Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Before It's Too Late

Originally written on: February 29, 2016


Before It's Too Late is an FPS with heavy RPG elements that combines the present, past, and future in a deep plot with unpredictable twists involving time travel. Each time period and combination of periods has a different feel, due to varying enemies, gameplay options, music, objectives, and of course atmosphere. A multitude of game modes brings everything together to ensure variety rather than doing the same thing with the same tools against the same enemies with the same AI.

In the campaign, players begin as a spy in the present. A method of traveling back in time is discovered, which allows for travel to the past. Eventually the player can travel to the future. The plot and gameplay are both weaved around these initially separate time periods that blend together as the story progresses.


The present takes place in various locations and contains modern and historically accurate weapons, equipment, and vehicles (real-world when possible and unique when not). This is not an idealized version of the present; rather, it accepts the limitations of modern technology. Emphasis is on guns, grenades, mines, gadgets, body armor, and explosives. There are many options of these, with strategy placed on their selection and customization.

The past takes place in medieval times with gods and goddesses. Swords, shields, axes, warhammers, and daggers usually accompany various forms of metal or leather armor. Magic spells cause elemental damage, conjure dead animals, create images to distract enemies, heal the user, and allow for levitation and teleportation. Potions restore health and magic, and poisons lower them. Those deemed worthy by gods and goddesses can earn blessings from them, which are temporary buffs or abilities such as the ability to pass through solid objects, invisibility, or a special protection that prevents death (but not damage) from projectiles while active.

The future has guns that have built-in features rather than attachments, although these take an extra slot compared to modern weapons of similar types. Futuristic armor is modular, allowing users to attach components for specific purpose. Cybernetics allow people with or without armor to activate a single buff temporarily. Hoverboards are convenient, portable transportation when actual vehicles aren't available. Given the ability to find enemy targets, silenced weapons aren't in use.

Imagine a circle with three main areas: the past, the present, and the future. The area in between these is a mix of the two surrounding it, and the center is a mix of all three. Game scenarios that take place in a given part of the circle allow elements from those periods. For example, a mix between the past and the future would have swords, medieval armor, magic, blessings, futuristic weapons and equipment, modules for futuristic armor, a hoverboard, cybernetics, and so on, but it wouldn't have modern weapons, equipment, or vehicles. This keeps things separate for players who prefer certain time periods or combinations of time periods and adds variety as opposed to always allowing all elements from all periods.

Each time period and combination of periods has an atmosphere and enemies that feel unique. Each time period has a musical theme that individual tracks are based on and which blends elements (such as instruments, rhythm, melodies, etc.) together when time periods do.

Before each mission or game, players choose unlocked weapons, equipment, abilities, and transportation if available. There's a maximum number of points, with each option taking up a number of points depending on how powerful or useful it is. An assault rifle or rocket launcher will require more points than a pistol or a sword. Point numbers are intended to make everything as balanced as possible. Points are the only limit, so players can bring two primary weapons if the limit isn't exceeded. However, some equipment may also have recovery penalties, slowing the use of magic and cybernetics.


Ideally, there will be dozens of weapons in the final game, such as multiple pistols and multiple swords to choose from. These are just general ideas.

Sword: A one-handed bladed weapon designed for quick strikes and stabs. It's deadly up close against lightly armored targets and doesn't run out of ammo.

Dagger: A light and fast weapon that does extra damage from behind.

Axe: A slightly slower but slightly stronger weapon compared to a sword.

Staff: A fast two-handed weapon that a skilled user can guide around shields and counter with after parrying.

Masamune: Slower than a staff, but it deals more damage and can pierce light armor.

Warhammer: A slow but brutal weapon that will disorient anything it hits.

Bow: Arrows are the fired projectiles that are most affected by gravity in the game due to their slow speed, but they're also the most silent ones. Ready the arrow longer to make it travel farther and faster, but wait too long and your hand will shake from fatigue.

Pistol: A concealable, lightweight weapon that can be fitted with a silencer, scope, and/or laser sight. Each weapon unlocks attachments in a different order, and pistols are the fastest unlocked silenced firearm in the game.

SMG: The submachine gun is lighter and faster to use than an assault rifle, but it's less accurate and less powerful. It can fitted with a silencer, stock, red dot sight, and/or double magazine.

Assault Rifle: This is the average solder's go-to weapon given its reliability. It's accurate in the hands of a skilled user and has no major weaknesses. Its attachments include a holo sight, extended magazine, flashlight, and/or heavy shotgun or GL underbarrel attachment.

Shotgun: The deadliest close-range weapon in the game and the most useless long-range firearm in the game. It can be fitted with a stock, laser sight, and/or flashlight.

Sniper Rifle: Opposite of the shotgun. Attachments include a bipod and/or flash suppressor.

Magnum: A heavy pistol that combines the lethality of a shotgun or sniper rifle with the size and range of a pistol. Its slight delay before firing and heavy recoil make it hard to aim with, but one well-placed shot can be deadly. Its only attachments are a laser sight and/or scope.

LMG: The heaviest weapon in the game that also has the largest magazine. It can be fitted with a bipod, ACOG scope, and/or laser sight.

Grenade Launcher: A multi-barreled weapon that fires up to six grenades that fire in an arc and explode with a significantly smaller radius than a rocket.

Rocket Launcher: This fires a rocket in a reasonably predictable path that has a wide radius.

Grenade: These frag grenades can be primed, bounced, dropped, and rolled.

Flashbang: Same as above. Great for disorienting enemies, but look away, or it will disorient the user as well.

Mine: Set for a timed, proximity, or remote detonation. Proximity detonations will activate with any movement including friendly or your own. Mines explode when shot or hit.

Combat Knife: A sharp blade that can be stabbed with or thrown and recovered.

Plasma Rifle: Can be switched between full auto, burst, or semi-auto and between plastic sights and a scope with good range. It doesn't need to reload, but it will overheat if fired too much and eventually runs out of energy.

Snapshot: This pistol can switch its bullets between cryo and explosive rounds.

Torch: This can fire three shotgun-like incendiary shots that don't scatter or quickly unleash energy as a flamethrower.

Seeker: This is a semi-auto rifle that can switch between thermal and x-ray radiation to find enemies at close range at the cost of seeing regularly while using these options. A scope on top allows users to aim normally using regular light.

Mine Launcher: This fires charged mines that hover until they attach to the first solid object within the sights. A button on the side detonates all mines placed by this individual weapon.

The Demon: This launcher fires user-controlled missiles that continue on a straight path after control is released.


Hacker: Connect to a computerized object and take control of it.

Sticky Cam: Attach a camera to a wall, floor, ceiling, object, person, or animal and bring up a live feed at any time.

EMP Dart: Disable an electronic device temporarily.

Skeleton Key: Open any door with a traditional lock.

NV Binoculars: Binoculars that has night vision that can be toggled on or off. See stuff.

Defibrillator: Revive a recently killed target unless the brain is damaged.

Tracker: Place on an object to see where it's moved.

Laser Alarm: Be alerted when the beam is stopped by something passing through it. The beam can't be seen except with NV Binoculars or EM Vision.

Grapple: Fire at an edge to climb up to it or rappel down from it.

Third Lung: Breathe underwater for 2 minutes with this portable oxygen breathing device.


Heavy Armor: Iron or steel armor that offers great protection against all forms of damage except electric magic but slows the user down more than any other piece of equipment.

Light Armor: Leather or chain mail armor that offers some protection. Unlike body armor, it doesn't wear out, but it only slows bullets down rather than stop them completely.

Shield: This protects against all forms of damage and doesn't wear out, but it takes one hand to use.

Body Armor: Lightweight armor that protects the middle body area but not the head or limbs. After several shots, it will no longer be effective.

Military Gear: Heavy armor that slows movement but offers some protection against all forms of damage that it covers.

Helmet: This protects the brain. Normally one shot to the brain with any firearm or well-readied arrow or one strong hit with a melee weapon to the head will result in death. There are past, present, and future varieties that serve the same purpose.

Modular Suit: This offers less protection than military gear but can be customized to give the user unique options during combat.


Jet Boots: These offer a boost upward or into walls to allow for wall running.

Extra Pockets: Carry one extra magazine, rocket, grenade, and any other consumable.

Stealth: Extra padding minimizes noise made while moving.

Self-Destruct: Upon death, the suit explodes, damaging nearby enemies. Alternatively, the suit can be abandoned and will explode after 5 seconds.

Ground Pound: Allows for two powerful slams into the ground that damage and disorient nearby targets. It takes time to charge after the first one is used.

Heat Suppressor: Prevents detection by infrared sensors and reduces incoming heat damage.

Turret: Remove the suit and place it as a turret that shoots at enemy targets until its ammo runs out.


Potion: Recover health faster than usual, beginning when this is used.

Magic Potion: Recover magic faster than usual, beginning when this is used.

Resist Magic: Take less damage from magic while this lasts.

Poison: The next effective hit or shot fired prevents health regeneration for a short time.

Magic Poison: The next effective hit or shot fired prevents magic regeneration for a short time.

Sensual Poison: Causes vision blur and distorted hearing. This and opposing cybernetic enhancements cancel each other out.


Enhanced Hearing: Hear footsteps, silenced weapons, and other sounds better than the human ear normally can while it lasts.

Tough Skin: Reduces incoming damage from all sources for a few seconds.

