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The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, August 20 2016 3:01 PM UTC +00:00
pledged of 150 000 $pledged of 150 000 $ goal
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, August 20 2016 3:01 PM UTC +00:00

So, uh, we're still working on the game

Posted by Alex Maier and Jason Sams, Shy Snake LLC (Creator)

Howdy folks! We're still hard at work on Spy DNA, and time flies when you're having fun, so... we totally didn't mean to leave you without an update for this long. Good news: there are many updates, making this post particularly meaty.  

We'll cover procedural mission generation, how we keep the complexity manageable for the player, character creation, status, skills, and attribute screens, and the (final) UI refresh.  

By the way, if you're not following us on Twitter, Tumblr, G+, or Facebook, you totally should, because all these updates were posted there as soon as we published them on our blog. Alex is also pretty good at replying on Twitter and Tumblr, if you have any questions for us.  

Alrighty, let's dive right in.

Complexity in Spy DNA  

At its core, Spy DNA has a complex combat simulation, which took thousands of lines of code to create. We totally geek out on all the tiny details that lend the game its realism, but we don't expect the player to first have to learn how to play our game. We want you to be able to grasp the underlying mechanics intuitively, and simply focus on playing the game.  

When you play Spy DNA, one of the things you will notice is that we have a lot of attributes compared to most RPGs. I’ve heard people give talks saying that six attributes is too many for an RPG, and I consider that silly. I mean, if a console sports game can have 38 attributes (MLB the show), I don’t see why a serious PC RPG shouldn’t have more than 6.  

This is where we clearly see the difference between perceived vs. real complexity. By all accounts the simulation in the MLB game is more complex, but because each attribute is clear and easy to understand and relate to in real-life terms, it never feels difficult to understand or play.  

By comparison, when you have too few attributes, the attributes have to stand for things that are not obvious from the name, such as using dexterity for speed, strength for hit points, or intelligence for spellcasting. Each game has a slightly different system, making it necessary for the player to learn a new set of artificial rules with each game. Learning abstract rule sets is a thing that humans aren’t very good at, and therefore perceive it as complex.
Read the full article

Procedural mission generation  

Ever wondered how we create our generated missions? Have a peek behind the curtain and learn how the missions are built from the ground up, including random NPC generation.  

In most cases, unless it’s an NPC that persists throughout the game, we fully randomize gender, skin color, and body type. Military personnel will [...] have fewer choices in the body type department, as we will only allow them to have an “average,” “fit,” or “fighter” fitness level. Civilians get a fourth option in fitness level: “unfit.” The level of fitness and body type aren’t just for show either, they influence the body owner’s attributes as well, so if you meet someone who looks strong and fit, they very likely are.

To make sure that the spread of different body types is more realistic, we weight the probability of each of them occurring. After all, you don’t see twenty-five MMA-fighter-level-fit people for every hundred you meet.
Read the full article  

Q1 2018 development update  

We put a lot of effort in making the players character fully customizable. Now a few of you gave us a hard time for going overboard here. The reason we put so much effort into this is we unified it with NPC generation. This will let us generate much more unique NPCs for each mission and avoid repeating the same character models over and over.  

During character creation you will be prompted to choose your commanders frame (skinny, average, or heavy), and condition (pro-fighter, fit, average, nerd). This choice determines which character model you will see in game and will also change your attributes. The condition choice biases your attributes towards physical or mental, while the frame choice is a speed/dexterity vs strength/toughness choice.  

Related to this we implemented our appearance reaction model. Each appearance item is rated on several metrics, such as Serious, Classy, Scary, and the ability to conceal weapons or armor. So while you may want to bring the heavy armor to the dinner party, doing so will make it much harder to get people talking, at least by verbal means.
Continue reading  

UI refresh  

Earlier this year Alex spent a lot of time catching the UI up to the current style. What this means is that while many menus such as chat, information/inventory screen, and in-game pop-ups and dialogs have been using the styling that we intend to ship Spy DNA with, other elements were still using outdated graphics. Most noticeably, inventory icons. Visit the blog for before-after comparison


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    1. Alex Maier and Jason Sams, Shy Snake LLC Creator on

      Zombra, thank you for the comment. What we said in the video about an overarching story is still 100% true. The storyline missions will be required to complete to move the story forward.

      In addition to this, you'll have a choice to accept any mission that pops up in your intelligence screen. Those missions are optional and will "expire" (i.e. clear from your intel screen) in a certain number of days, so as not to clog up the UI.

      Come think of it, I should make a short video of the pre-mission flow: how to find the intel screen, how to view and accept missions, and how to go through the infiltration steps. Hang on, I'll do that in a couple of days and post an update on ALL THE social media channels.

    2. Zombra on

      To follow up on the comments about procedural missions - I will be quite satisfied as long as there is indeed an overarching story with an ending to work towards. Random missions by themselves are unsatisfying to me because they quickly feel like they don't have a substantial goal. (Although in a game of this type, it will be nice to be *able* to accept "side missions" - not everything has to be about catching Blofeld.)

    3. Interstellar Marine on

      Glad to hear that you are still working on this!

    4. Alex Maier and Jason Sams, Shy Snake LLC Creator on

      Dave, thank you for your thoughtful comment. We will have a number of custom-scripted, linear story arc missions that will move the story forward and drive character progression, and to make the game fuller and provide higher replay value, we'll also have fully generated missions (which still will have some dialog and variety of locations, infiltration options, and such).

      I totally understand what you mean when you say that generated missions can feel repetitive, so my goal as the writer/storyteller is to put enough variability into them, so that you'll have a different experience each time you decide to take one of those missions.

      A concrete example for you: When creating dialog trees, I build in some logic that will change the course of the conversation depending on what you chose to do before that. Say, if you tend to rely more on intimidation (or seduction, because spy), you may have different dialog options available to you that are unlocked by acting a certain way.

      What you say about the game being primarily focused on tactics/combat is spot-on, so in addition to dialog having some randomness and logic to keep the missions fresh, you'll see a great variety of topographies to provide a new tactical challenge in combat.

      Let me know your thoughts, and if I have left something out that you'd like to know, just ask! I love talking about Spy DNA.

    5. Dave, Shadowrunner on

      Lots of cool looking games seem to vanish after their KS doesn't reach its goal, so it's great to hear you're still working on the game.

      I must say I'm still not really sold on the idea of procedurally generated missions. Randomizing appearance of NPCs is one thing, but I'd worry generating missions might lead to a bunch of very similar scenarios that would get repetitive after awhile. Was definitely an issue for me in X:com Enemy Unknown, for example. Of course it depends on how many different possibilities there are, and whether the generated missions are interspersed between unique designed missions, etc.

      I'll read the full article later. Also I realize this is primarily a combat / tactics game so it's not quite as big an issue as if this were more of a story focused CRPG with randomized quests. But I assume there will also be "special" missions that move the main story forward?

      Anyway, thanks for the update. An extensive set of attributes sounds good to me. Keep at it.