Robot Rock: Hawken Is Quite The Indie Game

By Quintin Smith on March 10th, 2011 at 12:30 pm.

Because Robot Rockets didn't fit.

Yes, indie game. Hawken, the multiplayer mech combat game seen in the above screenshot and below video represents nine months work from Los Angeles-based studio Adhesive Games, a studio employing just nine people, but look at it! Absolutely incredible stuff. Thanks to RPS reader Christopher “The World Wide” Webb for sending this in.

That’s the Unreal engine you’re looking at, by the way. The movement looks a little choppy, but #1: I’d rather have this sort of footage of actual matches than something fake, and #2: with no release date (and no word on pricing) just yet, Adhesive probably have plenty of time to polish their baby*.

The official site also says that the game will have “two unique team game modes, as well as team deathmatch and free-for-all deathmatch”. Colour me very curious about those unique modes. If this studios pieces together something suitably epic to go with these visuals, I might just go crazy.

* DISCLAIMER: RPS does not condone the polishing of babies, and consider it a cruel and unusual pastime.

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131 Comments »

  1. Oak says:

    That music would be right at home in Sim City 4.

  2. godgoo says:

    oh my!

  3. tomeoftom says:

    Oooooooh I want this. Some of the best architectural/artistic design I’ve seen in a game. And some solid mechs.

    • Smidey says:

      “Some of the best architectural/artistic design I’ve seen in a game.” This. That was actually what I was most impressed by. The mechs look stunning, and the gameplay looks really interesting, but I was blown away by the artistic styling and the architecture. It’s phenomenal.

    • matte_k says:

      Yeah, the way some of those buildings stack up crazily reminds me of Kowloon Walled City, which is no bad thing. Interest piqued…

    • Urthman says:

      The environment looks amazing, but for a giant mech game, a more realistic setting would give you a much better feel for how big the mechs are. Watching that I can’t tell if they’re 10 meters tall or 100 meters tall.

    • Commisar says:

      I know, it looks both futuristic and realistic, plus the mechs look good and they seem to move “right”

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      When I see that city design and the combat with in, it begs… nay.. cries out like a mewling desperate gamer baby for destructible terrain ala BF2.

  4. razorblade79 says:

    looks sweet, but needs more details on gameplay.

  5. limbclock says:

    I hope it gets a mac version too!

  6. roBurky says:

    That is some nice roboting.

  7. thepaleking says:

    It’s the sequel to Phantom Crash I’ve always wanted.

    • Benny says:

      My thoughts exactly. Phantom Crash was the only game i regret trading in (back in my younger sillier years, for £5! what a fool i was). All it needed was this kind of multiplayer/online component with an dev team who would hopefully support it for a good period of time.

      Colour me a bit excited :)

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      Yes! I was thinking the exact same thing… I loved Phantom Crash and played it more than just about any other mech game.

      This looks fantastic and I absolutely love the level design. I hope they continue to polish and support this game even after release. Maybe even release some modding tools so the community can keep it going if they choose to move on :)

  8. Theoban says:

    See, I don’t usually play multiplayer games.
    But.
    MECHS

  9. Dominic White says:

    THAT is just how I want stompy robots to move. Agile and capable, like an articulated biped should be, but weighty and solid as you’d expect a metal war machine to be.

    Also, whoa. It looks like Killzone 3, but with better mech design. Want.

    • vodka and cookies says:

      Yeah looks cool and I agree the art direction is a lot like Killzone’s.

    • Wulf says:

      This was the first thing I noticed too – and I always wondered why mechs couldn’t bee more agile and lithe whilst still being mechanical too. I’ve seen mechs like this before, in Metal Gear Solid, and from my research the reason people don’t seem to like them is because of the Uncanny Valley effect, which I find absurd (hooray for xenophobia, isn’t it lovely?). Since apparently in making them more agile and move more realistically, they look like machines mounted on human or animal legs.

      Of course, this is completely missing the point that robotics is a multifaceted field, and that includes prosthetics. In fact, a BFF of mine is in University, working toward that field, and he’s been showing me some of the high-end prosthetics that will be available soon and they look amazing. A lot of that reminds me of the more realistic mechs in Metal Gear Solid and this Hawken game. That’s why I actually find those mechs more believable than the older, stompier kind. Since the older kind looked clunky, and didn’t seem to learn a thing from the prosthetics facet of mechanical engineering.

      And when looking at these robots, that was the first thing I could think, really, that they seemed to have a natural evolution from real world engineering, actually taking into account all of the facets of that field to build a better robot, one that would be designed to move almost as well and as intricately as human prosthetic limb replacements would. Of course, the mass of it would take some of that dexterity away, but it’d still be nowhere near as clunky as prior mechs. The end result would be much more like this.

      So I’m completely in favour of this.

