Copper Dreams - All News
Thursday - April 04, 2019
Copper Dreams - Alpha Progress Update!
The Alpha Progress update for Copper Dreams has plenty of details on systems progress.
Alpha Progress Update!
Greetings everyone! We wanted to do a quick dive into some of the stuff we've been putting into alpha builds since we started having folks test them the past few months! Next week we'll be doing a play-through of a testing arena map to give you a better look at gameplay in action, but figure it could use a primer first.
The remainder of the alpha builds will be these various arena death-match maps to continue testing combat and companions, as well as the remaining milestone features we'll be hitting this month before the beta!keeping a sharp lookout for the beta
Since launching the alpha, integrating companion gameplay with the step-by-step turns had begun to be the primary focus, and a lot of these changes will be stemming from that.now with party!
Skill UI Change from Feedback
One of the early things some of the alpha players found clunky was the action selection, so that has been streamlined. All actions for an item are now clumped together in the action button area, instead of filtering them through individual skills. These are located in the middle of your action bar, with non-item skills located on the left and some formation stuff on the right.
Skills on the left, when selected, repopulate the middle area with actions for them, so no further in-game world space is taken up.
Fully controllable companions have been added into the tick-tile system, as most of this update will pertain to. We've added their health, medical snapshot, and inventory to to the HUD. We've also integrated nested bags, so if characters are hoarding they have a place to put their garbage!
Micro-sized Line of Sight
We've integrated the line of sight visual into the micro-tiles, getting a much smoother and easier to understand line-of-sight. This occurs per-character, who additively overlap sight visuals. As before, your characters can still hear NPCs outside the line of sight range (represented by footprints).It could have been someone friendly, but it's usually not...A great escape. The local wildlife doesn't like our agents.
We've also integrated the Followship™. This design was meant to convey the feeling of safety exploring as a group. Copper Dreams, the actual campaign, is a dungeon crawler where you'll be creeping around a war-torn city filled with lots of other things that are creeping around trying to kill you. The Line-of-sight visual has always been the backbone of the visual identity in creating that tension. To add to that, characters exploring on their own have a personal sized vision radius. However, when selected together and worming around as a group, the radius is combined and larger, focused on whoever is lead.
The Life of the Party
Our intention was always to remove the idea of Hit Points and replace them with wounds that individually reduce stats of a character. Getting that into a simple system that both feels organic during gameplay, and allows players to reasonably survive and enemies to be killed in predictable ways has been a challenge. With the newest tweaks in the last month of alpha testing, we think we've found a solution.
For an overview, here's a splash menu from the alpha going over it:
Characters accrue wounds specific to body parts. Different damage rolls do 3 tiers of wounds — lesser, greater, and mortal. In the alpha, we've introduced the SHOCK stat to make sure they all work together nicely, which acts sort of like a negative armor modifier.
- Light wounds still just deter some stat points somewhere on your character, respective of body part. The higher end rolls of these can cause SHOCK.
- Medium wounds deter stats respective of body part as well and always cause SHOCK.
- Mortal wounds destroy/disable whatever limb they happen on.
- If a character's torso or head is destroyed, they're dead.
So that's easy enough — destroying legs make enemies unable to move, arms reducing any ability to fight, and the vital parts are the torso and head (or non-humanoid equivalent, for you to find out). Rolling mortal wounds is required to do that, and that's where SHOCK comes in. Every SHOCK point a character has, regardless of what body part it was on, adds those points to any incoming damage rolls. This would allow rolls to be either more potent within their tier or jump from light to medium, or up to Mortal.
This allows a few gameplay features we struggled to design for with previous iterations:
- Characters can be 1-hit killed.
- No matter how armored a character is, they can we chipped away at with SHOCK.
- Aiming for mechanical parts of the body (arms/legs types) is still viable toward reducing character abilities as well as helping towards finishing them off.
As we mention below, you can now automatically aim for body parts with any action, so you can always have some agency on what you're going for.
Bringing the Painhealing menu!
The wounds your players accrue are now visibly seen on their person. Giant nails, gore blobs, embers, bone fragments — the locational damage of the wounds you get can be seen appropriately on your characters body parts.
Now those blood decals or arrows that stick into characters have some actual importance — check out enemy damage locations to see what to focus on or what's currently damaged.
Sunday - November 04, 2018
Copper Dreams - Alpha Testing Starting Now
A new update for Copper Dreams announces the start of Alpha testing.
We wanted to let you know that your builds in Steam have been updated with the first alpha version for testing!
Do expect bugginess. This is a work in progress. Consider this access to feature additions and our bi-nightly builds of squashing all the bugs you'll see.
After designing the tick/tile system with the microtiles, we threw everything we could into it that was part of the original design of the game. Now that it's all in, or at least the fundamentals, it's time to start cleaning it all up on our end and get feedback from yours. The gameplay bugs need a lot more passes while we prep it for the beta (the actual start of the game) release, but if you'd like to follow along with the remainder of fixing things up and provide any feedback now's the time!
We had pushed this out earlier yesterday, but have done a small patch since which fixed an ongoing issue with the gameplay around picking up and arranging items.
The alpha map is a small example map just to test some mechanics. You’ll start over on death to make that simple, or can retry upon success. Some of these early test maps like this we had done were a little more wild in terms of structure placement and navigation, so expect a little clunkiness getting around. The next map and mission for the alpha we put up will be a variation of newer ones, which are more blocky and fit more rigidly to the microtiles for easier horizontal and vertical navigation. Expect that 1.02 update Monday.
These have been the primary goals we've been working toward making play nicely together since we launched the Kickstarter. We created a micro-turn based global world simulation with the ticks&tiles system, resulting in a much more concise, less abstract way to utilize a turn based roleplaying model. It's pretty groovy and we're very proud of what it is and what it can become — this alpha should hopefully show the fundamentals at work, if anything.
Working on Movement
Right now we're still smoothening out how things move on the tiles, and you'll notice some characters sort of popping around. Originally everything acted like pawns and just snapped tile-to-tile while they moved, which was easy to make sure everything was working properly, but now they have animations to blend between those tile locations. Sometimes that visually works great, others times they can look like they are possessed. This is something that could use some work to make things clear, as weird movement and animations can really dampen the mood. We're working on that, as well as other numerous bugs for 1.1.
There is one game mode and map available, and the rest will unlock the following two weeks, starting Monday. Other alpha maps will focus on other gameplay or ruleset elements that we will be finishing the last things on and putting in for them.
We’ll be posting our short-term timeline there so you can know when to expect new modes and features to be included for testing. You'll also get to choose what feature we'll work on for a big milestone: companions or character generation. We're almost done with both of them, so once we get what we need for 2.0 we'll finish one of those up!
Things should be moving a lot quicker now, and we’re looking forward to your feedback. Thank you again for your patience and support to make something new and awesome, we always appreciate it.
Sunday - September 30, 2018
Copper Dreams - Alpha Soon & New Video
Copper Dreams latest update announces that Alpha will arrive soon and shows off a new video.
Check out a short spotlight video with some of the bug fixes, interface, user experience and improved stealth, group, and AI we got in the past few weeks since the last update:loading...
We finished some of the crucial AI we wanted to get into the alpha build around last weekend and then tackled something big for the beta (the main campaign) and time seemed to have gotten away from us. We're really sorry about the delay on that. We're very excited to show you the structure and content for the main game, and that should happen pretty soon after the Alpha launch, but first we really want to get some feedback on all these mechanics from you guys. We are in a crunch working on the last of the bugs so you don't have to worry about them, and some of them turned out more difficult than expected to squash. We'll have a new date by the end of the week, but expect the update on Steam to happen shortly thereafter, as well as the trailer.
Loading and "Death" Events
One aspect of note that we wanted to follow up on was our death events in the game. We have always wanted to focus the challenge of the game not on how optimized you can win individual fight by redoing them, but on the entire adventure, a challenge of resource and event management.
There's a lot of similarities with games with permanent death or rogue-likes in terms of randomization and structure we'll go into when we're talking about the main campaign later, but you'll probably get grounded playing the Alpha too.
So two things happen when you(r party) loses all their health. We'll have a dev post about all the event types that can happen in the game in more detail, but in short:
1. Reload Last Autosave
2. Play it Out
Reload Last Autosave
As before, only the game autosaves for you constantly except when an enemy is on the timeline with you, which means it does so after you do any non-combat action (open a door, jam a lock, talk to someone). Once combat starts that stops, if you get a party wipe you can jump back in right away from the last safe location. You can reload that anytime, so if you know combat is going south and you want to try again you can quickly jump back in.
Play it Out
We wanted to design something around the concept of what we do when players might be incapacitated in a tabletop game and the DM doesn't want to make everyone re-roll. There are some fun narratives that can occur that we wanted to explore as a part of normal gameplay, and thought that was worth experimenting with for the main campaign. As the nature of the previous option, choosing to Play it Out saves immediately after, so when they are available it can be more or less of a gamble given the situation/location.
Your agent in the alpha and main campaign have wicked good health insurance, thanks to your plum job. Playing it Out in a location that isn't heavily fortified or a dungeon lets your HealthInsurance Body-Bots come find you and fly you off to the nearest clinic location. The randomized city is divided up into blocks, and with a few exceptions every one of those has a clinic, so you'll never be far from where you fell.
At the clinic, a half-day passes (! this important for events), and you can choose to stay longer and heal or get back to it. Clinics are automated and will automatically bill you, or if you fail to have the funds bill your Syndicate which will keep a tab on you and make you pay for lunch.
