DevLog Watch: The Hit, Infinitesimals, The Masterplan

By Graham Smith on April 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

A strange comic.

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!

The Hit

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.

Infinitesimals

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.

There are a lot more animation GIFs through on the devlog, but it’s this set of explanatory diagrams that gives me hope that there’s more here than pretty art.

The Masterplan

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.

12/18/2000
=================

…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.

…prevert!

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.

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10 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Infinitesimal, you say? The ending of The Incredible Shrinking Man comes to mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp3iHjGBfT4

  2. Lexx87 says:

    Good article/update!

    I have to say Graham I thought that introduction to the Monday morning was great.

  3. Bluerps says:

    The opening paragraph is just a bunch of falsehoods. :(
    (Apart from the things, which really aren’t so bad for now)

    • Harlander says:

      There’s something deeply strange to me about going to a chemist’s shop specifically for the purpose of buying a sandwich…

  4. aDFP says:

    You ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?

    And yeah, it’s all possible. I’m 99% sure I’ve got it figured out, but I’m still in the process of building the systems. Even if I do fail, hopefully I’ll have done enough that someone else can take the next step. I discovered Storium the other day, and I think their system may be able to interface some way with mine, so these are interesting times. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stlhood/storium-the-online-storytelling-game

    Also, thanks for featuring Infinitesimals and The Masterplan. Infinitesimals is utterly gorgeous, and I haven’t dared hope that the gameplay is as amazing as the visuals, but those diagrams… And as for The Masterplan, I’m planning on adding a heist mode to The Hit eventually, but right now, I just want to get together with the devs, so their game and mine can have beautiful, criminal babies.

  5. jiri says:

    Jiri from Shark Punch here, thanks for mentioning The Masterplan! We’re big fans of Introversion’s games as well.

    Making a about heists where shooting guards is closer to a failure condition than being the de facto method of solving problems is a pretty interesting game design challenge, but I really like where we’re going with it. Hopefully we can push out a playable demo soon so we can get everyone’s feedback..

  6. Hypocee says:

    A first-person First-Person Shooter, eh :P

  7. The Random One says:

    “The data used to create the NPC will be taken from my butt, which is a persistent, and continually changing set of information that covers every aspect of the gameplay. (…) During quiet moments of gameplay, my butt will be creating new sets of data, including NPC data, but also procedurally generated posters, signs, billboards, graffiti, paint-jobs etc.”

    I don’t even have the cloud-to-butt plugin. It’s in my head now.

    • aDFP says:

      It’s honestly just a glorified random number generator which layers procedurally-generated images and pseudo-text using simple rules. Fairly easy stuff. There’s a screenshot on indieDB of a generated supermarket interior, but the textures look like crap at the moment, so I’m not showing any close-ups.

      http://media.indiedb.com/images/games/1/32/31408/Supermarket_test_01.jpg

      The poster at the back wasn’t generated, btw, but the character capture’s set up and I’ll find the time soon to link the two systems together and refine the rules. I’m basically creating one of everything by hand, and then figuring out how to encode the process into something I can randomise, and iterate on. It’s a bit of a backwards process, but it’s achieving good results.

      You should really be taking the piss out of the dynamic narrative system, ’cause I’m still unsure exactly how parts of that are going to work. That’s kinda why I’m doing all this though. The game and the procedural content systems are just tools I need to build so I can make a start on the hard problem. I hope you enjoy the game when I can get it out. I’m aiming for the end of this year, but please don’t unleash your acid sarcasm on me if I miss that ;)

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