one of those hapless migrants of the five hundred year migration to North America, surrounded by conflicting factions, different religions, philosophies and ideals
  • The player is headed for the absolutely unknown in a chaotic, dangerous environment where he must live by violence or his wits

Other benefit: the name doesn't sound like any current computer games, or suggest other types of computer games. Like The Age of Decadence it really stands alone. So while at first glance it seems bland, in very few words it completely identifies the practical details of the game *and* the philosophical underpinnings of the game. It's not perfect, but I think it's the best we've come up with and likely the best we ever will come up.

* * *
Stealth System Overview:

You know what to expect (more or less) from the character, combat, and dialogue systems. A proper stealth system is something new, which means there are many exciting ways to screw it up. So let's take a look at the rough "on paper" concept and get some feedback. Keep in mind that The New World isn't a stealth-focused game like Thief and we can't allocate all our limited resources to the stealth system alone. Having said that, we do want to offer an interesting and well-designed alternative solution to many side quests and a well-supported path through the game (like the talker's way in AoD - you couldn't talk your way in and out of every situation but you could talk your way through the game).

Let's start by giving you a specific example from one of the early quests and then go over the features. You need some energy cores, one of the scavenger crews has them, so you can either talk to them (pay a lot of money or con them like a pro), kill 'em all (always popular), or sneak around and do some breaking and entering.

There’s a built-in air purifier out back, you can use your Mechanics skill to open the hatch, making some noise in the process. If nobody comes to investigate, you enter the premises and TB stealth mode. The crew's leader is in the room next door, drunk after celebrating a successful run (if you come back later, he will be more alert). We check if he heard the noise. If he didn’t, he stays where he is. You need to make your way to a locked strongbox. Each step generates some noise, if he hears it, he goes to investigate. Finally, lockpicking the stronghold generates some noise too. So again, if he hears it, he goes to investigate. If not, he remains where he is and you get away clean.

If he does hear the noise, he goes to investigate, heading for the place where the noise originated from, meaning you should get as far away from that place as possible (as far as your AP allow, which means that sneaking will require high Dex and proper feats) or ambush him.

If he sees you (i.e. you're caught in his cone of vision), he goes for his gun, otherwise he starts searching. During the searching phase, if he comes close to you but doesn’t see you, you get an optional interrupt allowing you to insta-kill him using your trusted Critical Strike skill. Failing the attempt starts combat. You can also attempt to sneak up on him and kill him during your turn. If he sees you, he gets an interrupt attack and shoots you in the face.

Details:

1) Each action (movement, lockpicking, hacking, etc) is assigned noise points. The points, modified by your gear and Stealth) will add up with each action and will determine whether or not an NPC acting as 'guard' is alerted and goes to investigate.

So in this case you open up the hatch, the guard hears a light click but ignores it. You step inside, he hears something but ignores it too. You take several steps and finally get the guard's attention, raising his alert level. You success depends not a dice roll but on your skills and gear (either you can stay below the guard's radar or you can't). You can trigger his alert level the moment you step inside or when you make it to the strongbox and open it. Each subsequent action increases the alert level. A good thief can clean up the entire room, a not-so-good thief would have to stick to his objective and consider himself lucky if he isn't caught.

2) The movement’s noise points start at 1 and go up with every step (i.e. with every tile). It’s not that the third step makes more noise than the first two but the act of walking produces more noise than taking a single step (i.e. a single footstep may not be enough to trigger a guard’s attention but 3 footsteps might, plus it takes more skill to silently cross a hallway than to take a step or two). Thus more challenging tasks will require much higher skill levels and better gear. Same goes for optional objectives.

3) Your skills and gear will modify the noise points. For gear, we won’t go with % penalty but with +1, +2, etc. So if you wearing army boots with +2 and metal armor with +3, but your Stealth is 5, you generate 1+2+3-5 =1 points plus 1 with each step. Remove the armor and it will take a lot longer to make enough noise to alert the guards but if you’re caught, you’ll be wearing nothing but your jumpsuit.

4) Each guard's alert level is determined by his PER, something like 15-PER. So a guard with PER 8 will be alerted when you generate more noise points than 7. Thus the goal for the player is to have the right gear (not just the armor but the tools of the trade like jammers and electronic lockpicks) to reduce noise (if it takes you 5 min to open a lock, odds are you'll make more noise than someone who can open it in 30 sec). Overall, longer infiltration missions are much harder to pull off than shorter/simpler ones, which makes sense (without relying on higher checks, I mean).

5) In more open areas you can move freely during your turn. As long as the guards won't see you or won't become alert, you'll be able to get in and out without any problems. Getting caught doesn't always mean combat and painful, vividly described death. The exact outcome will differ based on each situation. Maybe your designated thief (can be you or any member of your crew) can talk his/her way out. Maybe the guards rob the thief and throw him/her out. Maybe they kill him or maybe they yell "we have your guy, come out!" and then you either come out and talk or leave him to his fate (to be killed).

Wednesday - May 17, 2017

Colony Ship RPG - Gadgets & Grenades

by Myrthos, 10:44

In a new update for the Colony Ship RPG, the use of gadgets and grenades i sbeing discussed.

As mentioned in the previous updates, the gadgets and grenades will be used extensively, so let’s take an early look to gather feedback and suggestions.

Originally we planned to go with 10-12 gadgets but after some considerations we turned some gadgets into grenades and stimulants (i.e. turned them into ‘while supplies last’ items), so here are the semi-final categories:Gadgets aka upgradeable Earth-made tactical devices

  • Earth-made (i.e. high tech) grenades
  • Ship-made (i.e. low tech) grenades
  • Earth-made combat stimulants

Gadgets:

Energy Shield -  generates a shield acting as cover (this way you don’t need to look for cover but can create it yourself); the shield absorbs X damage per attack until depleted, so the stats are:
- damage absorbed
- shield’s HP
- recharge rate

Reality Distortion Field – deflects projectiles, making much harder to hit you (i.e. THC penalty)
- THC penalty
- chance to deflect projectiles
- duration (number of turns)

Hologram Projector aka DnD Simulacrum aka that thing Arnold used in Total Recall – creates a copy of your character, drawing enemy’s fire. Since even today we have small plasma holograms you can interact with, it’s safe to assume that in the future this tech will be a lot more advanced so…
- # of copies
- THC penalty against the copies (distortion field around them)
- copies’ HP

Cloaking Field – makes you very hard to detect
- chance that a guard won't see you if you're in his line of sight
- defense against electronic detection systems (rank-based)
- duration

Basically, the bunker (energy shield), commando (disruption field; for characters who have strong offensive (high rate of fire, high crits, etc) as when the effect wears off if you're still surrounded by enemies, you're dead), confusion (hologram projector, works best with grenades), ninja-assassin.

Only one gadget can be active at a time but you can activate a different gadget at any time. Keep in mind that activating a gadget will drain its power cell and you’ll have to recharge it which is costly, so you won’t be able to use all gadgets in every single fight. You will be able to upgrade your gadgets by acquiring higher quality power cells, emitters, pulsers, disruptors, reflectors, etc.

Thnaks Screeg.

Wednesday - April 05, 2017

Colony Ship RPG - Introducing the Setting in-game

by Silver, 03:36

Colony Ship RPG has another update on the Iron Tower forums. This one explores how the setting will be introduced to the player in-game.

Introducing something new and different isn't an easy task. A fantasy game like AoD offers many familiar concepts: a local lord in charge of a town, different guilds, rival Houses, traveling preachers, etc. None of it raises any questions or requires any lengthy explanations.

The Colony Ship Game is very different and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of concepts that need to be explained without overwhelming the player with the new info. That's one of the reasons you start the game in the Pit, the container town, instead of the much stranger Habitats. It offers some familiarity and gives you plenty of second-hand information from other people.

The Pit will give you two locations: the relatively safe "main street" and the not so safe "bad part of town". Overall, it will give you more places of interest and things to do than Teron, including an arena that will allow you to test your character fairly early and figure out your limits. Did I say arena? I meant the Courthouse:

"This, my friend, is the cornerstone of justice in our little town," he says with pride. "Welcome to the Courthouse."
"I thought the Pit was a barbaric outpost where people went to hide from the law."
"No, no, far from it! We abide by the Constitution, and much more strictly than those fools in the Habitats. Every accused man in the Pit is guaranteed to have his day in court and face his accuser, just like the Constitution says. If said accuser is unable to make an appearance, an Arbiter appointed by the Court will take his place."
"What about the trial?"
"If the defendant slays his accuser, or the aforementioned Arbiter, he's cleared of all charges and released. If the defendant falls to the accuser he is declared guilty. Posthumously, of course."
"That's what you call a trial?"
"All contests conform to the process of law," he says with a reassuring pat on your shoulder, "and here is where our method is superior: it is immune to the corrupting influence of money. Try to find a system like that in the Habitats. Haw!"
"You mentioned a job."
"We're running low on legal representation for the prosecution," he admits with a sad shake of his head. "Lost three Arbiters last week in a string of challenging cases."


Other notable locations include the Regulators, a local church, a whorehouse, a prison, a gambling den, various stores, and entire town "blocks" occupied by different crews of scavengers and other men of ill repute. They will provide you with some bits of common knowledge as well as quests properly introducing other locations:

Cole:

"Combat tech and implants." He taps the data jack on the side of his head. "The good stuff, extracted with care and rehabilitated for my more moneyed customers."
"Extracted?"
"You know they don't make new ones, so where do you think they come from? Now take a look at this beauty." Cole dangles a small ball, made of some smooth, shiny substance, from a bundle of ultrathin translucent wires. As it slowly pivots, you see on its reverse side a much worn bar-code and brown spots that look like dried blood.

"Excellent pedigree," says Cole. "Four previous owners, no registered complaints, and still performs up to factory specs. It's a basic model though, which is why I'd be willing to practically give it to you for twenty chips."
"What is it?"
Cole shows you the recessed lens on the underside, the "pupil" of the device, ringed by an impossibly blue iris.


