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The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
944 backers pledged $18,143 to help bring this project to life.

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Character Skills in Enemy

Enemy has a skill-based character system, rather than a class-based one, so your characters can mix and match abilities from different classic games. You'll put some points into skills at character creation, and as you play more, you'll gain experience which you can use to develop your character's skills more fully, and add new ones. That is, Enemy features experience points and levelling-up, as opposed to X-Com's implicit training of skills by use. When you recruit a new member of your team, you also take over their skill development. I wanted to use this update to describe the skills in Enemy and some of the design decisions behind them. The following list is what's currently implemented in the game. More may be added over time.

Health
In a game with permanent death, health is pretty critical. In addition to making a character sturdier overall, a high health score also lessens the chance of injuries to specific parts of the body: head injuries damage mind, vision, and reaction skills; arm injuries damage ranged, bomb, melee, and throw abilities; and leg injuries damage the jump ability and slow movement. Characters take damage from attacks, but also from being struck by moving objects and debris.

Mind
In addition to having a health bar, characters also have a mental health bar, which reflects the effect that battle is having on their morale. While physical health is drained from getting hit with an attack, even attacks that miss can drain mental health. Mental health is also drained by sustaining injuries, and seeing allies injured; loss is reduced in the presence of allies and increased when a character is alone. If mental health drops to zero, a character may freeze up and do nothing for a turn, drop their weapons and run away from battle, or panic and attack wildly in all directions. A team with very low mental health can get by as long as everything goes perfectly, but often, as soon as one thing goes wrong, everyone panics, makes themselves vulnerable, and gets wiped out.

Ranged
Your ranged skill governs the long-range weapons you can use, ranging from the humble blaster to the mighty, three-shot-firing spread-gun. It also determines the accuracy with which you can use those weapons. Because of its long range, it synchronizes very well with both the vision and reaction time skills.

Bomb
Bombs are your best option for clearing out dangerous areas, collapsing structures, punching open new entrances, and more. This skill also governs the use of smoke bombs and flash-bangs. A bomb is a midrange weapon and doesn't have the same reach as blaster, so a big part of the tactics of effective bomb use involves setting up the rest of your team so that you can safely move your bombers into place.

Melee
Melee allows the use of magic swords, along with other iconic video game melee weapons like air pumps and hammers. It has the highest damage output of all the skills, but requires characters to move right into the middle of battle. In order to make wading into the heart of a battle a viable strategy, melee also governs the use of shields, which block a significant proportion of damage, so long as that damage is coming from the front.

Throw
The throw skill allows you to pick up objects, carry them around, and throw them. A higher throw skill allows for heavier objects to be thrown, for further distances, and with more force. Thrown objects will then damage characters and objects based on their momentum and material type. The throw skill is interesting in that it has the most degree of dependence on the specific details of the situation: what kind of objects are around, where they are, what they are made of, and how much mass they have. Anything can be thrown, provided you have the skill to lift it: if a swordsman has chopped down a tree, a character with a high throw skill could then pick it up and toss it; throwing your allies, enemies, allies who are holding enemies, etc. is also supported.

Jump
Jump allows you to stomp on enemies to defeat them, and is also a great utility skill to move quickly around the battlefield. It synergizes well with other skills: it makes it easier for characters who can throw to get next to heavy objects; allows snipers to get to hard-to-reach and high up places; allows melee users and bombers to instantly close distance. Jump allows a character to cross land while spending very few time units, but is tiring and can only be limited times per turn. Additionally, reaction fire from blasters can can interrupt a jump, injure the jumper, and knock them to the ground (see attached video). Highly-skilled jumpers do more damage, can go further, and can break through sturdier materials if objects are blocking the way.

Vision
When you explore an area, places that have never been seen by your characters are completely blacked out. Areas that have been seen but are not currently in view are slightly darkened, and if enemy characters move through those areas, you will not see them. You will only see enemy actions and generate reaction fire if they take place within one of your team's vision cones, and the vision skill allows to to expand the distance and view angle of these cones. Of course, like all skills, this goes both ways: you can sneak up on your opponents just like they can sneak up on you.

Reaction
This skill allows you to execute attacks that interrupt the opposing side's turn. It gives you a reason to move in a solid and defensible formation as you sweep through an area, to dodge from cover to cover, to blow holes in walls to gain line-of-sight, or collapse ceilings to rubble to block the sight of your opponents.

There are other aspects of the character system that are still in an experimental phase, including character history, and being able to take flaws and merits, in addition to other skills. In this update, I just wanted to cover the skills that are fully-implemented already. Thanks for reading!

