Team 17 Talk Alien Breed Evolution

By Jim Rossignol on December 4th, 2009 at 8:32 am.


It’s probable that younger readers won’t be particularly familiar with Alien Breed, as the last iteration in the series was a 3D version of the 2D corridor shooter, which appeared in 1996. It has taken until now for Team 17 to figure out how to make a sequel, with two projects cancelled along the way. Having eyed-up the current digital distribution book, and decided there’s a niche for them, the company has announced a self-published isometric 3D version of the game, titled Alien Breed Evolution. John Dennis, Team 17′s design manager, spoke to us about the project.

RPS: This Alien Breed game has been a long time coming, and it seems to have had a fairly convoluted history. Can you explain a little about why a remake of the game has taken so long, and what has happened inthe past decade that led up to this point?

Dennis: Absolutely. It’s been quite a wait for another Alien Breed game hasn’t it? We’ve had a lot of email about Alien Breed over the last few years; in fact, after Worms, it’s easily the game we hear about most from Team 17 fans. We’d actually been wanting to do an all-new version of the game for most of the last decade, and came close several times (and very close once). We’ve worked on a few Alien Breed games over the last ten or so years, but never managed to get a publisher to buy into the idea. I guess for those publishers, the numbers didn’t stack up and for whatever reason it didn’t appeal.

With the success of Worms on XBLA and PSN though, it became clear to us that we could bring a new “Alien Breed” game to digital platforms ourselves without the need for a publisher, so that’s why we’re talking about the game now. While opportunities were limited to develop video games without a publisher prior to XBLA, PSN, Steam and Wii-ware, the rise in popularity of those platforms has made it a viable option for independent developers such as Team 17 to develop games for those platforms the scale of which were probably not financially viable a few years ago.


RPS: Can you explain a little about how Alien Breed Evolution will play? How much inspiration have you taken from the original 16-bit games?

Dennis: Well, the game’s all new. It’s not a conversion and it doesn’t have the same level design or anything like that, but we’ve tried to keep true to the feel and atmosphere of the original Alien Breed games. We’ve tried to focus on the things that made the game stand out when it was originally released back in the Nineties: we’ve done our best to make the game look beautiful, and the game environment is scary as hell, with failing lights, emergency alarms and swarms of hostile aliens. We’ve still got the co-op online multiplayer in there too, so you can share the experience with a friend: two players can join forces and take on missions designed specifically for multiplayer co-op play. I’d say it’s pretty good fun playing the game with someone else… it turns into a bit of a “monster mash” when you play multiplayer, so it’s good to have someone watch your back. For those players who remember the original game, it’s pretty faithful to the feel of the original, so I don’t think anyone who’s an old fan will be disappointed. However, we’ve added a bunch of things to the formula…

The first big difference is the level design. In the levels in the original Alien Breed, you’d have limited keys and you’d have to shoot doors; sometimes you’d find yourself in a position where you couldn’t complete the level any more. There’s none of that in Alien Breed Evolution. Our levels have all had a lot of time lavished on them. There’s a whole bunch of new weapons, and a selection of new and different aliens that act in different ways. They all require different strategies from the player to deal with them. You always have to think. You’re always tested.

The other thing we’ve done is we’ve added a survival horror element, so when your player character gets to low health he starts limping around and he can’t run, making his situation even more dangerous. Health and ammunition are always in really short supply, so you’ve got to be sure to use the weaker weapons on the weaker aliens rather than using your really powerful ones, otherwise you’ll really struggle later on. We’ve also got intelligent audio, which ramps up the music when you’ve got lots of aliens on screen and adds a heartbeat sound effect when you’re character’s low on health. We’ve done lots of things to try and induce an unnerving feeling.


RPS: I understand the game will be available in a number of downloadable chapters? Is that correct? Can you explain the pricing models, and how these will be released?

Dennis: Yes. The game comes in three episodes. Each episode is a stand-alone game that can be downloaded and played separately. There’s a narrative arc that links the three episodes together, each episode ending on a cliff-hanger that’s resolved at the start of the next episode. So if people download the first episode, we hope they’ll want to find out how the story carries on in later episodes, but if people want to join the series late, that’s okay too… there’s a “previously on Alien Breed” sequence at the start of episodes two and three that recaps what’s happened so far.

