Godzilla Unleashed Designer Diary #6 - Factions
In our sixth and final diary, Simon Strange from Pipeworks Software explains the importance of monster factions in Godzilla Unleashed's story mode.
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The release of Godzilla Unleashed is imminent. Although we haven't seen an awful lot of the game for ourselves during its development, we've received plenty of information from the Pipeworks Software development team in the form of designer diaries. In previous diaries, we've heard about the Godzilla Unleashed's story, monster abilities, cutscenes, combat system, and even an all-new monster created specifically for the game. In today's designer diary, which will be the last in the series, lead designer Simon Strange talks about the relevance of monster factions.
Godzilla Unleashed Factions
By Simon Strange
Lead Designer, Pipeworks Software
It's time for the sixth developer diary, and I'm ready to get my hands dirty with some nitty-gritty details. The game is nearly wrapped up on our side, so we can finally be specific and tell people exactly what they will be playing this holiday season. Specifically, we want to talk about our single-player game in this diary. More specifically, we want to talk about faction affinity.
We have mentioned the four monster factions previously, and we've done our best to strongly associate each monster with a particular faction. When you start a new single-player game, you'll select a faction to play before you select a monster. But once you start playing the game, the faction you chose doesn't limit your gameplay in any way. That's because you, as a player, can act in any way you see fit during the game--as opposed to obediently following the goals of the faction your selected monster is in by default. So Anguirus might aid the alien invasion, or Destoroyah might decide to defend the earth. Everyone else will act in strict accordance with their faction role, but as a player, your monster gets to stake out his or her own path.
To keep track of the player's standings with all four of the factions, we developed the idea of faction affinity. Certain actions will increase or decrease your affinity with the factions, as measured on a 100-point scale. Monsters that are part of a faction where you have 70-plus affinity with are considered allies. Monsters in a faction where you have 30 or less affinity with are considered enemies. These numbers move up and down during gameplay based on your actions, so alliances can shift pretty rapidly. Before we go any further, let's review the four factions and what their goals are:
Earth Defenders (ED)
This is Godzilla's faction. The Earth Defenders are Earth-based monsters that act in the best interests of the globe as a whole. The primary goal of the Earth Defenders is to destroy the crystal infestation that threatens the earth. Destroying a set of power surge crystals is the best way to gain favor with that faction.
Destroying a set of power surge crystals: +15 Affinity
Destroying ambient crystals: +3 Affinity
Reaching critical mass: -5 Affinity
Gaining a power surge for yourself: -15 Affinity
The Alien Invaders are led by the Vortaak, who see the power surge crystals as a new tool they can use to subjugate the earth. Collecting power surges is their primary goal, though attacking and defeating the Earth's defenses comes in a close second.
Gaining a power surge for yourself: +15 Affinity
Destroying human military vehicles: +3 Affinity
Destroying alien military vehicles: -3 Affinity
Destroying ambient crystals: -3 Affinity
Destroying a set of power surge crystals: -15 Affinity
Global Defense Force (GDF)
The Global Defense Force protects humanity from monster and alien threats. Their primary concern is the health and well-being of humans and human cities. Although they are concerned with the crystals, they tend to see the imminent alien invasion as the larger threat. Monsters that become allies with the GDF will find that human military vehicles no longer attack them.
Finishing an encounter with no destruction: +15 Affinity
Destroying alien military vehicles: +3 Affinity
Destroying buildings in human cities: -3 Affinity
Destroying human military vehicles: -3 Affinity
The Mutants are not so much a faction as a loose grouping of those monsters that act from self-interest rather than a specific agenda. Mutants revel in destruction and victory, tending to respect monsters that really let loose. Mutants are especially fond of reaching critical mass--a marked exception to every other faction.
Reaching critical mass: +5 Affinity
Destroying buildings: +3 Affinity
Finishing an encounter with no destruction: -15 Affinity
In addition to these faction-specific modifiers, there are some basic modifiers that apply to every encounter:
Defeat a monster: -10 Affinity
Defeat an allied monster: -20 Affinity
Free a monster from a power surge: +15 Affinity
Finish an encounter without fighting: +10 Affinity
Let's take a look at how this all plays out in an actual encounter. We'll take the Earth Defender Day 1 encounter, which for most people will be the first encounter they play. This has you playing Godzilla, Anguirus, or Rodan on Monster Island. There will be two Earth Defenders trapped on the island behind large crystal formations, a small research compound, and a bay that leads out to the ocean.
The fastest way to finish the encounter is to smash into the research compound, knock out the generators that keep the security fences up, and then enter the ocean. Knocking out the generators will incur a -3 affinity penalty with the GDF, but otherwise you'll get away with no affinity adjustments. On the other hand, if you take the time to destroy the crystals and free your two allies, you will get +10 affinity for each Earth Defender freed and possibly a +3 ED/-3 alien adjustment for smashing crystals. This will start you off solidly as a loyal Earth Defender, although you can always change that later.
If you free your allies, then attack and knock out them both, you will incur a total penalty of -40 affinity with the Earth Defender faction. Playing as a monster from the ED faction, your initial affinity with the ED is +70. So, depending on your actions in that very first encounter, your affinity with the ED might be anywhere between 30 and 93. That's just one encounter. Players will battle through roughly 20 encounters in each story mode game.
So what do all those numbers mean? Well, the composition of the various encounters is fixed. So if Godzilla's battle in Tokyo on day 5 ("Rumble in the Surf") contains Anguirus, Gigan, and King Ghidorah, you'll see those three monsters no matter what you've done on the previous days. However, coming into that fight with 93 affinity toward the Earth Defenders versus 30 affinity will be huge. In the first case, the fight will boil down to a two-on-two rumble between Defenders and Aliens. In the second case, it might feel more like a one-on-three battle, with you taking on all comers. Anguirus and the Aliens will probably battle one another if you hang back, so it might be interesting to see how that plays out before you actually engage anyone. If you want to, it's entirely possible to play through the game with a minimum of fighting, if you can build a few strong allies.
This means that although players have only a little influence over the set of encounters available to them, they have a very strong influence over how those encounters actually play out. There are several moments in special encounters where you can nab a huge bonus or penalty to some faction. Players will (hopefully) find themselves conflicted about gaining certain surges, depending on what might be required to obtain them. Would you backstab your allies just to have the fire surge all to yourself? Can you avoid destroying the city when you battle in New York? Do you have enough battle skill to alienate a majority of the factions? Will you help the invasion and thus increase the alien presence in the environments?
Some people will love these sorts of decisions and some will just smash everything that looks at them funny. Thanks to our dynamic difficulty settings, you can save your game at any time, change difficulty, and resume where you left off. We also let the story flow even when you are knocked out, so it's almost impossible to be "stuck" at any point. Playing the game in any mode, single or multi, still earns you points that can be used to unlock new monsters and environments from the store, although a few items won't be initially available until certain conditions are met.
We hope that in this version we've exposed enough of the inner workings--provided enough knobs to tweak--that gamers of all types will be able to get the sort of play experience they want from the game. If you want very difficult "throw the controller in frustration" style gameplay, you can probably adjust things to get there. If you want to be passive and guide the monsters toward the end with a minimum of fuss, that option is certainly there. The more you fight, the more monsters will attack you. That's the basic premise behind the difficulty curve, and it really lets people play the game they want to, even if they don't print out the possible affinity modifiers and tape it to the screen.
That wraps up this developer diary--hopefully all you Godzilla fans will be able to put this to good use in the coming months.
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