Oh hello! So we have launched the first Public Beta ( version 1.0 ) of Orion this past week. We’ve had some amazing compliments from fans even at such an early stage. This honestly surprised me as Beta 1.0 is extremely bare bones compared to what we have coming ( especially Beta 3.0! ).
It was a pretty successful launch – I think we’re at around the 7,000 download mark (including 4,000 from FilePlanet and over 1,000 from ModDB) – so not too shabby!
However, there is one extreme bug that I am sure everyone is aware of. The Server Crash bug. This bug is a little nasty %@$#@. You may be wondering why if you browse servers in Orion you don’t see many filled. It is due to this bug that eventually shuts down the server and either splits up the players or makes them rage-quit. We are addressing this as soon as we can!
I also want to address a few other important things in this article. Mostly game related. So I’ve set up a nice Q & A session!
01. What game(s) do I need in order to play Orion?
You need to own at least ONE of the following games in order to play Orion for FREE:
Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
Team Fortress 2
Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead 2
Day of Defeat: Source
The Orange Box
If you own ANY of the above, you will be able to play Orion for free! All that Orion requires is the Source SDK Base – Orange Box which comes with any of the above games.
02. I don’t see any servers in the Find Servers browser?
This is a bug – which I am pretty sure is Steam related. For the time being, just un-check the ‘Show Map List’ option on the bottom of the Find Servers Browser – and you should be able to see 40 or so Orion Game Servers.
03. What the $(@*# is the O.S.O.R Kit?
The O.S.O.R Kit will eventually have three (3) functions. As of now, however, it only has one. Most maps ( all, eventually ) have keypad game mechanics. For instance, on ctf_incursion ( the desert level ) each team has a Spawn Building and a Flag Building. You’ll notice a keypad by the door on the Flag building.
If this is your team’s flag building you can Open and Close the door as you please ( although, please note, there is a 5-second delay to prevent annoying spammers – as the door can actually slam down and kill people – and yes, it’s awesome! ). However, if the other team hacks your keypad ( using the O.S.O.R by holding down Mouse1 and hitting ‘USE’ afterwards ) you won’t be able to Open and Close it until you Restore the Keypad the same way ( holding down Mouse1 on it ). It adds a new dimension to CTF and also helps emphasize teamplay.
04. Some weapons feel odd or underpowered. Why?
We are continually working on the weapon variables. Although for this first release, I personally believe they did there job. However, that job is not finished.
For example: The shotgun is currently UNDERPOWERED ( aka nerfed ).
The SMG’s ( both ) are too inaccurate while in iron-sight mode.
The Sniper Rifle is too inaccurate while in scoped-mode.
The LMG is too powerful.
and a few more.
Please rest easily when I say this is all being addressed in Patch 2.0!
05. I was in a server and I heard something about Dinosaurs… what the $@#@??
It’s not as crazy as you may think! There are reasons for it. We’ve developed quite a huge back story for Orion ( 200 years worth ).
Long story short ( as best as I can… )
Before the Earth was formed, when it was still in it’s infant stage ( millions of years ago ). A piece of rock ( meteor ) was on a direct course to strike Earth. Before striking it had collided with another space rock and was split into two distinct pieces. One striking Earth directly and the other missing and continuing passed Earth. It later struck a planet that we now know as Orion.
This rock contained the chain that would ignite evolution. In fact, there were the same exact forms of evolution on both planets. However, on Orion, the Dinosaurs were never wiped out from any natural disasters ( Ice Age / Volcano / Meteor Strikes – whatever you may believe ) allowing them to remain on top of the food chain. There was even early beginnings of human-like creatures on Orion which were wiped out by the Dinosaurs.
We’ll be covering this more in the future; however, I wanted people to understand why Dinosaurs were here.
It’s sort of a parallel universe.. or a “what if this happened” type-scenario.
06. How many betas do you plan on releasing?
We have 4 betas planned. Each beta has 2 patches planned. The reason for this is we plan to fix nearly everything in the first patch and whatever we forget we can add in the second patch ( sort of a safety net ).
