Friday, July 26, 2013

The Incognita livestream.

Scroll to the bottom of the post if you'd like to watch it - it's embedded.

Today is a very good day to have off of work, as, otherwise, I would've missed game designer James Lance and Jason - who mumbled his last name - from my beloved Klei Entertainment broadcasting a half-hour livestream of the studio's latest.  They showed off Incognita in its current state - a pre-alpha build - and explained the basics of the mechanics and balance.  Incognita, if you haven't heard, is a procedurally-generated stealth tactical RPG - kinda' like XCOM with a more explicit stealth component, and a lot more options on the part of the player.

All these shots - not direct-feed, but screencapped from the stream - can be clicked and embiggened.  The basic idea is each level is a building.  You start at the ground floor, and your objective is to get your agents through the floor to the elevator, which leads to the next floor.  Clear all floors and you clear the level - and on your way, be sure to hack and unlock and pick up as much as you can, because ammo is precious and the only way to level up your characters is via "data discs" obtained from safes - Incognita's method of ensuring you aren't explicitly rewarded for killing your way through the enemy ranks.  

Here we have three agents at work.  In the top-left you'll see their portraits - with the stealth class at top, the sharpshooter class in the middle and the engineer class beneath.  The sharpshooter can shoot (sharply), the stealth class has a dart gun that incapacitates guards without killing them (more on that later), and the engineer can sense nearby electronics.

All classes have additional skills and abilities to be unlocked - and it seems all classes are capable of hacking the computer terminals you see the two dudes kneeling in front of above.  That's important.

On the right side of the screen - above the two handsome gents - you'll notice a gauge reading "alarm."  Every turn you take within a floor increases the alarm gauge.  The building "hunts you," they said.  The alarm gauge also increases whenever you move in front of a security camera you don't have control over, and when a guard dies without you disabling his heart monitor.

What?  Yes, really.

Remember those computer terminals they hacked in the first room?  Here's the deal.

Every safe, device, mainframe, camera and guard's heart monitor in the game can be taken over by you, the overseer, using the building's own CPU power.  By unlocking those two computer stations, you now have a resource of two CPUS (top-left of the above screen) to spend on unlocking, hacking and disabling the building's systems.  It's important to spend your CPU power you have, as it - in this example - maxes out at 2/2, but completely refills each turn.

A safe, for example, requires three units of CPU to overcome, so they spent two units on one turn to disable two security walls (they had a unique term for it I forget), and successfully unlocked the safe on their next turn when the CPU power refilled.

Once the alarm gauge reaches 20, a team of spec-ops badasses will arrive on the floor and efficiently hunt you down.  They said there are ways to lower the alarm gauge, but described them as random, procedurally-generated events that the player would not have implicit control over.

Once the team arrives, however, it's not game over.  They arrive in the same elevator you start the floor in, so you always know where they're coming from.  It's entirely possible to kill the badasses, but more will come in their place ad infinitum - so you have to weigh how important that unlocked safe is in the next room against how much time you'll need to escape the floor.

Between floors, you can spend the cash you've earned on ammo and hiring new agents, and you can spend the data disks you've acquired to upgrade your agents' skills.

So - I have seen Incognita in motion.  What does it look like?

It looks like XCOM with spies.  There's cover, there's overwatch - it feels comfortably familiar - but there's also sound waves that travel out when you walk, alerting nearby enemies, and you can peek through doors without entering rooms... so basically,

And here's the whole thing, if you'd like to watch it! (Skip to 4:50)

You can fullscreen it - the quality's really good.

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