Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role-playing Game Update - The Armory

The Armory is the second location you’ll be exploring in Iron Tower Studio’s upcoming Colony Ship RPG. And with the area pretty much done at this point, the latest development update shares a quick description along with a bunch of screenshots. We also get a general status update and some musings about the game’s dialogue presentation.

Here are the text bits:

We're wrapping up the Armory (the second location), so we can finally show you something other than the starting town. Let's start with the intro:

With row after row of gutted depots, the Armory stretches before you as a shell of what it once was. The mutineers hit it fast and hard, overrunning the surprised security forces and stripping it of supplies. Weapons and armor meant for the future colony flooded the Ship, turning the Mutiny into a full-fledged war. The Ship Authority held its own in the end, keeping control of the lower decks, but at a great cost that went far beyond the Armory's lost supplies.

Your destination lies ahead – a reinforced door flanked by twin auto-cannons drawing on a seemingly inexhaustible power supply. No one made it past during the Mutiny, and no one's made it past since. Like the proverbial flaming sword outside of Eden, it sits as a guardian, a symbol of ancient strength, and a promise of marvels beyond.

You get the access card from Tanner (as mentioned in the combat demo), so getting past the automated security on that floor will be easy. However, you'd have to get past the local thugs first. You can fight or talk your way through or simply sneak past them. Multiple quest solutions are one of the cornerstones of our design philosophy.

The old dialogue box at the bottom of the screen wasn't big enough to fit all the text and PC options in more heated conversations, so we went with a vertical setup. It's still work in progress (we switched to it a week ago) so feel free to offer suggestions for improvement. I can't say I like it but it's either this or what we had in AoD or using a scrollbar to make sure you see all the options.

We wanted to show the skills (you can see them leveling up while talking) but you'll be using all skills not just speech and there's no room to fit them all. Maybe something like index tabs on the side?

On the dialogue design itself: in AoD it was easy to fail a check and end up dead or in combat. In Colony Ship failures and successes modify the disposition, giving you a chance to recover from your mistakes. For example, this reputation check leads to 3 outcomes:

low rep: disposition -2

“You high or somethin’?” Sharp Face asks, grinning wide. Clearly, he’s a man who appreciates quality entertainment.

medium rep: disposition +1

“Big words,” says Sharp Face, licking his lips. “The fuck you want here anyway?” The sudden change of tone indicates that he no longer sees you as an easy mark.

high rep: disposition +4

“Easy there, friend,” says Sharp Face, raising his palms to show he comes in peace. “No need to get all worked up over a joke. So, uh, what brings you here?” The forced casualness makes it clear that you’ve been promoted from prey to rival.

Let's show him the card instead[...]

Choosing a non-tagged line doesn't lead to a failure either[...]

Once you get past the thugs the door is all yours[...]

The access card doesn't give you the keys to the kingdom. If you want to fully explore the Armory you'll need to beat retinal scanners on lower levels. At some point in the game the Armory will become your base of operations and you'll have to reinforce it (not base building but using scavenged parts) and defend against attacks.

Here's what you came here for - a mysterious device that starts the main quest[...]

Random tidbits for those who read Playboy for the articles:
  • We updated the engine from 4.22 to 4.25, which fixed a lot of minor engine-related issues without introducing new ones (well, except for some minor font issues – see below, but that's manageable).
  • We implemented 'guest' mechanics when an NPC temporarily joins your party, bypassing the party limit. You control them in combat but don't have access to their inventories.
  • We're working on the Pit's (the starting town) quests at the moment and it's going well. The quests should be fully scripted - meaning the Pit's fully playable - by the end of July (half of it is already playable and I don't mean the combat demo).
  • The stealth system (the first prototype) should be ready by the end of the month as well. I'm sure it will go through several iterations (meaning it won't be done until the end of summer), but getting something playable is a very important step, if only for quest and level design.
  • Speaking of quest design, we expanded the Pit yet again as we added more quests, so now the Pit consists of three areas: Mainstreet, Camptown, and the Outskirts.
  • We replaced more animations, added different icons for gadget upgrade parts, redesigned the upgrade screen, and did a bunch of other minor improvements.
  • The combat demo was download 5,761 times (3,754 on May 9). Slow but steady...