Solomon Kane:

"God has everything to do with it!" The preacher moves closer, closer than you like, leaning well into your personal space. "It is by the Lord's grace alone that the Ship was launched, and by His grace alone shall She arrive at that land He promised us so very long ago.

"And it was written," he shouts, the tendons of his neck leaping up, "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. The words of millennia ago, my son, millennia, for the truth of His word is eternal."
"Who are the Canaanites?"
"Those who dwell in the Promised Land, those who wait open-armed to embrace the righteous when, and only when, we prove our devotion to the Lord."
"Do you really believe that?"
"Did the Israelites not wander the desert for forty years before He allowed them into the Promised Land? Why did they go for so long without a home? They were not ready. The Israelites must first make their children worthy of the Lord's grace, and only then were those children allowed to set foot in the Promised Land."

[...]

Wednesday - February 22, 2017

Colony Ship RPG - Factions' Headquarters

by Silver, 08:30

Iron Tower Studios has posted another update for Colony Ship RPG and has concept art for each area. This update focuses on factions' headquarters.

We're picking up speed and working on the starting town (the Pit) putting together the very first level. The new engine makes a huge difference and so far everything is going very smoothly, but obviously we're still in the early stages.

The writing for the starting town is almost done, the quests will require 14 portraits and Mazin is already working on the first two, so we can dedicate the next update to the Pit, introduce some characters and tell you what to expect design wise. Our new concept artist is still working on the locations.

[...]

The Habitat - The Brotherhood of Liberty:

The Brotherhood was formed to liberate the people from the iron shackles of the Ship Authority. Though their first sally -which the fossils of the old world denigrate with the term "mutiny"- failed to completely achieve this aim, the Brotherhood was successful in establishing themselves as a power to be reckoned with. More importantly, their ideals of liberty and freedom are now discussed everywhere.

The Brotherhood's initially pure goal, to free the enslaved wherever they may be, has unfortunately been sullied by the practical concerns of democracy. If the Brotherhood had had access to the older histories they would have realized that democracies beget their own factions, factions which cannot be put down with violence for now they are within. The Executive Council was also forced to consider issues like the right to vote, and whether it should be granted freely to all, or earned through service to the state. The first generation earned their rights rebelling against the tyrants, whereas the youth of today have forgotten even the names of those heroes. Easily swayed by rhetoric and bribed with cheap comforts, these layabouts could hardly be less concerned with such abstractions as liberty and universal suffrage.

To bring freedom to the Ship entire must involve war, and no war may be won without sacrifice, nor may battles be managed by committee. The unwillingness to back high ideals with bloodshed is, as far as the Council is concerned, the reason for the recent losses against the Protectors. Yet any attempt to limit majority rule must be interpreted as a retreat from the ideals upon which the Brotherhood's very identity is based. If every decision, even those which mean death to some of the Brotherhood's own citizens, must first be approved by a majority, how is it possible even to start?

The Brotherhood's mindset is that of a group under siege that must remain vigilant and stand ready to repel the invaders. Their government building is not a tall and proud spire (that can be brought down) but a bunker-like structure. Turtle vs Eagle.

Unlike the Protectors who carry the torch of the centuries old Mission, holding it sacrosanct, the Brotherhood's ideology is far less stable. What started as an anarchist uprising driven by the desire to free the people (whether they wanted or not) was slowly transformed into a different form of tyranny - that of the majority. Hard won freedom had to give way to security and the great struggle against the Protectors. Some might even argue that the Protectors and the Brotherhood are two sides of the same coin and question the wisdom of the mutineers who replaced one authoritative state with another.

* * *
The Habitat - The Church of the Elect (the Garden of Eden district)

As inevitably happens in dark and challenging times, some citizens turn to God for reassurance, the promise of an end to pain and hunger. Or failing an end, at least a purpose.

The Church of the Elect rejected both the Protectors of the Mission and the Brotherhood of Liberty as worldly fools distracted by politics and their own egos. Teaching their adherents that they were chosen by God, the Church frames the journey of the Ship as a centuries-long test of faith. We all face a series of difficult trials, yes, but with a very definite end.

When the Ship arrives at her destination, Judgement Day awaits every citizen. The righteous will be welcomed into the Promised Land of Alpha Centauri-4, while the unrepentant will be returned to the Hell from which we fled -Earth- to suffer for all eternity.

Led by the Chaplain-General, the Church of the Elect is a militant organization. While Christ was undoubtedly a man of peace, what he preached on Earth does not strictly apply in the void of space. Extraordinary challenges require exceptional measures, for even Jesus can't do much for an unarmed man.

The Church represents militant Christianity as no other kind would have lasted long against the Protectors whose God is the Mission or the Brotherhood that sees God as yet another master. As far as the Church is concerned, both the Protectors and the Brotherhood as living proof that men who don't follow the teaching of Jesus Christ to the letter are bound to get lost. It's obvious that the Ship won't arrive to the Promised Land until everyone follows the same guiding light, thus it's the Church's holy duty to save the Mission and land the Ship.

