Syndicate is perhaps unknown to many of you, given it was first released around 1993. I remember it fondly as a tense squad combat game, where you control a small team of agents as you go about various nefarious duties as part of your "syndicate". Essentially you are the controller of 4 cybernetically enhanced "agents" that act almost like a technological mafia.
Luckily, syndicate runs quite happily in DosBox and I've been able to revisit the game again. Although it hasn't aged particularly well, it still has some useful ideas that I'll be implementing in my own way over time.
The intent of Damzel as a game is quite different, but I think there's something to be said for learning from other games and Syndicate is definitely one of the inspirations I draw from for Damzel.
Syndicate itself was very dark in its themes. Corporate assasinations, kidnapping and the like were its stock in trade. But the real meat of the game was the tension it managed to build in the harder missions. Where the world was alive with various inhabitants and quite often became very hostile.
My main goal for Damzel, is to make the player feel that the world is alive. That somehow they are within a city that has its own purpose. Each inhabitant will be doing something important to them and the core of the gameplay will involve controlling the spaces the inhabitants (and that can include enemies) use. This I think, is something that really hasn't been done before. A city full of beings that actually work, play, socialize?
Other than the core tension, the squad control and the general feel of Syndicate, is there anything else to learn? Well, there are a number of things to take away from the game in terms of interface. Namely the squad selection, the equipment upgrading, the research (you research modifications and new equipment XCOM style) and the taxation. All of these things are useful tools to enable the player to enrich the game by shaping their squad.
I'll certainly be implementing a squad/team selection screen like the one above. Although the number of agents you will be able to control will be a lot higher (up to 20 in 4 squads). I particularly like the idea of picking up dropped weapons/loot from enemies you kill. That adds a lot of potential to tailor your squad as well as a means of funding additional research and the like. Although it doesn't really make much sense to do that until the core gameplay is nailed down. I do have a narrative in mind for the game, although I'm not one for caring too much about narrative as I prefer to think that the core mechanics are far more important, it just happens that the narrative I had envisioned works particularly well with some aspects of the syndicate interface, particularly research and development.
More on that soon.