Early Access roadmap

Spy DNA has received the green light from Steam, meaning that we're still on-track to ship the Early Access release in Q2 2017. Read on to learn what will be in the Early Access version.

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Platform upgrade

For Early Access release, we have migrated Spy DNA to Unreal Engine 4.15.1, so we can take advantage of all the newest features and improvements that the engine provides.

User interface update

From the demo, you're already familiar with the ability to toggle the first-person view ("body-cam") on and off to improve performance. For the Early Access release, we're planning to change this behavior to toggle between the body-cam and a minimap. So while you will be conserving system resource, the game will be using the now freed-up screen real estate to display tactical information.

A very visible change you will see that we're working on is the UI look-and-feel update. The functionality and layout of the UI will remain mostly unchanged, but many of the text buttons will be replaced with icons, and all UI elements will receive a style update in order to make the game more visually rich.

Work in progress: UI look-and-feel update

Work in progress: UI look-and-feel update

Map edges

To help make the Spy DNA world more immersive, we'll be extending the edges of the map past the area accessible to the player, so that you won't be seeing those hard map edges anymore.

Because we are generating the maps at runtime, it is fairly straightforward to extended the map, but it brings with it a performance trade-off. The area beyond the playable map will be extended a bit, and beyond that point, there will be a fogging effect, to make the map edge less noticeable/distracting.

As originally announces, Spy DNA will supprt three map sizes: 256x256 meters, 512x512, and 1024x1024. To raise or lower the difficulty one notch, each mission map will also be available in one size larger or smaller. This means for the largest map, you'll be able to play on a 2048x2048 meter map for highest difficulty, and for the smallest map, you'll have the option to play on a 128x128 meter map.

Missions

When it comes to selecting who you take with you on the mission, you'll now also have a choice to pick equipment for each individual character.

Every squad member will have a default load-out for each appearance/uniform that they can wear (fancy, field, and casual), and if you edit any of them, the changes will only impact that specific appearance, and the others will remain as they were.

Spy DNA Early Access will also include procedurally-generated missions. In the current demo, we have provided missions that use one of the two map types: either 100% hand-made OR 100% procedural. However, the mission objectives, as well as the NPCs you encounter on those missions are pre-set.

Going forward, storyline missions will use either a hand-made map, or a procedural maps, with predefined objectives and NPCs.

For Early Access, we’re expanding the game to include 100% randomly generated missions, similar to "random encounters." Those missions will have the map, objectives, and NPCs all generated at random, and will pop up in the intelligence screen, to give the player a lot more to do between the storyline missions. They’re going to be optional, but will offer a good opportunity for building skills and advancing your characters.

Finally, we'll be introducing a new mission phase (also optional), called "infiltration." You will be able to use this phase to set up for the main mission (or not; if you prefer to go in guns blazing, without any prep, be our guest). Typical things to do on an "infiltration" mission would be to pre-position characters such as your sniper, hide a weapons cache or plant some surveillance equipment, steal access cards/keys, disable/sabotage the alarm, or general recon.

On such a mission, success is good, but depending on how badly your infiltration fails, you may be changing your main mission objective to rescue your infiltration team.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of these new features and improvements!

Spy DNA has been Greenlit on Steam!

We've made it! In under two weeks, actually.

Alex has always considered thirteen (along with other primes) to be a lucky number. And it sure was a lucky number of days for us to get the Greenlight thumbs-up.

Thank you everyone for voting and for being our supporters as we work on getting Spy DNA ready for you.

Next stop: Early Access. We're shooting for Q2 this year. For now, there's a bunch of paperwork and prep work on Steam, and of course a lot of coding. We'll announce the Early Access launch date when we know it ourselves.

Stay tuned!

Demo prep

We are getting ready for the demo. Today we made a new video from the latest build. This is the first time we’ve shown a play-though from character creation to combat. We’ve been focused on playability over the last few weeks, so we’re fixing lots and lots of smaller issues.

The big task was working through issues with load and save of games. Because the demo takes you through character creation before you can start taking sample missions, we wanted players to be able to save a character they generated. We also implemented a loading screen while working on load game. We hope these additions make the demo more enjoyable for players.

Another significant change from our previous videos is an updated camera system. While watching people play, we found players used three camera positions frequently. So we added direct support for the most common camera uses. 

  • A low camera which shows things from the view of the character
  • A high camera which shows the tactical situation
  • A target camera which flies the camera over to the active target
  • And we still have “free” camera so the player can move it around as they desire

For the low and high camera they save the player's view height and angle so if you switch away and come back you won’t have to reset the camera each time.

We also implemented a compass; it shows which way the character is facing. More interestingly, we also added contact ticks to the compass. So you can see which way contacts are relative to your active character. Also you can click them to fly the camera over to any contact.

The map generation has been heavily tested and we have recently implemented a number of performance enhancements. Currently the large maps can strain some mid-range systems so we put some effort into improving performance. There is more to be done, but we got a very nice performance bump for the demo.

For the playable characters we doubled the number of commander appearances available for the demo. There are two male and two female commanders to choose from, each with their three outfits depending on mission. There will be many more for the shipping game.

