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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.

Cybernetic Laser Arms and Community Page Live

Posted by Whalenought Studios (Creator)
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ATTENTION ALL CITIZENS.
ATTENTION ALL CITIZENS.

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.

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.

The Palette

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.

Orchid has two extra cybernetic laser gun arms to make quick work of an enemy
Orchid has two extra cybernetic laser gun arms to make quick work of an enemy

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
The Qui M30 Bike

System

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.

Sometimes you just gotta tell them to get a move on.
Sometimes you just gotta tell them to get a move on.

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

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
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.

Comments

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    1. Daniel Leslie on

      Fantastic progress!

    2. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      Thanks guys! Lots more to show off soon. Having some mini-posts on the forum being prepped as well.

      Resonant Drifter — thanks man, we were exhausted of the mush too. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it in action soon!

      Jabberwok — the scenes shown off here are during a mid-day round, so the color grading is as bright as things get. We'll show off the day/night cycle next update, colors, fog and linework art changes throughout the day in realtime every set amount of rounds. Aesthetically more noir at night while retaining the visuals needed for the illustrated look, and interiors black-out tiles outside a characters line-of-sight, so that gets much more claustrophobic.

      We're just happy the vehicles got into the alpha, thought they might have to be updated in later. Enemies grabbing their own motorbikes to chase you down or flee is good fun.

    3. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on

      Wow, this is crazy. I had to double check the game title, things look so different. You guys are doing a lot of amazing stuff. I've liked every evolution of the art style before, though I have to say that I miss the look as it was in update 18, with the night streets and moody lighting. The world colors are so bright now that I'm having trouble picturing that. Maybe these are just daytime shots and that's throwing me off? I feel like I need to see more of it.

      That said, all of the mechanical stuff mentioned sounds pretty impressive. I thought you were joking about driveable vehicles at first.

    4. Scotoma
      Superbacker
      on

      Looks terrible

    5. Resonant Drifter on

      Wow!

      I love my dystopian futures, but when I saw the drab colors of the last update which blended together into mush I wasn't too thrilled but I was sticking with it because I knew the game would be an amazing experience because you guys rock!

      When I saw this update I was more than thrilled! I love the grungy black outlines with the 80s colors, the way the shadows work together, the way the AI is working, everything!

      I can't wait to get my hands on this because I know with all you put into this game it will be awesome!

    6. Neekopol on

      Hoooooly! Looks sweeeeet!

    7. Missing avatar

      Derick Stevens on

      Wow. The game looks impressive and well polished. I can see being bummed about the change in artistic style, for sure, but I cannot deny the slickness of the new design. It does change the feel, though, less toward a dark dystopia, and more in the direction of a comic book one, (as noted by cb.spyke). Reminds me, personally, of a jet set radio type of art style. Cool stuff, regardless.

    8. aratuk on

      I like the new look, and I also think this aesthetic is more likely to help the game be a success.

      Cybernetics sound awesome!

    9. Gabriele Svelto on

      I was a bit disappointed about the new look in the previous update but I'm pretty much sold on it now. The bike is awesome.

    10. Missing avatar

      Demetrius on

      I'm not a fan of the new style. It's wildly different than what the game was campaigned with. I get that these projects can change directions as development goes on, but I can't help but feel disappointed. Maybe the new direction will grow on me, but for the time being I've lost interest.

    11. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      All backers should have their badges on the forum now!

    12. Missing avatar

      cb.spike on

      I was backing VHS look from 80s not European comics look so this is still hard to swallow for me. But do what you need to do.

    13. Missing avatar

      H.J on

      Looks amazing. Great work.

    14. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      All users from Kickstarter and pre-orders have been added at this time to the forum (to the best of our knowledge). Everyone has a nice comfy chair to sit on. Updating everyone with their badges to go with it shortly.

      http://whalenoughtstudios.com/community/forums/topic/kickstarter-and-pre-order-accounts-created/#post-615

    15. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      Thanks so much Allen

    16. Missing avatar

      Allen Marcus on

      The visuals are unique and satisfying and far beyond the "shovel-ware technology range". Thank you for boldly going beyond what backers may have expected to something truly unique and exciting.

    17. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      Colors will certainly vary depending on the theme of the map, but more grays and drab still works well within our illustrative look. We're just happy to be out of the shovel-ware technology range of visuals we've been at for a while now and working with a style we're loving to use — will be tweaking it through alpha, of course.

      Events happening in the game have simple goals in very system-rich environments, we've been working on a lot of simulation systems to that end, so hopefully you'll enjoy it! We'll make a post about that specifically closer to the alpha as we finish some of them off. Civilians for instance use telephone booths if they are near them to call in MFI troops to sweep an area for trouble if they see you as a threat — lots of small-scale ai additions and more large scale simulations make up a lot of the challenge.

    18. More_Badass on

      Not sure if I like the color palette yet. The original look really fit that 80s industrial cyberpunk/sci-fi style

      However, I do love this is leaning even more heavily into immersive sim territory

    19. Whalenought Studios 2-time creator on

      We're in the middle of importing everyone's profile into the community forum, I'll post back when all those emails are sent out!