Facebook Live Q&A #2 - Terror from the Deep
On Saturday February 3rd, Julian hosted his second AMA on Facebook Live. Once again, there were so many great questions, Julian wasn’t able to answer all of them.
Like last time, we've summarized most of the answers below (click on the question to reveal the answer), or you can watch the full stream embedded here.
I hear overwatch shots will be limited to prevent overwatch spamming?
Overwatch requires the expenditure of “will points” and the “will point” system is a key system within the game. Any type of action which requires some extra exertion, concentration or physical stamina, you will need to spend “will points”, and you do not have an infinite supply of these. You can do a recover action where a charter will recover “will points” but lose the chance to take any other actions.
How proactive will the factions be? Will they destroy alien structures or attack Behemoths? Can they win the game?
There are 3 main factions in Phoenix Point. “New Jericho”, a highly militaristic one, “Disciples of Anu”, a very Lovecraftian religious cult and there is “Synedrion”, who are a kind of environmentalist radical group. They each have their own agenda, and each have their own way of winning the game. However, they will not be able to do it without your help as the commander of the Phoenix Project.
Is there going to be console version?
I wish we could do a console version. This is in the hands of the gods at the moment. Funding permitting, we would like to do it. At the moment we’re only working on PC/Mac/Linux versions.
Will we be able to submit our names to the roster?
Yes, you will be able to name your soldiers and save your customised soldier’s names and loadout.
Will troops get tired or injured?
Yes, they will certainly get injured and will require some recovery time. We don’t have a “tired” system, but we do have an “insanity” system. So, if your troops get exposed to too much alien horror then their sanity will somewhat decrease, and they will start to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which will limit their ability on the battlefield unless you give them some serious rest and recuperation.
Will there be an ability to spy on enemy or ally factions? Planting soldiers as double-agents or tagging trade supplies with bugs as an example?
You definitely will be able to do spy missions. You will be able to send a soldier into another Haven and he will be able to feed information back to you. There is of course a risk that your spy will be discovered, and he will need to make an exit which may result in a combat mission.
Will we be able to stuff soldiers’ inventories with ammo and pick up enemy corpses?
There will be an inventory system which will be similar to the original X-Com where you can pick up corpses, ammunition and guns – you can pick up any stuff that is carriable and you can use it during the battle. You might not be able to use it very reliably, but it will be there for you to loot.
Will soldiers have different stats from each other like they did in “Terror from the Deep” such as bravery, stamina etc?
Absolutely yes. They will have various stats in terms of accuracy, will-power, endurance and mobility which are the main ones. They will gain abilities during the course of the game. They will also suffer from some negative traits. They may either start with those or acquire them as a consequence of stress.
Will there be vehicles or robot units that can be used in combat?
Absolutely. We have actually get one vehicle sort of half-working in the game at the moment, the New Jericho transport vehicle which is called “The Armadillo”. These vehicles can move quite fast. They have various functions. One is as a troop carrier. They can also be equipped with various armaments and they can drive through terrain and destroy stuff. There will also be smaller robotic devices. Specifically, the New Jericho faction specialises in the creation of robotic fighting units.
How many soldier classes are available?
The way the class system works is that each faction has different classes, and the Phoenix Organisation starts with a small set of classes. So, what you can do as a player, as you develop relationships with these other factions, you can recruit soldiers from those factions, or even steal technology from them. You will be able to use some of their more specialised soldier classes. For example, the “Infiltrator” class which comes from Synedrion or the “Technician” with robotic arms, which is a New Jericho class. We haven’t decided exactly how many of these there will be. At the moment there are at least seven. There may be more added a little bit later.
Is it possible to have factions at war with each other?
Yes, and to some extent, it is inevitable. As the aliens start to encroach on the land and they start to attack Havens, the factions will become increasing desperate to build up their resources and power to pursue their particular agenda. So, there will be conflict between the factions.
Will the game support controllers? Particularly the Steam controller?
We do have standard controller support currently. We definitely will be supporting the Steam controller. It’s not a priority for us right now, but rest assured, controller support is going to be there.
To what extent can your relationships with other factions deteriorate or improve? What happens at extreme points, so to speak?
You can develop a close relationship with factions to the extent where you form an alliance, and the alliance has obligations on both sides. You are obliged to assist the faction in the defence of Havens in particular. Failure to do so could jeopardise that alliance. In return for that, you will get access to that faction’s tech, and some resources and recruits. However, relationships can deteriorate. You can just decide if you wish to attack factions, to raid them for resources or to just steal their technology in which case your relationship will plummet. At that point that can result in them attacking your bases if they manage to locate them.
