Saturday, February 23, 2013

Crap! Leaked versions!

The slow progress on this game is frustrating. We all know that making a game ain't easy. Imagine you had to shoot a movie like Jurassic Park all alone. Writing the script, doing the camera work, composing the sound, putting on a Brontosaur costume and do the Dino moans. Fortunately, I do get some help from talented people, though with their small numbers and busy time schedules, it's still like Steven Spielberg getting help from the neighbor kids once in a while.

Well, that's just something you have to accept when you plan a hobby game. Especially if it will be a bigger game with relative high standards on the graphics, audio, design, and... pretty much everything. Yet, its sometimes frustrating when you think you have a “Golden Egg”, but just not the resources to hatch it. Like trying to grab a 100$ bill laying down a well, but your arm being 3 cm too short. Like… well, you get the point.

Even more frustrating is the fact that a lot of *TRASH* on the TV and game console do get a (big!) budget to produce their FOUL. I see "comedy" movies with jokes that could have been written by our retarded parrot on a daily basis. Action movies with scripts that aren't bad because the director intended to be cheesy, but because the director IS BAD. And c'mon, why do idiots like Snooki and The Situation turn into millionaires? It's a disgrace. If all that wasted money would have been spend on something more creative, ambitious, new, fresh, initiatives...

The first green object in the grim dirty world of T22.

But that's how the world rolls apparently, another fact to accept. In the meanwhile, we slowly advance towards to the next demo movie release, yard by yard, in a muddy trench war. But hey, Cheer up! I actually intended to show you some fun & positive clips in this post.

If you ever made a game, or mod, or custom level, or anything creative, you are likely familiar with the Critical-Why?-Breakpoint. No? Yes you are. You start with a lot of energy on your new game, book, comic or Unreal Tournament level. After a few days (or months in case of a game), and after seeing some first results, you probably ask yourself why you are spending so much hours on it. Usually the new levels look ugly, and the game doesn't feel like a game at all. More like a machine playing some cheap effects when pressing a button. Making a creative product is about ups and downs. Sometimes you amaze yourself with good looking pictures, another time you’re about to throw the towel because it all seems pointless. This is actually why 99% of the creative (hobby) projects fail.

The last weeks I've been implementing the gun further. Not that Tower22 will become a shooter, but... gun + monster = game. It's really to give ourselves something "playable", which will encourage to implement more gameplay related stuff such as enemies to fight, an UI, climbing a ladder, or solving a puzzle. Anyway, while looking on the internet how other games fire their guns (it's more than just a spitting a projectile and let the speakers say "boom!"), I stumbled across some funny clips. How about this Doom - Alpha versions:
Doom early Alpha versions

You may remember Doom as an awesome, highly addictive, well working, and also graphically great game. But as this movie shows, the game wasn't born perfect. Even later alpha versions still sucked graphically and game wise. Shooting an ugly boomstick with bad sounds, letting non responsive monster sprites just disappear. It reminds me very much how the half finished, broken gameplay feels on the games I did/do. And that cheered me up :) You would think game Gods like id Software would create cool stuff right from the start, but their alpha versions just suck as much as mine does hehe.

Speaking of early alpha's. Asides from the realtime GI, and a new texture on the lower wood panels, this still isn't the type of picture to proudly show. But I'll promise you, this corridor will become a whole lot more special within a couple of months... Then compare again.

Doom was a long time ago, but when watching the movie, I suddenly remembered the fuzz about Doom3 & Halflife2. While the entire game-world was anxiously waiting, id and Valve were developing their (over?)hyped sequels at a -what seems for us- slow pace. But then, Oops Poops, their alpha versions "leaked", one or two years before the actual releases. Maybe they leaked it on purpose, just to see what the audience would think. Well, let me tell you what I thought: IT SUCKED!

Although the leaked Doom3 alpha was already graphically appealing, the loose pieces of gameplay felt very stiff and scripted (duh, it was intended for a E3 demonstration) and... just not like an enjoyable game. The Halflife2 leak had more challenging enemies & allowed you to play with physics (new for that time!). Yet the level design was a mess and the graphics were dull compared to Doom3. Again, a half scripted mess, and the fun in shooting Combine soldiers and zombies didn't last long.
* Doom3 leaked version
* Halflife2 leaked version

Of course, I realized those versions weren't finished, neither intended for my dirty fingers on the keyboard yet. But I remember having serious doubts, especially about Halflife2. Would that game ever become fun? It was a classical showcase that good graphics and carrying a well known title, aren’t going to save weak gameplay.

Implemented a simple backlighting method for the plant. Should evolve further when making more advanced SSS/translucent materials in the future.

Well, fortunately both Doom3 and Halflife2 also showed that you shouldn't judge a "WIP" (Work in Progress) product. Because the final versions polished the bugs, improved the visuals (especially HL2), replaced bad audio, and maybe most important, gave an immersive world that invited for exploration, and made shooting zombies fun again. Really, small tweaks can do miracles and the "completeness" is a very important quality factor. Hence, after finishing the official HL2, I realized that the leaked version already contained most of the levels globally, but in such a poor state that I couldn’t make a consistent, story driven game of it.
* Halflife2: Alpha graphics versus Finished graphics

Remember those things once you're getting a "programmers-block" again, while having Snooki puking booze over jWowww on your TV in the background. Your game isn't bad, it just needs time. Little kids shit their pants for the first 2 or 3 years as well, lazy rockstars need 10 years for their next album, you didn't learn pleasing your girl in a single day either, and stew only tastes good if its boiling for at least 6 hours. And as for the audience: be patient! Merci beaucoup.


  1. Great post!
    We all know too well that keeping motivated through a hobby project isn't easy, and comparing your WIP to a successful finished game can make you insecure of your work, but seeing these alpha versions as given me a great motivational boost! :)

    This is the first time I comment but I've been following your work for months. You are a great source of inspiration for me and as a fellow game designer I wish you good luck.

  2. Thank you, its good to hear the efforts here are helping others forward as well.

    Being & especially keeping motivated for this project has never been a real issue, at least for me, but when thinking realistically about what can be achieved with the available resources, the forecast is a bit grim. So, thats why the clunky alpha versions of professional developers came in welcome hehe.

  3. Have you considered making T22 without guns? Something like the style of Frictional Games? The videos and pictures I have seen feel very atmospheric and I hope that won´t be somewhat lost by to much action.

    It´s always intresting to read your blog and I hope your game will become reality. Have you ever thought about making it a kickstater project?

  4. There's an answer for everything,
    (no) guns >
    Kickstarter >

    In short, guns will only have a minor role in the game, if there will be guns at all...
    As for funding, I have 3 main concerns:
    A- 40k (or something) is still not much if you need to pay everyone, or hire fulltime artists
    B- I have no idea how to legally & decently deal with money (paying "employees", taxes, transparency, rules). Money allows good stuff to happen, but also attracts flies to a pile of crap.
    C- And most important, I only take your money if I can guarantee you a product. Right now, I simply can't guarantee anything.

    Everyone wants to make a game, but the reality is that only very little people have to time, talent, motivation and are 300% dedicated. That's where money can seriously help, as a paycheck generates time & dedication. But as said, the average Kickstarter budget is not even enough to pay a single artist for 1-year-40-hours-a-week services. There is a reason why modern games are ridiculously expensive (to make)...