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volume 1, issue 11

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

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Random Feature :

Blue & Levelord Get Drunk: Truly the definitive interview with Levelord, Stephen "Blue" Heaslip and the Ritual level designer get drunk and talk about the gaming industry.

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loonyboi's Frag 2 Diary

By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

 

10/31 - Rebel Boat Rocker Dealie - 2:25 PM Central

Here we go, the first seminar of the day...Rebel Boat Rocker's think on advancements in level design. Hasn't started just yet, so I'm sitting here writing away.

Blue and Levelord are up at the bar shooting the shoot and hopefully contributing a nice interview for this here site...look for that soon.

I'm really looking forward to this thing, since I haven't heard much about the RBR engine, and I've seen even less.

Oh cool...here comes the guys. Randy Pitchford is talking now, with a giant projection of a blank level behind him. Aparently, they're planning on changing the title from "Prax War" to something else because of how much flak they've gotten from it. That's an interesting development, expecially since I kinda dug the title. :)

Their biggest new technology is arbitrary polygons instead of fixed brushes (like in Quake). That's interesting, because it (theoretically) allows for a much more dynamic world to be built. The downside to this, is that you need to build every polygon, making level creation a much more time consuming process (i'd think...but then i'm no level designer).

Their editor is nice looking...they don't have any 2D views, you're just in a pure 3D world. They can make polygons that are an inch long, or a mile long (sounds kinda like an old Quake level design trick pioneered by Levelord in the Hipnotic mission pack for Quake 1 where he stretched brushes across huge distances). This is cool, because they can make things off in the distance that look cool, but actually use a very low polygon count.

Their LOD (Level of Detail) system is limited to characters, and not the world itself, although they have said that down the line it will be moved to a full LOD world that drops the polygon count down to keep the framerate constant (two or three engines down the line...don't hold out for Prax War).

It seems that they are really predicting an eventual move to large-scale commercial packages for game design (3D Studio, Lightwave, etc). This would seem to make sense (Trespasser used 3D Studio Max as its level editor) but it doesn't bode well for the kid to wants to make a level at home and can't afford the $5k price of admission.

Their arbitrary polygon system allows for multiple effects per surface, and they seem to be using it well. An example: in Quake, you've got a grass area and a road area. In the game formerly known as Prax War, they've got both, but they've alpha blended between them, to really make them work together. In the screenshots, it looks great.

Just had an interesting thought...Electronic Arts is publishing Prax War (or whatever it's called) I wonder if they're planning to actively persue licensing. Activision has the Quake and Heavy Gear II engines, (the Dark Side engine, or something like that) Interplay has Messiah's RT-DAT thing, Monolith has LithTech, GT has Unreal...I wonder if EA is banking on RBR. Definitely going to be interesting...

Woop...gotta go do some interviews...check back in a bit. :)

10/31 - Paul Steed! - 4:00 PM

Just spend a few minutes with Blue, Levelord and Steed at the hotel bar, and now i'm sitting here waiting for Paul to do his thing...it's funny, as popular as Paul's thing is, there are guys in this room just waiting for Carmack to come on. Go fig. :)

Paul and Levelord really hit it off, it seems, which is good, since they are two of the coolest guys in this little industry that I know. Who knows...we have have something on loonygames with that soon. :)

Paul is giving his talk from the IGDN a few weeks back (and it's been published in article form in his column as well). He's a great public speaker, which is unique for a game developer...you expect guys who are hunched over a computer screen all day long. That may be the case with Paul, but you'd never know it from watching him. He's completely at ease up there...he should teach a class in this stuff.

He's talking primarily about Carmack's decision of vertex manipulation over a skeletal animation system (like in Half-Life). Their hierarchical system alows for multiple chunks of a model to be stuck together to form a whole character. And example: in Quake 2, an enemy doesn't crouch and shoot at the same time, since he never made a "crouch and shoot" animation. In Quake 3: Arena, he can make an animation for crouch, one for shoot, and they can both run simultaneously, making it look like a unified action.

Some cool animations to expect: strafing, jump-forward, jump-backward, backing off, neat stuff. Hearing him talk about this, you really get the impression that he's genuinely excited about the game. He's like a kid with a new toy (or more specifically, a geek with a new box of uber-expensive and complex gear).

It's going to be interesting to see what mod authors do with Quake 3: Arena. More so than any other id game, it really feels to me like users will be able to easily modify the characters specifically.

Interesting stuff: they are officially going with class-based characters in Q3:A. Expect light, medium, and heavy classes. I hope they don't go crazy with the heavy class...in Starsiege: Tribes, the heavy armor makes you move like a tank. Which is fine, I guess if the levels are small, but with those six mile long levels, it can be a major pain in the tuchus.

Word balloons: yeap. When you talk, you'll get a word balloon. It doesn't have what you're saying, it's a pointer to show that you're at the console. It's got a smiley face and bullet holes...cool stuff. :)

(Continued on Next Page)

 

 

Credits: This article is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and totally not cool.