If you fell due to or near by MFI, the city overlords, you'll be tossed into a procedural jail. Like the clinic, every city block usually has an (otherwise inaccessible) jail attached, and depending on your method of breakout you'll be outputted back into the block you were at. These jail maps are relatively small, isolation cubes for the city riff-raff, but will always have your equipment stored in an office that you'll want to loot before leaving. Maybe you can steal other inmates stuff!
These can be a gamble for a session. Events occur when you fall in an atypical location, like surrounded by cyber-mutants, in a Syndicate compound, in a sewer system with monsters, or other unfortunate places. Syndicates will throw you in the sewer drain which will put you in a different location, maybe to get help after, or maybe some other problems. At worst you might come out of these situations with a permanent disfiguration or ailment before a Body-Bot finds you, maybe mutants spread a mutation to you before throwing you out, or maybe you have a limb eaten off before you're found.
On the flip side there are potentially rewards and secrets to be found. Those sewer drains might throw you out into an otherwise inaccessible location where you are healed and able to discover cyber-quests, treasure, or other secrets. Some mutants are friendly and you could be rescued with augmented with beneficial mutations.
There will be a Musings post this week going into some additional detail on the alpha map, so be on the lookout at our Community Page. We'll be in touch soon!
Hannah and Joe
Saturday - August 25, 2018
Copper Dreams - Rolling for Social Interactions
A new update for Copper Dreams looks at social interactions and other things.
Micro-Tiles with less corners
Since moving to micro-tiles, the larger hex shapes required for the volumetric LOS and therefore the environment, began to be obsolete. While larger squares are stupid for navigating, having micro squares makes it so it doesn't really matter. Importantly, it makes navigating obstacles a little more obvious, as the hexes made for some confusion in tighter environments (determining what was 'behind' a small pillar or box that was hexagon shaped is less obvious at a glance than squares). Fortunately all the maps were already fairly squared off, we just arranged some of the tile-sets to remove the unnecessary angles, and things are looking good.
Characters can be made up of a variety of sizes, children, bugs, rats or tiny robots being one, and the usual being the 5 size. For 5 sized characters we have basic orientations for determining directional attacks (like shots to people from behind add to hit chance). Front, two flanks, and back. We haven't coordinated these with medical yet, but it's a possibility to determine which arm gets hit depending on the orientation of a character. The way we have it in the ruleset right now is pretty nice feeling, with misses falling on nearby limbs in order of proximity before missing completely, but it's an interesting concept we could look into later. We'd be curious to see what you think when you start playing.
The actual pathfinding grid is now made up of 9 tiles for every LOS / environment tile, which fits nice and easily. We're using a d&d method that was used at some point for diagonal tile movement, or the dementia is kicking in early and we're misremembering. Every two diagonal tiles is an extra tick for movement. Things flow smoothly and predictably, so we're happy with it.
For a Social skill, we wanted to make social actions have actual agency, where a player would have tangible results and rolls they can foresee and be used as effectively as any other skill like pistols or chemistry. The result was very simple, but only made possible by having robust systemic behaviors of NPCs, patrols, and AI for enemies where they can react to successful or fail rolls with fun results.
Most guards you come across aren’t going to shoot-to-kill unprovoked. Cybermutants or kill-patrol robots sure, but your average rent-a-cop isn't going to start with warning shots right at your face. They yell at you and what we call the patience meter pops up above them, like any other ticks for an action. If the timer runs out, or you piss them off early, then they’ll start attacking you.
Mechanics for this are designed with two types of NPC Patience Meters, an Unwanted Patience meter accounting for locations you aren’t wanted, and a Hostile Patience Meter for places you most certainly aren’t supposed to be. These meters for now are 20 and 10 ticks, respectively, enough time to talk to the NPC or move away from the situation.
You’re told to scram, with three outcomes:
- Leave line of sight and meter ends
- Don’t leave and turn into a hostile patience meter
- Aggravate NPC and start combat
- Thwart NPC in some way
- Player gets stunned thrown in a dumpster outside or in Jail, depending on the NPC group they are in.
- Don’t do as told, or aggravate NPC in some other way, and start combat
Wednesday - August 01, 2018
Copper Dreams - Cybernetic Laser Arms & Community Page
Copper Dreams has a new update which covers the community page and some new gameplay and artistic features. Screenshots at the link.
ALPHA updating on Steam August 25th!
The alpha is finally going to be updated on Steam with the test mission August 25th. We have some more ruleset and gameplay designs we want to start showing off leading up to the release, and will be doing that with more Kickstarter updates shortly as well as smaller bits of info on our brand new community page.
Aptly named after the ruleset we'll be using for Copper Dreams and the next couple of medieval games planned after, the Burning Candle Abbey is where we'll host more technical updates and info on development, and eventually where we'll set up a wiki for the ruleset itself. Trying to coordinate that soon so you can check out all the rolls and have a source for suggestions during the alpha.
Through development and all the iterations we always wanted a space to host more bite-sized updates that weren't necessarily catered to marketing for you guys, as Kickstarter updates lends itself to, and this should let you in on some of the more in-progress work and design idea throughout development. We will continue to host major updates on Kickstarter and summaries of anything brought up on the community page. This forum will also be the main location to reach us for your feedback and any design discussion throughout the rest of development.
You'll also be able to check out your badges on your account after you've logged in, neatly arranged on the stool next to your very fancy wooden chair:
You've already been set up at the Community page with your Kickstarter email and badges, your login info and passwords are being sent out shortly.
No need to manually register!
There will be some more technical and design posts there this week we have written up — we'll be marking SPOILER posts if you want to avoid any particulars in the future.
This Kickstarter update was going to be pretty bloated as per our tradition, but since we have a lot to show off until the alpha release, we split it up to stagger content on here and the community page until that launches. So, today we just wanted to go over some of what we've been up to the last two months, some art nailed down and vehicles and new ai-driven-cybernetics.
With some fancy tech on our side we are able to intuitively make some beautiful moving illustrations. Geometry can now be as dense as to whatever fidelity would be illustrated if it were 2D. This is the perfect palette we were looking for to keep things high resolution and enforcing a consistent fidelity to allow us to get every frame of the game exactly as we want it to look. On a scalability and abstract level it's intuitive to us, our modern pixel art.
There’s a lot of technical/artistic techniques to make that look, breathe, and animate the way it needs to that we're still pursuing, but we’re finally locked into a style going into the beta, so we can start showing more off of the later areas of the game now.
More granular gameplay simulation with smaller hex tiles
We've taken the hexes we showed before and divided them to get more nuance in orientation and positioning of characters and effects. With our very GURPSy, simulation based rolls and environment interactions we wanted to get a little more out of the per-character sized hex tiles we were using.
Over June, Hannah got our content-dense tile tech working with roughly a ba-gazillion more tiles. More variety of noise and sight ranges, bullet travel lines (and misses), and increased tile-per-tick movement options.
Where before characters moved just a tile a tick and were stalled on that if sneaking, crawling or slowed for various amounts, it can now have a nice variety to move smoothly and intuitively around.
Bullets now stream through the world lass abstractly, and maneuvering with stealth and noise radiuses is less chess-like in scale and more natural of a simulation. It's worth more than the blip on this post to talk about, but should speak for itself when you're playing.
The line-of-sight being that small was overkill though, so we instead used more large triangular parts of the hexes to visualize the seen world. We also have settled on making outdoor tiles always visible whether in-sight or not (with a visual indicator showing you they are actually out-of-sight of your character), and interiors having them completely blacked out like usual. Visualizing and hearing NPCs outside a field of view works the same for both, they show up as little footsteps.
Vehicles and Driving
Speaking of more varied movement speeds, manual vehicle travel was sort of a no-brainer to want to fit into Copper Dreams and our medieval games. We can setup larger areas to explore with boats, horses, wagons or hovering motorbikes and piloted walking robots.
The Qui M30 Bike
Overpopulation is a part of the setting of this campaign, and we already have our pedestrian system set up, where NPC denizens make you feel more isolated by being a part of the problem and setting off alarms in certain zones to your presence if there is trouble.
We have a post about how they influence gameplay being prepped so we'll go into more detail further then.
We have some starting AI setup where they avoid running over other civilians and you unless they are fleeing making civilians get some pep in their step to get moving. If you attack a driving civilian, they'll kindly give up their vehicle for you. If enemies are after you and you get on a vehicle, they'll try to commandeer one themselves to give chase.
Character's can't both drive and shoot weapons, but if they have sentient cybernetics attached to them (extra arms) or orbiting robots, these can attack as if the character weren't moving, at the expense of some negative mental stability using them. Common vehicles have 3 hits they can take before exploding, be it from gunfire, other vehicles, or walls, and these hits absorb damage from player. Functionally vehicles are meant to get you from A to B through Calitana streets, add to the atmosphere of state of manufacturing, and continue to provide interesting gameplay options between target locations.
Tiles and Moving
Zipping around is still a matter of X tiles a tick, so driving remains thoroughly grounded in the movement and tile system. You can block entrances the same as with any other character or object, or climb on top of roof tiles.
Unlike other objects, vehicles specifically have a two-way relationship with tiles. While pathfinding they coordinate which tiles they will be on during each tick, but thereafter can be pushed around with physics and gather closest tiles after. We use this system for some other things more subtly for cheaper calculates when checking tiles, but for a movement system this does lead to some interesting options that we can get your feedback on.
Cybernetics are designed to augment both character stats and gameplay mechanics and are toggled on, which has changed a little from the previous design.