* * *

As always, your feedback and comments are welcome. I updated the 'concept art' thread to keep all art in one place.

http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,7244.0.html

Wednesday - January 11, 2017

Colony Ship RPG - Character & Inventory Systems

by Silver, 09:13

Colony Ship RPGs new update focuses on character and inventory systems. To see a visual mockup of the interface check out the Iron Tower studio forum here.

Key Concepts:

1. Tagged Skills

The tagged skills will increase at a faster rate (let's say x1.25). INT will no longer give overall XP bonuses but define the number of tagged skills instead (up to 6 tagged skills at INT10). Thus a smart person will be able to excel in a larger number of disciplines.

2. Party-Based Mechanics used in DR

Charisma will determine the number and quality of your party members. The party size will range from 2 to 4. Experience points from quests will be split between the human party members (a droid will have its own leveling up mechanics and won't cost you any XP), thus a smaller party will be able to gain levels faster.

3. Feats & Character Levels

Your characters will gain levels using experience points from quests. When you level up, you'll select feats, unlocking or improving your abilities. The feats will be an important aspect of character development (i.e. they won't give you minor bonuses but help you develop your characters along specific paths: lone wolf vs squad leader, offense vs defense, gunslinger vs sprayer or gadgeteer, melee vs ranged, which will go beyond which skill to develop, etc) and make as much of a difference as the skills levels.

The skills will determine your chance of success with certain tasks and the feats will define what you can do and how you can use these skills to maximum advantage. Basically, the feats will define your character much more than your skills.

4. Skills & Learn by Using

You will not gain XP for killing, talking, sneaking, picking locks, using computers, fixing mechanical things and such. You will not increase your skills manually. Instead your skills will be increased automatically based on their use.

The main problem with a party-based, skill-based setup is that even with a 3-man party you can easily cover all skills you want to have. You'll have a fighter/talker, fighter/thief, fighter/fixer, which is something we'd like to avoid. The ‘increase by use' system solves this problem in the most natural and logical way possible. Your abilities reflect what you do, not how (usually arbitrary) you distribute your skill points.
It reinforces our party-based goals. If you let one of the party members do all the repair work while you concentrate on other areas, losing this party member would hit you hard and you'd have to make sure (via choices made during quests) that he/she would stay with you no matter what.
It rewards consistent gameplay. Let's say you need to deal with a gang that stands between you and that door over there. If you kill them, everyone's combat skills will improve a bit. If you talk your way through, only your dialogue skills will go up.


Instead of counting how many times you did something, we'll assign a certain value (let's call it learning points) to each activity (attacking, killing, fixing, sneaking, convincing, lying, etc). So killing a tough enemy or repairing a reactor will net you more points than killing a weakling or fixing a toaster. Basically, it will work the same way as XP but go directly toward raising the skill that did all the work.

1-10 ranks with hidden grandmaster ranks going above 10. So essentially a 1-20 system. Basically, we don't want someone to max a skill and then have the xp go to waste, so we will allow raising the skill above 10 in the unlikely event of someone going over 10 via extreme specialization.

5. Evasion

Evasion is a DEX & PER based skill. It doesn't give you a chance to avoid attacks like AoD Dodge but rather makes you harder to target, reducing THC against you. Each rank reduces THC by 5% up to 50% at slvl10. Against melee attacks Evasion is twice as effective (i.e. 10% THC reduction per rank).

6. Stats:

STR - carry weight, melee damage bonus, min requirements for heavy (two-handed) weapons like plasma canons.
DEX - determines AP (Dex + 2) and combat sequence; same as in DR
CON - determines HP (CON x 5)+10, number of implants, and resistance to poison, knockdowns, criticals and other harmful effects while in combat. The goal is to make toughness more than just hit points as +5 hit points don't really make much difference. So the focus should be on resisting harmful effects. Implants: 1 at CON4, 2 at CON5, 3 at CON6, 4 at CON7, 5 at CON8, 6 at CON9, 7 at CON10
PER - THC modifier for all weapons, reduces the effect of flashbang and smoke grenades.
INT - determines the number of tagged skills: 1 at INT4, 2 at INT6, 3 at INT8 , 4 at INT10. Reduces Brainwave Disruptor effects.
CHA - determines the party size, 1 follower at CHA5, 2 at CHA7, 3 at CHA9; max party size is 4


7. Implants

In most cases the implants won't give you direct bonuses (cellular regeneration and subdermal armor are the only combat implants) but will assist with "gated content", either allowing to bypass stat checks or unlocking extra content in the first place (like interfacing with the ship's systems via a bridge officer's datajack). Basically, the implants are closer to what we did in AoD than to Shadowrun, in case anyone's wondering.

8. Reputation

General reputation will be checked in dialogues, but it will also give the players a better idea of what they missed via low ranks. Personal beliefs will be shaped by your decisions and checked in dialogues. We'll start the game with 10 "old-school" questions which will both introduce the setting and define your character a little bit (the starting values).
* * *

Sunday - December 25, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Companions

by Silver, 19:08

The latest update for Colony Ship RPG focuses on companions.

