Fortress Occident Developer Blog

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Announcing No Truce With The Furies

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NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES is a story-driven isometric role playing game about being a total failure. An almost irreversible, unmitigated failure. Both as a human being and an officer of the law.

Find yourself in a strange and familiar new world, where you can go anywhere you want to. See that liquor store? You can go there. See that motor-carriage? You can drive it into the ocean. See that phone booth? You can call her, and make her love you again!

Or – you can take one final case and crawl back to life.

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“NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES” HAS:

  • A new genre of setting developed for over 15 years in absolute secret. Neither fantasy, alternate history, nor any type of -punk, a novel set in the same world has been dubbed fantastic realism.
  • The most advanced visuals ever made for the isometric perspective. A trick of the trade we call paintshading lets us create a moving contemporary oil painting.
  • A realistic skill system lets you develop original ideas using Conceptual Thinking, tune your nervous system with Electrochemistry, and become a disgrace to the uniform with Composure, a skill that lets you don your disco outfit to the maximum effect.

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  • Writing by chronically success-impaired science fiction author Robert Kurvitz and original music by the Mercury prize winning band British Sea Power.
  • Thought Cabinet, an inventory for thoughts, where you process the ideas you’ve stumbled on. Ideas become fixtures, permanent beliefs you can’t get rid of, even if you want to.
  • Exactly one hundred and twenty eight times more choice and consequence than previously thought possible in a role playing video game. This is a world where even the smallest things you say matter.

Inspired by “Planescape: Torment”, “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” and “Kentucky Route Zero”.

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“NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES” has been in development for over a year. It’s expected by the end of 2016 for PC.

We are Fortress Occident. We are 13 strong and “No Truce With The Furies” is our debut.

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Reinventing the dialogue

Some breather-weeks have passed in which we paid our technical debts, which spawned during the race to our internal playtest build. This update focuses on the state of the dialogues and as promised: a peek what we intend to do differently.

Right from the onset we knew that we had to cater our worldbuilder-in-chief, Robert, with the most expressive system we could build in terms of interactivity and also in terms of his writing ambition. His book, sadly available in Estonian only, is possibly one of the most interesting slipstream fantasy books that I have read and also in a large part the reason why I believe into our writing enough to dedicate myself to the game. Our world will be a cool one. Also, we have an actual published and talented author writing your story, how cool is that.

Orbiting senses

In terms of interactivity we need our protagonist to sense the surroundings in a literature-friendly manner. It reeks in the bathroom, but the smell is also so indescribable that they should have sent a poet. There is a suspicious track-mark on the pavement. You barely hear the seagulls over the sound of the engine.

We decided that your senses — both area and object related, tell you more about the world using what we call “sense orbs”. The orbs come in two types: in-world and orbital. In-world orbs are visible to the player and concern your perception — you see something and its location is marked. Smells, sounds are ofthen more transient and you cannot pinpoint their origin. This kind of sensory information, even your “gut feeling” hovers around your head as you travel the world. If interested you can click on them.

Suppose that you end a dialogue and have this specific “staircase wisdom” — you realize that you had a perfect counter to someones’ line or you have a feeling about something being really wrong with the corpse — you could have a monologue with that feeling to gather more insight into yourself or the world.

So the orbs share both tweet-like information and can be discussed with; they store the interacted-or-not status and are coloured to hint that you had to have a certain skill to interact with them.

The orb visual uses placeholder graphics.

Continue

We designed the dialogue interface in a manner which tells to the player “red goes forward”. Our dialogue options are (usually) red — if you have a choice you choose from the red ones. If you don’t have a choice, you click on the big red button. It goes slightly against the “red is the close button” convention, but we believe that the way in which we introduce our UI will avoid any confusion on the matter.

Dialogue window showing an empathy passive

The continue button sometimes changes colour. It needed some clever lookahead logic, but we foreshadow possible extra content which comes from having high skills in some stats. Suppose you have high drama: you might get an idea from your character facet called Drama: “It would be aproppriate to pause and inspect your sidearm thoughtfully.” Then, when you do that, you might be more successful in establishing Authority over someone. Sometimes they just add flavour or send you off to weird side-treks into someones psyche.

This foreshadowing with colour adds an interesting anticipation moments and also tells to the player that there are many paths through our game and not all of them are open to anyone.

Internally we call those moments Passive Checks and they are “take 7” type of non-rolls. You either pass the threshold with a skill and get its information or not and continue with slight nagging feeling that you should be more Dramatic in your next playthrough (or scum-save).

Checks

We have two kinds of checks which you can roll: Red ones and White ones. The White check signifies those dialogues in which you can convince someone or try something and while failing it affects the story (and sometimes in a beneficial manner) you can always come back later and re-try them.

There is a silent contract with the player that the writers adhere to: If you see a White Check you can re-roll it once you have improved as a person or have improved your odds (such as finding out some facts about the target and such). Also, the unmade White Checks remain in the menu for you to find even if you first encountered them somewhere “deep” in a dialogue.

The Red Checks are reserved for story events in which you can either succeed or fail and they are always tied to a choice. The silent contract here is that we make an effort to weave both successes and failures into the story. There are moments in which you wish for your character to fail a check.

Currently, and this might change depending on player feedback, we show your odds before the roll. Your stat, skill, bonuses and possible die rolls are matched against a target number and modifiers to the target number, which you have as of now.

This serves as a tool for the player to judge if she wants to drink alcohol; for example, before the roll, to deepen the intuiton of the character. We might decide that this information would be too much before the check and show what affected your roll only after you have passed it. This is something to playtest.

So, until next time when I hopefully tell about our character system.

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Gorgeous ground

We’re working furiously towards an internal milestone build which should have most of the important dialogue and world interaction mechanics implemented which is why it’s so hard to get anyone to write about it. We’ll have some juicy stuff to show soon though!

We use Blender to make and render out the “underpaint” of our background art and I recently made this monstrocity of a megatexture/megashader to make it easy to paint out the sandy beach areas for the game. It’s basically your regular kind of masking magic but it has some clever tricks. For instance I set it up so you can mask over the regular displacement & normal maps with a messy one so you can easily paint in a path where people have walked. Mixing and matching textures with different normal maps gives more variety and a more organic feeling to it so you can have for instance seamless footsteps in an otherwise pristine windswept wave pattern part of the beach. And you can paint beach clutter and it has all the alphas set up so it mixes seamlessly with the underlying texture which is nice and convenient.

It’s in fact so nice I’ll be a bit sad going in and painting all over it.

Here’s a look under the bonnet at the node cthulhu which makes it happen: