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Codex Preview RPG Codex Preview: Copper Dreams Alpha

Infinitron

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Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

The Copper Dreams backer alpha has been out since last year, but not too many people appear to have played it. That's a shame, because the game has changed so much since it was Kickstarted back in 2016 that I suspect most of us have long since lost grasp of what it's about. Only Joe & Hannah from Whalenought know where this train is headed, but what we can do is take a look at the currently available alpha build, which is what esteemed user Diggfinger volunteered to do. Here's an excerpt from his preview:

Speaking of guns, let’s get into combat. One of the novelties of Copper Dreams is its ‘strategic turn-based combat with time-based resolution’ system (Whalenought’s marketing department is working on a snappier term). It’s reminiscent of the combat in Grandia, in that turns take time to execute. You can issue actions in order of initiative, at which point time stops. But having issued your command enemies can act and adapt their action, e.g. seek cover from grenades or dodge. Actions take ‘ticks’ to execute, i.e. pulling an aimed attack might cost 6 ticks. This can create interesting dynamics, where enemies might stun you with a quick attack before you can carry out your planned headshot. So it adds an additional layer of strategic planning, with more factors to take into account before issuing your actions. In the latest version, you can even use the mouse wheel to advance time in ticks (i.e. 0.25 seconds) while watching your party members carry out their actions. It’s surprisingly cool, and especially handy for tough battles where you want to keep everything under control.

Loot is basically nonexistent at this point. I managed to scavenge a few laser-SMGs from the guards and later on some knives, but I could not search or move their bodies.

Also of interest is the wounds system. Hit points are completely absent. Instead, your character’s status is determined by the number of hits they have taken. Wounds are applied to specific body parts: head, torso, arms, and legs. The penalties you get differ depending on where you are hit. I.e. a shot to the head might decrease your chance to hit, while getting hit in the torso or legs can cause bleeding and affect movement speed. In theory this is cool, but it seems the negative effects on player characters are not fully implemented at this stage.

My thoughts on combat are mixed so far. On one hand, I like how the turn-based system allows more player agency and adds depth to the classic formula, and it generally plays well. On the other hand, it still needs a lot of balancing and polish in that everything seems to happen way too fast. After you issue an action, the screen just explodes with enemies, shooting/ducking/moving at a frantic pace for a few seconds before everything freezes again. Added to this is the lack of sound effects and general feedback, meaning you are often at a loss as to how the situation is progressing. I also found it bizarre how apparently different attack types (targeted, burst, quick etc.) have identical damage potential. Intuitively, using more ‘ticks’ should result in more damage to compensate for the time needed. Fortunately, I think these issues are the fault of the game being unpolished in its current state rather than the system being inherently ‘bad’. If they manage to polish and balance it well enough, it has the potential to be interesting.

I really liked the wounds system. Having no HPs seems radical at first, but the decent visual cues mean you barely notice their absence. Aiming at heads and limbs can lead to critical hits, instant kills and ‘shock-effects’ which is fun to play around with. Strangely though, it seems that applying medkits during combat costs no ticks. That means you can effectively stitch and heal up your wounds ad infinitum while the enemies politely wait around. This will surely be addressed but sticks out in the game's current state.

As for stealth, it’s difficult to really assess at the moment. As mentioned, it is not possible to move/hide bodies which was a big deal during the Kickstarter campaign and subsequent updates.

Character progression also remains a mystery, as it is not featured in the alpha. According to Joe and Hannah, the game will start with the player being interviewed by the government officials. This will allow you to choose background traits, appearance and stats like aptitudes and proficiencies. It seems like you will be able recruits NPCs as well (including mind-controlled ones), a feature which is already somewhat present in the latest version of the alpha. But your followers just drone around, so I didn’t particularly enjoy that feature.