As I've mentioned earlier, the CSG is a party-based game and the party dynamics will be one of the areas we'll focus on. There will be 12 potential companions (max party size is 4) filling different roles: psychotic paranoia, racial superiority, religious intolerance (works best when mixed with homicidal tendencies), political idealism, and other delightful personality quirks. In other words, the party members won't be loyal and obedient slaves but will have their own beliefs, agendas, and personality traits (or in some cases, programming).

To give you an idea, here is a quick overview of the top four gunmen who might be persuaded to join you (keep in mind that men of violence are rarely well adjusted individuals):

The Gunfighter - an unstable and somewhat paranoid (which is why he's still alive) gun for hire. He doesn't care which side he's fighting for as long as he gets paid. He doesn't have much patience for diplomacy or long winded conversations, and if he gets a bad feeling he goes for his guns. Being paranoid, he gets bad feelings a lot, so unless you like shooting your way in and out, consider getting someone else. Holding out on him might give him the wrong ideas about the partnership. Other than that he's a great guy to be around.

The Preacher - a man of God dedicated to saving sinners' immortal souls but showing a callous disregard for their mortal bodies. He'll join you if you join the Church of the Elect to make sure you deliver what you promised and keep you from having second thoughts. He won't act against the Church's interests and won't tolerate your lack of faith, should you ever display it (he would find it very disturbing). Once he's in your party, you either do what he says or you kill him, which will displease the Church greatly. You might think it's a bit harsh but religious fanatics rarely make great traveling companions and joining the Church is more than a cosmetic choice.

The Colonel - a former officer of the Protectors of the Mission, makes the best damn fried chicken on the ship. He failed the Mission one time too many and had to switch sides in order to avoid honorable death by firing squad of his peers. The Protectors want him dead more than ever and tried to kill him several times, so he's well motivated to help you, should you side with the Brotherhood. Then again, he's equally well motivated to fuck you over if it ends the "misunderstanding" with the Protectors and restores him to his rank and privileges afforded by it.

The Wastelander - a rather antisocial mutant who makes a living exploring the damaged areas of the ship and stripping them of anything valuable. Sort of the ‘mountain man' of the ship. He had a falling out with the Covenant, so now he bears a special hatred for all religious folks, including the Church. Religion is the only topic that can get him all worked up, so don't take him places where someone might ask if you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior. He will leave you if you join a faction, but if you're a "burn it to the ground" kinda guy, the Wastelander is your man.

[...]

Anyway, back to the party members...

Fortunately, there's one party member who's actually very easy to get along with - Unit Romeo Whiskey Sierra, model XV. When you first find this droid, it's barely more than some scrap metal, but if you put enough effort (not to mention Mechanical and Computer skills, as well as some missing modules), Romeo will blossom into a beautiful, murderous butterfly.

Flood lights, two built-in grenade launchers (brainwave disruptor and stasis field grenades if you can find them,
can be modified to use ship-made grenades (gas, flashbang, smoke), two plasma guns. You can replace pretty much
anything including the armor, building a heavier or much lighter, "dune buggy" style model.

* * *
/on activating it

"Place your weapons on the ground and move your hands to the back of your head." Though the droid is stripped of armaments, its voice conveys the perfect mixture of authority and threat. "Failure to comply will be considered an admission of treason, which carries the penalty of death. Absent an appeal, penalties are administered immediately."

1. "I don't see any weapons."
2. "Treason?"
3. Turn it off.

/weapons
"Apologies, Citizen. Your complaint has been forwarded to the Ship Authority interim auxiliary sub-office of Citizen Rights. Please allow 24 hours to verify the complaint and contact you with the response. Be advised that the penalty for filing a false complaint against an Autonomous Corrective Unit is one year penal labor."

/treason
"Be advised that ignorance of the law, rowdiness, and loitering are all breaches of your duties as a citizen. You have the option to make a voluntary confession in exchange for leniency. This offer is limited in duration: 30 seconds... 29... 28..."

/turn it off
"Unauthorized deactivation of an Autonomous Corrective Unit is punisha-"

/after rebooting it.

"Identify yourself."
"Autonomous Corrective Unit Romeo Whiskey Sierra, model XV. Primary protocol: Riot Suppression."

"Riots?"
"Riot: violation of Ship Authority Code Encouraging the Well-being and Positive Attitude of Citizens, Chapter IV, Section 12.0064; a criminal offense against public order involving three or more people."

Thursday - November 17, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Locations Overview

by Silver, 12:25

The latest developer update for Colony Ship RPG focuses on locations you can expect in the game. There are some pictures at the link provided showing the new art direction.

Now that DR is out, we return to our regularly scheduled program. So locations...

- 16 locations. Thematically, we can split them into 5 groups: engine (more than one area), "wasteland" (completely destroyed decks, including areas with zero gravity), cargo holds, residential, bridge.

