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BETA: Of spies, Interrogation, Forensics, Extortion, Agent Skills & VIPs

Discussion in 'Data' started by FilmBoy84, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    One of the things that comes up on chat regularly is the subject of Apocalypse's cut interrogation, spy and forensic features.

    To quote Julian Gollop on the subject:
    "Each corporation had a leader who could be tailed, arrested, interrogated or assassinated. Organisations could buy and sell buildings as their financial fortunes changed. X-Com agents could spy on other organisations to gain valuable information. A sophisticated diplomacy display allowed the player to instigate aggressive or defensive alliances with other organisations... Most of these features were implemented to some degree, but were finally stripped out due to the horrendous amount of work involved in QA and debugging."

    Many other features were also cut, and these are documented on the forums at: http://openapoc.org/threads/beta-observed-cut-functions-behaviours-items-and-units.241/

    In response to a request by @StarToad over at discord, as well as others historically, i felt it necessary to create a thread documenting my knowledge of the features as well as allow others to post details of their knowledge and ideas in the hope that these functions could be restored to Apocalypse via OpenApoc in time.

    To all who post here; where possible please include images and sources; though i recognise that given most of these functions were cut or disabled in the transition from Debug to Beta1 this may be more difficult, so where there is speculation, please make this clear, similarly with fact.

    To start the ball rolling; here's a few details of the functions known, or quoted(I.E. factually, they were in there to the degree described), as being in Apocalypse sometime during development (I'll expand with sources, images and further data as time allows):

    Cells (X-COM Facility): Still in the vanilla game and can be added by editors. Functionality was similar to the lab/workshop facilities and agents could be assigned to the cells to oversee a host of options in terms of diplomacy and subversion. This facility also allowed X-COM to hold on to agents, spies and VIPs from other organisations [Capacity of 10 plus 5 assigned agents]. X-COM could even capture civilians (though at a cost to popularity) and force them to train as new agents for X-COM; this allowed X-COM to recruit via kidnap if willing agents were not forthcoming due to organisation issues or alien control.
    upload_2018-4-4_13-28-34.png

    Advanced Alien Containment (X-COM Facility): Still in the vanilla game and can be added by editors. This facility was simply a larger version of the existing alien containment, capable of holding 3x the capacity of the smaller sibling. It was necessary to own this facility to hold the larger alien creatures such as psy-morphs and Megaspawn as well as parts of the living tissue of the City-scale Overspawn (Another cut set of missions). More critically, it was the only Alien Containment facility that allowed X-COM to barter with the Aliens, the normal facility allowed for capture of the smaller creatures, but had no capacity for forensics or interrogation of sentient aliens.
    upload_2018-4-4_13-29-7.png

    Each Organisation had a Organisation Leader/CEO: (Diablo and Cult of Sirius still have these sprites in the Vanilla Game Files, just disabled. In OpenApoc CoS has them enabled again and both the Cult Leader and other Leaders/VIPs can be seen on Temple raids) As Julian stated above, each organisation had their own leader or CEO that could be captured by X-COM in the battlescape. Typically, these would only be seen in the corporate HQs or Temples, but organisations could send them out on missions where their expert skills and premium weaponry could be utilised by the organisation. X-COM could capture them, or kill them, affecting their relations with the parent organisation accordingly.

    Each Organisation had regional leaders and VIPs: (Cult of Sirius still have these sprites in the Vanilla Game Files, just disabled. In OpenApoc CoS has them enabled again and both the Cult Leader and other Leaders/VIPs can be seen on Temple raids) See Above

    Each Organisation had dedicated spies
    : All organisations could recruit individuals with a set of skills that allowed them to operate under cover more effectively. Spies could actively assume the identity of other units as specified by the player and be sent to the buildings of other organisations to obtain information, infiltrate and influence the command structure, steal, assassinate (via battlescape "stealth" missions). The success of a spy, in all instances, was dictated by their unit stats and the player would have to be very careful in recruiting and training spies for the exact purpose X-COM intended them to be used. Spies being found or otherwise discovered in a rival organisation would severely affect relations with X-COM. Spies could also be used and exchanged in diplomacy between organisations, though this was never implemented beyond a playable "table dialogue" as far as im aware.

    All agents had an "Interrogation" skill: This skill affected how easy it was to enter interrogation/diplomacy with captured units and organisations. Similarly to the Labs/Workshop pool, the player could assign units with higher skills to the "cells" facility where they would be used to gather information.

    All agents had a "Perception" skill: This affected how much information the agent could "see" in the battle-scape or compliment "interrogation" skills in other dialogues in the cityscape. The higher an agents perception the more likely they would find forensic artefacts in missions, discover other capturable equipment in missions (a boost to the recovered kit on successful mission) and also compliment other things such as accuracy and reaction skills.

