Gunscape Is A Quake-Style FPS Construction Kit

By Graham Smith on March 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

Now *this* is a game.

Eventually everything you loved will be reborn, not as an expensive and confused studio reboot, but as a block-building or procedurally generated indie game. It’s a future in which communities and computers will be re-building your memories in perpetuity. In Gunscape, it’s the late-’90s FPS which is getting the block treatment, as it offers a construction kit for building Quake 1-3 style singleplayer and deathmatch levels, with texture and prop packs intended to allow you to theme those maps as you please.

There’s a Kickstarter campaign ongoing, which currently has $4,237 AUD of its $27,500 goal, though there’s plenty of footage of the game and editor already in action in the pitch video. There’s even a pre-alpha demo. I’ve had a quick play of it, but here’s the elevator sales pitch: “You could for example take the blocks and props from the Halo-inspired set, and the enemies from the Turok-inspired set, and build yourself a deathmatch map in space where you can hit a button and release velociraptors on the other players.”

I spent one half of my teenaged years building maps for Quake 2, Quake 3 and Half-Life, and the other half playing those games against bots and friends. Selling that time of my life back to me with a modern twist is practically what Kickstarter is for, and I’m sucker enough to be compelled to join up in this instance. My brain is still full of failed attempts to mimic the flow and vertical thrills of Q2DM1.

Having had a quick play with that demo, the editor is certainly easy to use. There’s none of the faffing around with texture alignment and tracking down light leaks that marked geometry creation in Worldcraft or whatever else. There’s also, as a result, less flexibility at this stage in terms of what you can make with it. It’s idiot-proof though, and that’s good.

I also had a quick play on the one server that was up. After falling to my death multiple times through holes in the ground I never saw, I can report that it is dark. This might be because skyboxes are a recent addition, not yet in the demo build, or it might just be a stylistic thing that it’s trying to evoke the grey-metal dreariness of its source inspiration. Or maybe I should turn up my monitor contrast. Either way, it’s certainly Quake-ish, though I worry the weapons – BFG excluded – lack real punch. I love some of the sound effects, but there’s nothing as immediately thrilling as an Id Software shotgun, and the jump feels a little strange.

That’s all fixable stuff, but worth noting at this stage before you back. Physics and weapons are what set apart these games, and those are something you can’t control via the in-game level editor.

Still, one to watch, and to consider backing. Have a look at the pitch videos and try the demo for yourselves.

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14 Comments »

  1. mugsgame says:

    The fact that it’s block-based and not CSG/brush-based like Quake1-3 dampens my excitement. Seems like Quake3 gameplay on Wolfenstein levels. Like Graham I dabbled with level design in my teens, I’d love to find some modern-day, convenient and distributable way of sketching and running through spaces. Unity didn’t scratch the itch due to lacking the creative constraints of convex solids and snap-to-grid.

    • The Random One says:

      The idea, I think, is that by having a simpler editor what you’ll lose in terms of complexity of levels you’ll gain in terms of creativity by people who have cool ideas but can’t wrap their heads around traditional level-building tools. It’s a fair tradeoff methinks.

      Also maybe I’ll finally be able to remake my favourite FPS deathmatch level of all time, the ski lodge from 007: Nightfire. Don’t you dare judge me.

      • Baines says:

        A shame that I cannot play such block-based games without suffering immediate severe motion sickness. (Minecraft, Eldritch, etc.)

        Just watching the animated GIFs on the Kickstarter page is enough to get me queasy. Particularly the one showing building in a city skybox. Enclosed areas are worse than open.

  2. mfcrocker says:

    Been playing the pre-alpha with mates for a month or so and it’s just really, really fun. The physics are a bit off and the guns don’t quite seem right (reload times especially) but just jumping into a server and dicking about on the maps people have made is an absolute joy

    • KDR_11k says:

      Wait, reload times? In a 90s FPS style game?

      • Radix says:

        There’ll be a large variety of content spread out through the theme packs, each of which is inspired by a particular game or series (ranging from as early as Wolf3D to as late as BioShock, but overall skewing towards classic PC shooters) and includes elements to promote different styles of play from those games.
        For example, the pack inspired by GoldenEye includes a couple of explosive weapons that’ll leave those distinctive long-duration explosive fields, and the ones from the Wolfenstein-inspired pack do not have a reloading state.
        There are also other sustained-fire or slow-firing weapons in other packs that don’t need a distinction between cooldown and reloading, so it’s totally possible to build maps that don’t use weapons that have a reload state at all.

        However, all the elements in all the theme packs need to mesh into a cohesive whole, meaning some weapons that you might not expect to need reloading–based on the game they’re inspired by–do so. It’s a balancing act and I need to keep the full 40 or so planned weapons in mind even though there are only 9 or so in the game so far.

        Weapon reloading times/gun feel/sfx/balance are all things that need future tweaking: keep in mind that this is an early alpha, so anything egregious has probably been noted!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Hideous says:

    I backed this for the $90 level and I’m anxiously awaiting more backers. I really, really, really want to see this succeed, as I’m a huge fan of arena-style FPS games.

  4. LogicalDash says:

    This looks an awful lot like Sauerbraten. It’s been out a while.

    • grable says:

      Except the Cube engine gives you loads more control over the level design. Its what every voxel engine wants to be ;)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sauerbraten is amazing, yes, and has been around for years. Christ, probably something like a half-dozen, since I think I was dabbling with it with friends as an undergrad.

    • Radix says:

      Cube and similar things have been around for a while, yeah, and they’re cool, but they place different responsibilities on the users. I think the “FPS Construction Kit” tagline tends to give people who are already familar with things like Sauerbraten the wrong impression: Gunscape isn’t meant to be a fully-featured “game creator” utility, it’s more like a bits box with a huge number of different iconic components you can kitbash together into something of your own in a relaxed, accessible editor that uses an interface people are already familiar with as a deliberate attempt to be welcoming to people who wouldn’t use a level editor normally.

      One of my main inspirations is the Doom & Build Engine games usermap communities, and I’m kinda hoping to recreate that kind of fun for a different audience. To that end Gunscape is more of a game with an editor than an editor you can make games with–although I totally expect people to take the game modes and elements provided and do totally unexpected cool shit with them.

      • LogicalDash says:

        I think you need to work on another-other-pitch cos that *still* sounds to me like what Sauerbraten does. You start playing the game and it’s an FPS, you press a button and you’re shooting blocks instead of bullets.

        I am actually happy to have more subtly different kinds of game creation kit around, by the way! That’s the reason why I care about the appearance of redundancy.

        • Jehar says:

          Funnily enough, I’ve been getting my feet wet with Sauer lately, and I’d like to clarify a few points.

          1) Sauer has an awesome editor. It has limitations due to the engine, but you can make perfectly serviceable and handsome maps in a very short amount of time. With other people, too! I would definitely point to this as a launching point for future titles.

          2) Sauer is *not* friendly to custom content. There is only one method to receive a custom map from a server in Sauer, and that involves several back-and-forth steps between the server and you. Specifically, /sendmap, /getmap, /calclight, /savemap. More frustrating, without taking these steps people who connect to your server will only see an empty plane, and are able to walk through walls in your version because they don’t exist to them.
          To stress this point, the only reliable way to share your content in Sauer is to get your map included in the official release, which happens at about the same frequency as presidential elections.

          This brings me to
          3) The game is in a rut in terms of new content and development. There are several forks, but the author(s) have made it clear that they are more interested in building an engine rather than a game. This is perfectly acceptable, but it does open a path for titles such as these to come in without having to justify themselves in relation to Sauer.

  5. soldant says:

    I’m usually very interested in projects like this, so I’ll be watching this one, but I don’t know how successful it’s going to be. As others have said, Sauerbraten does something very similar, and it’s been doing it since the 2000s (as did Cube before it). It’s never been overly popular, and it has a much more flexible map editor (and I used to love making maps in it). But there’s a pretty big flaw in this plan, as I see it.

    Firstly, there are other programs out there that will offer much more flexibility for people who are really into making things. CraftStudio uses a similar concept (block-based models) but offers much greater flexibility and allows you to use your own content. It also allows you to export a package so that others can run your game (without owning CraftStudio). And of course there’s the immensely popular Unity. Yes, these tools require a lot more effort to use – but the audience reach is much greater, and your program doesn’t look like it’s going to have the flexibility to allow for all that much creativity. Yes, map-making was popular in the 90s, but those days are largely gone now, and they worked because the games were already popular (and they made them more popular by extension). Funnily enough, no game has been popular simply because it can be modded – every game where modding made a massive impact on sales (Doom, Half Life, Skyrim, etc) were popular anyway.

    And that’s the biggest problem – if I wanted to throw together a level for my friends, presumably they’re going to need the game itself in order to play, and I don’t see them (or others) buying it for user-generated content without some spectacular reasons to do so – and the average user-created content isn’t going to do that. Furthermore if you’re limited to the ‘content pack’ assets, everything’s going to end up looking and feeling the same. EDIT Wait maybe I’m reading this wrong.

    I really commend this sort of work, and as an Australian to another Australian I certainly hope you succeed, but I don’t see this going anywhere. I hope I’m wrong, and I’m almost tempted to back you just to see what would happen, but I remain unconvinced. Yes, I know it isn’t a game-creation package like CraftStudio or Construct 2 or something… but what you’ve got here is something that I see people playing with once or twice as a curiosity before never touching again.

    EDIT: Also we’ve had the FPS Game Maker apps for a while now that has a very, very similar premise, except they too export into self-contained packages. The games they make are also atrocious and absurdly poorly optimised, but that’s another story.

    EDIT AGAIN: Okay I really need to read more carefully, if I’m reading it right the base package (i.e. no editor) is freely downloadable to allow people to play? Well, that somewhat sways me.