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January 21st, 2008

Watching grass grow

Oh man, my whole schedule for past week fell apart! I managed to deliver the important TAGAP v1.6 patch in time, but everything else, including updates to SOUNDTRACK.notes and this blog, got pushed back. Why? Because of vegetation.

No, my computer isn't growing grass, nor ain't I becoming mossy, but TAGAP 2 is. Yep, you got that right, there's vegetation in TAGAP 2 – that's one part of the new, more detailed organic look of the game. I had thorough designs and I was sure it would be pretty fast to pull off, but I was so very wrong.

To explain the complexity a bit, this isn't just some static decoration in the background, but I wanted it to react to on-going actions, just like every other decorative piece in TAGAP does. The tricky thing in it is the balancing. In kill-your-system-3D-games like Crysis you can make it so that shot trees are cut in half, but if you do that in side-scrolling 2D, in two minutes you have nothing but a scenery of moved down plants and nothing going on. That's not so exciting, is it?

The solution was simple; Some of the vegetation can be destroyed, sure, but most of it just reacts. For instance, an explosion next to a palm tree makes it wave wildly for a while, dropping leaves as it swings. When combined with right dose of breakable plants and nature, it makes one heck-of-a-organic environment.

Now that I'm stretching to get back to the schedule, I'm very confident that in month or so I can show you guys this in action. I'm sure you don't want to see just a couple of palm trees growing from a grass patch floating in void, right? :)

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin