Insurgency’s goal for Half-Life 2 is to bring modern day Guerilla vs. Conventional warfare online with a tight focus on realism. Players will be thrust into real world and fictional battlefields from all over the world. Their ultimate design decisions are to make game play suited for both casual and tactical gamers alike. On the conventional side you’ll become part of a squad, fire team, and platoon with the task of completing several objectives against a hostile enemy. On the other side you can play as a Guerilla, using RPGs, technicals, and other heavy weapons as you fight off the invading enemy.
Insurgency has several areas of interest in development at this point in time. Some of their features are fundamental in achieving the game play they desire. The team has put a great deal of thought into each system, and hopes to find the right balance that gamers can enjoy. (following taken from www.insmod.net)
1. Platoon Structure: Conventional teams are organized into a Platoon with 4 Squads of 8 soldiers containing 2 Fireteams of 4 soldiers. Total team strength is 32 soldiers.
2. Chain of Command: Rank structure combined with a unique point system ensures that the online combat veterans advance in the chain of command and lead the team to victory.
3. Vehicles: The ability to use light drivable vehicles for reconnaissance and transportation along with their mounted weapons. Also, AI driven vehicles provide additional transportation. Helicopters will provide additional reigning hell from the air.
4. Communication: Unique system allows for shouting out in game and being heard by those within a certain radius. Also, commanders and snipers are equipped with Radios that allow communication to other soldiers with radios.
5. Realism: Weapons will act like real weapons with sway, recoil, and iron sights. Bullets will also act like real bullets with ballistics, penetration, ricochet, and damage. Level environments will have a high quality of realistic detail and interactivity. They take place in real and fictional locations around the world during past, present, and future conflicts.
6. Command Mode: When in a position of leadership (Fireteam Commander, Squad Commander, or Platoon Commander), the player will have the ability to bring up an interactive map of the battle in order to issue orders to their subordinates. These orders include Attack, Defend, or Move to a certain area; Secure specific objectives (issued by Platoon Commander to the Squads); and calling in reinforcements and fire support. There will be an easy to use interface that is straight forward and simple using VGUI2 featured with Source.
7. Heads Up Display: Insurgency will have what we call a 'No Bullshit Heads Up Display' (NOBSHUD). Only the information you need will be displayed when you need it. Objectives will always be displayed in front of your eyes so you can orient and know where to go and what to do. Commanders will also be displayed along with the orders they have issued (Move, Attack, or Defend). There will be an 'action bar' that will show the player when an order has been given to them or perform an action (such as reload). We want to keep any unnecessary distractions away from what is happening on the battlefield.
From the information I gather on Insurgency’s website, and from what I was given by the team themselves, Insurgency seems to have a firm grasp on their design. However, there are some internal conflicts arising that seem to pull in opposite directions when it comes to focusing on a game play dynamic. The team is split it appears, over whether to focus on realism or a more fast paced action oriented theme. Game play still seems to be their main priority, which is refreshing to see. However, it will be interesting to see if the confusion over more realism or more fun stands in the way of development.
Their current media library is impressive considering the lack of software tools from Valve with which to work with. All of their weapon models, textures, and vehicles are accurate and well detailed. Textures are sharp and do a fair job of enhancing weapon details where modeling cannot. The player models they have presented so far are average with other player models seen by other mod teams. This is one area of the art department I feel could use some work. Slightly more definition for each player would benefit them greatly. All of this is minor in retrospect considering there is more than ample time for the team to address their art department.
So far the audio scenes that have been presented are well executed. The combination tracks provided do a great job of stirring up imaginations and beginning to get a feel for combat situations. It would be nice to see some individual sounds as well that weren’t choreographed into a demo reel so we can get a feel for how they’ll sound in an actual game play situation. It will be interesting to see, as development continues, what their audio team has in store for us as we enter the battlefield.
Overall Insurgency has done a stand-up job making sure they are prepared for the impending release of HL2’s SDK. I could foresee this team quickly getting an internal build ready for testing in a short period of time. All of this depending on how well they stick to their design plan, their time table for builds, and their commitment to the project. The toughest part is going to come in testing, making sure their lofty design goals coexist within the game. Balance is a key issue when negotiating several types of game play like they have chosen to represent. How well will they be able to juggle a tactical style of gaming for one team, and a more chaotic arcade style for the other? Time will tell.
Development Team –
Currently listed on their website the Insurgency team consists of roughly 30 members. Each department seems fully staffed with respective positions. One similarity I noticed were the number of current or ex development members from Red Orchestra, the Eastern Front WW2 mod for UT2004. I’m curious as to if development has stopped on Red Orchestra, and how the experience and design will effect Insurgency. Should we be expecting a modern day Red Orchestra on the Half-Life 2 engine? That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though the realism and game play in Red Orchestra never really took off. I do believe however, that this team Insurgency has comprised will definitely have what it takes to see this project through to completion. A rarity for most mod teams. I look forward to their project and wish them the best of luck.
Thanks for taking the time to meet with us this evening. First off we at Moddb would like to give you all two thumbs up on your recent progress with Insurgency. From your media and information on your website, it appears Insurgency could be one of the better mods for Half-Life 2. We do have some questions for the team however and hopefully they will give the Half-Life 2 community some insight into the mod design.
Q #1 – Insurgency’s game design seems focused strictly on realistic game play. However, the largest communities online right now are more free flowing and arcade driven. How do you plan to deliver realistic situations to gamers who are comfortable with the standard application of first person shooters? How large of a community do you feel there will be for realistic oriented modifications?
A: Argyll: It may seem that we are going for a high degree of 'realism,' but ultimately our top priority is gameplay. Our main concern is making the mod an enjoyable experience for everyone not just the realism fans. However, we will have a higher amount of 'realism' compared to most mods/games who would consider themselves to be realistic. In most cases, those who claim to be realistic is that at an individual level only (i.e. Iron sights, player behaviors, weapon damage, etc.), but neglect at the team level. Insurgency will concentrate on creating the mod to be realistic at the team level. For example, this would include the promotion of teamwork, as well as a proper military chain of command and structure. The objectives will also be similar to those situations that Infantry units would find themselves in combat. However, INS will feature a certain higher degree of realism at the individual level as well as at the team level.
Q#2 – Leadership and teamwork seem to be a major focus for Insurgency’s game design. What is Insurgency providing to players that allow them to take advantage of these natural traits? What types of game elements will further a team’s tactics, teamwork, and the leaders who command them?
A: Argyll: As mentioned before, the conventional and paramilitary teams will be organized along the lines of a Platoon sized unit. This will include spots for players to become the Platoon Commander, Squad Commanders, and Fireteam Commanders. In order to take these positions, we have a point system in place that will allow those who use teamwork and accomplish the objectives to gain promotion through the ranks. Once they are in place as a Commander, they will be able to interact with a map of the level to issue orders to their subordinates. The Platoon Commander will issue orders to the Squad Commanders, who will then have these orders displayed on their HUD along with guidance to where they need to go. This information will also be relayed to the members of the Squads. For Squad Commanders (command 2 Fireteams), and Fireteam Commanders (command 4 soldiers), they will also be able to issue orders without the use of the map. This will help with giving quick and concise orders in the heat of battle.
Q#3 – Your website comments on a unique point structure or ‘Chain of Command’. Can you comment on how this system will ensure combat veterans receive proper promotions, and what benefits will they receive for such titles?
A: Argyll: A little more about the point system: There are 5 types of points that the player can receive and these are Objective, Team, Leadership, Experience, and Rules of Engagement. These are all based on the promotion of teamwork. The objectives in INS will require a fireteam to capture (4 soldiers). Therefore, it will be necessary to work with at least 3 other soldiers to capture the area. These players who do this will be gracefully rewarded. The Teamwork points also continually reward the players for listening to their commanders as well as staying alongside team mates. After accomplishing a certain number of points (to be tested for ideal amount), the player will then be able to gain promotion where they will have access to more interesting roles (i.e. Engineer or Sniper) along with Command positions. We also have a system in mind for storing these statistics and points on the server. This would allow you to join any game on your favorite server, and being a veteran, would allow you to immediately have access to higher positions (provided that they already are not taken).
