Friday, September 30, 2011

The plumber

Woke up, went to work, got myself some coffee, parked my ass on a chair, turned on the laptop, scratched my balls, checked the email... holy butcrack.

Wow. rockpapershotgun.com & IndieGames.com, a blog about, yep, Indy games, got notice of T22. Suddenly a lot more traffic on this crappy hole on the WWW, a dozen of Youtube abonnees + jokes, and some articles about T22 on these websites.

I'm shy by nature and hate to stand in the spotlights, but having this attention on your (life)work is great. Got to correct a few wrong assumptions though!

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...Skyscraper in the Soviet Union...

I mentioned the word "Soviet era style" several times. But... T22 is not really in the Soviet Union. The theme is certainly related, not only on the map design, but in the end the story has not much to do with Stalin & comrades.


...You play as Robert...

Thanks for the name suggestion! But honestly, Robert is a real-life person who is busy designing the player. The protagonist himself has no name yet! But I bet Robert is pleased!


...Then what the # is the game about?!...

Uh... It's hard to tell without spoiling things. The whole story and game is one big quest basically. All I can tell is that you are a caretaker doing jobs for the boss in a big (sort of Soviet style) skyscraper indeed.

And after a while, you do want your freedom (back). So the player, codename Robert, wants "to break free. God knows, God knows I want to break free." "I've Fallen in love"... wait, that's Queen. No love for Robert here!

And yep, the building is pretty much abondon. You'll try to puzzle/search your way out, which makes it a bit different than a zombie slasher or action game. But that doesn't mean you won't get your hands dirty eventually! Be prepared to be affraid, very affraid.


The demo movie is a bunch of scripted events btw. The game itself should give freedom. You decide where to go, when to go, and what to do if something happens. But hey, I wasn't that far programming ;)


...The sound hurts my ears / too much blur...

The sound, SSAO and motion blur are making havoc in this movie indeed. Partially because unfinished business, partially because of the cracky framerate. The movie was recorded on a somewhat older videocard (GeForce 8800) with FRAPS killing the CPU in the background. It made the sound go berserk, and the motion blur even nastier as the deltaTime between 2 frames was relative big.


...I'm a Plumber...

That would be pretty romantic right? Not sure if "a plumber by trademark" means I'm doing a proper job, or actually being a plumber? Too bad. The truth is, I can barely hold a baco. Never ever ask me to fix your toilet, unless you want a sinflood! In real life, I'm programming operating systems for pharmaceutical machines, warehouses, and my sweet 30 ton babies:
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...Out soon...

Oh dear :) Don't want to spoil the party, but this game won't be out anywhere soon. Since we try to put the visual standard pretty high, and the T22 world is going to be kinda big, there is sh~tload of work to do. Programming the engine further, and having some maps, models, textures, sounds and animations would be nice too.

Do you remember the famous words "When it's done!". Well, that game is "done" all right. I'm going to say the same :) But seriously, the current target is forming a team, rather than creating the game right away. I can dream all I want, creating a "big" game with just a few hobbyists is not realistic.

So let's see if we can ensemble enough talented people to create a game in our spare time... Or at least make a good start, and then look further to get this baby on a more professional level. Doing this Blog and demo movies are part of the strategy; hopefully it attracts talented people!


That still sounds like a little boys dream, and... yes, maybe it is. So what? It doesn't mean it's impossible. The people we have here now are capable to create a game like this. The only problem is the lack of manpower so far. Let's show those bastards you don't need a 30-trillion budget to create a good game!



Ever thought about sending this pitch to a publisher?

Yes, but the project is still pretty premature. As said, a team too small for mass production, lot's to add to the engine (including fixing the motion blur! ). First things first, then we'll look further. At this point, I simply can't promise anything to an investor. Unless we work 400% on it maybe, but I don't think the other girls in this house would appreciate that :)


What to expect anywhere soon then?

* A second tech-Demo movie is targetted end this year. Not a "cinematic" horror movie like before, merely a showcase of the Radar Station map we use to test objects.
* A third horror-gameplay movie is targetted somewhere next year.
* A (simple) website end 2011 / begin 2012
* In the meanwhile, collecting more people. Currently we are looking for 3D environment mappers, environment concept-artists, possibly 1 more audio dude(tte), and a texture artist. In 2012 we'll be needing an animator as well.
* When the team is big enough and oiled, we'll start creating actual game content.


"Julio Iglesias is in charge of the concept art?.
You mean the singer?"

