12.04.2011

Dead Island

I've decided to buy Dead Island for some reason - probsbly cause I started watching a four player speedrun and I'm as intrigued as rarely by how detailed the developer implemented the zombie damage model and the zombie feeling in general. Personally, I prefer the slow kind of zombies beeing more broken and strategically slashable than those rather typical for splatter movies (I'm kind of too afraid of those unescapable horror movie scenerios too watch them). Due to that I also enjoyed Borderland's Zombie DLC cause there were quite a lot of them. Dead Island anyway is something I've triedto follow from the first day the developer published material but lost track of it while they were busily working on it. Then they didn't release in Germany and I simply started beeing comftable with that until I starting watching this let's play. I didn't think about the fact that I can simply order it from an Austrian shop to avoid shipping costs and such for a very moderate price around the same as when I'd buy it in Germany. I don't have a credit card, so most UK shops are simply useless for me. It should arrive in three or four days and I'm already sure that I won't be able to play this game for too long in one sitting. As fascinating the developer's care for detailled dismemberment is, I'm still a friend of rather sparse of of such effects, so I'll eventually get too much of it and... yeah, do something else that doesn't have to do with dead bodies. From what I know (the let's play is rather a sort of rushing through the game like most players do), there are enough mechanics and selfmakable, differing items to guarantee a long play time with many toys to play with. If it's for one game to overcome my less limblusty mind, then for one that does it detailed enough to appreciate it's technology. Oh, I better not think about the nightmares I may get from cutting off dramatically lightened zombie limbs in claustrophobic hotels or holidayic beach environments. In any case I have to play this game and test how dynamic this damage model really is. I've seen blood on any possible game object, cut-off and later smashed limbs and body parts as well as sot-off ripped of flesh looking exactly like the multi-layered damage model I've a demonstration of one or two years ago or even longer. I'm interested in how they did it exactly. I bet they've chosen a simplified model for the major body parts but a slightly more complex system for the texture generation. I don't think they've choosen a pixel or array-based model for the blood and dismemberment details - it's probably a coverage of arrays or a list of special shapes that will be recobbled each time a hit occurs in an already covered area. Personally, I'd cover the body in different layer which again are composed of parts and different texturings - maybe split in surface parts, too. But the probably simplest and more easy to implement would be some sort of generic voxel array for each seperatable part with some fitting texture selection algorithm. Hm, that sound like a good idea suitable for some smaller hordes of zombies. Haven't yet seen whether each zombi is unique and will permantly stay until the next level change or if they let them constantly disappear and respwan under different look and status. I'm really intrigued by testing and seeing it in action. I guess it is obvious, that one of my main interests is to experience the implementation and technology behind this game. I can safely live without such features in a game like Dead Island (I'm already satisfied by some blood particles and plainsurvival feeling) but sometimes I'm stumbling into the desire of eventually writing such stuff by my own. The great motivation I'm not unoften getting when playing certain games. The ballistics and visual realism in stalker, the visible feet of Dark Messiah, Bethesda streamed world map, Metroid Prime's HUD effects - all those great moments where I felt technology as a dominating part of my game experience. One day I want to say that I was able to give a great game experience by creating technology that's necessary to get this great experience. I'm a more programmer than anything else in game development,so it's no wonder why I'm only coding and thinking but not caring about creating any graphics or game design features. Well, features are quick and simple to implement and I'm not one of those dudes wanting to finetune existing concepts but just add what's coming fine and awesome to it in total. I know what I want and making some random limited game engine I'd never use is not of my goals. It doesn't matter if it's easier to make, it matters what is needed to reach your game's goals. As a tech lover my goals are simply tech-related, so the circle simply closes and I can get my satisfaction and goal approximation but archieving tech stuff etc. Oh man, I can't even stop arguing with myself about programming goals while originally writing a post about a video game! Darnit, I must be one obsessed fanatic these days. Sometimes it seems so, eh? I give a fuck anyway. Only brings me closer to mastering enough stuff interesting to video game programming. And I'm noticing that those argumentations usually occur when I'm stuck with programming. Actually, it is a bit of that, but not totally. For my multithreaded ressource loader/releaser system to work I had to add two additional, optional synchronization objects to each task which aren't necessary to create but will still occupy some memory. I've thouht about allocating tasks dynamically, but that will disallow the renderer and physics thread from running without function calls (I wanna make this possible). But wait, it's only one task to insert each frame and only the parameters to fill... darn. I created so much stuff and code that I'm not even into it enough to see that I already took care of everything! See, that's a problem a to me and don't know how to change it. Maybe this has simply to do with the fact that I have to do not less uni stuff and some other organisational things beside which all obscure my mind when coding and designing stuff. If I'd be doing this fulltime, I could focus on it much more, but the problem of loosing track by too much code to tune for erasing all anomalies still persist. The amount of time required to create bullet-proof multithreading with not few desired features is enormous, I didn't expect that some weeks ago. Well, that time I wasn't in too much but now I am, delaying work on stuff I realized to be not perfect to finish. The never-ending tales of perfectionism. It never goes away, it doesn't even look different - only you forget how it really looks.

The let's play is getting a real climax right now. The game doesn't increase your health or defense, it only increase enemy difficulty and available skill points. Therefore, all players currently experience quite some survival horror as the infected (the fast zombie type) coming from everywhere and getting players down extreely fast. They are now forced to work together better than before and using explosives, electrocuted weapons and other special weaponry. It's awesome to see those players only becoming better be applying game mechanics more skillfully. Sometimes they get insta-killed and the only way to get around this is by communicating, distracting bigger zombie and then reviving teammates behind. I've never experienced to see something like that - mostly because I'm usually an iron single player except for a few games. Sure this will probably be a bit different when I'm playing it alone, but it's nontheless amazing to see it work for multiplayer this way.

Oh and my laptop smells strangely by long hours of watching youtube videos with adobe's horrible flash plugin for linux. Poor thing, I say you, this laptop.

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