Blog 375: Re-Attempt Y4

Coming steaming into crimbo, I’ve been in a frenzy of productivity not seen for a long time. It all started on monday night; since it’s the holiday so I don’t actually do anything all day, I have trouble getting to sleep. So I was lying awake, thinking about whatever, and came up with a solution to a problem that has plagued me for quite some time…

Fans of RDZ Industries may or may not be overjoyed. Fans of This Wreckage will be dismayed that I haven’t worked on it for the last five days. I’m sorry; this is too good an opportunity to pass up. I haven’t been this productive for a long time.

I need to start with a bit of history. As you may be aware, I’ve tried to bend Warcraft III into an RDZ Industries game more times than I can remember. The first was the terrible mess that was Operation: Twilight‘s first faltering steps into daylight. Then there was a sort of sim-space-colony that never got anywhere, then Asteroid Wars the pyrotechnic space-battle that abused ribbon emitters something awful. Then a few more re-attempts at all of these projects that never got off the ground.

The closest RDZ Industries ever came to a successful implementation was the RDZArena Y2. This was based on the original RDZArena, which is actually several years old itself now. It came out of the heady come-down from my first real success, the singleplayer action-adventure full of different game-types that was When the Freedom Slips Away. Somewhere, out of the mélange came a hero arena — two teams of four face off with abilities and items from WtFSA (and then some), against each other and hordes of wild animals, for points. A very basic concept, that I lathered with additional features — annexes that opened up for special objectives, a Hill that you could be King of for a guaranteed income and eventually the Dragon’s Tooth, special rounds where crazy stuff happened, floating text everywhere, the obligatory combo-kill and spree systems…

And out of that mélange came This Wreckage. But that’s not imporant right now.

Basically, I loved the RDZArena, but nobody else did. Carrying on regardless as always, I decided that it would be an excellent base on which to build a total conversion in under four megabytes (the (then) file-size limit for multiplayer maps) — RDZ Industries went into decorative overdrive and I churned out loads of models to turn the ancient temple into a dull grey concrete monolith. Very atmospheric.

The main issue was in the gameplay. Warcraft III is a bitch and RDZ Industries is a sci-fi — rather than bashing each other with swords, you need guns, and it is orders of magnitude more difficult to swap ranged attacks (what with factors such as a unit’s attack range being basically immutable) than it is to just add bonus damage for a better sword-strike. I decided to plump for the “Battleships” style of Asteroid Wars: you have an inert vehicle that you must load up with a range of auto-firing weapons.

It did work. But like Asteroid Wars before it, my heart just wasn’t in it. Most of the map’s mechanics were carried over from its basis, so it is still in a relatively complete state. I suppose this must have been somewhere during the development of This Wreckage, but I honestly can’t remember.

But my solution to all of this came to me in that half-awake state before I finally drifted off on monday night. And really — it was so simple, so obvious.

A robot... With swords.

A robot... With swords.

I took the basic Delta, and merged it with the Twilight… Out popped the All-Purpose Assault Mech.

Detachable blades — there’s Henrik’s swords all over again. Detachable blast-shields — yep, there’s your armour enhancer. Small cannon on the front — from whence to launch electro-magnetic pulse grenades, that’s the single-target damage and stun of Throw Rock. Artillery on the back — that’s an easy area-of-effect mass-damage like Fan of Fire or Spark.

So simple, so obvious.

It now all depends somewhat on the animations. I haven’t actually animated more than a walk sequence for a long time, so I’m pretty rusty. But I reckon I can do it.

What I have been doing for the last week, however, is terrain-work. The following artwork is liable to change; while some of it is cannibalised from the RDZArena Y2, most of it is all from the intervening Y4 stock (squidged to match the power-of-two pathing grid) and there’s even some brand new stuff in there.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…

Arena Y4

I’m really pleased with the lava. A frenzied hour last night before Taggart’s 100th episode even managed to turn out a reasonable biosludge texture.

Don’t worry, I will finish the upgrades to This Wreckage before Mass Effect 2 comes out. It really is almost done — all the new content is in place, it just needs further testing and bug-fixing. I just need a little time off.

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