- Most locations will be 'revisitable', i.e. you will have reasons (new objectives) to go back, which will boost reactivity when you get shot in the face.

- Each location is designed to support 3 main paths through the game: brute force, diplomacy, infiltration. Most locations are populated by various small groups and factions, so killing everyone will limit your endgame options, which is fitting.

- Many locations will have multiple levels and the "vertical element". We played with it in DR a bit:
(click to show/hide)
^ For those who didn't play the game, you're looking at the previously visited areas from a higher point you couldn't reach directly.

In the CSG, for example, you would be able to take a safe way through a certain area via the walkways (a toll road) and see the area below (and go down if you see something shiny) or if you're too cheap to pay make your way through the debris below and brave the dangers undoubtedly awaiting the unprepared.

- Most locations are interconnected in logical ways (i.e. not isolated areas), which will create many interesting opportunities for the explorers as well as occasional quest solutions for the gadgeteers.

In the past updates I've briefly introduced the Pit (the Freemen's Camp), the Hydroponics, the Armory, and the Shuttle Bay. The final "cargo hold" location is the Factory - a large industrial complex that was designed to teach the new generation various engineering skills and provide simulated environments to practice them. Today it's an abandoned and thus somewhat dangerous area connecting the Pit with the City. It's been stripped clean from the 'big ticket' items but there's plenty of junk left for the scavengers willing to risk their lives for a few coins.

Thursday - October 27, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - The Shuttle Bay

by Silver, 12:03

The Colony Ship RPG has another update. This one focuses on the area of the ship known as the Shuttle Bay and the Riflemen faction that inhabits it.

The Shuttle Bay

The Shuttle Bay

Like many locations overflowing with toxic masculinity it's guarded by unfriendly men with guns and low social awareness - a militia outfit known as Jackson Riflemen.

The Riflemen have a ‘complex' belief system that prevented them from allying with any major faction. They want to be free, so they are in agreement with the Brotherhood on many issues. At the same time, they value tradition, which is what the Protectors are selling. Last but not the least, they loosely follow the word of Jesus Christ - "read the Bible as interpreted by experts", which makes them open to the sermons of the Church of the Elect.

So the best way to explore this location is via "diplomacy" by securing an alliance with one of the factions which might be trickier than you think as the Riflemen aren't really a team player eager to take orders from the city slickers. If anything they are a force of chaos waiting for the right opportunity to be unleashed.

The second best way is by taking advantage of the new stealth system and sneaking in (just don't get caught as the Riflemen are a firm believer in capital punishment). The third best way, meaning the absolute worst way, is to attack this well-defended location head-on, but hey, it wouldn't be a role-playing game if we didn't let you do something stupid to learn a valuable lesson or two.

One of the endgame scenarios is an all-out war and the Riflemen are a good ally to have. They make (and trade) high-quality guns and even have a couple of riot freedom droids they managed to fix.

Sunday - September 04, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Concept Art

by Hiddenx, 05:58

Pladio spotted some nice concept art for the Colony Ship RPG made by Iron Towers Studio.

Friday - June 17, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Dev Diary #6 - Factions

by Silver, 07:26

Vault Dweller outlines the factions for his Colony Ship RPG in the latest development diary. Head to the link to read about the other factions: The Church of the Elect, Men of the Covenant, ECLSS.

A generation ship is a perfect ant-farm where different societies can coexist within a limited space, influencing and affecting each others' development while fighting for that limited space, which adds "the end justifies the means" pressure. Let's take a look at the various factions and groups:

Protectors of the Mission

The Protectors' one truth is the Mission, and the sole way to ensure successful completion of the Mission is to follow the Old Ways. The ways of the fathers, forefathers, and Founding Fathers are together the beam upon which the Ship travels to our ultimate destination. The mutiny, which through their steadfast and timely intervention was thankfully aborted, was the ultimate betrayal of the Old Ways, of everyone who had come before, the nullification of every sacrifice and every life dedicated to the Mission.

Sworn to regain control of the Ship, the Protectors will subjugate anyone who threatens the Mission. Over the last century they have managed to expand their enclave somewhat, but the Brotherhood is deeply entrenched. To overcome them with violence would result in a massive loss of life, an unfortunate consequence which itself would endanger the Mission.

The Protectors are governed by the Mission Control Council, which appoints the Mission Commander to implement their policies and decisions. Failure is regarded as a deviation from the Mission. As such, Commanders are twice as susceptible to death-by-misadventure as the average citizen.

The Brotherhood of Liberty

The Brotherhood was formed to liberate the people from the iron shackles of the Ship Authority. Though their first sally -which the fossils of the old world denigrate with the term "mutiny"- failed to completely achieve this aim, the Brotherhood was successful in establishing themselves as a power to be reckoned with. More importantly, their ideals of liberty and freedom are now discussed everywhere.