The green single-tiles are where your cybernetics are, which can be hit and have their own health
You can automate cybernetics by just toggling them on in your medical screen, they'll show up next to your normal fleshy limbs if available. Characters are a single entity whose turns are the use of one skill and item at a time, but cybernetics that extend themselves, like tentacle arms or floating robots, are controlled as individuals with their own AI and turns, effectively making them like companions attached to you. Each of these entities get their own tile that can take damage (fortunately sometimes in place of you). You'll be able to direct some commands to them from the companion dock.
During development we split the design of cybernetics and items, so things like harpoons and 1-time use objects are now just going to be items you carry, and things that operate on their own are cybernetics. We found the previous system limiting, as their isn't action points to distribute we can go off the rails and just have lots of things taking turns at once. You can toggle enhanced armor, vision, reflexes, laser arms or more powerful melee attacks, but you'll be equipping items for your own ticks.
To run cybernetic hardware you’ll need to have battery packets in your inventory. These take up some room and are heavy, so if you’re doing a cybernetic-centric build your inventory will resemble a power station and you'll need the Vigor to carry it all.
These sentient cybernetic actions don't display the ticks above heads, but instead are represented by a tile animation, so you can still see when they'll do something. There's a gif near the top of the page where you can see this in action where Orchid is giving some enemy the business end of 3 laser guns.
Effectiveness of cybernetics is generally favorable unless your character has suffered head trauma and can’t control them, they are determined by three attributes:
- Virtue: Stamina
- Virtue: Focus
- Stat: Mental Stability
The character you'll play in the alpha, Orchid, has a few cybernetics we'll go over in detail, but the arms are certainly the most visually cool. And shoot lasers.
We’re making quite a few variations for arms, from holding firearms, melee weapons, or ones that can grab and throw objects or NPCs or drag characters back to you. These have a lot of practical application in the world as well for labor, so there are quite a few variations you’ll come across. Most characters can just have two, which protrude just below the shoulder blade on each arm, and this is for space issues on the human body as well as the mental ability to control them. However through some more, unnatural means, some enemy Agents can have quite a few more than that…
We'll be showing off more soon, stay tuned! Next up is talking about our sweet additional to the Social skill: action buttons for visceral dialogue action.
Saturday - July 07, 2018
Copper Dreams - Cybernetic Arms
Whalenought have shown off a bit more of the new art style for Copper Dreams.
Characters in Copper Dreams can surgically attach up to 4 cybernetic arms. We're working on getting those boring, fleshy noodle arms to not get in the way of these very eager laser gun arms. cyberpunk struggles, man. pic.twitter.com/nm7oQovE3K— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) July 6, 2018
Friday - June 22, 2018
Copper Dreams - New Graphic Style
Whalenought Studios have revealed a new graphic style for Copper Dreams on Twitter.
[1/2] Last month we finalized a 3d art style we’ve been tinkering with for awhile. As we’re more comfortable with traditional 2d, we’ve always been looking for a way of making 3d more comfortable to work with. Making everything sketchy is just a treat to design. pic.twitter.com/pzGgKGBJzA— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) June 21, 2018
[2/2] This style allows us to abstract a lot of gameplay elements that would otherwise be hard to make look realistic. We’re preparing a wonderful week of news for Copper Dreams: turn-based motorcycle action, more tentacle arms, and new rolling with Search skill!— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) June 21, 2018
Tuesday - April 17, 2018
Copper Dreams - Detonating Tile Effects
Copper Dreams has a new update that illustrates the effects of different tiles on the combat simulation.
Detonating the room with tile effects
We wanted to follow up the last update to show off something else we've been finishing up on: the framework for the tile effects for environmental hazards.
Tiles in Copper Dreams are part of the active simulation in and out of combat, and one of the last big systems we needed for the alpha to add to the sandbox of rules and systems for the player to abuse.
All the tiles on a map can have quite a few variables that change during gameplay:
- Lit / unlit / shadow
- Sound emission
- Light color
- Line-of-sight hidden or visible
- Projectile or Damage range traveling through
And now featuring state effects like:
There was a lot of reactive parts to these effects to work into the wide variety of other sensory systems, not just medical ailments but sound emission and enemy AI paths so they can track effects like dripping water or unusual noises.
Stunning an entire room with smoke or fire works as you'd expect it to with our ailment system, so players should make as good of use of that as enemies will on them. A smart tactic for fire-fights is luring opponent(s) around the corner until out of sight, where they will last-known-position you, and then track you blindly — allowing you to get the upper hand pretty easily. To counter that, if they have grenades of some sort, an AI path for certain enemies for the alpha will be to just flush you out. The tick-tile movement coordinates well with that. If you see a grenade coming toward you and can ready your turn, you can get a chance to run from it. And you'll want to. This guard survived the initial blast and courageously ran through fire to hunt our agent down. He'd later go on to regret this.
Trackable and Ailment Tiles
Should you (or an NPC) walk over water or blood tiles, the character will get a 'wet' or 'bloody' ailment, and track that liquid for ~10 tiles. If these footsteps are seen by an NPC faction who is hostile against another NPC (Guards at a compound see thug patrolling), they'll initiate an AI path similar to last-known-position, and track those footprints until the last one, and then do a wary-state check of the area. They obviously also do this to you, so watch where you step! You can also use this to your advantage, toy with NPCs by luring them away from an area, out of sight and hearing of others.
Running over smoke causes your character to take on a coughing ailment, which interrupts them for a ~tick (more if you have other chest ailments) and causes them to cough, making noise. Not great for being sneaky or on-the-run. This ailment re-rolls every 10 ticks.
Electrical tiles on the ground stun your character for 3 ticks, and re-rolls that every 6. There are low and high-voltage electrical tiles, the former just stuns you, and higher ones can drain batteries on equipment, short-out cybernetics temporarily, or on higher rolls cause burn damage. That kind of electrical damage is caused by weapons, while environmental ones are less lethal.
Fire damage takes its ailments from the FIRE damage spreadsheet, and that's not a table you want associated with your character's health. For fire-grenades you'll take an initial blast-damage ailment, and that could cause a burning wound which procs every 4 ticks for a duration.
This was also the first ailment to cause more ailments we've readied for the alpha, and it's a pretty slick system. Another one for alpha is impact weapon damage causing bones to break and getting bone-splinters which proc a bleeding damage.
Tile effects are automatically caused by some weapons. Like displayed in the previous update, shooting a gun causes tiles around you to light up for a light mod, as well as cause the sound of the gun, and lastly firing some bullet. Adding to those systems, weapons like flamethrowers can pour fire down hallways and leave fire tiles on the ground, and smoke grenades fill a room with smoke tiles.
Since the Burning Candle ruleset leans simulationist, there's no balance needed for things like this, but there are some odd ways we can allow to deter it. For the alpha we'll have fire extinguishers for clearing fire tiles or dousing yourself. For tactical drying action, keep a one-time-use hanky or towel on hand to pat your butt dry.
If you've caught on fire, you can use your roll action (if you have the Grace for it) or our very own implementation of stop-drop-and-roll to extinguish flames by crawling/crouch and standing in sequence. Each of those stance changes take a tick, and burning damage procs frequently, so you'll want to exclusively and quickly do a dance like that or extinguish yourself other ways if you want to keep yourself from getting too well-done.
Stacking Tile Effects
At the moment tiles are tiered to only have one per tile, like you can't have fire tiles on water. After the alpha is released we'll work on the final step for them which is just augmenting them together — fire on water tiles converts the two to vapor (which will just dissipate), an electrical attack on a water tile can travel to all other touching water tiles, and so on. It isn't a design focus nor are we trying to make this into chemistry class, but there is room for some puzzles and fun gameplay for that, so we'll be getting to it later.
We also added the backpack into the main HUD on the right side. This allows the player to instantly swap active items without needing to go into the backpack first and equip them into quickslots. You've also got all the tools your character does at your disposal up front and center now in a full, glorious frame.
More updates to come soon!
Wednesday - April 04, 2018
Copper Dreams - Hex-tiles, Stackable boxes and Gore
Copper Dreams has a new Kickstarter update.
Hex-tiles, stackable boxes and gore explosions
Just a few micro-issues remaining. No, we're just finishing on some last AI functionality before sending it off to you to make sure the different challenge modes are adequate to test. Since the last update we had a slew of life and Copper Dreams upgrades, so we'll get into that in this update. First, for all of the alpha backers who received keys, that depot on Steam will update with the alpha so stay tuned for when that's live, we'll post another update when it is though. I think we talked to everyone who had problems with that, but if you are an alpha backer and didn't get the email let us know and we will sort that out for you! That will roll out on OSX, Windows and Linux.loading...
If you hate videos here's a recap:
- Hannah and Joe sold a house and moved to get cash money for development and get back to Seattle, so there was a small delay.
- Alpha is a solid vertical slice of systems in game, featuring a mid-level operative infiltrating a warehouse of insurgents as various enemy types. Also includes a custom enemy agent. Various challenge and game modes included to unlock with your feedback. Incentives!
- Changed from square tiles to hexagons.
- Our volumetric line-of sight system, which has unseen tiles that are painted black in-world, now includes sensory visuals like the sound you emit and enemy vision cones.
- Line of sight system also now has custom lighting integrated into it — easier visual for what lights are influencing tiles and gives us complete control with what to do with it to influence tiles. Spotlights, flares, tiles on fire, or even the muzzle flash from firing a gun now have clear indication of what tiles they are lighting up.
