February 2011

Game design : Espionage and sabotage

As (sadly) usual my last big posting concerning “Phase 2” is now almost three months old and therefore I decided to change my habbit on posting news for “Phase 2”, so from now on I’ll add a new categorie called “Game Design” in which I’ll post smaller “snippets” about changes in the game’s design. Those postings will be more frequent and should be a better way of showing what’s going on behind the scenes that thos “quarterly” big postings on my progress with “Phase 2”.

The first posting in ths category is about the espionage and sabotage part of the game. As you may read before this part of the gameplay will get a lot attention for “Phase 2” and there will be a lot of changes (besides the obvious stuff like changing design for the new UI interface) to make this part of the gameplay more important than it was in “Phase 1”, especially when playing against human players espionage and sabotage will play a much more important role, and can, if used correct change the whole game to your favour.

  • Agents will no longer always be arrested when an action (espionage or sabotage) fails.
    One thing that hindered usage of espionage and sabotage was the fact that your agent could get caught for each action he did and therefore was lost for you. This will be changed, as an agent now has a chance of dodging arrest upon a failed operation. This means he’ll be locked for the current turn but he won’t be lost and he’ll stay in his region / at his assigned division to be available in the next turn again. I think this will be very important change as players don’t need to be afraid of losing agents as much as before. And in addition to that this ratio between getting caugth and being able to dodge arrest will be shifted in favour to the later depending on the agent’s current level. This will make training of your agents more important (training is new to “Phase 2”), so an agent with at level 10 (max. level) will have a change of 90% (though that may change when I’m doing the final balancing)
  • More sabotage actions depending on agent’s level
    The new staff experience system along with it’s ten levels of experience offer a lot of possibilites, and I’ll make use of it for the sabotage part of the game. In “Phase 1”, every agent could carry out all sabotage actions (though there were only a few ones). In “Phase 2” this will differ as you’ll need a certain experience level for doing several sabotage acts. For example you can disabled a building in an enemy region with every spy (level 0), so that this building is not working for a certain amount of turns, but demolishing a building will require a higher level. This means that you’ll constantly train and use your agents (successful espionage and sabotage actions will also give experience). This also allows me to introduce stronger sabotage actions like raising chaos (disabling buildings at random, making population angry, etc.) or poisoning drinking water supply to kill off a certain percentage of a regions populations. Such actions would be far to powerful if every agent could carry them out from the beginning.

Newton Game Dynamics Engine goes Open-Source

Time flies by, already march and still this is my first posting for 2011. I’m pretty busy outside of coding, but rest assured, I’ll have some new info on “Phase 2” soon. But still this news item is a great one, as the Newton Game Dynamics realtime physics engine recently went open source (under the zlib license), with both branches of the code, 2.xx and 3.xx now available online. As you may now this has been my (free) physics engine of choice for years now (used in several games like Jagdgeschwader, Newton Playground, tech demos etc.), and I’ve also been maintaining the Delphi/Pascal headers for some time now.

What does this mean? For us developers from the pascal crowd it means that it’s getting updated a lot more often now (Julio, the man behind NGD ist working fulltime in the games industry and therefore is pretty busy at times) and that it’s now possible to get NGD to more platforms (e.g. PlayStation 3, XBox360) for which Julio does not have developement permits / kits. And right now we’re also discussing wether to put the Delphi/Pascal headers into the official repository of NGD, which would be a great thing for all Delphi/pascal devs out there.

Also note that I updated the headers to the latest binary release (2.32) yesterday.

Here are some links concerning NGD going open source and the headers :
Official forum thread on newton going open source
Google code project for NGD
Current compiled binaries for NGD 2.32
Official forum thread on the Delphi/Pascal headers