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May 12th, 2017

From start to finish

The big news out of the way first

Special announcement; After six years of hard work, the magnum opus TAGAP3 is finally playable from start to finish... minus opening and closing cut-scenes, that is. Suffice to say; This is an epic mile-stone. As to why it took this long, well...

I think I've mentioned this before, but it's important to know; Thanks to the way you can return to re-play levels later on, we have a system that tells the game what segment of the game to load up next. And almost all of this scripting happens in the cut-scenes.

This means before we could declare TAGAP3 'playable all the way through', it wasn't enough that we had all the in-game content in playable state, but also needed majority of the cut-scenes in place, too. For comparison, with the more linear TAGAP2 it didn't matter if some cut-scenes were missing; You could progress through it as long as the levels were complete enough.

At any rate, though this is big news for TAGAP3, the work isn't finished yet. Not by a long shot. There's still tons of stuff to do and while we don't have an exact release date for you great folks just yet, the window of 2017 doesn't seem like a stretch now!

What am I working on now?

Cut-scenes, cut-scenes and more cut-scenes! Currently I'm working on the first block of the ending cinematic. Obviously I won't go into a lot of detail what this is all about, but it has been one complex piece of work, possibly the most complicated one to date. It has it all; Under-the-hood hacks, hidden cuts, multiple characters animated in unison, unique special effects... it's a nightmare. And that's before I start to scratch my head and try to figure out the audio side of it!

After this? I guess I'll split my work load between continuity checks and the remaining third of the opening cinematic. And by continuity checks I mean playing through the campaign and intentionally seeking out segments where the continuity can break when replaying levels. I know there's at least one mini-cinematic I need to do in order for this not to happen and this way I can see if we need even more of those.

Also, I'm preparing a neat little blog post comparing the different variations of the Antarctica as seen in TAGAP over the years – from the original TAGAP all the way to the opening scenes of TAGAP3. I intended to have it ready for this update, but I got so lost into the cut-scene creation that didn't manage it.

Playlist

Playlist is a regular feature in our Penguin DT blog; A chance to highlight cool games both old and new that I've been playing. As always, I believe that in order to make games, you need to play them, preferably with a broad scope when it comes to genres, so each day I dedicate at least an hour to actually playing games. The rest of the free time? There is no such thing, it all belongs to TAGAP!

Since the last update it's been all Resident Evil – Resident Evil Remaster HD and Resident Evil 0, to be more precise.

I started with Resident Evil. I actually dreaded this a bit, not because of the horror but for the fact I hadn't played the original RE since the 90s. I just wasn't sure of how much of my admiration was due to nostalgia. However, I'm glad to report that the game is still great and thanks to the revamped controls of the recent re-release, has never been better.

The original Resident Evil a masterclass in gameplay design. Every one of the restrictive elements – intentionally clunky action, inventory management, bullet-sponge enemies – sound disastrous, but everything is assembled so neatly that it all works. It's like a house of cards; It shouldn't stand, but thanks to the way the elements support each other, it all works great.

I've recently come to love, more and more, the exploration style gameplay – or metroidvania-likes, as they are sometimes called. And RE1 is one brilliant example of it. The sprawling Spencer Mansion and its grounds are big enough for a meaty adventure, but contained enough that you never feel lost. The great map also helps, letting you know when each room is exhausted of items and interaction options.

Just remember; If you plan to play through the game only once, play as Jill and not as Chris. Jill's campaign has more involved story, more puzzles and as far as I can figure it out, is the canonical one.

Resident Evil 0 isn't as great, sadly. It's simply because of the game's main mechanic; You control two characters at once. This doesn't sound bad at first, until you realise that both characters have even smaller inventories than before... yet some weapons take two inventory slots. And there are no item crates. And you can't swap items during combat. This basically replaces the horror with an insane item shuffling extravaganza. When RE0 clicks, it's as great as RE1, but more often than not you're too busy fighting the mechanics.

To sum it up; Resident Evil is still a masterpiece and worth every praise its gotten over the years, whilst Resident Evil 0 is something you can skip unless you want to experience the RE saga in full.

But I have to say; Whoever rendered those doors for the loading screens needs a raise. Those are some detailed doors, no joke.

Next up

On TAGAP3 front, it's cut-scenes, cut-scenes and even more cut-scenes. This is just how goes closer to the finish line we get. Also were in early talks to set-up a VO recording session so we can finally give a voice to the colourful cast.

On gaming front, it's all about Prey at the moment. I'll detail my experience in full later, but so far I love it. Also, STRAFE is finally out, so I'll have my lunch breaks scheduled for weeks to come.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin

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