Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nikita Concept

Originally written on: November 24, 2014


I just finished watching season 4 of Nikita. I've been thinking about how there are so few games that emphasize the skills that a spy or an operative like Nikita would need. Most shooters are run-and-gun shooting galleries with objectives that boil down to "get to the checkpoint and press the do-everything button" — a criticism I also addressed in my Perfect Dark 2 concept.

The Nikita universe is rich enough plot-wise for a massive variety of gameplay elements and tactical decisions. Its think-on-your-feet approach would bring a much-needed breath of fresh air in the FPS genre, especially if choice extends to whether or not to let specific characters live.

My vision for this game — to use other games as comparisons — is to have the realism of Battlefield, the plot choices and character development of The Walking Dead, the stealth and gadget options and openness of Human Revolution, the tactical choices of Enemy Unknown, the fluidity of movement of Tomb Raider and Uncharted, and open objectives that make players think and make sometimes tough choices.


In each game mode, stats and special abilities can be separately toggled.

Campaign: This is a lengthy, gameplay-diverse set of missions with multiple playable characters. Players can interact with NPCs and make choices relevant to the plot. Co-op and counter-op are available, but the budget is shared evenly between players in co-op. Completing a mission unlocks plot sequences for each decision made, allowing players to set different combinations of previously made choices before replaying a mission.

Training: Practice shooting, hand-to-hand combat, stealth, and hacking. There's customizable free training as well as challenges for each skill.

Ops: Random or customizable assignments offer unique challenges. Players can use unlocked primary and secondary characters regardless of their status in the campaign. Characters with higher stats use more of the budget, whereas generic characters with no special abilities use the least.

Multiplayer: A variety of game modes and maps offers a good mix of combat, stealth, and objectives. Each map has a range for number of players in ranked matched, but custom unranked matches have no restrictions. Except for special playlists, characters are balanced in terms of stats or have equal stats and no special abilities. Dedicated servers, good networking, updated playlists, and gametype and map filters would ensure a high-quality experience that meets modern standards.

Gallery: View screenshots, video clips, cutscenes, 3D models, music, sound effects, trailers, and other media.


I'm a huge fan of letting players play a game in as many ways as possible. Some players like to jump in and always know where to go, while others like having a lot of control and choice about what weapons and equipment to bring, how to approach objectives, and even how the game is played on a technical level. Options for all game modes are as follows:

Linear: Players progress through missions as specific characters with preset equipment. Objectives are listed out, and a nav point indicates where to go.

Guided: Players have two or three general options of how to approach a mission, such as stealthy and alone or loud with backup. Players can swap weapons for similar ones once they're unlocked. Objectives are given, but players must find out how to complete them.

Tactical: Players have full control over the specifics of a mission but have a limited overall "budget" for backup, weapons, and equipment. Players are given a main primary objective or two and must figure out the steps to get there.

Custom: Players tweak each of the previously mentioned settings to create their own experience.


All modes with AI have a difficulty setting. This determines many things, but enemy health never changes; a headshot always kills.

Automatic: Suggested for players new to videogames or shooters, this setting has the highest player health, the lowest enemy accuracy and reaction time, and generous aim assist that snaps to the nearest enemy when the aim button is pressed. Guns reload automatically including after firefights even if the magazine isn't empty, and an on-screen indicator flashes to suggest a weapon or gadget for the current situation. Empty weapons are tossed, and new weapons are picked up automatically if there's room. Ammo is plentiful. Areas related to objectives flash so that the player knows that it can be used.

Easy: Player health is increased. Enemies have lower accuracy and reaction time. Aiming snaps to the closest enemy if the crosshair is close enough. A reload prompt appears when ammo is low and again when the magazine is empty. Objectives are highlighted if a set amount of time has passed or if players press a hint button.

Normal: All settings are normal. All forms of aim assist (tugging while not aiming and snapping when aiming) are disabled by default. A clicking sound is the only indication that a weapon is empty on this and higher difficulties. Objectives are only highlighted if a hint button is pressed.

Hard: Player health is decreased but is still higher than enemy health. Enemies have higher accuracy and reaction time. No aim assist is available on this and higher difficulties. No objective hints are given on this or higher difficulties.

Realistic: Player health is lowered to be the same as enemy health. Enemies that are aware of the player's presence are deadly but possible to overcome with skill, strategy, and quick thinking. Most enemies don't have extra clips, and those that do usually only have one; plus, fired weapons don't magically refill when picked up on difficulties higher than easy, meaning players will be frequently dropping and picking up new weapons if the weapons they bring run out of ammo.

Custom: Players tweak each of the previously mentioned settings to create their own experience.


Unless a plot event causes enemies to be aware of the player, there's always an option of stealth, but it's never a definite game over if the player is spotted. Fortunately, there are many options to be stealthy.

Enemies by default aren't aware of the player's presence, and if one spots the player, the others aren't automatically alerted unless those within hearing range are called or, worse, if many are contacted by radio or phone or if an alarm is set off. Players can avoid detection by staying out of enemies' lines of sight, sticking to the shadows, distracting enemies, wearing a disguise, moving slowly near enemies, attacking silently, and hiding bodies. Remember that enemy reaction time improves with difficulty, meaning that a disguise will fool enemies much longer on easy than on hard. Disguises aren't effective with enemies aware that the player's character is present.

Once an enemy is alerted to the player's presence (beyond a cautious level that prompts investigation), alertness will remain high until the enemy is killed or knocked out unless enemies in the area collectively have reason to think that the player has been killed or is no longer present. Clever players can fake their own death, such as by letting an enemy or corpse be shot and fall too far to be investigated closely. Players can also point a gun at an enemy and order him/her to say that the player has been taken care of, although there's a chance that the most loyal enemies will call in backup or reveal the player's location.

Enemies can be distracted by tossing objects in the environment to make noise. A gadget can be placed to extend, causing an object to fall at will; this is much safer than throwing an object, since the path of flight can be seen.


My goal is for this game to be developed with the following priorities: mechanics > gameplay variety > level variety > sound quality > AI > plot > smooth framerate under all conditions > visuals > everything else. Even if the plot takes a back seat to gameplay, it should still be solid, understandable, unique, and well-delivered with unpredictable but believable turns. It could take place in the show's universe or have a separate series or events. Regardless, there should be considerable character development accompanied by strong dialogue and voice acting. This includes having a large number of random lines instead of static lines that the player hears during each playthrough and loaded checkpoint.

There are seldom-used techniques that can be used to elaborate on the plot beyond a normal playthrough and the aforementioned lines of dialogue. Ops assignments can reveal other points of view. Secondary characters that trust the player can reveal hidden details. Extra objectives on higher difficulties would flesh out each mission further. Optional dialogue in the campaign would be a welcome addition for a shooter.


Playable and certain enemy characters have different stats and sometimes weapons, equipment, and special abilities. For example, Birkhoff and Sonya have higher-level hacking than other characters but weaker physical attacks. Characters are listed in order of possible first playability or confrontation. Ratings are out of 5.

Health: how much melee damage the player can take before being knocked out and how much the player is affected when shot (hit points are not affected)

Firearms: the higher the score, the less weapons will sway and the faster they'll return to their starting position (recoil is not affected)

Strength: how much the player can lift and how hard melee attacks hit

Agility: how quickly the player can move silently, run, swim, climb, and strike

Hacking: how quickly hacking takes place and what can be hacked

Special ability: reusable abilities recharge after killing or knocking out 3 enemies or by progressing


Health: 3
Firearms: 4
Strength: 3
Agility: 3
Hacking: 4

Special ability: Inheritance (200% higher budget)


Health: 1
Firearms: 4
Strength: 2
Agility: 5
Hacking: 2

Special ability: Play Dead (lie on the floor motionless, causing some enemies to think he's dead)


Health: 4
Firearms: 5
Strength: 3
Agility: 4
Hacking: 2

Special ability: Stamina (can perform more actions before getting fatigued)


Health: 2
Firearms: 3
Strength: 1
Agility: 2
Hacking: 5

Special ability: ShadowNet (see a real-time thermal satellite feed for a few seconds)


Health: 4
Firearms: 4
Strength: 5
Agility: 3
Hacking: 1

Special ability: Clean (faster hiding of bodies; clean blood and other evidence of intrusion)


Health: 5
Firearms: 5
Strength: 4
Agility: 3
Hacking: 2

Special ability: Leadership (more command options for allies)


Health: 2
Firearms: 2
Strength: 2
Agility: 3
Hacking: 5

Special ability: EMP (disable all electronics within range)


Health: 2
Firearms: 3
Strength: 2
Agility: 3
Hacking: 4

Special ability: Deception (higher chance of influencing others; enemies hesitate by 30% for a few seconds)


Health: 5
Firearms: 3
Strength: 2
Agility: 4
Hacking: 3

Special ability: Operative (more options for using gadgets)


Health: 4
Firearms: 4
Strength: 4
Agility: 5
Hacking: 3

Special ability: Focus (slow down time by 20% for a few seconds)


Health: 4
Firearms: 5
Strength: 4
Agility: 2
Hacking: 1

Special ability: Assassinate (assassinate when unarmed from any angle instead of only behind against unaware enemies)


Health: 3
Firearms: 2
Strength: 3
Agility: 2
Hacking: 3

Special ability: Tactician (better at reading others; can see evidence of recent enemy presence)


Health: 4
Firearms: 4
Strength: 4
Agility: 1
Hacking: 3

Special ability: Reinforcements (call in up to two generic allies of average ability)


Health: 3
Firearms: 5
Strength: 2
Agility: 3
Hacking: 4

Special ability: Cloak (higher stealth success)


During a playthrough, players have opportunities to interact with secondary characters. Based on previous choices and how players interact with these characters, these characters can be potential allies, although there's the possibility of betrayal. Some characters can be killed, spared, or reasoned with, but players should be careful since some characters might take advantage of trust or a turned back.

Once a secondary character joins, he/she will be available for backup in the current plot line or when plot sequences match this character's allegiance. More on this in the Plot section. Secondary characters will be semi-important characters not listed above. They will have unique stats and possibly unique equipment but no special abilities.


Tactical mode makes full use of the options outlined in this section. All purchases are used with in-game currency; there are no microtransactions with real money.


More powerful weapons cost more. Attachments can be added but also cost money, although there's no limit to how many can be added except for physical space on the weapon.


Extra magazines, grenade, and other consumables can be acquired.


The more you bring, the more options you'll have.


Bring allies that you can give commands to. They're unarmed by default but can be given equipment. Generic allies with no special abilities are available in addition to current allies.

Satellite Feed

Get a view of the layout of the area you'll be navigating and points of interest so that you can plan the most effective route before starting the mission.

Cosmetic Mask

This very expensive procedure makes you look like a similar-looking enemy character if one is available. Staying in-character as a high-level enemy offers new tactical options.


Players can hold up to four weapons at once and up to four gadgets at once. Grenades, mines, and similar objects are separate and have a limit of three total. Objects in the environment — such as rocks and bottles — can be picked up and collected to be thrown later; these count as part of the three. Players can cycle weapons with the d-pad in real-time. Holding a certain button pulls up and equipment wheel, where gadgets can be selected and throwables switched.


Preferably, there would be as many choices of weapons as possible in each category representing famous modern weapons and those used in the show and by famous spies, such as the PPK. Objects in the environment (rocks, etc.) can be picked up as throwables if there's space; these are useful for distracting enemies and setting off motion sensors and proximity explosives.

Different ammo types allow for less accurate armor-piercing rounds, silent tranquilizer shots, and other options. Attachments should match what could be used with each weapon in real life.

Assault Rifles

Sniper Rifles

Submachine Guns


Light Machine Guns


  • Rocket Launcher
  • Grenade Launcher
  • Tactical Mine (aim to set it to a timed, proximity, or remote detonation)
  • Grenade
  • Flashbang Grenade
  • Smoke Grenade
  • Sticky Grenade
  • EMP Grenade
  • Throwing Knife
  • Baseball Bat
  • Katana

Night Vision Goggles: See in the dark with a green hue.

X-Ray Scanner: Set up an x-ray device that collects incoming x-rays from an area, enabling enemies' skeletons to be seen through solid objects. It takes time to set up and disassemble but can be moved.

Proximity Hacker: Get up close to an electronic and hack it. This is reusable.

Remote Hacker: Fire a one-time-use projectile that can be used to hack a distant object.

Scrambler: Electronic signals in the area are scrambled to give false readings.

Hidden Camera: Place a small, hard-to-notice camera on a flat surface, which sends a live freed to the player.

Motion Sensor: Place a device that alerts the player when movement near the sensor is detected.

Kill Chip Injector: If it connects, the target is injected with a kill job that can be remotely activated by the player who planted it.


This game's HUD changes by difficulty. Radar is always on in very easy (automatic), shows noise in easy, and isn't available on higher difficulties. Ammo counts are only shown on very easy and easy; on higher difficulties, players only know how many clips or extra rounds are remaining and must manually check to see remaining ammo in the magazine. A crosshair doesn't appear on hard or very hard (realistic). All difficulties have prompts when a weapon can be picked up along with its name and attachments. This like everything else can be customized in Custom variants.


The game has many unlockables that are earned by playing the game and earning EXP.

Weapons: unlocked by picking them up for the first time in the campaign or reaching a certain level for other game modes

Attachments: unlocked as players learn kill points with a weapon (more points for headshots, higher difficulties, and against higher-ranked players) in any game mode

Gadgets: unlocked by progression through missions

Characters: unlocked by recruiting them or getting enough EXP

Outfits: unlocked by completing a mission as a character (one per difficulty level including lower levels) plus obtained disguises; non-campaign characters' outfits are unlocked by getting kills and completing objectives as them in other modes

3D models: unlocked automatically as weapons, attachments, gadgets, characters, outfits, and stages become available; each can be rotated and zoomed in on and has audio segments that can be played while viewing

Music: listen to soundtracks and hear sounds and dialogue by completing the campaign on easy or higher

Graphic filters: unlocked by completing ops assignments

Cheats: complete challenges to play outside normal boundaries, such as performing actions and using characters, weapons, ammo, and equipment not normally available.


The game would hopefully be available on all new-generation consoles and PC. These might be the default controls for the Xbox One. Multiple control schemes should be available as well as the option to fully customize every input and input combination.

Left Stick: Move
Click Left Stick: Run

Right Stick: Look / Select Item in Wheel
Click Right Stick: Melee / Assassinate
Left Trigger + Right Stick: Special Ability

Hold Left Trigger: Aim Down Sights / Prepare Gadget
Right Trigger: Fire / Use  Gadget
Hold Left Bumper: Equipment Wheel
Right Bumper: Throwable Item
Left + Right Bumpers: Switch Throwable Item

A Button: Jump / Cover / Vault
B Button: Crouch / Prone / Slide
X Button: Reload / Open or Close
Hold X Button: Check Magazine
Y Button: Pick Up
Hold Y Button: Drop

D-Pad: Switch to Designated Weapon

Back: Toggle Loud/Stealth Command 
Hold Back: Toggle Attachments

Unarmed Left Trigger Moves
Neutral: Block
A Button: Counter
B Button: Kick
X Button: Punch
Y Button: Push
Right Trigger: Grab
Right Bumper: Disarm

While Enemy Is Grabbed
Left Stick: Use as Shield
Hold A Button: Interrogate
Hold B Button: Knock Out
Hold X Button: Execute
Hold Y Button: Push
Right Trigger: Shoot Ahead

Commands While Aiming
A Button: Move
D-Pad Up: Interact
D-Pad Right: Attack
D-Pad Left: Get to Cover
D-Pad Down: Regroup

Click Left Stick: Switch Ally to Command

The interact command is used to have allies open doors, pick up weapons, and perform other context-sensitive tasks. Shooting while using an enemy as a shield uses the character's dominant hand without aiming down sights and is particularly inaccurate with heavier weapons like assault rifles. If the player doesn't wish to have a dedicated button for cover (which will remove it from the A button), approaching a wall or corner will cause the player to lean against it and use it as cover; pressing the right trigger near an edge will blind fire, whereas holding the left trigger first will lean out.






The following are playlist ideas for online multiplayer. Custom unranked matches are playable in split-screen, via system link, and online.


See how mission segments would've played out with different results than the canonical plot. Characters, goals, and settings are based on the mission segment. Unique dialogue is based on progress and the outcome of each round.

Casual Cleaning

This is deathmatch that's FFA or with pairs, squads, or teams like most playlists. Players choose a primary weapon and a pistol. Map-specific pickups are available.

Tactical Cleaning

Players have individual budgets that refill with actions. Turrets and other options are available.

Division Takeover

Squads or teams fight to attack or defend an area over three objective-based rounds. Players are assigned random characters each round with stats and abilities active.

Weapons Specialist

Players spawn with random weapons with no attachments. Each kill advances a weapon randomly until the last one. The first weapon is always a pistol.


50% of a budget is shared with allies if applicable. No players have an ammo count, crosshair, radar, or aim assist. Health is realistic; headshots always kill. There's realistic sway, recoil, bullet drop, fatigue, and other factors.

Dead or Alive

The goal is to capture a random squad's leader. The most experienced or highest-performing player in each squad is the leader for the round. Squad leaders give commands and control a shared 75% budget, meaning they can assign weapons and other perks to themselves or desired teammates. Killing an enemy squad leader awards 2 points, whereas disabling non-lethally grants 3 points.

Gadget War

Weapons are limited to pistols, but all gadgets and throwables are available for outfitting with an unlimited budget. The limit of three throwables still applies.

Queen of the Hill

Players capture moving hills but while in a hill don't have a HUD including ammo counts.

Capture the Box

Teams fight to take and return a Black Box to their base.

In the Club

This round-baed match begins as a close-quarters FFA match. Players can choose whether or not to kill other "innocent" players. The first 2/5 of players to get kills respawn as members of the Club and have higher individual budgets but are slightly outnumbered in the following one-life deathmatch round.

The Mole

One player on each team is a mole and can communicate with the other team. If the mole doesn't appear to shoot real teammates, he/she might be discovered by observant players. If the team kills the enemy's mole, the mole is dead for the round; everyone by default has two or three lives per round except for moles that are killed by the team they're spying on. Party chat is disabled.

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