- Character direction ruleset info implemented for hexes, player can rotate without tick cost for turn. For example shields (or carrying dead bodies in front of you) block attacks from one direction.
- Game feed replaced with more cryptic DM-descriptive health readouts for combatants. Detailed roll information replaced with on-hover details while targeting tiles/characters. Game feed was too heavy before with too much happening, as rolls for aiming were not immediately followed up with a resolution, so things would be out of order. It's also visually and descriptively obvious how a combatant is doing. Also their faces make increasingly ouchy expressions depending on how poorly they are doing.
Movable and stackable boxes for cover, climbing and puzzles. It's the best thing since sliced bread.
Wednesday - January 10, 2018
Copper Dreams - Twitter Updates
Whalenought Studios have shown off some new content from Copper Dreams on their twitter page.
Getting some fog variations for different block elevations in the city. The sun needs to pump the brakes though. pic.twitter.com/T5WeBvLQNv— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) January 9, 2018
Copper Dreams needs more machinery. We’re testing some animations for some alpha enemies you come across (and try to avoid). pic.twitter.com/TcopC1i8na— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) January 4, 2018
Sunday - December 24, 2017
Copper Dreams - Gameplay Video
The latest update for Copper Dreams shows us a gameplay video and announces Alpha missions for February.
Copper Dreams Gameplay Video — Alpha Testers report in for Block 24!
Good tidings backers!
If you asked Santa for a Copper Dreams video update for Christmas, you're in luck! We've made a ton of progress since the last update. Turn based, timed actions, stealth, bullet-hell, simulation-oriented ruleset — we've got it all!
We’re making the last checklist of map preparations and checking it twice to get backers in the streets of Copper Dreams. The extra time and resources you’ve provided have gone into iterating on the core design this year and have been tremendously helpful, making the game and ruleset into the wonderful beast it now is. The game really couldn’t have gotten to this state without your help. We're very happy for you all to be able to start the new year back at the turn of the century. Ci-War 2000!loading...
We’re working around the clock to get a build ready for you all, so expect some news on that final date shortly. For $35+ backers, we'll be sending out information about getting a key in late January. Everyone else, expect your beta keys in the next couple months!
The alpha build will have some varying options for you test out a raid on Block 24, a syndicate stronghold full of petrified civilians and hostile agents. There will be a normal, mission-oriented version, as well as more mechanics-focused ones to mess around with in the playground-like map:
- Golden-gun mode for one-hit kills
- Don't get caught mode
- Machine-gun mode
- A few super secret modes to unlock if you beat previous modes
They should give a range of options to test for balancing and how things feel. We'll be mainly looking for feedback on our 3 vertical slice tests, which we'll describe below. After further iteration on the alpha-mission with your feedback, our next milestone is updating the build of the game with the first of the main campaign maps to check out, which we’ll just be doing in chunks.
Looking Back at 2017 Development
Some of the gameplay mechanics have undergone iterations since the original Kickstarter, but have stayed true to the concepts we wanted from the Burning Candle ruleset which we talked about on the original Kickstarter page:
The gameplay needed to become something very fresh and different from what we've ever played before as we iterated on what we wanted these core concepts of the ruleset to feel like. We needed a gameplay-heavy experience to make all this work, focusing on player agency and hiding nothing behind CYOA blockades. After a long evolution we've finally landed in a stage that just needs tweaking and feedback. The ticks and tiles and movement are all intuitive with the ruleset, easy for a player, and with just the perfect amount of dice and tables to reference and keep everything in order (soooo a lot).
For actual gameplay, we broke our efforts down into 3 vertical slice tests set as goals. These had to be just right for the ruleset and gameplay to work.
1 — Visualizing step-by-step actions within turns
Goal: The entire game-world is built with turns that are visualized with ticks (.25 sec intervals in gameplay). In combat your individual actions take a certain amount of time, and then dictate when your world stops for another turn.
Execution: Play cat and mouse noise with an enemy combatant with turns, get into a firefight, and then lose enemy and have them return to patrolling. This has most of these mechanics that can be telegraphed easily with in-game notifiers and the tick display.
2 — Gameplay impactful damage and resources
Goal: Character damage should encourage a change of tactics, and be mechanically as profound as the damage. This needs to be done in a fun way, not to impede gameplay.
Execution: Attacking an enemy in the legs results in slowing their move speed. Attacking in the arms reduces aim quality, attacking in head lowers sight and hearing. Enemies will react to this and change tactics appropriately.
3 — Accessible environments, movement, and tools
Goal: Moving around the world needs to be simple and intuitive and not require any hand-eye coordination. The interface bar needs to give easy access to any available player skills equally, to establish an equal importance between them during gameplay. Sensory mechanics for both NPCs and the player need to be easily visualized within the 3d maps and with height.
Execution: A combination of auto-movement changes and manual toggles to navigate around an environment by running, walking, and sneaking, then climbing, jumping across a gap, crawling through a vent, ascending a ladder, swimming, manually jumping over a trap, and then manually opening and closing a door. Get every skill a player can put character points in within a click away on a uniform dock-like interface.
We’ve continued with the design we’ve had the past couple updates, and things are rounding out nicely. Characters and scenes represent a sort of claymation/palette knife visual which has appealed to our urge to keep things abstract and are textured blocky in a distance to easily identify objects and people, as well as interesting up-close. The old pixel-art style failed to do that well, and this has been a natural evolution that we're happy with.
The Kickstarter backer heads are starting to roll into the game now as well. We'll post more of these in our next update as we bring more of you into the game. Some are being used as player character options, some story-based NPCs you talk to, and some enemy agents. Depending on what age bracket you’re in, your character’s head/body model will change appropriately.
There are also added scar decals for characters who choose any Ci-War 2000 veteran background advantages or disadvantages during character creation. There are already a ton of head variances for the models planned for, so we aren’t going crazy with more background influencers, but age and the Ci-War background options are more cosmetically interesting ones we thought would be worth adding.
There's so much more to show and explain, like our new visual for the sound your character emits depending on action and movement, or the joint enemy AI collaboration that is currently underway, and we can't wait to tell you more about them in the near future.
See you all in the new year!
Hannah & Joe
Friday - October 27, 2017
Copper Dreams - Now with Stealth Dive
On their twitter account Whalenought Studios show off a stealth dive for Copper Dreams.
Copper Dreams is now featuring the stealth dive. pic.twitter.com/ynj0tnuaq8— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) October 27, 2017
Thursday - September 28, 2017
Copper Dreams - Interview with Hannah
Indie Graze interview Hannah Williams about Copper Dreams.
Copper Dreams transports players to a cyberpunk world of corporate war and horror far from Earth. The party-based isometric CRPG from Whalenought Studios employs unique, nuanced mechanics, and I chatted with dev Hannah Williams on the novelties of the project.
Erik Meyer: The release of games like Fallout, Diablo, and Ultima Online in the ’90s established isometric RPGs as a genre, but recent projects like No Truce With The Furies seek to expand standard conventions, such as dialogue. Your project uses a health system comprised of wounds in the place of a more abstract HP meter. Similarly, you have extensive sneak and weapons options systems. What other novel features and content do you see yourselves adding to Copper Dreams? What do you see yourselves implementing that you haven’t seen done elsewhere?
Hannah Williams: The heart and soul of Copper Dreams has always been creating a cozy, p&p roleplaying experience. A comfortable playground that allows you to approach the world as you would in a tabletop game, a ruleset that won’t hamstring your adventure by limiting your tools to those fed through specific dialogue options or one-note item uses. When an RPG does just that, rationing out your actions or even suddenly gifting you a narrative tool that allows you to do something that isn’t possible in game mechanics, it takes away the joy of actually roleplaying without being told what to do. Partially because the game designer spoon-fed you your actions like they did the narrative, but also because it also creates a sense of disorientation. Dice are rolled and actions are performed on the result, that’s a great start, but beyond that there’s a lot we wanted to rethink what a player has control of and what to do with it.
Here’s an example: I’m talking to a guard and I pick option A to palm him five gold coins so he’ll let me pass unmolested. Neat! Glad I didn’t have to stab him, he looked like he had a nice family at home waiting for him. But wait, can I do that with anyone? I never got that bribe option in dialogue before. Why did it pop up with him and not the now-dead guard downstairs? Was one less important on my narrative path? This one has a red vest, does that mean something? Did a writer get distracted and forget to add the dialogue option in before? Was there a secret charisma roll that I finally passed? Am I overthinking this? I’m scared, help! I wish I just had a button that let’s me try to bribe someone whenever I want to!
Most players, of course, are used to a bribe option popping up in dialogue and don’t need to dig out their smelling salts when it happens, but you get the idea. If you give a player all their tools to be used at will, it makes them feel like they can do anything they want, and also gives a sense of security, despite running around in an hostile environment, because you always know what your options are. If you want to try to bribe the final boss, by all means, give it a shot. If you want to bribe a chicken, do that too. Making the DM miserable is mostly what p&p is about, and the least we could do is give the player the freedom to do that to us.
The challenge of this is creating all these tools for players to use at will. Manually jumping over obstacles instead of clicking their hit box to disable them, climbing a roof for height advantage, dropping to a crouch to avoid a missile, dragging cigarettes out of your backpack to an NPC so they will spill their secrets, using your crossbow like a hammer when you’re out of bolts or just throwing it against the wall to make noise. These are the kind of things that we think create that cozy tabletop experience, and what will make our ruleset feel different.
