PrismaticPhoton

[Mod] Agent Manta (WIP)

13 posts in this topic

Hey all! Newcomer here!

I just found Invisible Inc. earlier this year and immediately fell for it. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I don't have a problem saying this is my favorite TBS game of all time. The gameplay is just so rich and intelligent. AAAAH.

Anyway, being the tactician that I am, I began to muse about different ways the game could be played and how even more depth could be added to it. However, despite being a programmer by trade, I tend to have an aversion towards trying to understand other people's code. For the hey of it, I decided to start digging into Invisible's scripts this past weekend and, hey, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be! Klei writes some really nice code. So I thought I'd pop on and share the prototype of my first mod.

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Manta Mod 0.1.zip

Little is known about codename "Manta" except for the stories that claim she was once an undercover saboteur for the corps. Even if it were true, she is shackled to them no longer, now working for Invisible for reasons as mysterious as her past.

Besides starting with Lvl. 2 Anarchy and a personalized Buster Chip (read: Buster Chip I with no skill requirement, even though she'd meet it anyway,) her augment is "Atrial Capacitors," a sharp full-body boost that Manta must maintain a strong focus to control:

  • Door peeks always have full vision
  • At the start of each turn (except the first one,) gain +3 AP if no attacks were performed on the previous turn

Manta is focused on a more stealth/pacifist style of play. AP bonuses allow her to move quickly while closed door peeks can give her info without compromising her position. Once she's where she wants, she can sabotage mainframe objects with her buster chip. Finally, the starting boost to anarchy means she can steal key items (like security cards) while, again, not alerting her foes.

There's still a bit of work to do. Manta is still using the "Bryant" models from the example mod I built off of (if anyone knows where I could get artistic help, that would be appreciated,) but I wanted to put this out here in case anyone wanted to fool around with her and give input. My vision for her originally was simply something of an AP-centric agent (I figured an AP-boosting ability would be an easy place to start) and it sort of morphed into this. Though it isn't hard to get the AP on a consistent basis with her, AP isn't exactly a premium resource in this game like, say, PWR. After some thought, I decided to give her the "360peek" ability as a way for her to wage a stronger type of information warfare. I feel like she could be the kind of agent that, while her individual boosts aren't super impressive, the sum of her parts can reward consistent, intelligent play. Hopefully we shall see. :confused:

Thanks for reading everyone.

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Welcome to the modding section!  We have some amazing people here making great stuff.

I'm guessing that your favorite items are Cloaking Rigs, Stims, and Buster Chips?  Those are my favorite!

Some feedback from what I see:

I usually feel annoyed when people slap the "360* peek" ability onto an agent.  It feels overused, but I think it can fit well with this agent.

I thought of "information warfare" and how Internationale's Wireless Emitter makes her a superior scout over other agents.  I thought of Manta having a similar sense for where living guards are, and then, she can have an AP boost that refreshes every turn after she wasn't noticed or didn't attack, so that she will know where danger is and avoid the attention.

Then I realized something else.  I have already removed some of the code from Archive Decker's augment so that it will activate for all types of attention from guards.  This includes sprint noise and opening doors.  If an agent doesn't have to open a door to get full vision of a room, s/he will be noticed that much less, and so should play well for an agent who guards never know is there.

TL,DR: add a condition on her AP boost so that it won't activate if she's noticed.

That will heavily nerf its possible cheesy abuse cases, directing the player to play for maximum stealth.  Full vision from door peeks is such a powerful ability, that it needs a reason and purpose for being on an agent.

On another note, +3 AP is close to the bonus from sprinting, so maybe you could silence her sprint noise until she's noticed some other way.

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I'd say Buster Chips, Cloaking Rigs (Holocircuit Overloaders are boss) and EMP's, actually. In my current Endless run, I've got four EMP's between two of my agents (2 each of lvl. 1 and lvl. 3.) Those "magnetic reinforcements" though...

Back to the mod, I felt kind of torn about the "360peek" ability, actually. Like it is absolutely a useful ability, but I wasn't sure it felt game-changing (or more specifically, enjoyable) in the same way things like "Refraction Chamber" or "Wireless Emitter" do. But on the same token, I'm not entirely sure what you should add to it that doesn't wildly swing its impact. In fact, I felt the same dilemna with the AP boost (which actually precluded the "360peek" ability.) +3 AP boost each turn is nice, but again its impact and unique flavor is questionable especially when you consider how common AP boost abilities are. I feel its important she not only has her own flair but feels fun to play.

