In this update, I wanted to write about one of the basic design goals I am aiming for with Enemy. One of the things I like most about X-Com, Deus Ex, and many of my other favorite games, is the detail of the underlying simulation, and the opportunities it affords the gameplay. Those games have several detailed rulesets to govern how the world works, and they allow gameplay to arise naturally from how the player interacts with those rulesets, and how those rulesets play off of each other. There is a robustness to the choices those games present to the player that I wanted to emphasize and explore in Enemy. For example, in the main video on the Kickstarter page, there is a moment where an enemy enters a hut, and instead of going in after him, the player simply blows up the entire hut with a bomb. However, the player could also have destroyed the hut by causing a large tree nearby to fall on it, which you can see in the attached video.
My goal in implementing a system like this is not the graphical effect, but the gameplay possibilities it presents. Everything in Enemy is simulated in great detail, and interacts the way you would expect it to. If the hut had been made from a stronger material, or the tree less massive, this strategy wouldn't have worked. That means you'll never be applying the same rote strategy over and over again; each encounter heavily relies on the specific details of the situation you're in. Because everything interacts the way you would expect it to, it is possible to plan in great detail, but just as in real life, those plans must remain open and adaptable as the situation changes. It also makes the world just feel a lot more believable, I think.
The core dynamic of Enemy, along with many RPGs and tactics games, is the interaction of two kinds of gameplay. The first is about how you choose to build your team over the long term: for example, how you develop the skills of your heroes, and how you choose to equip them for their travels. The second is tactically applying the abilities and items you have in order to survive in the situations you find yourself in. Enemy mostly leans towards having large, open environments, with many vectors of approach, because I don't want situations to feel like a puzzle with a correct answer. Instead, I want them to feel like a wide field of possibilities that is always changing. If the tactical layer is rich and detailed, then the long term decisions you make seem much more interesting as well, because they are the foundation of the possibilities that are available to you.
There are downsides to this approach. As a designer, it is hard to maintain complete control over how strong various strategies are, since part of the goal of this design is that players may be able to come up with creative approaches to problems that I myself may not have foreseen. But I think that what you gain back, in terms of the richness you can get from a really detailed simulation, is worth the added work on the balance side.
Thanks for reading! The next update will be much less abstract, and feature skills and enemies.
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