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Rampant Coyote Guest Post: How NEO Scavenger Gets Flight Right

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Rampant Coyote Guest Post: How NEO Scavenger Gets Flight Right

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 February 2013, 23:15:14

Tags: Blue Bottle Games; NEO Scavenger

Jay "Rampant Coyote" Barnson is out of town, and he's invited various guest posters to write for his blog while he's gone. One of them, Lars Doucet, who is one of the developers of the game Defender's Quest, wrote a post today about the concept of fleeing from battle in CRPGs. As an example of a game that gets it right, he brings forth the roguelike NEO Scavenger (vote for it on Steam Greenlight!). Here's an excerpt:

This game is basically about being a homeless person in a dystopian future filled with ferocious dog-men, looters, and disease. Early on, the simple discovery of a pair of pants and something larger than a plastic grocery bag to hold your things in feels like true riches indeed.

Combat in this game is closely modeled on real life, which is to say that fighting to the death will usually get you killed or horribly injured, even if you win. Instead of managing simple hit points, you have to deal with blood loss, fatigue, hunger, cold, as well as specific diseases and injuries like diarrhea, hypothermia, and head trauma.

I'm reminded of that scene from Fight Club, where the members are given a “homework assignment,” to get in a fight and lose. Edward Norton narrates, “This is not as easy as it sounds. Most people, normal people, will do just about anything to avoid a fight.”

Although battle is turn-based, it embodies escape in high detail. Furthermore, running away is a process you have to master. First, you need to put sufficient distance between yourself and the enemy – this value, “range” is one of the central battle variables. You can’t even attempt to escape battle mode unless you are a minimum distance from the enemy. You can move away at various speeds, and faster actions like running and sprinting carry higher risks of making you trip and fall. Once you've gotten far enough away, you can try to make your escape.

Usually the enemy will catch up to you once or twice when you have an unlucky fall or they have a lucky sprint. When you’re in a vulnerable position like this new options become available – do you want to try to get up so you can run on your next turn? If they land a hit while you’re getting up, you’ll fall back down. On the other hand, you could stay down and try to kick them in the leg, which will knock them down, forcing them to lose a turn, giving you time to get up and try running again.

If the enemy loses sight of you and you have the hiding skill, you can take cover and then slowly retreat while remaining hidden. On the flip side, if an enemy attacks you at night you might not be able to detect them and have no choice but to flee blindly in a random direction.

Once you've escaped battle mode, the fight isn't over. The enemy will still pursue you on the overworld map, and now it’s up to you to keep gaining distance, covering your tracks, and finding a place to hide and lose them for good. This is easier if you choose skills like “hiding” and “tracking” like I usually do.

Neo Scavenger is the first game I've seen put this much thought and depth into escape mechanics. I've never had this much fun running for my life.​

I haven't played NEO Scavenger, but reading this post really made me want to try it out.

There are 8 comments on Rampant Coyote Guest Post: How NEO Scavenger Gets Flight Right

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