story without a plot
this last month no work was done in the level editor. I am traveling and without the reloaded dev machine.
so there is nothing to report really... But I have been thinking some more about the gameplay or story if you like. So, as you know reloaded can't really have an evolving storyline the way Crysis did. We don't want that. The idea is that we have a setting (gamestart) - a journey (player makes his way across the level) and an endgame (enter lab zero). So all we have to kickstart the game is the initial intro movie (the burning crash) - that is it. Player is free to move wherever they want from game start onwards.
again and again and again
Now, when I say no area triggers I mean the ones on the ground - player steps into invisible square and triggers two guards walking around the corner - the classic area trigger. This is the trigger that at least 50% of Crysis runs on. The first guard you encounter starts walking his route when the player enters the area trigger. Always at that moment, always the same route, forever. In reloaded we don't have that trigger but we have patrols. They are triggered on level start. There is probably going to be a 3 second freeze when the game starts where all the triggers fire setting off the AI across the whole level.
They do their patrols - what can we do to make them 'unpredictable'? - we set 3 different routes from each of 3 major points in the patrol area and use a random node so that the player can never really know whereabouts the patrol is and we can add random time delays to introduce even more chance. So far this seems be a good direction. During testplay I have already had a few encounters where I had to scout the AI moving around. I even lost track sometimes of AI that I had setup myself and they teamed up or a helicopter came along and helped the ground patrol dudes and I was surprised. So I think that the patrol setup (the second timeline that cares not about the player I call it) when its refined will make for 30% of the gameplay fun in reloaded.
do this to go there
The other trigger is the condition objective - you have to take out the 2 tanks in the village to meetup with prophet by the river later and get to the next level... actually I don't know if you have to. Maybe you can ignore the tanks, head out and go to the cave and the next level will load ... and maybe you can just ignore all the AA Guns and get to the harbor in the assault level but I think they are not going to deliver the tanks unless the cruiser gets blown up. But I don't know. I do know that if you don't take out the AA Guns you are constantly being told that you have to.
we can't really have an objective in reloaded - a side mission or anything where we tell the player what they have to do next. And thus, we can't have stuff delivered or gates open or things happen as a consequence of the player completing an objective. I know, its sad but that is how it is. If we did those things there would be no reason to make reloaded. We already have all that in Crysis.
last man standing
This means the story is the players journey across the level. And there is the AI
Now, as you should know, in Crysis the AI lives in ActionBubbles - the player gets somewhere, the AI throws a tantrum, things blow up, dudes get shot and then the player moves on. This is quite a nice gameplay actually. It also means you can empty an area and walk around and then go to where the trigger is to load the next level.
The AI generally does not know where they are and they don't know about the other AI over there which has a different groupID. There is probably a problem in giving all the AI the same groupID - you shoot one and the other 500 dudes come running towards you ...
So how can I have the AI rule the island and hunt the player in a 'nice' way? I have been thinking about this and although I am not at that point in the roadmap yet I am thinking about 3 global AI States:
- player is undetected - business as usual - gamestartDefault
- something the player has done is detected - no target but keep your eyes peeled
- player is detected - we know you are here and we are going to find you - permanent state
I think its not easy to implement the 3rd state. We would have the AI actually searching and maintaining Patrols across the whole level ...
I don't have enough stuff in the level to test a complete stealth playthrough but that should be an option. To play the whole thing without being detected. And when the player is detected we would need something like a grid system for the AI to use in their searching. One of the main problems is that if the player is detected - how do I direct a helicopter reinforcement near that spot to help in hunting the player, deploying troops based on the encounter with the player? Maybe I have to setup many many landing spots and then choose one via flowgraph according to last know player position if that is possible. Anyways I am just writing this down as a devlog memo.
It could be that the AI is not capable of what I want them to do but I have a gut feeling it can be faked in some way that is good enough.
Lab zero is where it is at. This is where the bossfight is (but we don't really have a boss). The design of this lab is going to be a masterpiece (for me, not as a triple AAA standard). I think the Trigens have to be contained. In FarCry they ran wild in the end - everywhere. Now for reloaded I want the lab zero or main lab to be the tomb of horror - 200 scientists died down here, ripped to shreds by their very own creation and something is still alive... excellent. So how do I get the player inside? The original plan from back in 2009 when I came up with this level idea was that a trigen escaped and the sophisticated AI sytem of the Lab shut it down, closed it and that is it.
And then, years later one trigen would escape, a sentry drone would capture that, transmit via satellite to the guardians of the old 'incident' and the lone ranger player in nano suit gets sent in to clean up the mess..
this has evolved somewhat - I want the 'enter the cave' thing. A level inside the level. So, sadly we might need the player to get something so they can get into the lab. Or... maybe it is open towards the mine voxels adjacent to the lab - a back entrance and a way there that the player can take but not the AI ...
Once the player is in I would love it if they could use the lab to outsmart the monsters - think alien, the prison planet - shuttering tunnel routes to trap the creature etc. etc. I have to build this using the Crysis assets - so parts from the core level (alien ship) and concrete harbour stuff plus interiors of the aircraft carrier. This should work nicely actually. Maybe we can have the autoturrets scaled down and moving on rails too or something like that for extra handicap. it has to be scary and epic and tight - frenzy tombraider if that makes sense - tons of fog and chilling audio plus extra glow - I got this.
I know this update is a bit incoherent but reloaded is in the making, no worries. Stay safe and keep your distance.