Epsylon is a game project based on the good old detective stories but taking it a step forward mixing it with an unconventional cast and a new game engine technology. Detective stories are in general static narratives with limited set of interaction and little replay value once the story is done. The player has next to no influence on the way the story unfolds. Here the Epsylon project hooks in and expands the game mechanics to allow the player to conduct investigation his own way. How the player conducts the investigation influences the world and people around him. An AI in the background reacts to the moves of the player potentially altering the course of actions. Besides the basic detective moves the player has access to some "characters" providing some special abilities that can be of help.
You are Georgo Valentino, a private eye. On your way looking to solve one of your longest standing unresolved cases you end up with a hunch leading to the parallel world Alpha-10. In this universe multiple worlds exist next to each other. Very little people know about this though. One of your friends, a scientist, does know. and he most certainly knows more than that. He has a special "friend" himself that he met while researching what is called the "Xendron", the multidimensional space. Arriving at Alpha-10 Georgo is quite surprised finding his "friend" having dropped off his little girl at his side as he has "own business" to take care off. You should learn soon that this little girl (Sean) has some special abilities that can be of help to you. And if that is not enough the organisation you end up with has two special "agents" (Odjin and Bahatos) at their disposal that have their own set of abilities to bring to the table. The interesting part? The little girl and these two special agents are dragons of different kinds. As it looks like they play an important role in the case to unfold.
Will you be able to solve the biggest case you ever had?
All your actions have large influence on the events in the world. It is better to conduct your investigation without force if possible. As you are a stranger in this world people tend to not tell you all they know so you have to find your own ways to gather the informations you need to crack the case. There are multiple ways to solve the case depending on how you approach the investigation and with whom. Be careful though with whome you talk and what you do. The underworld is watching you and will react to your snooping around. Counter measures can range from making "vanish" information you seek all the way to trying to silence you or people you got in contact with. Various features can help you on your way:
One of the key points is that the story is part of the game mechanics. It is not told to the player by hitting NPCs. The story is the main case in the investigation. So to learn the story solve the investigation. Depending on how you solve it you can learn more or less about the story. It is therefore useful to look sometimes deeper than requested. And who knows what influence your choices have on the outcome... or members in your team.
Lots of work has been done in the recent weeks so let's keep it short. Most of it are engine internal modifications required for the NPC simulation system to work as intended but this comes below (techincal, so you can skip it if you want).
The main focus is on a dynamic investigation and this requires the world to keep turning while you are busy snooping around. In particular NPCs (good and bad) are kept simulating while offline (out of player area or even a different game zone). This forces the player to re-think his investigation practices since bad things can go down while you are at the wrong end of the city. The video contains a little bit about this system.
Also included in the video a quick peek at the conversation mock-up system. You might know the typical way to mock-up conversations in a text editor. It goes similar like "A: i'm saying this" and "B: i'm saying that". Using this simple system you can now quickly mock up conversations.
The technical side of the show. Lots of work went into optimizing engine speed especially in physics and collision detection (like down from 300ms to 1ms or below). This took a lot of time including wrestling with Bullet Physics not playing nicely with the kids. What's new in the engine (and shown in the video):
This has been all a large step forward towards the first release. Still a few things to tackle but this one here had been a larger task to finish. So here the technical video and up until next time.