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The Story

Use human immune cells infused with nanobots and human personalities to defeat the evil P.A.I.N (Pathogenic Artificial Intelligence Network) and save the world!

The world and the H.O.P.E (Human Optimised Pluripotent stem cell Engineering) team of cells is counting on you. The battle for the planet will not take place in the skies, or in cities, or on the ocean. It'll take place in our own body.

Gameplay


NanoCell Squad is an action-orientated RTS game inspired by the likes of Tooth & Tail, Dawn of War, Company of Heroes, Doom as well as real science, Saturday morning cartoons, and comics.

Game features:

  • Get immersed in tactical moment-to-moment combat
  • Units have their own unique powers and must be used against the right kind of enemies
  • Enemies can mutate and gain abilities or even lose them. Enemies can even turn on their friends if the right mutation happens
  • Use gene editing to upgrade your units and de-buff enemies
  • Resources are generated automatically so you can focus on the action
  • Battle huge fearsome bosses like parasitic worms and blowflies
  • Unique economy mechanics - you can sacrifice health to build units if you need reinforcements
  • Inspired by your own immune system!
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Enemy Mugshots #1: Bacteria

Feature

Time for another update! This time we're looking in detail at one of the first enemies the player will meet - Bacteria! I’ll go into more detail on my thoughts for this enemy during the design process and also some of the science behind it.

I’ve recently been playing Control, and one thing I really like about it is the enemy design - each enemy provides one kind of challenge (either through its attack or by countering one of your attacks). So different combinations of enemies can provide unique encounters and keep things fresh.

It’s the sort of interaction I’m aiming for with Nanocell Squad.

Bacteria are close range attack troops and boy do they have the tools for the job. Firstly, they give off dangerous toxins that harm any units that come close to them.

But if that doesn't work, they have 2 decent size tusks to swipe with!

bacterium enemy


bacteria attack


Bacteria often fancy finding metal deposits to harvest minerals so they can reproduce. It's easy to get overwhelmed if you don't take care of them. And if they don't have enough resources to reproduce, they might produce some robo-toxin (see below) instead that can interfere with your body cells.

robo toxin


So that’s it - nothing too fancy but these are the enemy grunts who just want to take your units down up close, they don't care how. So you better make sure you have some ranged units around to help out!

Design

The visual design of the units was very much driven by 2 things - what the bacteria look like in real life and what to give them to make it very clear to the player what their strengths are.

You’re not going to go near anything with huge tusks, are you? ;)

I worked with our artist to get the look right too - we wanted just the right combination of ‘biology’ vs ‘tech’ - sort of like cyborg cells.

When we first started out we tried sticking to a more realistic 'bacteria' look (see below) but it was just a bit....well...boring! We're definitely happier with the new look!

unit concepts


The goal for all these units is to keep it simple. There’s going to be a lot going on and the player isn’t really going to appreciate (or even notice!) lots of tiny details - instead each unit should have one or two distinguishing features, and that’s it.

The Science

You've probably heard about bacteria before, and yes some do cause disease via the toxins they release.

There are two main types of bacteria - gram negative and gram positive. These classifications relate to how the bacteria stain with certain chemicals. Gram positive stain differently because of their cell wall, which you’ll see when we cover them means (in the game) that they’re trickier to deal with than their gram negative brothers!

The bacteria enemy I've mentioned here is gram negative and is modelled off a bacterium you’ve probably heard of, Escherichia coli (aka E.Coli, though it doesn't have tusks!).

e coli

(image credit: biocote.com)


These bacteria have flagella which help it move of its own accord, which you can see in the enemy design.

But I want to make it clear that not all bacteria are bad for us, and in fact the more we learn about the human microbiome (the name given to all the bacteria that live within us without causing disease) the more we understand how important they really are. (If you’re interested in this, there’s a fantastic book about bacteria called I Contain Multitudes by Science journalist Ed Yong).

Will there be friendly bacteria and gram positive enemy units in the game? Well, that's for another post Wink

Thanks for reading and as always we really appreciate any comments or feedback here! And if you'd like more updates, you can sign up to our newsletter here.

Unit update 3: Mast

Unit update 3: Mast

Feature

A closer look at one of the core units in the game, Mast

Unit update 2 - Macrophage

Unit update 2 - Macrophage

Feature

Here’s a spotlight on one of our recently added units - Macrophage! We’ll cover how she works in the game, and how macrophages work in our immune...

Unit Focus #1: Neutrophil

Unit Focus #1: Neutrophil

Feature

A closer look at one of the core units in the game, Neutrophil

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H O P E demo v0.1 Win 32

H O P E demo v0.1 Win 32

Demo

An alpha demo showcasing some of the basic gameplay. Please play it and let us know what you think!

HOPE demo v0.1 Win 64

HOPE demo v0.1 Win 64

Demo

An alpha demo showcasing some of the basic gameplay. Please play it and let us know what you think!

H O P E demo v0.1 Mac

H O P E demo v0.1 Mac

Demo

An alpha demo showcasing some of the basic gameplay. Please play it and let us know what you think!

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NanoCell Squad
Platforms
Windows, Mac
Developer
Science: Gamed
Engine
Unity
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