Beta 1 was released this past week. Patch 1 was considered the patch that upgraded the FilePlanet Closed beta into the Public Beta ( over 50 changes, 3 new maps, and more! ). Patch 2 is scheduled for a release next week ( tentative ).
07. What is Beta 2 going to bring to the table?
Beta 2 is pretty neat. It will be adding two new game modes:
As well as adding all the Alien weapons! This includes:
-Cell Sniper Rifle
Beta 2 will also include the actual jetpack models and jetpack particle effects as well as a fully working OSOR kit.
Support class will have it’s special Perk added – Medic ability!
We are also adding 3-5 new levels (mostly snow levels for sort of a holiday present ) and more!
08. Deathmatch? Why not something original?
True. But we are going old school with the Deathmatch. By this I mean NO PLAYER CLASSES. Everyone starts with a jetpack and a default starting weapon ( the pistol – although the server host will be able to change the ‘Default Starting Weapon’ ).
There will be weapon pick-ups located all over the map as well as Power-Ups. We will be introducing a few new levels with vertical-gameplay in mind for the jetpacks.
Beta 3 will be offering some VERY original stuff.
We have gone back and read a lot of community feed back this last week as well as had a bunch of things we already had in mind to fix. We’ve created quite an extensive list of changes expected for Patch 2.0. We are hoping to release this late next week ( probably Friday ). However, we are trying our best to get the Server Crash Fix out even sooner! If we don’t, please bare with us – it’ll be addressed soon!
We have done A LOT of optimizing in this patch. And we are going to be doing even more. So far, for this patch ( in terms of optimization) we have done things such as created 5 sets of LOD for player models. Before this patch, only the Alien player model had a set of LOD’s.
What is an LOD? It’s basically different sets of levels of detail for models. To sum it up, before Patch 2.0 none of the humans had LOD’s. The human player models are 5,000 polys ( Assault ) and 8,000 polys ( Support ). Let’s say you had a game of 20 players, 10 human, 10 alien. This means no matter where you were on the map, you were rendering anywhere between 50,000 polys – 80,000 polys for human models alone. That was both insane and mentally criminal of us. We apologize. However, we have fixed it and each model now has 5 sets of LOD’s. So if you are across the map from a player model in Patch 2.0, instead of being 5,000 polys that player model will be 500 polys! This will help A LOT!
Patch 2.0 Changelog:
OPTMIZATION / PERFORMANCE:
01. Remove server crash bug.
02. Add LOD’s to Player Model: Human Assault.
03. Add LOD’s to Player Model: Human Support.
04. Remove physics from weapons upon weapon drop / or remove them entirely.
05. Add prediction to the Teammate Indicator GUI so they don’t “jitter”.
06. Remove the bug: After using a grenade, your “Last Weapon” keybind will lose it’s functionality until you change to a different weapon.
07. Remove the need for the player to ‘check’ the “Show Map List” option under the Find Servers browser in order to see all game servers.
08. Add keyboard functionality to both the Team Selection Menu and Class Selection Menu.
09. Remove the “Drop Weapon” keybind from the Options menu.
10. Remove the “Prone” keybind from the Options menu.
11. Increase the speed of the animations for the grenade ( so it throws quicker when you press the ‘G’ key ).
01. Add shield regeneration.
02. Slightly reduce the Jetpack refill time ( to prevent abuse ).
03. Remove the ability to use the “Last Weapon” keybind to get the flag back after capturing it.
04. Remove the ability to toggle Iron-Sights with the O.S.O.R Kit.
05. Add game code to recognize the flag carrier player when switching teams.
06. Add game code to recognize the flag carrier player when quitting the game.
07. Add armories ( ala TF2 Lockers ).
08. Modify Jetpacks – add slight ‘stop’ ( screen shake ) upon landing with the Jetpack.
09. Keep the selected fire-mode you had after respawning.
10. Modify Cloak: Allow the player to shoot and have the cloak auto-disable.
ART / VGUI RELATED:
01. Remove the Damage Shader ( screen fills with red ) – Replace it with the Directional Indicators.
02. Make the Scope GUI more transparent.
03. Add kill / death icons.
01. Modify Grenade: Add “cook” feature as well as reduce the delay on the explosive timer.
02. Add sprint + reload animations for all guns.
03. Remove the secondary attack for the Flag weapon. Have only one attack and have it deal a 1-hit kill.
04. Modify Shotgun: Increase damage – keep the fade damage distance the same.
05. Modify Sniper Rifle: Remove the crosshair from the non-scoped view. Increase accuracy when zoomed.
06. Modify Light Machine Gun: Slightly reduce damage variables.
07. Increase FPS of the pistol ( cv-10 ) weapon animation via the .qc file.
01. Incorporate Orion’s Official Theme Song for the Game Menu – Created by Marcus Zuhr.
02. Add a placeholder sound pack for deaths, etc.
03. Add ‘menu’ sounds for the new Class & Team Selection GUI.
01. Modify Geode: Change the lighting back to normal ( darker settings ) – use / place more crystals for lighting and glow effects.
02. Modify Catchment: Add props and add a keypad function for the map.
03. Modify Quagmire: Remove from the current build ( temporary reasons – rebuilding from the ground up to increase performance for the players ).
04. Add level: ctf_shadow.
05. Add level: ctf_myst.
Marcus Zuhr and the Music of Orion
We are also going to be including Orion’s Official Theme song in Patch 2.0. Created by Marcus Zuhr, this track piece really captures the mood of Orion. Learn more about Marcus Zuhr here:
We will be doing a small little Q & A with Marcus next week about how he got started in music, other music he has created, what is in the future of Orion for him and more!
Podcast 17 & Orion – Transmission #63
We are also going to be on Podcast 17 this Sunday! We are joining up with William ( of Podcast 17 ), Glenn ( of Half-Life 2.net ), and Bluewolf72! We will be talking about the release of Orion, the week after release, what’s coming and more! So tune in!
Orion is seeking new talent!
That is right! With the first release out of the way we are now ready to start re-organzing our internal systems. This includes re-organizing the website, the forums, updating the SVN servers, FTP servers, DropBox servers, as well as getting new talent on board and ready to go with us!
We are currently seeking the following positions:
We are looking for passionate and experienced Level Designers. You need to be familiar with the fundamentals of using Hammer including the use of displacements, area portals, func_details, etc where appropriate.
Although experienced mappers are desired, it's a case of quality of quantity, so fewer maps of better quality are preferable to many maps churned out quickly and with little thought to gameplay, balance or aesthetics.
Experience in mapping (or playing, with an eye for gameplay balance) retro FPS games such as Tribes or Unreal Tournament is a plus.
Be willing to work as part of a diverse team, supplying and receiving feedback/critique as appropriate from/at other team members.
We are looking for active 3D Artists in order to help us create more props to help us complete the overall visual aspect of our levels! We want to flesh everything out and have plenty of concept art to work off of! ( Sample(s) required! )
We are looking for 2D Artists to help aid our 3D Artists for models as well as create fresh new level textures so we can paint over areas of our map. Looking for Artists who can create art for:
Indoor / Outdoor / Mechanical / Organic and more! ( Sample(s) required! )
Animators ( Character & Weapon )
We are adding a ton of new weapons to Orion over the course of the 4 betas. We need to currently animate some already made weapons ( both human and alien ) as well as animate models that will be finished shortly. We also need to begin the process of creating 100% custom character animations that will be included in Beta 3.0.
Technical Artists ( Compiling / .qc work / Rigging )
We are actively seeking someone extremely comfortable in the Source engine. Someone that will be capable of compiling models, doing some .qc work as well as rigging props and smaller models.
We are looking for 2 programmers to work alongside our current lead programmers, Chris and Jack. Chris is currently the lead programmer for Game Mechanics and Jack is the lead Visual Programmer ( shaders, proxies, and more ). We are looking for experienced programmers familiar with the Source SDK and (preferably) previous experience working with SVN, Dropbox, and FTP.
We will be doing a lot of news articles this upcoming week as well as getting Patch 2.0 organized, tested, and hopefully distributed late next week!
Also make sure to sign up on the Official Orion Forums! Get access to exclusive content, post your feedback on the game ( which we respond and listen to!) and talk to the developers over at:
( Select the option on the Left “Before December 1996”)
Stay tuned and keep playing!