In January of 2005, a group of Guildhall students composed of programmers, artists, and level designers were put together and formed what is now CelTech Studios. It was then that CelTech Studios made the commitment to produce the highest quality game possible in the short amount of time they had - five months. What emerged in late May was a game that is both stunningly beautiful and addictive to play.
Eclipse is a third-person total conversion of Valve's Half-Life 2 . It is an action adventure that features tactical, puzzle based combat, which forces the player to interact with the surrounding environment in order to survive. You play as a young Sorceress named Violet who has learned the secrets of Telekinesis. This allows Violet to easily find objects in the environment that she can pick up and throw. Once the player gets used to picking up objects and throwing them at targets, the movement of Violet becomes very important. Based on where an enemy is Violet might want to pick up one or more objects and then move about in order to get a good angle on her enemy before sending the objects flying in that direction.
As you journey through the different lands of Eclipse , you will uncover many secrets that will help you in defeating your enemies. You will also be able to unlock new abilities that Violet can use, such as Hellstorm - a powerful spell that allows Violet to summon up to three fiery orbs that explode upon impact and deal significant damage to nearby enemies.
Use Violet's power of Telekinesis to help protect you as you journey over distant lands in search of the ancient teleportation device near the Standing Stones. Battle your way through hordes of orc-like creatures known as Keepers as you make your way through the enchanted Blackmoor forest. Find Violet's ancestral burial grounds in the Barrow and unlock dark secrets that will aid you in your final stand at the Standing Stones.
After finishing the game you can unlock the Survival Mode mini-game. This allows you to test your skills with Hellstorm as you battle against wave after wave of enemies. Compare your stats with friends to see who really has what it takes to survive the Standing Stones - Survival Mode.
modDB.com: Explain to everyone what the Guildhall is and why you chose to attend Guildhall?
The Guildhall is a 21 month program designed to train people for the game industry. Students choose one of three paths: Art, Level Design, or Programming. During time at the Guildhall, students work on several teams of various sizes, create 4 games/mods, and learned skills in their chosen field from Industry Professionals. Everyone here has come from highly different backgrounds and lifestyles, but share the common trait of a love for games, and wanting to get into the gaming industry.
modDB.com: Eclipse was thought up when? Why single-player? Is the mod like another game or mod in your opinion?
The story for Eclipse was created by Ray Dahlia, one of the game designers on Eclipse. This was back in November of 2004, and was worked on up until January of 2005, in the very limited spare time we had at the Guildhall. This was not just a weekend thing where someone yells “Eureka!” and all of a sudden you have a game. Ray wrote the original concept for Eclipse late last year, wanting to create a game world that had a classic storybook look and feel to it. Some games we used as reference are American McGee’s Alice, and the as-yet unreleased Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
The mod itself is unlike any other that we are aware of.
modDB.com: How long have you been working on Eclipse?
The pre-production work (story, gameplay planning, and writing of initial documents) was started in November of 2004 as we were finishing up some earlier team projects at the Guildhall. Once the next school term started in January 2005, everyone in our group was brought on and we began working on Eclipse in earnest. So total production time was about 5 months, though we had to split our time between other school projects and assignments as well.
modDB.com: Describe the best feature in the mod in your opinion? What should the person look for that they might miss?
Well, the hook of our game is Violet's Telekinesis power. This enables her to pick up objects from a distance and throw them in any direction. It's a very simple concept and easy to learn, but it's also very satisfying. I remember watching someone play it for the first time spend nearly 10 minutes in the garden near Violet's home in Auld-haven just picking up and throwing pumpkins and barrels at a wall and watching them break. You know you have something fun when you watch a player do that. Also, when playing Eclipse try to spend some time wandering about and enjoying the environment around you. We spent a lot of time and energy trying to make the environments as beautiful and as immersive as possible
modDB.com: Describe the weapons and what the weapon you will use the most and why?
The game is really centered on one thing, and that is Throwing. So the one "weapon" you will use throughout the game is Violet's Telekinesis. The game starts off with Violet being able to throw objects using her Telekinesis. We introduce different objects throughout the game that the player can pick up and throw. For instance, we have what is called a Firefly Nest. This object can be picked up like any other object in the game but upon impact the nest may break open releasing a swarm of fireflies that distracts any nearby enemies. This is a tactical part of the game, especially in the Blackmoor level. The player also receives the Hellstorm spell later in the game. This is kind of a reward to the player as Violet is now able to summon up to three fiery orbs that explode upon impact and does significant amount of damage to nearby enemies. It gives the player a weapon to fall back on when no other objects are nearby to throw. Plus it is the first time in the game where Violet should no longer feel as vulnerable as she did in Blackmoor. The Hellstorm adds a fun and explosive mix to her Telekinesis power.
modDB.com: How is the damage system in Eclipse?
