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Colony Ship update #30 - There Be Monsters

Discussion in 'Iron Tower Studio' started by Vault Dweller, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    First things first: we had to change the name so now the game is called Colony Ship. While it's not the most original name, it's the most straightforward one.

    [​IMG]

    Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about what RPGs are really all about - monsters. As a wise man once said:

    “As one would expect, the game shines the most during the fights against humans. This is true because of all the reasons that made AoD combat great – humans are the most tactically diverse in terms of abilities, weaponry, armour, etc, which makes almost every fight against them unique to some extent.

    But then you have the monsters, which are more or less the anti-thesis to everything that makes AoD combat good. Sure, the first time a new monster type appears, you might be surprised by what it can do, and act accordingly to counter it. However, monsters don’t really go beyond 2 types (and even that is usually limited to “small scorpion”, “big scorpion”), and don’t present any tactical flexibility. They are simply one-trick ponies that stop being interesting dangerously fast. Scolopendras rush forward and hit you and poison you, and that’s it. Same goes for scorpions and ants. You’ve been to one of these fights, and you’ve been to them all…”


    It’s a valid and helpful point, so naturally, we want to do better. In AoD/DR most critters were melee ‘fighters’, half of them poisonous, with high DEX (to close the distance fast) and two attack types. Predictably, this design didn’t bring anything new to the table and what little it did bring got old fast.

    So when it comes to creatures our goals are:
    • Tactical flexibility
    • Unique abilities that humans don’t have
    • Focus on various effects rather than direct damage (i.e. no 'fighters')
    • Different enemies working together or taking advantage of other critters’ abilities
    • Effective counters of ranged parties
    Of course, having lofty goals is one thing, achieving them is another, so we’d like to run some ideas by our core audience and see what you guys think. Nothing is set in stone yet as we won’t start implementing the creatures until 2019, so we can easily make change at this point. We’re planning to have 6 creatures, mostly found in the Hydroponics and Wasteland. Let’s start with the creatures’ origin:

    The Ship is en route to Proxima B, an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Ninety percent of its surface is covered with water, but the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, providing approximately half of Earth’s landmass.

    Losing Terran plants and crops to local pests and fungus would be catastrophic, so the Hydroponics Division was tasked with adapting the plants to the anticipated environment of Proxima B and developing biological forms of pest control (introducing predators from old Earth to change the native ecosystem and eliminate all local threats was the most cost-effective way to ensure that the colony would survive and grow).

    Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code. Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles.

    When human beings finally decided to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle...

    So today we’ll show you 3 predators from old Earth:

    [​IMG]

    Frogs are already used in agriculture as a form of biological pest control as they have a healthy appetite for insects and are highly resistant to insecticide. Plus they have a wide range of natural abilities: jumping, toxic venom, hallucinogen, even retractable spikes (the wolverine frog), which would make them a top choice when it comes to cost-effective terraforming.

    The frog is a 'hard to hit, easy to kill' critter (high evasion due to the small size and mobility, low hit points and no damage resistance). They will attack in packs and come in 3 varieties: fighter, poison spitter, and 'mind flayer'. It's a low level critter that prefers easy prey (i.e. low level, poorly equipped parties). They aren't very aggressive and won't attack unless threatened. When you run into them for the first time, they'll be busy feasting on a corpse. If you want to go through that corpse's pockets, you'll have to kill the frogs first.

    [​IMG]

    An avid predator and an opportunistic feeder, the starfish is one of the keystone species which makes it an excellent addition to any terraforming arsenal. It can regenerate damaged parts, swallow its prey whole, and it even comes with its own body armor (hardened plates and spines).

    The mutated version will shoot its stomach (yeah, it's actually a thing) to drag the victim within the attack range. It will also release a spore cloud, greatly reducing the visibility and your THC with ranged weapons. During its turn, the starfish will envelop you and drain your HP, regenerating some of the damage it sustains during the fight.

    Unlike the frog, the starfish is easy to hit (with melee weapons) but hard to kill due to DR and accelerated regeneration. One starfish isn’t a serious threat but 2-3 would be able to ruin your day pretty quick.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a mutated jellyfish originally adapted from the Portuguese man o'war and designed to hover over crops and zap insects, while turning away larger animals. Things got a bit out of hand during the Mutiny when the mutation cycles ran wild and now the few remaining floaters haunt the ruins of the Mission Control Center.

