Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

For updates and discussion of Terra Invicta, a grand-strategy alien invasion simulator
johnnylump
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Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:12 pm

Some caveats: We've got no regular plan for dev diary updates yet, but with the end of our XCOM work I wanted to describe in general terms our vision for Terra Invicta. Release of the game is still a long way off, and I want to emphasize this is where the design stands now and NOT a pledge that all these features will be in the game. We may not be able to afford all of them, or we may test them and find they aren't fun, or they may be technically too tough to pull off.

We're billing Terra Invicta as a "grand strategy alien invasion game." The player leads a transnational faction of humans who are dedicated to resisting the aliens' infiltration and invasion of modern-day Earth. Other factions on Earth see the alien arrival in a different light and will be working against you for their own ends. We hope to let you play those other factions, too, but we're building the initial story around what we're calling the "Resist" faction. (It will get a more imaginative name in-game.)

The player's overall goal is to harness Earth's resources to both fortify Earth and challenge the aliens in space, where they are building an industrial base in the far reaches of the Solar System to support their planned invasion. Earth's nations are unable to form a coherent policy on their own to deal with the aliens; the various factions will instead be competing for influence within individual countries around the globe, and once they have it, they will be able to direct those nations' politics, economies and militaries. Several factions, including the player's, will attempt to direct those resources toward industrializing space and building a space fleet to take on alien forces. The aliens themselves will be working to subvert Earth's governments until they can bring their heaviest forces to bear.

What does the player actually control?

Each faction is led by a small team of councilors, who travel around the world and, as the campaign develops, into space. These can be diplomats, spies, military commanders, tycoons, even celebrities and criminals. They vie for influence in the world's nations, investigate alien landings, and hunt councilors from other factions. The player may also direct national armies, build space stations and surface habitats, and command space warships in battle.

How is the game "grand strategy?"

We're using the term for two primary reasons: One, the action moves in pausable real-time, similar to Paradox titles, although at regular intervals the game will stop and ask you to position your councilors all at once. Two, we're starting with a high-level simulation of Earth's current geopolitics, and imposing the alien invasion narrative upon it. While our space development piece is more 4X-ish in that you are industrializing from scratch, your ability to do so will be grounded in your ability to steer Earth's nations to your banner.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Phaseless » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:26 pm

That sounds quite interesting. Because it seems to aim at reality and how an alien invasion might actually look like, politically as well.
I will miss the tactical combat but I am very interested what you guys have in store for us concerning combat.
Since there are no details I guess you are still heavily debating how combat takes place?

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:26 pm

Going to save details for a future dev diary, but I point you to "command space warships in battle" in the previous post.

Psieye
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Psieye » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:18 am

While I appreciate you're at the prototyping stage, here are the questions I expect you'll have considered (maybe still are discussing):

Roughly how many countries on Earth? Are we talking XCOM 1 level "16 groups of countries" or Paradox level "every individual country in modern-day Earth is represented"? Will this number be fixed from game start or can countries appear/disappear (annexations, secessations, liberations, etc)?

You mention other factions who have the same aim of teching up spaceship construction, does this mean you're not the only faction that's resisting? Can factions flip their alliegance/agenda? Can factions be created/destroyed?
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johnnylump
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:06 pm

The number of nations on Earth is still something we're working on, although it's probably in the range of 70-90. We've grouped nations in some instances (like in the Caribbean). Small but politically/economically significant nations like Singapore and Israel are giving us the most trouble with the UI. Countries can definitely change.

The factions are generally defined by their agenda with respect to the alien arrival; we have a fixed number tied to the range of reactions we came up with. They represent an ideology as much as a tangible organization, so they don't flip or get entirely eliminated -- you can beat the organization into insignificance, but its core belief can't be removed.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Darkrenown » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:11 pm

Sounds real interesting. I'd love to help out or test/feedback stuff when you get around to needing that.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby WildCard » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:20 pm

Sounds great, good luck with it, hope to see more soon !!!

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Psieye » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:41 pm

johnnylump wrote:factions

represent an ideology as much as a tangible organization, so they don't flip or get entirely eliminated -- you can beat the organization into insignificance, but its core belief can't be removed.

