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A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
A real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open world cyberpunk city, from the creator of Syndicate Wars.
15,029 backers pledged £461,333 to help bring this project to life.

Game Design Chat Video #2 Classes and Death

Posted by 5 Lives Studios (Creator)

Greetings Agents,

We have another game design chat video with Mike, Dean, Chris, Mitch and Brent decided to show his ugly mug. In this episode we go over the class system and how death works in more detail as well as a cameo from our mascot, Bob.

We've also summarised the video in point form below for those who want a quick overview of what is discussed in the chat.

Here's a direct link to the full chat

Agent Death

  • Agents can and will die!
  • If your agents body dies their consciousness is removed and implanted into a new body. 
  • Agents will keep their skills and abilities which are carried across with their consciousness. 
  • New agents are cloned from a selection of bodies back at base.
  • New bodies can be obtained by multiple means, like: purchasing them from the black market or harvesting them from the population. 
  • Cloned bodies have genetic traits that give small bonuses to your agents. 
  • Agents lost in the field will lose their augmentations and equipment but if you are fast enough you can salvage the corpse for spare parts or we have multiple insurance packages available to suit your needs.


  • Your squad is comprised of 4 different agents, each with their own class or speciality: Soldier, Support, Assassin or Hacker. 
  • This is only the agents starting point. 
  • You are free to customise each of your agents to be fully combat oriented, fully espionage oriented, or anything in-between. 
  • Agents will be able to be customised by giving them different augmentations, skills / abilities, weapons and gear. 
  • Each of these customisation options will allow them to play more of a combat role or an espionage role, or anything in-between.

We will have a full transcript of the chat available soon.

- 5 Lives Team


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    1. Missing avatar

      Luke Smith on

      The more I hear, the more I'm excited for your game! Something that occurred to me when you talked about using clones is that in real life, a person would gain a level of notoriety if they are repeatedly caught on camera or seen by guards when they infiltrate buildings etc. This notoriety could make for an interesting game mechanic for more seasoned clones.

    2. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      @TheChosenOne we definitely want there to be a penalty for dying. It will be as hendawg_ofthemiddle explains: each time your agent dies and a new clone is created the clone will degrade and lose some of its stats. You will also lose all of your augmentations and weapons. When we are in production we will play with the degrading of the agents stats and loss of money and maybe xp to see what the best option is.
      - Chris

    3. Missing avatar

      Vin Reisling on

      Not actual gameplay footage... now I want to see a game where it is.

    4. Gillsing on

      One issue I can see with four agents, each with their different class, is that a small group of specialists is the archetypical group of heroes, whereas a group of four virtually identical agents would feel more like archetypical badguys. Seems like that'll be a piece of the Syndicate 'atmosphere' that'll go missing. (Though I'd settle for having just two identical agents.)

      That insurance thing sounds kind of unrealistic: If you can get an insurance company to pay you money without ratting you out to the corporations you're fighting, couldn't you just get them to pay you money for nothing, like a huge, hacked ATM? (But that's the kind of thinking that prevents me from getting anything done, so I should probably not think about stuff like that.)

    5. TheChosenOne on

      Seems like dieing brings benefits instead of the other way around?

    6. hendawg_ofthemiddle on

      Would prefer bit more perm death, granted in original if you didn't capture people eventually ran out, took it as lives in the game. Liked metaphor of the workers, the corporations didnt care who they where. But if agents are less expendable. Maybe have that if you clone one too much, they degrade a bit or get really dumb- maybe on higher difficulties ? But looking forward to the game

    7. Mark O'Toole on

      Hey guys, have you thought about having some kind of weapon for later in the game that prevents and fries the consciousness of the agent before it has a chance to get back for cloning to make the game more challenging? Or, if the consciousness is always kept safe at the base and is just 'updated' whenever an agent is home, surely that means that death during mission undoes any progress since the last home visit?