Each episode has a unique selection of weapons, environments and aliens, as well as it’s own set-piece battles and boss encounters, so each one has quite a different flavour. They’re all pretty tense affairs though. It still makes me nervous playing the game on “Elite” difficulty, and I’ve been working on the game since the start!

I’m not sure what the price for each episode will be: I don’t think it’s been decided yet, but each episode’s between 5-8 hours of play, so I’m sure it’ll be good value for money.

RPS: Will all these chapters be playable co-op?

Dennis: Yes indeed. Each episode has three unique maps designed specifically for co-op multiplayer.

RPS: Do you have a release date for the PC version?

Dennis: I’m sorry I can’t really help with that as I don’t think we do yet. We’re busy as anything on the game though, and we’re trying to get it out there as soon as we can. We’re almost there, so it won’t be long!

__________________

« | »

, , .

64 Comments »

  1. Darkelp says:

    Ah, Alien breed was an amazing game, I shall look forward to this.

  2. Maale says:

    Finally! I have waited a long time for this. But why three separate episodes, sounds like they just wanna maximize the cashflow… Leet’s hope they price them reasonably.

  3. sigma83 says:

    Cue vehement protests of abandonment of PC platform, developer that made it on PC and how we deserve better from these people etc etc etc.

    Translation: I’m bitter cause I miss my Worms. =(

  4. c-Row says:

    Ah, Alien Breed… just as I was looking through eBay to find me a second hand Amiga 1200.

    *sniff*

  5. Heliocentric says:

    Not seen that symbol in a while. Limited keys was survival horror, holy crap no keys! I didn’t go down there before maybe there are some keys?

  6. Mithrandir0x says:

    It’s a bit strange that Team 17 has gone to UE3, with that unsaturated graphic style. I thought they would go to a much more gritty style with a higher contrast and pitch black shadows.

    Hope they fare well with these release.

  7. Heliocentric says:

    If i interviewed these guys i would ask them if they played alien swarm or shadowgrounds survivor. Whatever they answered i would nod knowingly and the interview would end.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Whatever happened to the source engine powered standalone version of Alien Swarm that was in development? Having never owned any of the Unreal/Unreal Tournament games since the first of either flavour I was quite looking forward to being able to give it a go.

  8. sigma83 says:

    Mostly I’m disappointed it’s not Space Hulk.

  9. Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

    NASH IS DEAD

    YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN

  10. MisterX says:

    oh how i loved alien breed on the Amiga.

  11. minipixel says:

    DESTRUCTION IMMINENT!!

  12. TheApologist says:

    Yay this.

    I wonder will they have a dialled down setting for netbooks like, I think, Torchlight has?

  13. Bobsy says:

    RPS: Will all these chapters be playable co-op?

    Dennis: Yes indeed. Each episode has three unique maps designed specifically for co-op multiplayer.

    Well there’s a good example of saying yes when the answer’s no. Rather than co-op throughout, a special ball-pen will be marked out where the co-op-ers can play.

    • Wilson says:

      Mmm, which is a shame. There’s quite a few games which have co-op modes, and you wonder why they didn’t do it for the whole game. It doesn’t matter so much about the plot/cutscenes or whatever that make it awkward to do, it’s just about playing with a friend. Saints Row II for instance has excellent co-op, they did it very well, and let you play the whole game co-op.

      I doubt three unique maps will have the same replayability as the main campaign. That said, should be fun anyway.

    • Dominic White says:

      Alien Breed without full co-op strikes me as kinda missing the point. Very, even.

      Even the very Alien Breed-inspired Shadowgrounds games (which, funnily, some people dismissed as ripping off Doom 3) had campaign co-op. Granted, it was same-system-only, but if you had a gamepad or two it was still pretty great.

    • -Spooky- says:

      Indeed. No Full camp. coop, no go.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah, that is a bit of a shame. As with Wilson, Saints Row 2 has also been one of my favourite co-op experiences recently. Gears of War 2 wasn’t too bad either, but that was obviously built from the ground up to be played by two buddies co-oping. Saints Row 2 though had superb co-op play, even though it only allowed you and one other friend to play, it let you do everything you could do in single player game, plus a couple of extras.

  14. Dan(WR) says:

    I liked Alien Breed to an extent but I think it was overrated and got a bit boring after an initial ‘Ooh! Aliens!’ factor. IMHO Team 17 had an ability to put a glossy sheen on everything that seemed to make the games appear much better than they actually were.

    The Team 17 game I had the most fun with was Miami Chase, which was like a proto-GTA. Not as good as Supercars, but then what was?

  15. MultiVaC says:

    Reminds me of Shadowgrounds, which is good. I really hope they let you do local co-op on PC like Shadowgrounds or Trine, it would be horrible shame for them not to.

  16. Rive says:

    I agree with the rest of the RPS Hive-Mind. No full coop? Ridiculous!

  17. Peter says:

    They made it on Amiga. PC was an unapetizing afterthougt back then.

  18. Pod says:

    The next time you interview Team 17 could you ask them this, please?

    “Why are you continually living on past glories? Can’t you make a new game instead of contniually rehashing the old shit?”

    • BooleanBob says:

      If you hover around any comment thread over at Eurogamer related to a T17 news post or review you’ll often find Martyn Brown floating around to answer the inevitable accusations of this type. He’s quite commendably honest if (understandably) a touch defensive about it all; a basic paraphrasing(/strawmanning) of his argument is that risky creative projects seem much less inviting from the perspective of a middle-sized developer with an unfavourable ratio of development-resources-to-livelihoods-on-the-line who could be bankrupted by a single poorly-selling game.

  19. Lobotomist says:

    AAAAAAMMMMMAAAAAAAZZZZZIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thats how much i am excited about Alien Breed remake !

  20. Magnus says:

    Are they planning on releasing their back catalogue on GOG, that’s what I want to know!

  21. Demikaze says:

    Yeah, bit strange this. I thought co-opt was the whole essence of Alien Breed?

  22. I, Alien says:

    Why aren’t they rereleasing any of their original games on GOG? Seems like an ideal fit for an independent developer with a long history.

  23. Wizlah says:

    My amigados inside and out books remain on my shelf. They will never leave. Not as long as I have good memories of lucasfilm battle of Britain. And speedball 2. And the chaos engine. And another world.

  24. sinister agent says:

    I have slightly mixed feelings about this, although most of them are good – it looks promising, and I’m leaning towards expecting it to be a good laugh. I hope there’s offline co-op – panicky games in particular are far more fun when you’re in the same room.

    I still remember stumbling into the final boss on Alien Breed ’92 with a friend, and the panicky yells we both let out. Even better (although it was terrible game design) was when we finally found a way round to the room with the big smiling face icon that we reasoned must be an extra life, argued over who would get it, and then raced to it. The second we touched it, it turned into a malicious sneer, and set off a 10 second level destruct countdown. Horrible, horrible design wrecking a long game for no reason, but my god, the way we discovered it was bloody hilarious.

    I wonder how plausible it’d be to have the old-fashioned one screen style multiplayer, too, where you had to stay together as if you split up, the camera would simply stop dead, halting your progress. I think that could work well for this one.

    The sound design, insofar as the trailer shows it, seems to be new but retaining an echo of the old style – neatly done, there. The graphics seem quite neat, with lots of incidental background detail. I do wonder if there’ll be any moments of relative calm, though – constant explosions and flashing lights and such can be simply wearisome and lose their effectiveness after extended play.

    Overall, well, it seems pretty promising, this one.

  25. jackflash says:

    The original was great with 2 player co-op…. not too thrilled about the half-measure on this one.

  26. Lilliput King says:

    I don’t see how they can justify releasing a sequel only 13 years after the original.

    Blatant money grabbing is what it is.

    • vasagi says:

      /thread

      i loved this game, its the “aliens” game that never was

      and no avp doesnt count.

    • Wizlah says:

      There was so an aliens game. It was even a kind of squad based fps for its time, in so far as you had 6 team members and you went from room to room fending off aliens, shooting face huggers and clearing alien goo from the walls, all from a first person point of view. If I recall correctly, the soundtrack was little bursts of creepy incidental music which got mixed up and played back to you randomly so it kept things edgy. It was the first computer game that actually had me crapping myself as a kid. and this on an amstrad 6128 with a green screen.

  27. DMJ says:

    The original is remembered with much fondness.

    I’d rather see a new Alien Breed than Worms 3D 2 Extreme Hi-Def VIII.

  28. Spacegirl says:

    whatever it’s just a Loaded clone

    :)

  29. Ergates says:

    One problem they might have these days is the amount of Alien Breed clones there are around, mostly cheap (e.g. Shadowgrounds & Shadowgrounds survivor, £5 & £9 respectively on steam) or free (e.g Alien Swarm).

    In it’s Amiga days, AB was fairly unique in what it offered (playing Aliens basically), but this is no longer the case so it’ll have to offer something above the competition if it’s to have any hope of success.

    On the other hand – I don’t really care. Team17 were whiney childish hatemongers towards Amiga Power – a sin that can never be forgiven. I hope they burn in hell for all eternity.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Buy Martyn Brown’s campaign against AP was pure comedy and impossible to take seriously. Admittedly, that’s based in part on my prejudice against people who replace “I” with “Y” in their names. Weigh that against Team 17′s games (Pool, Project X, and the AB series being particular standouts, but I have a massive soft spot for Superfrog too) and I think the quality of their output outweighs the pettiness of Mr. Bryown.

  30. Kalthorn says:

    I took their final comment on unique coop maps to mean that they just made a separate set of campaign maps designed for two players (maybe wider halls and more mobs). It would still mean that it wouldn’t be drop-in/out for friends but overall not as bad as we’re all imagining.

  31. jsutcliffe says:

    I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this, and following development news for a while. Alien Breed was quite possibly my favourite Amiga series, and that video has me feeling happy joy — it looks like they’ve nailed the feel of the original, and I suspect it’ll play very well with a 360 pad.

    I really couldn’t care less about coop (I could never convince my brother to play AB with me as a kid, so my memory of it is strictly single-player) — I just hope it has those heart-in-the-throat dash for the elevator moments.

  32. WilPal says:

    It’s good to see Team17 doing something different.

    I love them, but i feel they lost their way making Worms game after Worms game after Worms game.
    That series is in shreds now.

  33. Googlywaa says:

    Maybe not the place to speak but in regards to the ‘co-op’ aspect of the new Alien Breed, it’s not as clear cut as the whole concept sounds, the general design dictates the logic, and believe me, one has tried for the last year to get an experience nailed to what I rem/experienced on my Amiga A500, back then with my hooky copy of Alien Breed co-operative play was unfoundedly ruined by a design that wasn’t designated really for more than one player, ie. Getting stuck in separate sections of the map, locked doors, etc.

    This iteration of Breed has really tried to compromise all factors presented to us, as a games designer I get a brief of “make co-operative levels” from the existing tools/assets to do the job. The single player experience is a completely different one to that of the co-op; sacrifices had to be taken along the route to hopefully produce gameplay that warrants an element of ‘fun factor’ to myself, and others, as gamers.

    The co-op experience in Breed we’ve tried, well I say we, I’ve directed the action to really be a complete ‘bastard’ in contrast to a single player campaigns narrative and pacing. Theoretically, once familiar with the games mechanics the co-op is best suited in local play, big HD TV, lights off with a gaming partner sat next to you can verbally abuse for being a twat when they get you killed.

    With my short attention span and time allocated to playing games the co-op side of this new Alien Breed is well worth a go, considering I can spend the same amount of money on ale in one night and have nothing to show for it Breed’s def well worth a gamble, granted its not triple AAA fodder but it’s not a million miles away and can be jolly good fun.

    Hope you all enjoy it, I know its been a fucking top project to work on, in which today’s industry means a lot to someone like me that makes someone else a lot of money.

  34. Tye The Czar says:

    I’m glad they’re getting rid of some of the things that made the original impossible to progress if you made a mistake. Those kinds of things are unacceptable in game design. At least in adventure games of old, you had the option of saving your game at any time, which was a godsend.

  35. smeghammer says:

    Would be better if they put some kinda roleplay/levelling/unique weapons type thing in it. In all honesty i’d rather have a Project-x remake.

  36. Henrik J says:

    It is a little sad that it look this long for Team17 to figure out that they made games Before Worms, Don’t get me wrong Worms was great, but considering they were the top game developers in the Amiga days it is odd that none of their great games have seen an update

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      TBH they don’t really have any other IP’s worth ressurecting so they probably want to do a pretty good job of this.
      What else would they conceivably reanimate? Superfrog? Body Blows?
      Don’t get me wrong I will be buying this when it gets released.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Malibu Stacey
      I would love a remake of Project X, and I’ll bet an Arcade Pool remake would fare well on XBLA if it had multiplayer.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I’m guessing you just skipped my reply to the previous comment with regards to Project-X.

  37. Flimgoblin says:

    I’m not sure what the price for each episode will be: I don’t think it’s been decided yet, but each episode’s between 5-8 hours of play, so I’m sure it’ll be good value for money.

    So, at least £40 a pop if MW2′s pricing model is the new one? eh? eh?…. :)

  38. Adam Whitehead says:

    To be true to the spirit of the original series, this game will have to be entertaining but a bit mediocre and then exceeded by a superior but cheaper remake released about one year later that is awesome. Both games will feature the ability to get jammed in the scenery and unable to move.

    ALIEN BREED was a seriously excellent game series, but you could comfortably miss out AB and AB2 and just pick up AB Special Edition and AB Tower Assault. Great times.

  39. Donald Duck says:

    Wrong!
    Alien Breed 2 – The horror continues is without any doubt the best in the series (and one of the best action titles ever released for that sake). It was tough but sweet. The freeroaming and generally easy difficulty of Tower Assault didn’t suit the series as well as the short but tough arcade levels of AB2. AB SE was really good too, but AB 2 really takes the price. Fantastic game that.
    AB 3D 2 was actually pretty good too, compared to Wolfenstein at least.

  40. We Fly Spitfires says:

    OMG, I’m so excited! I loved that game for the Amiga. When does it come out?! Need definitive date! Hubba hubba!

  41. Baby Food Grinder says:

    The original Alien Breed was brilliant on the Amiga. Incredibly addictive and really difficult. I remember the end of level mission was always on a countdown timer and if you ran out you were dead! Games these days are too easy…

  42. Al3xand3r says:

    Alien Swarm for UT2004 is probably a better game since it has full co-op over multiple campaigns for 8 players (and for free!). It’s a shame the Source based retail sequel seems to have disappeared with no news for over two years. Think of it like a top-down Left 4 Dead long before Left 4 Dead had been made, with varied enemies, weapons, and many different gadgets. Your marines can level up and gain new skills and statistics, while each has certain class skills like hacking, healing and heavy weapons, which is pretty sweet. It has some creative skills like being able to weld doors shut and stall the aliens. The single player has an almost RTS feel since you have to position the bots yourself, while in co-op you control just one (unless the match isn’t full, then you can assign bots under the players’ command still). It’s much harder than Left 4 Dead and with more variety in terms of skills, weapons and equipment (though there’s no AI director). The rest is similar with parts you just rush through and parts you have to stall in and defend against waves of enemies for any scripted reason. I hope the sequel resurfaces at some point. I’m not sure if it’s functional still with the current latest UT2004 patch but, if it is, it’s worth a download for sure. Get some friends together and play!

  43. fox_hound13 says:

    Superfrog….Superfrog….Superfrog. :D
    Yeah, sometimes you can’t beat the original. I can imagine them doing a revamped version of the original with new graphics, and they’d be attacked for not evolving the gameplay like most games have. Then again, anything that was Alien Breed-related I was automatically interested in. It was simplistic, but at the same time got your heart racing. I’ll get it when it comes out, of course.
    Just…won’t be the same.

  44. PHeMoX says:

    Very cool news, but it somehow tastes a bit bad, like they’ve been looking at Shadowgrounds and the few UT2004/ Half-life 2 mods that were released featuring a very similar gameplay approach.

    Not saying this won’t be better. Looking forward to this!

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>