current mood: Optimistic
current song: Lou Reed – NYC Man
It’s a Monday and you’re back at work, but outside your window the sun is shining. You know you’re going to go into it later and have an adventure, but for now things aren’t so bad. You have friends here. You have music playing. Boots had your favourite sandwich in stock for your £3.29 lunchtime meal deal. And there’s a collection of in-development games to browse, to help you get excited about the future.
Dreams! Pilotable spider robots! Heists!
When a new game appears, it can feel like its design decisions were obvious, inevitable, and as if the designer’s role was merely to walk a flash of divine inspiration from concept to completion. I love development blogs because they counter that idea by showing the hard graft that goes into making games great, or even just making them exist.
That doesn’t mean they can’t also be aspirational. Development blogs are all about ambition, hopes, dreams. The Hit is a first-person multiplayer FPS set in an open world city, in which you carry out and take out contract killings against NPCs and other players. It seems inevitable that someone should make this game. It seems also like an impossible dream.
But British developer Dan Stubbs has been working for a long time to make it real. He recently started charting his progress on TIGSource, and in more regular updates on his own blog. The core concept is ambitious enough, but Stubbs aims to layer dynamic narrative on top.
The data used to create the NPC will be taken from the cloud, which is a persistent, and continually changing set of information that covers every aspect of the gameplay. It is essentially a reserve of pre-generated information, so the game always has suitable data on-hand for when it is required. During quiet moments of gameplay, the cloud will be creating new sets of data, including NPC data, but also procedurally generated posters, signs, billboards, graffiti, paint-jobs etc.
The most recent post also outlines another plan; to allow for the creation of custom content, and have that content included in the game proper via dreams.
After some thinking about how this is going to work, and assuming I can get this game funded, I’m going to confirm it now: The Hit will have dreams.
Initially, they’ll just be randomised, so I expect most of the dreams your character has will be broken, unfinished, and heavily involving buildings which resemble penises.
But I’ll improve it, and I’ll figure out ways of tying the dreams to events in the stories you’re currently playing, and the places you’ve been. At its simplest level, if you go to the zoo, you’ll be more likely to get dreams which feature animals. Later on, it may become possible to link the dreams thematically with recent events, like having a stock of naked-in-a-public-place type dreams, for when you’ve got a promotion review coming up (is that four reveals? I’ve lost count), or some vivid, psychadelic dreams if your agent gets drugged (five).
Are these things possible? I don’t know, but I like to dream.
Everyone remembers the old “untextured weapon render” from early ’00s modding. It’s made us wary of indie projects that spend more time on concept art than directly practical progress.
Infinitesimals is a “cinematic platformer” currently in pre-production. Pre-production isn’t a phrase you hear a lot in indie development, but in this case one-man team Cubit Studios is using the time to create animation concepts so that the programmer he eventually hopes to attract will know what they’re making.
If you’re like me, you’ll often find yourself in parks, sat on some grass, staring at some trees and wondering: what might Subversion have been like, if Introversion had finished it? How might you make a game about heisting and hacking that avoids the dead-ends that saw that game locked away forever?
The Masterplan is a top-down tactical heist game, in which you direct small teams of robbers to steal loot, take hostages and brain guards in the early ’70s.
I’ve had an itch for years now that only top-down breaking-into-things can scratch. The Masterplan’s devlog is especially interesting as its three-person team are open and detailed about the challenges facing them, whether that’s detailed stats on their (lack of?) success at getting people to notice them, or how an April Fools cat game helped them clean up their code and get back on track.
From the archive
I’m not sure which entry to quote. Infamous Ritual level designer, Levelord, was one of the most frequent users of .plans.
…okay! Where are all the pictures everyone took of the strippers at the CPL! There were like thousands of flashes going off, …there must be as many pictures! Someone, post them, send them to the Levelord!
There’s no surprises to be found inside for anyone who remembers Levelord or his work. It’s all exactly as you remembered it.
“ALICE has the moist orgasmical little design I’ve seen in years. Her mound is remarkable as well.” -Cliffster the Blensinked, finger update 12/13 4:49.
This city amazes me in the winter. We got some sleet and freezing rain last night and the entire city looks like a bad Twilight Zone episode. “Oh my God, Ethel, what’s that shit comin’ down from the skies!”
The past is a scary place.