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March 14th, 2008

Coincidences

Some time ago I mentioned my old Artificial Stupidity system and how similar system became one of the most hailed aspects of Bioshock. I also said that it was 'one of those occasions' and I was asked by one of you readers what other occasions there have been. Here are the two most recent ones.

During development of TAGAP and especially its second half, I came up with dozens of brilliant gameplay twists and turns. However, most of them were left out simply because they would've heavily tipped the gameplay balance, forcing us to re-balance the game from ground up. As TAGAP was only a couple of levels from being complete after over three years of hard work, we decided not to fix what wasn't broken and move the best of those ideas to TAGAP 2.

One of those ideas was the gadgets. To sum them up, they are portable items you can use at will whenever you want, but you can carry only one at the same time. Sounds familiar, right? Most certainly, as it's almost exactly the concept of 'equipment' from small little game called Halo 3. As I knew with 100% certainty that gadgets would be in TAGAP 2 and how they worked, discovering that my smoothly balanced system was already adapted in one of the biggest game releases of all time made me both flattered and disturbed. Flattered cause Halo is Halo, disturbed as when TAGAP 2 comes out, every soul out there will probably call TAGAP 2's gadgets Halo 3 rip-off.

The most recent case was with the new Turok. No, I don't mean its logo, which is based on bright green T-insignia on black background – I can live with that, even though they introduced it over two years after I designed the TAGAP logo. I'm talking about Turok's minigun. For those who don't know, it's secondary fire turns the weapon into an automated, stationary turret that tracks enemies and guns them down until it runs out of ammo or player picks it up.

Yes, I know, TAGAP's minigun isn't anything like that, but TAGAP 2's is. I fact, in addition to certain completely new weapon, the minigun's modified alternate firing mode was the first weapon to be featured in the original TAGAP 2 design document, back in June 2007. That was a natural evolution of the original, since extensive play-testing and statistics showed that the minigun's turret mode was the least used weapon of the entire game. We wanted to make it more useful.

Then, a couple of months ago, I saw a preview of Turok, introducing new weaponry, including the almost identical new minigun. Again, I didn't know should I be sad or happy about it.

But that's life. Luckily TAGAP is as a whole recognizable enough to prove we're not just copy-artists. :)

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin