Uprising has been in development for two years now! To celebrate, we have decided to give you yet another small update article, featuring new media as well as some glimpses behind the scenes on Uprising's development.
This article is split up into several chapters:
- New media from chapter 1, 2 and 3
- Introducing Chapter 4
- We're hiring!
- A glimpse behind the scenes
1) New media from chapter 1, 2 and 3
2) Introducing chapter 4:
As you might have seen above, each chapter has a unique setting with unique features.
Chapter 1 primarily features the evening, with basic gameplay.
Chapter 2 is set in the morning/noon and features a lot of squads and Combine allies.
Chapter 3 is rainy, with an ever-growing storm, and primarily features Bec as a player companion.
With Chapter 4, we wanted to continue that pattern of unique settings and features, but also wrap up the first episode. This is why chapter 4 is set past-midnight, with yet another brief Civil Protection player companion, squads, as well as basic gameplay and most importantly: a focus on the dark.
We have just released three new tracks on YouTube! You can check them out here or on our playlist.
4) We're hiring!
The aforementioned metrocop player companion is still unvoiced as of now. We are currently looking for a voice actor/actress, who is willing to occasionally voice this character in the next three years. Since this is a hobby-project, we cannot offer any payment.
Nonetheless, feel free to hit us up on ModDB if you want to apply (and please provide a sample of your work as well)!
5) A glimpse behind the scenes:
With this anniversary, we wanted to provide a bit of insight into Uprising’s development. Making a mod for a mod is not something you see everyday, after all.
If you are only here for new media, you can stop reading past this point, but if you want to know more about Uprising’s origin and our approach to making this mod, keep reading!
0 months after starting development:
Originally, Uprising was a very vague, yet ambitious, idea. We - or rather I, Employee8 - wanted to cover the entire time span from the Uprising's beginning to Gordon’s reappearance. I estimated this to be around 8 days of in-game time, but I was already aware that this was too overscoped, which is why I thought about time-skips early on.
After posting a proof of concept video to the Entropy : Zero Discord server (after working on it for three days), Filipad - a member of said server and one of the few active EZ1 modders back then - asked if he could participate in the development. We have been working together ever since.
Said proof of concept video (and how it looks today) can be found here:
How it looks today:
Our approach to mapping was very sequential and linear; Objectives would only last for a single map before moving onto something else. We focused a lot on gameplay, but not really on telling a story.
The main character (for which we did not even have a name back then) mostly went from one location to another and killed rebels, led a squad somewhere or protected someone - there was not much of an overall plot. Chapter 1 and the first and last map of chapter 2 were made this way.
2 months after starting development:
We originally wanted to make higher ranking Civil Protection members more distinct. One attempt included turning their eyes yellow. This inspired a new idea: Traitor Cops.
Old Traitor Cop design
There were a few redesigns, but in the end, we found something which looked convincing enough.
GrunsTala, a contributor, would later create alternative skins for more variety, which can be seen here:
Current Traitor Cop designs
Broken Eye Cop
<3 months after starting development:
Another idea for making high-ranking Metrocops more distinct - which indirectly resulted from the Traitor Cops - included a cracked visor.
A few weeks after the skin had been created, we settled on making the cracked visor cop an individual character and thus, Bec (Broken Eye Cop) was born.
This is how he looks right now:
The creation of this character marks the time where we started to care a lot more about a coherent story, yet still mostly made it up as we went along.
>3 months after starting development:
We cannot talk about Uprising’s history without talking about the water! This feature was suggested by Filipad, inspired by “Joy” from the game “Lisa: The Painful” and would allow the player to consume Breen’s Private Reserve water every day.
This idea was originally supposed to take direct effect in the maps itself, by changing interactions with other CPs, adding dream sequences if you did not drink the water and changing the general difficulty of the mod.
This feature has since then been cut, reinstated and reworked. Currently, the water does not affect difficulty, but adds dream sequences which change depending on whether or not you drank the water.
The Discord Server
<4 months after starting development:
We moved from direct messages to a newly created developer discord server. This allowed us to improve our organization, it also meant that actively working together with other people was a possibility now.
Raising the Bar (1/2) and voicing Bec
4 months after starting development:
Shortly after creating the private discord server, Kralich hit us up on discord, asking if he could contribute models to the projects. Naturally, we agreed, despite not having many specific requests at that time. This meant that, for the first time, we finally had the chance to add custom content which did not consist of alternative skins for already existing models.
One of the models Kralich made
One day later, we asked CW3D if he would be willing to voice act for the previously mentioned Broken Eye Cop. These two days marked a turning point in Uprising’s development.
Ones and Zeros (1/2)
>4 months after starting development:
7 days later, Mark_Zer0 offered to add subtitles to Bec’s voice lines and the other sound files we used.
Another 7 days later, GrunsTala joined the team as a contributor (although he has contributed a few things beforehand, such as the game logo and one Traitor Cop texture).
This meant that, in only 15 days, our team grew from two people to six people, which was a considerable size for us back then, especially since we have not led any teams beforehand.
The first playtest
5 months after starting development:
Our first playtest was run rather spontaneously. At that point, Uprising consisted of 9 maps, with around one hour of playtime in total. The feedback we have received was incredibly helpful and strengthened our confidence on the project.
However, we would focus the next few months on polishing up gameplay and details in already existing levels, instead of purely focusing on continuing the campaign. In retrospect, this approach was less than optimal.
Ones and Zeros (2/2)
6 months after starting development:
At this point, Bec only existed in a concept map, but the first real map he would feature in was being worked on. He was a combine soldier with a model override and a lot of ambient_generics instead of a proper response system.
As timing would have it, it was at this point where Mark_Zer0 picked up coding and started developing npc_bec as well as Traitor Cops.
Not only were we able to add new models (thanks to Kralich), voice lines (thanks to CW3D) and textures, we could also add entirely new code features as well now.
It seemed as if the possible scope of the project just kept growing.
It also meant that we no longer had to rely on hacky workarounds, which were often unstable and unreliable. The project was no longer just a map pack, it was a mod.
Bec's response system used to be an ambient_generic mess
7 months after starting development:
At this stage, we were fairly confident with what we had and wanted to start revealing a bit of our progress to a wider audience. Up to this point, no one outside of the E:Z discord server knew of the project, which is why we were unsure whether or not people would be interested in this mod for a mod.
This was (and still might be) one of the downsides of modding a mod - the potential number of players is smaller than a mod for Half-Life 2, because a player needs to know what Entropy : Zero is (and needs to at least like the concept of it). Although that could have been mitigated by choosing a different name.
On the other hand, using the Entropy : Zero name immediately creates an association between our mod and the original and is more likely to draw in Entropy : Zero players.
Ultimately, we do not know which variant would have worked better, but it never really seemed important to us either.
Raising the Bar (2/2)
9 months after starting development:
While discussing whether or not Uprising should adopt an episodic format, Kralich got involved in the discussion and started giving advice, which would change the way we approach story-writing.
Up until this point, we had a few vague ideas for what would happen after we released the demo (which is now Episode 1) and only vague ideas for what the finale of said demo could be. Kralich emphasized how important it was to have an overall goal in the story, as well as a thought-out plot.
With this, the first drafts for (what is now) Episode 2 were written and we started refining the story we had.
Kralich also started art-passing the first few maps of chapter 1, while still making models occasionally.
More voice acting
<10 months after starting development:
Blu_Soldier001 hit us up on ModDB, kindly offering his voice for some metropolice characters. We were finally able to replace the placeholder text which has been in some of the maps since the very beginning, it also meant that the team now consisted of seven people.
The second playtest
1 year after starting development:
We started our second playtests on Uprising’s first anniversary. The playtest build featured 11 maps, with two hours of playtime in total.
The feedback on the plot and player motivation were mixed. This was partly because vital scenes were not properly implemented at that point, but also because our initial approach to creating the campaign was still noticeable.
The difficulty was also unfair at times and it took the fun away from the mod.
This is why most of our efforts after this playtest have been towards improving the story and gameplay.
Leaving the bar
1 year & 2 months after starting development:
After closely working together on maps for around 6 months, Kralich left the team because he no longer had the time to work on Uprising.
The impact he had on the project’s direction and team management is incredible and can still be felt to this day.
1 year & 3 months after starting development:
We finally got onto mapbase. Mapbase is a modding base which offers a lot of quality of life improvements as well as new features for modders. This was something which we have been anticipating for a very long time at this point and we would once again like to thank Blixibon and 1upD for making it possible!
The Entropy : Zero 2 connection
1 year & 4 months after starting development:
In January 2021, 1upD reached out to us, asking if Bec could (for some reason) have an ID number which starts with the number “28”. In August 2021, we finally got to see why.
Bec is in Entropy : Zero 2!
This little crossover meant a lot to us, we could never have imagined that our work would be acknowledged, let alone referenced, in EZ2.
The long silence
1 year & 4 months - 1 year & 10 months after starting development:
After a small update in July, we stopped being active on ModDB and YouTube for a while. In that time, we pushed forward on every aspect; We implemented scenes using faceposer, refined the gameplay and the story and (as always) continued the campaign. In December, 1upD contributed code for the Metrozombie NPC, which we implemented in January. The real world seemingly wanted to intrude at all times, which is why the amount of progress varied, but despite all, we kept pushing forward.
The third playtest
1 year & 10 months after starting development:
We started our third playtest in february 2021. It consisted of 14 maps, with around 3 hours of playtime. While we did not get as many playtesters as we initially hoped, the feedback we did receive was very helpful and reaffirmed that focusing on the story was the right choice. There were still a few problems in the gameplay, especially in the last few maps, which were not as refined as they could have possibly been, but that is why running tests is so important!
2 years after starting development:
It is unbelievable to us just how far we have come. When starting out, we could not have imagined that other people would contribute their talents to the project, especially not on this scale.
In retrospect, some decisions we made were not ideal, maybe even counter-productive, but we are still glad we made them - Learning is never a straight road and considering just how much we have learned, the road has not been straight at all.
Modding a mod might have a few disadvantages. Yes, we do have to take the Entropy : Zero lore in account and using Entropy : Zero as a base brings some oddities (as if base HL2 was not bad enough in that regard), but it also means that we can be in direct contact with the developers and ask them for help, if necessary.
We would like to thank 1upD in particular here. Not only because he made the Entropy : Zero mod template, which made Uprising possible in the first place, but also because he has contributed so much to the project. He was a playtester from the very beginning, offered help and advice whenever he could (especially when it came to coding), made the Metrozombie NPC and, together with Blixibon, provided the mapbase version of Entropy : Zero.
Besides the EZ2 team, we would also like to thank Clatronix, for providing such helpful feedback and nice assets (the new Rebel APC in particular!), Tacarish for playtesting and contributing animations, as well as all other playtesters for their invaluable feedback.
Your help means a lot to us (and we definitely owe you one).
We would also like to thank everyone from the E:Z discord and you, the reader, for sticking with us!
We do not know how long Episode 1 will still take, but we are proud of how far we have gotten already and cannot wait to share it all with you!