    Upon detecting oversized insects, the floater will slowly move to intercept them. Bullets have no effect on it but energy weapons would bring it down in no time. In the absence of such weapons or cells to power them up, you can hack it to pieces, which isn’t an ideal solution because the floater will zap every enemy next to it (crowd control), dealing energy damage. On top of it, the floater is equipped with a primitive version of brainwave disruptor, so the closer you get, the higher the chance to forget what you were doing and just stand there, drooling like an idiot (aka skip turn).

    In short, the floater is easy to kill if you have energy cells to spare or hard to kill with melee weapons if you don’t. Certain implants and helmet will increase mental resistance. Other creatures and rival parties might (surely will) attack while you’re busy fighting the floaters.

    Anyway, if you like these creatures, you'll definitely like the other three, including Old Beelzebub. If not, let's discuss.
     
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  2. Binky Learned

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    • How common will these critters be? I'm not against them (variety is good), but I'd prefer to fight men, turrets & robots.
    • Will be able to sneak past them or otherwise use your stats & non-combat skills when dealing with them?
    • Will you be able to use their corpses to make anything useful?
    • How effective would a mech companion be against them?
     
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  3. Goral Arcane Patron The Real Fanboy

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    This makes no sense because bullets can shred a body too. I can suspense my disbelief but you can do better.

    Don't know what the Darth Roxor 's quote is doing here though when these creatures seem to be one trick ponies (with one huge weakness and one huge super-power) and not that versatile. Personally I don't think it's a bad thing, it brings in some variety and makes encounters more interesting and atmospheric. Having only humans in Dungeon Rats would make the game much worse.
     
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  4. Black Angel Cipher

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    I like these guys, but if you want to hear from us, I'd like to say some things. I don't know about animals and monsters having 'tactical flexibility', but I do know some monsters having unique abilities that humans don't have in an RPG that's kind of a sister to AoD, which is Underrail. In Underrail, many different creatures and monsters have their own unique abilities within each group of fauna:
    • Rathounds can increase their combat ability when fighting in groups, and were able to call for help from one another
    • Psi-beetles also increase their combat ability when fighting in groups, except they're much more dangerous in that, for each one additional unit of psi-beetle entering combat, all of them gain an additional psionic ability
    • Siphoners hides within a body of water, and when approached will leap in surprise. They are also able to drain HP from player character, similar to the starfish described in this update
    • Crawlers are stealthed creatures, and their method of fighting is by injecting player character with poison, and then they hide until the poison come into effect and stun the player character
    • Burrowers put their eggs during combat, which will hatch after few turns and then the hatchling will also attack player character
    • etc etc
    Thing is, I think the monsters of Underrail also kind of have the problem of, "You’ve been to one of these fights, and you’ve been to them all…" because tbh I really don't know what fall under 'tactical flexibility', so I'm looking forward to you guys showing us what monsters with 'tactical flexibility' turns out. Since you mention "Different enemies working together or taking advantage of other critters’ abilities", I can't say if I know any RPGs or even games that have something like that. I kinda have an impression that Monster Hunter World had something of some sort, but I can't say for sure since I've only seen my brothers played that game. Maybe something like symbiotic mutualism?
     
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  5. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Not very common. We won't throw these encounters at you the way we did in Dungeon Rats, so you'll run into these creatures 2-3 times per type or so, but each encounter will be properly handcrafted (quality vs quantity).

    No.

    Not planned as there's no crafting system in the game.

    Depends on the critters and the armaments. The floaters will be more effective against the droid, the frogs and the starfish won't even scratch him, but would you want the droid to waste bucket loads of ammo by machinegunning the frogs?

    In DR the critters had 1-2 melee attacks with some poison thrown into the mix. Thus they less interesting than the human enemies and required nothing but dodge/block and occasional antidote.

    Now let's see what we have here. The frog is a simple scavenger, but you'll be fighting all 3 types at the same time and dealing with 3 different attack types. They have neither 'one huge weakness' nor a 'huge superpower'. The starfish has 4 abilities: drag you closer, release the spore cloud to force you to switch to mleee, drain your hp, regenerate its own hp. This alone is more interesting than anything we had in DR. No weaknesses or super strengths either. The floater does have a weakness to energy weapons but it's a reasonable weakness and energy ammo is very rare, so it's a real dilemma rather than a weapon switch. The floater has a crowd control attack and a chance to turn you into a vegetable for a turn or two.

    If you feel we're missing something, tell us and we'll consider it.
     
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  6. Binky Learned

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    Shame. Toxic venom in a troublesome person's coffee could really brighten my character's day.
    ...Yes? But then again, I like fucking around in rpgs. I assume the droid'll be capable of stomping on the things.
     
