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Omega Syndrome Q&A

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Omega Syndrome Q&A

Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Mon 16 August 2004, 17:15:45

Tags: Omega Syndrome

1.) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background with CRPGs? Why you decided to make one?

I am a programmer by trade and my passion is programming CRPGs. I don’t play CRPGs these days as I spend all of my spare time working on OS. As to my background with CRPGs I have only played a few: Wasteland, Ultima 7 & 8, Fallout 1 & 2 and Baldurs Gate. Of those games my favorites are Ultima 7 and Fallout. The game that influenced me most in terms of game play is Fallout. The game that influenced me most in terms of game engine creation is Baldurs Gate.

Several years ago I stopped playing computer games, as I no longer found them fun or interesting. At the time I thought I had grown out of them, but then I discovered Fallout and really enjoyed playing it. After the Fallout experience I realized I hadn’t grown out of computer games at all, its just that very few great CRPGs are ever made. So instead of complaining about the lack of great games, I decided to learn how to make my own computer games and The Omega Syndrome is the result of those efforts.


2.) Can you tell us a little bit about the setting of Omega Syndrome? What about the bluebook style aliens on earth setting appeals to you? Why do you think it would appeal to others?

The Omega Syndrome is set in a world that is very much like the X-Files television series. Malevolent aliens have been visiting our planet and abducting people for years. All powerful secret government agencies have been created to communicate with these aliens and to acquire their technology. These government agencies have existed in one form or another since the late 1940's and are prepared to use any means including blackmail and murder to achieve their goals. While these agencies may seem evil to you and I, they are doing what they believe is necessary to ensure the survival of humanity. The protagonist in The Omega Syndrome is Max Power and he working for one of these government agencies.

The CrimRam files rather than the Blue Book are the main inspiration for the Omega Syndrome. I stumbled across the CrimRam files on the Internet several years ago and as soon as I started reading them, I knew I had found something special. The files were compiled by anonymous researchers and tie together many sources of information on UFO sightings and conspiracy theory. They describe alien visitations and abductions, underground complexes controlled by aliens and our government, cover ups coming from the highest levels, as well as the alien’s technology and culture. After reading these files, I saw unlimited potential for adventure and I knew I could make a game that anyone with a vague interest in conspiracy theory and UFOs would enjoy playing.


3.) Omega Syndrome has character creation, but any character you create will be Max Power. What made you decide to have a fixed character for the story?

I love Max Power’s name. I shamelessly stole it from an episode of The Simpson’s television series. In that episode Homer decides he would be more successful if he had a power name. So when Homer sees Max Power written on the side of his wife’s hair drier, he decides to take it as his new name. The reason I chose a humorous name for the protagonist in OS, was I wanted to poke fun at the names of heroes from first person shooter games of recent years. I’m sure everyone knows which games I mean. The other reason the character name is fixed is during the game, Max Power encounters people that he knows quite well and their conversations wouldn’t make sense if he had a different name.


4.) Omega Syndrome is shareware. What constraints does the demo have? How much of the game can a player expect to see in the demo in terms of areas and locations?

In the demo you cannot load or save games. The demo will only run 10 times before it shuts down. There are 51 areas or encounters in the full version and in the demo you have access to 8 areas. One thing the readers should note about the limited number of uses is they are cleared each time there is a major update. So if anyone has version number less than 1.9, they can download version 1.9 and get another 10 uses.


5.) Can you tell us a little bit about the character system in Omega Syndrome? What all the attributes are? What they do?

Strength: This is your raw physical strength. This affects your number of hit points, your carry weight, and your melee damage. Melee damage is a bonus that is added to the damage you do with a melee weapon.

Perception: Perception affects your vision and is important for ranged attacks. The better your perception is, the better you are at hitting distant targets.

Endurance: This affects your number of hit points, your resistances to poison, radiation, gas and electrical damage.

Intelligence: The higher your intelligence is, the faster you will learn your skills. Your intelligence determines how many skill points you are given when you level up.

Agility: Agility determines your sequence (when it is your turn in turn-based combat), your number of action points (how fast you can move in combat), your armour class and the base level of some skills when your character is created.

