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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.
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.

Dev Diary #03

Greetings Agents!

We have been making leaps and bounds over the last few months. With the studio all set up, we dived straight into making the game! The first step is pre-production. In pre-production, we develop tools and pipelines to make the game (you have all seen a little slice of this with Mitch's last update). We have always believed in having a long pre-production cycle, which means we get plenty of time to figure out exactly how we are doing things, which is essential when you have such a small team like ours. 

Having said that, pre-production does NOT mean no progress: 

Chris and Dean have been working together on a character system that will let us produce an entire city worth of varied civilians with a small amount of base assets . Dean has full control over what types of citizens get what outfits, which outfits go with which hairstyles and what colors work with what combinations. (Dean will go through his pipeline at some point in the future, so stay tuned for that!) 

 Here is an early taste of what Dean has been able to create with only a small number of different models, a couple of textures, and some color palette swaps. 

On the environment side, we have had our amazing concept artist Jeremy Love work on a few quick sketches of buildings and environment pieces, and Brent has working on building up a library of modular pieces to build an entire city out of. 

As for design and code... Mike and Chris have been getting lots of systems up and running in the game: We now have different weapons with ammo upgrades up and running, and an ability system to give the agents abilities like Health regeneration and damage boosts. We also have corporate soldiers patrolling in groups who react to you pulling out your weapon in front of them or hearing guns being fired nearby. Lots of the pieces we need have been built now and the next step is get those pieces all together in a level and let the mayhem begin! 

[MikeD, Just to add a bit more detail on the code side. Enemies now use cover, as does the player. Cover can be a left or right-hand edge of a wall, or a low piece of scenery to duck behind, Enemies now have the concept of squads and can provide covering fire as other members of the squad move from cover to cover. There’s a combination of behaviour system and stack based State Machine running the AI, and the agents also run through this AI system, but following orders issued by the player. Character locomotion and steering is driven by the animation system, code takes direction information from the nav system and feeds it to a couple of parameters for a big Mecanim state tree that can blend in a lean for small direction changes while moving, or can cause the animation system to do a 180/90 or other big changes of direction.] 

Mitch has been working on the weapon anims, this is made more complicated by having 3 different weapon types one handed, two handed and heavy. Mitch and Mike have been fighting with Unity’s lack of independent root motion animation, making it tricky to move AIs in and out of cover fluidly, but after several dead ends, we have a semi-workaround until Unity allows Root Motion to be manually animated. We’ve had not only direct email correspondence with the Unity team, but they even came to our studio for a visit recently, eager to listen to all of our comments and questions to help improve Unity to fit our needs. 

We can also announce that as of now, we have add ons available through PayPal on our web site (just log on and head to the pledge page!) We also have backer only wallpapers available for download on our site! (Again, simply head to the media page and log on)

In other news: Jeremy has launched his own Kickstarter campaign with a few friends we used to work with, Teen Zombie High Squad! Not only is it going to be an awesome comic with some amazing art, you will also get to see our very own Chris as one of the shambling undead and Dean as a survivor. Start placing your bets as to whether Dean kills Chris or Chris kills Dean!

Teen High Zombie Squad

On top of that, friends and local Brisbane devs over at Defiant have launched their own Kickstarter for Hands of Fate, an action RPG mixed with a tabletop card game that allow you to customize your gameplay experience via the cards you choose and earn cards to build your deck. 

Hand of Fate

Lastly, we are only a few hundred dollars off our next stretch goal!!!! o_O wha???? This goal brings Russell Zimmerman on board to write the game’s story, and also introduces 2 new organizations into the battle; the Red Star and the Eternals. It also allows us to build 2 new areas in the game; the Industrial district and the “The Grid” district! ... amazeballs! Lets make it happen!

 - 5 Lives Team


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    1. Edward Kok on November 17, 2013

      Just wondering... from the in game screenshots, are the cities supposed to be foggy/obscured by smoke?


