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May 27th, 2016

Vacation in Hell

What am I working on right now?

Since the last blog post I've raced onwards at break-neck speed; I already have a full boss-fight ready to go – both the enemies and the boss arena! Now all I need is the cut-scenes to tie these levels together and voilà, we have ourselves another complete episode.

The boss fight in question is against the same character I mentioned in the previous post. While I'll reveal this space penguin in due time, I can say that creating and scripting this fight was pretty horrendous a task. In fact I ended up starting the scripting from scratch at one point and instead wrote a whole new AI routine to handle it all.

And it wasn't just the scripting that ended up being a time-sink, but so were the backgrounds for the level. The end result is a three-layered, animated backdrop and it took quite a while to set up properly. But hey, at least the boss fight isn't just unique, but takes place in an interesting environment!

Next up; Jumping between another boss arena and crafting Pedro's main level. Especially the Pedro-map has been tons of fun to prototype, as I have to approach in a completely different way, both progression and scripting wise. It's a lot of work – we don't want Pedro becoming the next Sheva Alomar, after all – but it's already paying off.

DOOM!

In case you've somehow missed it, the new DOOM from id Software was just released. Also, if you've somehow managed to miss it;

Pablo with Cacodemon

Yeah, the new DOOM borders on a perfection in video game form. I prepared for this release beforehand, actually spending my annual vacation days specifically for this. And oh boy, it was so worth it!

This isn't just some brand-based nostalgia from a long-time fanboy. Of course my fondness of the originals plays its part in this all, but it's only a part. For comparison; While I was completely okay with Duke Nukem Forever several years ago, I was among the first to admit that the game was far from perfect and couldn't really recommend to everyone. But DOOM? DOOM IS almost perfect.

I realised this after the campaign ended and I said to myself; 'okay, you've taken several days off TAGAP, time to go back'. And I did... and I had darn hard time getting back to the swing of things. The first two post-DOOM days I had to seriously fight the urges to either start copying over the gameplay concepts from the new DOOM or to giving up on TAGAP altogether, admitting defeat in the light of the id Software masterpiece.

And no, this is not exaggeration; This actually happened. I did get back to working on TAGAP3 and this was mostly thanks to the fact that I realised that TAGAP3 already did share some design elements with the new DOOM without me ripping them off. A glimmer of hope for the project, right? Right?

So, yeah. In case you were still wondering; Yes, I really, REALLY liked DOOM and it will likely be my Game of the Year 2016. And soundtrack of the year (thank you, Mick Gordon!). And Collector's Edition of the year; That led-lit Revenant statue is no cheap, vacuum-pressed plastic garbage, but a true work of art.

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!

Oh, yeah, there are other games beside DOOM? Really?

No, just kidding; I've played quite a slew of them whilst waiting for DOOM and even one after it. Between this blog and the previous one I have completed Uncharted 2 and the amazing Ratchet & Clank.

From the two, Ratchet & Clank is something I will likely return to quite regularly. This is my first experience with the series – I was mainlining on Xbox the previous past generations, after all – and I was floored by both the characters and the gameplay. In case you didn't know, the series is a mixture of a mascot-platformer and a bonkers 3rd person shooter. And by bonkers I mean the weaponry in this game is insane – from hypnotic discoballs to the de-rezzing pixeliser and the one-and-only Mr. Zircon!

While I can't say for sure – not having played the original – from what I gathered this new game is a stunningly beautiful remake of the first game, slightly altered so that it works double-time as a tie-in to the new movie. By the way, when I say it's a beautiful game, I do really mean it; It's the first time in game history that, when a cut-scene was triggered, I occasionally had to take a double take before telling the in-engine cinematics and the movie clips apart. Usually it's clear as day, but not here – it's almost like playing a Dreamworks film.

Seriously, it's gorgeous, fun stuff and I wholeheartedly recommend it. And if you haven't played it yet, it might be just the thing to wind down with during your post-DOOM adrenaline overload.

Myself, for post-DOOM gaming, I've been battling in Battleborn from Gearbox. It's a fun title – sort of like a love-child of MOBA-genre and Borderlands. However, I will write more on it later and I'm sure most of you can already guess in what context (yes, I'm looking at you, Toby).

Next up

For games? Likely health doses of Battleborn, followed by Uncharted 3 and very likely the 'current-gen' re-release of Hard Reset. Hard Reset, by the way, is a great little throw-back shooter and well worth a go. And by the time I'm done with those, Mirror's Edge Catalyst will be out!

For TAGAP3, work continues on Pedro's epic level, followed by building of the two remaining 'regular boss arenas'. Both of those have already been designed, it's only a matter building the assets and setting them up. Which means it's tons of work, but still, looking good!

Also, the TAGAP Day '16 is quickly approaching and I need to figure out what kind of goodies we should release this time around.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin