Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Half Life 2: Rise - declined at Mod DB - Ooops!

I tried to create a page for HL2 Rise over at ModDB and clearly didn't add enough screenshots etc to convince them it was real.

Mod declined... lol

Perhaps it's better not to use ModDB after all. Your mod gets lost in a sea of bullshit unfortunately and I've never really been good at writing self-promoting news stories etc..

I find the self-promotion of ModDB to be rather embarrasing.
Don't get me wrong, I like people telling me I did a good job, but only after the mods released. Prior to that point, any kind of promotion of the mod seems annoyingly hollow.

For Deep Down, I released a playable level to get people excited. That's really the only update that is going to mean anything to people. Playable content is what people want.

News stories about the fact you've finished a weapon model, or that you've appointed a new art director, or that you've finished the story, aren't really what players are looking for. It all seems to feed from delusions of grandure that project leaders has acquired. Often these project leaders have no actual technical skills and have simply collected a group of people looking for a project together. They then talk an awful lot and produce very little.

To produce a great mod, you dont need a huge team of people. You don't really need a team at all. You just need to know how to change game content and build maps.

A friend of mine created the Warhammer 40,000 mod Exterminatus on his own with no additional assistance. Its a very popular mod and he's done a fantastic job with it. He's now working on a new really exciting project that will blow everyone away I'm sure.

Me personally, I'm looking forward to getting my next project out the door but also have been chatting with some guys with a proven track record about doing some map design for them. Fingers crossed it will all come together...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Half Life 2: Rise

I promised myself that Deep Down would be my last Half Life 2 project. It has taken me a year and a half to get it done and I really never inteneded it to take that long. Granted for 8 months I didnt' work on it but it's still way too long of a dev cycle.

The reaction to Deep Down has changed my mind however. Its been really well received, and now I have the skillset to be able to produce high quality mods it would be silly to waste it. Plus I've tried mapping for the other Source games and nothing measures up to the fun of HL2.

So this leads us, inevitably to Half Life 2: Rise. The follow up to Deep Down that charts Alyx and Gordon's return to the surface. I've already got some puzzles working in dev maps and a general theme, look and feel but it's the gameplay that will change significantly.

One element of my maps that many players have commented on and enjoyed are those moments when the player has the upper hand and can plan an attack. Pre-planning an assault or preparing for battle has always been fun but its been underused in the HL2 official games, and I can't say that I've ever really seen it much in Mods.

So here's the premise for HL2: Rise.

Whereever possible, I will allow the player to plan their attack. I will give them a full view of the battlefield before they choose to enter it. I will give them time and tools to prepare for incoming assaults (hoppers, emplaced guns, explosive barrels and floor turrets).
I will allow them to move about above the combine soldiers unaware of their presence before they engage..

The ability to pre-plan gameplay and then execute it allows the player great fun and flexibility. It also adds a lot of replay value as they can try out different strategys.

I'd love to be able to allow the player to set up physics objects as traps for incoming combine.
Or use physics objects to set up defensive barriers against assaults.

Can't believe that I've missed this before, so simple yet so fun.

While this won't be the only form of gameplay, it's a new method that I can insert into my gameplay combination I've used so far.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Yes I'm updating this blog again. Don't make a big thing out of it...

Yes I'm updating this blog again. Don't make a big thing out of it.

What I learned from making Half Life 2: Deep Down, Part 1

1. Baddies that can walk right up to you are no fun
Always put one or several barriers between you and gun based enemy. If an enemy can run right up to you and shoot you from point blank range, they will. Keep the gun based baddies at a slight distance and the combat becomes much more interesting. Fences are good, you can see through them, shoot through them but they keep the distance and ensure a decent fire fight. I've recently played a few mods where a group of baddies are introduced and all I had to do was dance round them with the shotgun, blowing them away and trying not to get shot myself. In official maps, you almost never come toe to toe with gun based NPCs and if you do, they are kept in place by nav node groups.

2. Ignore feedback from lazy players

I had several players who played the mod and simply didnt have the patience to stop and think about the puzzles. They wanted action all the way, the puzzles were simply a barrier to them having fun. As a result, their feedback was to make the solutions to the puzzles so obvious that they wouldn't stop a player for a moment.

3. The basics matter

All the feedback I've received points to one thing. Players love simple explore and fight gameplay. They liked the driving and the puzzles but they're at their happiest when moving through and exploring a space whilst fighting their way through. The two areas mentioned time and again were the hotel and the large cavern after the wind tunnel. Both these areas offer simple Game-play but it's where the players feel at home. The trick to these areas is to keep the player off the beaten path in my opinion. Moving through rooms and corridors is boring, try to think about more interesting ways the player can move through a space.

4. What the player can't see, they don't care about.

My displacements are messy as hell. The cliffs I built have dodgy edges and vertices going mental but the player can't see any of it. Don't get OCD about how tidy your map is if its outside the play area. Take one look at a de-compiled Valve map and you'll see they weren't all that tidy either.