Back In Hack

I kicked this blog off with a post about intending to do a better job of self-promotion, before promptly proceeding to not post anything at all for half a year. This is largely because I received an offer of some contract work very soon afterwards which I spent the following few months on. Gotta pay the bills somehow! I’ve been back working on my own project since July though, meaning I’m well overdue for writing a new post.

Right now I’m working on a first-person stealth game set in the near-future, with the working title of Control Shift. Of all games I’ve played, Deus Ex is almost certainly the one which has most strongly influenced my opinions on game design, and one of the goals of this project is to capture some of the elements of it that I was so drawn in by. As a lone developer I can’t hope to cover the same breadth of simulation that Deus Ex did, but my aim is to distill its overall feel into something simpler. David Pittman’s Neon Struct is perhaps a good reference point in terms of mechanical complexity for how I see this ending up.

Of course, no Deus Ex-inspired game can be complete without some sort of hacking mechanic, so recently I’ve been working on implementing a hacking minigame and I’m fairly happy with how it’s looking:

I went through a range of ideas before settling on this, dismissing each for becoming too complicated as a result of my attempts to subvert various tropes typically encountered in hacking minigames. Ultimately though I feel that the final design serves its two main purposes: to generate tension by occupying the player’s attention and making them feel vulnerable, and to add a touch of world-building texture.

Interestingly, my original plan for the game involved a general-purpose hacking mechanic where you could ‘scan’ various objects and then use those scans to alter how other characters recognise objects, with the aim being to trick them into performing different behaviours than they normally would. However, I decided that the idea was too complex to put into a 3D game given the resources available to me, so I shelved it. I may yet revisit it in a future project though, most likely something in 2D and with a design more tightly focused around the mechanic.

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