Yes.


What color of underpants do you wear?

Transparent-blue or with a panda print.


Halflife2 / Source MOD

No, it's not a Source MOD, neither using another engine such as UDK. it's all coded in-house. And Yes, quite some contents from the first demo movie are from HL2 indeed. Not that I wanted to, but how the hell is a plumber/programmer to create those textures and sounds then? Creating that monster (and animating it) required the maximum of my programmer-art skills. Got to start somewhere. Can't attract good people if I show stuff like this!

Excuses, got to play dirty sometimes. The next movie however will have our own textures and sounds though. In fact, pretty much most screenshots on the Blog from this year are using our own texture sets.


"This stupid video made me broke my Shift key"

Apologees, we'll send a new one.


...Amnesia / Penumbra...

T22 is quite often compared to Amnesia. And that's a good thing! They managed to put down a f#cking scary game with limited horsepower as well. Though it's not inspired on Amnesia. Never heard of the game until recently when one of the team members gave me a link. As a matter of fact, I don't know much horror games anyay. Only played a Doom3, a few Silent Hill's and Gamecube Resident Evils. And Amnesia made me poop my pants. Isn't that ironic?

The gamestyle is a bit similiar though. In Amnesia, instead of fighting, you run for a single enemy that wanders the area. A lot more terrifying if you ask me, although the ability to defend yourself once in a while would be nice...


... The fat lady at the end of that Demo movie, wtf?...

That was just a joke, putting that photo of my girlfriend there. No, Polish women aren't that fat :) Though this woman is as flat as a 2D sprite as well.

Thank you all for reading and your (positive) feedback. It makes it all worth! Back to work now!

10 comments:

  1. congrats on the rps mention, man. Hope this launches ok, the genre is starving!

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  2. The demo video looks really good. I felt a lot of tension just watching it, so I can only expect that actually playing would be even more tense. I look forward to seeing Tower 22 completed some day++

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  3. A friend of mine gave me the link to the RPS article.
    As a guy who watches every horror movie and plays every horror game I can get my hands on, I'm saying this looks really promising. Especially I like the QTE event, when the character runs from that cute creature. I really hope you won't take the same path as guys from Frictional Games (Penumbra trilogy, Amnesia), who think, that making the main character a helpless spineless maggot, taking away all means to display his will for survival, is a cool thing to do.
    Most people, who make horror games/movies don't understand a simple thing, that survival is about creativity, it's not about being or not being able to use weapons, it's about turning every piece of garbage you see on your way to your advantage, even when someone is panicking he can grab the first thing he sees and use it as a weapon or a shield. Any person in circumstances like in Amnesia will know too well, that he has to be ready to face anything anytime if he's planning to survive that journey through darkness and madness, so why not grabbing a wooden plank and few nails, hammer them on it's end with something suitable, so if some freak jumps out in front of him, he could slam it's face with it, hoping at least to buy himself some time to do something about that unpleasant situation. Think about it, if a guy in a movie walks near a barred window and goes deeper through a deadly labyrinth just to escape death, while he could find a crowbar and use the window as a shortcut to his freedom, you think he's a moron, but when the game tells you to shut up and die over and over again because you're a smartass and forces the fear upon you, because no matter how creative and smart you are, you play as a moron who has to act like one, that's really frustrating.
    I know it sounds like a challenge, but I see you're doing fine already trying to jump over your head. I'd really like to see a scary game without those cheap tricks, which will let you actually face your fears, and do it your way, and not making you ignore them instead, trying to play by the rules to succeed.
    Anyway, whatever you'll do I hope this great attempt of making a wonderful horror game will succeed, and you won't try to do more than you can handle and dump it after five years from now, when you realize you need ten more years to finish it the way you want it to be.
    Thank you for your time, with best regards, Vladimir.

    P.S. I'll drop buy sometimes, if you don't mind :)

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  4. Hey! Yeah you can drop by, access granted ;)

    Most people are complaining about the QTE (shift shift run!) event. Well let me say I don't like QTE either. The real reason why this has been done is... the stair-climbing physics weren't good yet, so running up a stair would be a massacre! Therefore I placed the player and the creature on an invisible rail.


    About defening yourself. Since the player is an average guy, I'd like him to do what any other normal person would do. And that is definitely not charging up large freaky monsters! Call me chickenshit, but I would run. However, like you say, that doesn't mean you are 100% helpless. The world has a few weapons and items that let you setup boobytraps, slow the enemy down, or chase it away for a while by hurting it. Self-defense, instead of assault. There is the difference. Wel... at least that's how it should be in this game. Saying is easier than programming!

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  5. Well QTE can be either a tool to create great interactive scenes impossible to be made using the game's mechanics, giving you the feel that you were an inch close to getting killed, but also it can be poorly used and make people upset. Lots of developers tried to implement things, that should be handled by QTE - scenes that demand characters to act outside of game's mechanics, they failed, and I'll explain why.
    The problem is those devs ignore the fact, that the key to build up tension in the game is the effect of presence, which is being destroyed by the game's mechanics. The threat in the game becomes secondary, it represents merely a tool of punishment to the player in case he fails some simple job, and the main enemy is actually the game's controls and mechanics: the character moves with the same (slow) speed as always, while he should run like hell, he has to aim for an object that is supposed to help him so he can take it, and as I said before, he can't solve the problem anyway other than the developers meant to be a solution. Take a look at Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, I was astonished how great was the implementation of survival mechanics. The character can't fight monsters, but he runs like there's no tomorrow, he rolls under obstacles (not crouch-walks slowly under it) or jumps over them (not climbs on it, then jumps down), like any real guy would do, he turns over lockers and all kind of stuff as he runs to make obstacles for the pursuers, he doesn't open the doors like he'd do normally, instead he slams them open without stopping running, and when he gets caught in the monster's grasp he shoves it off with all the desperate ferocity there has to be. Sadly they made the gameplay very simple to make sure it will remain smooth and seamless and there won't be need for real QTE scenes to avoid some complaints.
    Most horror games get less scary around the middle of the playthrough, that's because player gets to know the patterns of the threats he faces - survival becomes a routine, like "Oh, you again? Okay where's ?", developers know that, but instead of making more crazy and spicy features, they just add a dull challenge to the routine, and it just becomes "Oh f#%@ me, not you again! Duh... Okay where's/do I have that goddamn ?". When it comes to that, the only factor that will make the player chose to play further or dump the game is if he cares enough to see how the story ends and if he was enjoying enough to explore the game's world. Speaking of exploring the game's world there is also one common mistake developers, who decide to make the game "more scary", it's the choice between exploration and safety, they force on the player. Most players will chose not to wonder and explore in some place more than needed to advance with the story, if there is some freak wandering around they can't get rid of. Smart devs make the environment creepy and disturbing by itself, keeping player balance between curiosity to snoop around and the feeling that he might get in trouble by doing so, but when there is some obvious and dangerous unstoppable boogieman around, the decision to leave as soon as possible is made instantly, and most of the hard work on the environment and atmosphere goes for nothing.

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  6. About the "Robert" being just an ordinary guy, aren't most of characters in horror games/movies ordinary people too? On top of that, I wonder how ordinary can be considered a person who was going to work to a place like that and be a caretaker there for some time? The thing is it's a game, and that means you play as "Robert" - you're not "Robert", so depending on who plays as "Robert", he can decide to run or hide, or defend himself or be smart and set traps in case of being chased my something or be a brave guy, who's prepared to face dangers in an unfair and difficult fight relying on his reaction and wits, like lots of other ordinary guys in other horror games did before him. I think it's not fair to take away that choice from other players.

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  7. I found some of the QTE events in Resident Evil 4/5 spectacular, like the "knife fight" with Strauser. On the other hand, as I'm getting older, I'm just to slow to tap buttons at the right time (such as in God of War).

    For cinematic events that don't fit in the normal control scheme, for example struggling to get out the claws of a monster, QTE is almost inevitable. Though I'm planning to limit this. In fact, the amount of encounters with enemies will be far lower than in a "normal" game. Indeed, to prevent the player getting good at defending / escaping too soon, making the game less scary. The fear is not about seeing ugly beasts, it's about knowing they are out there.

    The environment(& sound) should be the glue that brings everything together, without getting bored. The biggest challenge is probably keeping the environment scary from itself. Because even dark corridors or bloody chambers will become familiar terrain for the player as well, sooner or later. It's all about dosing really...

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  8. Amen to that!
    By the way, I'm willing to help with the story, but I guess it's too early to be concerned about the story in Tower22.

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  9. Early indeed. Though... The story itself is pretty much finished. Making the actual dialogs and in-detail parts that fit with the game events is for later concern. But we already have a writer for that as well ;)

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