Samstag, 23. Juni 2012

Catathrenia // June Update 2

User Posted Image 
 Bad news first: I had to delete 6 entire levels. Yeah! there is a lot of work going straight down the drain. Those maps where simply not working well, went too hard on the memory cap or wheren't fun to play. 
If you are working in a wierd setting like this where there isn't that much realism to hold on to, you still need to give the game some sort of grounding and sense of danger or you hit the player over the head and the game ends up being boring. You can also not string together 4 levels of pure puzzle solving and story elements or you lose the folks who are not that invested in the storyline, not yet really into the setting or just want some relieving action. You gotta get the player to get chased by something or the entire hostile athmosphere gets lost. There is a lot of work involved to get a game like this working in fpsc. 
 Bottomline, I had a hard cutback on progress but it made up for better flowing- and more coherent gameplay.
 I got to work on the health system which invites to explore the level (we'll get to that later). It strongly relies on the use of various chemicals and items you can find and you can carry 3 flasks (healthpotions) with you. In fact, there is a passive inventory (keys, puzzleitems and ingredients) and 2 active inventories: (Weapons and Potions). Things you carry and can consume are allocated as icons on the left side of the screen (very small and stylish icons...dont worry, I wont overload your HUD with crap) In Fact, the health-o-meter isn't visible at all and can only be triggered by pressing a button. You'll see what I did there once its finished. :) 

 I've been thinking about adding a few more weapons. It has 3 so far and since I clear the inventory of any tools and documents you dont need anmyore there is room for infinite guns. If you got a stellar idea that would suit the setting, feel free to air your mind. ...I've been concidering a crossbow btw. :) User Posted Image  
You will also get mechanical puzzles to solve...this is not part of one of them. In fact, thats just there to spice up the first chapter's scenery. User Posted Image  
I really like this room. There will be a lot going on in it aswell :) User Posted Image  
Don't worry, I won't overuse windows as much as the screenshot reals might make you think User Posted Image  
That thing is... I dont know what that is either User Posted Image  
Well, you get a lot of readingmaterial in here too...but hey, in other games you just get a screen full of text, here you can run around with it. ;) 
 User Posted Image User Posted Image User Posted Image  
Thats from the "desperation" subchapter...its very minimalistic User Posted Image 
 I finally have a good setting for the dogman in your face! He has new sounds too. 

Thanks for reading.

Sonntag, 10. Juni 2012

Catathrenia June Update 1

Quick update!

I made some progress with the game and felt like sharing a few thoughts. I aim at telling the story with strong visuals that should represent certain ideas which is why I will be most likely forced to model a lot of extra props for this title (which has been originaly designed to be as lazy as possible...but I guess thats just how creativity works). I already made like 30 entities including variations and I'm just getting started with the more abstract levels.I show you all of this later.

Lately I remade and reimported Benge's G3 from Modelpack 6 which is the most prominent weapon in this game. And yes! There will be weapons in this game for two reasons. 1: I always wanted to make a game featuring the Modelpack 6 Weapons which I never did. 2: Its a horrorthemed game, no survival horrorgame or similar. I don't aim only to scare you, I aim to do a lot of artwork and convey a story while making a fun game.
Besides the usual retexture, soundexchange and Airmod polishing I also mapped all textures on a single image and attached a customized shader to it which makes it look faboulus in motion. I made a screenshot to convey hot it behaves.

Weapon Shader Demo

Upper: facing lightsource
lower: not facing any lightsource

as you can see, the shader adapts to its environment and is gentle on the hands while a lot more intense on the gun itself. This is in itself not a big accomplishment, I just want to point it out, that even though my game has a strong overgrained and overbloomed style to it, the gun never shines like a christmastree while I see a lot of other FPSC titles where the shader effects are so overdone that it hurts the eyes. Most of the time they look like shiny plastic. Thats a major complaint I have about shaders, they are rarely used in a decent way. (to be fair, in FPSC they are a pain in the rectal area)

Thats enough of that

Don't worry, clocks will only be a big thing in the second interval.

A friendly music composer I met on Moddb made a bunch of neat ambientmusic for my game In fact, this will be a great contrast and addition to my ...slightly more insane musical pieces. You should definately check them out and his other stuff:

Catathrenia BG Soundtrack

I also wrote (yes! wrote...prepared and thought about and all that) a bunch of possible riddles and puzzles to build into the game. Most of them are hard work and I will certainly drop a lot of them as I simply don't have the time. I just hope I can get your interest in some of them as I don't want to bore you with "find the switch and drag the box over the platform" puzzles.

Now, a few more images and I hope to see you all next update.

Feedback and questions are appreciated!


Samstag, 2. Juni 2012

Review: // Wreckage

Welcome to another indie game review. This time its the crysis mod "Wreckage". I review stand-alone mods and total conversions aswell as I count them as Indie Games. (Just so you know)

"Wreckage offers an action-oriented presentation, professional execution, complete dubbing
and Crysis-level graphics. Developed by the four-man-team around Christopher Held, who
also already developed "The Harbour" and "Rainy Days".
It's the final chapter of the story, that began with the map "The Harbour" and was continued in the
modification "Rainy Days". It tells the story of three soldiers who try to survive a devastating war
between two worlds. The play time is somewhat longer than one hour."

