I've thought about this a lot lately, and finally managed to make a prototype in SC2... Basically, I wanted to make a solo campaign using the same gameplay mechanics as in the old PC game Syndicate (Bullfrog, 1993). I was totally disappointed by the remake Syndicate 2012 (FPS game by EA) and I seriously started thinking about the project at that point (even though I always had it in mind since Bullfrog was shut down). Rather than writing a massive wall of text (that's usually my thing), here's a video of my first attempt at making this project come to life:
I left the debug messages so that you can tell what I am doing, as most of the commands are given through mouse clicks. If you listen carefully, you can also tell by listening to sounds. Other than that, what you see is what you get. It's voluntarily not 100% a clone of the abandonware, I intend to improve a few things and adapt the gameplay to this new engine. Tell me what you think!
I will use isometric view of course (basically rotating the cameras by 45°) and possibly allow units to enter/leave a few buildings. Very soon I'll start adding an inventory system of some sort, along with upgrades/weapons to use on cyborgs (both your squad and enemy syndicates). Right now they just have some kind of pistol, but eventually your squad members will start with nothing and will pick their inventory before starting the mission (using some kind of UI to let you equip upgrades and weapons, read intel, etc...).
(not really though, you won't get paid)
- 3D modelers (animation, shaders, low polygons count, maybe portraits)
- 2D artists (portraits/icons, model textures, VFXs, maybe tilesets)
- composers (soundtracks, voice acting, maybe some SFXs)
- data expert (inventories, items, UI editing, spells/behaviors/abilities, maybe importing/creating custom elements)
- level designers (urban atmosphere, futuristic/sci-fi, strong sense for details and interesting gameplay situations)
- a shitload of testers, reviewers, being a fan of the original games is a must
- anyone related to Chuck Norris (or anyone who can get me a date with Megan Fox)
Believe me or not: one year ago I had in mind the same idea, but since I'm not capable I've said to myself "a dream that will never come to reality, I dubt that somebody will do a similar thing". Now I read this topic and see the video. Good luck, I wish you the best: I hope this will be released. This and Syndicate Wars were the REAL syndicate
Believe me or not: one year ago I had in mind the same idea, but since I'm not capable I've said to myself "a dream that will never come to reality, I dubt that somebody will do a similar thing". [...] This and Syndicate Wars were the REAL syndicate
Oh yes, I believe you! I went through the same process actually, I wanted to do it a long time ago but thought it was not possible. There are lots of mechanics which are not easy to create in SC2, but once you work on it methodically it doesn't seem so hard to make... So here I am! I was planning to do the project alone, but all things considered this is probably not a good idea. For now everything works as expected, but eventually things are going to fall apart and I'll need some people to help. And yes, Syndicate and Syndicate Wars were way above that shitty remake. So far I haven't seen any game like these, they're pretty unique and that's why I enjoy them even today. (fun fact: I've been playing Theme Hospital for a week now... I wonder if it can be made in SC2? *cough* please, someone make it happen *cough cough*)
As far as Syndicraft is concerned, I am not planning this. For now I only considered making a few levels where various missions will occur. I'll have to create 2-3 cities (each in a separate file) and you'll basically be sent in a specific district for each mission. This way there can be around 30 missions but only 3 maps to load, each mission happening in a restricted portion of the map. It wasn't planned to let the player choose his faction, but as you can guess it's actually VERY doable. I could even decide to create a game mode where the ultimate goal is to control every district (kind of like GTA3). This is still very open to modifications right now, but I like the idea.