Another idea I had was to give her a straight AP boost that decreases each alarm level. Its a slight change in how you'd potentially play her, but you would just be coupling speed with stealth a bit more since you can't be too passive. One potential issue: Blowfish 2.0 could screw her over badly. But considering she could keep her 360peek ability regardless of the AP bonus, maybe not. In fact, maybe that's the secret counter-balance I'm looking for.

I also like the suggestion about being noticed though. I should take a look at Archive Decker's augment later. Thanks for the input!

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OK, I thought about it and I'm gonna throw it out there. What if her augment worked something like this:

Gain +6 AP per turn. AP bonus decreases by 2 each alarm level. Any attack action performed by this agent moves the alarm tracker by an additional 1 point.

Note that there is no more "peek360" but that has to do with the AP bonus increasing. Its definitely risky and Blowfish 2.0 still could really hurt this, but its risky potentially in the same way using any alarm-based ability is (Rapier, Dynamo, Archive Internationale's Augment, etc.) On top of that, it could make for some nice synergies and counter-balances with other characters, abilities and items (like circumventing the attack debuff through shock traps.)

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Well, my 2 cents.

 

First of all, I hadn't time to test her out, but from my experience with the game mechanics and how they make a player feel, AP is always in any kind of game the most boring ressorce you have since it is very static. Its the reason only 2 Agents have an AP bonus, Archieve Decker, which main point is his revolver and his augment is more of an interesting bonus, and Nika, were it is, again, an added bonus, not the main thing, to allow combos and make agressiv playstyles more interesting.

 

So, what would be a good solution to this problem? I'd say to go the Archieve Decker way and giving her an augment that gives her an +1AP boost if she wasnt noticed the turn before (I really like SteelCrow's idea of making it absolutly anything guards can notice) and make this stack up to 2 times (so if you havent been noticed for 2 turns, you get 2 ap extra each round, but as soon as you are spotted it resets to zero, maybe even a penalty). With this out of the way, we need a main gameplay item for her. Thats were your fantasy comes in. Here are some ideas and tips which might be helpful:

 

- Make it counter her augment. If you have the item create attention and therefore negating the boost you add a whole new level off excitement and strategic thinking

- Decide what kind of Gimic she should play by. Is she a person who interacts with guards, cameras, drones or mainframe devices? Build your item around that.

- Make her item unique to her. Many ditch Archieve Decker early on since he isnt quite as useful as other agents if you give his gun to a more killing focused agent.

- If you want to make a Saboteur, what do you imagine under the title saboteur. Is it someone who blows everything up? Is it someone who silently cuts a cable and laughts as she sees every computer jmalfunction? Or is it someone who gives new patrol orders by forcing a guard to investigate an area?

- Look at Shirsh's Agents, they tend to have a main focus and a little extra.

- Make your Agent capable of being played in any coporation level, Blowing up Drones by hacking them might be awesome, but its nearly completly worthless in KO, Plastech and FTM.

- Have a main core concept and work around that. Use the points mentioned above to build one, then just make a mod. Do not worry about balance at first, its far more important to see if he is any fun to play and stands out. If it isnt fun, then back to the drawing table, since a balanced agent who isnt fun is not something most persons are going to play. If it is fun but unbalanced, its not hard to change some Parameters and buff/nerf it this way.

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@HumanKirby

The stacking idea was something I had thought of, but I didn't explore it because I felt it would involve unnecessary memorization by the player (i.e. "What is my AP bonus at again?",) though there might be an accessible way to relay that to them through the UI.

I definitely agree about starting something out overpowered instead of underpowered, but as you alluded to making AP overpowered/interesting is a bit difficult. I was trying to keep things simple for my first mod, but maybe I'm trying a little too much not to go completely bonkers. At any rate, that's a lot of good advice to think about; hopefully I'll be able to implement a new idea or two and push out another prototype for those who are interested. Thanks for responding. :)

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3 hours ago, PrismaticPhoton said:

OK, I thought about it and I'm gonna throw it out there. What if her augment worked something like this:

Gain +6 AP per turn. AP bonus decreases by 2 each alarm level. Any attack action performed by this agent moves the alarm tracker by an additional 1 point.

Note that there is no more "peek360" but that has to do with the AP bonus increasing. Its definitely risky and Blowfish 2.0 still could really hurt this, but its risky potentially in the same way using any alarm-based ability is (Rapier, Dynamo, Archive Internationale's Augment, etc.) On top of that, it could make for some nice synergies and counter-balances with other characters, abilities and items (like circumventing the attack debuff through shock traps.)

There's an augment from the Contingency DLC that's a simpler version of this, Gel Injectors, but it wouldn't hurt to playtest it anyway.  I'm concerned with how changing the alarm level will affect the whole team, but that could be turned to an advantage.  Internationale (On-file or Archive), Tony, Prism, or Rush would be good partners.

