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Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #21: Social Skills, Micro-Tiles and More

Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #21: Social Skills, Micro-Tiles and More

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 26 August 2018, 20:11:04

Tags: Mechajammer; Whalenought Studios

In their second Kickstarter update this month, Joe and Hannah of Whalenought Studios describe a few more of the new features they've added to Copper Dreams recently. These include minor additions such as grass terrain tiles that provide stealth bonuses and battery packs that emit beeps and attract the attention of guards when they're out of juice, as well as more significant changes like the switch from hexes to square "micro-tiles" that allow for a variety of character sizes. But the bulk of the update is dedicated to describing the functionality of Copper Dreams' social skills. Those of you who were unpleased with the colorful new art direction introduced in the previous update will be glad to see that the images in this update exhibit a more subdued style, though it's unclear if this is meant to be representative of the entire game. Here's an example and an excerpt:


In Copper Dreams characters are pretty squishy, and you have some player-advantage things in play like not being limited to vision cones and being invisible in shadow if standing still. Though NPCs also get the latter if they are sneaking themselves, so get that spot-check ready. Because you find yourself in situations where NPCs usually don’t want you around or want to eat or kill you, gameplay focuses on you creeping around like a horror movie monster where you are picking off enemies one-by-one. And that is how a lot of builds are suited to play, but we wanted to add to that with something more subtle, for espionage and stealth, and also because killing people can be loud and there can be other quiet ways of clearing a building. To this end we used the gun of the face — your words.

Social builds in games typically have the least agency, you are bound to whatever few choices the designer lets you choose from at that moment. Agency requires a degree of foresight into application of your skills, but for dialogue thats usually just at the whim of whatever conversational or story context the designer has in mind. Players often want to tell an NPC something that the designer didn't add to their dialogue, so why not actually let them say tags to anyone they want, whenever they want?

Social actions are commands you can attempt to tell NPCs, with failure and success rates like any roll where you'll roll 3d8 under your skill number (+challenge mods). A whole slew of things make up that challenge number, which in this case is the degree of difficulty of what you're asking them and your disposition to one another.

For example you could tell a guard to go home for the night if they encounter you, and if successful they have some contextual things they can mutter, "sure, good, idea, I think I left the oven on". This is to be interpreted as if the Terminator or Snake Plissken is tellingsomeone, not asking. The NPC knows you're trouble, so it's you rolling to just convince them they don't want to make things worse by not listening.

If you have a low roll odds, you have some options for additive modifiers. Bribe, which gives them cigarettes if you have them, is an easy one at the expense of bartering goods. Threaten is more potent, allowing you to choose a weapon, but makes them hostile if you fail, so higher risk. Weapons have a lethal number, so choosing the meanest thing you got is the way to go for this, but is also based on how well your skill is with whatever the weapon is designed for, so you don't fumble.

Dialogue in Copper Dreams is somewhat detached from the Social skill — it remains tag-based, you can inquire about certain text strings to get more information, branch into things depending on backgrounds or character-sheet stats, or show an NPC something from your inventory.

NPCs talk to you or each other, and you can inquire, is how that mainly works. It's for branching story and narrative quests, which the player chooses for their character through actions in-game and at the start of the game during character creation — more on that in the disposition post linked below.

Orchid is optimized for pistols and social, so you can have a good go at the alpha with just sneaking and rolling to convince your way through. She’s also equipped with an eyepatch cybernetic that induces a pretty solid social boost on humans specifically with some hypnotizing-like lights that pop on and off to daze someone.
As mentioned above, Copper Dreams' social skills are underpinned by an elaborate disposition mechanic - a modifier determined by a wide variety of attributes, including not just physical and mental aptitudes but also things like age, sex and wealth. For a comprehensive overview of disposition (that in true Whalenought fashion veers off course and ends up describing the game's entire character creation process), check out this forum post on the new community page site.

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