      (I’d find some footage of the MGS4 mechs to show their movement, but that’s easier said than done, and quick searches didn’t turn up the specific parts of that game I was looking for.)

    • Cognitect says:

      Weighty and solid? Not really. The video was mostly very impressive, but the mechs seemed to be capable of changing their speed and direction extremely rapidly, exhibiting almost no inertia.

    • Torgen says:

      I’m with Cognitect. They move like a normal UT manshoot where everyone’s wearing Mech Halloween costumes. I don’t care how advanced your robotics are, they aren’t immune to inertia. (and let’s face it: even a “normal” UT-type game features the men pull off physics-defying maneuvers impossible for real people.)

    • FriendlyFire says:

      The mechs don’t move too realistically, but I’m not sure how much is due to physics and how much is caused by poor networking. The movement’s very choppy, which either indicates a bad connection or bad network code (I hope it’s the former).

      The game’s environments look absolutely fantastic, though.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, saw this yesterday and my thought was that the mechs could do with being stompier. Big robots shouldn’t be able to change strafe direction without so much as a hint of (de)accelleration.

      But it’s bloody impressive for 9 months and 9 blokes, even if they had Unreal tech to build upon.

  10. Luminous Nose says:

    This trailer features such a refreshing choice of music. I find those gritty combat trailers so tiresome nowadays (even the well-put-together Battlefield 3 trailers).
    Also, the landscapes look awesome! Seems the colours and lighting are very much drawn from the Ghost in the Shell television series.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Yes, very much so.
      Pity it reverts to shaky cam for the whole thing.
      And a werid version of shaky cam, it constantly wobbles.

    • SprintJack says:

      It’s the worst attemp of shaky cam I have ever witnessed. It was so bad i couldn’t actualy focus on the rest of the video (had to stop it to observe the visuals, which were quite nice btw)

      It just felt wrong.

  11. Tori says:

    Unreal Engine in a Indie game? Doesn’t that cost lika a milion bucks?

    • Dominic White says:

      You’re a little behind the times. For freeware developers, it’s.. well, free now. Has been for quite some time. For commercial indies, it’s free until you hit $50,000 profits, then you have to pay Epic some royalties. Given the amazing quality of the toolset, it’s something a lot of small studios are flocking to now,

      http://www.udk.com/

      The toolset is always kept right up to the latest build of the Unreal engine, too. Even compiles straight to iOS format if you want to make mobile games.

      You can download it and play around with the tools without so much as signing up for a site login.

    • Tori says:

      Thanks for that! I think this is a very good move for Epic, Indie developers, and PC gaming in genereal.

    • Tei says:

      Apparently, It also cost the sanity of the programmers.

    • Okami says:

      Apparently, It also cost the sanity of the programmers.

      The sanity of programmers?
      Is this the same as the virginity of whores?

    • Bhazor says:

      I think the royalties are a pretty high percentage of sales but yeah saving the time and cost of producing an engine and tool set as powerful as Unreal would mean they could hand over 75% of proftis to Epic and still be saving money.
      Bit sad there hasn’t been more freeware indies using it though. Would love to see what Messhof or Matt Makes Games could do with it in a Luddum Dare scenario.

      It also seems that the new release of the UDK includes the features shown in the latest engine trailer. Calling it Unreal Engine 3.95 instead of 4 is making sense now.
      http://www.udk.com/news-beta-mar2011

    • Dominic White says:

      I think the royalties are 25%, but given that it lets them effectively skip the whole ‘making an engine/toolset’ part of development and just get to making content with very well established, tested and documented tools? Yeah, fair tradeoff, I reckon.

    • Bhazor says:

      25%? That is really small given you’re probably saving two years over making any kind of comparable engine in house. I’m sure there’d be room for negotiation in there as well.

    • Dominic White says:

      I think the UDK pricing is non-negotiable, but the full Unreal engine license still is.

      UDK is pretty simple. Free if you’re non-commercial, or 25% of everything you take after the first $50k. Epic are clearly not going for raw monetary gain – they’re trying to establish market presence and muscle out Unity.

  12. Alexander Norris says:

    Oh. Oh my. Oh.

    I would like to buy this now.

  13. jackflash says:

    Looks absolutely phenomenal.

  14. karry says:

    Environments are gorgeous. Robot designs are kinda crappy though. Also all the jumpyness…If you want things hopping around – just make them rabbits or something.

    Oh, and dont tell me, the “russian” letters as imagined by typical USians…will it have mechanized bears invasion and robots fueled by vodka ? USians…

    • Dominic White says:

      If you want slow-moving hunks of metal with lazily twisting torsos, why not remove the legs altogether and call them tanks?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Better yet, let’s remove the ability to move and call them “artillery” or “turrets”.

      And, as this has mechs and therefore is in the future, why are you saying it’s psuedo-Russian? Maybe it’s a bastardized English that’s spoken by Russians. You don’t know, man. You don’t know.

