Shadows of Doubt DevBlog #31: An October Update
Shadows of Doubt is a detective stealth game set in a fully-simulated sci-fi metropolis! There’s been a murder and it’s up to you to solve it by any means necessary, with the condition that you keep a low profile. A unique mix of procedural generation and hand-crafted design enables every room of every building to be explored. Be sure to wishlist on Steam, join our Discord or read previous dev blog entries here!
Hello folks, it’s been a while so for this update I thought I’d keep it simple this time and just write a general update for how things are progressing with the game, and also use this as an opportunity to talk about random bits and bobs of the game that don’t really fit into any other themed updates.
Internally we’re transitioning from ‘adding stuff’ to ‘refining stuff’, which is a pretty big milestone. It’s no secret this game has been challenging to create, and it has no shortage of rough edges right now, so it’s feeling really good to go through and address them.
One such thing we’re refining is player progression. I haven’t really talked about this a lot previously.
The biggest chunk of practical player progression comes in the form of “Sync Disks”; think Bioshock-style genetic updates that give you a choice of buffs. You won’t have lightning shooting from your fingertips or anything; these upgrades are much more grounded (ha) to something resembling reality. The main idea though is for each one to have a choice of 2 or more upgrade options; making for some interesting decision-making and bringing some RPG-like elements to the game. For example, one disk will have you choosing between more health or more inventory space: That’s one of the more ‘standard’ upgrades, but I’ve really tried to think outside the box a bit for many of the others: Some of them are more akin to modifiers that subtly change how you play the game rather than straightforward benefits. I want to give examples but it’s probably better if I leave the discovery to you. The idea is you may want to play Shadows running through it with different builds in different generated cities.
Another area that has progressed a lot in recent weeks is audio. Nick has been busy adding and refining sounds, and it’s making a huge difference in how immersive the world is feeling.
One thing we’ve been tackling recently is diegetic music; that is music that appears within the world such as a song played on a jukebox in a bar. What’s great about this one is that I had previously set up the AI to dance to anything playing (our artist Miles has done some excellent NPC dance animations). Hilariously the AI simply does not care what it’s dancing to, resulting in citizens grooving away to slow melodic piano music… I guess they’re just that starved of entertainment in the world of Shadows.
One of the last things to make the latest build, bizarrely, is the public lavatory setup. Before now we had the apartment bathrooms working, but the models for public ones were not yet present in the game. This resulted in a very awkward public bathroom situation that involved a single toilet and sink in a large open room that anyone could just walk into. Not that that AI seemed to care. Now we have proper cubicles. Proper ones that give the citizens some privacy. The eagle-eyed detectives may even spot some useful graffiti scrawled on the side.
A Parting Thought…
One of the early limitations of the gameplay was the player not being able to kill anyone, or specifically, be able to shoot people. While this may not feel in keeping with the game’s noir roots, this limitation has actually become, in my opinion, a benefit to the gameplay. Much like in a horror game, not giving the player an arsenal at their disposal makes them much more vulnerable; and this works really well with the ‘creeping around places you shouldn’t’ vibe. And even when things do go wrong and you have people hunting you with guns, it’s much more satisfying to be forced to rely on your environment: Ducking into an air duct, hiding in the shadows, or if you are committed to violence, chucking a chair in their face to knock them out as you dart for the exit. It started as a practical limitation and has ended up as one of my favorite aspects of the gameplay.
Anyway, that’s it for another update. Times are very busy right now, so for the moment, the schedule of the updates is, by necessity, ‘when I can find the time’, stayed tuned and thanks for reading!