    2. Alexander R on November 17, 2013

      Looking good, keep up the great work. Looking forward to turning my gauss guns loose on the metropolis.

    3. Laurent Maire on November 14, 2013

      Excited to hear about the stretch goal. Good writing for an atmosphere heavy game like yours is important and more faction variety at launch is great news!

      Sounds like you guys really have things buttoned down. Props on your organisational skills and cheers for the update.

    4. René M Jensen on November 14, 2013

      Looking good!. is there any chance we could get bigger screenshots :P i wouldn mind a bigger one of the environmental shot. it looks amazing ,but its so small.

      Would be awesome to have as desktop background.

    5. 5 Lives Studios Creator on November 14, 2013

      Kreza: "Any chance of seeing some get splattered by a gauss gun in the next update?"
      - All in good time my friend. :P

      Methanoid Pete: "...I wonder will their height/frame be randomised as well so their not all 6 ft 2"..."
      - Height variation is something I was loooking into, however so far my early tests show very little noticeable difference due to camera angle/distance.
      - Frame variation is far more complicated as it can have some impact on animation workload and I would need to make a larger amount of assets so currently I'm attempting variation via clothing first as its the most efficient and noticeable change.

      Bang for buck and all that. :)

      Owen: "... Teen Zombie High Squad!" Hehe, fun typo ;)"
      - Doh!! We all missed that one. Well the guys at THZS can kill us off for our incompetence in the graphic novel as we backed to be characters in it. lol :P

      - Dean
      5 Lives Studios

    6. Richard on November 14, 2013

      Not sure i would want a weather system. I feel it should be constantly raining, and set at night.

    7. Silver on November 14, 2013

      Great update, I knew we'd hit the stretch goal eventually! :)

    8. Sedna on November 14, 2013

      If only we can pledge manually on the website, i think we will make the new strechtgoal already

    9. Kahuna Kevin on November 14, 2013

      Same question as below... Any chance the NPCs will be dynamically generated within a tolerance so they're not all the same height, weight, head shape, clothing combinations, etc?

    10. Methanoid Pete on November 14, 2013

      forgot to ask in a previous update, but will the game feature a changing weather system? i do like some added extra atmosphere to games these days, and possible ups/downs to differing weather.

    11. Methanoid Pete on November 14, 2013

      very nice the system used to make the people appear different, i wonder will their height/frame be randomised as well so their not all 6ft 2", im guessing along with their clothing etc maybe the scale/height of them can be used for more variety as well?

      nice update as always tho.

    12. Hlynur Magnusson on November 14, 2013

      I'm always happy to see a new update. I like hearing about the different thought process that goes into problem solving and designing the game. Very good job and the art work and trial runs look great. As a player of the original Syndicate this makes me giddy, and I cant wait to see how it will turn out in the end. Take your time and do it properly with lot's of care and love. Good job :)

    13. Owen Billcliffe on November 14, 2013

      "In other news: Jeremy has launched his own Kickstarter campaign with a few friends we used to work with, Teen Zombie High Squad!"

      Hehe, fun typo ;)

    14. kreza on November 14, 2013

      I love the new civilian models! Any chance of seeing some get splattered by a gauss gun in the next update? :-)

    15. Thrashie - Degenerate of SoSR on November 14, 2013

      Great updates.. keep em coming :D

    16. Ubersnug on November 14, 2013

      I really hadn;t been keeping track of the current pledge levels, but knowing we are only a couple of hundred dollars away from the next stretch goal is awesome news! Well done everyone!

    17. Rasmus Frost on November 14, 2013


      Also, FUCKING amazing job guys... (Sorry for swearing).. but... OMG ;D

    18. Monsieur Max on November 14, 2013

      Wow, the environment prototype is a delight to watch. From the light rendering to the building architecture, everything is perfect.

    19. ConraDargo on November 14, 2013

      Awesome update, thanks for letting us in on what's been going on at the new office! :D Keep up the good work, everyone!