6 min read

A Closer Look 🔬 at Null State (Triple Eye Prototype #2)

This one shows you how you'll play Null State (our near-future, near-dystopian cyberfolk RPG). It covers character creation, initial conversations, and a full playthrough of a job.

Thanks for being with us again in 2023!

Hello, friend! My name's Lucas, and I am the owner/operator of Triple Eye Games! I'm happy to be writing to you again, continuing to bring you news about my team's work - this time, I'll be telling you about our progress in November 2023!

In the last newsletter, I told you about how we tell stories in the Null Sweat Prototype. Since then, we've changed the game's name and dropped the "Prototype" moniker. While the game is not ready to ship just yet, I think we're far enough along in development now that I can admit (to you, and maybe moreso to myself) that it's not really a prototype anymore!

I'm excited to show you where things stand currently with Null State - so let's get rolling!

A Closer Look at Null State

The Circumstances

Null State is a near-future, near-dystopian RPG in which you play as a curious, conscientious, and creative hacker.

Although you start with meager means and a limited network of allies, over the course of the game your decisions and actions will build (or destroy) connections to other characters across a variety of social circumstances. By talking to others, gaining their trust, and helping them achieve their goals, you can develop a community of people who work together to make the world a better place.

You will also develop your tools and capabilities over time; as you improve, however, the kinds of jobs you're asked to do will become more complicated, with greater risks (and greater rewards). Everything will (of course) lead up to a dramatic conclusion... assuming you don't crash & burn before then!

The Gameplay Overview

Each day, you will contact (or be contacted by) various NPCs who need some work done. It will be up to you to decide what jobs you take, and what jobs you leave on the table. After you accept a job, though, there will be a series of tasks which need to be accomplished in a limited amount of time.

Since you play a hacker in Null State, it's worth mentioning: almost everything you're tasked to do will require infiltration into a (potentially) hostile network.

Networks are made up of a collection of nodes, and are often protected by IC (intrusion countermeasures -- software that passively guards nodes within a network) and AV (anti-virus -- software which actively patrols a network, looking for problems).

Hopefully you've managed to keep the security systems quiet and no one has been alerted to your presence; if that's the case, then you sneak out the way you snuck in, and you're golden! If you've "gone loud", however... well, there's usually a consequence to pay.

The Caveat!

Please be kind with me as you continue reading - everything below this line is still a work in progress. We know we still have more work to do - especially on the art side - before this is more generally sharable. Thank you for taking time out of your day to continue on & take a look, even knowing that what you're seeing isn't final!

Chapter Zero - Character Creation Flow

In Null State, you customize your character before you play. Name, Online Handle, Gender, Profile Pic, and Character Background are all required information before you start, and will change how the other characters in the game interact with you.

For example, some folks who know you well might call you by your name, whereas people who only know you from your exploits may initially refer to you by your handle. In other circumstances, a character may already know you a bit if you'd worked together previously (as part of your character's background story).

First Conversation - Your Mentor, Sid, Introduces Himself

We're still working on how, exactly, the player tutorial will function (we'll have a playtesting round in the near future focused specifically on the topic!).

We know, though, that your mentor, Sid - the local conspiracy theorist, anarchist, and junk-shop owner - needs to be at the center of that experience.

For the moment, your first full conversation with Sid happens after you've already failed a job Sid sent you on. He's willing to give you a second chance (though we'll also offer seasoned players an opt-out path here).

First Job - Pickup at the Drop Point

The first task Sid sends you on is an honest milk run: go pick up some fresh software from his Drop Spot network.

The network has no security, and contains only the stuff Sid tells you will be there: some ware you'll need later in the tutorial.

This section should teach you a bit about 1) navigating Null State's diagetic menus, 2) accessing networks & nodes, and 3) downloading Important Things from a network.

Second Conversation - Sid Reads the News

Once you've picked up your new gear, Sid wants to chat with you again.

He's offering you another milk run: there's a news article he wants you to update because he's noticed it has some facts wrong.

If you press the topic, he'll start to tell you some of his conspiracy theories - which, in turn, gives you a first glimpse into why I keep calling this game's world a near-dystopia. :)

However, if you don't care about backstory, you can also just blindly charge forward & accept the job!

Second Job - Making the News

The second task takes you through two networks: first, you'll need to go back to the Drop Spot to download the data you'll need to update the news article. After you've got the update in your inventory, you'll need to leave the Drop Spot network, then log into the local news network.

Once there, you'll again find little security standing in your way; locate the appropriate node (a data store), upload the new article, and you can be on your way.

Third Conversation - Sid Might Be an Unreliable Mentor

The last step of the tutorial tosses you right into the thick of things as Sid asks you for one last favor: go crash the central processor for a local shopping mall's network.

Again, you can press Sid to understand why he wants this done. His explanation won't make a lot of sense, however - if you've not done anything yet to damage your relationship with him - he won't hold back.

If, however, Sid has any reason to trust you less (e.g. - if you've argued with him or somehow failed any of his jobs so far), he won't be as willing to chit chat. He'll just tell you to get the job done, and hang up on you.

From a storytelling perspective, we REALLY want it to be clear to the player: Sid might not be the best mentor in the world. For a first-time player, though, he will be their lifeline & guide through our strange new world.

Third Job - Hack the Planet

The third and final task of the tutorial takes you into a secured network, where you will be required to evade detection and - when that inevitably fails - fight your way through a more and more aggressive security force until finally achieving your goal: crash the net.

Once the shopping mall's network is down - with results unknown - the tutorial will be over.

Whether you finished the whole tutorial or opted out earlier, you will now be introduced to other characters. From this point onward, your decisions matter and will shape the course of human history (in the future)!

(up next) Hey, What's Happened to Gumshoe Prototype?

That's a great question, and thanks for asking!

Gumshoe Prototype development is still underway by another part of the Triple Eye team: Alasdair & Athena have been working together to evolve the visual style of the game, plus figure out how to make it as extensible as we'll need it to be -- in order to tell the stories we want to tell.

I tell you what: next newsletter, I'll share some updates on how that project is going, plus talk a little biz with you vis-a-vis the Triple Eye Production Plan for 2024! How does that sound?

I hope you're looking forward to it; until then, how about you drop me a line and let me know what you think these different programs do (from the Null State taskbar).