Regards,
Tom

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Live-Show on Sunday

Hi everyone! Another quick update before I add a more detailed one about the skill system: Bumblebee Games, who have their own project, Days of Dawn, on Kickstarter right now, are hosting a live-show on Sunday. They are going to be showcasing some of the best video-game projects on Kickstarter right now and chatting with their developers. They got a lot of people signed on, and I am one of them.

The show schedule, game list, and a link to the stream can be found on http://aliveandkicking.bumblebee-games.com/

The whole show be running from:
CET (Central Europe) 4:00PM – 11:59PM
PST (California) 7:00AM – 3:00PM
EST (New York) 10:00AM – 6:00PM

The segment about Enemy and the interview with me will be at:
CET (Central Europe) 11:00 - 11:30PM
PST (California) 2:00 - 2:30PM
EST (New York) 5:00 - 5:30PM

Just wanted to mention it because I think it's a really cool idea. Their project looks really good, too, and I'd recommend checking it out if you haven't yet.

Regards,
Tom Johnson

Interview at The Wargamer

I recently got the opportunity to speak with Scott Parrino, editor-in-chief at The Wargamer, the leading web site for the coverage of war and strategy gaming. There are exclusive screenshots there and discussion about inspiration, design goals, and the skill system.

Interview: Tom Johnson, Developer of Enemy

I'd like to thank both Scott and The Wargamer for their time, their great questions, and for giving me the chance to speak about the game.

Regards,
Tom Johnson

Next update: The skill system

Articles from PCGamer and VG24/7

Another press update! I wanted to mention a fantastic article from Phil Savage at PCGamer, who summarizes the game and discusses the emergent gameplay that is at the core of the design:

"Really, though, it’s the incredibly detailed physics that piques my interest. The backer video shows how, instead of killing an enemy directly, you can bomb a building they’re in, causing it fall on them in a shower of voxel debris. The latest update reveals even more expressive tactical options, with a video showing a Link-like soldier destroying a huge chunk of house by felling a tree next to it."

- Phil Savage, PCGamer

Another great article came from Phil Owen at VG24/7, who discusses procedural generation in setting and storyline:

"What is Enemy? It is an old-style turn-based tactical role-playing game. The Kickstarter tagline for it is: “The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.” Sounds intriguing, eh?"

-Phil Owen, VG24/7

Thanks to both of these writers and sites for their support of independent development.

Regards,
Tom Johnson

Design Goals

In this update, I wanted to write about one of the basic design goals I am aiming for with Enemy. One of the things I like most about X-Com, Deus Ex, and many of my other favorite games, is the detail of the underlying simulation, and the opportunities it affords the gameplay. Those games have several detailed rulesets to govern how the world works, and they allow gameplay to arise naturally from how the player interacts with those rulesets, and how those rulesets play off of each other. There is a robustness to the choices those games present to the player that I wanted to emphasize and explore in Enemy. For example, in the main video on the Kickstarter page, there is a moment where an enemy enters a hut, and instead of going in after him, the player simply blows up the entire hut with a bomb. However, the player could also have destroyed the hut by causing a large tree nearby to fall on it, which you can see in the attached video.

My goal in implementing a system like this is not the graphical effect, but the gameplay possibilities it presents. Everything in Enemy is simulated in great detail, and interacts the way you would expect it to. If the hut had been made from a stronger material, or the tree less massive, this strategy wouldn't have worked. That means you'll never be applying the same rote strategy over and over again; each encounter heavily relies on the specific details of the situation you're in. Because everything interacts the way you would expect it to, it is possible to plan in great detail, but just as in real life, those plans must remain open and adaptable as the situation changes. It also makes the world just feel a lot more believable, I think.

The core dynamic of Enemy, along with many RPGs and tactics games, is the interaction of two kinds of gameplay. The first is about how you choose to build your team over the long term: for example, how you develop the skills of your heroes, and how you choose to equip them for their travels. The second is tactically applying the abilities and items you have in order to survive in the situations you find yourself in. Enemy mostly leans towards having large, open environments, with many vectors of approach, because I don't want situations to feel like a puzzle with a correct answer. Instead, I want them to feel like a wide field of possibilities that is always changing. If the tactical layer is rich and detailed, then the long term decisions you make seem much more interesting as well, because they are the foundation of the possibilities that are available to you.

There are downsides to this approach. As a designer, it is hard to maintain complete control over how strong various strategies are, since part of the goal of this design is that players may be able to come up with creative approaches to problems that I myself may not have foreseen. But I think that what you gain back, in terms of the richness you can get from a really detailed simulation, is worth the added work on the balance side.

Thanks for reading! The next update will be much less abstract, and feature skills and enemies.

Regards,
Tom Johnson

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