Oh don't worry, I'm definitely keeping this. Although to be completely honest I love the first Syndicate much more than Syndicate Wars. A lot of features seem to have been transferred but still, Syndicate Wars is somehow too "messy" for me (it wasn't as easy to control and I didn't like how it looked). The atmosphere in Syndicraft should be dark and futuristic for sure, this is something I'll consider later when I'll start focusing on level design. I'm not there yet. The announcer existed in the first Syndicate (barely saying a few words like "selected", "mission failed", etc...), I was originally planning to do the same but I thought sound effects alone are more than enough. Voices tend to be a pain to hear when you repeat them over and over at each click you make, and since I intend to make the missions harder, you'll have to micro your squad much better than in the original games. I'd also like to have decent soundtracks and effects, so I'll probably ask for help at some point in the new Audio section of the forums (voice acting maybe, but mostly for music because the original Syndicate only has 2 tracks!).
That's exclusive to Syndicate Wars I think, but if I find enough gameplay situations worth having some destructible elements in the project, I'll add them. In Syndicate, I remember barrels, people and trees could be set on fire, and you could make vehicles explode. Depending on how the levels are designed, I think it's already enough to start with and it doesn't require too much effort because SC2 already allows such things.
It wouldn't be Syndicate without upgrades, right? Don't worry, this part is actually the second reason I want the project to be done! I actually like the idea of making units that can improve their stats by replacing limbs. That's basically an inventory system I'll need to make, one part will be focused on the equipment (guns, persuadertron, shield, etc... and things you can collect during missions) while the other will only be accessible between missions (editing your cyborgs to make them better). Depending on how it is balanced, I may even restrict the use of the strongest body parts, so that you'll be forced to reduce some stats (like speed) if you want your cyborg to be stronger. I'm not there yet, but that's something I'm actually considering. A lot.
I don't remember robbing banks in Syndicate, but other than that all features you mentioned are already included. I don't know how much impact it will have yet, but I want the result of your last mission to modify what happens in between (persuading scientist = faster research for a few weeks, capturing an enemy cyborg adds it to your roster, etc...), the same way your modifications on the cyborgs will affect the next mission. That's how the first Syndicate worked and there is no reason for me to remove it, because it's just awesome!
This part is actually a nightmare to create. I may have to use some work from members of these forums to make a decent traffic system (I know someone did that), although I have no idea how it will behave once your squad is in a vehicle. I will probably have to find another way, subway lines are no trouble but driving a vehicle actually is. Since some missions depend on vehicles (I remember a few missions in Syndicate where you had to steal a specific vehicle in order to enter restricted areas), this is one of the biggest challenges in the making of this project.
Oh don't worry... Since I can't create as many missions as in the original games, I will make sure you don't always do the same basic tasks... In Syndicate, the objectives were basically either stealing an item, killing a guy, killing all enemy cyborgs or cops, or escorting someone. That's pretty much it. It's fun at first, but I don't feel the need for 100 missions if they're all about that. I'd rather make 20 missions but try to think of something funnier (and potentially bloody messy) that is worth our time. Robbing a bank is actually a pretty good idea, I'll have to think about more things like that. Cyborgs becoming lords of crime, how much better could this project be?!
I'll make something as close as possible to a real city life. People walking/panicking, cars on the roads, special vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, police patrols,...), and more importantly cops actually pointing their gun at you (threatening to shoot) if you walk around with guns out. I am already thinking about it because I'm not sure how it could be done in SC2 yet (probably a channeling spell, which is why I chose to use ghosts as cops in my test map, their animation when launching a nuke is perfect to make it look like they're taking aim). Anyway, this was originally in Syndicate, so if everything goes well enough, it will be in Syndicraft.
EDIT: Can we also customise the colour or textures of our UI/units like in Syndicate Wars?
I think you can... There is a default color and decal defined in the player properties (player 1 is red, 2 is blue, etc...) but I think you can change that dynamically while the map is running. I'll have to check, but if it's the case, YES, you will be able to choose the color and logo of your syndicate.
Maybe add those combat drugs (red mist and blue funk) and regenerating HP/Shields.
You can see in the video above that I already have implemented the drugs. In Syndicate, it's called "panic mode", you must click both mouse buttons to set your selected cyborgs in some kind of overdrive mode, basically improving their reactivity, speed, etc... What I did for now is basically just a sight range boost with faster movement, but I was planning on adding extra levels (just like implants, a level 3 drug would have much better effects).
