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June 23rd, 2011

Almost there

TAGAP 2 development

TAGAP 2 is almost ready, just some more testing, polishing up the extras and we're done! Right now I'm implementing the very last snippets of score Petja has just finished and adding the final versions of the in-game tracks to the Jukebox. We also have to take some photos for the credits section, but that won't take long (Photoshopping them to be bearable might).

Our development cycle was planned so that we don't have what the big boys call 'crunch time' or 'home stretch'; We already had that in the beginning of the year, now we can polish the game in peace. This happened accidentally with the first TAGAP as we decided to wait for my trademarks to be validated. Since it worked great from development perspective, we decided to do it again on purpose and – as luck would have it – the release date turned out to be the fourth anniversary of the first TAGAP. Less hair-pulling stress we have during polishing, less bugs there will be. Or at least I hope so.

Still, while the game itself is almost done, the work itself doesn't end here. We still have to build and test-run installer programs, prepare things with launch partners and get our promotional copies manufactured. Speaking of which...

TAGAP 2: Overdose Edition

One of the things I've been hard at work on is TAGAP 2: Overdose Edition. This is the official DVD + CD combo that we will distribute around as promo copies. Unlike last time, however, these aren't just some self-burned CDRs with self-printed covers, but factory pressed discs with pro-printed covers. This costs quite a bit, but in the end it isn't that expensive; Last time we still had to pay for photo paper, several cartridges of ink, the discs and DVD cases. Besides, this time we don't have to waste three days straight listening to printer grinding out photo quality prints.

Overdose Edition features two discs. The DVD-Rom includes TAGAP 2, the original TAGAP, soundtracks of both games as MP3s, all the trailers we've released in full resolution plus all the wallpapers and buddy icons. The other disc is an Audio-CD album version of TAGAP 2 soundtrack. Since TAGAP 2 has so much music we had to do some cuts, but the resulting CD works better as a stand-alone album.

Like with the first game, we will save a bunch of these Overdose Editions for competitions and giveaways. There will be 30 copies made in total and the factory-pressed nature of the packs means we won't be making more by ourselves; Once these babies are gone, they're gone for good, so remember to participate to those competitions when they are announced :)

TAGAP 2 statistics

I've received a couple of questions about TAGAP 2 playthrough time. I just recently did a developer-run (faster than regular player run, yet nothing like a speed-run) of the single player campaign and it took about 2 hours and 10 minutes, not counting cinematics. Add those cinematics and it's at least two and a half hours for the first playthrough, possibly more.

Funnily enough, our soundtrack is around 90 minutes, meaning there's very little repetition when it comes to the music. Anyone who has played some of the less-music-packed digitally distributed games with one or two songs repeating ad nauseam will surely appreciate the fact.

Duke Nukem Forever

I've been an avid follower and an extreme fanboy of Duke Nukem 3D and I've shown my high anticipation for Duke Nukem Forever several times here on TAGAP website. So, naturally I've received several inquiries about what I thought of the game. Short answer; I liked it.

Long answer; I really liked it, but at the same time I can see why more modern gaming converts – especially those who didn't jump into first-person-shooters until Halo or Modern Warfare came along – have shown their hatred towards it. It's retro in many ways, from figure-it-out-yourself level design to dumb-as-a-boot humor and aging technology. I've also heard criticism about how large portion of it is actually puzzles, driving and action-adventure elements – as opposed to shooting stuff – but I felt it was a welcoming breath of revitalized air.

Bottom line; If you're into this kind of thing, go for it. If you have any reservations or hesitations, wait for the inevitable price drop. In fact I'd go so far that if it weren't for the gargantuan one-and-half-decade hype surrounding the game, Duke Nukem Forever would've been received as THE bargain bin guilty-pleasure diamond of 2010s.

Side note; If you have a system capable of running it, get the PC version. The console versions are otherwise adequate, but suffer from the longest loading times I've seen in a long time – and that was when the game was installed on my Xbox 360 hard drive! Petja has been playing the PC version and he told me the loading times there are about industry standard average.

Doctor Who

Since we have no actual "finish stretch crunch time" I've had some spare time to catch up with Doctor Who, both on DVD and audio play front. I'm now almost there with my Eighth Doctor adventures, only two seasons of McGann's own series to go. So far I've liked this Eighth Doctor Adventures series Big Finish produced for BBC4 radio channel. The stories are 60 minutes long, thus moving with pace similar to the 1996 TV movie and the new series. The companion Lucy Miller (Sheridan Smith) is wonderful as well, a truly sparkling personality who feels just right for The Doctor despite the extreme conflict they find themselves in at the very beginning of the series.

I've also listened to the other audio Doctors some more. Fifth Doctor's return to the TARDIS with his full 80s crew has been a delight, as unlike with the TV series way-back-when, in these stories the writers have found plenty of things to do for all the companions. Sixth Doctor's travels with professor Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Stables) has been a wild ride as well, ranging from dramatic emotional events to a comedic pirate musical. And finally I started Seventh Doctor's series from The Harvest, the introduction tale of Hex (Philip Olivier). The Harvest in particular was a truly dramatic tale featuring an interesting take on one of Doctor Who's oldest mainstays. I'd go so far to say that I would love to see the new series tackle the subject from this angle. Vague, I know, but I don't want to spoil the story for you.

And no, I haven't seen Sixth of the new television series; I have to wait for the DVD, to be released next month.

And that's the lunch break, got to return to the paid work once again.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin