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Ask the Developers – Week 5

 

in General Discussion.

03rd Feb 2011 10:24:30 CET. Edited 4 hours, 47 minutes after.

# 29550
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ZPSHicks

(click here for last week's ATD)

Question from the Community:

"What kind of RPG elements will we see in IM?"

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Fantastic question and I will do my best to keep this to the point and as short as possible.

But before I outline the intended role-playing mechanics in Interstellar Marines, I need to pay homage and respect to two of the best FPS games ever made; System Shock 2 and Deus Ex (Thanks Ken and Warren + teams). Both of these games raised the bar significantly (10 years ago) for what we (Nicolai and I) could/would expect from FPS games with their introduction of exciting and meaningful role-playing elements into the first person formula. Both games made us think differently about IM at a time when everybody else was gun and running (including us) in other more popular games such as Unreal Tournament, Medal of honor and Half-life (all great games btw). Fact of the matter is that since SS2 and Deus Ex we've deeply missed role-playing in FPS games and today we're just glad that we get to change that with IM.

In IM you're consistently rewarded experience points for everything you do like kills, exploration, completing objectives, utilizing abilities etc. with the amount of experience earned never favoring any particular tactics or playing style (Its a challenge we know). How will this work in coop, well we're relying on an XP system that favors solidarity with experience earned by one is rewarded to all equally. This may come off as unrealistically and illogically, but helps ensure that no one gets left behind. (Worked great in Borderlands with a few exceptions)

Spending XP is possible anytime during the game in three different training categories: Character, Weapons and Equipment with your overall level and rank automatically determined by the total amount of experience earned, nothing new under the sun here.

Each training category is separate "shops" filled with upgradeable "products". There is no restrictions regarding purchase of these products other than fixed prices that balance products against each other. There is no interdependencies between products and you decide which product to buy first and last and how much you want to upgrade each product. At the beginning of the game selected "products" in each of the three categories/shops are available default.

The Character shop consists of upgradeable "products" such as Strength which e.g. modifies melee damage and throwing range of grenades, Agility which modifies movement speed and falling damage, Stealth which modifies sound of movement- and stealth abilities (silent reload), Stamina/Endurance which modifies sprint duration, Health which modifies med-kit efficiency and deadly wounded time as well as products such as suit weapon slots (quick swappable), backpack weapon- and equipment slots, backpack ammo slots etc.

The Weapon shop holds the entire ITO weapon arsenal (7 weapon types in 3 variants) with some weapon types and variants available default and with the rest of the arsenal "purchased-able". Each weapon variant in each of the 7 weapon types has to be "trained" separately to increase accuracy, swap speed, reload speed etc. with extensions and ammunition types being "purchased" separately within each weapon type. This basically means that if you've purchased armor-piercing capability or Red-dot for one SMG .. these are available for all SMG's etc.

The Equipment shop holds "products" such as armor-wests, helmet visor enhancements, hacking devices, PDA map computer, motion tracker, sentry unit, defibrillator etc. and most of these product are upgradeable to modify range, speed, damage, effectiveness etc. in context to each particular equipment variant and type.

When this is said on done, I want to highlight other areas of depth that the role-playing mechanics in IM maintains like replay-ability and difficulty. The natural length of each game in the trilogy is estimated at between 8-14 hours depending on your pace and urge for exploration, and there is a very important reason for this; Coop! We're favoring high intensity entertainment that you can play and conclude with your friends over a weekend instead of a week. Making "shorter" games allows us to focus more energy into creating meaningful replay-value with depth and alternate realities.

Like e.g. in the beginning of the game you might find armored support behind a hackable door that you where not skillfully enough to access in your first play-though etc. to things like helping a trapped scientist early in the game resulting in helpful consequences later in the game etc. as well as multiple ending and transitions between progress in the game based on how well you perform objectives, your rank etc.

Finally when you reach a certain character rank/level we automatically unlock a special difficulty mode called realistic. This difficulty mode tracks things like number of deaths and effectiveness of you and your team and all goes to exposed these statistics on a special official global leader-board listing the best coop-teams in the world.

Enough!

/ZPSHicks

(Sorry for posting a day late but my fingers are slow and numb from pushing F5 the last couple of days :))


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03rd Feb 2011 10:57:08 CET

# 29515
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Suubersnake

That sounds really awesome. I actually had to wipe the drool off the side of my mouth from all that awesome information, it sounds like my dream game come true!

AWESOME! That is all.


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03rd Feb 2011 11:21:58 CET

# 29517
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suspektj

Argh, come on, dont make me wanting this game so much, say something bad for ones.. Or at least a estimated release date oe a "hey, we have startet the production of the first game, since we got enough money now"..

Seriously, this game seems to far away to even dream of sometimes:( Well at least i got all my friends to sign up for spearhead:P


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03rd Feb 2011 11:32:41 CET

# 29519
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forgefire

funcky! If posting this a day late means this much infomation i almost hope you are a day behind each week ;)

One question however: When getting xp is that on an account basis or on campaign basis? Meaning, if i compelete the first game with one coop team, and then decide to play it again with some other persons will my xp be reset or? If it isnt reset wont I have an unfair advantage compared to the others?

Anyway... sounds really great! I really hope you are able to put in some of these elements in deadlock!


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03rd Feb 2011 12:01:14 CET. Edited 18 minutes after.

# 29526
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ZPSHicks

funcky! If posting this a day late means this much infomation i almost hope you are a day behind each week ;)

One question however: When getting xp is that on an account basis or on campaign basis? Meaning, if i compelete the first game with one coop team, and then decide to play it again with some other persons will my xp be reset or? If it isnt reset wont I have an unfair advantage compared to the others?

Anyway... sounds really great! I really hope you are able to put in some of these elements in deadlock!

Thanks for the kind words m8s,

You consistently earn XP to each of your profiles which means when you play with others you either create a new profile, select a profile in progress or play as your maxed out god among marine character (If your friends accept this indifference). The primary point being you decide how to play and not us and if your friends like having a "Terminator" on the team we're not going to stop you ... they get the XP from your awesome kills and moves anyway.

That said we'll properly create a simple system that varies the XP earning based on your level/rank and what difficulty you play on to make it more rewarding playing at difficulty levels that match your badassness!

We're still not sure how much skill progression we'll introduce in Deadlock. No doubt that we'll play around with some of the skill elements but too early to say. :)

/ZPSHicks


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03rd Feb 2011 12:14:49 CET

# 29524
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forgefire

Cool! Thanks for the quick reply. It sounds like a good way to do it.


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03rd Feb 2011 12:18:14 CET

# 29525
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Zergem

I LOVE IT! Seriously, this is the exact kind of RPG system and functionalities that I have always dreamed of having!


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03rd Feb 2011 12:42:26 CET

# 29527
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Aevaris

Wow, you guys really uncorked the info plug this week. <3

This may be a semi-stupid question, but as a summary, are you basically saying it will play like Borderlands in the sense that you pick the character to load in with, and all your stats/weapons/xp are linked to characters?

Additionally, (although this may be bordering on another ATD worthy question), how will the RPG elements play into competitive MP?


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03rd Feb 2011 12:42:27 CET

# 29528
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StrayEagle

<3

My only worry is that this system may impact the game in a negative way, were it could encourage "farming" of points to gather better gear, which results in a detraction from the objective based game play. I'm confident however, that you at ZPS will find a way to ensure that this doesn't happen (?).....please? :)

Other then that, I am very happy to see these elements re-entering the FPS genre :)


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03rd Feb 2011 13:15:06 CET. Edited 5 minutes after.

# 29535
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Astalano

Awesome, new info. I have a few questions though:

Is hacking skill a matter of putting points into a skill or buying a computer that you can use to hack things with and then maybe upgrading that computer/replacing it? Likewise, will the medic ability just be a matter of purchasing a defibrilator pack? If you are the team medic do you have to purchase an ability to be able to use med-kits on others or are you simply better at healing others the more points you put into health?


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03rd Feb 2011 13:25:10 CET

# 29536
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Getz2oo3

Good stuff Hicks.... Sounds pretty logical to me. Glad you guys have put a lot of thought into the progression system. And I have to concur with your idea for "length" 8-14 hours is sufficient for each chapter, irregardless of whether the exp system promotes re-playability or not. A game that is too long tends to bog down...whereas a game that is too short can never fully develop. Aim for the sweet spot so you can flesh out the story gameplay relationship and keep the pace fluid and progression on an even build for the entirety. Then throw in the whole New Game + to unlock things that you couldn't get before. But make it something more juicy than just silly things to help you combat an obstacle or challenge in a given area.

I'd say those return trips should offer up rewards like extra information on lore, secret projects, inside information, etc, etc, etc...


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03rd Feb 2011 13:36:56 CET

# 29537
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nutter666

Just had to change my pants... Seriously though. This article has made my expectations of the game skyrocket! Gonna link this to all my friends that were impressed with running man and bullseye.