Regeneration will probably come with the implants themselves, for example a heart level 2 or 3 will let you heal while level 1 or 0 won't. Applying the same logic for each implant will basically make each implant worth it. Improved sight with cyborg eyes, detecting enemies off sight (+better range for the persuadertron) with an improved brain, faster movement speed with better legs, faster attack speed (+ability to carry heavy weaponry) with improved arms, better armor and health with the improved chest,... I still have to put this on paper once and for all (right now I'm actually focusing on mimicking the UI and controls), but once it's done it should feel like the original game, with a few extras.
Basically, cyborgs are what Syndicate is about so the project will be! I'll also make sure to add bombs, because that was in Syndicate as well. When you (or an enemy) drop them, they explode after a while. I may even let you add chip modules to the brain that will let you choose when your bombs should blow. Chips are actually a pretty good idea, because it allows even more customization on each limb. I could add the radar as a chip on the eyes, improving the level of the eyes would then just add sight range and you would need to research and install a chip to give your cyborgs the ability to detect enemies from afar. We could have extra ammo in the arms, and things like that... Anyway, YES, I'm a huge fan of the series since I played them, so I'll make sure the project is worth it. Hopefully I won't get stuck in the development process like I am with Ikari Warriors (I'm not sure anymore how I could fix the remaining bugs, so basically Ikari is on hold), but if I ever am, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only fan out there willing to make this project come to life... ;)
this is one of the biggest challenges in the making of this project.
Don't worry, vehicle system doesn't seem to be as complex as it looks from a first glance. If you ask me, I would suggest you to create your own traffic system. Because, first, it's easier to work with subsystems you 100% understand, because you're the author. And second, you probably mean Ahli's traffic system. As far as I remember, it uses alot of units as path markers, which consume some extra fps and actually doesn't seem to be an elegant solution. And it's totally common and normal for remakes to create tricky systems to make sc2 work like the game you're remaking.
Btw, I would realy love to see syndicate units instead of sc2 ones. We have shitloads of modellers on forum, let they do their job :)
Btw, I would realy love to see syndicate units instead of sc2 ones. We have shitloads of modellers on forum, let they do their job :)
Yeah, I thought about it too and I totally agree! I'd like to have a 3D version of the cyborgs from the first game (long dark coat, some kind of mask on the face, a military beret to show the team color, and maybe the syndicate decal somewhere as well), that would be really cool... To be completely honest that's what stopped me the first time when I thought about starting the project. I have good knowledge of 3DSMax due to my professional background, but not enough to be able to modelize a new unit with low polygons count, texture it (with shaders and all), then include animations... So if anyone's willing to help on that, I'm accepting any contribution. In fact, whoever wants to join in should just ask, and I'll make sure everyone has some part in it, depending on which field they are best at.
About vehicles, I will probably make my own system as you suggested. It will be time-consuming obviously, and probably heavily based on triggers (because I suck at editing data), so I think it's best if someone comes up with a nice prototype worth including in this project. I'd be glad to work with its author(s) and they'll get credits just for taking part in it. That would be nice actually to let someone do this, I'd be able to focus on something else while it's being done and the first release would happen sooner.
It's possible to see the world and select the country where to play your mission like in the original?
I'd like to, but as far as I know it can't be done easily. If someone comes up with a way to do this properly, I'd like to know! My best guess is to create a fullscreen dialog, each country being a dialog item (button) with an opacity mask applied, so that when you click/hover it only a specific country will lighten up. The issue is the button is square, and that's what the mouse detection uses. If any country button is over another button, it may not be clickable. For now I barely thought about it but I think the best for a start is just to let the player choose the next mission from a dropbox, maybe with a nice effect showing up where it is on the world map, also indicating which syndicates are there, which tax rate is applied, etc...
