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Here's a breakdown of some of the gameplay tests we've been doing on the single player today...

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Synapse is basically a working system now, so we're trying out different game modes for the single player and really trying to establish what the most fun core gameplay is.

Here are some of the basic modes we tested quickly today...

Type A: Attack

In this game mode enemies are spread out in tactical positions around the level. The player must take his units and intelligently take out the enemy. At the beginning it may be a bit of a puzzle to work out how to get the first enemy without dying.

Type B: Stealth

In this mode you must get from one side of a mission to the other without being seen. The enemies will be patrolling the area.

Type C: Defense

In this mode you must defend a room or area from an attack. The attack will usually be much stronger than you, and you must find the right defensive places to succeed.

Type D: Assassination

In this mode, you must enter a heavily fortified area and kill one civilian in the middle of the map. These must be designed to be real puzzles - there is basically just one way of getting to the enemy.

Type E: Escape

In this mode you start off in a pretty hairy predicament, and must get out of the level safely! It should be a bit of a puzzle to even survive the first turn.

Type F: Destruction

You have a rocket launcher and there are loads of machine gunners running away - you have to kill as many as you can before they reach the edge of the screen and escape.

We worked with quite heavily scripted enemy plans today. This was interesting but turned mostly into a guessing game about what those plans were, which is inherently boring. In my opinion, the game modes which worked best were those where you weren't compelled to take out every enemy on the map - having to get from A to B or defend an area was more entertaining and felt less like work.

Tomorrow, we're trying similar game types but giving the AI more free reign to make decisions on its own. We're hoping this will add a bit more dynamism to the game and bring it back into line with the "outsmarting" fun that happens in multiplayer.

As we're going for a story-based narrative progression in single player, we're going to need a really compelling mix of missions. Doing these micro gameplay tests is great and should definitely lead us down the right path.

On another note, I started exploring dialogue trees using a simple graphing tool by the name of YeD. This proved pretty interesting and I'm trying to badger Ian into writing a utility which can interpret one of YeD's output formats so I can actually write the dialogue in it. I'm UTTERLY bemused that there are no freeware dialogue tree testing or creation utilities out there, but Ian has already knocked up one that I can use.

Currently, we're planning short, punchy dialogue sections after certain levels to get the player a bit more into the game world and do plot stuff. This coupled with some sparing in-mission events and comments by your opponent should be all we need to do a lot of interesting immerisve stuff.

I so badly want to get the artists moving on the bespoke SP art but that will definitely have to be put on hold until we have a very clear idea of the SP gameplay and progression.

We have another episode of our podcast Visiting the Village up now as well!

Comments
KerenskyTheRed
KerenskyTheRed

Sounds good! I've personally been a fan of Assassination and Stealth game modes. Good to hear about your progress.

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Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games

Yeah I'm interested to see how Assassination in particular turns out...

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Ashix
Ashix

Sounds good,
I have some concerns about the single path in assassination

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Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games

I think a lot depends on the layout of the level / number of bad guys / AI config to be honest with you. We're still testing a lot of stuff: it's too early to know whether that kind of game mode will work or not.

FS is a bit different from other games in this genre - there's no health, for example - so a lot of it revolves around using cover intelligently and not blindly walking up to an enemy and shooting. That makes creating a movement plan through a level full of enemies a lot more key that it would be in a more conventional strategy game. Still, there's a long way to go with this testing phase before we can pin down the exact SP game modes we're going to have.

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nlr
nlr

Defend Mode sounds like fun - Tower defense, but actually tactical

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Mode7Games Author
Mode7Games

Yeah...it's important it doesn't turn into a dull camp-a-thon though. Yet to test that one personally - I know the other guys have tried that kind of gameplay a few times with earlier versions of the game so they're better qualified to judge really. Hopefully more gameplay testing will happen next week...

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nlr
nlr

True. I suppose you could have enemies move in from different directions, forcing the player to alter their defenses on-the-fly to keep things interesting.

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