The demo will also include default genetic enhancements for all the playable characters. You will get to see a small example of the enhancements in action. In the shipping game you will be able to select and choose how your commander is enhanced to mirror your play style.

We implemented new shaders for the trees, firing range, roof of the base, and a few other items. This was done to make them more friendly to the camera so they cut or blur away so you can continue to see the most important parts of the map.

The status screen has been updated to show not only injuries, but also attacks which were stopped by armor or implants. You can mouse over any hit and see the force and type of attack along with how much of it any armor you may have stopped. 

Movement was reviewed. and walk, jog, and sprint speeds were double checked for the demo. We spent a bit of time graphing the various movement speeds vs attributes. These are the base speeds with zero encumbrance.

Walk speed graph

Walk speed graph

Jog speed graph

Jog speed graph

Sprint speed graph

Sprint speed graph

The jog (max sustained movement speed) graph is 3D because it’s based off both quickness and stamina. This was triggered when we picked up a few too many weapons at the firing range and unintentionally tested our encumbrance system.

Barring any unexpected problems we expect to have the demo out this month. Stay tuned!

Get ready for the demo

The public demo is shipping in February. Learn where to get it and what's inside.

What's inside?

As we are getting close to the first public demo of Spy DNA, we wanted to give you a quick overview of what will be included in the demo release, and where we are with development. Let’s start with some of the major features we want to show.

The demo starts with character creation. On the first play-through, character creation starts with a personality questionnaire. We use the questionnaire to help the players get a set of attributes which are best suited to their play-style. In the shipping game there will be other options for character creation to give the player more direct control over the creation process, but not in the demo. After picking your attributes you are taken to the base.

Upon arrival, the tutorial will start, covering the basics of camera control, character management, and combat. 

The base is where you spend your time between missions. It is located on a small island and features the medical facility, an intel/ops center, scientific research offices, the cryogenic storage vault, and extensive training grounds with a 1000m shooting range and a breach-and-clear area.

Between missions you can use the facilities at the base to heal and train your characters. This is also where you can view and accept available missions and pick the team you will take with you. Each team member has at least two outfits, field and casual, and some (including the Commander) will also have a fancy outfit for blending in with a posher crowd.

For the loners among you, we allow the player not to take any other squad members on the missions and go it alone for an added challenge.

Aside from the base map, all mission maps in the demo will be procedurally generated, to allow for high replayabilty. The demo will include a minimum of five missions, covering several terrain types and times of day.

In summary, here’s what you can expect from the demo release:

  • Character creation
  • UI and HUD tutorial
  • Shooting range to try all the weapons outside of combat situation
  • A minimum of five missions with procedural maps for higher replay value
  • Four playable team member characters to accompany the Commander on missions

Where and how will you get the demo?

When the demo is ready (some time this month!), we will announce it here on the blog, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, and Tumblr.

The download will be available on RPGmaker.net as well as GameJolt.com and Itch.io (links TBD). The demo will be free to download and play, and we’d love your help in spreading the word about it.

What then?

Once the demo is out the door, and the feedback we get from the community is coming in, we’ll be going to Steam Greenlight. The date of the Greenlight campaign is not yet set in stone, because it’ll depend on whether our demo players will discover any issues that need fixing beforehand.

If you have any questions or ideas, hit us up on social media!

Putting the "super" in super-spy

For the upcoming demo we have put the first round of genetic enhancement in the game. In the course of the game you will acquire enhancements as part of the story line. All player character will start with at least one enhancement.

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In Spy DNA each squad member has a number of slots where enhancements can be placed. For example the arms have two slots. One slot is for skin modification while the other is for muscle. Example enhancement for the skin are armor, camouflage, or special attacks such as a shocking touch.

When enhancing your character you can either fill an empty slot, or replace an existing enhancement. If you want to use a modification for a slot that’s already occupied, you have to remove the enhancement that’s currently there.

The standard enhancement that each squad member will have is medical, which effectively auto-applies first aid to any injuries the character may supper. Also as part of creating a character their neural information is scanned and backed up to help restore them even after extensive brain injury. This allows the medical staff at the base to fully heal a character as long as they make it off the field alive.

In the upcoming demo each playable character will come fitted with implants which work best with their combat style.

As you’ve seen in our earlier post, some of the squad will have armored skin (Wolf and Bear), stronger muscles and bones (Bear), or higher-resolution retinas and fine motor control (Skeeter).

However, we are not revealing the full enhancement list at this time, so the majority of enhancements will be unveiled later as we move into early access.

Stay tuned!

Meet the demo squad

Spy DNA public demo is almost ready and we wanted to introduce the playable characters which will be available for you to take for a spin.

First, the Commander (that would be you).

We have a male and a female Commander versions, which have three outfit modes, each with a unique load-out.

Male and female commander, fancy: P-60, armored clothing

Male and female commander, fancy: P-60, armored clothing

Female Commander, field: R-45, Pb-25, light battle suit, 2x grenade

Female Commander, field: R-45, Pb-25, light battle suit, 2x grenade

Male Commander, casual: P-60, P-19, armored clothing

Male Commander, casual: P-60, P-19, armored clothing

At the beginning of the game, you will have a choice of going through character creation to get the Commander with the stats best suited to your play-style. In the shipping game, you'll also be able to play a ready-made version of Commander that we think will do well with the missions in the game.


