The Road to Vertical Slice, Part 2 of 5

As described in last week’s update, I’m developing three levels for a vertical slice milestone: two stealth missions and one interstitial “social” space (where the player can rest up, shop for gear, and pull narrative morsels from NPCs or news terminals).

The first of the stealth missions is now playable end-to-end. This level is sequenced near the start of the game, and has a somewhat more linear or strictly gated flow than I intend for later levels. I chose it for inclusion in the vertical slice for that reason (among others), as it forced me to frontload some scripting work I might have otherwise delayed. Level-specific scripting is a new experience in this engine; Eldritch had a modicum of scripting in its library hub, but its procedurally generated levels precluded traditional level scripting. It turned out to be straightforward to implement scripts using the existing event and component systems, anyway.

Sadly, I already broke my rule from last week by implementing a sequence in which the player is required to take an “optional” phone call to progress. There is a strong narrative justification for it, and it occurs at a moment when it cannot possibly interrupt any ongoing gameplay; but I still feel like I’m betraying some core value of systemic games in doing it. I expect this won’t be the last cognitive dissonance I feel as I reconcile this game’s narrative needs with systemic liberty. C’est la vie.