ModJam Day 4: The Business End

How quickly time slips by. One moment, a team is happily making wishlists of features. “Yeah, we can get that in tomorrow” is a common refrain. Until today. Thursday is the day before Friday, and Friday is the day the ModJam ends. Today, each team was forced to look at their game through the prism of an imminent release.

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Cory lands a high kick in Fighter team’s prototype build

The fighter team managed to overcome most of the technical difficulties that plagued them on Wednesday. By mid morning, players could connect to matches and being punching, kicking and dodging. Cory is setting very high standard for the visuals in the game, and had painted lots of original artwork.

 

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Charlie testing out some new gameplay code in Fighter

Charlie is drawing on his vast, hitherto untapped knowledge of fighting games to try and create an authentic experience. Having Andi (otherwise known as the Machine, the Beast, the Code Wizard) on the team has allowed rapid development of the fighting code, and together they are making strides towards having the mod ready for play on Friday.

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Steve working on equipment selection code

The survival team, creating ‘Last Stand,’ ran up against some limitations of NS2 gamecode in the morning. In NS2, players rarely have to pick out specific weapons and equipment from large piles. In Last Stand, such precise manipulation is common place, especially at the start of a round. Steve therefore spent quite some time reworking the equipment pickup code to be much more precise than in NS2.

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The office ‘Board Room Table’ became a pad for drawing Last Stand equations

Every time an alien dies in Last Stand, the player is offered a choice of three new aliens to instantly spawn as. Over time, the power of those aliens increases. Coming up with game logic to calculate which aliens should be offered occupied the minds of Dushan and Hugh for quite some time. Eventually, a solution was found and alien spawns are now working well. Check out this Last Stand playtest posted on NS2HD:

The volunteer playtest group has graciously donated lots of time and feedback to Last Stand mode. With the addition of some final UI elements and balance tweaks on Friday, it will be ready for public consumption!

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Brian working on a player model for the Heist team

The Heist team has successfully implemented artificial intelligence and many gameplay mechanics. For example, laser alarms, button alarms, cameras, and guards are now all working. The challenge for the team on Thursday has been putting all these elements into gameplay scenarios.

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Max and Brian discussing scenario creation for Heist

Brian has found that creating a scenario that is not too hard, but not too easy is a tricky task. Each scenario must require some combination of actions by multiple players. Make the scenario too hard, and players may lose interest. Make it too say, and the game will not elicit that feeling of camaraderie and achievement that the team is striving for.

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Brian examining camera monitors in Heist

With only one day left, all teams have much to do. The ModJam has been a great success so far, with everyone learning new things every day. Artists coding, coders drawing, designers animating, the cross-pollination of disciplines is helping everyone understand game development from new angles. No matter if any of the games actually work tomorrow, we can be sure that throwing this ModJam will help UWE make its products better.