    8. Missing avatar

      Lee Griffiths on

      I'm not keen on the continual mention of a 'story'.

      How much influence does the story have over the gameplay and the direction the player would like the steer the game? Will it railroad and prevent the player's decision making, or is it nothing but fluff?

    9. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      @Andrew, We appreciate your thoughts, it shows you are passionate about the project.

      A lot of the reason for keeping to the 4 different agents comes down to balancing the game and giving everyone a great experience.
      If we allow all 4 agents to have the same skill at the same potency it may actually be way too overpowered. If that is the case it means we would actually have to make the individual skill 1/4 as powerful in case a player decided to give all 4 agents the same ability.
      We end up either having the problem that if you stack your abilities one way you would either be overpowered or you would be forced to stack all of your agents in a particular ability in order for them to be effective at all. Having nerfed abilities or overpowered tactics doesn't seem like a fun way to balance the game.

    10. Perro de la Muerte on

      How do you intent to manage the capturing of civs? You "persuade" them and lead to base? Or do you stun/kill (can you use dead bodies?) them and collect with somekind of transport?

    11. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      @Ramus You'll have the ability to scan an see the stats of a civilian before you use their body as an empty vessel for your agents. This allows you to hand pick your team before they're entered into the cloning program.

    12. Jörn Huxhorn

      If it's possible to increase weapon damage by hacking and "overclocking" them then it should also be possible to make the enemies weapons go BOOM by overoverclocking. ^^
      (Or just disable them. But that is less interesting...)

    13. Rasmus Frost on

      When you find new "meat" agents, will their classes be randomly determined after you enter them for a cloning program?

      Like if you capture 5 civilians. How does the game determine which one of those 5 will be what classes? Or does the game try to even that out?

      Like... could you get 5 soldiers in a row for cloning? Or any of that sort.

    14. Andrew Pierce on

      I love the way death works, but still don't like the class stuff, being forced into 1 of each is likely to just be frustrating. There will almost certainly be a skill you really like but that only one of your agents can use and that's annoying as hell it essentially limits you to having a quarter of the fun you otherwise would be able to. You said they'd have some unique skills so you are either going to have that problem in the game, or the unique skills won't be very good which avoids the problem but renders unique skills pointless.

      IMO you should just have a single set of skills for all 4 agents, and just let the player decide which specialty paths to go down, that way a player that loves a particular set of skills can have 2 or 3 agents that are heavy on the those skills and 1 or 2 that cover their other needs. In line with the death system you could still initially give each agent a body that is better for a certain specialty because the player can choose to replace it for a different one that suits their needs better later on.

      Classes worked in the new XCom because you had several characters of each class and could change the composition of the party for a mission to have more characters of the classes you liked, and less of the ones you didn't. While I understand that the class system you are proposing is a lot less rigid than in XCom making them separate or unique in any way and forcing 1 of each on the player is just going to cause more frustration than fun. There would be few things worse than having to control dud agents with skills you don't enjoy, and if the classes can be made to be similar enough to one you like for it not to be a problem why have different classes at all?

    15. Perro de la Muerte on

      Nevermind.. It seems that I read the post incorrectly.

    16. Pierre Nilsson on

      Another source of inspiration, if you haven't already found it, is Masamune Shirows Ghost in the Shell. They touch on the questions of that is means to be a cyborg, the connection between body and soul and the implications, remote hacking into bodies etc.

    17. Perro de la Muerte on

      How about instead of using clones as agent bodies, you capture civilians/cops/etc which have lower grade chips and use them?

    18. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      @Steve, The customisation of your teams name\logo is something we want to try and incorporate. Names may be restricted to short nicknames for each agent though as the bodies of the citizens you recover throughout the city will be named after actual backers of the game!

    19. 5 Lives Studios Creator on

      @Ber, sounds like something we should check out!. When the death concept was first brought up internally it reminded me a lot of Frank Miller's Hard Boiled graphic novel.