Buffed Legs: Temporarily run faster and jump higher.

Platinum Fists: Break a weak physical structure such as a cracked wall or boulder.

Million-Dollar Arms: Lift a heavy object (such as a vending machine or a person) and throw it hard.

Golden Eyes: Movement is exaggerated, allowing for easier detection.


Fireball: Cause fire damage. Flesh hit by this will take burn damage for a few seconds. Weak against metallic enemies and technology. Can make certain objects explode or ignite. Dual cast for a slightly larger fireball that explodes in flames upon impact.

Ice Shot: Cause ice damage. Slows all enemies' movement and recharge speeds. Very weak against metallic enemies. Can freeze small amounts of water. Dual cast for a larger shard that can impale unarmored targets.

Electric Bolt: Cause electric damage. This is the fastest-moving magical attack. Strong against metallic enemies. Disables technology temporarily. Effective when used on bodies of water. Dual cast for a stronger bolt that can leap to a second nearby target; the second bolt deals less damage.

Conjure Beast: Depending on the time and location, an animal's soul is revived, follows the user, and attacks the first enemy that it senses. Dual cast for a stronger version.

Illusion: Create an image of the user that appears to run straight ahead to distract enemies. Dual cast for one that moves more unpredictably and thus more convincingly.

Levitate: Lift the user without the noise of jet boots. Dual cast for faster and higher levitation.

Teleport: Instantly travel to where the user is looking. Dual cast for faster and longer teleportation. The user will teleport as far as possible depending on the strength of the spell.

Heal: Heal the user while it's used. Dual cast for faster healing.

Ward: Hold up a barrier that stops incoming magic, projectiles, and explosions but not melee attacks. It breaks after taking so much damage.

Possess: Make a weak AI enemy or animal friendly temporarily.


Invisibility: Become almost completely invisible while it lasts. Stay invisible while performing actions, but projectiles and spells that leave close proximity such as bullets become visible.

Projectile's Bane: Reduced damage from projectiles. Cannot die from a projectile; health will go as low as 1%.

Revive: If killed while this is active, the user will revive when activated.

EM Vision: See all forms of electromagnetic radiation, allowing you to temporarily see all forms of life even behind walls.

Refill: Choose a weapon, projectile container, or consumable to have it refilled.

Phase: Pass through solid objects and have them pass through you. You can't harm or be harmed while phased out.

Enchant: Add fire, ice, or electric damage to any weapon until time runs out.


The player begins as a Chilean-Italian spy named Alejandra who's infiltrating an American corporation that's rumored to be illegally experimenting on technology deemed as dangerous by the United Nations. During the player's first run through the campaign, only an Italian pistol and a small selection of explosives, devices, and light armor are available, but more become available as the player progresses. Stealth is optional, with it being possible to complete the mission undetected or with guns blazing from the start if the player is resourceful.

An explosion directs the player to a room with dead technicians. A gray-haired man unaware of Alejandra's presence walks toward a forming vortex and jumps through. On a whiteboard are plans to kill the ancestor of a person whose name isn't familiar yet. While Alejandra reads this, she's sucked into the vortex. When the player's eyes are opened, those are the eyes of a medieval ancestor clad in heavy armor and wielding a sword and shield but not anything Alejandra had earlier except for her memories. She's in control but slowly feels her control fading away except for the objective: find the man who jumped in and prevent the assassination.

At first, wild animals and individual bandits attack, and the player can clumsily fight back. As Charles' memories and personality take over, so do his combat abilities. After failing to find any leads, he begins to fade away, and the player returns as Alejandra, who now has access to equipment and abilities obtained from the past. After returning to the institute she works for, she's given a device that enables her to freely travel between the past and present and store equipment there to be accessed outside of combat.

Eventually, Alejandra travels to the future, this time stepping into the futuristic boots of Destiny, a soldier with an unfamiliar weapon that Alejandra doesn't know how to use well. Her abilities from the past and present help her survive the combat zone as Destiny regains control.

As the story continues, the player can bring futuristic tech and abilities to the present and finally elements from the present and future into the past. Each time zone contains sub-plots and optional quests.

When players enter a time period with the ability to bring new elements that weren't previously available, they eventually have the advantage of access to equipment and abilities that enemies don't have and aren't familiar with. However, enemies slowly and increasingly obtain these as time periods blend together. The campaign comes to a climatic finale as the past, present, and future merge and the three characters meet. The difficulty is not in a large number of identical enemies but rather in the unpredictability of enemies. In the same fight, players might face a magic-wielding futuristic soldier and a warhammer-swinging warrior with grenades.

To further enhance replayability and unpredictability, there are randomized factors in place that allow non-essential enemies to spawn in different locations with different combinations of a set total of equipment and abilities.

After finishing the campaign and the time periods are returned to normal, players can continue to play in and explore the circle of periods mentioned earlier (separate periods, a combination of two, or a mix of all three).

Each campaign character has a unique ability. By performing actions such as headshots and stealth kills, skill points are accumulated. These enable the following abilities:

Alejandra's Disguise (minor): Use on a dead or unconscious enemy to take their clothes and wear them as a disguise. Walk past lower enemies until you're discovered.

Alejandra's Detonate C4 (major): Choose three locations along the path you've walked during the last three minutes. They'll detonate quickly in order. Great when cornered.

Charles' Shout (minor): Scare lesser enemies and watch as they flee in terror, or temporarily distract a strong enemy.

Charles' Dragon (major): Call a dragon that flies in, breathes fire at nearby enemies, and leaves.

Destiny's Remote Hack (minor): Make a camera, turret, or robotic enemy friendly.

Destiny's EMP (major): Disable all enemy electronics in a wide area temporarily.


These are the basic enemy types, 3 for each time period. Combinations of enemies appear when time periods are combined.

Guard: A low-level modern enemy that uses guns. Higher ranking guards use grenades, and the highest-ranked guards use grenades, body armor, and/or devices. Guards tend to face enemies head-on unless they feel overpowered, in which case they'll search for cover or an alarm. Guards rely on numbers instead of skill. Some individual guards are more cowardly than others and will call for backup even if the threat isn't high.

Soldier: A modern enemy with combat armor that almost always carries a primary weapon, at least one grenade, and either a pistol or a combat knife. Soldiers might use heavy weapons or mounted guns. Soldiers often work together, use cover, and flank their opponents.

Spy: A modern spy with different objectives in mind. Spies focus on stealth, silenced weapons, devices, and hand-to-hand combat. They sometimes have a partner, but you might not know it until it's too late.

Warrior: A heavy-armored enemy from the past wielding either a one-handed weapon with a shield or a two-handed weapon. Warriors tend to carry a health potion or a poison that prevents targets from regenerating health.

Mage: An unarmored magic-wielder that has fast magic regeneration due to a lack of heavy weapons and gear. Mages use spells to damage, confuse, and debuff targets and to heal and buff themselves, depending on which combinations of spells they have.

Archer: A lightly armored enemy with a bow and usually a small backup melee weapon, a potion, and/or a poison. Experienced archers might also have a blessing and know how to move around and use surroundings to their advantage.

Cyborg: A future human with several cybernetic implants that can be activated one at a time and then recharged. These cybernetics enhance the user's abilities and compliment the futuristic weapon(s) the user has.

OMA: The one-man army has a modular suit that can be customized to allow for feats that wouldn't otherwise be possible, such as running on walls and boosting into the air. They tend to have two weapons that they switch between depending on the situation.

Technician: These enemies are experts at deploying and using futuristic tech such as turrets and hoverboards. They also tend to be intelligent about their choices of weapons and devices to make up for their lack of armor.

Here are some examples of combinations of enemies.

Spy + Warrior = Ninja

Soldier + Mage = Riflemage

Archer + OMA = Deadshot

Soldier + Warrior + OMA = Tank


Campaign: Play as Alejandra, Charles, and Destiny to discover how a plot to prevent a competitor from being born reveals larger dangers and other sub-plots. The past, present, and future merge, and it's up to you to restore balance before it's too late. Objectives require thought, and enemies require skill and strategy. Complete the campaign to unlock the ability to replay any mission as any character for unique dialogue.

Challenges: Complete, create, upload, and download specific challenges that cover scenarios in the campaign and multiplayer. This includes enemies not seen in the campaign, such as zombies in the present, skeletons in the past, and aliens in the future. These can be played solo or with up to 3 other players, with difficulty increasing accordingly.

Multiplayer: Fight with and against other human players in a variety of FFA and competitive deathmatch and objective modes on dedicated servers. You can freely customize your character using what you've unlocked by playing the campaign and multiplayer, or you can choose one of the preset characters such as those listed at the end of the previous section. By default, combinations of time periods you haven't unlocked in the campaign are filtered out in multiplayer for immersion, but you can enable everything if you don't mind spoilers.


This is meant to be a unique game with many options and a lot of variety. The campaign intentionally contains non-traditional protagonists: a Latina spy, a gay warrior, and a black female soldier; this is to give much-needed positive representation of minoritized groups. Each character and time period is meant to have a different feel rather the frequent military shooters where you're surrounded by yelling idiots with scripted combat sequences and objectives that boil down to reaching a nav point and pressing a do-everything button. I also deliberately avoided a pro-American message with this game, because I'm sick of every game of this type involving American soldiers fighting Russians and brown people. 

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