Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Update #1 - The Character System

Discussion in 'Titan Outpost' started by MF, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. MF Arcane

    MF
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2002
    Parrots:
    482
    Location:
    Amsterdam
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    Thanks for the positive feedback, everyone!

    This first bi-monthly development update is about the character system. I wanted to tell you all about the setting and the main gameplay elements first, but I was constantly referencing the character when writing about it, so I might as well start here.
    There are a couple of ‘win’ conditions with a branching story, and aside from choosing which faction you want to be with, you can also go for personal gain or do everything ‘for science’, as it were. Most of those paths tie into the skill system, so there is a ‘science path’ through the game, as well as a ‘negotiation path’. They’re not mutually exclusive or gated too harshly, but getting through the science path with 0 science skill is of course not the best idea.

    For Titan Outpost, I came up with a relatively simple character system built around the following principles:

    -Every stat and skill should matter

    -Every stat and skill should make sense

    -Building a character and playing to its strengths and weaknesses should be fun

    [​IMG]
    The Stat Screen


    First, the four base attributes. They range from 4 to 10, with 4 being below average and 10 being exceptional. You can’t go lower than 4 because your employer would not send complete morons or frail weaklings on an expensive mission.

    They spell PICA because it was the cutest anagram for the four letters I could find. So I call it the PICA system. Like a tinier version of SPECIAL.

    Given the fact that the game is not focused on combat, I cut out most of the emphasis that traditional systems place on physical attributes. They are all rolled into one: Physicality.


    Physicality is the emphasis your character has placed on physical exercise as well as inherent physical talent, and will determine your strength and ability to endure things. For example, you can pry things loose, lift heavy things or carry more in your inventory on the strength side, and you last a little longer with hypothermia, low food or oxygen and have a reduced impact from prolonged low gravity on the endurance side. In some cases, it will also determine movement speed. In the rare circumstance that you meet an actual person face to face, this stat determines your chance to overpower them without a weapon if all else fails.

    Intelligence speeds up scientific development, increases the amount of experience gained and allows you to spend more points on skills throughout the game. Pretty much what Intelligence does in most RPG’s, except that this game has a substantial tech tree and speeding up research will impact everything. For example, you can go exploring to search for new alpha decay materials to use in your generator to increase power -more on that later-, or you can research a more efficient thermoelectric converter from the safety of your base. A more far-reaching consequence would be setting up a prelude to terraforming, which can be considered the game’s win condition for the science path. If you choose to go that way. You can also completely ignore all this, if you want.

    [​IMG]
    The research station, well on your way to squeezing more juice out of your 35kg of plutonium.

    Charisma is fairly traditional. You can persuade people and you gain a boost to your negotiation skill. You also get a better initial reaction from people and your standing with all factions is increased a little. You all know how this one works. With dialogue trees looking like this and a system for tracking someone’s disposition, conversation skills do matter. A more direct benefit you get from high charisma is that you can get away with more. Missing deadlines isn’t a death sentence, shorting people in deals won’t make them turn hostile right away, etc.

    This is what a typical simple dialogue tree looks like.
    [​IMG]

    Awareness - Your ability to directly know and perceive, or to be cognizant of events. You get a boost to exploration, construction and logistics and notice things that are easy to miss. Apart from that it’s a lot like perception in most games.

    Now for the six skills. They are partially derived from the attributes as you get bonus points from them. Progression is relatively flat with a maximum of five points. You start with 0 points in each skill, or 1 if your base stat is high enough.

    Science

    The systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world. A high science skill unlocks new potential discoveries at the research station. If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.

    Science speeds up research time and unlocks new technologies and avenues. There are also a few skill checks down the line, but not too many as I don’t want to overpower this skill. It used to be subdivided into Biology, Geology, Physics & Chemistry schools, but that didn’t really add anything besides needless clicking and the bad kind of content gating.

    Construction


    Engineering structures and manufacturing items. The 3D printing robot on Titan Outpost is automated but requires knowledge and skill to program and operate. Construction increases building speed and allows you to conduct repairs in the field more efficiently, or at all. The road to success is always under construction. The base comes with an underpowered habitat, a rover, two methane tanks and one drone when you arrive and you’ll have to build and maintain much more if you want to survive or even prosper. Of course, you can also procure things in ways that do not involve building them yourself, which leads me to the next skill.

    [​IMG]
    Your friendly neighbourhood construction bot

    Negotiation

    The skill to reach agreements. This works best in conjunction with a high charisma, but even unappealing personalities will be able to negotiate their way in and out of situations. Negotiate better contracts, new allegiances and better deals. Maybe you can even get them to pay for the wall. There is a hydrocarbon market where you can offload shipments behind your employer's back and increase your personal funds. This is where the negotiation skill shines. If your skill is higher than that of the other person, you can outsmart him or her. But you need awareness to be able to know the other guy's skill level. Also, dialogue checks. Lots of dialogue checks.

    Logistics

    Organization and implementation of complex operations. You gain a resource gathering bonus of 25% per point per day and can set more drone waypoints. Right now this is the skill that you can pump and sit back to get rich quick, until things break down and you’re left without repair skills. Drone waypoints are ways of making drones do more than just wait around until a tank is full and haul them back to the space elevator, you can set up a route to make the most of these expensive flying trucks.

    Hacking

    Gain unauthorized access to systems. The interplanetary communication system, wherein every byte counts, can be eavesdropped by even the novice security aficionado, but Chinese protocols are a tough nut to crack. If negotiation can’t get you solid intel, hacking into your employer’s database will. It will also let you reprogram the base computer to work for you instead of your employer, which is very useful in the long run. By the way, if you were intent on doing some killing in the game, this is the easiest skill to do it with.

    Exploration

    Much of Titan is still unexplored. The thick atmosphere makes optical imaging from space almost impossible and all you have to go by is radar data. A high exploration skill will enable you to widen your range with the rover, travel faster and get better encounters. You can even find things mankind has never seen before.

    That’s it for now. I’ll be happy to answer questions, and I’ll talk about the setting next time!

    Here’s a new screenshot for your viewing pleasure. A view of the fledgling base from the top of the nearby cryovolcano.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Maxie Erudite

    Maxie
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2017
    Parrots:
    1,031
    Location:
    Argentina
    it's like you want us to read that one slider as "chink shit reputation"
     
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  3. MF Arcane

    MF
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2002
    Parrots:
    482
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    It says China Space Administration. I removed the 'national' moniker since it has become a supranational organisation in this setting. But I see your point. Too bad we can't order spacecraft off AliExpress. Yet.
     
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