ModJam Day 2: The first playtests!

Much of day 1 of the UWE ModJam was taken up with picking teams and ideas. Day 2 has been nothing but hardcore development, and pizza. Having settled on their core ideas, each team has set off to realise their vision. Each team has until Friday to get their game working!

By late Tuesday afternoon, two of three teams had succeeded in having some sort of playtest where some basic game mechanics were working. Of course, getting the game working means that 90% of the work is still to be done!

Team 1: Fighter

The Fighter team has not yet settled on a name for their fight-genre baby. Fighter is shaping up as the most visually stunning of the three projects, aided immensely by the presence of Cory on the team.

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Cory working on main menu art for Fighter

Along with a lush Refinery based background, the fighter team is integrated a stunning looking main menu. While at the moment the only two playable characters are the Fade and Marine, this menu will allow the game to grow with additional characters!

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Charlie cheering during the first playtest of Fighter

In the early afternoon, Charlie started whooping and cheering as he played the first round of Fighter. The lush background draws on the striking red streams of the Lava Falls area of Refinery, and there has been talk of Max adding depth-of-field effects to enhance the presentation.

Two key areas area baking the Fighter teams’ noodles: Networking and animations. Crisp, fluid animations are crucial in a fighting game: Brian has been delving into animation graphs to connect fists with flinches. It’s not clear yet whether the networking model used for NS2 will translate well to a fighting game. The team is hoping so, because they want to focus on the game and not ‘netcode!’

Team 2: Last Stand

‘Dushan was dead. A skulk got him near the shuttle doors, and now Steve and I were the only ones left. “Get to the control room!” I called out. “Wait, we need weapons, follow me!” Together, we ran across the landing pad to a pile of weapons that had spilled out of the shuttle. I grabbed a shotgun, and Steve a flamethrower. As we picked them up, the sound of Skulk claws on metal rang out. “The control room! Go go!” Inside, we crouched behind the control panels. They were coming.’

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Steve diving into the Last Stand code

The first Last Stand play-test went much better than expected. The basics worked: Aliens insta-spawn and then flow through the map to the marine fortress area. Throughout the day a few more features were added: Stationary damaged Exosuits placed in semi-vulnerable positions will create powerful defenses for the marines, but won’t be able to cover all directions.

Last Stand Mapping Guide

An early version of the Last Stand mapping guide

Maps are a crucial
part of Last Stand, and their layouts will determine how fun the mod is to a significant degree. Olmy and Jonacrab are cranking on two maps: Hangar and and as yet unnamed map loosely based on the Docking landing pad. User interface, balance, and many more features still to come!

Team 3: Heist

Heist is shaping up as the most unique and ambitious game of the three. Today, the team managed to get basic guard AI, alarms, and various other features hooked up. Liam provided a vault door, which will no doubt be making an appearance protecting something valuable to steal!

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The vault door that will feature in Heist

While the Heist team has not yet had a playtest, they are making solid progress and should be having their first one tomorrow. The art style and challenge of Heist are unique: Where the other two games use a recognisably ‘NS2′ aesthetic, Heist’s is completely unique.

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The crew checking out Heist teams’ handiwork

One interesting feature of the Heist AI is that it will not ‘forget’ you. If it sees you, it will permanently change its behaviour in response, changing the way you play out the mission. This could potentially be used to the player’s advantage: Luring guards away while a team-mate slips past, for example.

Tomorrow, the jam continues!