99 BOLTS: August Mid-Month Update
How snide of me, an intermediate mapper, to declare my own newsletter? What is 99 Bolts right now, anyways? A few .bsp's? And perhaps some .ain's to go along with it? 99 Bolts is still a pipe dream in many respects, and perhaps my ambitions overstep my abilities...But it's good to aim high with your hopes, and work slow. I'm having a lot of fun building 99 Bolts, as I hope you are having fun watching it grow. Except, I suppose that for you, it's like watching grass grow.
Losing the "Fallout" Reference
I have made a few mistakes in the last 30 days, one of which is sell out creativity in exchange for name recognition. Fallout 3: Source, this is not. Open-world sandbox mod, this is not. And day/night cycles, weapons degradation, and character statistics, this is not. 99 Bolts began as one thing, and I let it become another thing by accidentally associating it too closely with Fallout 3. I originally sold this game as a game that was "loosely inspired" by Fallout 3. But last week I caught myself trying to replicate the design of a Vault-Tec vault.
With that said, I am trying to distance myself from Fallout 3 and focus more on Half-Life 2. This game can still be loosely inspired by Fallout 3 without becoming Fallout 3. I will still have underground fallout shelters in the game, but they may not have the same feel of a Vault-Tec vault. I will still try to capture the truly shattered feeling of a sprawling wasteland, but I will not be using models or time-related mechanics that are found in the Capital Wasteland. And of course, the signature gameplay styles and structures of Half-Life 2 will prevail over the underwhelming "random encounter" theory present in Fallout 3.
Writing and Developing for 99 Bolts
The story will be a doosy, and perhaps it will not be well-accepted, but I want to tell you that it is complete. I have written the synopsis for 99 Bolts, from the first moments in the wasteland up to the shattering (if terribly distant) conclusion. I have summed up all the gameplay progressions, divided the settings, and settled on having five chapters in the game. Thus, there shall be five installments of 99 Bolts over the course of its development. I'd like to give you the names of all five chapters, but they are as subject to change...as certain wishes of mine are fulfilled or denied by the various factors the govern us all. (I can tell you that one of the chapters will be named "Chasing Winona". Perhaps you saw that coming.)
99 Bolts is about an unwitting assassin. Something terrible happens to his underground dwelling and is sent to dole out his vengeance upon Winona, the perpetrator of the terrible act. Winona is the enigmatic administrator of a nearby Combine city. (How convenient, I know.) (The idea of a very small town has been dropped, in favor of making a larger game for the first two chapters. Unfortunately, I have had to suffer the conformity that comes along with claiming the presence of a "Combine city" in my mod.) As the player draws closer to killing Winona, he begins to uncover interesting secrets that link him to a conspiracy far-reaching enough to disturb even the most distant sleeper.
If my story sounds cliche, it is for the lack of detail and actual content. I want you to heed my words when I tell you I have a high-quality story written on my computer right now. I have begun writing lines of spoken word...one day, far down the road, I will call upon talented voice actors to portray members of the player's fallout shelter, members of the bandit and resistance members, Combine soldiers, important figures (assassination targets), and even Winona herself...along with another person who shall not be named until long after some of the chapter betas have been released.
Starting Over and Learning From Mistakes
Sometimes we make mistakes and we don't even know it. Sometimes we do things incorrectly on pupose, just to see what happens. Sometimes our mistakes lead us to our greatest discoveries. Creating wasteland maps has taught me a great deal about the need to design with optimization in mind. Using hints, nodraw brushes, wise displacement use, and areaportals escaped my understanding when I first opened Hammer and created the wasteland maps of yore. (Last month.) It is a good idea to create a whole map and release a disgusting beta of it, because you get so much information from it. I have taken the suggestions and criticisms of the public and used them in my second wasteland map...and it looks wonderful. Such success had led me to start over with the first map I made. I'm pretty confident that it will run better, look better, and make more sense than its predecessor. Look for it in a few months.
I am looking for a modeler who would be willing to create high-quality models of small stature. I need about ten or so models shrunk way down so they can go in my 3D skyboxes. I would like some tiny cars, a tiny version of the tall power line towers, a tiny version of a Combine APC, and a tiny version of the regular power lines, as well. Anybody who's willing to help me with these very specific requests will always have my skills as a mapper at his/her disposal, as well as a hearty thanks and credit for your contribution. I hope you know that you can take me seriously.
This concludes the longest, most verbose news post ever on Mod DB. If you are still reading this, then holy crap brother, you need to go get some food or something. I'm thinking Jack in the Box.
Thanks for watching 99 Bolts, even in its infancy.
- 15 August 2009