Monday, January 5, 2015

I Missed One and Concerns

So I told you last Friday was my last Groups of Interest post, but it seems I made a tiny little error.

I completely forgot an entire GoI.

The Horizon Initiative. Which is a shame because this one is pretty cool.

The Horizon Initiative is an organization formed by various sects from the top three Abrahamic faiths in order to respond to the growing anomalous threat.

They are directly connected to one of the 001 proposals and several SCPs. Although incredibly hostile towards other religious groups They have often shown a desire to work together with the Foundation.

They have an interest in religious SCPs as well as Keter class SCPs.

Their base setup will be cell style, although their cells would be called Chapterhouses. Destroying or infiltrating Chapterhouses can expose a member of the tribunal leadership who will appear as a person of interest. Taking down a member of the tribunal will greatly weaken the Initiative, but unless you can nail all three in rapid succession they will replace the loss and regain their strength.

However working with the Initiative can have its own bonuses particularly against certain SCPs and 001 proposals.

Since I have your attention I thought I'd go over some other thoughts that have come up recently.

There is some concern about the number of GoIs both in how difficult they will be to implement and in how overwhelming it will feel to players.

I think these concerns are legitimate so I thought I would address them.

First of all Groups of Interest will share most of the same code. Configurable logic tables will give them personality and are easy to add and change. Also for the Geoscape portion of the game the art overhead of additional groups is minimal. The combat portion is another story.

As far as how overwhelming the number of Groups will feel there are several ways to address this.

First, many of these Groups will be very weak at the start of the game and can be mostly ignored while learning the ropes.

Second, there will be difficulty settings to change how frequently the Groups take their actions which will also reduce pressure.

Finally, I can make a menu like unto Civilization which will allow the player to select which Groups of Interest will be active in their game.

Those are the coding approaches to the problem. However one could take another look at each group and decide whether they actually improve the game or would serve better as flavor rather than a fully implemented opponent.

Not saying I plan on removing groups, but I'll propose some alternatives for some Groups. Comment on whether you think these suggestions would be good ideas. Remember that any group can be added to the game later via modding. I am implementing these groups in the same JSON style I demoed previously so it should be easy to create new groups or add missing ones.

Alexylva University could be removed entirely from a code perspective. It will already feature in the game as its various SCPs make an appearance. Events specific to this group could also still be added, they would just not proactively interact with the player and other groups.

The Church of the Broken God could be recombined into the classic view of the sect. This removes two groups, but loses some of the CotBG flavor.

Doctor Wondertainment could be removed as a group. The flavor would remain in its associated SCPs and the events created for the group.

The Fifth Church could be removed as a group. Might seem crazy at first, but this group doesn't have a defined goal and doesn't really interact with other groups much. Removing it would probably keep the same level of flavor it currently has on the wiki.

GRU Division "P" Could be removed. I would hate to see it go, but it currently is a shattered remnant of its former self. It is unlikely to dramatically affect gameplay either way.

Herman Fuller's Circus could also be removed. Although awesome, its flavor would be preserved through events and its related SCP articles. I'd rather keep it in, but if necessary it could be cut to simplify the game.

The Manna Charitable Foundation could be cut, but it would be so easy to implement I would hate to see it go. It's also non-confrontational so it won't need many assets in the combat portion of the game.

ORIA could be removed as regional Groups do not have as much impact as Global groups have. However they are a big player in the paranormal game, and I would hate to lose those interactions.

Prometheus Labs could be downgraded to randomly appearing research facilities instead of the current plan of implementing it as a full group.

The Unusual Incidents Unit could be removed from the game. It will only exist as flavor in events if this occurs.

So there is my list. Again I'm not planning on making these changes, but I'm proposing them for feedback in case I need to simplify the game. It also may turn out the community would rather have some of these proposed changes than my original plans.

Keep the feedback coming. I'll catch you on the next post.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Rest of the Players

Its time to finish off the list of GoIs. Before I start though I'd like to apologize for missing some critical hub information when planning out some previous GoIs. Seems I don't know how to internet.

I have now read the few GoI hubs I missed and I will address the two biggest concerns below.

Welcome back Church of the Broken God!

Seems I greatly failed to take into account the work that had been done to develop CotBG into more than an build-a-god workshop. The GoI contest ended defining three major splinter groups of the CotBG. In light of this I am considering creating Three GoIs to represent CotBG that will be loosely allied at the start of the game.

First off is the classic sect. Its goal is to rebuild the Broken God. Its the one most readers are probably familiar with. It would follow the design I originally had for CotBG.

Second is The Cogwork Orthodox Church. Their goal is to remake themselves in the form of their deity. If they accomplish this task it may be difficult to combat them much less keep it hidden. They will have a standard base setup with one hidden HQ that establishes additional bases as funding goals are met.

Third is the Church of Maxwellism. A modern take on the CotBG philosophy these guys operate in highly coordinated cells developing advanced cybernetics and computerized machinery. They will attempt to collect information from across the world in order to recompile the Broken God. That would not mesh well with the Foundation's goal of preserving normalcy.

All of these would start off loosely allied and would be interested in most of the same kinds of tags. Maxwellism would probably also be interested in computer based anomalies as well.

I hope this treatment does the CotBG more justice.

The Second GoI I was surprised by was Prometheus Labs. According to the hub page they are much more alive and well than I thought. Because of this it might be wise to make them an actual GoI instead of a defunct one. 

I like the idea of the randomly appearing locations that you must race other GoIs to, but Alexylva could fill this role as they have very little substance to them at the moment. The appearing locations could be labeled as Phitransimun Combine Portals and intercepting them in time could lead to bonuses. 

Since Alexylva currently has no defined motives or purpose it might be better to put them in this kind of role rather than making them an active GoI.

Let me know what you think about these suggestions.

Now that this post is already getting long lets start addressing the remaining GoIs.

The Factory.

So the factory has very little defined about it outside of the 001 Proposal. I am considering not implementing it as a GoI but instead leaving its impact to the occasion when it is selected as the 001 Object for the game.

This might not be a popular choice. Feel free to suggest how you would like to see it done.

Next we have the Fifth Church.

They are a weird secretive bunch. Its a bit hard to give them a motive since they are so secretive. They will have five HQs representing the five churches. The biggest threat they pose is to secrecy as they interact with mainstream celebrities. Definitely an ESOTERIC organization.

They probably should have some kind of bigger plan, but I don't think I should be defining what those plans are. Let me know what you think.

Next is the Global Occult Coalition.

They will be your biggest challenge as they are global and conflict oriented. They will be trying to control the entire paranormal world and will fight with you for control of various countries and regions. Hopefully you can at least point them towards the other GoIs rather than get them upset at you. 

Their paradigm appears to be REALITY although they have been known to weaponize SCPs. I think I will focus on the REALITY side of them in order to fit the game mechanics better. Their focus on destruction appears to fit this paradigm.

They will have a standard base setup and will be interested in all anomalous activity.

GRU Division "P"

Established by Joseph Stalin in 1935, this organization used to surpass GOC in power. However with the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent budget cuts its power fell considerably. Instead of the worldwide power it used to flex it now scrambles for control over the former soviet states.

It is a BALANCED GoI, territorial and interested in all anomalous activity in its region. It uses a standard HQ and starts off disorganized and low on resources. Don't count it out though. It will fight to recover its power and become a powerful force once again.

Herman Fuller's Circus of the Disquieting

Such a disturbing and interesting GoI. Unfortunately many of those nuances get lost in this kind of presentation.

Clearly an ESOTERIC GoI this one is uninterested in territory but happy to scoop up any SCPs that would make for a good act. On top of that this GoI has a bad habit of placing its moving base next to cities. The resulting exposure is quite harmful to the masquerade and quite unpredictable.

Each successful circus builds towards their goal and prepares their target audience so to speak. If your attempts to contain or stop this event are unsuccessful it will certainly drop that country's opinion of you among other side effects.

Manna Charitable Foundation

An Influential GoI with a fun twist. The world will eventually spawn random non-anomalous events such as Economic crashes, wars, and natural disasters. The MCF will have a chance to spawn a camp at the location of any natural disaster to distribute aid. If not discovered they will leave behind anomalous items that could cause trouble down the road.

Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd.

Incredibly influential and interested in all anomalous activity. This group will typically not attempt to fight the Foundation or try to expose any anomalous activity to the world. Their danger is different.

They get what they want.

As they build up economic power they will use it to retrieve information and SCPs from other GoIs including the Foundation. If your internal security and loyalty is not high enough they will find retrieving information from you to be easy.

They have a cell style HQ but do not suffer from the stability problems of such an HQ setup. Destroying one cell is unlikely to give the player much benefit.

Office For The Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts (ORIA)

Territorial and Conflict oriented this group will cause considerable trouble for those trying to retrieve items from the middle east region. Luckily they are also interested in keeping the masquerade in check.

If not kept in check they will rapidly expand and lock down this region from the player. They use a standard style HQ and are a BALANCED GoI. They will also start with a lower stability due to infighting and will find it difficult to increase this value.

Should I allow ORIA to expand beyond the middle east? Let me know what you think.

The Serpent's Hand

A highly dangerous but unorganized force that follows the ESOTERIC paradigm and believe that the anomalous does not need to be hidden. They are global in scope and conflict driven.

They have a cell style organization and will start out very unorganized. Due to the nature of their organization (one must only have to claim membership to be a member) it will be difficult for them to increase this statistic.

Infiltrating this organization can reveal entrances to the Wanderer's Library. Containment or investigation of the Wanderer's library can be extremely beneficial but also extremely difficult to accomplish.

They will start the game with unfriendly relations with ORIA and Hostile relations with GOC.

Finally the last one The Unusual Incidents Unit.

This organization is territorial and shares the same territory as the US. They follow the REALITY paradigm but if your relationship is good with the US then your relationship will also be good with the UIU. An alliance with the UIU will lead to them recovering and donating objects within their reach to the player.

Unfriendly relations with the UIU will lead to them locking down the US (one of the highest funding nations) from the player.

They will have a set HQ in Washington DC and will generate field offices throughout the US territory.

Wow that was a long post. I didn't realize I had so many remaining! Hope you enjoyed. If I failed to take into consideration some aspect that you want to see please post about it. I want to get this right.

Thank you so much for your feedback and support so far. Next week I'm back to full time coding so you will see another video then.