By now, covert operations is a fairly old feature. My original idea was that the player can use this to do a bit more in their games than just kill & loot sector after sector. Do more roleplay. Sabotage things. Spy on the enemy.
Sadly, the game is still limited in that regard. Frankly, there isn't that much spywork to do. Sure, we can nowadays disable SAMs by blowing them up or hacking, or try to give us a slight edge by killing of enemy generals. But overall, it's not much. More often than not spies are used in combat, which given the underlying mechanics, can even work too well (sevenfm has done quite a lot in his releases in order to make covert killing a bit harder, among other things).
At the same time, there isn't that much intelligence work to be done, honestly.
This feature aims to begin to correct that. I have quite a lot of ideas in that regard. Coding them will take a lot of time, which is why I've decided to split some of the easier-to-implement ideas into this feature.
Anyway, this feature introduced a new resource: Intel. Think of intel as some sort of measure on all the spying and information gathering your forces have done.
You can gain intel in several ways:
interactive actions, like reading classified documents in a military base or hacking computers, can give you intel. For examples, see function HandleInteractiveActionResult(...) in Overhead.lua for examples (warning, spoilers!).
Mercs can now hide in disguise and gather intel in enemy-occupied territory. There is some depth to this mechanic (of which I am somewhat proud), so the second post of this thread deals with it in more detail.
Mercs can take a camera and take photograps of important NPCs or locations of special interest, which you can then trade for intel. For more info, see the third post in this thread.
Some NPCs give you some intel upon recruitment.
Now, what do you do with all that intel? Well, once you've gained your first bit, you will receive an email from Enrico. He will essentially give you two clues:
He sends you a link to the Recon Intelligence Services website. This organisation wrote the Recon Report you've probably forgotten of by now. One of their pages allows you to buy things for intel:
The dropdown menu allows purchasing info on enemy positions for a 4x4 part of the map. For a higher price you will also get the exact troop counts and enemy movement directions. Note that just as the page states, this will only last a limited amount of time.
Sometimes special information is available - this can unlock the permanent flight plans of an enemy helicopter, the position of an enemy general, or the location of an imprisoned merc. It is likely I will add more options to this over time.
He also makes you aware that the Black market - a new civilian group - that sells high-tech items exclusively for intel. They are based in San Mona and sell only for intel. What they sell can be set in function AddArmsDealerAdditionalIntelData() in Overhead.lua. By default their prices also depend on progress - as your progress, prices are somewhat lowered (due to the benefit of these items being gradually lowered).
The placement of the merchant etc. is all defined in Overhead.lua:
-- In this function we can define what and how many items a intel-based dealer should trade with, and how much an item is worth in intel
-- AddArmsDealerAdditionalIntelData takes 4 arguments:
-- usDealer: shopkeeper this is intended for
-- usItem: number of item
-- sIntelPrice: price of item in intel
-- sOptimalNumber: how many items the trader should have at maximum
-- price is affected by player progress - on higher progress items get cheaper (as they are less useful at that point)
progress = CurrentPlayerProgressPercentage()
ratio = (200.0 - progress) / 100.0
-- black market:
AddArmsDealerAdditionalIntelDataItem(68, 337, 10 * ratio, 2) -- Five-Seven
The merchant needs a special flag in Merchants.xml to set him up to deal with intel:
<szName>Black Market dealer San Mona (C6)</szName>
<ubShopKeeperID>200</ubShopKeeperID> <!-- no profile -->
<uiFlags>16777216</uiFlags> <!-- Important: accepts only intel, no money -->
This includes the black market no longer showing up after you've attacked them (duh).
In order to allow to better showcase, minor alterations were done: Beth now has a camera in one of her gearkits, as she seems the most reporter-like of the bunch. Mouse is now a full spy. And taking yet another inspiration from edmortimer, and considering that Raffi is so bad at anything nobody would believe he is a merc, he now get the covert trait. So he can be at least of some use as of this feature apart from cleaning minefields and carrying gear around.
You can set this feature off via RESOURCE_INTEL in JA2_Options.ini.
If the balancing is right (of which I'm not sure), intel will be a spare resource, unless you really go all the way with several spies. It is intended to be somewhat rare - the player should really have to decide where to invest his intel.
I plan to build upon and expand these features at some point, but... that might be quite a while.
As of r8560, we can buy information on planned creature raids and on the location of terrorists, both can be seen here.
The website logo and the idea to have the black market be a merchant instead of yet another website was made by AllisonIsLivid.
Camera picture was done by smeagol.
A lot of feedback and enduring my usual ranting about the code was done by our Discord channel.
This is fully savegame compatible.
This has been added to the trunk in r8522 & GameDir r2402. Using the new exe without the new GameDir will cause all supermarkets near you to switch to a Lootbox-only system of food distribution.
[Updated on: Tue, 15 May 2018 22:18]
I know now that it could never work between us, as much as we wanted to, it could never be! Not because you're a rabbit, but because you're black.
If you want, you can donate to me. This will not affect how and what I code, and I will not code specific features in return. I will be thankful though.