Tuesday - July 25, 2017
Copper Dreams - Overview of Ticks and Tiles
The latest on Copper Dreams explains how actions will play out in combat. Head to the link to see the system in action.
Overview of Ticks and Tiles
As we mentioned in the last update, the gameplay wasn't feeling as impactful towards the goal of being able to react to enemy turns on the fly. There also wasn't a way to clearly visualize these elements. It was competent on paper and execution - turns for players/NPCs just take a variable amount of time on the combat bar to execute, however, wait times, lack of clarity of predicting enemy turns and not wanting to get stuck in a long turn during combat was hampering player actions, encouraging you to play too carefully. There was the promise of reactivity in turns, but gameplay and use of time just wasn't allowing it. Ticks, tiles and shorter phases allow the player to have the intel to make more calculated and reactive decisions.
The ruleset we had described in our original Kickstarter pitch has been a difficult one to find just the right gameplay for. The original idea had the essential premise of the turn-based model with just staggering turn order. Players and NPCs took turns when they were able to, and these took various amounts of time to perform and recover from, and could be temporarily interrupted. These actions were all displayed on a single timeline.
What we've implemented instead is a solution that replaces the general idea of ‘time' with chunks of time for actions we call ticks. We also brought back tiles to quantify distance, in the pursuit of clarity.
Ticks are represented by a quarter second of gameplay, but are abstract in that longer animations can play-out during these, or multiple hits shown off individually. So behind the scene, these play out like regular turns where gameplay they appear as more linear time.
Importantly, on a bar with other combatants these are super easy to compare. If an enemy is targeting you with a pistol and takes 3 ticks to aim, and 4 to recover from, you have the insight to know to start running and to attack after their bullet is airborne, as it obviously won't follow you. So with ticks, you can quantify how long your action will take compared to your enemy's actions, allowing you to plan your moves and have the payoff of dodging and taking cover.
In Turn Mode, which can be toggled whenever you want and is automatically turned on in combat, after any action you take recovers, the world pauses for you to take another turn. We've somewhat reformatted the UI to make this snappier, and there's no longer a confirm button for using an action. Once selected, your actions cannot be interrupted or changed, so gameplay is quite a bit quicker.
Friday - July 14, 2017
Copper Dreams - Ads and Infiltration
Whalenought Studios has been showing off parts of Copper Dreams on its twitter channel.
Filling walls with ads in Copper Dreams. Going to be enlisting our KS backers for some fake plugs :D pic.twitter.com/m8H6hxm5Go— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) July 12, 2017
Infiltrating like a baby pic.twitter.com/T3fdfroF5h— Whalenought Studios (@whalenought) July 10, 2017
Sunday - June 04, 2017
Copper Dreams - Progress Update
Copper Dreams has a new update which talks about the progress made so far, character models and when to expect Alpha.
Alpha Mission Date
Our plan for an alpha release this summer is still on track. We're at the most exciting time of development for us which allows content to start going from paper to the game very quickly. During gameplay iterations the past half-year we've gotten various systems, art and mechanics we wanted for the alpha completed to ~75%. In addition, they're all flexible with one another as we changed things around constantly, and now that everything is set we're finally able to check them off one by one. We initially planned on showing individual systems off in these updates, but decided to clump a lot of these finalized things to show you a more comprehensive look at gameplay features together. But about that alpha - Alpha backers, you'll be getting the alpha-mission to test July 27th! That entire month is devoted to bug and content polish, so we'll let you know how things are progressing and show additional parts of it off.
We have some very exciting things to show off before that, including the final iteration on the core system, which details how all the systems converged into the final version you'll be getting in the game, as well as showcasing the beginning of the alpha. A brief overview of that below.
Our core systems have had one last pass, and this is really the culmination of the best we've innovated with for the gameplay. Simulation-based systems are a lot of fun on paper, but in practice and through our iterations it's been a constant flux of how much of it is filtered through the ruleset and gameplay to make it more playable, and more importantly, fun for the player.
The main systems (not including the very GURPS oriented ruleset):
- Height-based world
- Party based gameplay
- In-world combat
- Actions take a time element
- Characters able to react to other actions in-combat, instead of actions being performed in a bubble
Creating an abstraction for time to bring more clarity ended up being the answer we needed for everything. Time is represented by modular ‘ticks' now (representing a quarter second each), and is much easier to visually analyze and react to. Every action of anyone in the game happens on a tick, sort of like tiles for movement, but for time. Tiles for moving are again visually playing a bigger role to make that more concise and are the primary 'target' to click or attack. Between these two, all actions, movement, or trajectories can be predictable at-a-glance.
So for instance in some p&p rulesets, a 'round' for a turn is sometimes considered a representation of roughly 6 seconds. While there aren't static round durations, you can now see the amount of time an action will take in a timeline and compare it to others - each of your characters and any nearby NPCs doing something have a small timeline feed (sort of like a set of keyframes in a video editor). This is persistent in and out of combat and replaces the old combat bar.
It should look and feel both familiar and completely new, somewhere between the original Kickstarter video and the most recent updates, in a very bullet-proof design. In the end, with the ease of ‘ticks' representing time for actions and now tiles being involved again, the gameplay is theoretically now translatable to pen and paper, to elaborate on how solid the core is. We're very happy and confident with it all, and we'll be showing that off in detail soon.
Monday - April 24, 2017
Copper Dreams - Dialogue vs. Player Agency
Copper Dreams' latest update focuses on dialogue vs. player agency and the roleplaying goals behind the system.
Dialogue vs. Player Agency
Copper Dreams uses tag-based dialogue, which we talk about a little bit in the initial Kickstarter overview of the ruleset. In this update we just wanted to go over how that will influence gameplay and roleplaying, and our reasoning for why we decided to use it in our original design doc.
Our goal was to make dialogue another tool in the player's belt. Dialogue doesn't take away player agency, and is instead something that's either strictly for the player to get information from NPCs or playful banter - usually somewhere in-between. For Copper Dreams we came up with a few guidelines for dialogue:
- Never author events in dialogue that the player could use gameplay to actually play through. Limiting the large amount of tools we've given the player for gameplay to push some story/dialogue/cinematic would be insulting to the player and systems, and ultimately make a bad DM experience. Players need to be able to respond to dialogue or cinematic situations with ALL their tools and gameplay mechanics normally available.
- The player isn't important or destined for greatness, conversations need to reflect that. It's a dungeon crawl where you play as cyborg monsters, you're not sitting down for tea, so NPCs shouldn't be to open to a stranger like yourself.
- Allow player agency by making dialogue events predictable by making the tools at your disposal during conversation very consistent in their application. If you try to bribe one person, you can try to bribe them all, whenever you want during a dialogue.
More P&P Feels
Tags were initially a difficult choice for us, as it's very easy to fall into the trap of dragging the player by the ear to show or tell them something just the way you want to through some dialogue event. Any DM knows the experience of setting up a great event or character encounter for a story to have a player evade or change it through clever or unexpected means. That's awesome though, allowing player agency for creative problem solving is the crux for most [good] tabletop roleplaying we know. If we're under the assumption that games should be a challenge, which we are, selecting through a handful of dialogue options for choice/consequence isn't a challenge, it's just a storybook with a no-lose scenario.
After assessing what we then wanted, we couldn't use the typical CYOA events usually done in roleplaying games. CYOA style text options in a gameplay focused RPG is the equivalent of quicktime events to an action game. There's often a contradiction in design for RPGs where they give players an immense amount of tools and ways of completing tasks, but then in a conversation or cinematic players are often shoehorned into a situation where they can only access a fraction of those tools in story contextual ways. No amount of choice and consequence can make up for the fact that the DM took away the rules and tools you were relying on up to that point to be cinematic or story heavy for their own agenda, taking away from your experience.
We had to think about how we use it and make it fun in actual p&p gaming. Rolling for risky (permanent) social disposition changes for NPCs is a big part of that, as well as the focus of using them as a tool for gameplay and not story-dumps. The conversation flow of an NPC saying something and the player asking about keyword highlights is a comfortable flow and encourages the idea that you're purposefully asking these questions, that these NPCs are a tool at your disposal instead of there to tell you about your story.
Wednesday - April 12, 2017
Copper Dreams - A Cyberpunk Horror Future
Copper Dreams is getting a ruleset upgrade which will reflect its cyberpunk horror future themes. The full Kickstarter update of the new combat system can be found here. There are plenty of videos demonstrating combat and tables for the new rules.
Movement and Combat Upgrades
Pathfinding returns, now with multi-locations during combat as well as automatic vertical navigation for you and NPCs!
The increasing focus to deliver simulation is what has evolved the ruleset and gameplay. It's of tremendous help being able to adapt these ideas to a bronze-age game and a futuristic one, we can pop these characters in to either universe and see how things would make sense. GURPS became an increasingly influential rulebook, and while things are wholly different in application, we hope to capture that spirit within the systems in the game.
We finished off combat iterations the past few months by enhancing the way players target and roll-to-hit with it, which ultimately led to an overhaul of the ruleset. You can now aim anywhere and roll under your skill with the item to determine how successful you were to getting to your target. All item or skill usages use that model now. Allowing you to aim for things in the environment that we don't outright tell you can make for more interesting puzzles or interactivity. Lights for example can all be shot out now:
With a 3d world, thrown objects that bounce around, it seemed fitting to give the player some agency on where they are actually shooting. You no longer only attack targets, but can also attack anywhere you want, including where you expect targets to be as they are moving. If you do attack targets you can select which body part you'd like to try to shoot, and you'd track that body part until you fire or it's no longer visible. Aiming for anything allows you to lead targets on the move or temporarily unseen (and thus unable to be targeted), or precise location to lay down cover fire for more than one target that might end up down the middle of a hallway or something.