Q#4 – Currently your plan design calls for a Platoon setup split between squads, fire teams, and individual soldiers. What are your plans to maintain these relationships within public game servers? How will you determine which players assume command positions, which fire team they take part in, and if they stick to their assigned position once within the game?
A: Argyll: Well, we all know that people in public servers do not always play along the lines that the game is designed for. This is something that we have thought of and will continue to develop as the mod goes along in production. We have actually designed the Guerrilla team to not follow this same chain of command system and structure. What will occur for Guerrillas is that they will pretty much all be under 1 Commander (who advances like the other Commanders, via the point system). Also, the players will have the orders issued to them on their HUD along with the position of their Commander. This will guide them in the right direction to what they are supposed to do.
Tarky: Guerillas are generally designed for players that are not really involved in a clan of some kind, yet the conventional forces are designed so they can be played from a clan point of view as we believe clans will strive to be more organized with how they are playing on the field.
Q #5 – The command mode described on the website seems reminiscent of Natural Selection. However, in Natural Selection players have a reason to complete build projects and orders from the commander. Each piece is essential to upgrading their current character. With commands in Insurgency such as attack, defend, etc how will Insurgency ensure that the commander position is worth playing, when players don’t follow their commands?
A: Argyll: The players should listen to their Commanders since they are out there to win the battle, which in turn does allow them to advance in the chain of command and allows them to be better roles. Plus, the command system is mainly in place to help promote a much more realistic experience for clans/squads in matches and leagues. It will still be in place for all games, but of course isn't guaranteed to work 100% of the time. We will just have to see how things work out during testing and adjust from there.
Q #6 – Insurgency’s NOBSHUD is intriguing. It is noted that commands received by superiors will be reflected for you. What motivation does a player have to follow the commander’s orders? Is there a benefit to the player for doing so? If the order is completed, does a single soldier benefit or every one that was ordered to perform that particular command?
A: Argyll: Everyone who has taken part will benefit, but those who have actually executed that order successfully will be rewarded more. You gain many more points for completing objectives, which (again) in turn allows promotion, which allows access to bigger and better things to enjoy.
Q #7 - Considering there is already several commander positions filled, what would the points for completing objectives be used for? What bigger and better things are there for a player to enjoy?
A: Argyll: Promotion allows more opportunities to occupy some specialized roles. These include Sniper, GPMG Gunner, and Commanders (at all levels). We also are thinking of allowing more individual customization to their weapons, equipment, and uniform.
Q# 8 – One of the planned reinforcement waves you describe is for the Guerrilla team. It is described as having variable respawn times based on the length of time a player is alive and how active they are on the map. How will Insurgency go about such a system? How will players who camp and hide be handled? How will you balance the wave of reinforcements when one team’s method is sporadic, while the other is consistent?
A: Argyll: We've actually revised our system for reinforcement for the Guerrillas, so that likely won't be implemented.
Q #9 - Could you comment on the latest revisions, or are they still being put on paper?
A: Argyll: Well, it is still in the works, but the basic idea is that it won't be as intricate and become more balanced with the opposing team. Nothing too fancy, but simple is sometimes better!
Q #10 – It appears that Insurgency’s battlefields are dependent on physics interaction. With the recent release of Counter-Strike: Source, and the apparent negative performance effect physics applies along with the limited usage, how will Insurgency handle the situation? Is much of the game design based on physics?
A: Argyll: We will be taking a hard look at performance with physics and take it into consideration for our maps. Physics aren't too significant in our plans other than a cool effect to enhance intensity. We will just have to see how Valve handles the situation and if any enhancements are provided.
