The Crolimax report: December 2015

December is usually the time to kick back and slow down for the holidays, but not here at Shy Snake! We’ve been busy building Spy DNA, making new levels, models, and character behaviors.

In the weeks since our last update, we’ve focused on finishing the first draft of the game “screenplay,” AI, realistic damage, and additional weapons and forms of combat.

Story

As of today, we’ve cleared a major milestone: the first complete draft of the game script is finished!

  Screen capture from a demo level

Screen capture from a demo level

What does this mean? That we’ve got the entire story arc outlined and every level that moves the story forward described in detail, with character dialogue and different action options.

The script is a little over 31,000 words long, and 190 pages at this point. We’ve got the game spanning four chapters, each chapter about fifteen levels long:

  1. Character creation and background
  2. Game premise introduction
  3. Investigation and pursuit of the bad guys
  4. Escalation to final boss fight

The game is focused around the protagonist (the character that you create and play throughout the game) uncovering an espionage plot and pursuing the evil guys across the world to prevent classified tech from falling into the hands of a rogue government.

As the story develops, complexity and battle intensity grow to continue challenging the player while their skills and attributes grow.

We’d love to tell you much more about it, but we don’t want to spoil the game for you, so the last bit we’d like to share is that we expect the script to grow by at least another 50 percent or more as we add deeper dialog trees and extra side quests. We can’t wait to share the game with you!

Level design

The script has 45 levels in it, give or take, which cover the main storyline from start to finish, and this number will only continue to grow as we add side quests. Each of these levels is a detailed 3D map living in the world of Spy DNA fifty years in the future, with landscapes, buildings, cars, and of course people!

  Screen capture from the level design editor

Screen capture from the level design editor

Level design is what will take an enormous amount of time from today on, all the way to the beta release, after which we expect to focus on polish, and not add any more content.
If you wonder what level design looks like, here is a screen capture of Alex working on one of the early levels on the game, which takes place in an apartment complex.

The Crolimax secret base is going to be one of the maps that the player will return to after most missions, to both heal from any battle injuries as well as to receive intelligence reports and new genetic enhancements. This map is what we’ll be focusing on this week, before moving on to getting the character creation working. 

These three levels (character creation, Crolimax base, and the apartment complex) will become our first playable demo, which we’ll make available to a small group of players who we’ll look to for feedback and suggestions.

AI

A good Artificial Intelligence (AI) is critical if we want to make the game fun and challenging for players, whatever difficulty they choose. The AI will control both the enemies as well as neutral and friendly NPCs, and be able to adjust on the fly, based on the player’s actions and commands.

Getting the AI to do all the necessary things for the playable demo is another one of our main goals this month and next.

Combat

Of course, what would a strategy game be without combat? We’re getting to the point where we’re pretty happy with how our projectile weapons work, and are now switching gears to create a hand-to-hand combat system for those situations where you want to avoid attracting attention with gunfire, or just don’t want to shoot any civilians.

  The villains are driven by the in-game AI, which makes them act in response to player actions

The villains are driven by the in-game AI, which makes them act in response to player actions

On a side note, the grenades also work now, and you can see how that looks in the level design screen capture that’s linked above. Now that we have grenades, adding destructible objects to the game is our next priority, because seeing things blow up is half the fun in throwing a grenade, right?

All in all, we’re quite happy with the progress we’ve made this month, and are looking forward to sharing more with you next year.

Happy New Year from Shy Snake!

Gameplay demo: Shooting a weapon and using item dialog

In this video, Alex will walk you through the newly-added animations and sounds of guns firing, as well as interacting with objects.

Video transcript:

Hi there. This is Alex Maier with Shy Snake, and today I’d like to show you the progress we’ve made since our last video update.

If you watched the first video, you are already familiar with the HUD where we show the player character state and the important things like chance to hit the selected target.

Right now, Mr. Purple doesn’t have a target yet, so let’s help him with that.

See how the chance to hit graph now has a curve in it?

So according to the graph, you can see that if Mr. Purple aims a little longer, he’ll have a better chance of hitting the baddie here invading our lab.

You may remember from last video that the HUD has an expanded view, which you can toggle by hitting TAB. Now you can see Mr. Purple’s target area and how much damage his rounds can do at this range, if they actually land.

Let’s make Mr. Purple aim for two 0.2 second intervals.

A quick look at the Chance to hit graph. I say, I like these odds. Let’s pull the trigger.

Since last week, we’ve taught our player characters to hold their guns correctly and also animated the weapons, so of course I wanted to show that off for you folks.

Another thing we taught our game was to have items that the Player can interact with. See this big appliance here? Want to know what it is?

Now you can click on it, and it will pop up a dialog.

Note that the mouse cursor changes when it passes over items that you can interact with.
So, this is all I have for today. Thank you for watching.

Please stay tuned for more updates as Shy Snake continues to build the new game.

 

Our first screen capture video shows game controls

Our new game is introducing a lot of new concepts for the 3rd person strategy game genre, such as the timeline, as opposed to a fixed number of action points per turn. To help you visualize what this means for the actual gameplay, we've made our first screen capture video, to show how the timeline works, as well as how aim, accuracy, and damage calculations translate into player experience.

Let us know in the comments below what you think, and what else you'd like to know about our game!

Video transcript:

Hello and welcome.

My name is Alex Maier, and today I would like to show you how to use the controls in the new game that Shy Snake is building.

In the lower left corner, you can see the HUD, which shows your player characters and their respective states.

Currently, your party has two player characters: Ms. Green and Mr. Purple. They are idling, which is fancy talk for just standing around.

If you want them to do anything beside idling, you can give them a command.
Click anywhere on the map to tell your character to go there.

Oh look, here’s a non-player character, who looks like a bad guy. Let’s shoot him.

When you move over the enemy NPC, it changes to crosshairs.

You probably want to aim a bit before you fire, and you can click on the target a couple of times to add aiming time. Each click adds 0.2 seconds to your aim.

While the aim gets better, you can see your current chance to hit in the graph below, in the HUD.

When you like your chances, you can fire your weapon by right-clicking on the target.

Since the weapon we’ve equipped is a two-round shotgun, you can see that the ammo bar to the left of the chance to hit graph has gone down by one-half.

Now if you want to give your characters more than one command at a time, you can do this by pausing the timeline. Just hit SPACE.

You can queue up a number of commands which will be executed in order once you unpause the timeline.

The HUD has more information to offer. To toggle the expanded view, hit TAB.
Now you can see a diagram of your current target area as well as the damage and penetration graphs.

When timeline is paused, the stats shown are for the current moment in time, but once you unpause it, they become animated as the time flows.

So this is all I wanted to show you today.

This is still a work in progress, please stay tuned for more updates as Shy Snake continues to work on our new game.

Talk to you next time.