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April 2nd, 2016

April progress update

A shorter update this time; Too busy working on the game itself, which is obviously a good thing!

What am I working on right now?

Right now I'm hopping between finishing the level I've written about earlier and crafting cut-scenes. And in the interim I created the in-game version of the last missing lead character from our Plutoid penguin rogues gallery.

The level I'm talking about has been one of the trickiest to complete. It speaks in volumes that the level script file – which is pure ASCII without any graphics or sounds – is over 900 Kb at this point. No wonder really, as in this one you go both on-foot and in a vehicle, swap between different environmental conditions and dodge timed environmental hazards. And to make matters more complex, there are also a slew of in game (skippable) cut-scenes, one of which introduces the afore-mentioned main character!

So, yeah, it's been an entertainingly head-scratching ride, an enjoyable logic puzzle of a design to implement. By the way, this map is the last one in the same episode our long-play gameplay trailer was recorded from.

As for the cut-scenes; They are not connected to that new character or the afore-mentioned level, but just happened to be next on the to-do-list. I needed I diversion from working on this map non-stop, so I picked next one on the list to vary my workload. As it turns out, this cinematic was one of the more plot-focused ones, ending up quite long. And stuff I did for this cinematic trickled down to the actual gameplay as well! This specific part of TAGAP3 design is something that might be worth of its own blog post at some point, so more on that then.

Playlist

Now that my backlog is mostly cleared, the old Backlog adventures spot is now simply Playlist; 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!

You know, after two plus years of purely backlog games, it feels pretty darn weird to play a game that is brand-spanking-new. And that game happens to be FarCry Primal from Ubisoft. So, every night when working on TAGAP 3 starts to feel heavy, I've been going full caveman in the year -10K!

First things first; I absolutely love the setting. I honestly can't remember the last time witnessed an action game I said to myself "I have never seen this before!". Plus, as a kid I was obsessed with pre-historic life and thus watched unhealthy amount of B-movies featuring cavemen versus giant beasts. FarCry Primal may lack your loin-clothed Raquel Welch, but otherwise it's spot on.

As a game, it's modern FarCry, except some of the stuff makes heck-of-a-lot more sense here. For example the whole equipment crafting component fits this one a lot better than the instalnments taking place in a modern setting. It really makes it feel like a 'survival lite' game; The survival elements never get into the way the fun like in, say, Rust, but there's just enough of it to significantly add to the atmosphere.

I also can't stress how atmospheric the game is. From the unique Wenja-language created for the game to absolutely perfect aesthetic and properly primal soundtrack, you could carve the atmosphere with a stone knife! When you are descending into a dark forest by moonlight, armed with a mere wooden spear while you can hear all the dangerous wildlife roaring in the distance... it's truly exhilarating!

Plus you can tame and pet a sabertooth tiger. That's just awesome.

So yeah, I really like this game. It's unique, filled with fun stuff to do and stays true to the concept all the way through. It's not a reskin of FarCry but a proper, full game that can stand on its own feet. Only complaint one could have is that it doesn't have much of a story per se. The game relies more on atmosphere, great characters and the open-world shenanigans you pull of by yourself than a pre-set narrative. For me it works, considering we're talking about prehistory here.

All we need now is an expansion set in the lost world occupied by dinosaurs and Blood Dragons.

DOOM Beta

So, yep. I've played the new DOOM in its multiplayer form and it's great. Easiest description for the combat flow would be; Think Quake 3 Arena, only more intense, frantic and brutal. Combat is fast and the matches breeze past you at a rapid pace.

There are a couple of big differences to Q3 that really give its own flavour. The freedom of movement makes things a lot more frantic, since you are no longer stuck to predictable routes, being able double jump and even do some light parkouring by climbing ledges. Also, instead of collecting the weapons from the environment, new DOOM goes for the modern way of loadouts instead. Worry not, given the pick-ups – power-ups, runes and special weapons – the familiar looking for bonus items for the advantage is there. You just don't have to find a worthy gun before you can join the battle.

I only played a handful of matches, because from the get-go I promised myself I wouldn't go overboard with the beta. See, as much as I would want to dedicate my gaming hours to some Deathmatching, I fear getting to know the ins-and-outs of every gameplay mechanic beforehand has a potential spoil the sense of discovery in the campaign. You know what I'm talking about; The feeling of finding a new weapon and wondering how badly it smears the demons into gibs?

But hey, now I know for certain that not only will I be playing the campaign and co-op, I most likely will be spending some serious hours with the competitive multiplayer portions as well. Which is something I haven't said about a shooting game since Duke Nukem 3D was re-released on Xbox Live Arcade way-back-when.

So yeah, from the looks of the beta, DOOM won't disappoint! Fight Like Hell, indeed.

Next up

For TAGAP, next I'll be crafting more boss arenas and boss-fights! That's always challenging and fun, involving everything from artwork creation and character rigging to level design and scripting.

On gaming front, I'm not sure what I'll play next. At first I planned to play Shadow Warrior next, but considering DOOM is just around the corner now, I think I'll need to go for something different. Perhaps action-adventure romp Uncharted 2 would fit the bill?

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin