I had never, until now, played an Assassin’s Creed game. I was vaguely aware of the franchise involving jumping off tall buildings, hoovering up collectibles from all over expansive worlds and a much-maligned modern-day sci-fi meta-plot getting in the way of historical shenanigans.
I was never all that interested, but Ubisoft decided to give the 4th game in the series — frequently hailed even by cynical outlets as “the good one” — away for free, and my curiosity got the better of me. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s the most productive time of the year! That means it’s time to tackle those big problems that put the fear into you at in any other season. But with a couple weeks of holiday? Oh yes.
Over the weeks leading up to crimbo, I was dancing around, adding little new features and refining systems. I put decorations into the bunkers, added vending machines and guard posts, deleted the crap code that was failing to do these things before — the level generator is, dare I say it, looking pretty damn good.
The next step, then, is to take this mishmash of content and make it… into a campaign.
Yep, that’s four years since I started work on this game — it still has no name (that’s a lie, it almost has a name), but it is still blisteringly consistent with the original vision. So assuming that my constant ramblings haven’t been too coherent over the years, here’s a video so you can acquaint yourself with what it’s actually like. Also includes audio commentary if you just want to hear my dulcet tones for a bit!
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Oh yes, it’s the most productive time of the year!
Well, maybe last year I got ahead of myself. The 36-feature plan I gave myself three weeks of holiday to complete in the end took more than six months (bar one remaining feature, the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, for which I have some lovely ideas). Plans, it seems, are not really my strength.
What, then, shall this festive period hold for my still-unnamed magnum opus?
I’m always late to the party, but I never let that drag me down. I first heard about Strafe when it was half-built and it looked interesting to me; a shooter in the classic fast-paced style, full of crunchy low-poly levels and laser guns, albeit with procedurally-generated levels.
Having recently finished grinding my way through Dragon Age: Origins, I followed that up with Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition (hence the, er, lengthy blogging hiatus), which left me somewhat in the mood for something a little snappier. As is always the way, Strafe recently released its powered-up Millenium Edition and went on sale…
Oh, that thing where you just get out of the way of writing regularly, and then it gets harder to go back to it the longer the hiatus lasts.
I might have decided to replay Dragon Age: Origins and its expansion pack and then moved on to Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition, which amounted to… well, rather a lot of time not spent working on my own game, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t have much of note to say about either, so I just didn’t say anything.
Now, though, after that holiday, it’s finally time to tackle a problem that’s been lurking at the heart of my engine for a long time now: its use of animations.
I fuckin’ love dinosaurs. There’s something ineffably cool about big walking lizards, with their scaly skin, razor-sharp claws and teeth as long as your forearm (regardless of how anatomically realistic they actually are). When aliens and monsters are designed for games and films, it always irritates me how they end up being mostly-mammalian and very few creature designers seem to turn to our favourite prehistoric pals. (Risen 3 did and it’s amazeballs.)
The Jurassic Park films are not my favourite films in the world but I do love dinosaurs and the escalation of the Jurassic Park franchise is a bit wobbly — so here we are, back again to take a meandering examination of what went right, what went wrong, and what could have been salvaged with a few choice tweaks.
Unfortunately I was a bit off the boil when we recorded this, so it’s mostly Chris rampaging and me failing to articulate a few choice observations. Ah well.
This might be the sixth time I’ve reworked my level generator. It’s incredibly complex and every time I think I’ve got it right… Well, after each rework, everything goes smoothly until I start to layer on another system — then suddenly the architecture can’t hold anymore and it’s causing more pain than gain.
Other times, yes, I’ve just been too clever for my own good and tripped over my own shoelaces. Is this one of those times? Erm, possibly…