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Author Topic: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Development probably abandoned.  (Read 38492 times)

puke

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #480 on: June 26, 2014, 07:02:54 pm »

I'll throw down for the Early Access, whenever that's available.  I didn't get in on the kickstarter, but I wouldn't mind paying to see some of the early builds of this.  Sounds super neat, and I love to watch the development of concepts like this.

I'm actually more interested in watching how it takes shape, than actually playing the game.  I think I spend more time reading about game design and looking at how the lessons can be applied to other endeavors, and almost no time actually playing games.

Case in point, the Cogmind devblog is one of my favorite things.
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hemmingjay

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #481 on: June 26, 2014, 07:42:39 pm »


Case in point, the Cogmind devblog is one of my favorite things.

That's the name of my studio   8)
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EuchreJack

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #482 on: June 28, 2014, 12:40:52 am »

I'll throw down for the Early Access, whenever that's available.  I didn't get in on the kickstarter, but I wouldn't mind paying to see some of the early builds of this.  Sounds super neat, and I love to watch the development of concepts like this.

Not getting in on the Kickstarter for this game is perhaps one of my biggest regrets in gaming.  Definitely interesting in any sort of Early Access!
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puke

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #483 on: October 02, 2014, 10:47:38 am »

This thing seems to have gone pretty dark after the clised testing started.  Where are any blog updates or news of progress?

The kickstarter comments suggest it might have lost momentum and died :(
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nenjin

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #484 on: October 02, 2014, 11:19:42 am »

He posted a (non-game) related update on their FB page at the beginning of September.

But yeah, my sense is that he's gotten lost down a rabbit hole of code rewrites. I haven't questioned or criticized it yet because, when you're down already, forumites taking pot shots at you doesn't help. That said, i'm starting to wonder if this is the first successful Kickstarter I've backed that may not actually complete its product.
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Retropunch

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #485 on: October 02, 2014, 11:25:49 am »

He posted a (non-game) related update on their FB page at the beginning of September.

But yeah, my sense is that he's gotten lost down a rabbit hole of code rewrites. I haven't questioned or criticized it yet because, when you're down already, forumites taking pot shots at you doesn't help. That said, i'm starting to wonder if this is the first successful Kickstarter I've backed that may not actually complete its product.
From what I've read, it seems as though it's pretty fleshed out as it is. It'd be a big shame for it not to be completed as it looks awesome, but I think worst case scenario it'll probably come out a little bit light on features.
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puke

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #486 on: October 02, 2014, 12:57:08 pm »

If he has his head down doing a major rewrite, then that is more encouraging than I thought.  It's hard being a one man developer and a PR person at the same time.
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BlindKitty

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #487 on: October 03, 2014, 02:41:16 am »

Yeah, it seems to be a little hard to follow, as he published the news in few places and apparently they are randomly chosen each time he posts. :P But the last few updates on Twitter show that he is still doing a major rewrite, as the game was starting to be too spaghetti for further development, so my guess is he is still working on that. The plan after Kickstarter was to spend the money to live in one room and write code in the other, so everything seems to be going according to plan right now. :P
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ndkid

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #488 on: October 03, 2014, 07:34:33 am »

So he still hasn't reemerged since July? That's a shame. (Well, not counting his random FB link posts.)
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Neonivek

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #489 on: October 03, 2014, 07:36:58 am »

If he has his head down doing a major rewrite, then that is more encouraging than I thought.  It's hard being a one man developer and a PR person at the same time.

And some people can't even do PR as their solo job :P

*Checks on Academimagia... DANG IT!*
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sparkbolt

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #490 on: November 18, 2014, 03:19:14 pm »

Hey bay 12! So I'm still alive, still working, and yes; I've been stuck.
To sum up events:

After the last build an October, I began another contract and started working on the game and that at same time. Between the time pressures of the contract, and the slowdown from Morgan the programmer leaving, I started burning out fast trying to keep things running. When the holidays hit, I just took it as a break to recuperate my wrists and recover some sanity.
Around the new year, I began to rebuild. Looking back I realize this was a huge the mistake, but now that it's done I have a more solid foundation to work from. Still, this took way longer than I was hoping... But eventually the project had the foundation back.
Now, a big part of this rebuild was implementing new designs replacing things I saw weren't working in the original. For the most part, this went well. However things started getting clunky in march, and I couldn't quite realize why.
In April I started to redesign, trying to solve the problem with a clever solution. However, I would feel unproductive if it wasn't actively coding, so I'd often test these designs by directly building it in the project. This started my problem of bugging up the code, and was actually symptomatic of a greater problem I hadn't realized yet: I'd lost my vision of what Net Gain was supposed to be. I was fumbling around with tunnel vision, contradicting myself and constantly changing my mind. Even though I started to realize this cycle in May, it kept coming back because I hadn't figured out and addressed the root cause.
In May, I tried to focus on the action system. I had multiple problems making this, in part because I started coding before I had a solid design, and part because I was starting to confuse myself and was doubting my coding ability was up to the challenge. I made some poor coding decisions here, as the action system and broker AI got entangled while I tried to resolve both problems.
In July, I kept pounding my head against the problem and was able to get actions mostly working (with a few hard to track bugs), and separated the broker AI to focus on making actions work. I kept having problems with AI brokers either making the wrong choices, or not doing anything. I thought I figured out a solution for the problem, but implementing it only seemed to make things worse.
At this Point I was already pretty miserable. I was in pain, completely burnt out on the project, and realized I didn't really know what I was going for any more.
By the end of August, it was harder and harder to work on the project. Aside from last summer, I've been building this thing entirely by myself, alone in my room for months on end. I'm a fairly private person so it's embarrassing to say... but I'd become entirely despondent, swinging between intense, manic, desperate bouts of work trying to find my vision and think of a solution that still worked, and apathetic self-loathing where I threw away all that wasted effort because it just wasn't working. Ostensibly, this was casued by the problems with the action system and broker AI. But it was really about all of it: of losing my perspective, getting stuck in a cycle of redesign and wasted work, feeling further and further behind, and all of it just crushing my morale and sense of self worth.
In September, I started to recognize the self-destructive spiral I had been trapped in. I tried to refocus my efforts on reconnecting with Net Gain, what I wanted it to play and feel like. The literal look of the game still evaded me, as I try to balance it against what I can do in the time I have, and everything else I still have to make.
I began collecting the designs I've been making over last year, used those to flesh out a comprehensive one that felt like the best balance of what I was reaching for. I had to make some compromises to avoid the pitfalls I'd faced: the most notable one is changing how I was handling rival brokers. I had to abstract many of their actions so I could focus less on making them actually work and more on having interesting encounters with them, the part the player actually sees.
There are still some elements on the smaller scale that need to be designed, but I'm sticking with the core design for the rest of the project. No more redesigning.
My crippling embarrassment over the Summer of Failure kept me from posting about the lack of progress. I kept hoping I could get things back on track and catch up with where I felt I should be, so I could just post the next build and carry on from there... But that's not really feasible anymore. I'm glad to say that work has been improving, things feel like they're finally snapping back in place.
Lately I've been trying to get more of the screens done so that when I posted this update explaining where things have failed, at least have something to show as to the progress of the next build. However, I don't want to show anything that is just a mockup, only actually completed features. As such, I've delved back into the action system... Though it seems to be actually working this time. It's kind of hard to follow visually and I've been trying to find a GUI solution that communicates all the information clearly, but that continues to be a problem. This was the latest thing to hold me up, since I wanted to complete it to show when I made this post to the public (fb/twitter/kickstarter). I've decided to just go with what I have, and continue to focus on my core task: building a complete playable to release.
I continue to worry about the contents of the next playable build, as I know that is when most people who are following this project will return their attention to it, and I want it to be solid enough that people will be less upset about the problems and delays the project has faced so far.
So that's about where things are now. I wish I had more solid information on the next build, but it really depends on if this new design successfully avoids the the pitfalls I faced this spring, how many of the systems I can get in place within a reasonable time frame, how comfortable I am with the aesthetic and fun of the game, and when all be able to follow up that release with new content and progress.


So yeah, that's a pretty thorough summary of things. I plan on making a similar post to the rest of things soon, though I'm still hoping I can develop a few more screens to show with the update.


And responses:
I actually stopped receiving notices about posts to this forum, I'll see if they've been getting filtered to spam or such...
...
Congrats on your Steam Early Access! The Arms Dealer game definitely looks interesting. Are you part of Case In Point Studios or were they the client?
Net Gain's depth is something that will have to evolve by design. The two main vectors for this are Actions (things you can do: change targets, engage in fights) and plots (the "narrative" portion of the action: what's actually happening to do that action, what skill tests, whatchoices, consequences, etc). New actions are the most literal new gameplay, while new plots give you different contexts, events, results, interruptions, etc. Actions expand the depth through new gameplay options, and new aspect+plots expand the depth through new choices and variables to exploit, or face consequences for.


I'm trying to make the gameplay depth more about the players choices and the situations they might set up through their actions, rather than statistical depth or micromanagement that the old builds were heading towards. The problem with the "as deep as you want" design is as you say, many players will simply play at the top level and not see the depth, or players will feel bogged down by the depth they "have to" engage with to really optimize success. I want to make sure if the player is fiddling with details it's to tailor their experience, and it's not just another thing they have to keep doing to "play well".
As for feedback, yes there are the headlines in the ticker that are triggered by stuff you do, and the mechanic changes: increases in wealth, opening new options/plots, raising influence/position within the agency, etc. The most engaging feedback will be the Stories triggered by different actions/plots, since that will give tailored narrative nuggets that seem to be a direct result of your choices and can actually start a new tangent of choices.
That said, it'll still be a cool unemotional conscience removed environment! The choices and consequences presented offer no moral judgement... just the matter-of-fact results of your actions. For example, if a captured agent is presented with the choice to escape, the choices may be a bloody jailbreak (with more dire consequences if you fail), a more stealthy jailbreak (where they're more likely to just put you back in holding if you fail), or to simply stay put (perhaps you doubt the op's ability to escape, or you don't want to jeopardize the rescue operation you're already planning). You don't get any Nice Points for avoiding bloodshed, but it is easier to negotiate with someone when they don't have to pull the hard line because you left them with a pile of bodies. (mechanically, the violent plots/choices cause more reputation damage, lead to more heat, etc. Those things can in turn lead to Stories tied to low reputation and/or high heat, such as raids on your operatives.)


...I think Netgain falls into the same boat. It's why I didn't burn myself out playing the prototype, because I kind of knew it was going to make me starting doubting the premise, without all those other supporting elements. And for a game like Net Gain, the fun is in the details....not necessarily the basic gameplay loop.
I agree, which is another reason development had been so hard, and why I was doubting everything this whole year. I know I'm supposed to be able to achieve a fun game with the simplest of systems and I'm supposed to build on that, and I still think that holds true, though there is undeniably supposed to be a significant portion of that coming from the depth and interactions of all these free agents. It's like having a tamagotchi, the core gameplay of "feed" and "pet" aren't really the fun aspects of it, but ostensibly that's the core interaction mechanic.


...I'm most excited about the long term aspects of this - I think it's a difficult thing to balance...


Comments always appreciated! And don't worry about the alpha, the next time the game is actually worth playing, it'll be available on steam. It'd difficult to think of the endgame when the startgame is so piecemeal, but it's definitely kept in mind. Net Gain actually avoids leveling and incremental stat bumping stuff. The idea is success gets you more budget, options, and a few tiers of gameplay to unlock. Powerful operatives are balanced out by their high cost, and since operatives will need down time you want to save your best guys for the big important ops, while keeping teams of lesser operatives to run your listening posts and safehouses, collect intel on targets for your better ops to exploit, etc. Then the concept that as you gain more power you start to make bigger moves: taking entire companies, bringing down corps... the stuff that gets attention of the bigger conglomerates who can throw some heavy firepower your way.
When things go wrong you get a whole new set of problems to deal with, and when things go wrong on a bigger scale, those problems are proportionally more severe and require more to quell. I'll have to actually see how things work when we get there, but the idea is you'll be less concerned with making your numbers get bigger, and more concerned with getting your people all over the world, taking on bigger corps instead of just spying and stealing, running the Conspiracies (pre-written Stories that connect and can often require greater requirements than normal plots, in exchange for special results and narrative treats), and being able to fiddle with the world ("I want to stop war in the middle east. I want Kuwait to be prosperous. I want Canada to meltdown into a country of civil strife and rioting.").
And of course the mortality of the operatives mean things can always go badly if you put them out there. The broker is sort of a "choose your own risk", as it depends on how many loose threads you leave, how many failures you allow to stack up without addressing them. Mechanically the main risk to the broker is heat gained through captured operatives, or investigations into your missions that got way too public. You can divert resources to rescue/silence captured ops and clean up your trails, but that's money not spent on making more money.