Ah, factions as ideologies. Ok, makes sense you can't wipe them - I expect you can 'steal' all its members but events might cause a resurgence in appeal (and thus, new members/converts).

Regarding these characters (faction councilors), are they randomly generated (CK2 style)? Actually the first question should be "how many in-game years would a typical game take?" - developing spaceships should take years if not a couple decades. Can characters die of old age? Will you see their children become new characters?
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:42 am

@ Darkrenown

Most definitely. PM me your email address when you get a chance, or shoot me one at johnnylump@pavonisinteractive.com

@ Psieye

GET OUT OF MY BRAIN (I'm working on character generation this week). Player will recruit councilors from a pool of pre-generated characters. Campaign length is probably a couple of generations, but honestly that's still a moving target.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Psieye » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:14 pm

johnnylump wrote:GET OUT OF MY BRAIN

Yes, I like to give feedforward, not feedback. Much less expensive to consider ideas before a design has been settled.

I note you've got Tycoons as a 'character class'. I would have suggested contemplating multi-national corporations separately to nations, but Tycoons abstracts the leverage of corporations nicely. I'll be looking forward to reading a future dev diary after you've worked out which 'classes' will stick. Especially (if this class isn't cut) what a faction military commander would be, since faction members want to be trans-national but most military commanders are tied to a specific country's military. I suppose this class is "The XCOM Commander" for Terra Invicta? Criminals are also interesting, as they would have to be internationally infamous to merit a position in a faction council, i.e. a Mafia boss. All this makes me wonder when the in-game start date will be, i.e. "whether to include plausible changes to the geopolitical landscape and technological advances".

Also of interest (which I certainly don't expect to have been nailed down yet) is whether to have a fixed or semi-random tech tree and how many resource types to keep track of. XCOM 2 has a lot more than a quick glance would suggest: each species corpse is a separate resource.
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tulliopontecorvo
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby tulliopontecorvo » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:11 pm

Important question: how do the aliens not just steamroll humanity from the get go?
This might already be clear to you, but I ask because it's an aspect that is often overlooked. If they're building an industrial base then I assume they weren't originally built as an invasion fleet or something in their planning did not account for finding an industrialized society on the planet they wished to occupy.
In XCOM, the aliens hold themselves back on purpose - but what's stopping them in TI, upon arrival, from just using the ships they do have to blockade Earth and bombard a couple of cities until the governments decide to sign an instrument of surrender? What technological level do they have? Because that's also going to be fundamental in determining whether we can catch up or not, in a realistic timeframe...

A gameplay that lasts a couple of generations needs a pretty specific story set up imho. That kind of long-term mobilization isn't really sustainable or compatible with an intense war between an advanced fleet and a backwards planet.

I would also like to volunteer for beta testing (and I'm not sure if you're looking for writers of any kind but yeah, I do that xD)

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Psieye » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:32 pm

It's definitely a good question that needs to be addressed. Personally I'd go with the SRW3 setting: humans have the more advanced weapons tech at game start. Aliens have superior spacefaring tech but due to a different history, they hadn't invested in military science. It's tempting to assume "they can build spaceships, they must be able to build bombs" but if the very concept of killing (their own kind) is alien to them, they may have a hard time joining the dots. Which brings us to "why are they invading at all then? Why switch from pacifism to militarism?" Maybe the aliens are a nomad tribe and not an imperial fleet. Maybe they are adventurers or exiles. There's many possible stories, so long as PI picks one and presents it well I won't be picky (or impatient).
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby JulianSkies » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:07 pm

Another possible solution might be the logistics of FTL, may be that it's a literal impossibility to bring a full invasion army, instead they must bring the resources they can't produce locally and source what they can while they built an in-situ fleet.
Presumably an assault at this range is only feasible because they're going for an underdeveloped civilization and this will have time to build a fleet.

Also, Psieye, which aliens exactly are you talking about? I never really played the early games of the series (but I did play the OG games which feature all the original villains)
Last edited by JulianSkies on Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby tulliopontecorvo » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:00 pm

JulianSkies wrote:Presumably an assault at this range is only feasible because they're going for an underdeveloped civilization and this will have time to build a fleet.)


