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A story-driven action/stealth sidescrolling RPG with a fresh new vision of cyberspace.
A story-driven action/stealth sidescrolling RPG with a fresh new vision of cyberspace.
1,930 backers pledged £30,647 to help bring this project to life.

Introducing Dex RPG Features: XP and Specializations

Posted by Dreadlocks (Creator)

Hi cyberfolks! 

Continuing our series about RPG features, our topic today is XP, leveling, and specializations in Dex.

As you progress through the game, you are rewarded with XP. Experience points are awarded mainly for: 1) mission completion, 2) overcoming enemies (kills, takedowns, stealth performance), 3) exploration, and 4) hacking.

When you reach the required amount of XP to level up, you are awarded skill points. Skill points can be assigned to one of six specializations. We were considering a more elaborate branching skill tree, but at the moment we have decided on the following specializations and enhancements:

  • Firearms – more damage with ranged weapons, better accuracy, faster holster and reload.
  • Martial Arts – more damage in melee, faster combat moves, additional combat moves.
  • Endurance – more HP, additional Energy Slots for implants, ability to install more advanced implants.
  • Hacking – stronger Avatar skills, more Firewall HP, additional Avatar skills and software, ability to enter more advanced parts of cyberspace.
  • Street Lore – better lock picking, stealth-related skills, dialogue-related skills.
  • Gadgets – ability to use more advanced equipment and gain more from using it (some of the consumables and passive upgrades become more effective).

If you’re familiar with the system used in the Mass Effect series or Shadowrun Returns, you’ll feel at home here as well. Each of the six specializations boosts your attributes in some way with each point assigned. Furthermore, for every three levels of the specialization attained, you earn something more special – a unique new ability or an additional boost.

For example, the Endurance specialization simply grants you more HP per assigned skill point, but each third level of it unlocks an additional Energy Slot, thus allowing you to activate more implants. Similarly, the Hacker specialization improves your Avatar attributes in augmented reality, plus every third level of it gives you an additional new ability to use against malware and intrusion countermeasures in cyberspace.

Note: This is one of the features undergoing constant iterations. In the final game, there might be a slightly different system, different skills, etc., as a result of our design decisions, your feedback, and community beta-testing.

Let us know your comments and suggestions. We are always happy to receive them and glad to respond, or even to focus our updates on topics you are most interested in!

Jacking out – see you later! Tomorrow, the stretch goals are coming. We're almost there!

Marek Homsi Andráši, Kirill, and 10 more people like this update.


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    1. James Jones

      I enjoyed DX:HR as well. To me it leans more in the metroidvania direction which is fun in its own way where each new upgrade opens up different paths or tactical approaches.

    2. Ryan | Tormented Weresheep Dreamer on

      @James: that's the perfect way to describe the feeling. I realize it sounds like I've been trashing DX:HR, but in fact I really enjoyed the game and I am playing through the director's cut version currently. There were just a few things in particular that kept it from excelling, at least to me, but it does reward exploration extremely well, probably as well or better than the original.

    3. James Jones

      @Ryan - I agree. And now that you've highlighted it I think that is why a lot of games lately leave me with a hollow feeling as far as planning out your direction and the enjoyment that comes with it. It doesn't feels like the skill choices matter. At the end I'll just be exactly like everyone else.

    4. Ryan | Tormented Weresheep Dreamer on

      I think the philosophy of a RPG should mean that you will inherently not be able to do/see/explore everything in a single playthrough, and this is what differs true RPG mechanics from the RPG-influenced mechanics that are finding their way into nearly every game these days (not that I have a problem with that, but there is a distinction). I already mentioned being able to get almost every upgrade in DX:HR in a single playthrough, but the main issue I have is that there was ultimately no exclusive choice in what to get, and if you wanted to max your XP in that game, there was also no choice in how to play the game. Similarly the latest Tomb Raider has XP and skill points, but you can get all skills about 80% through the game, which makes it much less meaningful. Action games used to just give your character "skill" upgrades without calling them that as you progressed in the game. Real RPGs give you points to distribute in a way where certain skills or abilities will end up not being accessible based on player choice. I understand the desire to be able to do everything, and there are times I agree with that, but gameplay choice is a major component of what has been presented thus far in Dex, and being able to do everything ultimately removes much of the sense of choice.

    5. Saud Al-Zaidi on

      1-Well if XP differs on you gameplay style when in comes to being stealthy and doing stealth kills rather than being direct if one of them gives more XP than the other won't the player prefer one of them since it gives more XP and won't try to play in the other style that gives the player less XP?
      2-I can't detect which of these skills are related to the augmentations. Do they effect augmentations? Would it be better if they did or didn't. Maybe the effect them in a very small way which is good.
      3-I think its better if the player has more reason to go back and explore so no need to be able to do everything in one play-through the game would not have any value as an RPG that way plus it would be fun to see what is hidden in the shadows! An item you needed to open a gate you saw but couldn't open....a hidden boss that makes the story more interesting! Saving a scientist that was trapped and he/she offers some help who knows!

