Shedding Skin

Ever since Scout’s Journey found itself no longer being Remake Quake, but still running on the same crack fuel, a couple elephants started collecting dust in the room. I’m going to point them out and lose a few words about how things are changing.

Levels: Thematic Setpieces

  • Much of the RMQ maps’ layouts was a carbon copy of Quake. This is worse in older maps; where SJ is concerned, ex-e1m2rq (Castle of the Damned remake) and ex-e1m6rq (Door to Chthon remake) are the biggest problem children. These layouts have become obstacles in some cases.
  • It was decided long ago that e1m6rq would be broken up and assembled into a new SJ map05 around a completely new, non-Remake core setpiece. Due to new ideas about SJ’s “critters”, there might be a biological or bio-mechanical theme creeping in.
  • I have now come to the conclusion that the same needs to be done with e1m2rq. I will keep everything that was rightfully praised about that map and arrange it around a new, SJ-unique core. That core will be of a Pagan Temple kind of nature, in the dragon head-decorated style that was already established in the old remake. The underlying theme won’t change, only the temple will become the focus and the rest will, again, be rearranged as neded to become SJ map02.
  • The other three maps (Herd base, Order Fortress, and the Underworld bridges level) already have such a setpiece-focused structure, because I deviated from Quake very early and thoroughly in those cases.
  • Levels are no longer clearly divided into cut-and-dried thematic categories such as “base or medieval”. In SJ, worlds intersect, their inhabitants interact, and so may their architectural styles. You’re not going to see fortresses with satellite dishes on top; the changes will be more organic and subtle.

Stand alone: Cut the cord

  • It’s officially the plan now to drop dependence on any and all id Software assets; Scout’s Journey is no longer related to Quake in any way, shape or form besides inspiration and homage. SJ will likely go completely standalone.

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Characters: Groups and Factions

  • There are only two enemy factions remaining; the former-human “Herd” and the Inquisition-like “Order”. The Herd will largely retain its RMQ-period makeup as a group of commando troops converted into a hardcore fundamentalist religious cult. Any RMQ-period ideas referring to knights and other medieval stuff have been assimilated into the Order faction – an age-old, strictly hierarchical, monotheistic group of sci-fi crusaders. Consequently there will only be two types of Sentinels instead of three; a Herd sentinel and an Order sentinel that serve as roaming surveillance units and entry points for heavier units.
  • Herd and Order will collaborate against the player despite internal competition. The Order is fiercely committed to conquering, while some Herd elements might remember more of their human past than others.
  • Earlier ideas about a (Remake) Quake “Ogre” faction or an Ogre-resembling Tribal faction have been abandoned. In its place, there will be a fundamentally neutral group of various tribal elements, not unlike Unreal’s Nali. The members of this inofficial “third faction” might be neutral, hostile or friendly, depending on circumstances. Friend and foe are no longer so clear-cut in Scout’s Journey; instead the various groups might now have interests. Think of “the tribals” as the fat around the borders.
  • A fourth group subsummizes all kinds of creatures (was “monsters” in Quake / RMQ). These will have their own group identity. Creatures will be nominally neutral, although subject to mistreatment by other groups and hence commonly vengeful. There is a bunch of ideas regarding the true identity and capabilities of the “critters” that I’m not yet ready to reveal.

Gods: The Supernatural

  • There are no more Shub-Niggurath or Lovecraftian Elder Gods in SJ. There are, however, supernatural entities (fictional ones, of course) with their own agendas; all groups or factions in the world will somehow relate to them. The player (Scout) will encounter them, as well, and will have to develop an attitude towards them. Some will be friendly, others tyrannic, and this usually extends to their followers.
  • Level setpieces might relate strongly to a certain faction or deity, such as a human base occupied by the Herd, a stronghold of the Order, a dimensional High Altar, a temple occupied by forces of a rival deity, and so forth.

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Roleplaying: XP, stats and character development

  • The RPG elements of the game will be more comparable to STALKER than to Borderlands. There will be no XP or “leveling up”. Character development happens more by way of equipped items and a new stat that increases over time, with subtle effects on most elements of the game.
  • There are quests, traders and “facilities”.
  • SJ uses FTE’s hub system, recently also used by gnounc’s “Quakelands” mod (does Schism also use this? no idea), to let the player travel freely around the world. Combat difficulty and loot quality will incrementally auto-adjust to the player’s stats. Loot and quest items will be located around the periphery of the levels, while facilities will be central and frequently revisited.
  • There is no class system or anything like it; Scout is the sole protagonist but can be developed into different directions if the player so desires.
  • There might not be any skill settings; the game might just auto-adjust. So much is already down to the player’s actions (you should be able to largely avoid combat, for instance). We’ll see.
  • Scout will undergo a key transformation around the middle of the game, changing both the game world (faction/deity landscape) and the player character. At this point, the player will gain a “special skill” (earlier pictured as “demonic abilities”) that will be further affected and expanded by the player’s stats. Scout should be able to do very unusual things by the end of the game; at least one of the levels might reflect these unusual skills in its design. Apart from the special skill, there will be no “skill trees” and no manual “skilling” of the character. Think of it as auto-skilling in accordance with the game’s events, items collected and time spent in the game.
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