February 28, 2012

Tech part 2

Complaint Department
Tablets, I love tablets, yet I hate these so called "tablets" they're touting these days. A good wacom tablet you can use a pen and draw things, great for photoshop and all kinds of things. One problem with some such related tablets is back to the Absolute vs Relative post in which it doesn't matter what you do the position on the pad is relative to the location on screen and so you have to adapt. I would much rather have the option to make it a higher sensitivity in movement and make it relative to the mouse, so this way I could drag down low and have the mouse move down, then go up top and keep dragging down from where the pointer just was instead of having it jump to the top of the screen.

Now the other tablets that everybody are going wild for are these essentially mini computers with touchscreens. I can't hook them up to the computer and use any of their features, which would be very nice. I would love to hook it up and display my screen on the tablet, zoom in and draw a bit using my hand or other tool like the digital drawing pens I already have. I'd also like to be able to use other items available on these tablets such as the video / camera, mic, and in some cases call features. I'm a bit of a fan of the tablet that works perfectly with the cell phone and has an attachable keyboard, just a nifty little bugger. I am aware that with enough work some if not most of this is possible, and it could be argued that I could just use the tablet for these things themselves and bypass my actual computer but I like to do things my way. For example I wouldn't mind using them as input devices for recording in my favorite programs instead of using built in recording features and apps and then trying to work with the file afterward. Back to effort though I'd rather not have to work too hard to do this, I'd like things a bit simpler because logically I'd like to do it more than once if it works out to my satisfaction.

Side note 
the tight corridors and inside houses etc in silent hill used absolute camera positions, you could tell the camera never moved or only moved slightly by somewhat targeting the player.

Wishful Thinking
I know it may sound a little silly, but it would be nice to have an engine made for kids, early designers, just something to make very basic games with and get children into the idea. They could draw an object, or a circle for example and then manipulate it from a properties standpoint. Define it as an object, a player, a NPC, an enemy, a zone or target, or a list of other things. Give it emitters under conditions, mark it as a spawn location, other similar things. You could argue the halo forge is just that, but it's a little too simple and doesn't allow for new content just excellent manipulation of existing content.

Game Update
So somewhere in the last update I appear to have altered something a little wrong. I'm having an issue with the auto allocation system, stats aren't updating with the new allocated units until you're in the pause menu where you would normally allocate. So once I track that down I'll have a new build but it looks like it might take a bit more than a day to do that and implement the other updates / tweaks so I handed them an older build and told them to find new things until I get this next build up.

February 27, 2012

New Layout

I finally decided to put in a little work on the blog, do you like the new layout? I might propagate it to the philosophy blog at least in part. I'm likely to work on it quite a bit more in the near future.
I might even put up a donation box to see who might want to donate. This way I can release the game as a freebie by functioning on donations and bypass paying out everything I earn to everyone else.

If there's any feature requests you would like on the blog let me know. If there's something wrong with the layout speak up. What do you like most and least about the new setup?

February 25, 2012

It's the Final Countdown

I can't stop thinking of that song when I look at pics of the LHC ( large hadron collider )
Though I have absolutely no fear of it ending the world, somehow it just fits
that aside it's by not means the actual final countdown to anything, but I am hoping to be into early alpha / beta play by the end of this year on my main title
Hopefully in 6 months, but again christmas is my actual expectancy
While I do occasionally switch my volunteer testers from the mini game to the main game it's always for a very specific test and so far while technically working it's astounding how much work has to be done, and what I do have done is pretty much only local network, actual network hasn't even been tested yet so again lots and lots of work

The reason I'm telling you this is I'm taking applications for more testers. While I'm not putting up a formal application process here yet I may in the future. In the mean time I'm interesting in finding out if any of you would be interested in assisting me in this endeavor. The position pays nothing in terms of money, I may include you on the list of testers in the credits if you want to be included, and you'll have to be good at explaining what's wrong when something comes up which means a good vocabulary is a must. Technical knowledge and programming skills are a bonus.

So with that in mind, tell me why you deserve to be a tester, why you want to be a tester, and why I should pick you over the others. Granted there are many testers that will be needed yet I still like to hear the answers. List any relevant information or skills that will make you useful to have on the team, and what you love most about the idea of the game based on what you've read thus far.

February 23, 2012

Problems are Fun!

I love it when I find a glitch or error, something definitively wrong in some way. I'm not being sarcastic or funny, I actually get a sense of personal satisfaction from solving problems. The bigger the headache you're getting from something the more it excites me to take on the challenge. Which is why I always say that problems are fun.

That in mind what I'm currently dealing with isn't quite a traditional problem, just a lack of forethought. One tester found an almost game ruining strategical oversight. Apparently because my system for releasing bosses is based on the items (souls?) you've collected, and if you chill in one area and get a ton of kills in advance, while you may not get extra keys you do still get these pick ups. You can then proceed into the next level and unlock all the bosses at once, use an overpowered spell to kill them all, and move right along, rinse and repeat.

Right now I'm playing with several solutions, for starters instead of letting you choose when to release a boss it's now immediate with no choice which honestly I'd planned from the start but received some complaints and after talking with them about what specifically they didn't like about it we've now managed a solution I think they'll find quite satisfactory. The second is to have a tracker for each floor of how many you killed on that floor so the doors don't automatically unlock based on that, the number was previously incremental and now it's more of a slightly fixed number altered by the floor number variable (non-multiplicative) and they're happy about the idea of seeing how well they did on each floor though I'll have actual results tomorrow of how much they like it. I've also added a behind the scenes timer tracker that shows after you game over how long you took on each floor. I'm also dumping that info to see how the game progresses from floor to floor to make sure the variables are balanced right, because if everyone consistently dies on the same floor then obviously I've done something wrong.

I also added a little spice by picking bosses at random, there were previously 12 bosses alternating a set to each floor, now it just picks one for each cage with fixed master boss levels every 10 floors in which you encounter 4 of the same boss and a 5th super powered version of that boss, though to my knowledge none of the players have made it to the 120th floor yet without that slight cheat or whatever you'd call it.

