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A CRPG featuring cyber-espionage on the edge of the galaxy. Turn based combat with timed actions, stealth and chainsaw arms.
A CRPG featuring cyber-espionage and horror. Turn based combat with timed actions, stealth and chainsaw arms.
A CRPG featuring cyber-espionage and horror. Turn based combat with timed actions, stealth and chainsaw arms.
1,074 backers pledged $43,038 to help bring this project to life.

Ruleset Upgrades for a Cyberpunk Horror Future

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Hi everyone! Excited to finally be back with another update! We plan on having weekly updates until the alpha is out, detailing various aspects of the gameplay we’ve been working on. Our target is to get the alpha slice of the game out to alpha tier backers next month. We will keep you updated as we get close!

 

Speaking of alpha…

Character Heads!

Since we’ve refined what were doing with the art in the game, we’re going to start needing to put heads on characters, and who better but yours. We’ll need character heads for the agents you control as well as enemies and NPCs. For those in the applicable tiers, be on the lookout this next week for an email from us showing what to send in particular for the picture. We’d send out a survey but we only get one of those through Kickstarter, so we’re waiting to use that until later when we need addresses from everyone.

Soundtrack Examples

We wanted to showcase some of the more cheerful tracks we have in the game! A lot of tracks will focus on ambience to add to the horror vibe, but we wanted some standouts for particular situations:

 

 

Background point pool for Virtues, starting Skills, and Advantages / Disadvantages

Instead of just stat numbers, a lot of character output has to do with gameplay styles. We wanted to include more ways to have more interesting starting characters to mess around with. Anything from making your character deaf, unable to run, various phobias, 14 years old, and lots of other ways that are reflected in the mechanics and visuals. This allows you to create interesting characters for a lot of combat variety, and also test yourself to role play fairly flawed characters, mentally, physically, or with fairly suspect past choices in their life.

Having too low of Logic or being illiterate means all text in the game is garbled. We made all the text in the game dynamic so far as to make this full-stop:

Where advantages cost you background points during character creation, disadvantages will gain you some. Here’s our current pending list for these Advantages and Disadvantages as it stands now. Originally we were going to have pre-generated characters for you to use in the alpha, but we’ll now have a character generator like in the actual game where you can create your agents, so you can put these to the test.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the Gained, Advantage, and Disadvantage background traits:

Age also dictates maximum Virtue availability. These are rough numbers to get an idea of how these might influence the character:

Height Slice and Character sight and hearing visuals

Visualizing a character’s line of sight as the character is one of the overarching visuals driving gameplay and simulation — it’s an isometric glimpse into their first-person view. Your character’s vision is also driven by stats, poor eyesight has smaller visions than others, and if you get wounded in your face or an eyeball, you can lose out on part of that radius.

Since the original Kickstarter we’ve refined the visual for it to be more exact (it was also tile-based then). We’ve also added in an additional radius around your selected character that represents their maximum hearing range. This is the distance they’ll automatically be rolling to hear other NPCs, and is their maximum distance of influence in the game, as everything outside of it is black.

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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:

 

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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.

Going into the alpha, here are the current wound categories and all the stats they can influence:

Death and Undeath

This was mainly a challenge shift from try-until-you-win save scumming to that of enduring with your failures. As we design the final maps for the game, one problem we were coming across was the tedium of needing to find areas to try to save, and ended up basing that as essentially checkpoints where it would be heavily implied to. Redoing areas would also end up being tedious as we made Wound-counts lower as well, so we’ve changed the death penalty system for the better.

Our goal was to incorporate the feeling of being in-the-moment without the comfort of knowing you could just reload easily, but without starting the game over or needing to start over at a checkpoint. The solution was just letting your character die, keeping their wounds, and starting them at a safe place (TBD) to resume. The world remains as you left it when you died, and you would patch yourself up, rest, or press on carefully, as any other Wounds would again kill you. It's a wonderfully gamey system that allows you to progress through the game while perpetually being worried about character health.

Animations!

For a while now we’ve been testing with bargain-bin animations to get the job done, and we’ve just recently added in our custom ones and are they quite an improvement. In Serpent in the Staglands we were proud that each weapon type a character could carry had its own custom sprite sheet to go with it. It was another way we could cram some visual identity into those tiny characters. We’re doing the same for Copper Dreams, except with custom animations for each main item type with all different attacks per type. So while that’s a lot more animations, at least we don’t have to animate them in 8 directions.

Our existing system has a base of 110 animations for a weapon type, for instance a pole-arm vs a pistol. This doesn’t include individual reloads per type of weapon, or any unique or special humanoid animations for them, like hulking cyborgs who stomp around or small children who’d visually struggle looking down the sights of a 130 pound Coilgun. Those are fun to do and look at so they are a nice visual addition without much extra costs besides a cup of tea and a few hours. While all these animation speeds are driven by the ruleset and individual character stats these animations act as a general guideline. Nimble characters can jump or kick open doors faster than others, for instance.

Next: Storytelling (and more combat)

As we continue to develop the narrative for ‘Copper Dreams’ (and ‘A Banquet for Fools’) we were often hitting a conflict of interest between storytelling and game systems. Our last two updates detailed how our iterative process continued advancing our game systems, we thought it would be appropriate to explain how those systems influence the narrative as well.

Letting players know what tools they’ll have in a game and in every situation is a critical factor in any p&p or computer rpg, that’s why rulebooks are filled tables. What gets dodgy is when the narrative pigeonholes the player into situations they could have otherwise avoided or changed if they were allowed to just continue using their existing tools. Our next update we’ll show off the dialogue, NPC dispositions levels, tags, and how we’re getting player agency into what ’s normally very authored events.

If you have any questions let us know and we’ll either answer on here or get a video of it in the next update! Cheers!

Tyler Byrnes, Archangel, and 20 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Gabriele Svelto 2 days ago

      I find this project becoming more and more interesting with every update. I'm particularly pleased that you've taken GURPS as an inspiration because it's a system which I'm very fond of and which I've often used myself as an inspiration even when using other rulesets. In particular the idea that advantages and disadvantages influence roleplay (and not just combat stats) is awesome; I'm really glad to see it in action in Copper Dreams.

    2. twincast ~ Mangy WoOS-DOoD Mage
      Superbacker
      4 days ago

      I'd rather have options re saving as well, but no matter, the rest of the update just gave me a simulationistgasm. =D

    3. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator 6 days ago

      And thanks for the input on the combat bar — the rest of the HUD is now more 3d as well, so we want that to be consistent, but it is less readable without the bright white. We'll make those lines inside brighter to stand out more.

    4. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator 6 days ago

      Hey Resonant Drifter, thanks! Yeah we have a large volume of sound libraries, using those for atmospheric effect will be a large part of the sound design for the game.

      We talked on the Codex a bit more about our future plans for permanent death. I think if we go that route we have to full-stop, which has been accounted for with the design, we don't want to waste time balancing more than one system and would like the game experience consistent. I copied and pasted what our plan for that is below:

      We were going to wait for another update around when the alpha is out to roundtable it with players and see what folks think, but permanent death is probably where we'll end up.

      The mini-campaign mission for the alpha, on starting a new game, has the option to have the death-punishment system mentioned where you accrue wounds and continue, as well as a permanent death where you can just re-roll new agents to have another go at it fresh. The past year one of the last iterations we were working on was designing the campaign around permanent death and this kind of death-penalty pacing, but it's been very intuitive and fun designing around permanent death. We weren’t sure if that was going to be a difficult topic to bridge so we wanted feedback when folks started playing a mission proper, but from the sounds of resistance against a weird save system here and the Kickstarter comments it shouldn't be a problem. We'll eventually only have one of them, we don't want to bother worrying about balancing options or muddying the campaign experience.

      For either, there are systems in place that allow players not to die too randomly or as often though, like NPCs not wanting to always fight to the death, unconscious body dump locations you can wake up from if you aren't killed, and just being able to end encounters by sneaking away or avoiding them outright.

      While the game isn't exactly random to the extent of Crawl or something, there is randomization of map positions and events on a new-game that shape Calitana’s history, faction powers, and item/NPCs throughout it, so it’s designed to be fresh each play-through. Creating weird characters and the randomized setting variety for the populous should make it fun to roll new characters and have a stab at surviving through the campaign.

    5. Resonant Drifter on April 19

      First of all OH MY LORD this looks awesome!! I can already see myself creating somebody unique like a deaf sniper or some other odd combination just to see how it plays out! All the effects and stats... :)

      I love the interface (and all) graphics! The action bar looks good, but I think the old simple white line with icons idea fit this interface better. Otherwise it all looks great and adds a unique, dark vibe to the game!

      The soundtrack sounds great and adds to that atmosphere. I hope the game sound effects will add to that as well.

      I'm intrigued by the no save idea... reminds me of a DocWagon. I personally don't have anything against it as it would seem either way you are playing with infinite lives (by saving and reloading constantly or by doing it your way). I would, however, like a way to make it more permadeath. Maybe add a slider scale from "zero awakenings" up to infinite or something like that?

