Legion303 wrote:"Story vs. arcade": STORY! Darwinia is a fantastic game on sheer gameplay alone, but the storyline really elevates it into something special.
I'm intrigued as to why people keep saying that. To me the story really didn't matter and could just as well have been left out - the setting however, was awesome. I grew fond of my Darwinians not because they were under attack by spam, but because it all looked so cute and fun when I did a fly-over of a map during a mission. When you think about it, it's basically the same appeal as SimCity/The Sims and derivatives have, but spun a little different. Plus, let's be honest, what actually was the story, beyond the spam e-mails? The travelling to different levels with different missions, the battling with the virus, the backstory of how Darwinia was created - to me that's all part of the setting, which is still very charming to me.
In the same way I think Subversion really doesn't need an elaborate storyline (although the lack of one in general might be a little weird). I'd say the Uplink formula worked fine, and is something Subversion could very well use. You start at the bottom, work yourself up in the world of heists, scout for your own missions but occasionally take on missions from 'employers' (e.g. syndicates and the like) with all the missions gradually becoming more complicated as you go along. An overarching story could very well be used, kicking in after you've gotten used to the game a little.
Another formula may be smaller story arcs that come with the more complicated missions. Let's say you scout for your own missions on your own, just for profit. These are stand-alone missions and mostly bring personal gain. Imagine that on top of that you have employers that occasionally approach you with a job. What if each job comes with multiple missions, and a story arc? Consider a job to take down a rival organisation: this means going after their assets in different ways. You can easily imagine them moving around some of their stuff after they start seeing a pattern, stealing some of your material in revenge, or when syndicates are concerned, you could even bring in an almost political factor with manhunts including jail time/murder of some top figures. Playing out a true gang war this way could be quite exciting, and the additional plus is that you can easily have overlapping stories if you take on multiple jobs at a time. You might even go as far as having conflicting missions that will have you pick the lesser of two evils.
Legion303 wrote:Complexity sliders for those of us with older systems would be nice, if this is even possible on a procedurally generated city (though Farbrausch's procedural demos run fine on my laptop, so maybe this won't be that big an issue).
As you say, procedural generation isn't an extremely intensive operation (if the algorithms are written properly) so the need is probably not extremely high. In addition, it is almost completely preparatory work, so all the calculations are done before a mission and after that it's smooth sailing.
Legion303 wrote:I would love to see more hardcore hacking challenges with bigger risks and bigger payoffs than the easier routes. Read old issues of Phrack. Connecting to a mainframe, seeing the banner, and having to research that OS's security flaws (in an in-game database so players wouldn't have to kill the immersion by tabbing over to google) would be great fun.
Definitely a good plan. Continuing the job-consisting-of-multiple-mission formula, you could seriously crank up the difficulty if each of your missions involves similar steps.