I'm doing other minor tweaks to make it easier for them to get that far and thinking about making an actual final level. The final level however will be beyond nintendo hard, I'll make it level 1,000 and have it include every single mega boss, and enemy you've killed that far along with a final gatekeeper with an ungodly health bar, just so you'll have hope that I can crush.

Though not to be in direct defiance of occams razor as it pertains to entertainment (a bit of a stretch I know) I'm also thinking about overstepping the apparent simplicity of my current auto-allocation system available to the player and implementing a more sophisticated system of balancing regen rates, accelerated regen rate, mana tank max storage per rank and overall, along with spell power and related in a more calibrated methodology. Essentially the idea is that you can invest points (again thinking I might just call them souls) into categories and each category will have a graphed curve you can view to see how powerful the spell is, how long it takes to charge / cast (for power spells not streams) and mana cost, and any other variables and based on how you invest determines how the curve changes to reflect these stats. For example you might want a simple power spell to charge really quickly so you'd invest in its early stage mostly, but if you charge it into its second or third stages it means you really want more power so you'd invest in that area for that stage, and perhaps you instead want to cast a standard power spell really cheaply so you'd invest there, and while if you invest enough all the stats can improve you'll likely suffer in other areas for it.

This principal also applies to your actual mana regen, the max mana per tank by rank in which you effectively have 3 mana tanks and each of their regens are based on the investments in them, and you can invest in how potent the magic in them is because they all basically boil down to a value of the first tank after all the math is processed. Right now they're set up so that a single point of mana from the second tank is worth several mana points, which when you use mana from that tank your spells by default charge quicker, are more powerful, etc.

 I can tell you right now I will not be letting you cast different spell types together, and even lasting spells like the lava do not interact with other spells and I won't be programming them to either. That is just beyond my current skill and wouldn't really make a huge difference in players. I'm still considering screens for you, I'm just still playing with the HUD, if any of you are familiar with UDK and unrealscript just let me know and we'll collab a bit so you can help me get it displaying right. Right now I'm working on getting the "crosshair" or otherwise known as reticle to be based on a variable which is the current range of the spell whether you're doing an area effect spell, a target cone, or a straight stream/beam. I can manage it slightly by state but nowhere near where I want it at.

I should save some more for another post.... Say something about all this in the comments so I know you exist please.

February 20, 2012

Combat Progression

(in relation to the full game)
One game mode I have is like tug of war infection
essentially both sides are out to kill the entire enemy team, one killed a player changes sides to kill his old team mates, but of course if they kill him he switches sides again, so you basically have to kill everyone at once, and with the large number of players I have that can take a while and is actually quite fun
Another mode is a kind of juggernaut mode that is more of a team effort type game in which if you don't have total cooperation and good leadership you'll fail, every single player in the game has to shoot the juggernaut at least once or he can't die, it's a smaller game type mode with only 16 total players, the juggernaut is all powerful and deadly, he's actually one of the main characters from the storyline of the game so it'll make sense in multiplayer when you face him as to why he's all powerful
essentially he has a really large life tank, is crazy fast, nearly a one hit killer every time, and if you let him get away he'll regenerate quite nicely, fortunately for you after every player has shot him he has a variable that kicks in which determines how much damage he takes each time he's hurt and every time he's hurt it goes up, it's kind of like a super smash bros thing
basically the more you hurt him the more you can hurt him and the quicker he can be hurt
eventually when he starts getting shot he'll be taking too much damage to just be standing out in the open and taking it
the players are generally well equipped with heavy weapons and explosives but even that won't save them if they don't know how to use them like a team

another juggernaut mode is the more classic you kill you become scenario, so there's a lot of classics actually that are in here, TDM, CTF, HQ, KOTH, FFA, etc though I'll admit I'm really on the fences about including FFA when this is a highly team based game

The entire multiplayer evolves by rank from a COD Hardcore to a more halo approach, in the early rank only one or two bullets will kill you but towards later ranks as weapons and tech advance you actually get plasma shields and kinetic barriers and other forms of protection that lead you to living much longer lives usually and a gun fight might go from a couple seconds to nearly a minute
Additionally there's all the combat boosters each player has access to and in a couple rare cases so far I've actually seen two players constantly shooting at eachother for nearly two minutes and after running out of ammo they basically got into a fist fight rolling around and punching etc because they were both basically juggernauts
which is something I should've mentioned sooner, that you can fist fight other players, it's not quite fight night or DOA / Virtua Fighter (pick your 3d poison) but it's a little better than mirrors edge which wasn't half bad

There's choke holds, neck snaps, torturing for information, assassination, and various other nifty combat techniques which you'll get to experience

That should satisfy you for a couple more days

February 18, 2012

Stat Tracking

SOoo yeah... stats, we all love to know our K/D and W/L but what else do you really like to know? Accuracy as we currently rate it is extremely unreliable therefore I'll have no part in tracking how many shots you've fired and whether or not they were anywhere near your enemy much less hit it. I do however like to track kills and deaths in relation to weapons to determine your average effectiveness with a weapon and its attachments which is no small feat as I am now aware of.