I agree with Kirby that an agent should be fun to play.  Archive Internationale, OnFile Nika, OnFile Prism, and Olivia don't seem fun to me, so I don't play them.  OnFile Internationale, Archive Nika, Archive Prism, and Central, on the other hand, are ones I really enjoy.  The difference between these pairs, in my opinion, is that one side just changes numbers around, while the other side makes "qualitative" impacts, meaning that they change the goals of the game.

But make mock-ups quickly.  Don't get hung up on a single idea.  Let things evolve rapidly and you should end up with something very cool.

Edited by SteelCrow
no pressure

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Time of new agent mods comes, yay. And with cool name.
Bad side of AP boosting is that it's primary stat that reduce difficulty, I think.

But I'd say instead of thinking about something that theoretically easy to implement, better think about something very cool. Like I don't now, play on a nickname, on associations, on manta ray, imagine cool stuff that you'd like to have in game.

Techical limits won't allow to 100% fullfill superdream anyway but whatever adaptation will be possible it will be more awesome than stuff that very easy to do at start.

About art help: design something refreshing and more or less new/unique to play + appropriate suit and then graphics won't be a problem.

Edited by Shirsh

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To add, I'm against 360 peek for sure because theres a Ghuff mod that is simply just a skin for a Bryant, to make him not looks a Decker's clone while keeping that extra gameplay option.

On 20.04.2017 at 0:08 AM, SteelCrow said:

add a condition on her AP boost so that it won't activate if she's noticed.

that's not bad idea, I think, sounds not as OP as without

sense of living guards is something that I wanted but failed to achieve year ago, but it could be that I didn't thought about detecting heart monitors. Combined with early access version of wireless scanner (ie that works on button click instead of automatically) could be nice item, I guess

On 20.04.2017 at 0:08 AM, SteelCrow said:

Then I realized something else.  I have already removed some of the code from Archive Decker's augment so that it will activate for all types of attention from guards.

hmm, what about any type of attention to any agent on level not just to augment/ability owner?
that could push gameplay to some stealthy extremes, though it could use more benefits too

Edited by Shirsh

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One thing regarding "sensing" guards is, that unless it's extremly over pwered, it will be nearly useless as we already have the sound guards make while walking, so the usefulness is only in a few situation really there.

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13 hours ago, HumanKirby said:

One thing regarding "sensing" guards is, that unless it's extremly over pwered, it will be nearly useless as we already have the sound guards make while walking, so the usefulness is only in a few situation really there.

I think it could work nice, for hearing we need a guards turn with agents covered, while with hypothetical "motion detector" (as called item for which on floor art exist and some mentions in dlc files) we can run forth through rooms and use in new places to reckon and chose places for better cover, also stationary guards. Plus lack of vision cones on expert +, could be item to use in pair with peeking.

Edited by Shirsh

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Just wanted to post real quick and say thanks for all the feedback! Mod work will probably be a little slow this weekend because I'm participating in Ludum Dare, but I should be back at it sometime next week. I've been putting down all sorts of ideas and I may just turn this into a "throw things at the wall" kind of topic as I experiment on and play-test things. We shall see!

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10 hours ago, Shirsh said:

I think it could work nice, for hearing we need a guards turn with agents covered, while with hypothetical "motion detector" (as called item for which on floor art exist and some mentions in dlc files) we can run forth through rooms and use in new places to reckon and chose places for better cover, also stationary guards. Plus lack of vision cones on expert +, could be item to use in pair with peeking.

Well, it might just be me, but I am still not quite convinced of the usefulness if it does not have any side effect or  a long range. Making it to long it will destroy balance as it allows you to grasp way to much information (like the layout, or more extremly, seeing your mission objective by sensing a captain or a executive). If you make it to small and sound will always be a better source of intel. Also I don't an agent who is mainly useful in a certain difficulty is a good idea, but it might be just me hating the + difficulty for removing one of its core elements to make it artificialy more difficult and less fun.

15 minutes ago, PrismaticPhoton said:

Just wanted to post real quick and say thanks for all the feedback! Mod work will probably be a little slow this weekend because I'm participating in Ludum Dare, but I should be back at it sometime next week. I've been putting down all sorts of ideas and I may just turn this into a "throw things at the wall" kind of topic as I experiment on and play-test things. We shall see!

Thats cool. Yeah, the thread fastly became focused on gamedesign in general, huh. Actually, it might be a fun idea to create a simple mod on github were literaly everyone can make extra content by sending pull requests. Later down the road some members clean up the mess, balance a bit and make everything work together.

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