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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dev Night Diary: Filling out a framework

My online pal Wong and I like to compare notes on how we generally get nothing done. It's really not fair because both of us love to write frameworks. We love to write the core foundation to prove that if you can get x to do y that you actually do end up with the evil stepson of a hamster.

Our problem is that once we prove the hamster's existence, we don't do very much with it. We have this framework, but then some other shiny thing (like Half-Life 2) distracts us and we're off to prove something new again. This time I'm trying to do it differently, and actually finish this mod before moving on to anything new. I'm actually forcing myself to scale back and not scope creep the hell out of things. By sticking to single-player and trying to write this firmly in the Unreal Universe (which is a poorly cobbled affair as it is) I'm making the goal a bit easier to hit.

Last night I really started to fill out the framework. With some new tricks in UED I can make dark maps in a few minutes, so I'm taking some choice ones over. I started to add in new enemies, new weapons, etc. And then I was reminded why I don't usually take anything this far.

Because it shows you all the problems in your framework. I think I broke three distinct things just by using them. Sigh. Oh well, it's mostly working now and it's slowly starting to feel more like a game.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holiday Half Life

So now post holiday I can finally bite into the full version of Half-Life 2. Definately enjoying it. The most impressive bit is that this still feels like Half-Life. I never called that one. I had assumed that with the Source Engine that you would see a new feel to the game, like you did with UT2k3 and Doom. Not sure what they kept around, but the movement and "inner loop" (Epic's term for the interactions closest to the player, like weapon handling) ... still feel like Valve's classic.

And Valve still does some of the best set pieces in the industry. Some of the way the world interacts in these scenes makes HL2 feel more like a play than a game.

Still, I have to repeat the statements below. I'm amazed by the similarities between this and Doom 3 that everyone bitched about. Let's ... silly flashlight. Check. (sorry people, a $2 flashlight from a gas station has more juice than Gordon's ... WTF?). "Classic" monster AI. Check. (while the "squad" tactics were revolutionary in HL, they've grown pretty predictable now). Sweet monster movement which ends in rudimentary attack. Check. Check. (If the leapers don't remind you of Doom's imps, you're playing with your eyes closed.) Monster closets? Monsters respawning behind you? Monsters spawning from seemingly nowhere? Check, check check.

I'm by no means saying HL2 is a bad game ... it's a very good game. And definately there's a differential ratio at work here ... HL2's flashlight mechanics are less annoying than Doom 3's because the flashlight isn't as necessary. The monster closets are less noticeable because they are less constant. Etc., etc. Still, it's interesting to watch gamer perception.

I haven't decided if I'll mod for HL2. After getting UDS done, I'd consider it. Be interesting to do a City 17 Police mod in the same vein.