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The creative director of the original SOCOM games wants to bring you the spiritual successor to those breakout PlayStation 2 shooters. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on July 7, 2013.

The creative director of the original SOCOM games wants to bring you the spiritual successor to those breakout PlayStation 2 shooters.

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H-Hour Releases it's First Image

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In case you missed the H-Hour screenshot heard around the world:

SOF Studios released their first Pre-Alpha WIP image since the launch of our Kickstarter. Together with our Private Forums backers we chose the above image to share and update those following our progress.

Our release was picked up by news media outlets around the world and also featured in an article by Polygon this morning.

If you haven't checked out www.sofstudios.com in a while, we are offering our OG Kickstarter backers an opportunity to upgrade their pledges with access to the Private Forums and Beta if you weren't able to grab them during the KS Campaign.

As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support of H-Hour: World's Elite.

The SOF Studios Team

This One Is The State of Things

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Today when I got to the office, I resumed my quest to “make black smoke” particles. Most explosives generate black smoke and while I was able to create respectable white smoke like nobody’s business, no matter how black I painted source textures, the particles were always white when viewed in the game.

But this morning I figured it out and like almost always, it was something stupid that I missed. And as always, in hindsight, creating these things is trivially easy—when you know what tiny, tucked away parameter you are supposed to manipulate. I expect these “oh, you idiot” revelatory moments at least once a day.

Along these lines, I thought I’d mention that this is the way of all things in game development. Your enemy isn’t always a lurking checkbox to enable a parameter you need but don’t know about. Hiccups manifest across the spectrum of production, ranging from what I’ve described to ineffable scheduling conflicts. For example, we have three completely unique characters for the demo and all of them are nearing completion at the super high-resolution stage. But due to the tricksiness of pan-continental scheduling and communication, there’s one vital piece of the process stalled on each one of these characters. Oh, nothing drastic—they’ll all be done and look great before the demo phase is done. But right now we’re waiting on lower-res versions of the characters so that they can be skinned for animation. This doesn’t mean work on animation has stopped. Not at all. That’s actually forging ahead daily. But until I have at least one first pass representative character on which to play those animation, I’m holding off showing any of the animation. However, I can report that about 90% of core navigation is done, basic weapon firing is in, and the deaths look darn good for a first pass implementation. Next week Kevin’s promised to have grenade throws/tosses and lean/lean to fire hooked up. Overall, the state of the animation is pretty exciting.

While we’re waiting for those in-game characters to be finished, here’s a peek at their “new heads.” The SOF character got a makeover and the hostage makes her debut.

At the same time, work on weapons for the demo is well underway.

I tweeted that I was tuning weapons already and I thought this might be a good time to talk about what we have in the arsenal for the demo. Because the focus has been on recapturing the magic of the early games, I didn’t want to introduce “emergent” weapons that are just now or soon will be entering service to the armed forces. I wanted to stick with the classics. To that end, here’s the short list of weapons that we have slated to appear in the demo: Beretta 92F, Desert Eagle, Remington Model 870, SPAS 12, M4A1, Steyr Aug, AK-47, MP5, MP5 SD, Uzi, Remington Model 700, Dragunov, PNM mine, frag, red smoke (for marking extraction zones), white smoke, C4, and flashbang. The stated goal is to come as close to possible in recreating the feel of the old school versions of these weapons and I’m confident we can do that. Anyway, as you can see, these are classics all the way and there’s enough variety to balance out the SOF/terrorist sides. Of course I wish we could implement more but there’s a budget to observe. I may also have time to add a suppressed version of the M4A1, but we’ll have to see. For a demo, that’s really a lot of weapons. At least if feels that way when you’re trying to get them all built and tuned.

Out of the list above, about half of the weapons have been created and are at “first pass” quality. The second pass will be all about adding little precision details. Right now they look good, especially considering their first pass status.

The map is making major strides forward every week. We’ve been focused on the layout so far but the artists have been cranking on assets for weeks now and they’re starting to appear in the level. Between progress with the animation, characters (creeping towards integration!), mechanics, weapons, and level art, I’m getting a real feeling of convergence. We are approaching the tipping point after which we could show new stuff every day and not have to worry about blurring out what’s not finished or giving you a long list of what’s left to be done. Although it is my tendency to think content is never really done, I’m starting to grow comfortable sharing all the WIP. Stay tuned.

