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Open-ended/non-linear gameplay
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Author:  locworks [ Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:38 pm ]
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No "GTA: City 44", then? Oh, well.

Author:  Nesretep [ Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:15 pm ]
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Cargo Cult wrote:
Yar Kramer wrote:
Whereas Carcinogenesis is "Not non-linear, but an amazing simulation!" ...

I think I may just keep with this less-linear thing. I don't think I really have the time or resources to build an entire city in one sitting - plus a degree of linearity will make it much easier to tell a story. Which is currently in the crystallising-into-something-horrible-in-my head stage. It's ... a bit dark! {bold added}

It's a bit dark as in the story is a bit dark, or it's a bit dark in your head? ;)

Author:  Kastanok [ Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:26 pm ]
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Perhaps a hole in his head would help shed some light on the matter? I've always wanted to try my hand at a little trepanation.

Author:  Kenny [ Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:00 am ]
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Frankly, as far as open world map designs for Source, I feel it's possible. While an entire city isn't necessary in the slightest, I'd say at least a small section of it would be free roaming- for instance, the following scenario for my vision of OOT:

The player starts staring out a window through a camera. In the distance over the buildings of the snow-bleached City 44, two bridges are raised in synchronization, as a Combine Citadel looms over the scene farther in the background between the two bridges across a small river. Suddenly a Strider walks past the camera, as we pull out to the player's view of the scene through a window. The player at this point has no suit, as he is a rebel. He is a citizen like everyone else, blissfully ignorant of Minerva and her sabotage years earlier at the island. The player heads out of his room into a dank hallway, sparcely lit. Several people sleep on cots on the floor. Light streams in through large holes in the building. It is immediately evident that these people are refugees, taking shelter in the bombed out building, fearing persecution by the roving Combine forces outside patrolling the snow swept streets. The morning light glistens off the snow in an eerily beautiful way. The player steps over a few of the sleeping refugees to the stairwell. He decends, as he does every morning, to the first floor to check the only radio in the complex. A few television screens have the administrator of City 44, Raymond Burns, talking on a television screen. He is a very odd example of a transhuman, the plugs in his neck for his Combine Elite suit clearly visible as he speaks for the Overlords. The Elites have complete control over City 44 and they rule with an iron fist. Occasionally a pre-recorded message is screened from Dr. Breen, broadcasting messages about instinct from City 17. Needless to say, life is much less plesant in City 44. A solitary old rebel with a shotgun sits near the entrance. He bids you good morning, tugging on a cigarette.

"Come to relieve my shift, eh? Well, have fun sitting on your ass for the next six hours. Give Norm my regards." (referring to the next guard to take shifts at the door.)

The player accepts the shotgun, a quick and solid catch, confident. Our player character was once a member of the KGB before the Seven Hour War. He sits down and prepares for another lonely day when suddenly gunfire begins to echo in the distance. The player looks up as a gaggle of rebels rush into the building with MP-7 submachine guns. The refugees question the incoming militia, who claim the building as their own.

"Get out, assholes! The reason we all live here is because you f**kers don't know when to stop shooting!"

"Calm down. We fight for the liberation of our people, the least you could do is appreciate that we lay down our lives for the sake of downtrodden such as you!"

"Now you people have done it, look outside!"

A strider lumbers down the street with a pack of hunters. They surround the building as infantry cluster around forming a barricade. A few carry turrets and set them into position. The PA goes off shrilly in the morning dew, proclaiming a miscount in the sector. Judgment waiver in effect.

"Oh shit, they're going to kill us all!"

"Stay calm," says one rebel, assumed to be a leader. "We'll do our best to make sure as many of you get out of this alive as we can manage."

"That's reassuring," comments a citizen sarcastically.

The hunters lope towards the building, screeching shrilly in the fog. A strider charges a particle cannon and blasts a giant hole in the building as the hunters begin to enter the building. Above, sounds of combine police rappelling from a helicopter and gunfire sound off above as a hunter bursts through a nearby window, pinning a rebel against the wall. A small gap in noise as the rebels realize what's happened, then everyone is moving. You fight your way through the crowd of refugees and rebels, treading on the corpses of the unfortunate. The lethal projectiles of the hunter level several citizens as gunfire erupts all around. Grenades are thrown. Explosions! The feeling that you may not make it out of here alive dawns on you. Up the staircase and through a side room as Combine burst in through the windows shooting. Bullets fly through the walls, the world slows for a moment as a human is blasted back through a paper thin wall, riddled by plasma bolts. You give the metrocop a shotgun blast through the gap in the wall as a minor revenge, doubling back to your room to the fire escape. "To the roof!" the cry goes out. Up the stairs and the call goes out to hit the deck! A gunship fliess in low over the buildings and nearly decapitates you. It turns around and twists mid flight firing at the rooftop. There's a gap you can jump to the next building, as a makeshift bridge is shot out. A rocket flies out of the building below and hits the gunship, distracting it for a moment as you run forward with the others, making a death defying leap over the gap. A massive explosion as the world goes black. The player seems to be in a totally black room. A computer screen stares at the player. He uses the keyboard and suddenly a prompt for text input stares at the player at the edge of his vision. "Well, it seems I have found a new Perseus." types the text...

