Today I will hopefully have the introduction and first two chapters of my IF finished and ready to go for class. I’m just finishing the intro and finalizing the basic game shooting engine and also finalizing the contents of chapter 2. So far it’s looking good, and all I’ll have to do after this is the other 4 chapters. I’ve got an ending planned, I just need to make a path there. The ending is heavily involved with one of the player’s choices in the second chapter. I figured the second chapter due to the fact that player has to readjust to his surroundings after the cascade at the start of the first chapter. It wouldn’t be fair to give the player the bad ending just because he messed up due to the fact that he wasn’t fully acclimated to his environment. I’m also really not liking this new WordPress interface, it’s missing a word count.
As my IF is based off a FPS, I figured it best to include a combat system. it’s got the basic Half-Life weapons, plus a few new ones. I had a lot of trouble with implementing shooting actions, an ammo count, and even reloading. I’ve finally figured it out, (thanks to the kind people at Rec.arts.Int-fiction Usenet group) and have almost completed the whole of my new actions (even being able to hack doors with the laptop is now functional). I’ve already got two of the story chapters finished, but I’m adding an interactive intro that will be the beginning that leads to the six story chapters. One of the main issues I’ve been running into is things being ambiguous, or that alot of my code is written in a way that I7 recognizes two or more parts as the same thing, and ignores all but the last part. One more problem is that since I haven’t finished the intro I cannot test the weapons in the later story chapters. I’m also having some problems with size. Because of the audio effects I am incorporating, the file has gone from 26kb to 26mb. this a very large difference, and it could cause some distribution problems for the finished product. I also found a forum friend who does amazing musical work. He goes by the user name “Rezter” and agreed to make some background music for me. The one catch is that I’m going to recode in flash and submit to Newgrounds so he can get more widespread of credit for doing the music. I don’t really think that Newground’s ADD, sugar injected preteen fan base will be able to accurately judge an IF though. At worse it will get “Blammed” which I wouldn’t care about, but Rez is quite popular on NG and that could affect his overall reputation.
I had already spent alot of time making my IF before these blogs were assigned, but I figured I can still blog about Pre-Production aspects of parts of BMC (Black Mesa Chronicles, my IF) that are still in development as well as introduce everyone to what I’ve done so far. My basic concept is Half-Life from another point of view, much like the GearBox Software expansions except mine is not a Half-Life mod, it’s coded in Inform 7. It centers around the player who is a scientist that must escape from part of the Black Mesa Facility not shown in any Half-Life games or expansions. Half-Life differed from many FPSs at the time by using scripted sequences instead of cut scenes. The difference is that the player has control during these sequences, allowing for more realism and intensity. This makes Inform 7 quite a suitable medium for my version, as one of it’s key features is that during it’s scenes the player can still remain in full control. In fact the player’s choices during these scenes are going to be what determines the overall outcome of the game. I am also incorporating sound effects, music, and pictures that make the player feel more like he/she is in the classic Half-Life environment. This will hopefully make players familiar with first person shooters and/or Half-Life feel less alienated by the fact that they have much less control in aspects of first person shooters, along with more control along the lines of Inform capabilities. I also plan to integrate a help system uniquely tailored to the capabilities of my game for players new to IF.
The Source SDK is an amazing software package that still bewilders me. I would like to mod my own game, but I don’t have time to do anymore than mere experiments. The other day I had some fun with zombies, enclosed spaces, and a few metro cops. Zombies always win in close quarters, this was no exception. 5 Zombies against 12 Metro cops in a small hallway left me with about 2 zombies taking down the last Metro Cop. Aside from personal fun and amusement, the Source SDK is also a gateway to new experiences and other software such as the XSI Mod Tool and Visual Studio. One of the best aspects of the Source SDK is its variability aspect of a much loved game; Half-life 2. The ability to mod the game gives the player full “writerly” control. Also I would like to say that I did not know at the time that there was a HL1 SDK, My assumptions about it not existing were wrong. Another aspect of HL2 that the Source SDK improves is the modularity aspect. Before, the different parts of the game (sounds, Textures, Models, and other things like the HUD) were all combined to make the game. Now, The Different parts to make the game are available to the player and are combined to allow the player to literally “Make” the mod.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Half life series is it’s wide range of mods and even with Half-Life 2; a free modding system to those who have purchased the HL2 game. I cannot say for sure whether or not Half-life 1 had this amazing component but I’m pretty sure it did not as i have just purchased Half-Life 1 through Steam and no SDK for it has appeared in my tools category unfortunately. I do believe however that a version of hammer exists for HL1 as i have seen it along with many third-party modding tools for HL1. While this may be a Valve product, it is not an SDK all by itself (hammer is just a map editor). I’ve even seen a third-party model viewer for HL1 which would not be necessary if there was one with HL1. The Source SDK has three main components- Hammer editor, Model viewer and Face poser. Face Poser seems to be made for making cut scenes in your mod, but I could be wrong. It allows you to manipulate a characters face and make them talk even, so that’s my logical conclusion- despite having never needed it. The Source SDK also has links to some very helpful programs and places. SoftImage XSI seems very useful if I could get out of my NURBS modeling mindset (I’m proficient at Rhino 3D) and move onto polygons and other programs’ versions of NURBS (nothing seems to have the same NURBS interface as Rhino 3D despite the fact that they also support the same NURBS standards). What I’m talking about is 3D modeling and making your own objects for Half-Life 2 (just felt I needed to clarify as I was throwing around what might seem to some as technical gibberish). It even allows you to edit your own set of the source code, but that requires Microsoft Visual Studio 2003/2004 which i cant afford and cannot seem to find a trial of anymore (they’re on to 2008 which i would download but in 5 years things can change drastically). Anyway, in the meantime I’m happy experimenting with my own maps and trying to figure out if I even want to make something on the large scale.