Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 8, 2013.

Update #3

Design Goals

9 comments

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.

Regards,
Tom Johnson

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Comments

    1. Me2.small

      Creator Tom Johnson on February 22, 2013

      Thanks Stern! I totally agree with you. For a lot of my favorite games, the moment that I really got into them was when I came up with some kind of crazy or unusual scheme, and the game actually let me do it.

    2. Missing_small

      Creator Stern1710 on February 21, 2013

      It looks really great. When everything in the game works like this, i can`t wait to play it.
      Imagine: You tree1 tree2 enemy
      You hit tree1, it falls on tree2 and the tree2 falls one enemy and kills it. This would give a new tactics.

    3. Me2.small

      Creator Tom Johnson on February 19, 2013

      Thank you Tim. I can't wait to make it. I'm glad you liked the update. It always takes me a while to put my thoughts down in writing, but it helps me to clarify those thoughts, even to myself. :)

    4. Me2.small

      Creator Tom Johnson on February 19, 2013

      Blocks that are part of larger structures also have a concept of structural stability. If blocks they rely on for support are destroyed, they will collapse too. So there is a pretty solid simulation for general building damage as well. I thought I should mention that direct damage isn't the only way objects can be destroyed because it might not be clear from my preceding comment.

    5. Me2.small

      Creator Tom Johnson on February 19, 2013

      Hi Jake! Yes, they do come into play and are already implemented. With a sturdier material the tree would do only minor damage to the roof and end up leaning on the house or sliding off to the side. Every object in the game, including the individual blocks in the house, has health and material properties that determine how much damage it can withstand without breaking. Attacks by players do damage, and so do collisions with moving objects, based on the momentum at the point of contact and the material the object is made from (that's why the leaves and branches get destroyed but the trunk remains intact). That way, object destruction (or lack thereof) arises naturally from the actual physical properties of the objects involved.

    6. Me2.small

      Creator Tom Johnson on February 19, 2013

      Thanks Vincent! I'm going to do my best to keep a steady stream of updates coming to keep everyone informed about the game and my progress on it. I appreciate the kind words.

    7. Apple.small

      Creator Tim West on February 19, 2013

      There's something beautiful about that video. I just keep watching it over and over. I love everything you say in this update and can't wait to play the final game.

    8. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Jake Miller on February 19, 2013

      I do love this! But question. It seems like the house just crumbled to pieces so easily. Will static and stress physics ever come into play? For example, if the house is sturdy enough, perhaps the tree breaks a few blocks off of the roof but it ends up leaning on the house instead. Any plans for that or is that out of scope?

    9. Missing_small

      Creator Vincent Ringo on February 19, 2013

      This is looks incredible! Cant wait for more.

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