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  7. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    The droid will be closer to ED-209 than to some breakdancing robots, so there will be no stomping. The droid will carry either energy cannons or makeshift WW2 style machine guns. Neither will be very effective against fast-moving frogs, but they will be very effective against other enemies. The ammo is a pretty big factor so the droid is more of an ace up your sleeve to be played strategically rather than every chance you get.
     
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  8. Politician Lurker King

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    I don’t care about this type of variety. The energy and effort spent on different creatures would be put to better use by providing additional combat abilities, weapons, tatical locations, etc.
     
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  9. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Different "departments".

    Creatures are done by the animator, weapons by the 3D modeler, locations by the level designer, combat abilities by the programmer. So if the animator won't be working on the creatures, he'll be working on combat animations.
     
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  10. Mr. Hiver Learned

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    Did "extensive gene editing" got used for anything else?

    Even if the game is inspired by old school SF, we are not in that age anymore.

    If the floater has some kind of "energy" weapon capability why not just make it capability to create and control electromagnetic fields, by which he can disrupt human and other animals nervous systems and brain functions. That can have diverse effects that affect enemies in granular scales, instead of being binary effect of yes or no. So, your aim and other stats can be lowered a little, a bit more and critically. Why not add to it capability almost all jelly fish have, producing various neurotoxins that also paralyze the enemies by touch. And for more versatility, have a few more effects, like making people go berserk, have hallucinations and so on which would result in them attacking their own party.

    Give the frogs capability to release spores with various effects. Make a frog-mushroom hybrid. Make them able to "resurrect" after a while through power of shrooms, even when killed. Unless they got destroyed in extreme ways. If possible make hallucinations actually change how some companions or enemies look to the player, so they become enemies, shuffle them around during the hallucination effect, add some woo-woo effects so the player cannot tell which is which for duration.

    Make escaping from starfish embrace cost something, instead of it just ending when its turn ends. Allow party members to release eachother from its embrace by causing some damage, scoring crits and so on.
    Will it underside be more vulnerable?
    Give it squid ability to shoot black or other color ink-smoke - instead of spores. Make it regenerate HP by hitting you with its stomach too, not just while enveloping you.


    How will these three cooperate tactically? Why would they?

    Maybe the starfish should try to eat anything, so the player could have an option to lead one to some frogs... Same for floaters. After all they have to eat something, and i hear it was brutal selection process.

    -edit:

    ah, alright, its tactical flexibility, not coopeartion that is planned.

    Fine, but some sort of cooperation would increase tactical flexibility which, in case of humans comes most from ability to "think" and behave tactically, not by some big flexibility. After all, humans either attack you by melee or ranged weapons. Sometimes a bomb.
     
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  11. lukaszek the determinator

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    will there be some skills helping with fauna&flora encounters?


    EDIT: there was a generation ship movie that starts to sound similar to your game. I cant recall title. Will there be mutated humans too?
    Show Spoiler
    will final twist be that ship is already there, underwater?
     
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  12. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    No.

    Pandorum? It wasn't a generation ship and it was basically a horror movie. Yes, there will be mutated humans, see update #19:

    http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,7502.0.html
     
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  13. lukaszek the determinator

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    ahh yes, pandorum. It was freezer, my bad.
     
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  14. Binky Learned

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    Does that mean there'll be a ship-wide scarcity of ammo and you'll have to make every shot count? If yes, then great. Has there been a thread or a post where you outlined what you'll do to make the game challenging?
     
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  15. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Energy ammo is very rare, so you won't be able to use energy weapons in every fight. Firearms ammo (9mm, 5.56, 0.45, shotgun shells) is plentiful but expensive, so using automatic weapons will require deep pockets.

    Same as in AoD/DR. Good stats, good skills, good gear. Nothing else is needed. Making games challenging isn't a fundamental problem that needs solving. The reason many games are easy (and the reason Hard is the new Normal now) is because it is the design goal to make the player feel good by killing everyone who crosses his path, which means that the enemies should be easy to hit and easy to kill. Our design goals are different. We aim to deliver challenging combat for people who like challenge.
     
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  16. Binky Learned

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    As long as there won't be overpowered items like AoD/DR's bolas & bombs (or they'll be very rare) and "I win" skills like alchemy (plentiful ingredients + 4 in alchemy and you were golden).
     