Side note, I hate being restricted on weapon attachments, in my game if you could logically equip an attachment without interfering with another you can put up to 12 on any weapon, though it's unlikely you'd go so far it's not unreasonable to have a forgrip, grenade launcher, laser sight, flashlight, scope, silencer, banana clip maybe with a double / reverse / flip clip filled with hollow points or FMJ's, and a hair trigger or alternate butt / stock, etc point being that there's no reason you can't trick out your gun then give it a paint job

Right now aside from all the in game normal stats used for your character and their level I also track an additional 30 stat types relating to your combat effectiveness which I then in turn use to give you an effective combat rating so other players might better gauge your skill instead of relying on levels
You also have a team rating based on peer review and commendations from squad leaders or inverse in which you've been punished for disobeying, though if you were punished by a squad leader with a bad rating or was then mutinied against your punishment will be reduced or eliminated so it won't be held against you, this helps people know you're a real team player

I might not seem like I know what I'm doing at times, but when it boils down I know what I'm doing and I like to think I'm good at it even if I'm not good at talking about it I've always thought showing is much better than telling and prefer to do so as often as possible
For a number of reasons I'm not yet ready to actually show you though just yet
so just fill in things you like in the comments and let me know what you really want to make sure I track in game and I'll be sure to post if I've done it or had plans to do it or have decided to do it because of your comment

February 16, 2012


First I'd like to mention I finally got a clue and turned off captcha, if it doesn't work please say so because I went into old interface to make sure it was off

Now for the meat of this short story, I've not done a single thing of particular interest in the last couple days, I've merely been tweaking and balancing and polishing in general, finally got my lava stream spell to stick and survive for a little while in addition to making it look smoother more lava like and use less processing power allowing you to use it more with more enemies on screen before any drop in frames

right now I've maxed my system to about 20,000 enemies before things start to slow down
in order to do that though I of course had to essentially turn on god mode by disabling death for touching enemies and erecting a barrier around the player that keeps enemies away so they don't just horde you in a way you can't kill them
For your comments because I can't find an easy poll option I'd like to know if you'd like to have a god mode option in the final release or if you think it's too tempting to use that you'll give in and the game will be destroyed for you
of course if I were to include it I would disable leaderboard tracking that I haven't even implemented yet, though I do have a personal best high score table

What stats would you want tracked anyway? I for one was never a fan of accuracy because I've heard of a thing called cover fire, in addition to the fact it's always based on hit and miss not where they were hit or how close they were to being hit etc
keep in mind I'm only discussing stat tracking for the mini game right now, the main game I have a system setup already and it was a big enough pain I'm not likely to change it, I'll tell you more about it in my next post
anyway for now I was thinking of tracking the deepest floor you've made it to which I've already implemented, and was going to add bosses killed, because # of other enemies killed even by type would be a ridiculous number after one or two hours of play, and it wouldn't be hard to add a real scoring system to the game in which I could add tracking to though right now I don't have that
and perhaps a favorite spell type
essentially there's the fire based spells, nature / earth based spells, and manipulation spells which help you or hinder your enemies or both such as slow or poison, though I'm thinking of adding one more to really round things out but I can't make up my mind which is focused on other things to begin with
basically water and air wouldn't make much sense and wouldn't be very versatile so I'm open to suggestions

February 14, 2012

Crack Your Neck

Crack your neck like a badass (BA) and put on some red hot chili peppers cause you've got more testosterone than Clint Eastwood and Duke Nukem put together and you're about to open a platoon of marines sized can of whoopass on these little dots all over your screen.

That was the comment I gave to my testers today for the mini game I've been working at. Not to be confused with my main game this is a fairly simple top down shooter style game. To overly simplify the more you kill the more that spawn, everything you kill drops an item, that item you can use to make you more powerful in respect to a couple of categories and sub types, your ability to shoot is based on a kind of energy / mana bar / regen rate, there are bosses, bosses drop keys to the next level, the next level is like this level only harder, there's an unlimited number of levels, and an unlimited number of enemies, you kill X# of enemies to gain a boos door key to unlock the boss, upon killing the boss he simply respawns and you do it all over again, by the time you get all the keys (one from each boss) you'll probably have killed each boss several times.

The number of enemies spawned at first and growth rate are determined by level as are the number of things they drop / more accurately the power of the one thing they drop. You have multiple methods of dealing with them that I'll save until the game is actually ready for public tests which I will likely share with you. So go about your day like a BA for today and see where it gets you, be alpha and you won't regret it.

February 12, 2012

Absolute VS Relative

Many game objects are placed in the world in one of two ways, absolute and relative. An object placed absolutely is in a fixed location and generally doesn't move unless scripted to do so and will stay there regardless of the player. An object placed relative is always a matter of relative to what. Often relative objects are relative to the player, though some may be relative to NPC's or other objects in motion.

The HUD is always an interesting question. Depending on your method and argument you can say the hud is absolute though it's generally relative, in cases where no hud really exists such as dead space it's not so clear. The health meter in that case is absolute on the player but the whole player is relative to the objectives which are absolute, meanwhile the inventory hologram is relative to the player. Sometimes the HUD is absolute on the camera other times it's relative to the camera view. Neither makes a big difference in relation to this but with other objects it can make a world of a difference. Adjusting to player skill is always a difficult process and it's important when designing these adjustments to understand relative and absolute positioning and variables.

Often when rpg's scale their enemies it's simply relative to player stat variables to equally adjust the enemy stats. However some games simply choose to have absolute values for an enemy which may make it impossible to defeat if the player hasn't prepared accordingly or extremely easy if the player was supposed to have encountered the enemy a long time ago.

This really isn't going anywhere, just good tip to know if you're making a game to keep it in mind, or it'll crush you. and I probably explained part of it wrong, but I'm also still recovering from being drugged, still a little loopy so.... yeah.

February 10, 2012

Future console OS.

I remember when the 360 first came out how I thought the interface was just so awesome with the blades and such. I immediately programmed a windows shell to emulate it and used it for the longest time even after the NXE update simply because I still believed it was better.

I still believe that some interfaces on the consoles are BA and should be available on regular OS'. Today though I had a genius idea while working on my linux system. Aside from the fact I think every programmer should make their own OS at some point I find it a personal sense of entertainment and satisfaction to do so. The idea that came to me is why not make a game OS that isn't hardware dependent like the consoles. The consoles are a great step forward and allow developers to have a stable platform for testing and such and all these other great benefits which is why they're not going away anytime soon if ever. However there's not any particular reason I could think of that we couldn't have an OS dedicated for gaming. I'd have a USB around to load up and boot from then put games on other USBs in a format only recognized by the game OS which would likely be small enough to fit on the USB with the game in case someone didn't have it and simply boot from that. I'd say it's not that bad of an idea...

Moving forward I would need ideas for what such an OS should include and am open to ideas. I'm thinking something like a second life or PSHome experience for the majority of it all and your character gets loaded into every game for that OS so you're actually playing yourself in an rpg or shooter or whatever you happen to be playing, even if it's not all the time you'd be in there. Of course this would need an extremely advanced voice emulation system for your character to verbalize his script believably but this is fantasy talk so I can put in whatever I want really. Anyway so browsing the net and other functions would load fairly normally other than a startup animation and I'd like everything to be as seamless as possible. Various world locations would have grounded links to web pages to get info quickly and easily and would be displayed in the games instead of launching a separate app to try and quickly grab a small amount of info. This would be things like tips on how to beat a boss character or hidden item locations and easter eggs or info on a new weapon or pick up that hadn't been in the game before.

Ideally this experience would function as all various game types to begin with and players would simply build games using the available resources and scripts, think of it as a running engine that you can load scripts in and out of and make changes to while it's going without re-compiling. So at any time you could access a set of character features and profiles set up for any game type at any time combining a free runner with a shooter with a platform puzzle in a short matter of steps as fluidly as possible. You'd be able to build and destroy the world in a similar fashion of not being constrained to an area but simply being able to expand however you want. I'm thinking more along the lines of a vexel (voxel?) based system but the cubes are instead much much smaller and can be dynamically grouped as necessary with various properties that can be set to them for the world while players aren't so rigid but more curve like and smooth and flexible.

The example above is actually something I've already tested in a "demo room" I've set up for various scenarios, it's like a test area to try out a feature without launching the whole game. I've set it up so the character I'm playing can run, jump, slide, roll, side step, crouch, crouch while running so either upright or crouched running, jump off a wall, grab a ledge, move along the ledge or climb up, kick while sliding, turn while wall running which is also an option, 180 jump while wall running or simply wall run to a jump upward to grab a ledge for example, kick while doing any of that, and many other combinations of these all with just one button based on context of being pushed, held, states of while currently doing, or in relation to location. Instead of jumping at a wall you'll run up it for example, and if you're pushing up you'll jump up and try to grab where as if you push down you'll 180 jump away from the wall which wile you're landing or running you can combo into a slide or roll by tapping or holding the button. Meanwhile with all this going on for one button you've got all the other buttons for shooting, grenades, melee, aiming, reloading, swapping weapons, and any other number of functions. I make it sound like it's overly complex but I can assure you it's not, rather it's extremely intuitive and the whole system is extremely easy to pick up and play but versatile enough that it can take a long time to master which will keep you playing and discovering new tactics for a long time to come. One of the scenes in the game requires you to have mastered some of these techniques to rescue an injured player while running through a collapsing building which is free form and not scripted in terms of making the run, the building collapse is specially scripted but that's about it, and for the players sake this isn't until the later part of the game.

February 08, 2012

Cost of doing business

How can I afford this is a common question. The simple truth is I don't and can't. I find whatever volunteers I can and outsource to interns as much as I can. I'll frequently setup shop in a dorm and say I'm looking for testers "who wants to be the first to play an unreleased game" and they come running. Here's a simple run down of what it would cost me to run my business for one year. Say I hire 40 workers at 10$ an hour for one year of work not including benefits, insurance, vacation, etc, it would cost me roughly 850k after I account for slight variations in pay, as high as 1.3Mil if I pay well for those that really deserve or earn it. This doesn't include utilities for a building I'd rent, lease, or own which I also haven't accounted for yet. Then there's all the computers (hardware only) which I'd save money on by assembling myself and using cheap cases and monitors, periphs and accessories, and using as much open source as I can, such as linux based systems, gimp, etc. Then there's whatever I'd owe for licensing an engine and the publishers will take their cut unless I self publish and I obviously don't have the resources to have my own engine so there's no avoiding that. The electric to run all the electronics and keep the place cooled from all the heat they produce would likely be in the thousands if not tens of thousands every month depending on how high grade hardware I use.

This is why I generally pay by project if I can't get it done for free. Paying by project I can say 50$ for 5 concepts of a character with 3 angles each and someone will fill it even if it's not the greatest quality I can at least get something I can work with. Or I can offer up a job for a 3d model based on a concept work for a cost and get that filled in a similar fashion, might not be great but I could refine it myself if need be.

How do these businesses stay in business then you ask? Pick a standard game off the shelf and look at the price and think how many people bought it. Lets say something smaller like the darkness published by south peak games. In this case it's still a 60$ game brand new. If only 20,000 copies are sold they've broke even if not turned a profit. Granted it's a pretty good game but it's no MW3, GOW3, BF3, Halo, or other godlike franchise, but even so if I recall correctly it sold over a million units. Which means the game itself made probably upwards of $60mil not including used game sales and similar. But I'll go further down the line and pick something that didn't necessarily sell well. The cheesecake factor is a powerful thing, aka fan service, you can literally sell a game on nothing as long as it looks good. Enter Onechanbara bikini samurai squad, this game received less than favorable reviews, and didn't sell that well at a reduced cost of about 40$ even still I can almost guarantee you they sold more than 40,000 copies netting 1.6mil in the process. So while the larger companies likely have much larger bills and a larger pay roll they also tend to make games quicker so they don't have to pay for a year they have to worry about 3 to 6 months at a time cutting their operational cost per game to a much lower cost range. If I were to work on a similar system of only needing workers for 3 months to do one game 200k to turn around and make even 1mil off of 15 to 20 thousand copies I'd be in good shape even if I only got half of that after the vultures take their cut. The vultures in this case being engine and publishing costs among any other costs. So obviously now that we look at the bottom tier it's only fair we look at top tier for a number of reasons. The current record holder is MW3 for largest grossing sales ever. COD has broken that record more or less every year since modern warfare 1. Day one sales upwards of $400Mil, over $700Mil in first week, and upwards of One Billion Dollars in just over two weeks. This means that it had already broken every entertainment record EVER and the month is only half over. Considering there's probably thousands of workers on that game taking two years and lets be generous and say everyone working on it earned 50$ an hour with three thousand workers. Then the game cost 600 million dollars to make if not more and they in turn made probably twice that. If I told you that for every dollar you gave me I would in turn give you 2 dollars wouldn't you invest with me? I bet you would. Especially if I could prove it with a track record that says that not only have I done it before several times but I'm likely to make even more this next time. Keep in mind I'm being extremely generous in this case. It's likely most of the people earned half that or less and didn't work the full two years and that's if there even was 3,000 people which there might have only been 1k.  This is also before DLC and Elite memberships and probably not including the extras paid for Hardened and Veteran copies of the game and the dlc will extend over the next 9 months which will bring in lots of cash and probably push sales of elite to the consumers looking to save cash and get more bang for the buck. Put together I'd go so far as to say they may make two billion by the time the next COD hits this holiday season if they haven't already. If you want the minimalist view, they spent absolutely no less than $8mil it's extremely unlikely they spent a penny less than that, which means if they did the lowest possible cost to make it then they turned around and made 125 times their investment which is a good day for anyone. This is the single greatest reason video games will NEVER GO AWAY. In a capitalist economy they're simply the single most profitable source of entertainment and sales with advancing tech, constant cost reductions and short shelf life requiring replacement every 4 to 10 years with quick development cycles and huge profit margins they may be the single best product ever created and their versatility guarantees we'll never grow tired of them. Add that all to the supposed research that claims the chemicals released in the brain while playing games are very similar to those released during sex only much stronger and you've got yourself a serious addiction potential. Then more or less everything else that supports improvements in eye sight, visual color range, multi tasking, hand eye coordination, keeping track of multiple objects, reaction times, and almost every other thing they've thought of and you've got a great marketing package that can be applied to a lot of products and more specifically to the exercise related games that are literally good for you and can easily be proven. When all is said and done video games stand on top of their vanquished foes as the king of the entertainment mountain one of the great pillars of the capitalist economy.

If there are any venture capitalists reading this please speak up so I can give you a real pitch for my specific game and business plan so I can really get up and running.

With that having been said money isn't the real cost of doing business, it's a question of your personal relationships, sleep, and sanity. I'd probably have enough to run my business by now if I'd had a dollar for every relationship broken by working long hours, every time someone told me they were tired from working double and triple shifts, or people that simply stopped making sense because they'd lost their mind due to the deprivation and isolation associated with the kind of work that used to be put in by developers which thankfully doesn't happen much anymore. I can assure you that you can't possibly understand until you've worked a 110 hour work week. Sleeping at your computer a few hours at a time never going home or showering and hardly eating other than when you're starving. Now a days we tend to get real good sleep, though it's still common to see beds at work, and we don't work crazy hours though they're still generally free form within reason. We've also made other reforms like grouping people together and taking down a lot of the high cubicles in favor of open work areas so now you're around 4 to 5 people in close proximity and can see to the other side of the office. This leads to eating well, getting showers more often, and maintaining personal relationships better. Though of course what we eat still tends to be junk food but we're seeing more and more professional chefs around to cook meals for us and take orders which is very nice.

February 06, 2012

For the dude with the manly name.

I feel the need to explain how this is all "technically" possible with current tech. I'll preface by telling you that you would need a relatively newer computer but if you can run BF3 at full specs then you'll at least be able to run mine at low end full 32fps consistently. I've worked diligently to maintain that number even under the most brutal explosions and building collapses.

A lot of this comes from omission in which simply if you're not looking at it then it's hidden and if it's in motion and hidden it's still being processed but much quicker due to not needing to be rendered. Objects that are naturally hidden other than buildings are simply removed until you're in proximity, more specifically they're never there to begin with until you are and go away when you're not around. When a building collapses they're removed unless you're in there with them in which case they're treated specially to avoid excessive computation from all that bouncing around you know they'd do.

After a building collapse I cheat a little and use a lot of dust to hide things to increase processing speeds by removing rendering of the now almost impossible to see building, but I assure you I'm not swapping things out in that dust, all the buildings dynamically fall and damage other buildings which means I couldn't do that if I wanted. The entire building is set up in a destructible fashion but is also set in chunks that are responsible for large sections breaking away which can be manipulated to save valuable processing cycles. Again by using instancing I generally save a lot of processing by only having to change location and rotation values which is also easier to process in this destruction process.

I take heavy advantage of RAM when it's available, you'll need no less than 4GB to run this and if at all possible I'd honestly suggest up to 16GB though 8 should suffice to run smoothly at full settings. I basically load as much of the game into ram as I can to significantly increase data rate to feed things to the processor instead of waiting on the hard drive to respond for info requests. By more or less loading the entire game into RAM you'll almost never see a loading screen after the first and if you do it'll be short in addition to never having to deal with chugging frames.

It's sad that the Ageia PhysX card went away / got taken over because a dedicated PPU would make my job much easier. Granted NVidia and ATI/AMD now use graphics cards with thier linking systems respectively SLI and CrossFire to use a graphics card as a PPU however in my experience at the time when PhysX came around it stomped out graphics cards trying to do its job and continued to do so even after NVidia took over for quite some time. Now there's no competition it's a worthless card but what if it had continued down its path as a stand alone? I would love to see what it would have become because almost any game dev could use that to make a game like mine and never worry about a lot of these things. I will recommend that you have a secondary graphics card set up for physics for my game as I will be taking advantage of it, however I will also state that it won't be necessary it just makes things a little smoother and accurate.

A lot of my physics is almost a complete cheat. While I do in deed have a full physics system programmed to run so far it's hard to run it with low settings and a single GPU and still maintain frames so I had to find an alternative to support it. On high settings you'll get the real physics running and it'll definitely show. On low settings I've essentially created smaller variables with less dependents and don't require absolute outputs instead there's a lot of guess work involved. A sniping scenario for example, mid to long range in urban area, there's streets with wind blowing in a relatively consistent direction but at different speeds and other variables. In the full physics settings you'd actually calculate each variable to determine exactly where to shoot. In the low end settings you end up grouping all these variables and getting one relative value of offset and get a vague idea of where the bullet should go and that's where it lands. By precisely calculating the bullet let's say it hits the mark dead on after you've accounted for everything, but then you switch settings and none of the variables have changed one bit, now you shoot again and instead of hitting the mark dead on you're now nearly 6 inches off mark. It might not seem like it makes a difference in vague talk but I'm sure that example makes it clear, on low settings the computer just guesses a random area of where the bullets lands and if you make that shot 100 times you'll probably never hit the same spot twice, where as with full settings so long as nothing changes you'll hit that same spot every time.

The buildings collapse isn't actually determined by normal physics running in the game instead it works on an architectural algorithm to determine stability based on remaining structural supports and when it's determined unstable it collapses based on that information. To save from constantly processing this info it's only calculated whenever a structural support is damaged there by saving a lot of processing. This is primarily why the building is separated into chunks because each chunk depends on a specific support/s and if they've become destroyed part of the building may collapse while the rest remains intact.

Truly the most intensive thing in the game are explosions and boy are there a lot of them. I've tried and tried to reduce the time it takes to calculate everything in an explosion and I've met with minor successes yielding enormous results but I can go further and I know it. Right now the game can handle roughly 30 explosions simultaneously in and around each other in which has been included with physics programming to group any overlapping explosions and cut processing on that. On lower settings I've also removed the shockwave effect other than determining it's intensity and distance to shatter windows but other than that the rest of the effects have been removed on low settings. On higher settings the player can get knocked over or suffer various effects from simply being to close to an explosion and surviving. This also effects bullet physics for all players which thankfully doesn't require much processing to handle. The majority of explosions are all player controlled so I've been working heavily on the grenades and c4 etc to try and preprocess as much as I can and have various computers in the same network all process the data in parts and simply relay all the parts around but doing so consistently had been proving difficult so I'm rethinking that right now trying to find a suitable alternative. I haven't been successful in transmitting each players explosion around and simply having each computer process whatever explosion it's responsible for then simply sending the renders around because it only works when there's just one explosion and doesn't account for all other explosions in the same area. Right now basically every player has to process all the info by themselves. In persistent world this isn't a problem because it's handled by the various servers which all process it all at once and tell every player whats up. So when it comes down to it I need to find a more efficient method of creating and calculating explosions which right now I'd say I've got half complete. Basically the explosion is just an animation and the rest is a matter of behind the scenes work based on it's output radius for the various stages of the explosion. What I need to make better is reactions to this information, reduce the number of times anything gets calculated in relation to a given explosion so that way it doesn't get done several dozen times right away, instead it'll only be calculated once and force it to go through a specific process and time before it can be allowed to be recalculated again and if I do it right then I should be able to increase my number of simultaneous explosions in the same area to at least 100 if not closer to 1,000 which should suffice for any scenario.

Last but not least is just an addendum to structural design. Inside every building is a series of triggers to play around with lights, and various other things linked to an object that if damaged cuts "power" to the building preventing lights, and other things and this is important because it's not alone. I also have "gas lines" which when shot simply output a particle stream of fire which can damage the player etc among other things you'd expect to find in a building. What does this matter you say? I'm completely removing it from multiplayer because it's a great source of frustration and wanted to see if you would miss it in campaign or if I should work diligently and dedicate resources to making it work in multiplayer. Not many of you to say much but I'll still take it under consideration anyway. Chances are I'm taking it out all together, however I may just put it in a subsequent future game if it's something you'd think you'd want.

February 04, 2012

Go Big or Go Home.

While not necessarily my favorite saying I've always had an attraction to it. The primary concept is that nothing is worth doing only have way you should go all out every time and since you're going that far why not try to go even bigger and better than you'd planned. While you might think 640 player combat sounds insane now I'd like to remind you that it's more than likely that it will be possible in the next 10 years. This could likely mean that either a ps4 which hopefully won't be for at least another 3 to 4 years, or a ps5 (assuming they stick with the name scheme) would likely support such a network. This is primarily because of our estimated rate of expansion in networking tech and availability. Rendering all this would likely be very very easy by the time the networks can handle it assuming it's not already easy to render something like that considering what I've seen in some tech demos. In support of my claim I would like to point to a certain company however I'm not entirely sure their networking system actually supports all the players I'm thinking of in close proximity though I do believe it does I haven't had the opportunity to actually test it therefore I'll refrain from such evidence for now. Instead I'll think about some of the other minor "BIG" things.