    20. Ber on

      Have you guys read the book 'Altered Carbon' by Richard Morgan? If you haven't, you really need to: It's a cyberpunk/detective noir book which features digitising human consciousness and switching it between bodies like you are planning (also it’s a really good read). It explores the concept in a lot of detail and I think would provide you a lot of really good ideas that would translate well to game mechanics.

      It calles bodies 'sleeves', and they can be acquired in various sorts like someone's old body, grown clones, and synthetically created bodies. The book explores which aspects of a persons abilities are transmitted with the mind and which with the body.

      For example in relation to combat, the bodies muscles factor into strength and speed, while the mind has learnt hand-to-hand fighting techniques or weapon proficiency. Some exceptional bodies are enhanced with mechanical or chemical cybernetic upgrades that allow them to have abilities much stronger than normal humans.

      Also on the stealth side of things, a 'normal' human body could be better at stealth by being inconspicuous while a synthetic or enhanced body that provides inhuman bonuses could look noticably inhuman so be worse at stealth. Also, gaining a specific person's body could allow infiltration by posing as that person to NPCs and for fingerprint or retina security scans.

      One aspect in the book that I think could be great in the game is consciousness transfer is not just on death but can be done any time. This could provide interesting decisions to the player - they can bring a stealth body for a covert mission then switch to super-strength body for the next, or even deliberately switch to a cheaper body for a mission they expect to end kamikaze for that agent.

      I can also see a neat solution to death penalties from the way the book handled it. Consciousness is backed up at base before missions, and then on death your character resumes from that backup, so one cost of death is that experience gained during a mission would be lost on death. Also, rather than just cloning off bodies at will, make it so each acquired body has one copy of it to use by default, and you actually have to spend money/time cloning it or buying another one, so your supply of 'good' bodies is something you have to manage carefully.

      But what if you run out of bodies then? The book has a good answer to that: cheap 'synthetic' bodies that aren't even as good as a regular human body that the cash-strapped have to use. You can have your mysterious benefactor provide unlimited of these basic 'synthetic' bodies to use as plan B - they would have no special bonuses at all but let you carry on and do some side missions or go hunting to get more good bodies.

      I hope you guys find this wall of text helpful :) I'm really looking forward to the game!

    21. Missing avatar

      SphaZ on

      @graham Thomas: I agree, part of the challenge is the fear of losing an agent. Maybe there will be a hardcore mode where dead=dead :)

    22. Philippe on

      This game is going the right way! I think it's a real good idea to include different level of difficulty but no only for IA, NPC, etc...also for the game experience like mentioned before of loosing skills if dying, money perhaps, whatever could be!

    23. Steve Jaworski on

      I'm very hopeful there will be customization along the lines of Syndicate. Ie.. naming and choosing your faction's logo. Perhaps being to edit your agent's names too?

    24. Kirk Brownridge

      Can I have Bob as one of my agents?

    25. Narq on

      Kind of somewhere between XCOM and EVE with this.

    26. Jalister on

      Or an agent dies, they could revert back to the last time their consciousness was backed up. That backup would be loaded into a new body.

    27. Koshinator on

      @ Graham - It shouldn't be too difficult for them to include a hardcore difficulty with permadeath to cater to all those purists out there ;)

    28. Bledcarrot on

      I'll admit I'm a bit disappointed that agents keep skills and abilities after they die. One of the things I love about these kinds of games is that you get attached to your team members, you develop them and watch them grow and this makes the game more tense and exciting because you're consciously aware that a bad decision could see you lose them. I think there needs to be more of a penalty for dying, a significant reduction in skills/abilities. I'm not sure loss of augmentations is enough punishment. But just my personal preference.

    29. Jalister on

      Love this update. Thanks for more details on the classes.

    30. Kahuna Kevin on

      Cloning reminds me exactly of Origin Systems AutoDuel.

    31. Peter Fern on

      As more details are revealed, my fears are slowly being allayed :-)