      Anyway, it looks great! I can't wait to play it!

    6. Nicholas-Paul on April 14

      The music is superb too! Very atmospheric!

    7. Nicholas-Paul on April 14

      Now holy smokes this is a great update with a lot of info to absorb! Love everything that's going on. You guys worked really hard on this game and very impressive.

      Also, side note.. I laughed at the picture of low intelligent characters.. Those symbols haha.

    8. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on April 14

      I'm not against the lack of saving, if the game is designed well around it, but the odd result of that is a character being unable to die, right? Is it possible to have a system where the PC can actually die, and has to be replaced? Obviously, this depends on what sort of role-playing will be in the game. But if it were possible, it would help preserve the simulation. And be more similar to a pen and paper game.

    9. icemann on April 14

      Second what Dave said. Give us options, not restrictions.

      That's what RPGs are all about. It goes as much a part of the experience as in how one choose's to roleplay their character. People like giving themselves challenges, and your system would give that, whilst it could also give people the choice to choose between that or manual saving.

    10. Dave, Shadowrunner on April 13

      While I can appreciate Whalenought's thinking re: approach to saving, my initial thought is that I'd prefer options: An iron-man mode with permanent death, a save anywhere (outside of combat) setting, and perhaps the in between method that is being proposed as well. Not sure how feasible that is but I think in a singleplayer game it is best to let players choose which way they like to play.

      In a real PnP game the DM can adjust difficulty immediately in response to how players are doing. Presumably the game can't do that so by forcing players to repeat content after death could potentially detract from the fun factor. Of course a lot of it depends on how large areas are / how much would need to be replayed.

      Not something I feel that strongly about though so I'm sure I'll adapt to whatever system/s are decided on by final release. Knowing me I'll initially restart the game at least a dozen times to test out different builds before deciding which one I want to play anyway.

      All in all, everything in this update sounds fantastic.

    11. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on April 13

      The passing of time and retaining wounds is established for retaining more careful gameplay flow. This is just to shift of focus on how the player is challenged, an in-between of permanent death and a longer CRPG adventure that you don't want to have to start over constantly. Instead of coddling players by letting them save anytime and have the challenge be each individual battle or event, which they can control the outcome of by reloading, they instead are tasked with deciding how to pace inevitable defeats and when to heal after and when to press on. Our goal is to emulate a good old fashioned dungeon crawl, and for the same reason a DM doesn’t allow players to just reload and try again, there needs to be actual repercussions to gameplay for that to be simulated.

      Mountains of text and exposition is the reason most CRPGs just don’t have mechanics like typewriter ink, savepoints, or that actual progressive challenge besides dwindling supplies. They let you save every second so you can see every outcome and experience everything you can during a playthrough. That can be great fun because you don’t think about it and can just game the system as much as possible, but it’s objectively a far throw from actual p&p roleplaying and dungeon crawling.

      @icemann: The design is a focus on avoidance of combat when necessary, as characters can be fairly squishy, which should mitigate the concept of just powering through. Respawning and such isn’t a constant, as well as the equivalent of boss health. It’s certainly gamey, but no more so than dying, knowing the challenge ahead, and then magically reloading to then adapt with that pre-death knowledge. When it comes to saving, logic and simulation is already out the window in most cases, besides something like your example of PST.

      It’s all certainly something we’re flexible on and we’ll see how feedback for the alpha mission is!

    12. Missing avatar

      Archangel on April 13

      Yes Diablo save system also has a side effect called zerging. Player rush into tough combat not caring if they die since they are immortal and can do so over and over until the enemy is eventually dead.

    13. icemann on April 13

      Whalenought: I realize you feel that manual saving takes away consequence, but why not have both? Have your system of death and consequence (which unless your immortal doesn't make sense from a story and logical point of view), and have manual saving for those that prefer that style/challenge.

      Just as say for Planescape Torment where you have both on offer.

      I should note that going the Diablo route as (per your earlier post) of dying, time passing and needing to run back to where you left off. In Diablo's case (Diablo 2 and 3's case to be technical, the first game went the manual save route) this led to much player frustration due to all the enemies respawning / some of them, and a more brute force type approach often being used to whittle down boss's health from repeated attempts bring the boss's health down bit by bit.

    14. Missing avatar

      Archangel on April 13

      All you will do with this is people backing up saves from the save folder and copy them back once they die (since I assume even if we cannot save manually there will be some kind of save and exit system). I know I will because this is too gamey for me from a game that wants PnP (no extra lives, no reload, logical explanation for things) and focuses on simulating many things other games don't.