Source: moddb
The game is visually impressive. Even compared to recent AAA releases

Its one of the rare times where a game description keeps its promises. The Mod is executed professional, despite its flaws which I will adress later on. It is completely dubbed and the visual effects and graphics are top-notch. However, the graphics aren't "exactly" on crysis-level as the developers of wreckage know how to map good looking indoor levels. ;)

So lets jump right in:

T H E   G O O D

The game drops you right into the action without a story narrative, a horribly paced cutscene, a text-intro or any of the other abominations mods like these often throw at you. This game puts you behind a minigun in a chopper after a short, wellmade character intro. You might notice that you will play the first part as "Nomad" (the protagonist from the original crysis). Thats actually an awesome design choice as you first experience the benefits of the nanosuit before the designers take it from you in part 2 and 3. Another noteworsy detail is that they really found a dubactor with a similar voice as the german "Nomad" (Which is an extremely similar or the same dubbing voice from the actor Nicolas Cage, one of my favorite actors.) This really shows how dedicated they where to deliver a great mod. You do however notice that this guy wasn't a professional voiceactor, but the campiness of the acting actually adds to the fun. Jacksoooon!!

 The first part is pretty good. It starts off with a wellmade "defend this position" task which has a nice warfare feel to it and then moves to "advance and shoot everyone in the face" gameplay. This is story driven, but its not my job to spoil everything :). I didn't like the first few levels that much. To this point it all feels like a solid crysis mod and not the blockbuster I was promised but after a while, in the shoes of Lambert, the game really starts to shine. Not only in terms of leveldesign, but also in terms of creativity, fun and presentation. There is a certain sence of dread in this game reflected from the ruined harbor, the lighting and the wreckage (pun intended) scattered around everywhere. The presentation feels a lot like a recent warmovie and everything appears perfectly grimy and in lowsaturated colors. You don't get realistic military behaviour but certainly a lot of combat-flair.

The game has a much stronger "army and crisis and stuff" feel to it than the actual crysis

The modders added a few custom weapons to the regular bunch which are actually well done. I adress a few problems with those later on but for now: The SMG comes with its own modkit. AWESOME! :)

Through the campaign, you see a bunch of cutscenes which are actually fantastic. I don't even want to know how many hours of scripting, remaking, practicing, testing and redoing everything went into these.
There is also a fun level where you, as Lambert, walk solo through a rainy level reciting semi-poetic lines. This level has a great campy feel to it. Especially since you show up with a sniper rifle behind that huge neonsign like in a stylish contract-killer flick. Lamberts voiceactor did a great job btw.

I noticed that the german gamesmag "Pc Games" concidered it necessary to point it out that you can use the nanosuit in this mod...I found it to be a superb design choice to drop it. :)

I can't say a lot more than already has been said everywhere else on the interwebs. Its a great mod with a damn nice presentation. So lets get into some criticism before I'm tired of this review:

T H E   B A D

While the voiceacting is cool and a lot of fun. Its occasionally horribly off. A noteworsy example would be the cutscene with Dr. Hendrikson where the sound and dubbing towards the end of the scene is totally out of touch. (Which is sad as it started pretty cool). there are also some other complaints I have with that scene which reflect problems in the entire mod. For instance, there is one moment where I think you are pulling Dr. Hendrikson by the hair (her hair is up in the air) but I don't see my arm (which I later on see when my protagonist stands up way more to the left) I guess that was some kind of Paranormal Activity 3 Moment? ;) This however is followed by a scene where I beat up somebody I don't really know. Seriously....who where those guys? Once again, I don't see my hands and I'm just guessing whats happening. My hands however are also disappearing from the gun a few times but thats no big deal. This is followed by another chopper sequence where I'm behind a machinegun. And boy! Am I tired of these goddamn chopper sequences in first person shooters. They are tiresome, too much effort for the development team for a mediocre result (seriously? all this time to design a level, add enemies and events for a sequence most players I know just want to get over with?)  and terribly overused. The game would have done much more for me if you would have just landed somewhere with the helicopter and left me walk and shoot in some good old fashioned shooter gameplay. Thats something that lags in this game. There could have been 2 or 3 more levels where its just a shooter. This awesome last level before I get into the jeep in this wonderfully dystopic building. More of that please!

Chopper-railshooters are annoying. Even if they look as cool as here

In that building I was using my UMP which appears out of nowhere. Lambert suddenly has it in that Dr. Hendrikson cutscene mentioned above. I was actually searching throughout the entire military base level which comes prior to the cutscene to find it without result. While the UMP is cool...I do have to say that its overpowered and handles a lot more like an assault rifle than a submachinegun. Its sound has a lot more punch as the SCAR or the korean rifle aswell. The SPR is pretty cool but its sad that you can't have ironsights.

The AI and pathfinding is alright, even though I had to redo the first level twice since cafferty always got stuck somewhere.

While the game has a ton more athmosphere than crysis (which feels really dry and lifeless in my opinion) its also as linear as a game from the call of duty franchise. If you do however take the time to explore a level, you will notice a lot of flaws and that the levels suddenly are either really empty or fall apart like you reached the end of reality in the movie "the 13th floor".

Which leads to:

T H E   U G L Y

The leveldesign in this mod is great and has a lot of concepts superior to crysis however, if you insist on examining them, you realise a lot of shading errors (I guess its the parallax mapping) where the terrain seems to melt in front of your eyes and a bunch of buildings and wooden structures (especially in level 1) sticking out or floating around in the map. Thats unfortunate for players like me that like to take an alternate approach to everything. These design flaws really take you out of the game and are a string contrast to the great visuals and artdirection.

Alright! I'm out of complaints that matter...lets get to the..


Wreckage is a great mod every shooter enthusiast should have seen. I can savely recommend this game to most players as its content is not only great but also average-joe compatible. This mod certainly shows what a talented team of hobbyists can achieve with some effort and vision and despite my nitpicking. Its damn good!

Also: Sorry for the spelling mistakes you might find. -> Native german speaker ;)


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