We use Golden Runes in the HUD to give the player feedback on his/her health condition. You start with all of the Runes and when you take damage you lose one or more Runes, depending on the severity of the injury. You can get health back by picking up a health potion, which you’ll see in the game and sometimes on the bodies of dead enemies. There are two enemies in the game; each has its own attack style. The Keepers are fierce creatures who charge their victims and slash at them using their razor sharp claws. The second enemy is the Dark Fairy who uses a ranged attack. They throw fiery orbs at the player. The player can use Violet's Telekinesis and pick these orbs back up or catch them in mid-air and cast them back at the fairies.
modDB.com: Please tell the fans you guys will be making move versions!
Ahh the dreaded question!!! We would absolutely LOVE to expand on Eclipse because we think we really have a fresh and original game on our hands. The team devoted so much time and energy to the game and really strove to create something that we hope the mod community will enjoy playing. Unfortunately, we are students who have graduated and must move on to jobs...or else we will be living on the streets in a neighborhood near you! A small core team does remain focused on fixing some of the bugs, and possibly adding content. Personally, we would love to see the mod community get involved and start making maps for others to download. We have a forum on www.eclipsegame.com for you to visit and post questions regarding anything from the game to mapping questions. We are trying our hardest to reply to your posts in a timely manner.
modDB.com: I see on the site Eclipse requires a Radeon 9500 or GeForce FX video card or better. Why did the team go this route?
Weve gotten a lot of feedback from people about this. Angry folks, with pitchforks and butter knives. The thing is that it comes down to the original scope of our game, which was to be a school project running just on our laptops at the Guildhall. From a technical standpoint, we had to make this call because of a lot of our shaders and real-time effects. The death effect (“Monet”), the bloom effect, etc, were all created only to work using Pixel Shader 2.0 and higher. Unfortunately this really limited who can play the game, but again, it was really only meant as a school project. Luckily, I can say that our programmers are working on stand-in shaders so that people without these cards can play the game, though we haven’t set a release date for that patch as of yet.
modDB.com: Explain why you went with a female character? Was it planned to make it sorta look like a Laura Croft?
We imagined Violet as a tough, resourceful, and intelligent young girl, with “gothic” looks and clothing. A bit like Alice in American McGee’s game. However, during development all of our characters went through several iterations, and young Violet turned out a bit sexier and more delicate than had originally been intended.
modDB.com: What made you guys chose Half-Life2?
This was actually a pretty involved decision at the Guildhall. At one point we had three engines to choose from - Doom 3, KA3D, and HL2. We actually had different concepts for Eclipse based on what engine we were going to use. For Doom 3 we would’ve had more indoor environments planned, and for HL2 we had more outdoor environments. As for KA3D, we really didn't know what it was capable of producing. In the end we chose HL2, which turned out to be a breath of fresh air for all three disciplines as the Source engine is quite an impressive engine to work with.
modDB.com: Any advice for those looking into getting into modding?
No matter what size your mod team is, communication is key. It can’t be emphasized enough how important communication across disciplines is when working on a game. For instance, having an artist understand the roles and responsibilities of a programmer and level designer makes it much easier to accomplish tasks. Having an appreciation and understanding of what each discipline does will help you not only communicate more effectively with other teammates, but also speeds up the development process.
Be original. Don’t just copy whatever the latest popular game is. Even if you’re just making a single level, try to find ways to make your map stand out from the hundreds of others on the net. People like originality, and to see thing that they’ve never seen before.
One lesson we all learned while working on games here at the Guildhall is that you should keep the scope of a level or project small enough to where you have ample time for polish and playtesting. The industry is not interested in HOW MUCH you can do, but WHAT you can do. Someone would rather see a couple great things in your portfolio than see many so-so things. It's the idea of Quality over Quantity. For instance, don't start building another level until the one you were working on is finished and to a standard of quality that you are proud of and would be willing to show to someone in the industry.
modDB.com: What's next for you guys? Will you guys still work on mods or is the plate full to work on PC Games and Consoles?
We are all on the hunt for jobs. A few have already landed positions, and most of us are interviewing for others. Regardless of that, we all love making games and would do it for free, so it’s very possible that you’ll see projects in the future with our names on them. We want to thank the Half-Life 2 community for giving us such a warm welcome; to see such glowing feedback from so many people makes us very proud for having worked so hard on Eclipse. We hope you enjoy it! We also can’t wait to see some more HL2 mods in the near future! And if you have any questions regarding the game, the Guildhall, or mapping in Source, please feel free to drop by our forum on www.eclipsegame.com.