Tarky: However we must think that Counter-Strike: Source is infact a modification to the Source Engine, therefore when designing the game they could of limited physics capabilities. Not that physics really affect us in terms of gameplay, they just help create a more realistic experience for the player.
Pericolos0: It's a lot up to the level designer to decide where the physics will be appropriate. A lot of things should obviously be done client side. debris and things that don’t necessarily need to block the player, but of course other objects could be used to make some sort of a barricade and they will need to be server sided. It all depends on the map, and it will need to be balanced out.
Highlander: Source also allows for physics-aware Artificial Intelligence, so that open up the possibility of having civilians that are physically aware of their situation, and have them react realistically to that situation.
Q #11 – How far along in development is Insurgency at this point? Rumors are abounding stating that the Insurgency team was flown to Valve to test the latest SDK. If that is the case, what benefits has this provided to the team and its progress?
A: Argyll: That would be great if that rumor were true! Currently, we have most of our weapon models completed (with the exception of optimization), many skins, and most of the sounds. However, we are waiting for that SDK (Valve can fly us out at any time if they would like!) to implement the content and make any further changes... along with starting programming. We are as far along as we can get at this point without the SDK; there is still a lot more work to be done.
Tarky: Steelwind, We have not flown over to test the SDK unfortunately although we would of liked to.
Jeremy: We have not worked with the SDK but of course if Valve would let us test it we surely would.
Makaveli: As far as I've been told they are still testing the SDK and have mentioned it will be out "in weeks as appose to months"
Tarky: I believe our progress also really hinges on how much we want to have in the first release of our game. Although we have a fairly strong idea, we can't be too sure what will make it.
Argyll: Yeah, we aren't making any promises as to what will be implemented at this point until we know for sure how Source can handle things. Some of the content may be cut or altered once we do get an internal build going.
Q #12 – If you were to compare the planned game play of Insurgency to an existing game or mod, which would it be and why?
A: Jeremy: The planned game play of Insurgency is pretty different than most games I'd say, in terms of the idea of Unconventional vs. Conventional forces with different abilities and features. Of course there will be similarities to other games in certain aspects of the mod.
Argyll: I find it harder to compare us to another game, than compare us to real life.
Tarky: Insurgency is so unique in our eyes, sure you have your conventional vs. unconventional mods and games but the whole underlying gameplay concept is different.
Q #13 – If you had to pick one specific feature of Insurgency that would set it apart from other realistic mods, what would it be?
A: Argyll: It would definitely be the teamwork aspect. The whole structure and command system has not been seen by pretty much any 'realistic' game out there right now. It is ideal for clans and could also help promote more teamwork in pub games as well. Plus, the features that the Source engine provides (such as physics) are also things never seen in this genre of games before.
Jeremy: just the idea though that teams have different structures and features for instance Guerillas having destroyable weapon caches, and access to different vehicles than Conventional forces have such as random vehicles around the map
Q #14 - Are you guys prepared for any balancing issues that would arise from having two sides with such different structures and features?
A: Jeremy: Yes, we are prepared** As Argyll said, gameplay comes first.
Argyll: Definitely, but we have plans for balancing in other ways other than similar weapons and attributes. This includes amount of reinforcements based on tactical advantage that teams may have. For example, a defending team in Attack and Defend mode will have little to no reinforcements since they have the advantage of defending.
Jeremy: Also a lot of it is map-based. Map-based advantages and disadvantages.
Q #15 - It was noted that the command structure will be ideal for clans. What about clans who have their internal chain of command? How will the mod make sure that their commander becomes commander in-game?
A: Argyll: Well, for clans, they will have their own discipline to make sure that their internal leaders get the positions assigned. We are also thinking of a system to load a config file at the beginning of the round that allows players to be assigned to the positions designated to them by their clan.
Q #16 - It seems as if the team is split between realism focus and gameplay focus. How does the team plan to deal with this type of confrontation while in development? Is there a chain of command within the mod that makes all the decisions?
