Updated 20130425 23:17BST - v0.26
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In Chronicle of Mars you play as Dana Roberts, a young Lieutenant in the security service of the Candor Mining Union, operating out of Candor Chasma on Mars.
Events come to a head when the CEO of the company is assassinated on the cusp of introducing a bold new benefits package for workers in the CMU's mines - before long, Dana is pulled in different directions by her sense of duty and loyalty, the requests of her superiors, and the machinations of the government of Mars.
Some other characters from the game, all drawn by the talented Ren, who makes the following statement of intent:
(Which is somewhat undermined by the fact that in Martian terms, our protagonist up there is a grand 13 years old.)Ren wrote:More noses, more wrinkles and more beards: people over the age of 16 can be attractive too!
Over the course of the first act you'll be required to make several decisions - some more easy than others - which will determine Dana's course through events and ultimately, the fate of hundreds of thousands of citizens of Mars. But I dislike the black and white "rescue the orphan or drown the kittens" morality of a lot of games, and I think that presenting each and every choice as a "do you want to do this or that" to the user is a bit demeaning and detracts from player agency. So I've tried to do something a bit different; few of the players choices are presented as choices, and your actions speak louder than your intentions.
Of course, there's also an SRPG battle game in here, complete with experience and levelling and equipment-shopping and a variety of enemies over a variety of battlefields. You may want to stop by the in-game Marspaedia to read about the system in the Combat section, to get a heads-up before you start; there's no in-game tutorial, although the game does ease you in somewhat gently.
In keeping with the presentation of the game part of the game, I've gone for dialogue scenes featuring the same sprites as used in battles, rather than traditional VN big-screen-filling-character-sprite scenes.
- The UI still has a couple of rough edges, particularly around save/load, since I've not customised all the screens yet; that'll happen in due course, but it's non-essential so for now it's just a bit rough.
- Saving and loading can take a few seconds just because of the sheer amount of data that Ren'Py serializes. It's partly unnecessary, and I'll work through pruning some more of it for the next release, but partly it's necessary - all that experience data for different characters and so on can't just be thrown away. The replacement save/load screens should have a nice "saving, please wait" message or something, at least.
- The AI is basically on easy mode, just because the generic AI for my battle engine was originally aimed at melee characters, and ranged combat isn't its forte. I know what I need to do to improve it, but it's not an urgent task for me right now.
- Click-and-dragging to pan the battlefield needs more work... but again, it's functional enough to play the game, so it's not an absolute priority.
- If you just want to play around with the battle system, there's a couple of set-piece battles accessible from the first menu in the game; these originated as balance-test battles during development.
- If your PC has rubbish graphics drivers or it's really old, there's a chance it may not be able to draw everything at a decent framerate. If this happens, odds are it's thanks to the in-game scanline effect (which is totally anachronistic, but I like it)... sorry, but I ran out of time to add a prefs option to turn it on and off. When I do a release with an updated UI, that'll be an option.
- Bonus points awarded to anyone who can spot the historical scenario the story is loosely based on from the first act. ;-)