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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Maria Farber

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Mod By Any Other Name

So, I'm reading EGM last night and they have this interview with one of the guys responsible for Halo 2. Now I've got nothing against Halo 2, liked Halo 1, plan on playing the sequel sometime somehow and I've got respect for anyone responsible for that series (not to mention Marathon). I've complained in the past about Bungie hyping the hell out of Halo before it was really even a game, and then selling it off to Microsoft, but I'm willing to let bygones be bygones.

But this guy, and I'm sorry that I don't have the article in front of me, but this guy was talking about a "lost" gametype - Headhunter. In Headhunter, when you kill someone, you get a skull. You can take this skull to a dropoff to get frags. People can kill you and steal your skulls.

Sound familiar? It should. It was an old Quake mod, relatively shortly after the days of Zoid CTF. Sadly, this guy attributes the gametype to some XBox game called Fuzion Frenzy. XBox game? Are you serious?

Look, if you're going to go rip off someone else's gameplay - at least have the decency to know their name. This really annoys me because the role mods have played in enhanced and innovating first person shooters has become more and more obscured over the years. Now, they can't even get credit when credit is due?

Robinson Jeffers

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Many Deaths of Gordon Freeman

An idea for a Half-Life 2 mod came to me as I finished up the game on Friday (is there a myth about finishing games before the New Year? Hrm, nevermind - I still have Genesis games to finish) which would be essentially the inverse of your normal singleplayer.

In a normal single player, you play a single person who battles against multiple enemies trying to make it through maps with the most amount of health/items remaining.

In The Many Deaths of Gordon Freeman, this would be reversed. You would play multiple opponents against a single enemy (our man Freeman) trying to keep him from completing a map too successfully. The plot events would be the same, the puzzles would be more or less the same, but it would be all told from the POV of the enemies that Freeman fights against.

It would definately be technically challenging. First you would need to have an AI Freeman. Not an easy task since he has the most complicated actions in the entire game. Next you would need to make player versions of the major villians and the various weapons they have. Finally the SP maps would need to be altered to handle this reverse and all HUD/Control functions would have to support it.

Perfect Dark had a similar coop twist like this, I believe. One player would play the main character and the other would play the enemies. Course, this would also be an option to remove the need for a smart AI Freeman script but would introduce a whole new problem of multiplayer code. A multiplayer version could also quickly descend into a hunter gametype, with many players against one (being Freeman). Course, that might not be such a bad thing either.

Year End Rally + Dev Day Diary

Getting a vacation at the end of a vacation is truly a twice blessed event. I love holidays with my family, but it's hard with all the running around and driving that becomes mandatory not to want to come home and crash. And so having a four day weekend for the new year's solidifies that as my favorite holiday of the year.

Yesterday I had nothing to do, full day off and got to do nothing but work on Defense Squad. I know, I'm sick. I get a day off and I work on something. I get it from my dad. But put this in perspective - half the time I'm working on this thing, I'm blowing something up. Very fun.

Any rate - it's starting to become a real game. It's fun to watch it gel, the combination of the base orientated management and the squad orientated play. Still, I'm concerned with the redudancy of the missions right now. Plus their difficulty level - the Mokara take out my best guys over half the time, and I probably have a better squad than I'm supposed to right now. The gameplay adjustments are getting a sort of one step forward two steps back feel now. The new lighting in the maps helps (pure dark was getting to be a bit much) as does improved cover. However, my mantra of "bots should be obedient if not smart" is slipping a bit. I lost several squadmates because they left their hold point to chase after an enemy. Some balance will help this out (commendations will increase a soldier's damage, weaponsmithing is going to give rise to more powerful weapons) - but it seems right now every encounter descends into chaos.

Still, sometimes chaos is fun. Like when I sent my two soldiers into an archway only to watch them get instantly ambushed and turned to skeletons. Or when walking along a low level getting literally jumped by three Stormhands above us. This kind of random encounter is probably going to be core, so it's nice to see it emerging.