We can use the opacity mask trick just to show which country is under the influence of which syndicate, though... The dialog items won't be clickable but at least it can be used to improve how the world map looks. I'll give it a look soon enough (once I'm done with the ingame squad UI and inventories, it's probably going to be the next step), I think it can be done and will look nice.
As obvious as it sounds, I just reinstalled Syndicate yesterday and played for a couple hours to check how a few things were done... First of all, I'm not sure I'm going to keep the whole "while on the world map time goes by and your research makes progress" thing, because you run out of upgrades very fast and the enemy cyborgs are no match for you if you do so. I'll have to think of something. Maybe your idea of factions giving a bonus to a specific parameter could play a part in this.
About the way I'm splitting maps though, actually it's how both campaigns from Blizzard are done. Some missions have one map for 3-4 objectives, and you can't wander freely around each area until you've done this part or that one. I'm just using the same method but it's slightly adapted to this project. I'm not sure yet how many sections I will do per map file though... Splitting the map in 9 areas (3*3) basically means 80*80 tiles each (=240*240 tiles total, the engine being limited to 256*256).
I don't think we can do any mission worth spending 15 minutes in with such a small region. So I will probably go for 2*2, which gives me 128*128 tiles, and a lot more possibilities for interesting missions. That also means a lot more work to do, more map files to make for the same amount of missions... There is no way I'm going to do this all by myself! Let's be reasonable and start with 10 missions at first, could be done almost in a single map file if I split it in 9, or in 3 files if I split them in 4. That's good enough. I checked your ideas and some of them are worth keeping, I also thought about a few things just by reading mission briefings while playing yesterday.
About the panic/drug effect, I may have to redo it entirely. If I really want to stick to how Syndicate is done, it's nothing like a "stimpack"-like ability. It's actually much more complex, sliding the bars to the left switches your cyborg to a defensive stance (slower movement, better reactivity, healing fast...) while sliding it to the right makes it aggressive (faster movement, better damage, but weaker). The way I'm doing it right now is closer to a stimpack, except I can't select the units so it's a complicated mix of triggers and variables checking which does what. I can't apply a cooldown with the way things are done right now, so yeah... definitely not perfect!
About chips, I had in mind a few things, including the ability to persuade people/units without having to select the persudertron in your inventory. It will let you use a gun at the same time, which is an enormous advantage. I also had the radar stealth, it doesn't have much use for the player (unless someone around here knows how I could make the AI understand that the little "!" in the fog of war is actually one of my cyborgs and he should rush at it) but it's definitely interesting for the enemy cyborgs, allowing them to sneak up on your team even if you have upgraded brains. I'm also considering a few spells (mind controlling someone from a distance, if the unit leaves your perimeter it regains control... basically you can use this to assassinate someone without risking the lives of your squadmates, or to kill someone hidden in a place your cyborgs can't reach, etc...).
Anyway, all of these are interesting ideas but I need to stick to something very basic for now. I'm not even close to this kind of customization yet, in fact I'm starting to think even the control mechanics are much harder to do than I first thought, even though I'm close to it with the version shown in the video. It may work in the video but it's far from perfect, there are huge bugs I need to get rid of and I may have to redo the entire system if I want them fixed. So I'm basically back to square one. I'm not fond of the UI either, now that I've taken a better look at how it's done in the original games there is a lot of work to be done if I want something similar in SC2. I know what can be done (thanks to our community and what they have found), but I just never tried it myself... I'll either have to contact each person and make them join the team, or learn to do it all by myself and don't expect the map to be released until next year... Meh! :/
There are the old Syndicates like in the first? I mean Eurocorp, Castrillos, Sphynxs etc... It would be awesome
Yes, definitely. It's very easy to implement actually (making them expand their territory on the world map between missions might be tricky, but there is surely a way to do this as well). What I want to do for sure is that each faction has its own way to progress in the tech tree. For example, factions in the middle-east will most likely develop bombs and automatic guns first (and won't hesitate to suicide or ambush). North america will most likely develop their cyborgs first with advanced implants, and asian factions will research advanced weaponry in priority (although the opposite seems to make more sense... you tell me!). In the levels themselves, I will most certainly add more cyborgs in the asian countries (more population in these areas, so obviously factions are more present), more snipers/gauss guns in countries at war, etc...