    All agents had a"Forensics" Skill: This was essential to finding all the little clues that allowed X-COM to succeed in the "One Way to Win" story arc cut from vanilla. It was used in all battlescape missions creating a chance of finding clues and artefacts that would lead to the discovery of not just one, but multiple, alien dimensions and the method to close them all down or destroy them. It could also be used to find evidence of alien infiltration of organisations and infestation of buildings as well as gain evidence for extortion and interrogation via a series of "stealth" missions. It was absolutely critical for X-COM agents to have this skill when exploring alien buildings to find their intended purpose (also missions cut from vanilla - see screen from Beta2 below) as well as the means to bring those buildings down or disable them.
    tacp_005.png

    All agents had a"Sanity" Skill: This was separate to the existing psi-abilities and present on all agents. Sanity affected an agents willpower, their ability to resist interrogation by other organisations, their ability to remain safely undercover, as well as influencing how susceptible to psi-interference the agent was. Oddly, the worse an agents sanity, the harder it was for psi-abilities to affect them directly - though this was most likely a bug or points that a more detailed psi-sanity mechanism was planned but never fully realised.

    All agents had a"Driving" Skill: Vehicles were not autonomous in early Apocalypse, every agent had a driving skill that affected how fast the vehicle could be driven, how high a chance of a crash was en-route to a destination and a host of other things such as evading fire, how successful drive-by shootings would be, and so on. Every vehicle had a box to which an agent could be assigned as a "driver". The player would generally be best putting the agent with the higher driving skill there before setting off into the cityscape.

    All agents had a"Flying" Skill: Vehicles were not autonomous in early Apocalypse, every agent had a flying skill that affected how fast the vehicle could be flown, how high a chance of a crash was en-route to a destination and a host of other things such as evading fire, accuracy of the craft, ability to make special manoeuvres, drop agents stealthily into buildings, land in the battlescape (another cut feature), and so on. Every vehicle had a box to which an agent could be assigned as a "pilot". The player would generally be best putting the agent with the higher flying skill there before setting off into the cityscape.

    Agents could "Swim": At one time Apocalypse had water, from "oceans" (as Julian Gollop put it) to small ponds, agents would have to be able to swim. How effective they were depended on other skills, but in the battlescape and stealth missions this ability was critical for traversing some obstacles. By pre-release, no oceans had appeared but some reviewers such as Al Giovetti in late 1996 (who had been granted a copy of debug) commented on the agent swimming ability:

    "Apocalypse adds many new skills, including interrogation skill, perceptive ability, biochemistry, quantum physics, forensics, engineering, sanity, driving skill, and flying skill. Another problem with the original game was the inability to move other than walk, turn, stand and run. In the new game the Silicon Graphics Incorporated rendered agents will be able to swim, crawl, jump, climb, and run in addition to the other movements."

    Agents could "Climb": Even in the literature and screens for the vanilla release, several showed agents climbing in the battlescape. This feature was cut very late in development and was essential for Stealth missions and covert operations as well as making the standard missions easier

    Agents Climbing.jpg

    That's it for now, i'll add more details, screenshots and other things relating to agent abilities, spying and interrogation as time progresses
     
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  2. makus

    makus Designer, forum admin Administrator Designer/Artist

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    WoW as always impressive work @FilmBoy84 ....
     
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  3. Legacy

    Legacy Registered

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    Wow! I knew there were a lot of features cut from the game but I wasn't aware there were this many! The scope for this game was so immense, it's no wonder so much had to be cut out. It would be incredible if some of these features could be put in the game, in particular the organization leaders and spies as it could potentially add a lot of depth. They seem to be the most promising of the cut content considering some of the files still exist within the game, though I'm sure it's not easy at all to actually get the system implemented.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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  4. makus

    makus Designer, forum admin Administrator Designer/Artist

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    true =] and then balance all this wich other
     
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  5. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    Balance and complexity were most certainly the reasons this was cut.

    Also, the level of micromanagement for early versions of Apoc was immense, combine that with an extended war due to planets (feature never realised) and multiple procedurally generated alien dimensions THAT COULD REGROW BUILDINGS AND EXPAND it would all compromise the appeal to the mass of gamers at the time as well as greatly extend development time, debugging and QA...

    In other news, dug this up from my debug notes circa 1999 - glad i added this much detail at the time as more info here about state of implementation than in my post above (will expand things accordingly as time allows):

    Advanced Cells (X-COM Facility): Purged from vanilla. The advanced cells added torture functionality to the list of available X-COM options for VIPs/Agents/Leaders/Civvies. They also included security turrets (disruptor tech) to ensure that when persons escaped, there was a means to control them. Just like the cells, advanced cells were a possible spawn point for "raiding" parties from other organisations. Holding capacity was 2.5x that of the standard cell at 25 plus a maximum of 10 agents assigned to spy duties. Presence in debug was limited, they used placeholder sprites and sprites stolen from other buildings. Colour pallette was borked. Turrets were controllable but prone to crashing the game when fired. Listed pre-requisits to researching the advanced cells were: "Disruptor Gun", "Alien Infiltration" (Or similar), "Alien Diplomacy" [Stub research with no content, at this time the alien leaders were still capable of learning human speech under the control of a queen and not the micronoids], "Advanced Alien Containment" [Suggesting the methods learnt for alien interrogation were being applied to human/sectoid parties].
     