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  17. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Well, energy weapons are kinda OP by design (it would be silly if they had the same damage and accuracy as crude ship-made weapons), which is why the ammo is very rare. Anyway, random thoughts on the subject:

    1. Bolas were a mistake. We would have removed them but too many people struggled with combat, so bolas were the only way for them to have a fighting chance. The events in Teron escalated too fast and with no warning, which was another mistake that made the game even harder.
    2. The bombs were too powerful, especially in Dungeon Rats. In the new game we'll have 3 types of grenades, so thugs and early enemies will use cheaper, weaker grenades, whereas special forces and such will use the best gear but by that time you should be able to have a fighting chance even if you took -3 penalty to physical stats.
    3. Crafting AND alchemy kinda fucked things up, allowing you to become way too powerful. STR damage multiplier (in combination with crafting and alchemy) didn't help either.
     
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  18. undecaf Arcane Patron

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    You know, it’s really a small thing to nitpick, but since the game takes place in a scifi far future, would it not be narratively more interesting to come up with more... eh, ”exotic” calibers and ammo types?
     
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  19. Politician Lurker King

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    This criticism can be extended to energy weapons, doesn't it? Energy weapons will be the new bolas. The fact that they are limited is irrelevant because you will be able to break the worst fights without proper tactics by relying on their destructive effects.

    The steep learning curve of AoD was brutal, but it made the game world more immersive. The game world didn't know that you are a beginner. Besides, this forced the player to understand the ins and outs of the combat system from the start instead of wasting countless hours with a bad build in easier fights only to realise his build was not good enough.
     
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  20. Kwota Educated

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    Does any of the three remaining monster categories covers rodents Vince?

    Low-grav high-rad enviroment could be a nice spin on the old "rats in the cellars" trope.
     
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  21. agentorange Arcane Patron

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    I think ammo generally falls under the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" umbrella. Ammo types designed more than a hundred years ago, like the 9mm and .45, still kill people just fine. So at least in my view when people try to come up with more exotic sounding ammo it ends up with a similar effect as not wanting to call money "money" in your science fiction story so you call it "space money." Whereas just sticking to recognizable ammo grounds the setting. Funny enough in Fallout the gun that I always felt was the most out of place was the 10mm pistol, because unlike the laser guns and plasma guns which felt like fitting in-world future guns with no current standard to compare them to, the 10mm pistol felt like they thought "Well 9mm just doesn't feel futuristic enough so let's make it 10mm." (although 10mm ammo exists it was silly that such ammo would become commonplace).
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
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  22. Tacgnol Shitlord Patron

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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Grab the Codex by the pussy Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2
    In some alternate universe 10mm auto may have become popular, the only reason the FBI didn't adopt it was that "some" agents apparently couldn't handle the recoil.
     
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  23. vota DC Learned

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    Sounds like a Dune shield: block fast projectiles but slow weapon bypass it and laser make a deadly explosion.
     
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  24. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Not sure if calibers and ammo are a good area to show one's creativity. 8 or 10mm instead of 9? Anyway, while the game takes place in a sci-fi future, firearms were replaced by energy weapons a long time ago. The ship inhabitants had to go back to firearms when they ran out of energy ammo, as the ship carried enough weapons and ammo to secure and defend the future colony, not to fight a prolonged civil war aboard the ship. They lifted all designs from the databanks so they didn't start from scratch and the variety of designs you'll see in the game reflect the skills and tools of the maker, not the knowledge about firearms (same way the makeshift weapons used in modern conflicts reflect the makers' skills not mankind's knowledge).

    No rodents or any other mammals in the remaining categories.

    A fair point, one we're keenly aware of. A couple of things to consider:

    The bolas' choke effect was too powerful, it was basically game-over for the target who had no defense against it. The energy weapons will do more damage than any firearm but they won't kill or incapacitate the target. High level enemies will have energy DR as well.
     
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  25. Binky Learned

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    I think alchemy was so powerful because it gave you plenty of options (stims, poison, antidote, stat repair, berserker, balms, bombs, liquid fire), and only you could use them all the time. You could go into battle drugged up to your eyeballs and start burning, poisoning, blasting people left and right. The enemy? They barely used alchemy. I don't think a single enemy had bombs in AoD (maybe one or two had liquid fire). Some had poisoned weapons and that's was about it. Even if you didn't use fancy stuff like bombs and liquid fire, you could still poison every single human you faced. Out of hundreds of combatants, only a few would have an antidote.

    Here's a suggestion for CS: if you want to make a fight challenging why not give the enemy special toys and skills - especially for cyborgs, droids, mutants, turrets. You'll be up against established factions. They should have impressive defenses and all sorts of lovely pain-dealing goodies (like the special forces gear mentioned) at their disposal. The player has brainpower and the quickload button, the AI controlled enemy goons should have "alchemy".
     
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