I'd like to import custom logos, and if someone is able to make a custom model for both cyborgs and cops I'd really like to add this as well. Of course each faction will be named after the factions from the first game, you'll play as Eurocorp by default but maybe we could actually think of a sequel to Syndicate instead (something along the lines "Eurocorp controls the entire world, you're a new syndicate willing to claim their empire, but other factions won't let you and will do anything to take revenge on Eurocorp").
Yup, I'm probably going to do it this way, that's how I was planning it from the start. I think we can count how many minutes were spent during a mission and add them as days on the world map. I think it's pretty much how it's done in Syndicate, actually...
Not if you make a map for each continent... Although of course it removes the ability to move freely from one country to another in a completely random order. It can become very messy indeed if you raise taxes everywhere, and have to do the missions again. If they are in a different file you'll just spend hours loading maps. So yes, as of now it's best if I stick to a "demo" version with barely a few missions, so that I can create one big city in a single file, and limit camera bounds to a different part of it each time a mission starts, giving the illusion you're in another country.
Yup, switching between 2 stances is easy, just have to create a few behaviors applying buffs/debuffs with limited duration. Although I still have to find a proper way to apply a cooldown, because the buff is applied via triggers. Is there a condition allowing to check if a cooldown is active? I think there is, if it the case then it's pretty easy to fix.
With the control mechanics I think it would be alot simpler using melee UI. You could store each agent into seperate control groups and have the team in another. Plus right-click for moving is natural for alot of sc2 players.
That's what I did in my very first attempt. Units were selectable and stored in control groups, but it's actually causing bugs because I'm checking for selections to update the UI (adding a unit to a control group actually selects it somehow, apparently!). Right now the UI doesn't show everything it's supposed to show, even though I agree SC2 players are used to using right clicks and control groups, it just didn't feel as intuitive as Syndicate. I also want to keep the squad movement method as it is (the little red cross shows where you click, but your units never go there: they keep in formation around it). It makes the map kind of unique and I don't want to use the usual SC2 control method.
Do you have a really good reason for doing the UI and controls exactly like the original?
I don't, because I can't. Originally, what I wanted to do is show a realtime camera above the unit, instead of just this stupid fixed image switching colors when clicked... Apparently the best that can be done is a render-to-texture method, and I have no clue how these work in SC2. I tried for a couple hours but it failed, so I did something based on my basic knowledge of UIs just to get something done. Obviously it's far from what I wanted. If a real-time camera isn't possible, maybe I'll try to at least have a 3D model showing the current animation of the unit and its orientation, which is pretty much what is shown on the Syndicate UI. I still don't know how it can be done (IF it can be done), but I'll try it at some point.
About the controls, well... I'd like to be able to attack any point/unit just with clicks, just like in the original games. I based my prototype on what I found on wiki pages, and what I could remember from the game. It feels incredibly intuitive to just left-click somewhere to move or follow, and attacking with right clicks. Technically, it's not that simple to make it work because A- SC2 doesn't use the same controls (so you have to override/disable them) and B- you have to tell the game what's the difference between a random click, a click on your units, on enemy units, neutral units, depending on a lot of conditions (including your equipped inventory, who's selected, and things like that)... Basically, yes it's a pain to create but it's worth it, and I even think that's what makes the project so unique. That's why I'm still working on the prototype, I'm focusing my efforts on keeping the general feeling of Syndicate by keeping at least the squad movement controls and the squad management UIs. Other than that I'm very open to keeping some distance with the original games, including ideas you mentioned before.