Ivan Batts, call sign “Wolf”
During training, Ivan was found to have a far-above-average combination of strength, quickness, and dexterity. As he also passed the high-tech weapons test he was placed in a high-tech fire support role.

Upon his recruitment into Spy DNA squad, he chose to remain specialized in high-tech firearms. He’s notable for being the first soldier to use the new Magnetar line of gauss rifles in combat. 

In the field, he typically carries a RG-20 gauss rifle, with a heavy dart pistol as a backup sidearm. He usually wears light to medium armor. In a pinch he is comfortable using any and all weapons. Karsten often refers to Ivan as the team’s “glass cannon.”

Casual: P-70, armored clothing

Casual: P-70, armored clothing

In a covert setting Ivan has difficulty blending in due to his combat DNA enhancements. This is why he rarely goes on missions where early detection is a major concern. When he does, he typically carries a P-70 or Pa-19.

Quote: You avoid getting shot by shooting first, and repeating as needed.
Field: RG-20, light battle suit

Field: RG-20, light battle suit


Karsten Meyer, call sign “Bear”
Known for being both about as subtle as a wrecking ball and almost as durable, Karsten made a name for himself with his somewhat reckless approach to combat. This was considered a problem in his squad, which made him easy to recruit into the Spy DNA program.

With the appropriate genetic enhancements to match his style, Karsten is now considered an asset as a one-man army when staying covert is not a concern. Nuri enjoys his approach because while all the attention is on him, she can usually sneak around unnoticed.

His heavy armor implants, scars, and tendency for violence mean he is rarely taken on missions that are not high-intensity combat.

Field: R-70, heavy battle suit, 4x grenade

Field: R-70, heavy battle suit, 4x grenade

Casual: P-110, armored clothing

Casual: P-110, armored clothing

Karsten shies away from high-tech and just prefers big and loud guns. In the field, he typically carries a 7mm rifle, grenades, and the heaviest armor he can get his hands on. For a sidearm he carries an 11mm pistol. He claims no one would notice it under his jacket if the commander would let him tag along when casual outfits are needed. However, the team is dubious of this claim. 

Quote: I wear this armor because it turns out, if I’m in range, so is the enemy.

Nuri Tsoi, call sign “Eagle”
A former CIA spook, Nuri was recruited for her ability to get people to talk. She has a long list of techniques for getting what she needs. The CIA was getting concerned that she never showed remorse or trauma from actions in the field, but what they considered red flags, made Nuri catch the Agency’s eye as a valuable asset.

Upon recruitment and brain scan she was evaluated as having some psychopathic tendencies. Thankfully the parts of her brain responsible for loyalty were shown to be strongly functional. The enhancements she underwent were tailored to enhance her ability to manipulate others and increase awareness of her environment. She also underwent minor strength and armor upgrades that would not harm her ability to blend with normal humans.

Casual: P-60, armored clothing

Casual: P-60, armored clothing

Field: R-45, P-60, light battle suit


Field: R-45, P-60, light battle suit

Fancy: P-60, armored clothing

Fancy: P-60, armored clothing

Nuri rarely carries weapons heavier than a pistol. Typically you would find her with a small-caliber silenced pistol. That said, she is qualified with rifles and sub-machine guns.

In the field she has earned the nickname “Jane Bond” for her tendency to be invited home by the mark.

Quote: Yes I needed evening dresses in all of these colors. We didn’t yet know what the mark’s favorite was at that time. Just authorize the expense report honey. Do it for me :)

Zoe Komarova, call sign “Skeeter”
A former scout sniper, Zoe was very difficult for the Agency to recruit. Her unblemished record and 81 confirmed kills meant that her previous employer did not want to let her go, as she was considered to be elite at her trade.

Luckily, the Agency was able to make a compelling offer, and Zoe was able to take her trade to the next level with the genetic enhancements Dr. Crotalus synthesized for her. She worked with Ivan to get comfortable with the new gauss sniper rifles and is considered, without question, the best marksman at the Agency. 

Field: SRG-29, Pb-25, light battle suit

Field: SRG-29, Pb-25, light battle suit

Casual: P-70, P-19, armored clothing

Casual: P-70, P-19, armored clothing

Unlike most of the team, Zoe is very fluid in the weapons she employs. While she considers close range the “unnecessary hazard”, she is a crack shot at any range, with pistols and assault rifles as well as sniper rifles. For extreme range engagements (1km or more) she typically takes the SR-100, a precision 10mm sniper rifle. However, when the range is merely “long” she prefers the gauss dart rifles (SRG-29 & SRG-20) which have lower recoil and allow for more rapid engagement of multiple targets.

Zoe has developed a strong dislike of the R-16 and R-20 which she refers to as “junk rifles” for their lack of accuracy.

Quote: What do you need me for? If it’s closer than 200m, even Karsten can hit that.