This minigame tests theory of mind and detection of embedded figures.
You are a covert operative for the World Space Initiative. The Order of Orion is attacking merchants carrying WSI payloads, stealing their cargo, and stashing the goods on various planets. Your mission is to spy on these raiders to intercept their attacks and recoup as much WSI property as possible.
Save as many merchant vessels and WSI cargo as possible.
Bobcat B-3 Interceptor: A small ship outfitted with nearly infallable cloaking devices and devastating ion cannons capable of taking out ships as big as frigates before they get a chance to respond. Though it excels in firepower, it lacks in defenses forcing it to rely on guerilla tactics.
Merchant Vessels: Various merchants that ferry goods throughout the solar system. Those carrying WSI goods are targets of OoO raiders. Some merchants are armed and can repel attacks from smaller ships, while others are completely vulnerable.
Raiders: Various OoO pirates target merchants under WSI contracts. Pirate ships range in size and firebpower from fighter to capital.
Payload: Ships can carry payloads and deposit them on planets. The OoO is stealing WSI payloads and hiding them on planets to be picked up by other OoO operatives at a later date.
Planets: Merchants can launch from or land on planets. Planets can also hold payloads.
Wormhole: There is only one wormhole in each solar system. Ships use this wormhole to enter or leave the solar system.
This game is divided into 2 phases. The main phase is the navigation phase. That phase transitions to the hacking phase, and then back to the navigation phase. The game ends in the navigation phase.
The player is presented with a large map of a randomly generated solar system. All ships are represented by a small icon. Initially, only the player's ship and any nearby ships are visible. From that point, any ships that enter within the player's radar range become visible. Once visible, any contact remains visibile until it is killed, stealths, or leaves the solar system.
Clicking on a ship, planet, or area of open space brings up a small context menu with the available actions. Clicking on a menu item activates that action. Actions include (sorted by ship clicked on):
-Toggle Cloak Turns the B-24's cloaking device on or off. Cloaking halves its speed. The cloaked B-24 still has a small chance of being discovered by nearby ships.
-Scanner Sweep Pings the nearby area revealing stealthed ships within the player's radar range.
-Chaff Drops a cloud of magnetic particles that confuses enemy radar for a short time.
-Move Moves to the raider's location.
-Stalk Follow that ship and listen to any incoming or outgoing communications. If an encrypted comm is sniffed, the game transitions to the hacking phase. After decryption or sniffing an unencrypted comm, a short cutscene plays, revealing information about some ship's upcoming action. This could mean clueing the player in to the location of a ship, any payloads in ships' cargo bays, or the hiding place of a payload.
-Attack Fire on that ship. Doing so brings the attacker out of stealth. Any ship that is attacked and survives automatically returns fire. If both ships are alive at that point, the victor is determined by the following hierarchy: Bobcat > OoO Raider > Merchant. If the destroyed raider was carrying a WSI payload, the player automatically recoups it.
-Move Move to the merchant's location.
-Escort Follow that ship and pre-emptively attack any ship that attacks it.
-Stalk Same as OoO Raider.
-Move Move to the planet's location.
-Scan Search the planet for any stashed payloads.
-Hide Land on the planet and hide. If any raiders deposit payloads on that planet, the B-24 automatically intercepts them. While hiding, the B-24 is completely undetectable. Also, the player can destroy any pirate that lands on or searches that planet, regardless of their size.
-Move Move to the location in space.
These actions occur in realtime. The raiders and merchants have a preset course of action that is randomly generated at the beginning of the game. These scripted actions should take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.
For example, say a game is created with planets A and B, merchant M, and raiders P and R. M generates a schedule of launching from planet A (with a WSI payload) at :15 to planet B, and then to the wormhole. Raiders P and R will randomly fly around until they find the player, a merchant, or get a comm. Say P finds M. Since M is carrying a WSI payload, P broadcasts to all other raiders that M is at location (X,Y) and sets a course for that location. The AI carries on in this manner until all merchants and raiders are destroyed or go through the wormhole. At that point, the game ends.
Although the pirates are on the same team, they are each trying to steal the most for themselves. Therefore, some pirates will move payloads without informing other pirates. Also, raiders will deviate from their scripts if they discover the player. When discovered, a raider broadcasts the player's location and all pirates move to that location. If the player escapes detection (via chaff, destroying its pursuer, or outrunning its pursuer) then all raiders resume their scripted actions. Raiders will always attack the player if they can detect it and are within range, even if they are outgunned.
Encrypted comms are represented by shapes that flow from the left to the right of the screen, somewhat akin to the Matrix. The bottom of the game screen houses the screen of the Snifftron ST3, a device that hackers use to decrypt data.
In a manner very similar to traditional EFT tests, the ST3 generates an abstract shape and displays it on its screen. As the data stream flows across the top of the game screen, random shapes pop out and appear in the center of the data stream. If this large shape contains the simpler shape displayed on the ST3, then the player should press spacebar before the trial expires. If this happens, the player successfully "filters" the data stream. The player can only fail this process (either by not pressing spacebar on a match or pressing spacebar on a non-match) 3 times before the connection is lost and the message is lost.
If the player filters the data successfully enough times, then the comm is decrypted and a small cutscene plays before returning to the navigation screen. If the player is unsuccessful, then they return to the navigation screen with no cutscene.
The large shapes are generated according the figure below. Generating smaller shapes that are embedded in the large shapes can easily be done by connecting the dots along edge connections.
Players are scored in three categories. WSI payloads protected, WSI payloads recouped, and WSI payloads stolen. Protected payloads are worth twice as much as recouped payloads, and stolen payloads are worth the same magnitude as protected payloads but are deducted from the player's reward.
Each "payload point" is awarded some amount of cash, which will be adjusted in playtesting.
Bonus resources can also be collected when OoO ships are destroyed.