Fresh Start

This week I worked like a madman on Exoloper. I built out the basics of the games menu UI, ported over systems like save + load, UI frameworks and my general purpose utilities and then got to work tying together the combat, campaign and loadout prototypes to turn them into a fully fledged game.

In particular I worked on the exo editing systems. Similar to Interloper's loadout system, but more complex. The idea is that each section of the exo has a series of slots that can take either a Utility, Weapon, Power Source or Locomotion system. This then ties into the campaign system, which then ties into the battle system. It was really something seeing all of that tie together so nicely, but also be decoupled enough that none of them rely on the other to work.

I mentioned this on Mastodon and the Anchorite Discord, but it looks as though I'll have a playable prototype very soon, possibly next week.

I keep close tabs on my hours for a variety of reasons, but it looks as though I'll have created the Exoloper first alpha in approximately 40 hrs of work. For those keeping tabs, Charge took nearly 823 hours to fro to the same spot.

I think I'll go into more detail on this with a separate post later, but suffice to say, it's a significant difference that I've chalked up to inexperience with multiplayer systems, and doggedly trying to implement Test Driven Development.

As I said before, I'm so damn happy with where Charge ended up, and the general direction its going in. I can't wait to finish it, but.. just not right now.

For now though: as I haven't done this yet, here's a quick overview of Exoloper (in its current form)

Exoloper begins with you starting a new campaign. There will be multiple campaigns to choose from, set in different locale's and times during the recapturing of Rayleigh Prime. To start a campaign you need to build your sortie. This includes an Exo for yourself, and a series of other units (Exo's, Tanks and infantry squads). Your two constraints are your inventory (thats persistent between campaigns) and the drop weight (the maximum weight allowed for you to start that campaign).

Each unit may also have a series of requirements. An Exo or Vehicle will need at least one locomotion system, one power system and one weapon. Once all the requirements are met, you'll be allowed to drop to the surface. Once there, you'll have to navigate the world and complete the objectives of the campaign. Along the way you'll come across a variety of spaces to move to, from battles to difficult decisions, resource points and more.

The main event of these spaces is the battle. These can take multiple forms, from ambushes to pitched battles, to rushing to destroy certain objectives. These battles will be slower in pace than the ones found in Interloper, and positioning, flanking, and awareness of both the state of your exo and your allies will be the determining factors of success. Your loadout will determine your play style. Do you hang back with railguns and missile launchers, or get up close and personal with melee weapons and flame-throwers?

The damage you sustain in battles will carry across to all other battles in the campaign, meaning you'll need to find parts to repair your units. You will also need to keep track of your fuel levels, as running out will leave you stranded on the surface. Each space presents an opportunity to collect salvage. This usually comes in either the form of immediate term resources, fuel and parts or in the form of longer term salvage. Savaged items can be extracted at specific spots throughout the campaign, sending them to your inventory for use in future campaigns. These are weapons, Exo's, vehicles, utilities and more. This part should feel familiar to Interloper players.

Completing the objectives in a campaign gives the player opportunities to gain the most coveted epic-tier salvage. You don't need to complete all or even any of the objectives to leave a campaign, but leaving early limits your access to higher quality loot.

Exctraction from a campaign has one condition: Weight. Every item you carry contributes to your campaign sortie's weight, and each extract has a maximum weight. You can choose to extract just salvage, exhausting the extraction point, or to dump certain items (including units you brought with you) to meet the weight requirement. Once you've extracted from a campaign, any salvage you extracted with will be added to your inventory, ready for the next campaign drop.

So that's the overall concept. Everything is up for change at this point, but I feel like the game loop is already very compelling. There's a ton of risk + reward in there, and it fills both the power fantasy of piloting a 20 metre tall robot, and the immersion of running a longer term campaign behind enemy lines with little support.

I've purposefully carved out plenty of openings in the games design so far for lore drops, as it was something I got asked about frequently during the development of Interloper, so that should be fun.

Exoloper Tasks completed: