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.