    • Wulf says:

      Hahahaha… wow.

      It’s funny, I commented just above that people got xenophobic over mechs acting like a biological lifeform in MGS4 – and I might’ve sounded crazy there, that’s so nuts that I wondered if anyone would believe it, despite being true.

      Thanks for giving me evidence that it is, in fact, true that people freak out over robots acting too much like a biological organism. :p As I said before: Hooray for xenophobia.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with agile robots. In fact, if you’re familiar with the robotics field, that’s the way things are going anyway. Have you seen the bigdog? The bigdog is very much not like your clunky walking tanks, in fact, it’s actually a clever little bugger that can walk on ice. It looks stunningly like the MGS4 mechs too, and these mechs, which just goes to show that I know what I’m talking about.

      (It helps to have a friend who’s doing a robotics University course.)

      (It really does.)

      Right, let’s see if I can dig out that video of the bigdog…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZPRsrwumQ

    • Urthman says:

      Wulf, it’s silly to say that objections to agile giant robots is “xenophobia” when it’s more likely that someone has just heard of the square-cube law. There are good physical reasons that an elephant is less agile than a grasshopper.

    • Torgen says:

      Yes, Wulf, you’re very quick with the self-aggrandizing, which in this case is unwarranted.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Wulf, you have a unique ability to patronise everyone and an ego the size of a small moon, but I agree with you. Nimble mechs are just more fun.

    • dsi1 says:

      So wait a second Wulf, the mechs are actually the size of a large dog/small horse?

      So they’re robots not mechs?

      Honestly, if these things are more than a meter tall there is something horribly off with the physics.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      Discussions about realism and robots aside I just dislike games where you can effectively float around in any given direction at any given time. IMHO there is an optimum point where there are limitations put on movement so it’s more tactical not just about making a pretence of leading targets but realistically just spamming rounds in their general direction because they can dodge in mid-air anyway.

      Otherwise I’d just go play quake or UT or something.

      So yeah, I hope they become slightly more stompy because the visuals make me want to weep.

  15. Staggy says:

    I’m getting a pretty good District 9 vibe from that footage, great stuff.

  16. Sam Crisp says:

    Work in Progress. Does not reflect the quality of final product.

    That is almost comically modest. When developers put this all over their videos I get the feeling they don’t have any faith in their work. If this was the final product it would still be gorgeous, Mr Developer.

    • Okami says:

      Since this is footag from an Unreal game, I guess they put this info there to hide the “LIghting needs to be rebuilt” debug message… ;)

  17. Berzee says:

    The smoke — I love the smoke SO MUCH! Rarely do I love smoke-in-games so much.

    • Rotekian says:

      Really? The smoke (0:19) looks off somehow to me. I love the jumpjet smoke, but even that is a bit off. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because the level itself looks so gorgeous that the smoke sticks out. You can also noticed the gun firing sprite which doesn’t flicker correctly and looks like it might be coming out at the wrong angle (1:40).

      These are all really minor, but they stuck out as I was watching.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The environment smoke is off, yeah. It looks like it’s been animated as a (high-budget) cartoon upon a painted background. Bit too “flat”.

  18. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    Games which look like concept art = win.

  19. Lars Westergren says:

    Very nice. Looks very Masamune Shirow/Appleseed influenced. Maybe a little Battle Angel Alita in there too.

    • Dominic White says:

      And if you’re going to make a cyberpunk dystopia with fighting mechanoids in it, you can’t really do much better than cribbing from Shirow and Kishiro.

  20. wcaypahwat says:

    reminds me a bit of lost planet, without the boring spend the whole game running around looking for a decent mech bit.

    Still, I’m impressed just by the city they’ve put together.

  21. Ravenger says:

    Probably the most visually striking game I’ve seen in the past year.

    I want!

  22. neolith says:

    Whoa – that is one sexy looking mech game!

  23. Maslaw says:

    If those mechs are going to be at least as customizable as in Front Mission games (the good old ones) this game is sold for me.

  24. Dakia says:

    Wow. Do want! I’ll snatch this up as soon as it comes out.
    The world looks amazingly polished. Medch movement is a little jittery, but that can be forgiven. I’m really wanting to see some cockpit views.

    / Ah, thanks. I stoped the video and the game titel screen, assuming that it was done

  25. Barman1942 says:

    I believe the word here is “jaw-dropping”.

  26. Masked Dave says:

    I see that city and I think: Okay, now let me be Spider-Man in it.

  27. Diziet Sma says:

    Purrrrrrrrrrr

  28. bastronaut says:

    Environment built wholly by hand or in part procedurally? Looks like a lot more than nine months work if made by hand. Maybe I can’t see all the sameness hidden in there.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d say that procedural generation of the city was involved. I can see some elements there that look like they could’ve been put together by a cleverly designed procedural generation algorithm whilst still being convincing. So my money’s on there being some proceduralness to it.

    • Olivaw says:

      Procedurally generated maps in an FPS could be really cool, if that’s really what they’re doing.

      If it’s hand-crafted, though, that’s even better.

  29. Skusey says:

    This just makes me want to take up my plan for a District 9 game again. I drew some pictures last time I planned on making it, so I must be at least 30% of the way there.

  30. DJ Phantoon says:

    So is this going to play like Mechwarrior (two, you fools, not that arcadey whatever they had on console toys) or what?

    DETAILS! Use your time machine for good, for once.

  31. Jake says:

    It looks so lovely, I’d just like to wander around the city, or perch on top of a tower and look around like the mech with the tiny arms.

    I wonder how much they will charge for it considering it looks identical to a non-indie game in terms of quality of graphics. If I’d made this I’d want to hush up the fact it was indie and stick a full price tag on it.

    • Torgen says:

      Yes, this has to be the best “large city” environment I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps the buildings are laid out procedurally as some guess, but things like the billboard placement, etc look done by hand.

  32. Quine says:

    This looks the shizness!

    Do they want some cash?

  33. heretic says:

    those environments look absolutely amazing…

    I thought only AAA studios had the manpower to model and texture all these objects @_@

    • Wulf says:

      They could’ve used some very clever procedural generation to do part of that work for them. I’ve seen such being done in the indie field, and I’ve seen some really interesting things being done with procedural generation as a whole. If there were procedurally generated bits there, just thrown together according to algorithms, I wouldn’t be surprised.

      The thing is is that this is a city. Nature is harder because nature can be extremely random to our minds, we don’t understand quite how it works yet. But humans plan cities, therefore, humans can tell machines how to plan cities as well. (Just so long as we never see the insides, which can become very random.) There’s an Introversion game (Subversion) that covers that sort of thing.

  34. Wedge says:

    Wow looks like Tribes mixed with Mech Warrior. Awesome.

  35. diebroken says:

    Wow, very impressive! Does the game have destructible environments?

    Also, just closing my eyes and listening the music gave me memories of playing Homeworld. :)

  36. Eukatheude says:

    Holy cow. Reminds me so much of my Armored Core days.

    • Dominic White says:

      On that note, Armored Core 5 was unveiled recently, and apparently it’s going to have a pseudo-MMOish persistent war online mode. Various player factions fighting over territories. Gonna rock.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Cool. Unfortunately i played only the first ones, back with my PS2, and i don’t plan on buying a PS3, so i guess i won’t be trying this.

  37. Billzor says:

    Sniper mech!

  38. Allandaros says:

    I want to play this.

    Then I want the MechWarrior mod, and I want to play that.

  39. squareking says:

    My word! This will be a day-one purchase. Even though the cameraguy is a drunken midget.

  40. Aganazer says:

    Sweet graphics aside, its just another deathmatch game right?

    Personally, I got tired of that style gameplay 10 years ago.

    On the other hand, I would love to see that look in an open world game, a coop game, or even a story driven game with RPG elements.

    • lorddon says:

      From the FAQ on the site:

      What game modes are supported? We have two unique team game modes, as well as team deathmatch and free-for-all deathmatch.

  41. Chucrute says:

    What about the net code?
    Unreal Engine looks very cool and runs smoothly, but plays like crap online. At least in my personal experience.

  42. JB says:

    Looks very nice, I like the little things like the smoke and heat haze from the jetpacks.

    Also those rockets remind me of the Bullgut launcher in Shogo M.A.D. (If I remember correctly, which I might not, as I’m rather ancient). Good times.

    • Matchstick says:

      I was getting a Shogo vibe from that as well, which got me to wondering if one of these “unique team game modes” was a Mech vs Squishy mode.

    • JB says:

      Haha that would be superb! Though it would have to be many squishies against a mech or two if it was scaled like Shogo.

  43. Cirdain says:

    fuck……………………………….. Breath-taking stuff

  44. Cirdain says:

    …..

  45. Stormdancer says:

    Looks very cool, but… man. I hate that fake-shakey-cam. Stop it.

  46. kutkh says:

    I clicked on this expecting a debate on the correct collective noun for multiple Dragon Age 2 protagonists, but I got stompy robots instead. Acceptable.

  47. pupsikaso says:

    Wow, I LIKE that! First game I’m excited about this year.
    And I really like the urban environments. Look very Ghost In the Shell -ish.

    Also that choppy movement is just crappy net code. i.e. lag. I’m sure it will be patched up for release.

  48. gengus says:

    Oh man! They captured the architecture of Patlabors Tokyo in video game form finally! http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews34/patlabor_blu-ray.htm

    Hoorahs!

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