Fixed: Size Of The Moon

By Jim Rossignol on December 18th, 2007 at 12:43 pm.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, because it just tickles me pink. If you were paying attention to PC gaming in 2005 then you’ll probably remember Deep Shadows’ spectacularly open-ended FPS, Boiling Point. It remains one of my favourite games of all time, partly because it was an astonishingly ambitious game of the kind I can’t seem to get enough of, and partly because it it was an accidental surrealist masterpiece of outlandish bugs and terrible production. Few games were as weirdly broken as Boiling Point, and there were plenty of commentators who came away with wry smiles and unhappy brains as a result.

It’s worth remembering, before we continue, that Boiling Point’s first patch had one of the most interesting bug lists of all time:

- fixed: the snake wasn’t able to bite you while you were crawling;
- fixed: size of the moon;
- fixed: posters in bar vanish as you turn away from them;
- fixed: dog does not cast shadows;
- fixed: a metal clanking sound plays, if the user’s character stabs the curtains;
- fixed: jaguar floats across screen at treetop level;
- fixed: npc die on contact with grenades, and not from the actual explosion

And, as I recall, there’s plenty more where that came from. (I like to play unpatched, for the pure, undiluted experience.) This was aside from the general wacky atmosphere created by the way factions interacted (being attacked by pedestrians with hand-grenades because you’d accidentally run over some towns people was a constant hazard) and the bizarre dialogue and voice-acting. All this wobbliness of verisimilitude seemed to be symptomatic of the fact that the little Kiev-based development studio had tried to create a fifty kilometre zone which was freely explorable and filled with faction-driven conflict, random wildlife, and wide ranging faction-status-depending missions. It was a game that was evidently too big for its developmental boots.

Nevertheless, whether this was true or not seems not to matter: Deep Shadows are continuing their quest to create a huge, open-ended, factional game world, and they’re doing it in the most remorseless fashion. They’re seemingly intent on being even more ambitious the second time around. Instead of scaling down the expectations they’d struggled to live up to with Boiling Point, they’re now going for something even bigger: a game of intergalactic scope, with exploration, spaceship battles, FPS combat, and a huge quest-driven RPG-mechanic’d factional game world. Yes, it’s like Boiling Point in space, with even more game mechanics to play with. Hell, where you had a stolen Trabant in Boiling Point, you now have an upgradeable spacecraft. It’s called Precursors, and it’s scheduled for release on PC and Xbox 360 in 2008.

I, for one, can’t wait.

Here are some screenshots that you can enlarge by clicking on them:

But that’s not the end of Deep Shadows ambitions for creating a follow up for Boiling Point, no sir. They’re developing a second game too: White Gold. White Gold will be an RPG-FPS set on a number of Caribbean islands, using the same engine as Precursors. And it’s probably got something to do with Cocaine. (It’s just a guess.)

And I can’t wait for this, either. Let no one tell you that the size of the moon can’t be fixed and remember: dog does not cast shadows. Not necessarily, anyway.

, , , .

49 Comments »

  1. Kast says:

    Both games are looking and sounding awesome. Here’s hoping that, while they are both fully de-bugged and shiny, an option remains to have really big moons ;)

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Also I’ve just noticed that the guy in the Precursors shots is clearly holding a Space Kalashnikov. (AK 4700?)

  3. Phil says:

    Do dogs really NEED shadows? Unless there a ‘honey I shrunk the kids’ inspired sneaking sequence tucked away in the game, I say no.

  4. Kast says:

    *Gun geek activated* Looks more like a 7400 to me.

    Seriously, I’m more reminded of Quake 2′s hyperblaster. Maybe it’s the colour scheme more than anything. I just hope it’s as satisfying to fire.

  5. Mouj says:

    Well, i think there are not enough developpers out there that actually worry about the size of the moon, it indicates a certain attention to details, which is great.
    Anyway, what kind of dog would cast a shadow, nowadays..

  6. I_still_love_Okami says:

    Why cast Shadow, when you can cast Magic Missile?

