Synthesis Framework and Adversary System
This is the first article about the mechanics of our game, but I don’t want to bore you with the story of its inception: that’s for the memoirs! Let’s go cold open.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is a massive game. You will wage war with gargantuan monsters on dozens of varied battlefields. Onboard the mighty Argo, you journey over vast distances to remote locations of Hellas and beyond. You will develop a multi-tiered tech tree and produce dozens of weapons, upgrades, advancements and facilities. You will go on multi-level adventures, engage in diplomacy and espionage and try to solve the mysteries of the world before it is too late.
Basically, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is more than one game. It’s got tactical battles. It’s got global level strategy and economy. It’s got a gigantic branching narrative. It’s got boards, maps, figures and tokens and over a 1000 of cards.
What we wanted, was to make a single game. That’s how we developed the Synthesis Framework. It’s a master system of sorts that informs all our mechanics-related decisions, anchors them to common denominators. In short, the Synthesis Framework brings all the disparate systems together and interlinks them, so they make a grander whole. Worthy of a Greek Epic!
The Adversary System is an example of this philosophy. Adversaries are a special type of recurring enemy, singular or plural, with their own story running parallel to whichever campaign cycle you’re currently playing. Some of those enemies are giant monsters, some are groups, organizations or entire armies. Some show up in a specific setting, some can show up in different cycles (the Hermesian Pursuer , for example, can pop up in the Truth of the Labyrinth cycle or the Pitiless of the Sun cycle).
When you introduce the Hermesian Pursuer to your games, you get 2 miniatures, one for tactical battles (a gaunt giant on a 60mm base we can’t wait to share with you!) and one for the strategic layer. The Hermesian Pursuer will PURSUE AND HARROW you on the world map. He’s got two sets of AIs, one of which governs its reactions to your strategic and economic decisions.
For example, the Hermesian Pursuer doesn’t like it when you research the Eschaton and other Primordials, he also doesn’t like it when you show signs of growing power or recruit forsaken priests. He will punish you for those things, indirectly and directly. His presence will provide modifiers and options for you to consider, even going so far as to influence the battlefields of other monsters.
And when you finally go to battle with him, be warned. He’s not really there to simply fight you, he’s there to cripple your operations permanently and end your Odyssey. Some of his attacks will be aimed at your Titans, but others will target the Argo or force you into unwanted story branches!
We really want you to look forward to the next thing. When you’re on the Strategic Level, you’ll be considering how your decisions influence the tactical battles and adventures, on adventures you’ll eagerly anticipate how the stories connect with the battles, your character progress and your economic outlook. When in battle, you will have to carefully weigh the needs of the few (your Titans in battle) and the needs of the many (the Argo).
The Synthesis Framework will allow you to be in control and make informed decisions throughout the whole experience. It’s here to help you. And you’ll need all the help you can get, because the game will fight back - and it won’t be pulling any punches either!
How it all ties together
As the name implies, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey will be a game about epic journeys and the adventures and struggles along the way. But it will also be about managing a ship and a crew, and battling gigantic monsters with equally impressive titans! So, in a way, it’s three games in one: a narrative-driven adventure, a strategy civ-building game and a tactical battle. We put a lot of effort into connecting all the systems between these three layers into a seamless experience.
The voyage takes place on an evolving, explorable map. The map is made of tiles, each providing you with a plethora of additional information, like available resources, faction presence, settlements, story leads and new locations. Like a Metroidvania-style video game, some parts of the maps will be cut-off until you research the appropriate technology or find a way in. Like a good RPG, some places are optional, hiding great challenges and great rewards. Oh, and each cycle (campaign) has its own unique map.
During the voyage, you’ll move the Argo, gather resources, research technology, ‘create’ and train titans, manufacture gear and ship facilities, interact with other factions and try to move the overall story along. Because time waits for no man, the forces of evil have their own timetable. Each time you travel, the clock advances and so do your opponents. The game gets harder and the world slowly changes and becomes more hostile.
Wherever you go, you’ll find dangerous and exotic locations. To further the plot, gain resources or an advantage in battle, or simply to survive, you’ll have to venture into those locations with a party of Argonauts. Some of these will be quick affairs, while others may start whole quest chains or influence the Voyage map.
Equally important, the Argonauts sent on adventures may recall something familiar, something that connects with their Mnemos (lingering memories of a past life), which, in turn, may lead them to develop their personal stories and abilities or even influence the setup and rules of the upcoming battle. Story-wise, the Mnemos themselves are just vague recollections, so their outcome may vary from game to game, adding to the tension and replayability.
Some of the battles will be expected, while others will take you by surprise. The battles take place on a separate board, its layout influenced by the Primordial you’re fighting, the locations you’ve visited and the advantages provided by your technologies and Argonauts. The Argo, though not present on the board, will serve as backup, supporting the Titans with suppressive fire or influencing their behavior by manipulating their antikratos equations.
The outcome of the battle with impact the Titans (some may die or get permanently injured), the Argonauts (by exploring or activating their Mnemos), the Argo (your resources, crew and hull integrity) and even the world itself (for example, some Primordials may permanently destroy locations or map tiles!).
The flow of the game
All this means that, unlike most adventure-type games, in Aeon Trespass: Odyssey you’ll be constantly doing something different, repetition is simply not the name of the game.
You’ll journey across Greece, trying to defy your enemies by uncovering their plans and foiling them. Your voyages will influence the types of adventures your Argonauts are going to have and these will shape their destinies and the coming battles. Each subsequent battle will be harder, forcing you to explore more, to gather more and more resources and, more importantly, develop new technologies and strategies to cope with the new powers of the Primordials.
You’ll be constantly haunted by your greatest adversary: time. You’ll be forced to make tough decisions and trade-offs, as you won’t be able to visit every part of the map or research every technology. As your progress will carry from cycle to cycle, your decisions in a previous campaign may very well come back to bite you in the… you know what.