For example I'll talk more about persistent world. While I originally set out to make a dynamically fracturing script system for all objects in the game world I found it to computationally strenuous and had to abandon the idea until tech could handle it or I find a more efficient method. I hadn't heard of voxel systems at this point or some of the interesting tech companies propelling it or I might have seriously considered it as an alternative. At this point I'd moved on to instancing which is the process of essentially reusing an object and simply changing it's locational and rotation values which saves tremendous amounts of resources if you can reuse an object enough. The instance generally uses the same info already processed by the system and therefore very little needs to be computed to reuse it. Taking advantage of this I found a method to successfully recycle objects particularly fractured objects that would all be destructible separate from each other so that destroying the original didn't destroy instances of it and vice versa. This is one reason why I can afford a 100% destructible world without worry of frames per second. The real secret to it however is all in the physics system which has been by far the most entertaining and frustrating part of the process. You'll find in a lot of initial systems that things don't like to fall because they have no reason to in a computer world. I've managed to implement a system that will make a building fall if it's not structurally sound anymore. I've also managed to incorporate this with other physics in the game to get a more accurate picture of how this building would collapse and how it's effected by gun fire and explosives. Separate from architectural physics I have an entirely different sub system for gun physics to determine velocity, bullet drop, wind and humidity variables, etc. The primary system used to determine damage dealt to a player is based on bullet velocity in a generally scalar form while most sniper rifles use a vector based system for more accuracy at range, and by that I mean realistic accuracy not processing accuracy. For more information I suggest a wiki page on the subject to understand it more thoroughly. To give you a vague outline you have a given bullet with a given mass that is accelerated to a given point which then begins to decrease over time until it hits an object in which it then is reduced by an amount determined by the impact angle and material accounting for penetration if the speed is not reduced to zero. With a player damage is determined by the force of the impact where as with buildings and environmental objects a special calculation method is required to accurately allow the bullet to pass through a surface if it passes through at all and may adjust the angle of the bullet and its speed though not necessarily if for example you're shooting through a paper door. If not for my system, shooting a paper door would stop the bullet instead of allowing it to pass through. Upon receiving an impact the object is then fractured based on various variables to determine how much of the object chips off or is destroyed. All objects have a given set of fractures already in predetermined shapes and sizes so this is a matter really of figuring out which "chunk" is removed.

The reason things do not reset is the server is kept running as is even if no players are connected and they're simply joining a game in session that only ends when I reset the server. So you'll again start with a clean map and just keep destroying it brick by brick until nothing remains, and among all that rubble you'll fine a lot of great combat and sniping holes and hiding spots in general which will be played almost entirely differently than when you were still able to go in and around buildings and subway systems. Though again until I can really support a large scale number of players this might be isolated to sections with only mid sized groups of players at a time. Even still it will be quite an epic battle every time. Going back to what I mentioned about squads it's time I break down the specific system. Squad 1 is the objective squad responsible for actually doing things. Squad 2 is the support squad which keeps Squad 1 alive and helps them get to the objectives. Squad 3 is the specialist squad including the only sniper on your team, your medic in the first two ranks or a different class I won't yet reveal in the latter two ranks, your heavy vehicle which is a tank in the first rank and a kind of mech in the latter ranks which gets progressively bigger by rank, in rank 4 it's literally the size of a skyscrapper and still controlled by one player, and last but not least you have your artillery man. The artillery generally doesn't see actual combat but is instead kept busy bombing everything as ordered by the leader of Squad 1 or 2 which share a very similar list of commands. Squad 4 is your vehicle squad consisting of an APC driver and gunner, and an aerial vehicle of some kind and its gunner. In the first rank there's either a hind or apache attack helicopter which carries squad 2 around and they man a machine gun or can repel down and provide additional ground support. In the latter ranks squad 2 tends to parachute down from the artillery controlled ac-130 type plane while the normal pilots are now cruising around in fighter jets defending the ac-130 against enemy jets, attacking the enemy ac-130 or providing bombing runs and other aerial support. If the artillery gun ship is destroyed Squad 2 has an alternative spawn which I also won't disclose just yet. The decision to remove the sniper rifle from the average player was for a great and many reasons but it really came down to a matter of scale. This game is so big I can't afford to ever let it turn into a sniping match and therefore each team only gets one sniper which may choose to chill with artillery in the first couple ranks and be a long range support or be a combat sniper providing support in closer range combat which still might be considered long range or at a distance but is much closer than chilling with artillery on the edge of the map.

I'm open to answering some questions if you have any. In the next post I'll describe leader powers and their ability to reward and punish the squad for listening or not to their orders and the squads ability to punish a bad leader.

February 02, 2012

Know Your Enemy

So there's a fairly large database of enemies to know about in almost all of my currently planned games. That's one thing I've kind of always liked is a swarm of enemies of all different kinds generally lead by one very versatile enemy that's harder to get rid of than the cannon fodder. Today I'd like to remind you of the different categories relating to zombies and outbreaks. This due in part to the almost unrelenting comments on the similarities of certain enemies to zombies in the main title I'm working on.

The classic zombies are literally risen from the dead and essentially immortal. These zombies move at a stupid slow pace and have a hunger for brains, chances are if you can walk at a decent pace you can get away so long as you don't sleep in an area that's easy to get to. The one thing about the dead is they never stop and never sleep so be prepared to wake up surrounded. There's no real method to eliminating these pests other than complete and total annihilation, liquid nitrogen, lava, acid, and maybe fire if you think you can escape an army of fiery walkers.
The Skeleton Army is another classic probably dating further back than most other types. These undead minions usually rely heavily on a necromancer of some kind and are vicious as well as thoroughly prepared for war. Usually they wield a weapon and shield of some kind. They do not bleed or have organs to worry about and nothing gets in the way of their objective. If you're facing down this army you're going to need tactics if you hope to survive. The best way to eliminate an individual is to separate the important bones. Remove the skull and keep the torso away from the extremities and you'll likely not have anything to worry about. However because these skeletons like to travel in packs you'll likely want a giant boulder or cannon to simply blow them to smithereens. However if you're lacking resources and trying to be stealthy the best solution is always to take out the necromancer or summoner because if he's still around your fight will never end.
The more recent Infected type which is most popular right now is quick and nimble. These ferocious and very animalistic hordes tend to love scratching and biting and spreading the infection. They generally seem to have a hate for all things living and will stop it nothing to make you suffer like they do. Unlike other types they can be fairly quiet when they want to and are unbelievably fast. If you're not careful you can easily be surrounded with a quickness and even the slightest misstep could get you infected. The important thing to remember is it only takes a drop of blood entering your system to put you out of commission. This means wearing a face mask at all times making sure to cover your mouth nose and eyes, ears if possible, and wearing gloves and boots to keep anything from getting in your nail beds. If you have any open wounds not from the infected, such as a scratch on a nail while escaping, cover that up and keep it protected. Avoid being outside as much as possible and never go out in the rain or dark. When you bunk for the night make sure there's an escape route and that your enemies are likely to only come from one or two locations. The best methods for survival are living in rural areas with large open lines of sight and living with reliable survivors or partners. The best way to take out these infected is a well known shot to the head or less known destruction (generally through fire) of around 70% of the main body or more. The infected seem to have heightened senses so you're dead wrong if you think you're going to sneak past them so don't even try. When facing more than a small handful your best option is always to run preferably along a route in which you have traps set up to take them out or slow them down as you make your getaway. If running isn't an option I hope you're well prepared to take on an army because after the first couple down the rest of the city will be on to you.