Distance modifiers are no longer just static distance markers as with the original Challenge Target, but influenced by reference points around the projected line starting with nearest to the character attacking. This is all in-code in the game, but that sight-line checks for any nearby objects starting at the character and moves down to the actual target. So the idea for this is if you you have a reference for a target really far away, you can get visual bearings by aligning your shot with any nearby objects. For example aiming a burst fire into a clearing near the side of a building you hear an enemy running into would have that building act as the distance check, not the potentially infinite space behind it.
The crosshair for melee path for slash/thrust or your projectile line is your ideal hit location, and you roll to attempt to hit that location, regardless of or if you have a target in mind. Success means you hit that target precisely (in 3d space), and failure means you deviate it from a variable amount, so it's considered a potential failure in most cases.
Wound penalties and visuals
Another way of indicating health status for player characters and enemies, we're adding various states of wounded movement and idling. In the alpha you'll be limping around if you've taken on particular Greater or Mortal wound, which acts a visual that you're damaged as well as an indicator that your movement speed has been reduced.
Sunday - October 23, 2016
Copper Dreams - Adventures in Design
Whalenought Studios tell us what they have been up to with Copper Dreams in their latest kickstarter update. There is a lot to digest here with some demonstration videos available at the link.
The big change on movement was switching from RTS navigation to a single character, directional movement. That is to say wherever you are clicking to move on the screen, your centralized character will run toward that. As mentioned, any companions selected follow behind either step-by-step or in a gang. You can still select any various groupings of companions and move them, so you still have full party control, whoever is higher in the top in their list is the character leading.
With this system we've removed pathfinding for normal movement to give players complete control with the means of making movement with precision, without stressing your CPM. This also works with WASD, for those that prefer that style. If you want to be even more precise to plan actions, or play completely in a turn-based mode, we have a real neat update to Tactical Mode (and combat movement) that we'll talk about next.
The movement is similar to anything like Ultima 7 or Diablo: click to move in a direction, except in this case you have numerous party members to switch to and the ability to manually rotate your camera. It's really simple to use, and for an isometric 3D game also lets you get precision without having to also wrangle a camera that's spinning around like a turbine. There is still pathfinding behind the scenes, like enemies engaging you or what characters do to re-path around one another if they intersect during combat, but control is largely left up to the player now.
Art Style & Lighting System
While the art is still in alpha, we've been adjusting it to look better from our higher-up perspective. We didn't have a style in mind for Copper Dreams when we started with it, the ruleset began everything, but we knew we needed it to be 3d early on due to how combat functioned within the environment and how we wanted exploration to work.
We originally had 2d models on the 3d background which was neat but caused a visual ordering nightmare and looked out of place as we added more tangible lighting. We opted for what we knew and had a low texture pixel art style for the models. This is what we had shown during the Kickstarter campaign.
As we put more levels together we were finding the distance of the camera and the low-texture sizes wasn't working well together. Due to the nature of the unfiltered textures, the distance caused jittery effects as the camera moved, which was disorienting and obnoxious. As a result we moved toward a slightly more smoothed out style that wouldn't be a distraction on gameplay. The pixel art style was also hampering design decisions like how intricate models could be or how effects should look with it - it was essentially creating problems with where we were trying to take the art.
Friday - June 10, 2016
Copper Dreams - Funded!
With over 40 hours remaining Copper Dreams has been funded. Whalenought are in the process of setting up paypal for post kickstarter funding. There has also been a new tier opened up for those super interested in physical collectibles known as the Mega Box, the latest update has details on this and miniatures as well.
The Mega Box Tier
Throughout the campaign we had some requests to have larger tiers, or tiers that include a compilation of all the rewards. We have to be careful with how much we can actually do with physical rewards, of course, that's time out of our two-person team. However we could easily oblige providing more exclusives that are simply coming from other tiers or making the game.
Thus we wanted to create a mega box tier here at the end of all things. A few of you have so graciously donated beyond the highest tier, and anyone who has will be receiving this upgraded tier regardless if they change their pledge.
The Mega Box Tier will firstly come in a larger box to house the collector's edition box. We have a few companies we're looking at for these, but we have some custom options that should look great!
Secondly, it will include all of the miniatures we're having available in the game. The Miniature+ tiers can choose any one to be packaged with their rewards!
Thirdly, the Mega Box will also include a signed and wax sealed frame from the introduction animation of the game and a physical copy of the storyboard. We're making a short frame-by-frame intro animation to help set a nice tone to invite players into the crazy world they are about to wake up to. There's something magical about a good frame-by-frame, and we wanted to start including these in the game.
While this won't be a cell image or anything (we're not that old-school), it will be a great frame from one of the scenes.
Finally, the proud owners of the Mega Box will have the option of choosing a Serpent in the Staglands Handbook, or the soon to be created Banquet for Fools Handbook, as well as a copy of Serpent in the Staglands.
Wednesday - June 08, 2016
Copper Dreams - Sensuki's Interview
Sensuki has interviewed the Copper Dreams devs who a running a Kickstarter campaign right now:
Sensuki's Copper Dreams Interview with Whalenought Studiosloading...loading...
Sunday - June 05, 2016
Copper Dreams - Diverging from HP
The Copper Dreams kickstarter have released another update. This one focuses on the wounds system and explains how it works. Copper Dreams has entered its final week and has collected 32K out of a 40K goal with 6 days remaining.
Diverging from HP
Your character's ailments are represented by three different bars below their portrait in the main HUD, accruing a full bar of ailments in any of these lead to death. You can see these in more detail on your character sheet, which will also automatically find any medical equipment you may have that could cure them out in the field.
The three categories of ailments that all different kinds of damage fall under are Lesser, Greater, and Mortal.
- Lesser Ailments are light wounds that would hardly faze you like a bullet graze or getting winded. These can often be recovered from automatically after combat, though some will require further healing. Characters have a large capacity of these types of wounds they can endure.
- Greater Ailments are a medium wound that is bearable but can begin deteriorating character stats and combat efficiency. Some of these kinds of wounds can be shrugged off after combat, but will more often need medical supplies from equipment or a clinic to to be healed.
- Mortal Ailments are a critical problem, like a pierced lung or other organ damage. These will always require medical supplies or a clinic to remove, and may make you consider how to change tactics for that character based on how their body is damaged. These are not "just a flesh wound!"
Every PC and NPC has a set number of ailments for each category they can receive before death takes them. There is a player advantage system with this though, in that a PC doesn't immediately die when a category is filled, but rather drops unconscious during combat. Another hit thereafter will kill them. So for example, a security guard might have a capacity of five Lesser Ailments, three Greater Ailments and one Mortal Ailment, which means if you setup your attack and roll with luck you might kill them with one mortal ailment, or a poorly planned and rolled attack may deal Lesser Ailments, but if you dealt five of those they'll still be dead, regardless of how many Mortal or Greater Ailments they have.
The infograph below shows an example of the breakdown of dealing damage with a ray gun:
Thursday - June 02, 2016
Copper Dreams - Sneaking & Character Progression
A new kickstarter update for Copper Dreams and more information on two important systems. This update focuses on Sneaking and how your character progresses. Copper Dreams has gathered 31K out of a 40k goal with 9 days remaining.
Sneaking is a largely viable way to get through a lot of the game, even if all agents aren't skilled in it. Prancing around with skull fractures and lungs filling with bile can take its toll, and unless you're armed to the teeth, slipping away under the cover of shadows or jumping into a duct is a bit more predictable. We've made sneaking a combination of simulation and dice rolling, giving characters and enemies the ability to hone various aspects of stealth.
Enemies can be alerted to your presence from your noises, including footsteps, throwing items, jumping, doors and gunshots. As you get closer, you are more likely to be heard, although if there is a wall or some other obstruction between you and the enemy they receive a negative modifier to their roll.
This one is obvious, but the player is detected from a certain distance away via a vision cone from enemies. Crouching is a good way to hide behind smaller objects if you know an enemy is coming your direction. Being in light gives a positive hit modifier in combat, and being in a darkened area gives a negative one.
Once detected, enemies will engage in combat. They instantly roll for initiative after seeing you, and if they can will call for backup. Their call can be interrupted with an attack. If they can't call for backup, either by word of mouth or radio, they'll begin to engage in combat.
If you run out of combat your enemies will remember your last known position and pursue you. Remain hidden long enough (or continue to outrun your opponent), and they'll give up and enter an alerted patrol stage.
If more than one enemy is engaging you, they'll attempt to flank you. They'll also utilize their abilities and equipped weapons responsibly. This is a large part of the engagement combat system we'll be working on for your alpha for testing! In a more simulationist system like this, smart AI is paramount, so we aim to have scripts for enemies that are lethal and appropriate. Enemies will have wide ranges of intelligence, including flushing you out with grenades, suppressing fire to stall you for other enemies to get into position, and mind-hacking your crew to fire on each other or walk out into the open.
Enemies don't have a hive mind vision, so you can also be sneaking or have characters waiting to ambush enemies giving chase. Toying with their senses is part of the fun, and challenge of encounters. Some enemies have enhanced senses and abilities to combat player savviness, such as giving chase with enhanced jumping or running speed.
Enemies have various states of being alerted to your presence. They'll either be patrolling as normal, running to these patrol points in a panic, or searching in random locations near the sound or location they heard a noise.
