Campaign update -- Diplomacy and the Spoken word
We have a big one for you today. Before we get into talking more about The Tower, there are a few campaign related things to touch on.
It’s pretty clear that we have a long way to go in order for us to generate the traction needed to eventually make our goal. We’re working hard to find ways to increase awareness and generate more traffic to our campaign, as we KNOW there are thousands of more people who would love to see a modern single-player immersive simulation with old-school roots realized!
Press to share
Here are some links to some of the great press we’ve received so far. Sharing these with your social networks could help bring some new folks in!
Working together as a group to increase our numbers
Secondly, we are looking into ways that we can, as a group of almost 1900 people work together to get the word out there much stronger. Thunderclap has been mentioned, so we’re working on setting that up - but it would only be worth it if you guys are willing to help us with it. Please comment below if you’re up for this! Unified, we CAN make this happen. Like Gregory says in the main pitch - we truly can’t do this without you!
We are actively working on rolling out Add-ons for you all, which will allow you to selectively claim some of the rewards that are limited to the very high tiers. Watch for these to be rolled out in the very near future….
Ok that’s enough campaign talk for now -- onwards with the meat of this update!
Narrative Concept, Diplomacy, and the Spoken Word
First, I apologize in advance for the amount of text in this update! :) I believe it may be the largest of them all, but there is a lot of detail to cover on this topic, and we don’t want to miss anything.
Consortium Game One has a strong emphasis on interpersonal relationships and dialogue. Conversations force you to make on-the-fly decisions, oftentimes without realizing that what you’ve just said (or what you’ve just done!) has now split you off into a different story thread, or has opened up a “new” conversation/scene/objective later on in the game. As relationships develop, a huge narrative web is formed by your actions.
The Tower will be no different. Even though we are significantly expanding upon combat, stealth, and exploration... the characters and narrative will still always come first.
This way of handling a “first person shooter” is what makes games like Consortium unique, but is also what hurts it most when it comes to popularizing the concept. Frankly, an indie game company wanting to make any money would be crazy to produce a game like ours - game content is expensive and hard to make, so commercial companies tend to want to ensure that if a player finishes a game, they see pretty much all of the produced content. While the "open world" games are starting to buck this trend, there are still plenty of linear shooters and cut-scene laden games that stick to seeing it all in one go.
Even if you do “everything you can” within Consortium on your first play, you are still guaranteed to miss at least 40% of the total produced content. That’s a lot of “skipped information” you mostly didn’t even realize was there. As with Consortium, The Tower will take into account where you go, who you talk to, what you say, and then it will change the narrative content of the game to suit your style and choices. So, of course you will technically miss content along the way, but the resulting experience will be a personal* one. The immersion level will be far beyond what you are used to.
We may be a little bonkers (as outlined above), but this is our bread and butter. It’s the kind of game we love making, and will continue to make just as long as we can keep feeding ourselves at the same time :)
Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff…
Diplomacy as a Tool
In the Tower you will never be forced into solving things violently. As with Consortium, you will be able to play the entire game without ever raising your weapon. This will, however, be extremely difficult to accomplish.
Let’s talk a bit about being able to “talk anywhere, at any time.” At any given point throughout The Tower there will be one or more things you can say aloud. You can simply press the “talk key” at any time, and contextual dialogue options will appear dependent on where you are, what you’re looking at, and what’s nearby. When you press the talk key, an icon will even light up within the bar along the top of your screen to indicate a conversation (or potential conversation) is active.
And yes, you can technically babble to yourself non-stop while nobody else is around. Just don’t be surprised when your team wonder if maybe you’ve lost your marbles.
The conversations themselves work in a “waterfall”-like manner, in that these are not information dumps, but are fluid, realistic back and forth conversations. They constantly move forward, and there’s no going back once a choice is made. All in all this system will allow you to handle things in a variety of interesting ways.
Here are a couple examples:
- Walk into a darkened room and announce yourself in a commanding voice, “This is Consortium officer Bishop Six!” Maybe you draw the attention of a frightened civilian who you then must coax into following you to safety? Or do you find this particular civilian so annoying that you have to beg or threaten them NOT to follow you?
- Or instead of a civilian, maybe you draw the attention of an armed group of potential combatants who suddenly appear from the shadows, their leader calling you a monster while pumping his chest at your authority. Do you attempt to scare, befriend or bribe them into disarming? Or is there a fourth path through dialogue that this unique individual’s personality will be susceptible to?
- Speak to potential combatants while using Stealth. Mess around with them using “ghost sounds,” generally freak them out, and then perhaps even become visible at just the right moment in an effort to disarm them through surprise or fear. Or use your voice to distract them in order to accomplish a mission objective.
- Your team will automatically look up information on any potential combatants you converse with, and will in turn make that information available to you. Use this personal information in an effort to befriend, manipulate, or even threaten potential combatants.
Squad Based Combatants
Potential combatants throughout the Churchill Tower will work in a squad-based manner. Every squad will have a squad leader, and every one of these leaders will be fully fleshed out, given a unique personality, backstory and agitation starting point. When you first make contact with one of these squads, your in-game Consortium-issue HUD will display who and where the leader is, and will also tell you how big his or her squad is. This means that if you’re looking to talk a squad down, it’s best to approach its leader as quickly as possible in order to begin a dialogue before all hell breaks loose.
Squads will patrol and secure various areas of the tower. Each squad you could say controls their own “squad nest,” or a specific location that is entirely theirs. These squads can then be brought under control by you through dialogue, and depending on how friendly you get with its squad leader, he or she may even allow you to pass through their space unhindered for the rest of the game (or until you piss them off). This is important to remember if for example you get into a fire-fight with one squad and are forced to fall back into another. Depending on your “relationship” with the second squad, they will either join their friends in attempting to kill you, or possibly even fight by your side.
Each time you begin a new universe, or “new game,” these squads will mostly have their starting locations randomized. This will of course dramatically improve upon replayability by further ensuring no two playthroughs are the same.
The Agitation Meter is something new we’re bringing to the table. It exists for potential combatants only, and not for the characters aboard Zenlil, civilians, hostages, or any other non-combatants you encounter throughout the Tower.
The Agitation Meter is essentially a measure of someone’s current emotional state and/or general character. It will give you insight into what you can expect before engaging in conversation, and will also update in real-time to show you how you’re doing along the way. The agitation meter will not only help keep encounters fresh and unique, but also navigable.
The starting point of each potential combatant’s agitation meter will be based on their unique personality and bias. If one potential combatant tends to spout anti-Consortium rhetoric and believes his or her mission to be an act of God… well then, he or she will most likely start with a higher agitation number and will subsequently be a greater challenge to talk down. On the flip side, perhaps a different potential combatant is absolutely terrified of the Consortium and only took the mission because he or she desperately needed the money for one reason or another… well then, he or she would likely start with a low agitation number and would be easier to talk down.
Basically if the agitation value is low enough, it indicates that you should be able to approach that squad leader and engage in conversation. Consider holstering your weapon first, or the very sight of a fully armed Bishop could cause their meter to rise and for them to start shooting. Being detected while utilizing stealth, or saying the wrong thing could also cause the meter to rise and a violent reaction to ensue. Conversely, do or say the right thing and their Agitation Meter could lower, increasing the chances of a peaceful resolution. The Consortium has even issued you a certain amount of currency you can use as you see fit, and one of its uses is to bribe potential combatants to walk away or to even give you valuable information.
Where navigating dialogue with potential combatants is highly reliant on the Agitation Meter, dialogue with friendlies and any other characters will still be reliant on the Alignment system used in Consortium. All non-combatants are assigned an Alignment number that changes based on your actions, giving you a general sense of how much that character likes, dislikes or respects you. Dialogue and general attitude from characters can fluctuate from one playthrough to another depending on this number.
We will also allow you to turn off the agitation meter and/or alignment stats in order to navigate conversations by intuition alone.
Like the Agitation Meter, The Conversation Manager is something newly conceived for The Tower. It will allow you to have complete control over how, when, what and how much you want to say to all the various people striving for your attention and time - this includes all of the crew aboard Zenlil, and anyone else able to patch into your Consortium Mind Communicator. The King, Queen, the London Police Chief, other Consortium officers and any number of surprise characters will make appearances within your C.M.C. based on your choices and conduct inside the Churchill Tower.
Fans of Consortium Game One are probably wondering: What about the Pawns on board Zenlil?! First of all, The Tower does begin within Zenlil where you’ll get to converse with the various (surviving) Pawns face-to-face before heading to the Churchill Tower. The Pawns will then remain present throughout the game on your Conversation Manager. Continue to develop (or destroy) relationships, dig deeper into Zenlil’s politics and social structure, and even garner advice or help with specific situations throughout the Tower.
Pending conversations will be broken down into categories such as “mission pertinent,” “external,” and “personal.” (see the UI mockups, above). Once a potential conversation is active, or available, it will remain in the queue for as long as it is relevant. If something important happens around you while in the middle of a conversation - such as combat or some vital mission related communication - then the conversation will automatically be put on hold until it either stops being relevant, or you’re ready to continue it.
One last thing the Conversation Manager will do for you is it will store all previous conversations in a “conversation log,” allowing you to replay everything you’ve ever said or been told anytime you wish.
Keeping in line with giving the player as much freedom as possible, the Conversation Manager is very much an optional dialogue tool you can choose to use or ignore.
Example Convo From Game One:
Here is an example conversation from Consortium Game One to highlight generally how dialogue is handled. Keep in mind we have several technical upgrades planned for this system that will help make conversations even more realistic and engaging.
- While difficult to accomplish, you will be able to complete the game from start to finish without ever equipping a weapon.
- Able to speak at any time with the use of a talk command, unless already in a conversation instigated by another character. Choices are determined contextually.
- Potential combatants work in a squad-based format. All squads have a leader, and this leader can be spoken to in an attempt to disarm the squad.
- All potential combatants capable of dialogue (squad leaders and/or unique cases) are assigned a predetermined Agitation Meter starting point. The Agitation Meter works as a visible indication of that person’s overall mood and/or personality, and will change depending on your actions and/or dialogue choices. The higher the agitation meter, the higher the chance of their engaging in combat at any given moment.
- All Consortium Officers are assigned an “allowance” of sorts; a limited cache of money that can be spent on things such as bribing potential combatants to disarm or provide vital information.
- Character Alignment for all speaking non-combatants will be carried over from Game One. This is a number depicting said character’s general affinity toward you. The higher the number, the more they like you. Specific dialogue can differ from one playthrough to another depending on this number.
- Choose to turn off the ability to see the Agitation Meter and/or Alignment in order to navigate conversations intuitively.
- Introducing the Conversation Manager. This will allow you to choose if and when to speak to the various characters striving for your attention over the Consortium Mind Communicator (C.M.C.). Every potential conversation will be broken down into categories such as “mission pertinent,” “external,” and “personal,” and will remain active as long as their content is relevant.