Movement and perception:
Exalted Seracthon required a custom 3rd / 1st person controller that handles in similar manner to the Elder Scrolls games. While the camera can pivot around, it will follow the character during movement, so it is not a purely 3rd person experience. This was chosen to encourage immersion rather than detachment from the character, and because the main advantage of a 3rd person perspective is combat awareness, which is not the primary activity in Exalted Seracthon.
A significant degree of camera control is left to the player to manage – I wanted to avoid constant cinematic interruptions for the sake of arcade style handling, and make things more deliberate. If you want to look over the shoulder, you can toggle that at will. If you prefer 1st person, or want to zoom in, you can put yourself in that view mode, and come out of it when you want to.
Because the game is well suited to casual play, it was designed for keyboard and mouse. Many avid PC gamers use controllers, but there a great many who do not – and in fact, a great many who abandoned PC gaming because it became so commercial, and so intense. It was a design goal for this game to reach some of those people, and ensure that their default PC was all they would ever need. In the future, controller compatibility may be added, but it was not during the initial launch.
Movement uses standard WASD directional keys, and several other common keys for jumping, rolling, toggling crouch, and so on. Other keys for movement and special commands are enabled as states change, such as in zero gravity environments, or while piloting. The hud is kept as open as possible, with character vitals displayed in the lower right, equipped gear in the lower left, and power charge on the upper left.
The player’s character is a genetic mutant – a ‘customized’ humanoid created by designers in a lab to perform specific tasks in space. The player can create their mutant during the startup cut-scenes, and there are a variety of sliders for body type and facial features. Players can select a skin and eye type, which are mainly for aesthetic and roleplay purposes, and can indicate genetic traits, implants, or adaptations. Hair, ears, and tails can also be selected, and colored as desired.
Once appearance is set up, the player can modify their personal attributes, choose a name, and start the game. Attributes affect certain actions in the game – although the primary attribute is Intuition (your mutant is a psychic), you can allocate points to others as well, if you would like them to have some talent in other activities.
Items and gear:
Characters have a personal inventory they can manage, and will acquire items during the game. Because they’re not a physically conditioned warrior, there is a fairly low weight limit. There are also only a certain number of slots per item type, to reflect the limited capacity and means for carrying many things at once (no bags of holding). They will also have the means to record information and refer back to it during their adventure, as they talk to others, and discover new things.
The character may have one or more weapon, but their most valuable assets will be their Psions – foci through which they manifest their psychic abilities. These abilities will likely be different than what players might expect, however they will be very effective if understood and used in appropriate situations.
Lastly, the character will possess their own ship, and will be able to either pilot or navigate it (but not both at once). These kinds of ships use anti-gravity and ion drive propulsion, but can also engage two additional methods of travel: Blue-shift, which is a near-light speed jump for interplanetary travel, and Warp, which pushes the starship into another dimension from which it can re-emerge into the physical universe at an extremely distant point.
Actions and abilities
The game occurs in real-time – you cannot pause in mid-action and have a picnic. Adventure is dangerous, but not necessarily because of injuries. If you are struck down, you will awaken in a medical bay. However, not all defeats are recoverable – there are some rare situations in which the player’s life can be permanently ended, or they may become trapped with no way to continue their journey. For more details on risks and hazards, please check the game’s manual.
Items and abilities can be slotted and swapped out and then used during play. Some situations may require specific keys, tools, or devices, and not all weapons are created equal. Some actions will use up vitals such as Life or Energy (the equivalents of stamina and mana respectively), and your health can fluctuate based on injuries and the application of medical attention or other recovery methods.
Skills have been rendered into a more organic experience, so you won’t see them as numbers or values you can play with. Character attributes will operate in the background – a high Strength will make you stronger, and apply to things that require might, but you won’t have any ‘strength skills’ you will need to activate. The benefits of a higher attribute will be noticeable, but this is not a mechanics-heavy game where attributes will make or break your survival – being good at navigating or good at piloting draw upon two different traits, so those who like to ‘build’ their characters may want to consider this early on.
Exalted Seracthon will put your character in many different kinds of environments – aside from earth-like areas with natural or artificial gravity, there will also be zero-gravity environments, which can be experienced directly in a space suit, or from inside a ship. There may be areas that are underwater, in alien conditions of variable gravity or atmosphere, and completely non-physical environments with rules of their own. Being unaware of such conditions, or the means to survive in them can result in a premature death – but mage archetype should always be thinking ahead and choosing their actions wisely..
The initial chapter of the game will provide as much tutorial as possible, but the rest of the game will be a kind of exploration, and will test a player’s wits more than their reflexes.