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Dev Blog 1 - Gameplay

Hello folks, this is the first of a weekly Dev blog we will be running from now on. Each Friday we will either let you know what we have been working on for the past week or we will look in detail at certain concepts within the game.

In this entry I'd like to touch on a couple of subjects that have been cropping up, as well as discuss a few things related to those topic. It is worth noting that since we are in early development that the dynamics I mention here and indeed many of the other aspects of Lithic are subject to change, likely going through several iterations as we progress towards release. As always your questions are welcomed on our Forum which you can find at here.

Creator Spirit

The Creator Spirit is the player's vehicle of control in Lithic, serving as the medium through which they interact with the game world. This is physically represented most of the time by the “Hand of God” cursor. I say most of the time as it is going to be possible for the player to manifest the Creator Spirit in the game world. Control will still performed from the classic strategic top-down view, but the Spirit's Avatar is present in the world. This two-fold presence affects the way the tribe react to player input.

Controlling the Tribe

So we have the Creator Spirit and his “Hand of God” control system; in typical RTS games the Hand of God is law, characters obey it to the point of standing idle until a command comes from the player. This is not the case in Lithic, characters have their own drive, their own needs to service and will meet these needs without player input.

The player has access to a pool of Spirit Points which represent the Creator Spirit's current level of power. Spirit Points can be spent to influence or compel characters to complete tasks, with the latter being a direct command and the former a subtle nudge towards doing what is required. Compulsion costs more points than Influence obviously, as it is far more effective. When a Player has accumulated enough spirit points they can manifest their Avatar in the game world, gaining access to powerful elemental abilities and the ability to directly compel any tribe members near them without the need to expend Spirit points. Sadly for the Creator Spirit, maintaining Avatar form drains their energy and they are eventually forced back into their ethereal form.

Spirit Points slowly regenerate on their own and the speed at which they are regained increases as you gain more believers and their piety. Note that believers don't have to be in your tribe! Neighbouring tribes and those who you have manifested in sight of may also start worshipping a player, after all, you are a god.

Gaining of Skills and Passing of Knowledge

Something we're very proud of at Flintlock Studios is the knowledge system we're implementing in Lithic, as it combines our obsession with perma-death with realistic game systems. It's relatively complex, so I'll do my best to explain it here and answer any questions about it on the forum.

Knowledge is a personal thing in Lithic, instead of a tribe learning through a typical tech tree which holds knowledge available to all members every individual has their own individual set of skills which they have learned and developed. If a tribe member dies, their individual knowledge is lost with them. This creates a need for the player to ensure that these skills are communicated to other tribe members, through teaching, or watching. Once a character has learned a skill from another they can develop it on their own, adding to the knowledge which they can then pass on to others.

The way skills are originally discovered is through something we currently call “eureka moments”. Eureka moments occur when a character has a moment of clarity in their current task and comes up with a way of completing a task more effectively. This normally takes the form of a new tool or method. These new tools and methods are then honed and refined as they are further used. A quick example of this in action:

A tribesman is out collecting thin branches for firewood, the tool he is using is a flint hand-axe. He has a moment of clarity (Eureka moment) where he realises that if his tool was thinner it would cut deeper. He then knaps his tool to make it do so and discovers that it does indeed work more effectively. He now has inadvertently discovered a new tool for the job of wood cutting. This knowledge is passed throughout the tribe: “thin tools for cutting wood”. This knowledge lives on and is further expanded on by other tribe members over time, adding serrated edges for sawing tough branches and handled axes used for chopping wood. However had he not had this eureka moment, the tribe may not have developed these other important tools until a much later period.

You can see from the above example how important it is to pass knowledge on, the communication of skills and by expansion the development of language are the driving heart of Lithic and what we feel will play a huge part in the Lithic experience.

Game Aims

A few people have asked about the scope of Lithic's storyline and whilst I'm not at liberty to disclose massive story spoilers at this point, I can talk briefly about the overarching setting, story and the game goal.

As you have probably read, the story follows a Creator Spirit guiding a tribe to a point of cultural and technological ability where they can asset the Spirit in returning to the ethereal plane. The goal of the game is exactly this, to reach that point of knowledge. There are intricacies to the story which will be touched on at another time, each adding depth and another challenge to overcome. Technologically, the game ends at around the point mankind reached on Earth just before the first metalworking methods were developed.

Storyline vs Sandbox

Lithic has both a story campaign and a sandbox skirmish mode. Story mode tells the tale of a Creator Spirit's struggle to reach his goal and we feel that giving players a little (well, big) something to extend play value outside of the campaign. So, we're including a sandbox mode where the game world is randomly generated, along with encounters and events which remain persistent and develop as you play. There is no defined “end” to skirmish mode, allowing you to potentially survive and develop a tribe indefinitely. It is one of our prime aims to build a world where players can spend literally hundreds of hours expanding their Spirit's influence, growing their tribe and developing advanced stone technology.

We welcome all thoughts on what we have planned so please head over to our Forum and let us know if you have any comments or questions.