What is Hazard Pay?

Hazard Pay is an ambitious project to create a combination First/Third-Person Shooter and Real Time Strategy game in a fast-paced sci-fi setting.  Let's break it down:

The Sales Pitch

Game characters are members of a land-grab initiative called RATE: Resource Acquisition and Territorial Expansion.  Think of it as a gold-rush for the future.  Certain elements have been discovered on a cluster of distant planets that are integral to building brain-interfacing technology, thanks to a certain empathic affinity of the elements' crystalline formations.  Companies are paying top dollar for anyone who can collect and ship these elements back to earth.

The Hazard

Due to said empathic affinity, local fauna on planets where these elements can be found develop a subconscious bond with the crystals.  Collecting these elements is a particularly harsh chemical process that causes bonded critters to become wildly aggressive and attempt to reclaim any collected crystals.  Consider it "poking a hornet's nest".  This introduces the "Hazard" portion of the equation, and is why RATE provides all manner of offensive and defensive equipment to its participants.

The Pay

Collecting the element locally is just step one of the process.  The crystals are broken down by player-carried mining lasers on-site, and stored in portable canisters that detach from the laser.  The canisters then need to be brought back to any player structure equipped with a mass teleporter (every player base has a central structure that includes this function) and dropped in a hopper, letting the player then pull "The Lever" that teleports it off-world to a waiting orbital platform.  Credits are immediately funneled to the character's account in relation to how much element was turned in.

There are bonuses for reaching certain value thresholds, as it's an expensive process (consider that some stores don't let you use your credit card for purchases smaller than $5, it's kind of like that).  The more you can transmit at once, the better the pay, and the better the bonus equipment you receive (for example, at one threshold, the players get a tank along with their pay - as in the "it's got a big gun and squishes bugs under its treads" kind of tank)

So why not store up as much as possible before pushing the big cash-in button?  Well, that's the big choice for the player(s): the more of an element that is held at once, the stronger the draw on aggressive critters, meaning larger waves of more dangerous alien bugs will descend on the players' base.  If they've invested in some serious firepower -- like turrets, reinforced walls and bunkers, and so on -- this could be a good option, but be ready for a fight.  If they've just dusted down on the surface and don't even have a simple fence put up, you might want to keep the transactions small for a while.

The RTS angle

The real-time strategy portion is in the building of structures and investment of player credits in new technologies like weapon upgrades and structure improvements.  Players will build bases and forward outposts scaled to their characters, teleported down from the orbital platform in exchange for credits.  This will lead to things like purchasing a vehicle factory, selecting a spot for it on the nearby terrain, then when the structure is assembled and 'ported down, the players can walk up to an interface terminal and buy themselves a quad bike, a tank, even some kind of flying vehicle if it's been researched.

The FPS game

The controls will work the same as any other first/third-player shooter, as far as moving around the game world and viewing everything.  RTS mode (placing buildings) will have its own features and overlays, but otherwise the game will control like you'd expect.

Currently the game is planned to have a single-player/co-op mode that follows a storyline and includes various kinds of scenarios: players might have to build a certain number of structures, take out a central bug nest, amass a threshold of resources, defend a newly constructed homesteader village, or even take out another RATE team that's run afoul of intergalactic law.  This mode will include a few "tutorial" levels at the beginning to get the player familiar with all the concepts and processes involved in making it rich on the galactic frontier.

There's also a planned multiplayer aspect that will let teams of players go head-to-head for various win conditions.  The hostile critter element will still be very much present on the maps, and could make for some interesting strategic choices (do you run your canister back to base, or lob it over the enemy's wall to put the pressure on them as more bugs descend?  Choices...)

And so on...

I could go on at length, there's a notebook full of all the ideas I've put together as I refined the gameplay concepts, but those will emerge as development continues, and as people play the finished product!

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