Private Forums Update

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Hmmmm ... what does THIS button do?

PRIVATE FORUMS ARE OPEN!!

Any member that supported the Gunny + or higher, the Private Forums are open and available to you today. You will automatically be directed to the TOS (Terms of Service) and required to accept those terms before being allowed access. Should you have any questions regarding the TOS, kindly message any MOD or Staff Member.

We trust you are just as excited as we are as we hit these milestones. As you enjoy the rewards you supported in KS, we are already back to work looking ahead to the next goal.

 From all of us at SOF Studios, we thank you for your continued support in our journey.

Live Broadcast, Surveys, Contests and more

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We've been a bit quiet, but that just translates to "busy" which is a good problem to have. Let's dig into the good stuff and catch everyone up to speed.

The Dev Team is settled into our new studio space and cranking out milestones. If you missed the tweet David Sears dropped in his excitement, we think you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Tom has been busy with the logistics of fulfilling the physical backer rewards (read: stuffing envelopes) and some of you have been sending us pictures of your patches received and we love the feedback. We are on track to have all the "physical" rewards filled for you by Christmas. Santa is going to be so proud of us, we hope you are too.  

This leads us into a plea for help. We are STILL missing surveys from our backers. If you believe we might be missing yours, and you contributed through the Kickstarter Campaign site, please log into your Kickstarter account to check - you will see a notification at the top of the site for any missed surveys. No notice means you are GOOD! If you were part of the Paypal drive after Kickstarter and think you may not have sent your survey, kindly send us a message on the (contact us) so we can look into it and get everybody the rewards they so richly deserve. Please include the email you used to pledge and your user name on the forums.

That's not the update news you were looking for? Then how about we update you on the Private Forums? (yea baby!) We are ready, set, hold on a second ....

Just kidding. We will have those opened and rolling before you start Trick or Treating. How does October 23rd sound? We have started some streamlined threads on the forums to kick things off and we want to hear from ALL of you on them. Our Team Lead, NO_FEAR will be hosting the Private Forums once they unlock and Team Lead, Rosie_Rascal will be holding down the public forums, reach out to them if you should have any questions.

Let's end this with a BOOMSTICK shall we: A Live Broadcast with the studio has been added to the calendar this month. On October 29th we will host a Live Broadcast, dropping knowledge and updates all over the place. If you go to Twitch.tv/SOFstudios and click that purple "follow" button, it will email you a notification anytime the studio goes Live.  More on this news can be found in our forums early next week.

If you haven't done so get plugged in on our forums www.sofstudios.com, follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/SOFstudios or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SOFstudios so we can all stay connected. Make sure to Tweet us your member user name so we can follow you back. 

What you want MORE? Eh, why not! Hmmmm, let me think .... Oh I got it, let's do a contest for entry into the Private Forums with Beta access! YES THIS ALL DAY LONG! Vines and more Vines, the popular mobile app that let's you record a 6 second video. https://vine.co

Record us a Vine video giving H-Hour: World's Elite a "shout" and post them up on our forum thread (we will open one, Titled: Vine Contest). Be creative. I'm not opposed to seeing one spelled out in ketchup on your kitchen floor. There our members will "Like" their favorites and on October 22nd before our Private Forum access opens, we will choose a winner by who has accumulated the most "Likes". Now, keep them classy please! 

This contest is open to everyone, backers and non-backers alike and yes even those that already have access through our Gunny + pledges. If you already have access and win, then you can take a friend of your choice along with you. 

Bam! Pow! Boom! 

As always, we appreciate your continued support and feedback. 

PSYOP: This One is Tom

Well, this is not my update, not entirely. For this week’s status, Tom runs down the whereabouts of Kickstarter fulfillment swag and does a walk around of the studio. There is a disconcerting hum throughout the video but we could not hear it while recording. I think it’s the sort of audio signature that ghosts leave behind and only dogs and cats can normally hear. In this case, the video camera did a great job of picking up and amplifying whatever the noise was and as promised, we’re not going to worry about the production values on this updates too much, so you get to hear the hum too. At least it’s not a table saw.

The upshot: fulfillment of a large part of the Kickstarter and PayPal backer swag is looming close. We’re looking forward to getting those items in your hands soon. We’ve already got enough patches to tile the space shuttle but we’d rather send them out to you. Thanks for being patient.

We’ve been in our new studio space for over a month now but we’ve been so busy with the game that we haven’t taken the time to bring in a bunch of action figures or camouflage netting or whatever. When you’re running lean and in startup mode, that kind of stuff seems less important. However, I believe that over time the studio will be stuffed to the gills with all kinds of visually stimulating collectible nonsense. It’s a game studio, after all.

In the video you’ll meet two of the “new guys” who have been supporters of the project for some time. First is Kevin, the sort of quiet, introspective guy who falls on the “not going to go postal” but “busy thinking deep thoughts” side of the fence. In the last month he’s kicked major ass on the ballistics system, getting weapons in the hands of the characters, and generally integrating assets as they come in, among many other things. Today’s he’s working on a “hot updater” that will allow me to modify weapon parameters while the game is running and see changes instantly. Given the uncounted hours I spend tuning weapons, the tool he’s creating is worth its virtual weight in rare earth elements.

By the way, the sticker on his “fake gun” is just so visitors to the office don’t freak out about having weapon simulacra lying around. I’ve worked in places where Airsoft firearms were not allowed to circulate and had to be “checked out” from a weapons locker. Seriously. Everyone at SOFs likes guns and we don’t have any ridiculous “sensitivities” to having gun props in sight. We are making a game in which the primary form of player expression is shooting, for crying out loud. Having a few (dozen fake) guns on hand seems only natural.

“New guy” Number 2 is Patrick Gross, a veteran of game industry journalism. His background in graphic and audio design, built from years of “learning out of necessity,” made him an ideal candidate to help out with all those sorts of tasks for the demo, a process that I’d describe as a cross between “best production practices” and “guerilla warfare.” Right now he’s hooking up buttons for an early version of the UI based on some block-ins I did. Later he’ll supervise dialogue recording sessions and edit sfx, among many other things. “Among many other things” is definitely a theme around the office, and it’s great to see people busy wearing lots of different hats. It’s fun and certainly not boring.

During the Kickstarter campaign someone asked me if I was going to take time off after we wrapped the pledge drive. I said that I was going to head out to Seattle to pick up my comic books from storage then drive them back to North Carolina. I was planning this trip for later in September but when the opportunity to fly out a bit earlier and attend Pax came up, I went for it. I’m glad I did.

The first day’s focus was meeting with our Seattle team. This was a lot like a Zipper mini-reunion and it was great to see these guys in person again. Russ has already made an appearance in our updates, but I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to someone you may or may not already know. I’m talking about Doug Wilcox, animation lead from Zipper, and one of my all-around favorite people.

 Doug is a Director level Animator with over 15 years of experience delivering AAA game titles. He has extensive experience with hand keyed animation, motion capture, rigging, and can write Maya pipeline tools. He was Lead Animator on the entire SOCOM game franchise - PS2, PS3 and PSP. Additionally Doug was Lead Animator on MAG.

We are very excited to be collaborating with Doug on H-Hour. His first assignment is to animate the persona of the “troubled” hostage for our Snatch and Grab game mode. I am sure that he will more than deliver on her personality. I know from personal experience that Doug likes to over deliver and will give the hostage the attention she deserves.

So, back to Pax. This seems to be far and away the largest fan oriented conference in the industry. I had not previously attended because no publisher I worked for offered to send me. The “big boys” were certainly there with smaller versions of their booths from E3 and these drew large crowds. But the real action was in the Indie Mega Booth and smaller independent booths scattered around the show. Fans were fully engaged with the developers of their “soon to be favorite” games and the fervor was palpable. While I like E3 for what it is (and what it is is loud and full of stage smoke that makes me wheeze) Pax struck me as a much more honest show without too much of a marketing layer between the makers and the players. I really liked that about it, and highly recommend it to anyone who has never attended. I hope to see you all there next time. If nothing else, Pax has really great Daleks. Not to be missed.

The drive home was uneventful, if very tiring. I did learn that Kansas is beautiful when seen in person and if you ever have a chance, everyone should drive across the country at least once. It’s diverse and wide enough that you have plenty of time to obsess over all the things you left in the office and really, really want to get back to.