Luck: This determines your chance of performing a critical hit in combat. Critical hits are special attacks that can cause additional damage, cripples, knockdowns, unconsciousness, blindness and instant death.


6.) There's both melee and ranged skills in Omega Syndrome. Can you tell us how you've managed to balance these two skills together? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using one versus the other?

In real life, ranged weapons are far more effective than melee weapons. The only problem is the combat in OS would be very boring if the creatures stood at opposite ends of the maps and shot at each other. So to counter the advantage ranged weapons have, melee weapons were sped up so that most creatures can attack twice per turn.

The advantages of using ranged weapons are you can attack creatures when they are moving towards you. Also if you’re using a weapon that is set to burst mode, you can damage more than one creature with a single attack. The disadvantage of using ranged weapons is their attacks are slower than melee attacks and they require ammunition.

The advantages of melee weapons are most creatures can attack more than once in a turn. Also they don't need ammunition and they have a melee damage bonus. The disadvantages of melee weapons are you can expect to take damage from your opponents each round and if you are fighting a mob of creatures, it is possible to take a large amount of damage in a short space of time.


7.) You've recently decided that Omega Syndrome would be better turn based. Can you tell us why you decided to switch to turn based? How many people requested the change? How does it make the game better, in your opinion?

I've had a strong feeling since its release that OS would be a far better game with turn based combat. Since January I’ve been working to make OS’s control system easy to learn and use. I've had countless people test it over 8 months including friends, relatives and complete strangers and I noticed that the less experienced players found the combat in OS too difficult and were not enjoying the experience. I also noticed that players were more likely to favor ranged weapons in real time mode and this made the combat boring and repetitive. So I decided to write turn-based code for OS and as soon as I tested the first rough version, I knew I had made the right decision. With turn based combat the player can take their time and think about their next move. They also have more options in turn-based mode and can be creative and really mix things up. In one turn the player can break cover, shoot an enemy and then take cover again. Or they can shoot at an enemy and then movecloser to them and stab them. Or they can attack once and end their turn and convert their remaining action points to an armour class bonus. The possibilities turn-based combat offers are endless.


8.) Can you tell us a little bit about character advancement in Omega Syndrome? How is experience handled and given? What all can you do when you level up?

Like all CRPGs experience is given for completing quests as well as defeating enemies. Each level requires that you earn a certain number of experience points before you can level up. Then when you level up, you are given a number of skill points that can be spent on improving your skills. There are two things to remember about skills; the more proficient you are in them, the harder they are to improve, also each skill point spent on a tagged skill is worth two skill points.


9.) Omega Sydrome has a number of random encounters when travelling on the world map. What do you feel makes for a good random encounter? What keeps them from getting stale or annoying, in your opinion?

Good random encounters should act like barriers and stop the player entering areas they are not able to survive in. For instance if an area is designed for a high level character, the surrounding random encounters should behave like buffer zones preventing lower level characters from entering.

Random encounters should be varied and imaginative. Instead of just adding monsters you can insert corpses, creatures fighting other creatures, abandoned convoys and ruins, friendly travelers, as well as combinations of the previous encounters that lead to new quests.


10.) You're continuing to work on Omega Syndrome. Can you give us a hint at what the future of this game holds?

At this time OS is a great little game. However I plan to add things to it for quite some time. At the moment all of the maps are being upgraded using a new technique that gives more attractive results. When this is done, new quests and maps will be added. One of these quests involves Men In Black. These MIB are not the friendly neighborhood MIB from the movie starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. These are the real MIB as described in the CrimRam files. They are alien constructs and have faces designed to be completely forgettable. The MIB are mainly used to intimidate people who have seen UFOs into silence. The MIB in OS will be controlling the town when the player first arrives. I will also be adding new random encounters using the criteria described in a previous answer. Once this is done I plan to add new skills from time to time and update the quests and creatures to incorporate them. I would also like to add a software based 3D animation engine at some time in the future that will display the creatures so additional creature animations can be added to the game. The 3D software engine will only be made if I can find good third part software that is free or is reasonably priced.


Thanks, David Moffatt for taking the time to answer these questions about Omega Syndrome!

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