(Just to quickly elaborate on the ending of this sequence, the black room is really the player's subconcious, so in moments where the player is near death, the player will see this room on the edge of his vision through an overlay.)

Okay, free roaming wasn't exactly conveyed in the bit above. The point is, the player would start out in a large building that can be freely explored and fought through, and can jump gaps between buildings when the stuffing hits the fan.

Author:  phuzz [ Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:30 pm ]
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Nice, that's a good job of conveying the atmosphere :)

Author:  Nesretep [ Sat Jan 12, 2008 4:49 pm ]
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That's some nice story work there, Kenny. As was already mentioned you did a good job getting the atmosphere going. I found myself picturing the scenes in my mind as read...great work!

Author:  Pyro-Dude [ Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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I like the idea of running away from something or trying to get out and getting a genuine feeling that you're going to die if you stop and that you may not make it away/out. It's hard to do in a videogame when you can be confident you'll still be playing after the chase.

I think it was done very well in Depth Charge when you're running weaponless from the soldiers. It wasn't so much that they were right behind you and you had now way to defend yourself, it was the fact that you kept seeing the locked armouries and the hope they gave that you could get in, but were then forced to run past and the realisation that you probably weren't going to get a weapon and you may end up trapped round the next corner.

I think one thing that fails to make people actually believe they aren't safe is that they know they aren't going to get injured, they may have massive explosions and set pieces, but they know they are never going to actually get hurt. Having things that knocked you about and actually hurt you as they would in a normal combat scenario, without actually ending in possible death.

Author:  Terrapin [ Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:17 am ]
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The problem with that is, what if a player is at extremely low health? Do you kill them and force them to try reach that point in better condition, or do you breadcrumb health along the way to ensure that when the ceiling caves in, for example, they'll have the health needed to survive? Then again, you could always use the F.E.A.R. method, where you always regenerate to 25 / 10 / 5 (depending on what difficulty you played on) health after a few seconds.

I agree though, that the thrill of being in an uncertain scenario is exhilarating. I'm sure if anyone can pull of a city spanning fight for survival, it'll be Adam.

Author:  Kenny [ Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:14 am ]
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Thanks for the positive feedback on my work everyone ^_^

Allright, I also (on a complete whim) have been working on a skybox for the scene above. Just a 3D skybox to test my skymaking ability and nothing more, and if anyone wants/needs the vmf I'll probably fork it over.

A rough screen capture. I'll add more detail such as buildings in due time, but I think it's a good start.


Author:  Terrapin [ Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:50 pm ]
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Looks nice! For a work in progress, it looks quite detailed. As a side note, I think the creation of a few new textures will be required however, as the ground looks more like sand than snow. Still, maybe you could give Adam some help with design and what not; your graphics design abilities seem superb.

Author:  Kenny [ Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:52 pm ]
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Eh, it's something I threw together in about an hour, so it's not that big of a thing. Of course, I've never managed to get a Citadel prop working in a skybox before, so I guess it's a bit of a feat ^^;;

Anyway, as for working on OOT, I'd love to help playtest it, but my mapping isn't quite on par with Adam's, not by a long shot. Perhaps I could help with something in the maps, but I've only been working with Source SDK for a couple of years. If anything, I'd probably be focusing my playtests on "how can I get out of Adam's levels?" I've managed to get stuck in the room where you have to collapse the above walkway to get out because I was busy trying to find ways to climb up to the walkway and totally not get that I had to shoot a support.

(EDIT: Also, on the map sky that I did there, it's a not so subtle reference to one of the pictures that Adam posted when he was "referencing City 44's downfall." I'd had the image of the two bridges and the tower in my head for awhile, and needed a break from another project I had been working on, so I just randomly decided "Why don't I make that into a skybox? It's a good test for my abilities." Then an hour later, I compile and poof I screen captured the image you saw there. Obviously it doesn't exactly look like the city shot that I had imagined, but I didn't add any buildings yet. I'll likely attempt to rectify that in further work on it, but it's somewhat of a spare time thing.)

Author:  Kenny [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Open-ended/non-linear gameplay

Hope a couple weeks old post won't be considered a double..

Also, as far as the non-linear angle, will the player be able to sneak through an area? I'd like the player to be able to pick their own method. Perhaps the dialog from Minerva would be more appreciative of the player's tactics if he/she chooses to avoid combat...

Author:  Pyro-Dude [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Open-ended/non-linear gameplay

Having Minerva react differently to how you deal with a situation would be great. It'd contribute to an "Every player has a different experience, each play through is different" idea.

Author:  Yar Kramer [ Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Open-ended/non-linear gameplay

You mean to say you want to throw away getting yelled at for following literally the only choice provided by the gameplay and level design, a MINERVA mainstay that's been with us since Someplay Else!?

The idea has a certain appeal (and would probably be a bit more satisfying). Count me in! ;)

Author:  Nesretep [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Open-ended/non-linear gameplay

Pyro-Dude wrote:
Having Minerva react differently to how you deal with a situation would be great. It'd contribute to an "Every player has a different experience, each play through is different" idea.

Keep in mind that something like that would be much more difficult to implement compared to what is in place in Metastasis. Rather than a simple trigger displaying text once you reach a pre-determined area, you would have to do some programming to set up something like that.

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