I’m slightly worried about the absence of XP points. Apparently, the goal is to scrap XP completely in favor of rewarding you with skill points for completing missions. Personally, I love getting XP both for killing enemies and completing quests. It’s a don’t fix if ain't broke issue for me, but I can see why Joe and Hannah want to try something different. Let’s hope it works out.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Preview: Copper Dreams Alpha
 

Mustawd

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Loving the art style of the first alpha version.

We’ll see what we end up with.
 

grimace

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Was thinking the same thing. Would be worth it to wait a few months, until mid-late Beta at which point more poignant questions can be asked.

There's no time like the present.

We can gather a list of questions now.
 

Ismaul

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I'm interested.

The combat and wound systems are not what we usually see in cRPGs, so that's fresh. Plus, nice art.
 

Darkozric

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No, this is not art, it's some serious pretentious hipster shit. I've never seen so ugly graphics in my entire life. Even Amstrad 6128 games had better art and graphics from this.
To the creators : Go seek mental help immediately
 

slowtard

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For real, y'all a bunch of Negative Nancies! Slowtard never heard a bunch of supposable grognards complain so much about they graphics.

"Oh, Lawd! Muh pixels is the wrong color. They used to be another color! Save me!"

Boo. Fuckin. Hoo. Bitches.

It's almost like some people on the internet just lookin for things to complain about. Y'all should welcome a serious attempt to create a system that doesn't operate on HP & XP. HP & XP is good system, but even if it's cooked just right, you can't eat steak for dinner every day of your life.

:timetoburn:

These pixels is here. They queer. Get used to it. Or STFU.
 

Iluvcheezcake

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While I applaud the change to hp/xp mechanics, i also think the graphics are shit. Being a grognard does not mean i have to bend over and accept everything indie crpg developers come up with.
On a side note, I do agree with you that people tend to whine a lot :)
 

thesheeep

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I always wondered why not more games made use of turn-based combat like this.
It just seems a natural thing to do to me: Actions cost time, but while an action is being executed, the other side might act as well. It's closer to "reality" than classical turn-based systems and definitely more dynamic (two of the biggest criticisms usually brought up against TB combat). While still having all the advantages of turns.
 

CryptRat

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While still having all the advantages of turns.
I think it's more complicated. There's a reason why many turn-based games have a preparation time for some actions but also instant movement or sword hits, that way at least the fights don't end up like in Battle Isle. I'm not saying the fully real-time resolution they're using won't work, just that I can understand how it's not that simple to set up.
 

thesheeep

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While still having all the advantages of turns.
I think it's more complicated. There's a reason why many turn-based games have a preparation time for some actions but also instant movement or sword hits, that way at least the fights don't end up like in Battle Isle. I'm not saying the fully real-time resolution they're using won't work, just that I can understand how it's not that simple to set up.
Of course it is more complicated to set up and I don't think it lends itself well to every possible turn-based game.
IMO, the smaller the scale and the less abstractions are used (so Copper Dreams fits the bill), the more likely such a system is to work out. You gotta have in-between states for movements, projectiles, etc. Which is why it would work for XCOM-like combat, but not for something that is based on large grids (as that wouldn't really allow in-between states for movement).

However, once set up, it still has all the advantages of turn-based combat while alleviating some of the criticisms. I'm talking about advantages for the player, of course, not for the developer.
 

Darth Canoli

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16735_500.jpg


The wounded body parts already hinted it but it seems there's a huge Shadowrun (PnP) influence here (insurance claim), seems interesting.

Still, i'll add my voice to the choir regarding graphics; i don't think anyone but the ascii rogue-like players can call me a graphic whore; i don't like the art-style and i'll add : if it hurt my eyes (i mean literally, like these green monochromatic fucking "old" games), i'm not playing it !
 
Self-Ejected

c2007

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Injury system may be a somewhat unique implementation, but it is not new.

BioWhore did it FFS.

Nevertheless, there is potential here and I have been more curious about this game than any other since I rejoined the 'dex.
 

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