Spider-Man 2 Devs Are Making: Energy Hook

By John Walker on November 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

I know how to make you want to spend money. Imagine if I told you the guy who wrote the rope-swinging for Spider-Man 2 was making a new game using the same mechanic. See! You want to spend money right now! You’ll have to wait, however, as the Kickstarter for Energy Hook has not yet started – that’s December 8th. But in the meantime, you can watch footage of the game in its prototype stage below, and start planning budgets to see how much of your bank can be pledged.

This is Jamie Fristrom, the man who invented the extremely loved swinging mechanic in Spider-Man 2. And it’s also Paul Whitehead, a man behind the art of the Spider-Man games, and many others. And they’re working on a game that combines Spidey-like thread-swinging with SSX race/tricks-ifying. You’d have to be dead to the core to not be at least interested in giving that a go. Here’s the early footage:

You can keep up with the progress at Happion Laboratories via their development blog. And you can see some super-early footage from May this year, here:

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40 Comments »

  1. Ian says:

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.

    Yes.

  2. max pain says:

    Time will tell what other gameplay elements they’ll add to the game.

    Currently it seems you don’t even have to aim the hook, which is a shame.

  3. ran93r says:

    Looks like it could be fun, I spent the majority of my time in Spidey just swinging around for the giggles. It has a nice Jet Set feel to it but it will need a bit more than just aimlessly farting around, as much fun as that is.

    Consider my eyes peeled.

  4. Mr. Mister says:

    I’d like being forced to aim where I want to grapple the beam, or beam the grapple. Otherwise the movement mechanics seem fun, yes, but not very involved.

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    RedViv says:

    Console!Spider-Man 2 is still one of my favourite games. Rope-swinging and combat and level design and all. Good to see that one of these is back.

  6. TechnicalBen says:

    They need to get into touch with the guy from Canabalt! That game/story would fit this perfectly! :D

    • Baines says:

      For some reason, it makes me see Jet Set Radio than Canabalt. Swing around spray painting both easy and hard to reach places. Running along the side of a building painting a mural. Picking up paint can refills. Doing tricks and being chased by swinging cops and later air vehicles.

      Not saying it would be any good… Then again, I never warmed to Canabalt.

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    tomeoftom says:

    I agree with the other guys: if you can’t aim the hook there’s no game here.

    The four necessary ingredients for the Grapple-Based Aerial Parkour Game Everyone (Me) Wants:

    1. Let the player aim the hook, obviously
    2. Give the player two hooks, one per mouse button, and which can both be disengaged whenever.
    3. Make the rope slightly elastic, to make falling hard into a slack rope not feel crappy and jerky.
    4. Give the rope physical presence (it catches on and winds around objects).

    Alright, cheers.

    • sabrage says:

      You just described a wet dream I haven’t had yet.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Yeah. But, to be fair, if given an appropiate combat system and sunglare, the lack of grapple aiming can pass for a decent console game.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think that could work well for a Mirror’s Edge styled game, especially a sandbox, but with a Spiderman style game the speed you travel at becomes a serious concern.

    • Low Life says:

      This sounds cool, and I sort of want to give it a go as a prototype. I’m going to spend this weekend (at least the time not spent playing Far Cry 3, which might amount to quite little) doing something game development related and with lack of better ideas it might as well be this.

      How do you think the aiming should work, should it be straight up aiming like in a third person shooter (i.e. point at a certain spot in a wall and the hook hits exactly that spot)? As someone pointed out in a comment below, that could get a bit tiresome, but could be fun as a proof of concept.

      Otherwise I’d think left mouse button for left hand hook and right button for right hand [edit: somehow I managed to miss the part where you described this exact behaviour.. well done, me], some crazy wall running (because wall running is always awesome) and.. that’s pretty much all it’d take controls wise.

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        tomeoftom says:

        Yeah! Was trying to think about how to individually cancel grapples. Thinking maybe hold M1 or M2 to cancel, but hold-controls never feel very good – so maybe Q or E. They both get in the way of WASD movement, though. Side-mouse buttons would be perfect but you can’t assume they exist. Maybe scroll up/down to cancel each rope? Eh. Either way, by all means please go ahead and make it! This is great!

        • Low Life says:

          For the first version I was just thinking of having to hold the mouse button as long as you want the hook to be attached. Could be a bit jarring, but at least it provides the necessary control while still being relatively simple.

          Oh god, what did I promise? Well, I guess it’s too late to back up now. I’ll see what I can manage, just don’t expect too much too soon :)

    • Radiant says:

      If even half of that list becomes a thing you will hit everything on the level.
      And have the shitiest time imaginable.

  8. BrendanJB says:

    Although spiderman 2 had the best spiderman swinging to date, the Bionic Commando third person shooter still has the most satisfying swinging mechanics I’ve ever played in a game.

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      Henke says:

      Yup. I loved that one too! :D

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        Jackablade says:

        I was interested in that but heard nothing but terrible things about it, so never got around to picking it up. Did it have issues outside the neat swinging?

        • BrendanJB says:

          Honestly, I really enjoyed the game. It’s not going to win any awards for originality, and the story is laughable, but the combat and swinging mechanics are just outstanding; it has beautiful flow. Linking together swings while gunning, then flipping up in to the air and in to a freefall, switching to a rocket launcher and taking down a group of guys in a building on your way down, and then grappling on to the edge of the building to whip yourself around and on to a flying mech… no other game has given me such a beautiful amount of acrobatics and gunplay.

          It has it’s faults, though. Once you get good at swinging, the levels become all too short; especially at the beginning of the game where you can pass some of the levels in a matter of minutes with some well placed swings. One thing that didn’t bother me, but bothered others, was the arbitrary limits on where you could go. You’re given some pretty damn large and detailed areas, but every now and then you will swing somewhere that looks like you should go that way, but then you will die from “radiation”. It’s not a big deal most of the time, but it can be jarring when it happens.

          Multiplayer is brilliant fun, but it was all but dead the last time I tried playing. I’m in aus though, so you might have some more luck finding servers on your side of the planet. It’s a -competent- game, but the swinging is the star of the show, and it executes that one element absolutely perfectly; right down to the cable coiling around objects as thin as light poles. It’s 10 bucks on steam, and I’d say for the experience of swinging around some cool levels and blasting some baddies it is well worth the price.

    • subedii says:

      Agreed, Bionic Commando was the best Spider-Man game to not hold the name, at least when it came to the swing mechanics.

      The swing mechanics were a dream to play with, they gave you a real feel of control and momentum, and they took timing to work properly. But when you nailed your timing you were soaring through the air with glee.

      It’s a shame the general gameplay and the level design didn’t hold up nearly as well. On the flip side, if you ever got to play it multiplayer, or even mess around in the multiplayer levels just swinging around, you really saw the potential for the mechanics.

      The multiplayer gameplay was awesome, there was nothing else quite like it in the way it played, madcap chases around and over buidlings and facilities, trying to maintain that trade-off between your ability to aim and your speed, because if you stopped you’d soon be dead.

      Shame the community didn’t last. It has LAN mode, but I get the feeling if there was the option for dedicated servers (which you can sort of get a facsimile of if you’re using something like Hamachi), you’d still see at least a few people playing it even today.

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    Oozo says:

    Weeeeeeeeh!

    (Seriously, though: That they do not pitch it as some sort of futuro-save-the-world-with-your-awesome-gadget-narrative, but as a sports game, does make full of hope for having a good time indeed. Movement instead of missions. Like, what Mirror’s Edge could have been, if they would have focused on the important stuff! Even though I very much agree with tomeoftom’s suggestion above.)

  10. runonthespot says:

    Tarzan, naturally.

  11. Fox89 says:

    Have there been any games where you’re forced to aim the hook? Because frankly I’m not sure that would be particularly fun. “Whoops, I’ve swung out over a field and there’s nothing to hook onto!” “Whoops, I missed the building I was aiming at due to my speed!” “Whoops, I’ve just turned a corner and can’t aim quickly enough to prevent slamming into the side of the building!”

    I have no issue with the option to aim being in there for precision swings, but having to aim for every single point to latch onto would just get so tiresome.

    • cwoac says:

      Batman the movie (both in car and on foot) – although that was by the grapple having a fixed firing angle.

      Also, dishonoured, sort-of (bear with me here). Once you figure out that you can set up a blink while falling/jumping (especially if you start chaining them) pretty much requires that aiming sensation that I’d picture for this. No swinging though, obv.

    • Koozer says:

      As far as I remember the extent of aiming in Spiderman 2 was that you had to push one of the analogue sticks in the direction you wanted to shoot the web, eg. shove it up and left to shoot one to that building on your left. And trying to make a particularly daring leap and swing, only to miss by inches and plummet to your death, was half the fun!

    • subedii says:

      Bionic Commando had aiming, but it handled it beautifully. Basically you aimed horizontally, but there was (directed) auto-aim vertically. If you held the grapple button, your grappling arm wouldn’t fire until something was in range to latch onto.

      So say for example if you were free falling whilst holding down the grapple button. If you passed a lamp post on the way down, and that’s what you were facing towards (in the horizontal), your grappling arm would fire as long as it was in range. Grab hold, swing, release the button at the appropriate time to swing forward.

      It’d difficult to describe, but it works, it works really well once you’ve got the hang of it. Because it’s not just a pure auto-aiming system, or one you basically press the button and it automatically grapples onto something off-screen ( http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/07/04 ), you have to have an idea of where you want to go, and there’s a real sense of control in how you grapple around the levels. It becomes all about timing your grapples and releases to build up speed. And say for example, whilst it might be possible to hold onto the grapple button and grapple onto something immediately, you don’t always want to, you want to delay your grapple to get the right distance and angle from wall / ceiling to maximise your swing.

      When you get into it, it’s hard to perfect, but easy enough to handle.

  12. Lacobus says:

    Spider-man 2 was the type of game where moving around was actually much more fun than the actual missions (also see Assassin’s Creed 1). If they can make the missions loads fun on top of the moving around (also see Assassins Creed 2) this game could be ridiculous.

    The web swinging progression was amazing SM2 also. By the end game you could zip about New York like a demon.

    I am excited about this one.

  13. medwards says:

    Am I the only one who was like “That is some awfully weak glass… you’d think they’d reinforce such a huge piece of glass somehow…”

  14. Bhazor says:

    People complaining about not aiming the grapple beam haven’t played Spiderman 2 in a while. It requires a lot of skill in timing, planning paths and full situational awareness. That’s not even going into the chains like wall running and pommeling.

  15. HilariousCow says:

    I’m happy. Always figured that although Spiderman 2′s controls were a little more complex than they needed to be, Ultimate Spiderman streamlined them so hard that there wasn’t a game left. Very interesting case study for control schemes, those two.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Ultimate Spiderman’s controls need to be studied as an example of what happens when you port QTEs to control mechanisms they’re not meant for. I was stuck at the first QTE for quite a long time until I changed the input they requested from mouse to keyboard.

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    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I’m going to have to accelerate development of “GRAPPLO – The Man with the Grappling Hook Arms”.

  17. The Random One says:

    I don’t know (he he he) if the game will be good (ha ha ha) but it certainly has (snicker) a great hook.

  18. Jupiah says:

    Woah, spiderman-2 web-swinging but with a jetpack to give you more control over your acceleration and swing arc? Holy crap, where can I pre-order this?

  19. jizazmi says:

    Quake 2 Lithium mod!!!! Anyone else? Finally a game based on this!!

  20. JamieFristrom says:

    Hi everyone – the dev here. Thanks for the nice words!

    Some of you have asked about controlling the hook. A couple of things:
    - you can control the hook, but it allows a lot of slop – if there isn’t something to hook to exactly in front of your avatar, it’ll throw a wider net.
    - Definitely check out the 3D Bionic Commando, which lets you aim precisely. It had a pretty steep learning curve, and IMO doesn’t flow as well as Energy Hook, but it’s only $20 right now and it may keep your appetite for swinging sated until we can launch EH. Not to mention, EH has mouse-and-keyboard controls (though we’ll also support gamepad), and we might steal an idea or two from Bionic Commando to make mouse & keyboard feel good

    Thanks again everybody!

    • TCM says:

      Oh hey, a dev!

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ADD A WINGSUIT TO THIS GAME

      Whoa, sorry, not sure what came over me there.

      Anything I may have said I mean with the utmost respect!

    • subedii says:

      Hi. Glad to see you referenced Bionic Commando, because I really do feel it nailed the swing mechanics really well, especially the feeling of control and momentum (I’m sure you gathered as much from my gushing posts above :P ).

      So if you say you can do better, that’s tall talk, but I’m hoping you guys can pull it off.

      One thing I will say is that part of the fluidity of BC’s swing mechanics wasn’t just the momentum based control, it was also (if I’m honest), the really fluid animation and transitions that made it all seem so seamless. The way he’d backflip off a building, or do a somersault turn when you nailed your swing timing, those really added to the “feel” of the game. I hope you can achieve a similar effect with yours.