The Brotherhood's initially pure goal, to free the enslaved wherever they may be, has unfortunately been sullied by the practical concerns of democracy. If the Brotherhood had had access to the older histories they would have realized that democracies beget their own factions, factions which cannot be put down with violence for now they are within. The Executive Council was also forced to consider issues like the right to vote, and whether it should be granted freely to all, or earned through service to the state. The first generation earned their rights rebelling against the tyrants, whereas the youth of today have forgotten even the names of those heroes. Easily swayed by rhetoric and bribed with cheap comforts, these layabouts could hardly be less concerned with such abstractions as liberty and universal suffrage.

To bring freedom to the Ship entire must involve war, and no war may be won without sacrifice, nor may battles be managed by committee. The unwillingness to back high ideals with bloodshed is, as far as the Council is concerned, the reason for the recent losses against the Protectors. Yet any attempt to limit majority rule must be interpreted as a retreat from the ideals upon which the Brotherhood's very identity is based.

If every decision, even those which mean death to some of the Brotherhood's own citizens, must first be approved by a majority, how is it possible even to start?

...

Saturday - May 21, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Dev Diary #5

by Hiddenx, 09:33

Vince tells us about all the things you need to create an RPG:

We started working on AoD back in 2004 which was a long time ago, so long, in fact, that I’ve completely forgotten what it feels like to start from scratch, when you need everything but have nothing. To say that it’s overwhelming is to say nothing at all. If anything it was easier the first time around when our naïve belief that we can do it in two years shielded us from lasting mental harm. It’s not the same when you know that 4 years development cycle is the best case scenario, if everything goes smoothly.

So what does one need to make an RPG?

  • An engine would be nice. Fortunately, it’s not my department so I’ll scratch it off my list and pretend that it will magically appear one day. So far, the plan is to use Unreal 4, but if we run into trouble we can always use Torque (the AoD engine), aka oddly comfortable plan B.
  • Setting, story, locations, quests, characters – the writer's domain. If AoD’s 600,000 words are any indication, it’s a big project that would probably take at least 3 years out of 4, if not all 5 out of 4, but as long as I’m half a step ahead of Oscar, it’s all good.

    Right now I’m working on the 'foundation': history, mutiny, early factions, post-mutiny events, schisms within factions, etc. Basically, the past events that explain why things are the way they are and how "we" got there in the first place. It’s important to see such things clearly when working on quests and leaders who don’t spring out of nowhere but are the product of their age and milieu. Overall, it’s been about hundred years since the mutiny and more than three hundred years since the ship was launched.
  • Systems. While the exact details aren’t important yet as all systems will keep evolving throughout the development, gaining more depth and complexity with every iteration, we need to get the 'foundation' right the first time, then build on top of it. More on that later.
  • Art. Surprisingly, the biggest problem right now is art. We need a lot of art, all kinds, shapes, and sizes. No, we don’t need it right now, but all these tasks take months and years, so we need to start planning now or we’re going to miss the train.

    It feels like a Tetris game where you have to put all these different pieces together and make sure we get everything we need and in a timely manner. Mazin (our artist) is truly exceptional and there is very little that he can’t do well, but he’s working part-time. Even if he weren’t, he can’t do everything as the list is too long, which means that we need to hire freelancers.

    That’s where it quickly gets prohibitively expensive. Quality takes time (days) and nobody will work for days for $25. Now we know that the game will still look crappy indie because we don’t have the manpower (the Witcher had 80 people, the Witcher 3 250 people, we have one artist/designer which explains why AoD didn’t snatch a single “Best Graphics 2015” award), so if we can’t deliver awesome visuals, we HAVE to deliver awesome details like portraits, icons, intro art, models, etc.

    So what do we need?
    • Logo
    • Interface
    • Intro, Menu, Promo art. Each piece takes 3-4 weeks, so that alone is a year-long project IF the artist is committed and dedicated. Sadly, that’s a big IF so it might take 2 years IF it goes well. When it comes to freelance artists, your mileage varies greatly.
    • Visible Things That Must Be Designed:
      • Weapons
      • Mechs & Turrets
      • Anti-Riot Droid aka your faithful companion
      • Shuttles
      • Mutated critters
      • Space Suit and other trendy clothing items
      • Gadget effects when deployed
      • Non-generic locations. For example, the cargo hold is visually interesting (looks amazing in Excel!), but it's built from generic parts (containers, cranes, etc). A place like the Bridge, for example, or the Neo-Church, or the Breached Hull :have spacesuit – will travel: requires a concept artist’s touch (weeks of work per location).
      • Misc; ideally a lot more things should pass through the Concept Art department, but we have to be realistic and never ever bit more than we can chew on.
    • Portraits. AoD has 57 portraits. Let’s say we’ll go with 60 portraits because they really do add so much to the dialogue screen. 3-4 days per portrait, that’s 180-240 days right there.
    • Inventory Icons. AoD has 252 unique items (not counting different variations like bronze, iron, steel, etc using the same models and icons). We don’t have a full item list yet but I’d be surprised if we end up with less than 200 items, so we’ll have to split the items between two artists to make sure it’s done by 2018.