If i wasn't a poor student i would be a spearhead :( 8-14 hours and your calling that a short campaign? 8-14 with multiple endings and paths is huge nowadays. CoD campaign is like 3 hours long and you cant even co-op that (plus i think you wont release a buggy as hell campaign with shitty AI ;) )

I love you guys :D


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03rd Feb 2011 13:44:00 CET. Edited 17 minutes after.

# 29543
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ZPSHicks

Awesome, new info. I have a few questions though:

Is hacking skill a matter of putting points into a skill or buying a computer that you can use to hack things with and then maybe upgrading that computer/replacing it? Likewise, will the medic ability just be a matter of purchasing a defibrilator pack? If you are the team medic do you have to purchase an ability to be able to use med-kits on others or are you simply better at healing others the more points you put into health?

Good question, Mr A.

We're clearly distinguishing between equipment based "products" and Character "products" in the sense that it make the most sense to the player .. e.g. hacking a door, terminal or camera physically .. requires you to upgrade your Tech/Hacking skills in the Character "shop" while equipment based PDA based wireless hacking of doors, cameras etc. requires separate purchases and upgrades in the equipment "shop" that may be more expensive. (This is very general speaking)

I the end we're trying to creating a completely flat and liberal role-playing system that favors that you first establish needs and then purchase what you feel meet these needs without having to commit to a particular predetermined skill three and afterwards we make sure that further upgrades to the "products" is on a clear path to more, better and faster.

I hope this makes sense.


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03rd Feb 2011 13:45:41 CET

# 29539
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ZPSHicks

Good stuff Hicks.... Sounds pretty logical to me. Glad you guys have put a lot of thought into the progression system. And I have to concur with your idea for "length" 8-14 hours is sufficient for each chapter, irregardless of whether the exp system promotes re-playability or not. A game that is too long tends to bog down...whereas a game that is too short can never fully develop. Aim for the sweet spot so you can flesh out the story gameplay relationship and keep the pace fluid and progression on an even build for the entirety. Then throw in the whole New Game + to unlock things that you couldn't get before. But make it something more juicy than just silly things to help you combat an obstacle or challenge in a given area.

I'd say those return trips should offer up rewards like extra information on lore, secret projects, inside information, etc, etc, etc...

+1


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03rd Feb 2011 14:03:44 CET

# 29544
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Astalano

Awesome, new info. I have a few questions though:

Is hacking skill a matter of putting points into a skill or buying a computer that you can use to hack things with and then maybe upgrading that computer/replacing it? Likewise, will the medic ability just be a matter of purchasing a defibrilator pack? If you are the team medic do you have to purchase an ability to be able to use med-kits on others or are you simply better at healing others the more points you put into health?

Good question, Mr A.

We're clearly distinguishing between equipment based "products" and Character "products" in the sense that it make the most sense to the player .. e.g. hacking a door, terminal or camera physically .. requires you to upgrade your Tech/Hacking skills in the Character "shop" while equipment based PDA based wireless hacking of doors, cameras etc. requires separate purchases and upgrades in the equipment "shop" that may be more expensive. (This is very general speaking)

I the end we're trying to creating a completely flat and liberal role-playing system that favors that you first establish needs and then purchase what you feel meet these needs without having to commit to a particular predetermined skill three and afterwards we make sure that further upgrades to the "products" is on a clear path to more, better and faster.

I hope this makes sense.

Thanks for the response. ^^


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03rd Feb 2011 14:07:45 CET

# 29545
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Antonio38425144

Damm, you just made me long for the game even more. This was a very pleasing answer, looking forward to checking out the equipment shop.


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03rd Feb 2011 15:09:29 CET

# 29549
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Haraio

Awesome information! IM is sounding more and more awesome with every update :D


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03rd Feb 2011 15:36:29 CET

# 29554
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Gortos

It sounds perfect. I was pretty sure there would be some more RPG elements than in MW2, for example, but I hadn't thought of it being that much of an RPG. Keep on the great work, guys! And if you want us to do something like repeatedly call a potential investor so they know what a huge comunity you have, just say the word ;)


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03rd Feb 2011 16:19:22 CET

# 29563
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Vidmaster

Although this sounds good, the game should not constantly show me things I cannot access before I grind through it three times. While I like a good Coop at a LAN, I still play most of my games alone and dislike arbitrary restrictions.


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03rd Feb 2011 16:42:06 CET

# 29565
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forgefire

The way i understood hicks post it is made so that if you choose to focus on one aspect during a campaign you are of course restricted to mainly the things you choose to specialize in. In the true rpg spirit it simply wouldnt make sense if you had access to everything all the time. This however increase replayablity because on your 2nd play you will still be able to explore and learn new stuff.

My point is, the restrictions arent arbitrary, you choose what you want to focus on.


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