If reading isn't your thing, then you can check out a beardy, awkward and stumbly little youtube interview in the link below!
YouTube Gameplay Video
Let's start with the fundamentals -
How does the game work?
The game is built using pre-rendered 3D sprites. That's a line that I have thrown around quite a lot in the last few months on this project, but what does it actually mean? Well every asset in the game - houses, saloons, fences, trees etc. is modelled and textured in a 3D package (in this case - Autodesk Maya). Every one of those models is then rendered individually with all the same lighting and rendered with an isometric camera from 4 - 16 angles. These renders are simply now just 2D pictures with a transparent background. An isometric camera has no perspective and fits within a grid. If you want to know more about what isometric projection is then check out this cheeky little wikipedia page.
So the question is why would we choose this method over a more modern technique such as using actual 3D models in a 3D engine.Well, put simply, 2D images don't take anywhere near as long to load as 3D models, although you lose the flexibility of a 3D model. But we want this game to work on everyone's computer whether it's your old laptop you haven't used for years, or a brand spanking new machine you have only just bought.
How do you start playing The Lawless Online?
When The Lawless Online is released you will be able to download the game from our website once you have created a (free) account. While the game client is downloading, you will be guide to create your character. Your character is your main unit in game and will be your avatar and you on the website. When creating your character you choose his name, age and a brief history. You can also choose his appearance in the same way a lot of online games do where you can choose different eyes, noses, cheek shapes etc. You need an account and a character to play the game.
From the website and once you have signed in, you then have access to the character management tool box. From here you can edit information about your character, make friends, create and join gangs.
What do you use The Lawless Online website for?
One of the main uses for the website is the character management tools. Within the Character Management Tool pages you can tweak the way your character plays. You can do this by using Skill Points that you have gained through leveling up when you have gained enough XP from executing various tasks. Killing enemy units, capturing buildings, using new weapons, gaining unit veterancy and many other activities are the sort that reward you with XP. every Character Level requires a certain amount of XP. When you level up you are given Skill points to place into Abilities in a certain Mastery. If you are not familiar with this classic RPG system, then get the hell out! Ha! Only joking, but if you are not familiar, then it may at first seem quite odd.
Each user is given a choice of a Mastery (or 2). There is a choice between - Offensive, Defensive, Stealth and Business masteries and within each of these masteries are a tree of skills that skill points can be placed in. When a skill point is added to one of these skills, that ability is now accessible to your main character in-game. For instance, if you are a Stealth character and you have placed a skill point in Sneak, then your unit is now able to sneak undetected for a set amount of time. Upgrades can be achieved by placing more than one skill point in it. For instance, the duration your unit is in Sneak mode can be increased by having more skill points in it.
What's the deal with your character and then other units in-game?
At the beginning of every match, you have only one unit - your character. He is a specialist unit in the sense that he has more abilities available to him than a standard unit. He also looks the way you want him to look and starts with certain bits of equipment you have chosen for him to start with (on the website). Other units in game can be hired from the Saloon. These units are controllable randomised 'men' that are controllable by you until you can not keep paying their contract. At any point you can cancel your contract with them, but you lose that unit.
Your character also has a slightly larger inventory than that of your bulk units. Units hired from the Saloon can be equipped with 1 weapon and 2 pieces of equipment, but your unit can use 3 bits of equipment.
Skills unlocked through the website can (mostly) only be used by your character, so it is important to keep him alive!
How do you win a game?
The idea is that each player (or gang) needs to be in complete control of the town you are all in. Every building starts off neutral and it is up to each player to capture the buildings. Some buildings offer more than others. For instance a house can be captured and expands that players territory, but a captured Saloon allows players to hire units and upgrade techs. If you capture a Gunsmiths, you can purchase weapons for your units and upgrade a few techs etc.
The aim of the game is to be in complete control of the town. That means capturing all specialist buildings in the town and a countdown starts and signals the end of the game for the losing player(s).
You can also win the game (depending on the game mode selected) if you manage to kill every one of the enemy player's units.
How does combat work?
Every unit, including your character, has an inventory and the game world is full of items that you can either purchase from particular buildings, steal off dead bodies or find in stashes around the map. You can then equip these items in your unit's inventory. Each weapon and piece of equipment has several different benefits. For instance a hat can shade the units eyes from the sun and give a boost to accuracy. A pair of high quality boots are more comfortable and hard wearing to withstand more intense useage and can add an increase to sprint duration.
The important thing to be aware of, is that if your unit is a sharpshooter then you would equip him with a rifle with long range and a hat, but would be almost completely pointless to equip him with a rifle and a pair of high quality boots. Although a unit with a high rate of fire, short range revolver would benefit a lot from increase sprint duration, so you really have to be aware of what you want each unit to do and customise their equipment to suit it.
We have also incorporated a system into our game engine that allows us to place area of effect boosts and decreases depending on where they are.
When we create maps we look for places around it that would be of an advantage or disadvantage to a player's unit to be there. For instance, a unit on the top of a rock face will have increased range, a unit around buildings or in ditches has an increase in defence, but a player in open ground has a decreased defence and so on.
This means that each player has to be aware of where their units are and where they are going to attack from.
Be sure to check back on this page as we will be updating it in the weeks ahead. If you missed the link above, here's an embedded version.