And the idea of that "ARG" feel, like you're a broker who's clocking into work, is one that I'm trying hard to implement. A lot fo that will also depend on deepening the simulation for the operatives, since the broker has this sort of Voyeur quality about checking in on what they're up to, maybe fiddling with them and seeing how your choices change them or the world ("Oh, that operative that had all his allies killed got [Traumatized]. Now all he does is drink... I better do something or he'll become an [alcoholic]!" or "What does one do with a broken tool? Throw it away..." *scheme scheme scheme*) The supply of new Plots, Stories, and Conspiracies adding new content will bee a big feature in continuing the unique play outside of the simulation itself. One that I hope to open to authors to contribute. Ideally I'd be able to curate some submissions for the core game, and have a solution for players to add their own preferences such as through Steam Workshop.

The gui has changed radically, there will be feedback for you actions, and there is a board of directors! Corps have Executives with aspects that influence how the corporation acts. The Executives are Persona just like operatives, so you can change their aspects, gain influence with them, or take them out as you please. Rival corp becoming a threat? Maybe you can neuter them by taking out their [warmonger] executive (though obviously this is a risky thing to do, especially with your own corp)!

...(non-game) related update on their FB page ... my sense is that he's gotten lost down a rabbit hole of code rewrites. I haven't questioned or criticized it yet because, when you're down already, forumites taking pot shots at you doesn't help. That said, i'm starting to wonder if this is the first successful Kickstarter I've backed that may not actually complete its product.


[/size]Actually, most of those non-game updates on the FB are by Joe...  :-[ it's what he does while he waits for me to finish the plots system so he can write some plots for the game. As you guess, got stuck in the rabbit hole... along with an OD of depression and anxiety. I don't even need the usual Internet Hate Machine, since I'm pretty much already thinking those things. That said, I'm dedicated to finishing this project. Aside from a reserve for physical rewards, phone licenses, and a small bit for potential middleware, I'm running on my own funds. Even if the contracts dry up and I switch to a 9-5, I'll keep working on this project until it's done.
[/font]
[/size]

[/size]... worst case scenario it'll probably come out a little bit light on features...
The next build, definitely. On the plus side, once I actually finish the core systems, the features are easier to develop via actions and plots. Hell, I've got digital reams of docs full of them just waiting to be implemented once the core is in place.


So... while things have been dark this Summer, I'm actually pretty hopeful for the progress I've been making since. I'm still hitting a few problems and I definitely need to find a way to get a programmer to work with again, because working on this alone has definitely been the biggest detriment to my productivity and well being. That probably won't be feasible until the game is released and if it does well, but I'm starting to figure out how to keep the balance as a solo developer and figuring out how to keep myself in check and avoid these vicious cycles that I've been stuck in.


Note: Despite the picture below, save/load isn't really in yet. Right now all it does is remember your broker, but I'm hoping to at least let it save your agency and operatives, even if you have to (temporarily) set up with a new corporation while I figure out the finicky details of saving them and your active missions/plots/etc. And those notices are technically mock-up, though only because I haven't added the triggers in to actually send them. The notice system is all up and working, and the hooks will be in before the next build.


PICTURES
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Net Gain: Corporate Espionage.
Cyberpunk Espionage Strategy by Level Zero Games!

puke

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #491 on: November 18, 2014, 04:01:51 pm »

Still motivated to pay money for this thing. 

I'm actually a bit excited that it has gotten some design overhaul and will be a tighter product in the end.  I expect your next project to probably not be Net Gain 2.0, or Gross Gain or whatever, so better for me that the improvements go into this one now.

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nenjin

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Re: Net Gain: Corporate Espionage in 2043. Prototype v0.5.2 is live!
« Reply #492 on: November 18, 2014, 08:44:05 pm »

SB, I kinda figured that was the score. In a way, I regret some feedback I gave because I'm sure it fed into your doubt/anxiety loop. You listened to your backers but there's always a risk doing that, when you start deviating from the path you initially plotted for yourself.

It's all good though. Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say. I'm just glad you're back on task and you've seemed to find your motivation again. I look forward to the next build.
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If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will flame with fire.
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Knave

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Just wanted to post to say it's good to hear from you! Still really looking forward to the finished product :)
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Mephansteras

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Same here. Glad you're still working on this!
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