    6. DeafTard on

      Darn! I was hoping this update would give some info about the Wii U stretch goal since I have 5-6 friends who want to pledge but they want to see the Wii U stretch goal before pledging! Woot!! Also, once Dreadlocks adds the Wii U stretch goal, hundreds of Nintendo sites such as gonintendo/nintendoworldreport/nintendolife/etc and so many more will start to spread this awesome Dex game like wildfire. I already posted this game on the reddit gaming forums but no hits yet but I think Dreadlocks should do a quick AMA (ask me anything) on reddit since everyone is doing the whole AMA these days and it helps increase the views/interest/pledges/etc as well. Ok time to watch Blade Runner folks, I expect you to do the same, no excuses.

    7. Marek Homsi Andráši on

      @Questor: Agreed. While I understand the idea of "playing differently each playthrough", I hate when I can't do everything the game offers in the one run.
      Grinding your character to excel in everything is one way, though I don't like if it doesn't fit the story, and let's face it - nobody should be perfect (except Chuck Norris).
      I like it better when there is an option in the game to "reset" your skill points (f.i. in same medical clinic) so you can try different ways to play the game in one run.

      Also, I don't think the reachability of the game's secrets (items, locations, quests) should depend on the skills you achieve by leveling your character, but rather on the gadgets mentioned in the previous update. Or, even better, both!

      For example: There is an secret location behind a breakable wall. You can destroy the wall either by using martial arts (if your SKILL is high enough) OR you can use mentioned Leg Enforcers (IMPLANT) if you play a character who doesn't train his martial arts. Or you can even use some sort of item (grenade, detonator etc.) without need for the skill or implant.

      That would be awesome.

    8. Questor Thorn on

      While I see the appeal of having to make meaningful choices about our character and having the PC become individualized, it is pretty rare for me to do multiple playthroughs and I hate missing out on areas or content because I haven't been able to "afford" all the right upgrades. I usually tend to go for the upgrades that aid exploration so I don't feel like I'm missing areas or secret nooks.

    9. Ryan | Tormented Weresheep Dreamer on

      @Andreas: the most important thing to me on my second point is having some exclusivity to the abilities you can get, and I think making us choose between two or more mutually exclusive abilities is the best way to go about this. I can go either way on being able to max all skills, limiting the amount of skills you can get in a single playthrough is a less interesting way of getting that exclusivity, so I agree with you there. I really liked having to choose which implant to put in each slot in DX1, and also the upgrade choices in ME2/3 when you unlocked higher level abilities.

    10. Andreas Linder on

      I agree on the first point, that was one of HR's flaws.
      Not so sure about the second one, though. While maxing out everything should probably be impossible (except if through some sort of New Game+), I find coming close acceptable because of (again, in HR) the amount of exploration and thoroughness required. Like in most good Metroidvanias and open-ended RPGs, lots of exploration and side-stuff should not be necessary to progress, or it just turns into a grind. However, you need to reward it somehow. So if I am willing to put in the effort, I should be able to become overpowered. Remember the strange difficulty curve in the original DX, where you could go from "every enemy can murder you" to "JC Denton, immortal death-dealer"? And don't even get me started on Symphony of the Night (Crissaegrim, Alucard Shield Combo, Ring of Varda...).
      Some kind of mutually exclusive special upgrades would be cool though, I agree.

    11. Ryan | Tormented Weresheep Dreamer on

      Another great update! I have a couple questions:

      1) When you are talking about rewarding XP for stealth performance, does that include avoiding enemies? One of my bigger frustrations in the latest Deus Ex was that it provided no benefit to avoiding enemies, which would not have been a big deal at all if it simply provided no XP for dealing with enemies in any way (like the original). I think it's important to stick to one of two schools regarding XP for enemies, and either provide nothing, or make sure that stealthily avoiding enemies is just as rewarding as taking them down (like Alpha Protocol, which was WAY better than you would expect from the reviews, talk about reactive story).

      2) Will it be possible to max out all skills in one playthrough if you are thorough and get all XP possible? I'm hoping for a "no" here, because this was another gripe I had with DX:HR, the fact that there was no trade-offs when leveling up. By the end you could get every ability that worth anything, and several that were useless or very unnecessary. In a game like this, I think it's really important to provide the feeling of specialization, like you have created a unique character build, and that you can play the game again and have a very different experience simply by focusing on different skills. One suggestion to help with specialization would be to have to choose between two or more special upgrades every time you level a skill three times. This makes it so that you can still replay the game and focus on the same main skills, and still have it feel unique.