How powerful will the abilities of your soldiers be compared to Firaxis’ XCOM 2, and roughly how many will you have at max level? Also, will they be set in stone for each class, or will there be some randomness?
There are all really good questions. There will be powerful abilities, but I would have to add that the abilities of soldiers are somewhat more dependent on the technology and equipment they are carrying than any sort of innate powers. You will not have a team of Colonels. It would be very difficult to do that. You can develop your characters progressively like an expanding tree system, rather than the narrow funnel approach of XCOM 2. Each character’s progression tree is partly randomised.
Music is very important for the mood in those kinds of games. Tell us more about the music in Phoenix Point.
We are going to invest quite a lot in music. We have a dedicated sound designer and Snapshot Games, and the music will be composed and contributed by John Broomhall who is the designer of the music for the original X-Com game in the 1990s. We’ve got some very interesting plans for dynamic interaction. Some interesting themes based on the different factions and locations.
Are there any weather or environment effects, and will they have any impact on the gameplay?
The main environmental impact will be the day and night cycle. Some enemies prefer to operate in the dark. The other effect is an alien created one, which is the mist. As the mist encroaches on the land, it will start to have an effect on the tactical battles, and there will be special alien monsters which will actually deploy the thick, semi-intelligent mist inside the battle which can dramatically change the tactics and topology for the map. It can be used to cover aliens. It can be used to spot you. It can heal them too.
Will we have the ability to control aliens or even have some in our team?
I don’t want to give too much away here…. But, the short answer is “yes, in different ways”. The Disciples of Anu specialise in mutations, and some of the mutations they have result in communication facilities with telepathic type links which they can have with other mutated creatures. There’s one particular class in the Disciples of Anu called the “Mutog Handler”. The Mutog Handlers telepathically control these mutated dogs, called “Mutogs” currently, and these are deployed in battle. You will be able to use the genetic technology, and you will be to do some things with control and influence over other aliens. However, it will not be like the psionics in the original X-Com or the Firaxis reboots.
You mentioned that we'll be able to see faction vehicles on the geoscape. Can we intercept them?
This is a very good question. To be decided. We’re not really sure about an aerial interception system, and if we do put one in, it will be relatively straight-forward. Each faction has different types of vehicles which they use mainly for transport purposes, not aerial battle because the situation in the game is that there are very few airborne vehicles to go around. They are extremely scarce.
Do characters have deep configuration or customisation, such as different arms, legs and torso augmentation? Will there be different armour or parts? Will weapons have slots for add-ons?
There will be configuration of armour. Armour covers different body parts. Different types of armour may cover one or more body parts. You may have a full body suit or partial armour covers which you can mix and match. It allows us to have a lot of flexibility with how armour is constructed and how the player actually uses it.
How much will environmental damage factor in, if at all?
Environmental damage is a very important part of the game, and you will see this with very dramatic effect in the demo which we will be showing at PC Gamer Weekender. It’s something which both the aliens and you as a player can take advantage of. I think the best thing to say about that is to wait and see. You will be seeing some very interesting stuff from us soon.
Will there be any timed missions such as in the new XCOM and will there be any time limit to complete the game?
Not a such. There will be some things where you have time pressures. For example; if you are defending a Haven, you will often need to rescue civilians before it gets overwhelmed with aliens. The slower you are, the more dangerous this is going to be. There’s not specific time limit on the whole game. Again, the aliens like all factions and like the player have their own agenda, and their own way of progressing their objectives. Their progress can be hindered by the actions of the player.
Will there be randomisation to technology, equipment and base management?
To some extent. From the Phoenix Project’s point of view there are a number of inactive Phoenix bases around the world. As you discover and reactivate them, you will acquire some parts of info or technology that belongs to the Phoenix Project that you didn’t have access to at the start of the game. What you get may vary from game to game, and the order you get it might be slightly different. Each faction has their own technology tree, and there’s a certain randomness involved in that. The factions may end up with slightly different technologies in each game that you play.
Are negative traits going to be permanent, or will there be ways to remove them from a character?
There will be ways to remove negative traits, and there may well be a trade-off with this. For example; using the Disciples of Anu mutation technology can solve some problems for a character such as their mental stress, but it may result in certain mutations which give them some other negative aspect. There is also the prosthetic technology of New Jericho to replace body parts.
Can you tell us more about the planned injury system? Will more serious injuries require cybernetics, or can you recover from any injury given enough time?
No. You can’t recover from any injury very easily. There are things you can do, such as mutations and cybernetics.
Can you talk a bit how base-building works? Is there a tier system? Are all buildings unique or are there like building-trees that restrict one function and allow another?
