Gameology News: How has the story progressed? Have you had any difficulties in bringing mission/story elements together?
Ryan: We’ve already got a lot done. We’ve got a lot of the world narrative and we’ve got a list as long as our arms. I’ve already said to Joe that I wanted him to just focus on the main story and what the protagonists are going to be doing to follow that arc while we perfect the objective system, the quest system so that, when we start adding Joe’s story in it won’t be spoiled by broken mechanics. Joe’s work is to basically write “Jaws of Extinction: The Novel” and we won’t perfect this until we start adding all that in.
Joe: It’s going well, albeit slowly. It’s been a bit tricky trying to coordinate and incorporate the story into a game that isn’t quite ready for it yet. Like Ryan said, focusing on getting the story details, like where the story is going, what the players are going to have to do, things like that. We have a solid skeleton of what players will do, and the island’s activities. Also each protagonist will also have their own background and story, how they came to be on the island, how they escaped, etc. It’s going to take some time, but it’s definitely headed in the direction we wanted it to go.
GN: Couple of questions about PvP Combat: Last year you were planning to discuss and develop some mechanics regarding PvP griefing. Have you refined or revisited any of those details yet?
Scrub: Yes, last year all that we talked about in a conceptual sense is now being brought into the game. For example, a year ago we were discussing how the statistic “Integrity” will affect players, its impact on traders and safe zones, and things like that; that is all going to be in there. In fact, we’ve just recently been adding traders and NPCs in and the Integrity mechanic is set up in the background, ready to go for when we implement it for players. We’ve been planning it for a long time now, and we’re really excited to see it all come together, because we feel like it’s going to make a big difference in how players interact with the world.
Ryan: It’s (integrity) going to be one of the truly unique selling points because there have been games released that tried to implement a similar system but they all just “kind of” worked but really haven’t. I think the main reason we’ve seen it fail in other games is that the developers tried to limit or fully stop PvP (Player versus Player) gameplay. You’re not going to stop PvP, and if you do, you’re cutting out a good chunk of players who thrive on it. So, through our Integrity system, while players can still engage in PvP, there will be consequences that will have both a positive and negative effect on their progress and standing with the different factions on the island. Like James said, the traders may view your integrity and not deal with you or outright attack you on sight, or they may be more inclined to give you a better price or offer you certain items based on your standing in the world.
Scrub: It even goes beyond just traders though. It can affect the player’s ability to claim land and property, or affect access to certain safe zones. Also, we may be answering this question a little backwards. For those who aren’t aware, as a player, you will have an Integrity score, and the way you interact with other players and NPCs will affect that score. So if the player gets involved with a particular Safe Zone, helps them out with quests and the like, the standing with that Safe Zone will improve, the player will gain access to new areas, be able to purchase deeds to build on existing structures in the local township, things like that. Conversely, if the player wants to engage in lots of PvP, they are welcome to do so, but the game will be a lot more difficult. NPCs may view the player with suspicion, traders may shut their doors and refuse to do business, and other effects may hinder the player’s progress. Players are again welcome to play any way they want. Just be aware that actions have consequences.
Ryan: I also think one other thing we need to put out there as well is that we are not trying to punish PvP players. It’s just that it makes sense that if a player presents a threat to others, we wanted that to be reflected and this was the way we came up with. The game will become progressively more difficult if you don’t maintain your integrity. The player may lose access to the trader Hamish in the bayou, but at the same time they’d be able to go to the Black Market in the sewers of Marburg where it’s heavily guarded by mercenaries. So to get supplies they have to go somewhere more dangerous, and probably end up paying more for those supplies, but they will still have access to those supplies and continue the story.
GN: How about base building? What are some of the problems you’ve faced and how have you addressed them?
Ryan: You can basically hunker down in any building, meaning you can place a sleeping bag as a spawn point and campfire to cook on, but not much more. We’ve just introduced an alarm system where it’s a random thing whether the alarm in a building is armed or not. If it is, you have to follow the beeping to find the panel and deactivate it. If you don’t, the alarm will sound, alerting everything in the area to come and find you. With our recent patch though we’ve also introduced the ability to purchase a deed to a property that will include one of these alarm systems. You’ll then be able to arm it whenever you leave your base or log off. Then, if your base gets attacked or broken into, you’ll get an alert on your ST-RV (Subject Tracking and Real-time Vitals) watch or, if you’re logged out, on a companion mobile app in real life.
GN: What are some other parts of the project that you’re particularly excited about?
Joe: We toyed around with the idea of a radio station that is broadcasted on the island and accessed through the player’s ST-RV watch that would keep players up to date on happenings around the island, different factions raiding or fighting, other world events, things like that. We’ve recently found a popular YouTuber who has expressed an interest in voicing the disc jockey, and we’re very excited to incorporate that aspect into the player’s experience.
Ryan: Yeah, so what this guy will do is, especially in multiplayer, some kind of event will be happening in the world, like the militant faction will be or has started fighting the biker gang, and the player will get a notification in on the ST-RV watch and can either steer clear or help one side or the other or move in and clear some loot possibly.
GN: So Tyrone, how did you come to be a part of this team and how has your work in Jaws developed over the last year?
Tyrone: I met Ryan in chat while watching Twitch one day. I had just started streaming myself and had shared a bit of my artwork with the streamer. Ryan mentioned that he didn’t have any organic modelers so I sent them my art station page, and there was some horror stuff on there that I think Ryan and James took a liking to. So they contacted me around a week after that and now we’re here almost a year later. In terms of how things have changed, I’ve been digging into the horror aspect of the infected, getting a feel for the world. One recent change that’s come on since I started is in the way the infected are looking, and I’ve been focusing mostly. We did a first try, but I had a conversation with Ryan and we agreed that they just didn’t seem scary enough. I mean we discussed at first what they should look like and, brought up on some of the same horror films, we really wanted that shock factor. I think that was missing when we did our first try. So this second time around I’m reworking the infected from the perspective that I wanted people to see them from a distance and say, “Ew! What the hell is that?!?” and kind of get that eerie feeling that makes your skin crawl just a little bit.
Ryan: Yeah, just by looking at them the player’s initial reaction should be one of shock and fear. I think that’s the direction that Ty is heading with things at the moment.
Tyrone: Exactly. We have a certain pipeline which we follow in terms of the software we use and I think I allowed myself to be a bit kind of strapped in and restrained by those, sort of limited in how far I pushed and how far I could take the characters I’m working on. So then I just broke through that and went in for maximum deformation.
Scrub: I think the most recent things that Ty has come up with have really grasped the thematics of the game that we’re looking for; the fact that the infected aren’t dead, or undead, that they’re actually alive and can feel the deformations and fungus taking over their bodies. And Ty has brought it all together into something that looks really quite terrifying.
GN: What weapons have been added?
Scrub: Well, in the upcoming patch very shortly to be released there will be three new submachine guns, the P-90, the MP-5, and the UMP, all of which will be random spawns in military areas. Beyond that we’ve got a fair selection of assault rifles and pistols, some of which will have attachments like sights and scopes as appropriate. We have a bow and arrows that are craftable, We’ve also got some bats for melee that are also craftable. All in all, there are about 20 types of firearms in the game as of now. Plus we’ve also added a grenade system for explosives and also Molotov Cocktails that are craftable.
Not to mention that now you can run over people as a way of inflicting violence on your enemies as well!