[page=A different perspective]
For a time, side scroller action games were a popular breed. While the FPS has Half Life and Halo, the side scroller had Metal Slug and the original Duke Nukem. Atomic Armadillo are out to bring the side scroller back to life with a real punch!
Howdi! First things first, would you please introduce yourselves and give a basic overview of your responsibilities on Quake4: Hardqore?
Revility: Greetings, I'm the team leader, webmaster, and artist for HQ. I also try to jump around and give everybody else a hand. You could say I'm a jack of trades around here.
Red_Uk: Hi, I'm the lead mapper. I also do some of the work on our .defs and spend lots of time in the forums.
PhiL: Hello, I'm the lead coder on the HardQore team. I work with the SDK and def/script files mainly. I have worked with id Software game titles in the past (Q2, Q3, RTCW, D3) and I've been applying my knowledge of their designs to help the coding progress in HardQore.
Hellscafe: Hello, I'm Hellscafe. I do the bulk of the concept art for the game, along with Level Design and help with its overall antistatic.
Kryps: I'm a level designer & mapper for HQ. I've been mapping for about 10 years. I've designed for Doom, Quake4 and everything between.
[featureimg1335 NOT FOUND]How long approximately have you guys been working on the mod for now?
Revility: planning of the mod began fall of 2005. Late October the first website became public. I would say in November of 2005 is when actual production started on it.
Noone can deny that the vast majority of Doom 3 and Quake 4 mods like to stick with similar 'sci-fi' backgrounds, but what is the actual story behind Quake 4: Hardqore?
Revility: Quake 2 & 4 take place in the distant future. A Borg like alien race called the Strogg invaded Earth. During the events of Quake2 & 4 humanity toke the battle from earth, to the Strogg's home world. HardQore takes place right after the events of Quake 4. Using the information gained by Kane and Rhino squad about the Strogg, Major leads a team of the toughest marines into key Strogg locations to further cripple its defense & offense.
The marines now use the once condemned and highly classified Slipgate teleportation technology from the original quake and combined it with the Strogg's own teleportation tech. Before it became stable, they opened gates to alternate dimensions. This brings the original Doom Marine and Quake1's ranger into the picture. We have a further detailed story on our website.
It's not the most original story, but what it does is serve as a reason for us to have the worlds of the original quake, and Doom into the game. It also gives us the ability to design levels outside of the Quake4 theme. We plan of paying tribute to some classic side-scrollers as well this way.
[featureimg1336 NOT FOUND] Will the story and it's progression be aided by the scroller style gameplay you have adopted, or is focus very much on the gameplay with story mostly been there for the purpose of missions?
Revility: We are using it as a base for missions to keep the mod a realistic project. Levels are able to stand on their own. Yet there is a flow to their order. They start on Stroggos, near Stroggos, then to Earth and back. Blending in Quake1's Slip Gate technology into the story gave us the opportunity to visit places as well that wouldn't fall under the Q4 universe. Some of the hidden levels will be quite a surprise.
I'm unsure as to why I haven't already asked this, but why a side scroller, and why Quake 4? Was there anything particular about the engine that made this seem like a good decision to you?
Hellscafe: I think we are all around that age when we look back and remember the original "Contra" and all the greatness of it. It stands as such a landmark for the "blast-until-the-gun-falls-apart" games. It's an honor for us to have the chance to show our support with the aid of Quake 4.
PhiL: Why a side scroller? Seriously, who doesn't love side scrollers? I grew up playing Contra, Metal Slug, and all the greats in the arcade and on my old home consoles. I see creating HardQore as not just a mod for the Quake community, but sort of paying homage to all the greats that helped the video game industry move forward into the great RTS, RPG, and FPS games that we have today to enjoy.
Red Uk: We're all Contra fans. Nobody this game is intended for will be upset.
Revility: After playing Contra: Shattered Soldiers for Playstation 2, one really saw the potential for mixing 2d gameplay with 3d graphics. Right now New Super Mario Bros. for the DS and Mega Man Powerup for the psp prove it's a great mix. Our main goal is to make a 2d game using Quake4, not Quake4 in 2d.
The idea started off as a HL2 mod. But HL2's assets weren't useful for HQ. Almost everything was earth based, and the enemy variety was shallow. It would require more custom assets. Around that time Q4 dropped. So I checked it out, did a few tests with it and liked the opportunity it presented me. Q4 was closer to Contra in its assets and overall visual style. In the end, visually the mod looks like a true next gen side-scroller thanks to the Q4/D3 engine.
[featureimg1337 NOT FOUND]Speaking of which, having been lucky enough to check one of your in-game videos out there is certainley a very detailed, cinematic feel to the game, which I wasn't expecting to be quite so effective given the nature of the gameplay. Since you're restricted in what you can do with the camera in this kind of game, and the player can only move 'across' the screen, have you faced any major problems with the level design or was the engine pretty adaptable?
Red_Uk: Besides sideways, levels can go down and up. Adding in jump pads, acceleration pads and teleporters achieves a good flow to the static camera. The engine its great for this style. The use of vis_portals, the camera & its range means we can build allot in the way off detailed outdoor areas without much of a hit on the ol' fps! Also don't forget about D3 scripting system which is very good for making a cinematic feel in the back and foreground.
We haven't had major problems. Keeping the screen filled with explosions, cinematics, etc. does take away from the static camera feel. Besides clipping issues (player being knocked out of a area) there has not been many downfalls for me, thanks to the D3W community
Hellscafe: Speaking from the concept side of things, we have a great mapping team that hasn't been all that defeated by anything I've thrown at them yet.
Kryps: The camera isn't as restricted as it sounds. I would detail more on it, but would spoil some of our surprises
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[featureimg1338 NOT FOUND]On your feature list you state 'no reloading, unlimited ammo, no thinking, just run and shoot. This puts a big smile on my face (memories of Metal Slug flying through my mind), but there are many who will no doubt be concerned by this, variety and a false sense of free choice being very popular with modern action games. Will you be incorporating any puzzle elements? If not, what measures are you taking to ensure that the combat and action will remain consistently engaging from start to finish?
Red Uk: Some people will not like the style of just run and gun, but it's the genre we're aiming for. Instead of puzzles, we have hidden paths, and items to find. Bonus levels are found in hidden locations or by completing a level before a certain time. The Mech Walker level is one of the bonus levels included in our forth coming demo.
Kryps: Secrets and alternate pathways.
Revility: Anybody who has played metal slug, Ninja Gaiden or even Mario games knows that its possible to keep the players interested in a 2d world. Levels need to be designed with this in mind. We try to keep our environments interesting, diverse, and have action happening around the player. If you play one Strogg tech level, then there is no need to revisit that environment again unless there is a good twist to it.
We have very few puzzles. We have plans of having levels designed similar to games like Metroid where you spend more of your time exploring the area with some thought as to what you are doing and how to access certain parts.
All of the weapons in HQ do not have unlimited ammo. The rocket launcher for example is just too powerful. Using a Metal Slug type of system, some weapons will have limited ammo only with very few clips for them to be found. This way when you found the rocket launcher or dark matter gun, it's even more rewarding.
Another feature is the implementation of vehicles into the mod. What effects will these have on the gameplay?
Red Uk: Not much of a difference compared to vanilla Q4. The vehicles have been sped up to keep with the speed of hardqore. All the monsters and marines have had there .defs changed to work better for us as well. The camera range and height is also different for the vehicles allowing us to put bigger enemies on the screen.
Co-op gaming has become increasingly popular with Doom 3 mods, and you've stated that this feature will also be available in HardQore. Will the gameplay differ in difficulty/number of enemies to suit the extra fire power?
Revility: Co-op mode is planned. Red has done some small test with it. After we finish the single player portion, we will concentrate on it. From there we'll look into some true multiplayer maps. 2d opens up doors to game type's players haven't had in years, and specially in online play.
[featureimg1339 NOT FOUND]While you are making a clear effort to bring new player models into the mod, can we expect any other new content in the way of characters, vehicles or static objects?
Revility: I'm limited to what I can model and try to think of creative ways to achieve our goals. If we had or gained a good high poly modeler, we could unbury many plans for new enemies, characters and vehicles planned. I'd love to see a futuristic motorcycle in Q4. For static objects, we do them as needed for the level. Right now we have converted around 50 standard Q4 props to breakable or exploding. This adds in some much needed interaction to Quake4.
Will we see any new weapons coming in?
Revility: All Q4 weapons were adjusted for 2d gameplay. Some will also not be in and changed as they do not work well in 2d. The railgun is a good example of this. HQ will furthermore feature new models & sounds for the Q4 weapons that just don't cut it. From there we have plans for additional weapons. This includes a chainsaw blade upgraded for the gauntlet, and a flame thrower. More new weapons will be revealed soon.
Quake has always had a very definintive, characteristic style of music. Will you be creating a fresh soundtrack in this style or do you plan to use existing music already available in Quake 4?
Revility: The music of HQ is industrial hard rock. Harder and faster then what is found in Quake games. The music needs to match the speed of the game play and keep the player pumped up. We have a few custom tracks done from our previous musician. We are using place holder music till a new one is found.
[featureimg1340 NOT FOUND]From the screenshots and video it seems a good quantity of content is already completed. Approximately how much work is completed on the mod?
Revility: Our levels are divided into 2 or 3 maps. At this point, we are at 7 maps that need to be either fully beta tested or tweaked a little more before we can say they are final. This is the core set of maps for our initial build.
And finally, is the release a case of 'when it's done'?
Revility: The goal is to have a 2 level demo build released at the end of August. Nothing is set in stone. This date also depends upon the release of the 1.3 and updating to it. From there levels will be released in sets of two. New weapons, models, etc will be released as the code is updated. In other words, as time goes on there will be level add-ons and core/asset updates released. All of the player models and props made for HQ will also be out for the community to use in vanilla Q4 multiplayer as well. Mapping tutorials will be made for those interested in making 2d levels. We hope that HardQore will become one of the ultimate sources for 2d platform game creation.
Thanks to the team for answering these questions, I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty more from them in the coming weeks! For more info check out their site here