The base building system is relatively straight-forward. It’s similar to the original X-Com. You normally have to find another inactive Phoenix base in order to reactivate it and start building there. You can create outposts in other Havens and smaller structures, like refuelling stations. Otherwise, you are building a base where you have a certain amount of room to put some stuff, and you have facilities of different sizes with different functions.
Is the team planning on attending any gaming events this year?
The good news is, yes, we are. The first event that we’re attending is the PC Gamer Weekender starting February 17th. The next event will be EGX Rezzed which starts on the 13th of April. The game preview demo will be available to play at these events.
Will there be more than one type of firing mode for your guns?
This is a bit of an open question at the moment. There’s nothing to stop us doing that.
Will there be mechs or cyborgs?
The answer is “sort of” and “a little bit”. So, there will be robotic combat machines available. These will mainly be a specialisation of New Jericho.
Will you be able to setup things on the battlefield like mines and claymores?
Absolutely. There will be some sort of proximity mines like in the original X-Com.
Do you have to manufacture all armour peaches individually?
You will have to manufacture things individually, yes.
Can we deploy several teams at once?
We are definitely looking at the ability to deploy large scale teams in one particular battle, and to have a reinforcement system (yet to be tested). We’re planning to have up to 16 soldiers on your side.
Will there be Cool Animations/Cutscenes of soldiers breaching rooms or rappelling from Helicopters? Similar to XCOM but hopefully more awesome and military-looking.
Yes, there will be some dramatic camera angles for certain actions that the soldiers are doing, and indeed what the monsters are doing. This is work in progress, but I think it will work quite well.
Will terrain and missions be varied? I hate having to replay over same terrain and missions too many times. Will endgame be a grind?
The terrain and missions will be as varied as we can possibly make it. The end-game won’t be a grind. One thing we are doing is giving player choice, so you can decide what to do within the game.
How many areas will be in the world compared to XCOM 2?
The world is not divided on areas. The way the world works is that there are locations in the world. There are Havens, there are Phoenix Point bases, scavenging locations. These are all points on the globe. There are no discrete areas like in XCOM 2. It’s not board-gamey in that sense.
Will there be NPC allies in tactical missions?
Yes, for sure. In many types of missions this will be the case. If you’re defending a Haven for example.
Will you be able to research aliens as well as their vehicles?
Yes, you will be able to research aliens, and their mutations. The aliens don’t specifically have vehicles. They do have Behemoths though.
How big of a role will ammo play? Will running out of ammo be a normal occurrence or is it more something that will "eat up actions"?
At the moment we are planning to put a system in where it will be possible to run out of ammo. You can carry more ammo, but it will slow you down. There’s a limit to what you can carry without affecting your mobility.
If I get Phoenix Point on GOG, does that mean it's DRM free?
As far as we are concerned at the moment, the answer is “yes”. I know DRM is a contentious issue, but that is our current policy.
Will combat maps have randomized layouts?
Yes, they will. With the exception of your bases – the combat may layout of your bases will be determined by how you build your base. If you revisit the same Haven more than once, the layout will still be the same.
Are there any neutral human settlements left in the Phoenix Point world (that don't belong to any faction)?
Yes, there are quite a few, in fact. These are called independent Havens, some of them will be controlled by special Haven leaders, some will be our special Haven leader backers from our Fig campaign. They will occasionally have their own stories, background, missions and tech.
Are the Aliens a roaming faction? Will they create their own structures, reclaim abandoned human structures, or roam across the map?
They do encroach across the land, and they do build structures under the cover of the mist as it spreads.
Can we count on some kind of "ufopedia" with tons of lore and info about the world, the enemies, weapons, etc?
Definitely, resoundingly, yes! There will be an extensive “ufopedia”. Our writing team will be producing that and are going to start on that very soon. This will cover a lot of stuff. One interesting thing I want to do with the game, is there will be certain parts of optional research that are more about filling in the story than giving you any stuff. There will also be lots of semi-scripted encounter events which will also be recorded in your journal.
Will we need to capture live alien units and therefore have stun weapons?
Yes, you will. In some situations, this will be very useful, and you will need to use non-destructive weapons in these cases. Researching live aliens is important.
Will be possible to finish the mission successfully without any death?
That depends entirely on you, as a player. There will be some missions which are very tough. You will be able to retreat and evacuate without much penalty in many situations.
If you recruit soldiers from a faction but then later go to war with that faction, will your recruits from that faction turn against you?
No, they won’t. But they may have some moral conflicts.
Can you conquer enemy Havens?
This is currently a bit of a design debate here. So, we’re not sure if that’s going to be something that we’re going to allow the player to do.
How many endings does the game have?
We are currently planning at least four, and I’m not saying that this is the correct and exact number that will be in the final game. But each faction has there own ending, and the failure ending, making at least a fifth ending.