    15. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on April 12

      Hey guys, thanks for the feedback!

      Some notes comments on save system: This is probably worth going into more detail with another update, but we wanted to strive to make the gameplay have actual consequence. The machine gun saving system encourages a carefree gameplay that lets you just redo challenges to get a desired result, so while you can try new things there’s no consequence to failure, it’s just a meta-game. We want setting off a trap not just be a reason for reload, but a permanent result for lack of spot-checking. So while we’re trying to design more of a p&p style game, we didn't want you to have to roll new characters or redo content on death so you can progress throughout it. That’s going to end up with something super gamey, but making it fun is what was important.

      Dying then is sort of similar to something like Diablo. Time passes as you wake up (which changes time-of-day events), and you keep the wounds that took you down so you’d maybe want to patch up before progressing. Because a nerve gas agent exploding in your face probably wouldn’t result in your character just waking up in the sewers with a headache, we’re not trying to overthink the simulationist aspects to it and overall let it be gamey to hopefully result in more p&p like dungeon crawling gameplay.

      The alpha will include this, and we’re open to more ideas to develop the best roleplaying gameplay systems we can with you guys.

    16. Missing avatar

      Archangel on April 12

      I also don't like the "save" system. The game is simulation focused, the ability to die and magically respawn at entrance of the level ruins that!
      If you are set on using this, make a compelling in world explanation why this is possible.
      Or just give us normal save system and ironman mode or something similar.
      Or have this "save" system be optional in addition to something more classic.

    17. Inca on April 12

      Great job guys

    18. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on April 12

      With the initial KS, I wasn't sold on the move to 3D, but this looks really interesting. Some of the most original ideas I've seen in a while, in this genre.

    19. Missing avatar

      cb.spike on April 12

      Great update. Visuals are so much better now. I see some disadvantages I really want for my character. But I'm also concerned about death system. "The world remains as you left it when you died". I hope it doesn't mean I can return to combat area as many times as I want, kill enemies one by one, not carring how much wounds I accumulate during this process because I can't die. I guess you are planning something that will prevent such behavior. Passage of time maybe? Timed missions?

    20. Zombra on April 12

      This is a brilliant update! So many great ideas here.

      I for one am excited to see such a thoughtful approach to the save system. So many games just let the player save whenever they want with no regard to the negative impact that has on the experience. Stick to your guns!

      I'm very very excited about the diversity of character options. Being able to play as a gutsy old CiWar veteran and smoking addict, or an empathic, religious teenager from way out in the sticks, and having these decisions meaningfully affect gameplay is exactly what I want out of an RPG. Great work.

      Also I have to mention the graphics look brilliant and I love the line-of-sight-and-hearing mechanics as shown. The "slicing" effect is functional and very stylish.

      Looking forward to the next update!

    21. icemann on April 11

      I have to say that I am not a fan of the proposed save system. Having the ability to use manual saves provides greater choice (in how they choose to play your game) to the player.

      Take that away and you have a hit or miss system, where players are forced to play the game according to how the game designer feels that they should be doing. This greatly increases the likelihood of player frustration and stress from back tracking and the loss of items to heal / rest back to optimal efficiency for the big battle ahead, where as a simple reload and they lose no items and can immediately try out a different strategy.

      Why not have both? Give players the ability to manually save, if they so choose as well as have the system you propose? Players would get the best of both worlds under this, and as your development is still at a very early stage it would not have a huge impact on things by implementing it.

      Games which allow players to play their games as they choose to tend to have far greater popularity, than those that impose the personal views of the game designers (in regards to manual saves vs checkpoints).

      Shadowrun Returns went down a very similar path and it was only after the original games release that manual saves were implemented, which by that point in time meant for a huge overhaul in the games engine to allow for it, which = huge money expense for the developers, where as if they had done it early on it would have been minor and less harder to implement, but as they (Harebrained) did not want that in their game, and only did it because of pressure from backers it led to far more expenditure in the end.

      So just take this as a word of warning, as this one may bite you far later on when the game is released.

    22. Sensuki on April 11

      Can confirm the great performance in the current build, as an internal tester - getting 160-230 FPS on my machine (Intel i7 4790K, 16GB RAM, 3GB HD7970)

    23. Missing avatar

      Will on April 11

      No worries.

    24. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on April 11

      Hey everyone! I really have to apologize for the video quality in this post. Our computers are in pretty poor shape, but over the course of development we've made sure the game could run great on a toaster, but the recording software we were using it just brought our computers to a crawl. We'll get a better setup going when we start new videos/marketing.