A: Argyll: Yeah, there is always the whole Realism vs. Gameplay debate within the team, but when it comes down to it... we are making this mod to play it and enjoy it. We usually come to a consensus among the majority and make a final decision based on play testing.
Tarky: We also thoroughly discuss ideas on our team forums about anything and everything.
Q #17– What is the team's opinion on the realism/modern combat genre? Several people will admittedly cross off mods simply because it is based on a subject that has been beaten to death. Beyond realism and teamwork, is there anything to set Ins apart from other modern combat games?
A: Argyll: From my perspective as both a soldier and a gamer, I would have to say that we differ in terms of being more Infantry based. You see many military sims set in a modern period based on Special Forces, or have a heavy emphasis on vehicles that usually send the infantry combat to the back.
Tarky: Seriously, our little features I think. We often in our team forums spend multiple pages on tiny things, little features that will make the game good.
Highlander: we have a lot of game play ideas; you know all the little things that will make the mod great.
Argyll: Another thing that most modern games tend to feature is based solely on usually the U.S. We plan on incorporating a wider variety of conflicts that do not necessarily include the U.S., and also plan for the future implementation of other nations in order to expand appeal to broader international audience.
Q#18: A lot of developers with past experience can tell you that little things often get left by the wayside in development. Does the team feel the core structure of the game is enough to portray the game play they desire?
A:Highlander: The little things, for the most part, are all in some way connected with the overall way we want Insurgency to play and feel. With this in mind, we'll change/add the little things as much as we need to provide the best possible experience for gamers.
Jeremy: The team is aware that the little things get left behind and we are prepared for that. Our #1 goal for our first release is gameplay and we do not plan on releasing the mod until it has the core gameplay features outlined in our design doc completed.
Q #19 - Does the team, or Optical, have any significant plans for audio features? Besides sounds for weapons, environment, etc what is planned for audio? Anything in particular that you don't normally hear in current mods/games?
A: Optical: I'm ex military and I have a pretty good rough idea of what intense noise can be created and causing confusion while fighting.
Argyll: Actually, we likely will have a nice (and big) soundtrack included with additional features along with the music.
Speculator: we will try to emulate, at best, to compare with award-winning audio tracks such as Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and various other computer games
Optical: I am working with the coders and programmers for the mod to put in some special features such as gunfire i.e. distant shots and very realistic sounds. But still in the dark with HL2 not released yet.
Q #20 - What about audio for communication? Will it be based on the voice over ip included in HL2, or recorded voices that play out similar to Day of Defeat?
A: Argyll: There will be the traditional Voice menu included along with improved communications via microphone (i.e. specific radio use to particular classes). Also we are looking to implement speaking aloud with your character and microphone.
Speculator: Plus, radio communication via microphone will be differed with our Conventional Forces with focus on the COC, but ill leave the specifics for a later time.
Optical: with that and the intense sounds of gunfire and explosions going off it will add to the confusion we are hoping to create.
Argyll: I would like to emphasize the point that many people think that we are hardcore on realism, but our higher priority is Gameplay. If you haven't already, check out our PC Gamer Preview, it outlines a potential gameplay scenario that may occur in the mod.
Optical: Id just like to add that a few of the devs are former and serving military personnel so it will help in the creation for a realistic view into the workings of the infantry.
Jeremy: And also a few of the devs have experience creating games and mods in the past, so we are sure to bring this baby to release.
Seth: Re-playability before Realism.
Thanks for your time guys. We appreciate it. Good luck to you and the mod in the future.
Definitely one of the more promising mods for the upcoming powerhouse Half-Life 2. The Insurgency team thus far has demonstrated the artistic talent as well as design organization that should propel them into the limelight. While not an overly original design, the plan is rife with the smaller details that change the aspect of game play. It will be interesting to see where their level of realism ends up on the spectrum. Far left like that of Red Orchestra, or to the far right like that of Quake. Perhaps they’ll find a happy medium somewhere in between. So until the release of Half-Life 2, make sure to stop by their website at www.insmod.net and check out the information provided there. Keep your eye on this Mod of the Month.