It’s too early to know if this is my next big project or not – my prototype doesn’t have enough to prove the concept yet – but I do want to start showing more of it. And I’ve been holding back part of the concept, and indeed the name. It’s not hard to describe, but it’ll only really work with the right art, so I didn’t want to talk about it until I was sure that side of things would work.
And hey, you know who’s good at art? Gunpoint and Heat Signature artist John Roberts! So he’s joined me again and sketched out some ideas for this new concept. Which is…
TACTICAL BREACH WIZARDS
It’s a present-day turn-based strategy game about coordinating a small team to breach into rooms full of gangsters and other hostiles, but your team are all wizards. In tactical gear.
It’s partly based on a thing we used to joke about at PC Gamer sometimes, the idea of a super serious Call of Duty type military game, but the team are just wizards for some reason. We were probably all picturing different takes on this, but in my head it was kevlar over robes, staves with scopes, wands with silencers, grenades full of basilisk tears.
January last year, I was playing XCOM 2 and thinking “This is so good, and yet has so many clarity problems – I wish there were more indie XCOMs.” I started making notes for my own take on that, and about 400 words into the document, the wizards joke popped into my head, I hit caps lock and wrote:
TACTICAL BREACH WIZARDS!!!!!
I sent a mail round to check everyone I used to laugh about this with was OK with it, and they were. So, I’m taking that gag and mixing it with all my XCOM inspirations and hangups.
Here’s John’s sketch of what a scene might look like:
I’m picturing you working your way through a building room-by-room like that, only having to worry about enemies in the current room.
Each of your units would be a named character with a unique class, and there’d be conversations with them between missions. Here are some of the character ideas we’ve been throwing around:
And because John is a beast, he’s already modeled one in 3D:
The sharpshooter would have different staves, which you’d probably see on the UI for weapon switching, so here are some concepts for those:
Our current rule is that the functional part of an item is always magical, but it’s housed, framed, and accessorised like a modern tactical weapon.
Mechanics-wise, the concept is that you tell one wizard where to move and shoot, they do it, then you rewind and give the next one orders – they’ll execute at the same time.
Another principle I’m trying is that you can play out a turn as many times as you like before you commit – you can keep rewinding and changing your orders until you’re happy with the result. Like Frozen Synapse, but without even the uncertainty about the enemy’s actions – all of the surprise will happen on their turn.
My prototype is too early to say if either of those systems will stick, I’ll happily scrap or change them if not. I might end up making a totally different tactics game with this same theme, or as I say, the whole thing might completely fail to coalesce and I scotch the lot.
If you want to know when we have a build ready for testing, get on the Suspicious Developments mailing list if you’re not already. It’ll be a while yet, though.