A new kickstarter update for Copper Dreams and more information on two important systems. This update focuses on Sneaking and how your character progresses. Copper Dreams has gathered 31K out of a 40k goal with 9 days remaining.
Sneaking is a largely viable way to get through a lot of the game, even if all agents aren't skilled in it. Prancing around with skull fractures and lungs filling with bile can take its toll, and unless you're armed to the teeth, slipping away under the cover of shadows or jumping into a duct is a bit more predictable. We've made sneaking a combination of simulation and dice rolling, giving characters and enemies the ability to hone various aspects of stealth.
Enemies can be alerted to your presence from your noises, including footsteps, throwing items, jumping, doors and gunshots. As you get closer, you are more likely to be heard, although if there is a wall or some other obstruction between you and the enemy they receive a negative modifier to their roll.
This one is obvious, but the player is detected from a certain distance away via a vision cone from enemies. Crouching is a good way to hide behind smaller objects if you know an enemy is coming your direction. Being in light gives a positive hit modifier in combat, and being in a darkened area gives a negative one.
Once detected, enemies will engage in combat. They instantly roll for initiative after seeing you, and if they can will call for backup. Their call can be interrupted with an attack. If they can't call for backup, either by word of mouth or radio, they'll begin to engage in combat.
If you run out of combat your enemies will remember your last known position and pursue you. Remain hidden long enough (or continue to outrun your opponent), and they'll give up and enter an alerted patrol stage.
If more than one enemy is engaging you, they'll attempt to flank you. They'll also utilize their abilities and equipped weapons responsibly. This is a large part of the engagement combat system we'll be working on for your alpha for testing! In a more simulationist system like this, smart AI is paramount, so we aim to have scripts for enemies that are lethal and appropriate. Enemies will have wide ranges of intelligence, including flushing you out with grenades, suppressing fire to stall you for other enemies to get into position, and mind-hacking your crew to fire on each other or walk out into the open.
Enemies don't have a hive mind vision, so you can also be sneaking or have characters waiting to ambush enemies giving chase. Toying with their senses is part of the fun, and challenge of encounters. Some enemies have enhanced senses and abilities to combat player savviness, such as giving chase with enhanced jumping or running speed.
Enemies have various states of being alerted to your presence. They'll either be patrolling as normal, running to these patrol points in a panic, or searching in random locations near the sound or location they heard a noise.
If an alarm is sounded or backup is called in a high-security syndicate controlled building they'll come from outside and go through a sweep of the entire building before calling it off. If it's the Mayflower Initiative (the most powerful syndicate on the Island) they can have a tendency to leave behind a Copper Face or two sneaking around. Better to hope not.
More information.Changing the focus to surviving gameplay instead of searching for XP
Having a focus on stealth (and manipulating enemies) begs the question of how you actually reward that. A simulationist method, at least pen-and-paper wise, usually nets growth of a skill by use - something like Burning Wheel (or Mouse Guard, if you've been so lucky to play that). This works great when there aren't reloads, you're not spamming abilities, and there are limited uses with consequence. In a CRPG that has an immediate, obvious drawback: it fundamentally boils down to spamming when there is an abundance of content to use them on without consequence. Fire a gun to gain a gun skill? You're finding the nearest pack of rats or unsuspecting bandits and unloading until you're the best gunslinger around.
There's certainly ways you can mitigate these types of loopholes, but the problem would remain: your progression is dictated by how much you can use something. Unless there's a very limited amount of times you can use something or do something, maybe in a choose-you-own-adventure type way, this ultimately ends up as a grind. For many types of games this method of gaining XP works perfectly fine when combat is predominantly what you're engaging in, and there's a massive level range of enemies and obstacles to constantly be using these abilities against to practice on.
Normally games just reward you for some combination of combat, skill use or completing quests. While this gives a very D&D-like moment-to-moment purpose for character progression, this also dictates how you play the game, especially in a CRPG when that's just calculated simply by a computer. Netting XP for only quests, for example, means meaningful player progression is only done by grinding quests, same with combat or skill usage.
While that has merit if those obstacles are the primary focus of the design, it also detracts from less tangible things that don't give you XP - discovering puzzles, secrets, avoiding combat in clever ways, or using skills that don't give XP or only low amounts of it. Gaining XP in this way also requires scalability to last - if you're netting XP and levels constantly, things need to be scaling with you or spread out how their difficulty is scaled, but that often boils down to rolling larger and larger pools of dice at one another.
That doesn't work well with a simulationist system where survival and tactics are more important than level or stat blocked challenges. We don't want to push certain ways of getting through combat, we just want you to be able to play the game however you want and be rewarded equally for it, assuming you're playing it well.