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Dev Diaries #13 - Year of the Spectre

January 18th 2022 4:29pm — Fred Toms, Programmer / Project Manager - @Tommy2Doors

Welcome to 2022 all! Happy new year! Hopefully everyone and their loved ones are happy and healthy!

At the request of the community, I'd like to take a moment to share an update regarding where we are at with SPECTRE. We left 2021 with news of a delay into 2022. Since that time, we continue to attempt to secure a publishing deal and have yet to do so. This means that we have not spent, or received, any money in relation to Spectre's development - while simultaneously adding a ton of new things to the game. More on that later. We have entered a publishing contest recently and there is a possibility that SPECTRE gameplay footage may be available this Monday on their website. We have not yet been informed if SPECTRE will be featured or not- but if footage does appear this coming Monday, we will inform you all promptly. Also be advised that the footage was recorded quite some time ago and that it was prior to many of the new features I have outlined below. The footage was by me and would not have sufficed as a full-blown gameplay trailer, but we felt it was good enough to demonstrate what the heck our game is for the purpose of this contest.

At the end of 2021, we reflected on where SPECTRE was at development-wise. We got some feedback from people who play tested the game with us including a publisher who decided it wasn't for them - and with that feedback, we decided that SPECTRE wasn't ready - by quite a lot.

Here's a list of features we have added to SPECTRE since announcing the delay that were not in the game at the time:

  • Terminals (number keypads attached to walls) can be hacked by Spectres and can effect parts of the level (such as unlocking previously locked doors, deactivating lasers systems, spewing a bunch of gas out, turning off lights, etc). This feature was previously in the game, but we've added a lot to it, including...

  • When hacking terminals as Spectres, there is a mini-game where you have to input a code that matches a series of timed 'finger prints' that appear. Hacking a terminal (by hand) leaves a Spectre very vulnerable. The UI for this mini-game is featured as a 'picture-in-picture' type of system, allowing players to continue to observe their surroundings while hacking (similar to how the spectre camera works- otherwise known as the RIG-C: "Remote Intelligence Gathering Camera" or... Rigsy, the gadget's nick name).

  • Terminals can now be fixed / repaired by Reapers, reversing the effects of the Spectre hack (for example, if a hacked terminal had previously deactivated an elevator system, by repairing it as a Reaper, the elevator system will come back online). During this time, it leaves the Reaper very vulnerable to a neck grab.

  • A fully functioning elevator system that can be hacked/repaired.

  • A complete tear-down and re-make of our zip-lining feature, which now runs smooth as butter and has dynamic audio/cam-shake/vibration that changes depending on the speed of movement.

  • An eighth, completely not-talked-about Spectre gadget that we are absolutely pumped for.

  • The Reaper's shotgun is now fully functional and Reapers can swap between their Primary and Secondary weapons on-the-fly. (I always hated choosing between the assault rifle and shotgun now you have both, to switch between as you see fit).

  • Reaper's now have a cool zoom-in sniping feature that feels awesome (but useless with the shotgun, haha).

  • We've added a lot more density to the maps. There are always multiple ways to get to where you're going (for both teams), pros/cons between sneaking in somewhere slowly and methodically, or getting in fast but diving through lasers and/or hacking terminals, etc. We've also been concentrating on key areas for Reapers to place themselves for great sniping / line-of-sight positions with several observable objectives, entrances/exits etc.

  • Reapers now fire tracer rounds - a ton of new previously un-implemented audio.

  • A ton of awesome new UI to display deaths (and methods of death), hacking, security failures and more.

Some of those additions are pretty big features, while some you may have expected them to already be in the game - but they weren't, and the mountain of things we were working on at the time of the delay announcement did not allow us to bring Spectre to the finished state we wanted it to be. Working on SPECTRE is a lot more pleasant and rewarding right now without a due date looming, and I think because of that, Jordan and I are a lot more efficient. We're still often putting in 14 hour days, but there is no sense of panic anymore. We're just chipping away at our mountain of 'to do's', and when we have an idea for something, we don't immediately shoot it down because we have a due date incoming - we try implementing the idea, and if it's viable, we actually go with it. Our mantra at this point is not to get the game out - it is to continue working on it until we feel it's "done". Which means that SPECTRE is feature rich, is fun, feels great and is complete with a ton of informative, engaging UI.

This is what will make SPECTRE a better game than it would have been had we rushed it out the door for 2021, slapped an 'early access' on it and left people wanting a bit more from us. Having said that, 2022 is SPECTRE's year. The game's progress has been huge in the last couple of months. The sooner we have a publisher on-board, the sooner we can start to release a lot more with their guidance behind us.

Thanks for sticking in!

- Fred

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