That's sort of my point though: what's preventing them from striking hard and fast on day one? Even if you can send just unarmed starships for whatever reason, they're going to be hard to damage once they're parked in high orbit, and then it's not going to take you years of work to knock down satellites at will and pretty much threaten the surface until you get what you want.
Even if you factor in that they can't devastate the surface because they need it whole for whatever reason (what use does an advanced civilization have for planets, when they can build habitats without all the work of the gravity well and terraforming?), then the humans might not know that, and if threatened with an all-out devastating attack, will they risk it?

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Psieye » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:38 pm

tulliopontecorvo wrote:Even if you can send just unarmed starships for whatever reason, they're going to be hard to damage once they're parked in high orbit

This too is an assumption: "spaceships must be big and armoured thick!" Does not have to be that way. It also requires the aliens to think they can threaten with impunity - what if they think it won't be hard for humans to seriously damage them if they make a half-ass threat like that? No, if you want to make a threat with unarmed starships of possibly flimsy build, you'd have to just ram the ships into the planet (with excessive collateral damage). Depending on the FTL fantasy, that may not be possible.

Certainly the question of "why do aliens need to build up?" needs to be addressed. But there's multiple ways to tackle it.

JulianSkies wrote:Also, Psieye, which aliens exactly are you talking about? I never really played the early games of the series (but I did play the OG games which feature all the original villains)
Inspector.
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:55 pm

tulliopontecorvo wrote:Important question: how do the aliens not just steamroll humanity from the get go?


One of the first questions we considered; we know the answer, but it's not something I'm going to talk about; it's for the player to discover.

tulliopontecorvo wrote:I would also like to volunteer for beta testing (and I'm not sure if you're looking for writers of any kind but yeah, I do that xD)


Thanks. Resumes are welcome and I'll bank it for when we decide we have a need.

Also, I've decided we'll be the sort of game company that occasionally links to Atlantic articles, so here you go: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/12/what-happens-if-china-makes-first-contact/544131/

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby deaconivory » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:10 pm

johnnylump wrote:We hope to let you play those other factions, too, but we're building the initial story around what we're calling the "Resist" faction. (It will get a more imaginative name in-game.)


"The VanDoornians"

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby tulliopontecorvo » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:11 pm

Thanks JohnnyLump, that's definitely intriguing!
I caught that Atlantic article earlier today too and, believe it or not, instantly thought of Terra Invicta... so good job on that :D

EDIT: this actually made me think of a question RE nations and factions... how are national allegiances to factions determined at the start? Is it randomized, or does it sort of derive from contemporary Earth politics? Assuming that members can flip allegiances as factions gain or lose strength, obviously, but just curious about initial camps.

Somewhat unrelated and possibly less relevant but will Europe be some kind of united/loosely united polity or are you more inclined to represent European countries as individual nation States? It's far too early to talk about anything like balance, but for what it's worth, on paper it would be more interesting with the former I think, as it favors some sort of multipolarity... plus, it has shades of Human Reach, which is awesome

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby johnnylump » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:17 pm

Europe will mostly be one entity, although it can break up. One justification for keeping the continent unified is their cooperation via the ESA; another is, as you suggested, it creates another superpower pole alongside the United States and China.

The factions will have to earn allegiance from nations. One of the primary roles of councilors is to make that happen. And nations are such big entities that their 'allegiance' is divisible.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby Dwarfling » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:19 pm

Psieye wrote:Certainly the question of "why do aliens need to build up?" needs to be addressed. But there's multiple ways to tackle it.


Maybe some sudden disaster struck their homeworld and got to the Solar system by chance with whatever few population and supplies they could muster. Maybe they were displaced by invaders themselves. Maybe their means of interstellar travel is incredibly costly and can only send few things at a time. Maybe the way they spread is by sending tiny parties all over the galaxy like a dandelion. Many possibilities.

Just cuz they come from outer space doesn't mean they must have invulnerability shields and beams of mass destruction.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #1

Postby SonnyWiFiHr » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:38 pm

I played Stelaris for some time. I felt alone. Total War , Hearts of Iron etc
Voice acting and characters - Must have. Strategy alone - after few weeks you start to seek company. It is always Witcher or pub.
Pub wins . People needs people, to stay people.

You need characters and build game around them. Faces.


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