  7. Janek says:

    You’d think a dog would be casting Flesh to Bone.

    I’m very sorry.

  8. I_still_love_Okami says:

    @Janek: Don’t be sorry! Only a bad person would pass up the chance to make bad puns!

  9. AbyssUK says:

    In the brilliantly overlooked Terminator games Future Shock and Skynet, you could shoot the moon and it would reply “Ouch” after enough “ouch”‘s it would fall out of the sky… brilliant.

    Also boiling point was brill.. what other game do you need to refuel your tank at the broken down petrol station, great fun. And that floating jaguar was dead tricky!!

  10. Muzman says:

    Sounds wonderous.
    “Hollywood” may scoff at all these mad Ukranians who try to make absurdly ambitious games and they come out cut down and/or buggy. One day they’ll do it and then it’s bye bye hollywood; no more anyone cares about Bioshock and Halo. They’ll be, at best, Bio-mildbutnotentirelyunexpectedsurprise and Hallo!
    Good luck to ‘em I say.

  11. Ging says:

    While I, as Jim, can’t wait for Precursors, if only to see just how crazy it’s going to get I feel I have to point out something that I hope the publishers will use as a bullet point on the back of a box. If White Gold doesn’t win a multitude of awards with this:

    - Ride a Shark!

    than something is deeply wrong with the world.

  12. AbyssUK says:

    @Ging – FInally a games dev who knows what the people want!!

  13. Lunaran says:

    That shark image is brilliant.

    No no, forget about the shark. What I mean is, developers are now as far as
    - packing the screen with high detail textures
    - blurring it all out again in post
    - and then sharpening the screenshots in photoshop

    I really can’t wait to see what’s next.

  14. Roosterfeet says:

    So did Boiling Point ever get fixed to a reasonable degree? For instance, do pedestrians survive harrowing encounters with parked cars after the latest patch?

  15. roryok says:

    Yeah, I had a real problem with Boiling Point when it came out. It was so hilariously bad, i was sure it was a practical joke. But it wasn’t just full of bugs, it was full of serious design flaws.

    Great to read rants on it tho. I love the dubiousquality one – especially the hardware industry / games industry comparison

    Here’s my two cents on boiling point and white gold

  16. Paul Moloney says:

    I tried Boiling Point – yes, patched – and even then it was still comically bad with a car that drives like a cardboard cutout and peasants who spent the day running into walls; amusing for a few moments, but with good sandbox action RPGs like Oblivion out there, a momentary diversion. Luckily I didn’t pay full price or anywhere near it.

    However, rather than chuckle at the those scamps, I’m of Dubious Quality’s opinion:

    I’m outraged about people stealing games, too, because it’s wrong, and I’ve written about that at length in the past. But I’m equally outraged that publishers keep releasing steaming piles that we pay $50 for in good faith—and can’t return.

    (my emphasis)

    I don’t see the point of posting pretty screenshots from Deep Shadows’ games when they’ll quite likely be more bug fests. With BP, they forfeited the right to free advance advertising.

    P.

  17. Bob Arctor says:

    I would have loved BP longer had they not cut and pasted the jungles. But that killed it. The rest of it was insane and cool. However I couldn’t go back. Especially not after STALKER.

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    I don’t see the point of posting pretty screenshots from Deep Shadows’ games when they’ll quite likely be more bug fests. With BP, they forfeited the right to free advance advertising.

    On the contrary, these are games that I’m actually looking forward to seeing, broken or otherwise. I enjoyed the experience of Boiling Point *because* it was a ludicrous mess, rather than because it was trying to be this big immersive shooter. Of course I’d rather have had the working game, but the bug fest was still entertaining.

    Besides, no one else is going to “advertise” these games, and the underfunded, disregarded East European teams need a bit of credit now and then.

  19. Paul Moloney says:

    I don’t understand the point of rewarding someone for ambition they cannot possibly hope to meet. I’m going training in the gym tonight. I may just load 200KG onto the squat bar instead of my usual 15KG (hey, I’m only starting out again), attempt a lift and see what happens. If I’m lucky, I may only break my knees. I certainly don’t expect applause as they carry me off to the ambulance. This whimsical indulgence of shitty developers can only lead to more shitty games.

    P.

  20. AbyssUK says:

    @Jim Here, here.. sometimes mistakes are beautiful.. just look at purple dye and penacillin.

  21. Garth says:

    Ok, I had to post this from the Boiling Point website:
    FEAR – … with the army, guerillas, and Mafia on to you, you’d better watch your back. Help them out, or blast your way through. Either way, the heat is up and you’ll be pushed.. to Boiling Point.”

    Hahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahahhaahhahaha

  22. Garth says:

    “*Gun geek activated* Looks more like a 7400 to me.”

    *Dead stare ahead* The banana clip is too curved, it’s has 7.62 RUS ammo.

    *shakes head*

    Wait, wha?

  23. Flint says:

    That buglist saved my otherwise poor day.

    That scifi FPS thingamabob game gives me some nasty Battlecruiser 3000AD vibes.

  24. Phil says:

    @Paul M

    I think the point is that if you tried lifting it and it worked, you’d be Mr. T strong – and who doesn’t want to be Mr. T?

    There are already far, far too many developers content to stick to 15kg and still produce shitty games.

  25. Paul Moloney says:

    Phil, I’d be ambitious if I went to the gym and attempted 20KG. I’d be deluded if I attempted 200. Deep Shadows appeared to be the kind who thought they could give the 200KG bar a go. A Monty Python quote comes to mind:

    This man, he doesn’t know when he’s beaten! He doesn’t know when he’s winning, either. He has no… sort of… sensory apparatus…

    P.

  26. Hobbes says:

    “I certainly don’t expect applause as they carry me off to the ambulance”

    Maybe not, but you’d deserve it.

    No one ever hit high by aiming low.

    Of course, no one ever got laid by aiming high, either, but that’s a completely different discussion.

    Also, my gosh don’t those screen shots look like Crysis?

  27. Jim Rossignol says:

    Maybe not applause, but I might laugh and clap and hope it happened again. ;)

  28. Robert Seddon says:

    My favourite bug report quotation remains Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines‘Rats will not squeak while gently being drained by female players.’

  29. Jim Rossignol says:

    That’s not a bug.

  30. Erik Novales says:

    Pretty funny. I wrote a reaction post speculating a little bit on the causes of these bugs, and why they may have shipped with them. Check it out if you’re curious…

  31. Wozza says:

    I loved Boiling Point, it was so broken but I just loved playing it.

    Stealing documents through a concrete wall was so cool.

  32. WaveyRaven says:

    Apparently the size of the moon is a common problem. Stellarium is a free star-gazing program, which you can use to view the night sky on your monitor exactly as it appears outside, has an option to make the moon 4x bigger onscreen. The user guide says:

    People perceive the Moon to have a larger angular size than it actually does. This feature compensates for this illusion (which doesn’t apply so much to computer screens as it does in the sky!)

    This probably has nothing to do with Boiling Point though, I reckon they just didn’t like the way it looked. Good to see they had their priorities sorted, anyway.

  33. Hump says:

    Kieron’s review of BP stands out to me as one of the coolest reviews of all time. I don’t remember anyone ever nailing a game so precisely.

    One thing to look forward to is Dark Shadows is not only putting out The Precursors which is essentially BP in space but they’re also doing White Gold which is the heir-apparent to BP in terms of atmosphere/location/gameplay.

  34. Hump says:

    oops, look like I should’ve read the whole piece first, the games are mentioned already

  35. malkav11 says:

    I really want to try Boiling Point one of these days. It sounds both hilarious in bugginess and really cool whenever it might be working properly (although I suspect Stalker is probably closer to getting that sort of thing right.). And, you know, I am greatly, greatly amused by the right kind of bugs, the crazy kind. Crashy bugs I no like so much.

    A favorite example – at one point I got a creature to ragdoll in Titan Quest in such a way that its legs stretched out like taffy to be three times its body length. Or when in the Lord of the Rings beta I managed to teleport myself into an entirely empty copy of the zone I was in – no NPCs either.

  36. dhex says:

    boiling point was truly ambitious, but so horrendously broken that i just couldn’t get into it.

    i loved the cops with russian accents though. i hope their other efforts are more fully realized.

  37. roryok says:

    From Deep Shadows website; ‘The Precursors’ project page

    Precursors. The Creators. The Legend of the Galaxy. We can only guess who of the existing races carry the genes of the Progenitors? The Worlds are endless? Beautiful, unique and dangerous. Some of them are inhabited, the others serve only as the shifting bases for the smugglers. Some worlds are in the infancy of their development evolution, while others have already collapsed.

    Only when you yourself travel through these worlds, you will see burning seas and frozen skies, then you will realize the power of nature. Only then you will see corrupted politicians, unselfish patrons of the arts and brutal despots, then you will realize the truth of the society. Only then you will deep into unknown sectors of the Galaxy, face the unknown abnormalities, fly in the comet?s tail and plunge into some accidental portal ? then you will realize the endless depth of the Space.

    But this is just the future. And it?s still unknown what will this journey be like ? but we can say it for sure ? such journeys will be unforgettable.

    That about sums it up for me.

    Only then you will deep into unknown sectors of the Galaxy, face the unknown abnormalities, fly in the comet?s tail and plunge into some accidental portal ? then you will realize the endless depth of the Space.

    It’s those ‘unknown abnormalities’, and ‘accidental portal’s that make deep shadows games worth their weight in gold. or maybe potassium.

    then you will realize the endless depth of the Space

    so deep, the space. that no person can hear you to scream into it.

  38. Val's Evil Twin says:

    I hope White Gold won’t just be Boiling Point minus the bugs.
    The bugs were cool, especially the crossbow bolt that blew up the police station.

  39. lanael says:

    Being one of the founder of xenus-hq.net ( the only BP fansite around !), I met an Atari PR guy before the release. And I remember the guy was more concerned about graphical glitches in the intro cinematic than anything else. Also the game was originally called Xenus, and had no real-life actor ( Arnold Vosloo (wtf!) ) as the main character.

    All that makes me feel that it’s another “rushed out by the producer” game.
    Thus the bugs.
    OK, this doesn’t explain all the bugs which could have been corrected in a few minutes :)
    Anyway, at some point, Atari gave the green light for the game to be released !

    That said, Precursors and White gold will be games made with the 3rd iteration on the Deep Shadows’ engine (the Vital engine)…

  40. Murph says:

    Boiling Point is a great game, it has a lot of bugs and strange things. But if you really get into the story and atmosphere you can play it for weeks. I remember how dissapointed I got when I came to the finish, all the 126 parrots I had shot down and not sold :(

  41. Bhazor says:

    Wow, that Bill Harris, he has no soul.
    That’s the only acceptable excuse for not enjoying your time with Boiling Point.
    That game had more little nuances and little touches than the whole of Kojima’s back catalog.

  42. Hippo says:

    I demand to know why we haven’t gotten Precursors and White Gold yet. I DEMAND it!

    • Premium User Badge Harlander says:

      I suspect that, like me, you came here from the Minecraft patch post. Similarly, I wholly concur with your sentiment. Precursors looks a little amazing.

    • Wooly says:

      My thoughts exactly!! :( It appears to have been released in Russia, but no English translation to my knowledge =(

    • Kevbo says:

      Just like you guys, I stumbled into this thread and found out about this game. Good news… There IS an English patch created by a lone man with passion. He even translated the dialogues, I found the link while clicking around their forum.

      Enjoy although you have to get the game through ebay or something similar.

      http://board.deep-shadows.com/index.php?showtopic=1171&st=80