If an alarm is sounded or backup is called in a high-security syndicate controlled building they'll come from outside and go through a sweep of the entire building before calling it off. If it's the Mayflower Initiative (the most powerful syndicate on the Island) they can have a tendency to leave behind a Copper Face or two sneaking around. Better to hope not.
Changing the focus to surviving gameplay instead of searching for XP
Having a focus on stealth (and manipulating enemies) begs the question of how you actually reward that. A simulationist method, at least pen-and-paper wise, usually nets growth of a skill by use - something like Burning Wheel (or Mouse Guard, if you've been so lucky to play that). This works great when there aren't reloads, you're not spamming abilities, and there are limited uses with consequence. In a CRPG that has an immediate, obvious drawback: it fundamentally boils down to spamming when there is an abundance of content to use them on without consequence. Fire a gun to gain a gun skill? You're finding the nearest pack of rats or unsuspecting bandits and unloading until you're the best gunslinger around.
There's certainly ways you can mitigate these types of loopholes, but the problem would remain: your progression is dictated by how much you can use something. Unless there's a very limited amount of times you can use something or do something, maybe in a choose-you-own-adventure type way, this ultimately ends up as a grind. For many types of games this method of gaining XP works perfectly fine when combat is predominantly what you're engaging in, and there's a massive level range of enemies and obstacles to constantly be using these abilities against to practice on.
Normally games just reward you for some combination of combat, skill use or completing quests. While this gives a very D&D-like moment-to-moment purpose for character progression, this also dictates how you play the game, especially in a CRPG when that's just calculated simply by a computer. Netting XP for only quests, for example, means meaningful player progression is only done by grinding quests, same with combat or skill usage.
While that has merit if those obstacles are the primary focus of the design, it also detracts from less tangible things that don't give you XP - discovering puzzles, secrets, avoiding combat in clever ways, or using skills that don't give XP or only low amounts of it. Gaining XP in this way also requires scalability to last - if you're netting XP and levels constantly, things need to be scaling with you or spread out how their difficulty is scaled, but that often boils down to rolling larger and larger pools of dice at one another.
That doesn't work well with a simulationist system where survival and tactics are more important than level or stat blocked challenges. We don't want to push certain ways of getting through combat, we just want you to be able to play the game however you want and be rewarded equally for it, assuming you're playing it well.
Saturday - May 28, 2016
Copper Dreams - Greenlit on Steam
Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us to be on the Steam platform.
Some folks have asked about DRM-Free options as well. GOG has expressed interest and we'd love to have our next game on there as well. We will be talking with them more throughout the year. Besides that, one way or another we'll have the game DRM-Free.
"How would syndicates abuse their power without the oversight of a government?" asks Hannah Williams, one half of Seattle-based Whalenought Studios. That's one of the many questions that Copper Dreams, the studio's second RPG, looks to answer.
While RPGs are often set in vast fantasy worlds, Copper Dreams‘ cyberpunk world takes place on an isolated island called Calitana. It's a place where the uncivilized aspects of humanity can be drawn out, where food is scarce but copper is cheap, resulting in an economy based on the metal, and a culture obsessed with technological body alterations. "We thought it would be interesting to explore what happens if the citizens of that prosperous world are given a one-way ticket to a secluded frontier planet, then more or less abandoned for several decades," Williams said.
Thursday - May 26, 2016
Copper Dreams - Role-Playing & Keyword Dialogue
Copper Dreams has a new kickstarter update out about Role-Playing and the Keyword Dialogue system.
We wanted to talk a little bit about events and how they are organized, the branching paths of your syndicate, and the flexibility of dialogue.
Branching quests, extended replay value and event density make up what is largely meant to extend the game from our base game plan, and what most of the Kickstarter funds will be used for.
Quest Design Overview
Copper Dreams features a very open-ended campaign that is filled with intrigue, combat, puzzles and bureaucratic bookkeeping. (Minus the bookkeeping, your agent has the Operations Department take care of that.) As we've said in the main page, we are holding true to our philosophy behind Serpent in the Staglands to give you a very hands-off experience. We find that this is the most rewarding type of game to play, which means no quest markers or auto-populating journals to coach you into what to do. There is a joy to following street addresses to mysterious locations that just isn't the same with a pop-up patting you on the head for your orientation skills.
Copper Dreams is ripe with corporate espionage, conspiracies, and mysteries hidden throughout the city. Without a narrator or journal telling you what clues you found, you get the reward of actually piecing together the puzzle that is the city of Calitana and discern how you want to frame your findings.
Your reports influence how your syndicate operates, and the fate of the characters you meet will begin branching very early on and determine how Wolffz Bay plays the game of corporate warfare.
From a role playing perspective, keywords give you the freedom to choose dialogue choices without an authored tone of the conversation guiding you. From a mechanics perspective, keywords turn dialogue into a puzzle. While sometimes your conversations are trivial, asking directions or reporting results of a mission, at other times you'll be trying to gather much needed information and can use items or saved keywords to open up new conversations paths.
If there is a rogue agent that needs intel and you would like to help him, dragging confidential data diskettes into the dialogue screen (literally handing them over) will turn the flow of your current conversation. NPCs retain their personality and character to drive the conversation.
Sunday - May 22, 2016
Copper Dreams - Setting Part 1: The Syndicates
The latest kickstarter update from Copper Dreams focuses on the Syndicates and how they fit into the world of Calitana. Below is just a sample of the factions so be sure to read the update for more.
In Calitana, the syndicates that rule the streets are as much a part of everyday life as the joylessly utilitarian synthetic food and overpowering aroma of copper that radiates from alleyways. In your role as an Agent of Asset Inquiries, you interact with many of these groups and will be thoroughly briefed on your rivals, but we wanted to give you a brief overview of the main players on the island.
The Mayflower Initiative (MFI)
Walled off from the rest of Calitana, the Mayflower Initiative, or the MFI, is the largest and wealthiest group on the island, hoarding resources, talent, and technology on their elevated plane above the rest of the city. Officially sent from the US government to jumpstart industry and civilized society for the colony in its founding years, the MFI not only built factories and housing for its members with its Corporeal Synthesizer, but also set up ministries for the purpose of enforcing fellowship and cheerful productivity, at gunpoint if necessary.
The MFI members and their families enjoy luxuries such as fresh produce, safe streets and well-made housing complexes, but their lives are restricted by the numerous harshly enforced regulations that dictate everything from the color of their jumpsuits to their thoughts and speech. Not everyone who is drafted to live on Calitana makes the cut to work at MFI, and thus the slums district grew outside its walls, sheltering those who have been exiled from the syndicate, those who are deemed unemployable, and those who are headhunted by other syndicates before the MFI can interview them.
Wolffz Bay Shipping and Services
One of the many syndicates operating outside of the walls of the Mayflower Initiative, Wolffz Bay originated as an industrious family of fishmongers, but quickly expanded into shipping and other services with the help of their nimble hovering boats that navigate the canals of the city.
The Wolffz family and their employees exercise ruthless tactics to protect their interests and those who have sworn their loyalty. A smaller company than their neighboring competitors, Wolffz Bay relies on stealth and well-timed information over resources or brute power to achieve their ambitions.
Wolffz Bay has recently been losing agents in their expansion efforts and are aggressively hiring. In Copper Dreams, you have been recruited by Wolffz Bay based off your military experience to seek intel, gather resources and protect shipments and property that will help your company stay a step ahead of its competitors.
Owning and running the factory district in the slums, Quinton is easily the wealthiest of the syndicates, manufacturing clothes, construction tools, hardware and other various essentials. Looking down on the less successful ambitions of rival syndicates, they see no moral issue with stealing secrets and goods from their inferior competitors and torturing agents for valuable intel to sell to the MFI.
Luckily for Quinton, they are adept at sidestepping complaints, shifting blame and keeping on the right side of MFI. Without the factories, the commerce supporting the slums would break down, and the heads of Quinton sleep soundly at night knowing they always have an ace up their sleeve.
Saturday - May 21, 2016
Copper Dreams - Kickstarter Progress
The cyber-espionage RPG Copper Dreams is making great progess on Kickstarter:
63% of the $40.000 target are funded with 21 days to go.
On the other hand Swen Vincke and Charlene Putney from Larian ask themselves:
I don’t get why @whalenought ’s copper dreams isn’t already funded -loading...
Wednesday - May 18, 2016
Copper Dreams - Combat Walkthrough
Copper Dreams have another update. This one focuses on combat mechanics and goes into a lot of detail.
We wanted to give a brief demonstration of combat mechanics, as this is a unique system to the CRPG world. We've had some questions on the basics, and while we'll continue to go over specific elements throughout the campaign this should act as a good starter to give you an idea of where we're headed with it. The premise is utilizing turn-based combat with simulated, timed actions. These actions can happen simultaneously, and create a more dynamic battlefield.
Below is a walkthrough of an encounter with a patrol guard:
[All animations and art are very much still a work in progress]
The Combat Bar
The core of the combat system is the combat bar, as pictured below. The combat bar shows you the players in combat and their place on the timeline.
Upon joining combat, everyone rolls initiative to see where they are placed on the timeline, and then progress downward. The timeline is moving until one of your characters hits the Turn Bar. The actions of enemies are instantaneously chosen and the timeline continues without a break.
When one of your characters land on the Turn Bar, the timeline stops and they can choose an action. Once selected, that action plays out and the combat bar timeline continues.
During the execution wait time, the length of which is dependent on your action, your character is prepping their action: aiming, re-balancing for a swing, or preparing to use an item. At the Execute Bar they fire off the action, and return to the top of the timeline and resume traveling down again. If more than one action is required (like multi-shot or suppressing fire), the character is held at the action bar until complete.
Saturday - May 14, 2016
Copper Dreams - Kickstarter Update
After just one day on Kickstarter Copper Dreams is 40% funded - and more boxed collector editions are available now:
Thank You + Reward Info + More Boxes!
Thank you so much to everyone for supporting us and making our first day back on Kickstarter a fantastic one! We're so excited to be 35% funded after one day! You guys are incredible, and your interest in Copper Dreams means so much to us. We're very excited to start showing you more throughout the campaign.
The next update will go over combat in detail with a video walkthrough, so stay tuned for that!
More Boxed Editions
We've had many requests about including more Boxed Collector's Editions. We initially based these numbers around our Serpent ones, but we'll happily increase the amount of Boxed Collector's Editions. We're going to have to hole up somewhere like a monk with some ale and sew all those books. We've added 15 more, so if you're interested, those will be available shortly following this update.
The Code Tapes
A few folks have had questions about these. The code tapes are only mentioned in the rewards section (we changed the name from code dial so it wasn't mistaken for a DOS copy protection system), but we think it's pretty neat, so we wanted to share a little more about it and explain what they are. Inspired by WWII era one-time-tape code machines, these code tapes involve an in game GUI of a cypher strip you can drag over a key, opened by any computer wired into a syndicate's main frame terminal. It's basically a key and a cipher, and when set one atop the other, they reveal a message. The decoded message is automatically listed below the terminal.
So if you knew the code was meant for line 16, you'd just drag it over it.
These are used in game with the help of some overlapping GUIs, but we thought it would be fun to give you a physical cipher with your handbook that matches a secret digital key strip that exists in Calitana. There will be a scaler involved so that you can get it just right for whatever your resolution is. This will also include a plain text code so you can decipher it.
The physical code tapes will be placed inside the agent handbooks with the $75+ tiers, as well as a printable version for everyone else getting a digital version of the book.
Interactive Map Executable
We've also had some questions on this reward for $35+ tiers. The Interactive Map Executable is a file your syndicate gives you alongside the handbook to help you in your job as an Agent of Asset Inquiries in Calitana. This will be packaged with the art book contents of your reward, as a separate application when you receive your digital copy of the game. Inside contains interactive maps of many of the areas you might be exploring with notes and helpful information from your syndicate, including information such as sources of energy for recharging weapons and cybernetics, buildings that are easy to radio from, and names of allies and merchants that work with your syndicate.
This can all be found in-game, but this is the equivalent of what your field operators see and is a fun look at the game in a different perspective. Since your syndicate is not omnipotent, this information reflects their knowledge of Calitana, and is only as much information as they would give someone on your starting pay grade. It also importantly gives you a good amount of history on certain locations as well.
We've discussed the physical handbooks ($75+) in detail on the Kickstarter page, but for those of you that have backed at that tier, we thought you might like to see us branding one in action. The wood takes to the brand well, even with the cabernet/blood colored stain. Some of early efforts with different types of wood turned out quite poorly, resulting in non-Syndicate worthy brands, but we're really happy with how this final one turned out. Wolffz Bay Shipping and Services Approved.
Thanks again for all your support! We're so excited to have you all on board with Copper Dreams!
Hannah & Joe
Friday - May 13, 2016
Copper Dreams - Kickstarter Live
The Copper Dreams kickstarter is now live with a goal of 40K and 29 days to get there.
We're so excited to be back on Kickstarter with our new game, Copper Dreams! It's an isometric, party-based, turn-based, pen-and-paper-inspired game in a dystopian cyberpunk setting. Think an isometric Escape from New York, or Deus Ex.
As an Agent of Asset Inquiries that syndicates hire to gather items, intel and citizens of value, you'll often be put through sensitive situations not to win but to minimize your level of failure and tackle conflicts with clever stealth (or lots of bullets).
Our previous successful Kickstarter, Serpent in the Staglands, featured a no-handholding philosophy, an open world, and challenging puzzles. We got a lot of great feedback and learned a lot from the experience, and have moved forward with a new RPG we think you'll love with even more systems and mechanics to support this gameplay style.
Copper Dreams emphasizes the adventures that happen between quests and narrative events, which can be just as fun, unexpected and dangerous. To enable this, the player will traverse a cyberpunk world while scaling buildings, taking part in turn-based combat between humans, robots and many other types of foes, all while managing their character's health through a detailed system of physical ailments.
Players have many tools to help them succeed in their missions. The player can engage in espionage gathering, modifying and upgrading weapons and disabling or killing enemies by targeting specific body parts. To do this justice we've designed a ruleset from the ground up we call the Burning Candle to work with all these mechanics.
Thanks Kordanor for letting us know!
Tuesday - May 03, 2016
Copper Dreams - Kickstarter 12th May
If you like cyberpunk and classic crpg style mark 12th May into your calendar. Whalenought Studios kickstarter for Copper Dreams was announced on twitter.
Source: Whalenought Studios
Monday - February 29, 2016
Shane Plays - Interview with Joe & Hannah Williams
Shane Plays interviews Whalenought Studios duo Joe and Hannah Williams about Copper Dreams and the expansion to Serpent in the Staglands. (Interview starts at 5.50.)
Saturday - February 27, 2016
Copper Dreams - Preview Video
Whalenought Studios released a preview video for their next game Copper Dreams:
We’re very excited to share a preview video for Copper Dreams showcasing some setting and gameplay details! While this used our tech demonstration assets you can get a glimpse at where we’re headed in that brave new world of 3d, as well as some mechanics.
We have another post in the works detailing the Health and Resting system which enables a lot of the systems happening in the game, and is the foundation of the Burning Candle ruleset. We also will be having some news for the Serpent in the Staglands expansion, so stay tuned for that.
Alpha preview of the setting for Copper Dreams, a cyberpunk, cybertactical party-based crpg in development for PC, Mac and Linux!
Kickstarter and demo information coming soon. Be sure to check out our musings page for more updates detailing the ruleset and mechanics behind the game!
Friday - February 12, 2016
Copper Dreams - Preview and Ruleset Details soon
Whalenought Studios have announced on there website that a Copper Dreams preview will be available February 25th. The ruleset will be pen and paper inspired - details below.
The Candle Burns
On February 25th we are happy to finally unveil our Copper Dreams preview. At that time we will also be starting a series of posts detailing the ruleset and world mechanics we've made that will be used for the game as well as the future Vol campaigns, which to help house their similarities amongst very different campaigns we've decided to name as The Burning Candle ruleset.
Mechanics are designed from aspects of pen and paper we enjoy and thought would synchronize well into various systems that only a computer format can execute on: environmental combat simulations and the use of time on a global and micro level. Time is the focus on a lot of elements, and branches into many of the mechanics we'll be going over.
It's a primarily d8 ruleset that is specifically focused on the adventure part of roleplaying, with an importance on resting and downtime and the repercussions that has throughout. As you progress characters there is less throwing larger and larger piles of dice at opponents and more emphasis on strategic use of items and positioning in an ever dangerous combat mode.
The ruleset encompassed everything from dice rolls, challenge rolls, environmental uses, interactive items, combat, and player management of systems to the implications of the global clock. We're excited to start sharing more on the 25th with our first topic!
Tuesday - September 29, 2015
Copper Dreams - New Whalenought game
Eye spotted that RPG Site annouced in a tweet that Whalenought's new game is named Copper Dreams.
Copper Dreams is a stealth game:
The best way to engage an enemy is on your own terms. Realtime shadows, sounds, and enemy vision are dangers and aides as you grapple to get the upper hand in encounters in a city that is suspicious at best and hostile at worst.
Learn to manipulate the electric grid, shoot out lights and cameras, and re-program patrols to control your environment. If an enemy can't see you, they can't put a bullet in you, saving precious healing resources to tape yourself up and avoiding critical ailments that require your precious time and money for clinics.
Where you can use implants:
Stagger the odds in your favor with good hardware. A torso shell to house the brain, a chainsaw arm, built in wrist recoil, cloaking rigs, and mobile eyes are among the specialties of the cybernetics artists in Calitana, where food is scarce but copper is cheap.
Construct your party with cybernetic enhancements, synergizing with skills and items, to create unique builds for your team.
It has turn-based combat:
Engage enemies in strategic, turn-based combat with time-based resolution. Execution time for a turn's actions adds an extra tactical element, and gauging when to attack, hide, intercept or engage in a full-party assault can turn the tide of battle in your favor.
The means to survival not only rests in strategic planning, but the tools and training at your disposal. A variety of ammunition and weapons carry different strengths for different situations, and skills like engineering and chemistry widen your range of tactics in combat.
And it takes place on an island:
Dumped onto the island world of Calitana, you are one of hundreds drafted to ease the overcrowding that is rapidly miring the citizens of Earth in famine, violence and poverty. Once a beacon of hope, the isolated Calitana quickly devolved from lustrous to disastrous, unable to support its settlers, and overrun with unbridled corruption and lawless syndicates.
From waterways to rooftops, adaptability on the island means scaling the city heights, be it to avoid syndicate eyes or to explore the depths and secrets within. An isometric, fully 3d world allows for vertical freedom and movement. Traverse through districts by vaulting through windows, grappling hook to decks above, or jumping building to building. There's no way off Calitana, but there are a myriad of ways through it.