With the prelude released we've been taking on board a lot of new feedback and criticism. The physics and general complexity of the game are a big part of what make it interesting but can also make things a little difficult. Not everyone embraces change but we've done our best to filter the impatience of some from the genuine concerns of others. Tripping over too often in dark cluttered environments, fighting your own character when opening doors, some difficulty in precisely controlling your character when they are also at the mercy of physics and many others are legitimate issues that we've been striving to improve.
With our latest release we've addressed many of these issues, made some important further advancements in our animation system and generally improved and fixed many things. The response has been very positive and we think the game has now overcome its major shortcomings and the difficulties brought by its innovative features. Now we can once again move to making some real progress. Our latest release of the prelude does already bring some important new features.
We've completed our advancement system and the basis of our skill system. Our aim with the advancement system is to support and make viable any play style and to discourage grinding or repetitive things. We want you to play normally and keep doing what you want. Experience is awarded for every little thing you do and everything you see and discover. Nothing grants experience more than once and the world is fully persistent so essentially your characters must always experience new things. Experience is not given in large chunks but in usually minute quantities and in a very detailed way. Your character will gradually absorb this and learn from it over time. In Sui Generis there is also an element of occasional practice that is still designed to not reward you for stubborn repetition.
The skill system has undergone a lot of revision over the course of development. We've stuck to our fundamental design but where our actual skills were initially closer to a more typical RPG system we felt that Sui Generis had gained a strong identity that did not support something so simplistic. All our skills are now designed to have meaningful and unique effects on characters and to complement rather than overlap with the already well established physics and player skill elements.
There are 7 major skill categories: Close Combat, Ranged Combat, Shields, Armour, Insight, Concentration and Meditation. Each of these has 5 possible levels of expertise beyond Inept: Aspirant, Novice, Adept, Expert and Master. These levels are achieved by training a Technique for a maximum of 5 per skill. There are a total of 8 Techniques to choose from in each skill for a total of 56 techniques. Your character will have a total limit of known techniques to further diversify builds, you will be able to forget certain techniques and train new ones in their place however.
The current skills work with the most important close combat mechanics. They model basic combat training well and diversify characters and tactics without affecting the simple control scheme and the nature of the combat.
MECHANISMS, TRAPS AND PUZZLES
An RPG needs its moving parts and environment interaction. In Sui Generis however it is not enough to play some animations and run some scripts. Everything that moves must be subject to physics and interact with everything else realistically; scripts are obscure to AI, prone to being too rigid and unable to account for truly dynamic conditions.
We've added some important features to our physics engine to implement all sorts of mechanical behaviours and devices that are able to gracefully deal with meddling physics and players. In the latest Exanima release you can see levers, buttons, pressure plates, portcullises, trapdoors, pits, fire traps and puzzles. The important thing is however that you can jam portcullises, push levers or lock them into place with objects, push buttons and plates by leaning or dropping things on them, cross pits by laying planks across them and even divert the flow of fire. This opens up many possibilities that we've only just begun to explore and gives the world that consistent functional behaviour that we're so keen on.
One of the core design concepts behind Sui Generis is that everything carries meaning. We use what we call "conceptual types" which describe every little thing in the game world, what it is, what it's used for, what its qualities are and how it behaves. Everything must operate by a well defined set of rules without exception and this information can be understood by AI which is then able to make connections and reasoned assumptions. A tool isn't a generic object, it's something with real applications within certain activities and professions. A mechanism isn't just an obscure script, but a functioning thing allowing any NPC to potentially understand its workings and purpose.
All these things are created through simple graphical interfaces and well defined but flexible rules with complexity emerging from design and dynamic behaviours.
With the release of the prelude we were rushing to get many things in a fully functional and polished state but recently we've been catching our breath and looking again at the big picture. We've been making steady progress on many fronts and now we're looking at everything that still needs to come together in the future and making sure that everything for Sui Generis is still on the right track.
With many core and other assets developed to satisfaction we've had a little more breathing room. One of the first things we did is take many assets we would have used, saved them for Sui Generis and taken the time to create new unique things for both games. The underworld plays a very important role in Sui Generis and the deeper you go the more strange it becomes. What you currently see in Exanima is intentionally unremarkable but that will change. It is this contrast that brings our low fantasy setting to life and makes discovery all the more exciting. Developing original designs that are true to the game's unique lore is the biggest challenge we've faced artisitically. Having now invested some more time in it we're very happy with how it has evolved. Sorry, no screenshots here because we want you to experience it properly!
All in all things are going very well. We've put so much effort into getting all these innovative features first off the ground and then to flourish. We've stayed true to our goals and gone beyond, succesfully achieving much more than we thought we would. It's great now to be working on this wonderful game and focus almost entirely on features and content. The only major development goal still ahead of us is completing the AI and dynamic event system for Sui Generis. With a solid foundation and what we've already put behind us we're striding ahead with confidence.