Prometheus Wept Log 1: Moving On From Vigilantes Part I
Welcome to the first development log for Prometheus Wept, a turn based RPG set on a near future earth in which virtually all computerised technology has been rendered inoperable by a virus, casting mankind into a new dark age.
Prometheus Wept uses the code from Vigilantes, the studio’s second game, as a starting point, a base camp from which to reach for greater altitude. This development log covers around half of the key areas Prometheus Wept aims to improve on its predecessor. While most of these have been realised to some degree and all are feasible, it’s too early to guarantee everything outlined will be included in the game or exactly as envisioned.
A Brief Summary
Prometheus Wept will move from the combat focused gameplay of Vigilantes towards a traditional RPG, with improved gameplay variety and overall depth. There will be significant consequences for player choices, more emphasis on plot, character and game world development. There will be less combat, but battles will be more varied and the combat system will be more feature rich.
Less Emphasis on Combat
One of the main criticisms of Vigilantes is an over-reliance on combat. Vigilantes has a game loop similar to Xcom: fight → return to base/sell loot/upgrade → fight. I was aware of the potential downsides of this emphasis on combat during development, and a lot of time was spent adding variation to the game loop through crafting, base facilities, different mission types, pre-combat dialogue with skill checks, interrogation and surveillance. These additions worked for the majority of players, as Vigilantes currently has 82% positive reviews on Steam, but de-emphasizing combat will create a stronger, more varied base to build on.
Prometheus Wept will depart from Vigilantes’ potentially infinite number of generated battles, to a smaller number of hand crafted encounters. Less emphasis on combat will make room for greater gameplay variety and player choice will replace combat as the key mechanism for driving the story and gameplay. Further, the shift away from generated battles will allow for the creation of more varied and interesting combat challenges.
Strong Consequences For Player Choices
Player choice in Vigilantes didn’t extend far beyond pre-combat skill checks, and whether to kill or incapacitate enemies, which determined the ending. Vigilantes is a combat focused tactical game, but even in many RPGs, there’s a tendency for main quests to be a series of checkpoints, with only token effects on later gameplay and plot.
The aim with Prometheus Wept is to build more connective tissue than is typical in RPGs, between player choice, gameplay and plot development. The main quests in each act of Prometheus Wept build towards a finale. The intention is that the majority of main quests will provide the player with choices which can tip the scales in their favour (or against) in the finale, and that the resolution of the finale will affect the level of support the faction you sided with provides in the following act.
More Emphasis on Plot, Character Development and World-Building.
The play area in Vigilantes is divided into gang-held city tiles, which could be attacked at any point in the game. However, since pre-combat dialogue was linked to a specific map and gang, there was no way to know when or if the player would hit the required combination. This lead to an abandonment of a strongly interconnected plot for a number of self contained encounters.
Prometheus Wept will move away from this open-ended gameplay to a branching narrative which is more suited to developing a deeper plot, character and world.
If you were dismayed by the phrase “less emphasis on combat” – don’t be concerned! One significant benefit of Vigilantes’ focus on combat is that there’s a fairly feature rich combat system in place, which will be further developed for Prometheus Wept. So, while you’ll spend a lower percentage of playtime fighting, the combat will have deeper mechanics and be more varied. The below list of improvements is far from exhaustive. To date, the first two points have been implemented:
- Destructible Cover: this will introduce an additional tactical layer in choosing cover and destroying the enemy’s. Explosives will be very good at this.
- Interactions between fire, water, and electricity: water extinguishes fire, but increases the damage taken from electrical attacks. Deeper water will also slow movement, which can be exploited when facing melee enemies.
- Environment weapons: Vigilantes had the good ol’ staples of gas cans and oil barrels. The intention is to greatly increase the number of environment weapons and to increase the complexity interactions with them. For example, throwing an explosive into a fire could result in an added incendiary effect, or water containers could be destroyed to put out fires, slow enemies, or make them more vulnerable to electrical attacks.
Prometheus Wept is still relatively early in development, so please share your thoughts and feedback on the design. If you have any questions, fire away, and I’ll get back to you!