Who Monitors the Birds?

…or the monitors for that matter! What’s the deal with TV dinners? You’re not eating a TV! (faint applause, “Thanks everyone, goodnight!”)

As a handler in the agency you interact with your agents through softly glowing screens. You see what they see, hear what they hear. Fortunately you do not have to smell them, taste their not-so-preserved food rations, or feel them getting shot. Select which agent to control by pressing the number on their screen or using the directional-pad on a controller (all re-mappable, we are not barbarians!). You can also bring up a cursor and drag-and-drop to swap agents to different monitors if you prefer a certain arrangement.

Using the HUD you can quickly locate the direction of your agents relative to each other without needing to bring up the map. Of course it also lets you know what weapon you’ve got in your mitts and how many shots left before you need to reload. In the center it tells you if your agent (or whoever you are giving orders to) can interact with whatever it is you are looking at. You also get a stealth indicator of sorts, good for knowing approximately how hard you are to see!

On a very related note, it is getting much more difficult to shave our beards because they’ve grown so attached to us. I’ll be here all week, try the chicken nuggets.

Wrench in the Works

It’s that time again, and once more we learn about one of the agents you will find yourself in control of in Signal Ops. Wrench is a mechanical specialist. Using his lock-picking equipment he unlocks doors to provide stealthy advancement. Not only can he pick locks, but also lock doors shut to prevent enemies from overrunning your position. Got some heat coming down on you? Get your squad behind a door and lock it up. If you want to play sneaky-style then Wrench should be one of your top picks. He’s also pretty good with a shotgun in sticky situations requiring a bit of raspberry jam.

In other news we’ve been working on finalizing most of the script for the agents’ lines so we can move forward with vocal recording and get rid of a lot of the placeholder dialog you may have heard in the trailer. How does the process of writing all that dialog work? Well here is a brief summary of how it typically goes:

  • Decide on a personality for the character, scrap it and start over.
  • Worry that some of the lines might be too funny, realize that the lines aren’t funny at all.
  • Think up great lines at inconvenient times, such as right before falling asleep.
  • Long bath, no bubbles.
  • Weed out lines that don’t fit with the setting, such as “They’re making Swiss cheese out of me!” (Switzerland does not exist)
  • Accept that half the lines are going to be improvised during recording anyway.

For Love of the Gamepad

Come in and sit down. Stay a while. OK, I tricked you, there are no chairs in here. We need to have a little talk about gamepads. We’ve added gamepad support to the game. I know you and them may not have gotten along so well in the past. Hopefully you can look past your differences (what with you being 70% water and the gamepad being plastic) and work together on this.

Why would you forsake the tried and true mouse and keyboard and pick up one of those console-type thingamajigs? Here’s the thing: your friend(s) can use it to play co-op on the same computer while you tickle the ivories! You can even combine local and online co-op. That means you and your dual-analog toting pal can team up with a distance-challenged cohort for some sweet Signal Ops goodness.

Have any thoughts on the subject? We’d love to hear from you!

What’s the Frequency, Bolt?

We’re back with another weekly update! Today we talk about one of the agents you will command in Signal Ops. The Bolt agent is an electronics specialist. He operates and moves the radio to provide signal range for all of your agents. Using the Powerfinder device, he seeks out power sources to power the radio, and can also use it as a weapon to zap enemies at close range with minimal noise.

Wait, a radio? That’s right, Jimmy (your actual name may differ). In order to get those pretty pictures back to the control room you need to keep within range of a radio. The range depends on if the radio is connected to a power source or not, and how powerful that power source is. In some missions you can capture additional radios to provide signal in more areas. The range of the signal appears as a dashed line on your agents’ heads-up display.

On the gameplay front, enemies are getting much smarter and can make use of cover by leaning around corners. Previously, they could only effectively use the traditional waist-high cover as seen in every other game since the 90s. We also added a long overdue pause feature, hurrah! Till next time, amigos (your actual heritage may differ).

Mid-May Update

If you aren’t currently suffering from space madness, you may have noticed that the we’ve secretly replaced the regular website with a new extra-caffeinated version. There is now a forum where you can discuss the game with us and other visitors. In addition, you can post comments (even on this very post) to let us know what you think. Also, a little orange button (whatever that does!) is down in the corner.

Currently we are working on a mission we’ve dubbed Rebellion. It involves a standoff between two parties (neither of which you are invited to) ready to fight at the slightest provocation, and your agents who need to perform some espionage of an explosive nature behind enemy lines. It’s your call to provoke them into making Swiss cheese out of each other or try to remain undetected. One of the game mechanics we created for this mission is the ability to toss flares to mark a location for a cannon to fire at. This can be quite fun if, for example, you throw one into a building that is in your way.

Starting now, you can look forward to weekly updates as we float gracefully towards the finish line. Below are some early development screenshots from the level experimenting with our geometry explosion FX.

Signal Ops in the News

Read what the press has to say about Signal Ops!

  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun – “Blimey”
  • GamePro – “It looks like a very interesting take on a genre which can easily feel very stale.”
  • PC Gamer – “Wow. Signal Ops looks really damn cool.”
  • Kotaku – “We’re standing on the brink of a bottomless rabbit hole here, people.”
  • Cinema Blend – “Another intuitive indie game is on the way, showing yet again that you don’t need $10 million to make something original and fun looking.”