      So far we've finalized weapons, armor, and gadgets.  We started with 81-90 weapon icons but reduced them to 66 for cost-related reasons, which is still more than AoD’s 40 weapons plus uniques. It takes 3-4 days per icon (including the back-n-forth design phase), so 6-8 months of work with a dedicated artist, about 2 years of work with a busy artist who’s working with multiple clients, and that’s just the weapons.

      This brings us to the issue of costs and art budgets. Any work, be it a portrait or an inventory icon, that takes a couple of days of work would end up costing you $100-300 per item. For example, when I was looking for a portrait artist for AoD, I was quoted $80-100 for a black-n-white portrait, $200-250 for a color one, which explains why you rarely see high quality portraits in games. It's just too expensive. If not for Mazin's generosity, we wouldn't be able to afford them either.

      So 66 weapon icons would cost us anywhere from $6,600 – if we’re lucky and find a guy willing to do the top tier work for the low tier price – to almost 20k, which is a lot of money. It's very easy to understand how game budgets quickly grew out of proportions and to the point where you have to play it safe to get your investment back and make a few bucks on top of it.

      It’s tempting to invest more, to hire more artists, but I know of three indie studios that either ended up deep in debt or failed to make any money to continue after releasing RPGs that seemingly did well and I’m not in a hurry to join them. I'll go over the indie "business model" in the next AoD update.
    • Models (weapons, objects, etc) : Same story, there’s only so much we can do on our own because modeling guns and objects take time from Oscar and Ivan (our animator). So again, you outsource - you pay a lot and drain your coffers faster than you can blink, so it requires an approach so careful and balanced it would make Sawyer proud.
    • Animations. AoD has over 500 animations, but that’s mostly melee. Firearms and cover mechanics can easily double that number.

    [...]

Monday - March 21, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Release Expectations

by Myrthos, 12:52

In an update for the Colony Ship RPG, Vince mentions the expected release is not to be expected earlier than the end of 2020.

I think we'll need 5 years now that everyone's working full time and has 10 years of experience.

2016 - pre-production. The goal is to have all systems, quests, and locations designed and ready, so that we have a clear blueprint to follow. At the moment Nick, Ivan, and Oscar (programming, models & animations, level design & scripting) are working on the dungeon crawler, so they aren't sitting around waiting for me. Mazin (art) is working on both the crawler and the CSG (colony ship game), with the crawler being a priority at the moment.

2017 - laying the foundation. Once the crawler is released, we'll focus on the CSG. The goal is to get to the content-building stage fast but that's a long journey, requiring the following 3 steps:

  • Engine familiarity and systems/tools porting IF using Unreal 4; at least 6 months
  • All systems (character, crafting, inventory, dialogue, stealth, combat); probably a year
  • Models and animations. AoD has over 500 unique animations, so it's not as simple as it sounds, but we should be able to do it in a year.

So IF everything goes well, we'll have everything we need by mid 2018 and start working on the content. That gives me 2.5 years to develop the setting, factions, quests, characters and party members, which is plenty of time. I'm already working on the main quest and it's shaping up well (good range of choices plus a really great fork in the middle where you can disregard what you've been working on until now - or continue if you still think it's the best option - and change the goal and the endgame scenario and endings). More on that in the future updates.

Our goal will be to deliver a 4-location demo by the end of 2018 and start gathering feedback and tweaking systems, which is a crucial step. I assume it would take us about 6 months to make changes based on the feedback, at which point we'll be ready to move forward once again.

The next step is to get to the Early Access stage, which will require 50% of the content (it's not an actual requirement but we don't want to offer less). I'd say it would take us a year to get there, but if we can do it faster, it's a bonus.

So, Early Access by the end of 2019, release by the end of 2020. So far it looks reasonable but it always does when the finish line is 5 years from now. Either way, we'll keep you posted of our progress and since you now know what to expect and when, you'll be able to tell the moment we get off schedule.

In addition the update also shows a list of system changes that have been made.

Wednesday - February 17, 2016

Colony Ship RPG - Party System

by Myrthos, 12:59

Vince talks about the party system in Iron Tower Studios' next big RPG, which is currently named Colony Ship RPG, using references to movies.

Typically, RPG party members serve a purely tactical role, giving your more bodies to control in combat and access to different combat abilities. In a sense, you’re role-playing an entire squad as outside of combat there is very little (if any) difference between the character you created and the characters you’ve recruited or created next.

It works great in RPGs that are mostly about combat, but calls for a different approach when it comes to non-combat gameplay. The main problem is that party members offer nothing but combat benefits (occasionally, freaky sex to relieve combat stress and party banter), giving you very few reasons to treat party members any differently than the main character.

In short, the problem is that in most RPGs party members are mindless zombies lacking any free will, agenda, goals, etc – the very qualities that separate an actual “character” from a zombie. Thus, our main design goal is to create proper characters that have a will of their own, as well as agendas, beliefs, goals, and other infuriating qualities.

Information about

Colony Ship - A Post-Earth Role Playing Game

Developer: Iron Tower Studio

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: None

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Expected at 2021-07-30
· Publisher: Iron Tower Studio