Special Feature: The day at Elixir

New Game Details

PLEASE NOTE: Before reading this technical report about what I learnt whilst at Elixir, you may wish to read the general 'diary' style report about what I actually did during the day. These points are in no particular order.

Many months have passed since the last time the small, but dedicated, group of Republic fans have heard anything substantial about the game, let alone actually seen any new screenshots. Therefore, having the chance to see the game in action for myself and meeting the team was an offer which was too good to miss! For this report, I will simply list and describe the various features and enhancements that Demis told me about, that have been worked on since E3 last year.

After Demis had entered the boardroom where we were waiting, he quickly go down to the business of explaining to me some of the features in the game which had been changed. These included the following:

1) The introduction of a background storyline. This is naturally not in the normal linear sense of a story which you have to follow, but has been introduced in order to 'tighten up' what the world is about, and what you have to do. In other words, the aims of the game will now be presented more clearly. More on this later...

2) There is only one president in power, instead of several which the team had originally thought about. The President will be an oppressive dictator, ruling a '1984' style country. This will be shown by random beatings and arrests around the cities by the evil police, showing the oppressed masses.

3) Following on from this, you will be one of 16 factions, as you may already know. However, the other 15 factions will not be especially tough, as the main idea of the game is YOU vs. the PRESIDENT. In other words, you are the main revolutionary. The other factions' influence has been toned down, so although they can still aid or harm you, as the case may be, the main obstacle is the president.

4) The (possible) multiplayer version of the game has been pushed back to after the release of the single player game. This is because, as I mentioned in the third point, the other factions are not as influential as you are, which would make the multiplayer unbalanced.

5) There will be several hundred scripted events which will happen to you, which could be initialised by the President, or which could be natural things. An example may be an economic crisis, forcing many people out of work, and changing the game environment. It will be up to you as the faction leader to make use of these opportunities to shine, as a Revolutionary. These events will come at no particular time, but will happen occasionally to help drive the game forward.

6) At every stage, there will be a list of short-term objectives available, which you need to fulfil, to get into the next stage of the game. This idea was introduced because, as good as freedom is, many people who played the game were becoming confused as to what they should be doing next. There will always be at least four different objectives which you could choose from, which in turn will lead you on to other choices (depending on what you have already done). This can mean new avenues are opened up to you, whereas other avenues are closed down. It is important to note that this is not like a "tree" structure of events, but more like an complex network of inter-weaving branches where avenues will open and close as and when necessary. Which objectives you choose to do, and how you go about doing them will be up to you. These objectives will be major points and landmarks in your life - Demis mentioned that when you become President, your actions will be looked at to see how good or bad you were. There will probably be around 20-30 objectives to complete before the game is over.

After Demis had gone over these points, and a few other points already mentioned on my site, he asked for the lights to be switched off and he started the demo. While watching, he continued to comment on new areas of gameplay...

7) There are to be two types of game - the full campaign mode which lasts around 20 hours, and shorter scenarios, which are smaller level based activities.

8) The game will be controlled using just the keyboard or the mouse, even though Demis showed us the game using standard Quake-style controls.

9) The final city will be 4 times the size of the map he showed us, which was 3x2km sq.

10) There are real-time shadows for every object, which move depending on the position of the sun.

11) Each of the cities will have a different look and feel - some will be oppressive, whereas some will be very ornate and beautiful.

12) There will be four main types of actions which you can carry out. These will be 'Character Specific Actions' (such as friendship, assassination, hypnotism, persuasion, extortion, police house arrest, and bloodpact), 'Prole Actions' (which affect large numbers of people such as riots), 'Setup Actions' (which gain you support by grouping people together to help you, such as Boxing Clubs, gangs and charity galas), and 'Information Gaining Actions' (which are self explanatory).

13) POWER ACTIONS. The Setup actions are very important. These let you create groups of specific people together, which you can then use to do other actions. For example, you are unable to cast the 'vandalise' action before creating a gang in that district. The Boxing Club works to try and get the middle classes to your side. All the setup actions also have another feature - they 'charge up' power actions which you can unleash, when ready, upon the public - the Boxing Club, for example, charges up riots. These will be charged over a specific time period (such as two weeks) which can change depending on the intensity of the Setup action (i.e. a very violent boxing club will charge up faster, but of course is more likely to be found out by the police). Another example of a power action is a large rally.

14) Your faction consists of only 9 members, yourself included. When you have someone in your faction, you can use his or her powers to your own end. You can, of course, throw people out of your faction to make room for new ones, unless you have formed a 'blood pact' with one which forces you to be loyal to that character (and him to you). Even if the person is put in jail, he still remains part of your faction (you can use bribes and the jail break action to try and get him back). The only way of getting rid of a character like this is if you kill him, but of course, if the other faction members find this out, you will have many people against you. A bloodpact is also required to form a Boxing Club.

15) Each person has intelligence, strength, charisma and physique attributes, which go up in skill level as you use your character more.

16) One of the actions shown to me was hypnotism. We hypnotised an opponents faction member, (he as susceptible to being hypnotised as he had low intelligence), and we then had the ability to use and control him for 24 hours only. This, of course, can happen to your characters, and you won't be able to control them.

17) PERSUASION TECHNIQUE. Another very important new technique, which has not been discussed to anyone outside Elixir, is the persuasion technique. This will use the 'charisma' statistic of the person you send to doing the persuading. In the demo, Demis had some problems getting the characters to behave, but explained the system later to me. Basically, it involves a 'The Sims' / 'Theme Park' style interaction, where you choose a button next to your character to initiate the conversation, to which the other person would respond. These buttons will show pictures indicating different ideas - money, happiness, charm, passion, revenge, greed, etc. By gathering intelligence on what a particular character might be susceptible to, you can (if you wish) take control of the conversation and lead it the way you want. At the start of the game, conversations will be short and fairly easy, but later in the game, persuasive conversations may become 5-6 levels deep. Fr example, you could start by saying "You must join us because of revenge", to which the other guy may respond "I'm scared". You could then use the passion button, as if to say "But you HAVE to do it, it's really important that you stand up for yourself", and he will again reply. At all stages there will be a bar depicting how close you are to attracting the other guy to your way of thinking (i.e. how convinced they are). The options of symbols for you to choose from will vary depending on your character, where you are in the game, and what you are generally like. The game will also not only work out what symbol you press, but also how FORCEFULLY you press it - if you keep you button down longer, your point will be raised more forcefully. It is by no means certain that you will eventually get the other character to your side.

18) Some events will be time-controlled. For example, if the Pope is visiting town, you may only have a week to organise a rally, religious event or demonstration when he is nearby, and if you don't get it done in time, you will have missed the opportunity. Another example may be football riots - you can only unleash them at certain times during the week.

19) The music is outstanding with real mood and feeling. The low hums of the every day melodies contrast perfectly to the change of music whenever you perform a certain action - be it tense music, dark music or really scary music. Near the market stall, the music might change to a jolly tune. It all fits in really well together and all the tracks blend together to form one continuous piece.

20) In a similar way to the music, the weather will also change depending on your actions to make the experience more realistic - for example, clouds might come over when you are doing a really bad deed. The game will also feature many types of weather, including sun, rain and snow.

21) There are loads of nice little touches - lobster and plaice on the fish stand, and different team members faces on the newspapers in the newsagent stand.

22) People will interact with their own cars and public transport (although this wasn't ready in the demo). Public transport includes buses, taxis and the rail.

23) The sunsets are really nice :)

24) You can influence most actions. For example, if you see the police gathering outside one of your character's house, you have a certain amount of time to try and warn him and get him out the back door (you can do this by clicking on a button above the door if that escape route is available).

25) Although there are no specific ways of playing, there will probably be two types of players - those who watch the game unfold by asking characters to do things and not really interacting, just tinkering, and those who are the hard-core strategy gamers who would want to tweak and control every little thing in the game. Demis aims for both to be fun :)

26) It is just as possible to win the game by being good as being bad. For example, you could start up a charity, which would be expensive in the short term, but every half a year, you could lay on a really glitzy charity ball with film stars and footballers coming to visit it. This would gain lots of good publicity.

27) ACTION COMBINATIONS. This is also another very important and interesting addition to the game. There will be around 150 different possible actions that you will be able to carry out, but a limitless number of action combinations, which when set off together, could make specific actions more powerful. For example, if you set off a Rally Action and a Journalist Cover Story Action, the Rally Action would become twice as effective. Another example would be setting off three Factory Strikes at the same time, which in turn would allow you to do the "General Strike" action. Another example could be doing a Power Station Sabotage Action (to cut the electricity to a certain district) and a criminal action in that district at the same time, which would make the criminal action twice as likely to succeed. Around fifty action combinations will be explained in the manual, but the player will have to work out many of the others to find which are the most effective. This will be a major thing to help you succeed in the game.

28) Your reputation will follow you throughout all the game sections.

29) Main streets and businesses may be specifically named, and the various town districts will definitely be named.

30) This game will be so cool.