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  6. Yataka Shimaoka

    Yataka Shimaoka Well-Known Member Tester Translator/Writer

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    Can we get more data about these other agent abilities? I'm more interested in it, specially the forensics, feels like xcom being FBI investigating stuffs
     
  7. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    Don't worry, i'll keep adding stuff when found, confirmed or recovered; sadly little is known about the final plans for forensics as the mechanism was only partially realised in debug. My notes are limited to a bit of play and conversations some 20-years ago. It is also important that i only document what was intended or what was implemented, not what we WANT to see to keep the real X-COM apocalypse vision alive for mod developers to adapt their own way for OpenApoc so i spend a lot of time cross referencing my notes.

    Essentially, the intent of forensics is already written above; agent perception, forensic, sanity, bio-chemistry, engineering and quantum physics skills all played together to allow agents to pick up on "hidden" details in the battlescape (think the infinity engine "secret"/"trap" discovery mechanism with chance of finding certain object types controlled by how good the agents skills are in each field).

    In the cityscape, what agents learnt from being placed in the buildings of other organisations was also determined by their skills. How good they were at staying "under-cover" was also controlled by those same skill-groups... If you wanted to stay undercover in a Sanctuary Clinic Hospital your agent better have good Spy/Interrogation and Biochemist skills for example... Put an agent in the hospital with poor or non-relevant skills it's unlikely they'd stay there long before being exposed and ruining relations.

    A high bio-chemist skill would mean agents were more likely to discover chemical and biological agents that gave clues to how aliens spawned, scent markers, pheromones, toxins and so forth. This could help X-COM track alien infestation and control of organisations as well as ultimately predict breeding zones and places to expect UFO drops.

    A high physics and engineering skill would allow agents to find clues that would lead to new spy-tech or traps and means to disable aliens and rival spies or agents. It's unclear if both abilities were needed in unison... In either case, these skills allowed for new mechanisms and equipment to be made available to X-COM (pending research of any clues or findings).

    A high perception skill would allow for agents to discover hidden stashes, bases or alien spawns and so on...

    All of these "clues" would have a VERY low percentage chance of discovery on most maps and you would also have to have the agent with the right skill present at that particular location and that moment in time... Over the many hundreds of missions X-COM would be expected to run, you are talking fractions of a percent chance (extremely rare) outside of the hand-crafted missions that would only appear after specific conditions were met.

    All agents had these skills in their bio, whilst dedicated scientists, spies and engineers did exist in the game (as two of those do now), you could also have agents who excelled in these areas and could also be assigned to labs/workshops/cells. How suitable an agent was for a job was entirely down to their skill-set and training... Scientists and Engineers could also fight and be assigned to craft if X-COM was desperate... There wasn't as clear cut categorising of agents as there is in vanilla.

    Again, the objects and clues would be spawned on both procedurally generated missions and hand-crafted ones at certain stages of the game. Some would lead to new research areas, others would slowly creep X-COM to the "One way to win" story arc as multiple dimensions were discovered and the technology to move between them.

    There were at least four intended endings:
    1) X-COM and Earth are destroyed
    2) X-COM and Earth are teleported into the alien dimension, stripped of resources and populations made slaves or used as food
    3) X-COM destroy the parent alien dimension, but do not discover the other dimensions they have populated, Earth appears saved, but is ultimately destroyed out of revenge when the aliens find their way back to Earth again ("False-Win" ending)
    4) X-COM destroys the parent alien dimension and either destroys or seals the other dimensions conquered by the aliens ensuring survival of the solar system and humanity... For now... ("One way to win" and the only "Good" ending)

    In vanilla, ending 1 and 2 are combined (populations destroyed with the remnants of earth being teleported into the alien dimension).
    A new ending was created for a vanilla win ("We did it! Yeeessss!")

    I do remember seeing footage of the cut videos on the web a few years back, i really must try and track them down as the above "alternate" endings were most certainly made...

    Sadly, even when i played debug most of this was NOT implemented, only attached to various files and documentation, what was implemented often used place-holders or ended in "stub" research, i.e. the designers hadn't even made a decision on where the research tree would end. You will note that even in my footage of Beta2 we hadn't got an alien dimension with the umbilical and still insisted on having X-COM use it's observation skills (though severly cut by then) to scout a building before returning home, researching it, and going back to disable it... With a branch date of June 1997 for Beta2; mere weeks before release, this is how late some decisions on the research tree and end game were being made... It's also why the "One way to win" research file is still on the vanilla release; multiple dimensions and procedurally generated maps were cut incredibly late...
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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