There's a few subcategories of the various zombie categories, more specialist mutations and such that occur however the chances are that if you run in to one of these then you were in the wrong place on purpose and you know what you're doing. Therefore I'm moving on to Survivors. Classically a survivor is anyone with just enough luck to survive the first wave of Z-Day or the zombie outbreak. If you're lucky enough to make it this far congratulations you'll probably live a short life so enjoy what you can when you can.
The more recent survivors are the kind that have either skill or were prepared for something else when this hit. The post apocalypse survival freaks are likely to be the largest number of survivors in this category. They're well prepared will all kinds of guns and ammo, and plenty of food and a well fortified shelter in a highly defensible location with clean drinking water. Likely these locations are in a self sufficient city (SSC) or nearby and would be outside nuclear fallout zones including wind pattern adjustments. There are various maps you can find to tell you where radiation would likely spread if a major city were hit and these guys know them by heart. Be careful when making contact and have something to bring to the table as they're just as likely to kill you as they are to help you, and don't even think of approaching if you have any kind of open wound as their paranoia will guarantee your death.
In the case of skill this is generally your public servants that were trained for extreme situations. Your local swat, fire department and a select few EMT's are going to be in this area. EMT's I'm sorry to tell you that you're among the most likely to get nailed first responding to victims and not knowing what's going to happen until after you're already infected. Police and SWAT however are most likely to survive as they tend to shoot first and ask questions later, if you got a crazy person coming at you either you're going to use your training to subdue them and be safe or shoot them and probably be safe unless you get a little blood splatter in the wrong place.
Also skilled and trained is the military which gets a classification all of its own. These survivors are armored to the teeth, highly skilled and trained for combat with all kinds of resources and an almost endless supply of MRE's which while not particularly tasty will keep you alive for the foreseeable future. When you approach them make sure to make it very clear you're not infected. Drive a car slowly or have a white flag and a sign saying you're not a zombie. If at all possible have a bull horn and use it to tell them on your way that you're not infected. They'll likely order you to stop and probably for your own safety considering land mines and other defenses as well as checking to make sure you can understand them. Do as they say and you'll probably be taken care of. You can expect to get training and you'll be expected to help defend the area which all things considered is not unreasonable at all. Women however should be forewarned that because you're most likely to be infected you're going to be rare and in an area filled with hundreds of men you're going to probably turn out like a ragdoll unless you get in tight with the highest ranking officer. You'll also be used to breeding purposes anyway because they'll be thinking on re-populating as quickly as possible. Sadly that's the trade off with going for better equipped military instead of survival fanatics is you're more likely to be used an abused. Before you rant on me for singling out women I'd like to point out that it's simply a matter of psychology. Women are not only more empathetic they have tighter personal boundaries meaning you're likely to allow people to get physically closer than a man in general. These things together mean you're most likely to get up close and personal with an infected before you realize they're infected and by then it's too late.
Next up are the V.I.P.'s or other high value individuals. These people are too important to die. They're likely well protected and not taking on any survivors. This will be any remnants of government, scientists, and people important for rebuilding after the zombies are dealt with. If you stumble across such a colony your bests bet is to walk away unless you fit in this category they're rather shoot you than strain resources on a janitor or take a chance you're infected or insane.
Which brings us to our next survivors the Insane. These are the people that might be responsible for the outbreak and somehow fit in with the infected living among them as a kind of leader. They're extremely deceptive and appear normal and it's almost impossible to pick them out at first glance. Chances are you won't even know they're insane until it's too late. These tend to be loners that appear to have no resources or skills and it's a miracle they've survived for so long. They might help you at first, they might even keep helping you but they enjoy the massacre and could snap at any second if you realize you've got one in your party your best bet is to rely on them as little as possible and always have them clear rooms first because it's better that they be infected than you, chances are they might even enjoy it.
Next up are the Immune. These survivors have been bitten and scratched and spit on puked on drenched in blood and have come out no worse for the wear. They simply can not be infected and because of that they tend to be in extreme zones. They may be a little insane claiming they were chosen by god or they might be considered V.I.P.'s and think of themselves as entitled. If you're grouped with an immune stick around if you can because they're going to save you in more ways than you can count. Be careful about how easily you're accepted into a VIP colony though as you're first in line to be a lab rat for them to test out "vaccines" on.
Heroes exist everywhere and after Z-Day they'll be among the main survivors. I'm not talking about self sacrificing heroes I'm talking about the sniper that saves you from being infected or the random stranger that helps you when you're surrounded. The heroes will be the people you hear about from other survivors about how they've done something great in fighting the horde. If you've got a hero in your party it's your job to keep them alive at all costs, failing to do so could literally mean the end of the human race.

As for what's in my game I'd say that some things fit in those categories but they're more derivatives and weren't intended to be very zombie like when I started out that's just kind of how they ended up. However my game has a moral implication to mindlessly mowing down the horde that may cause players to think twice about shooting innocent zombies that aren't even trying to hurt you. Of course I do have plenty of rage filled mutated that are like the infected that do try to hurt you but the main type is the depressed which are just mindless slow moving people which simply don't care much about anything and as long as you leave them alone they'll leave you alone. They aren't brain dead you could carry on a conversation with one so killing them means you're killing a regular person on the street just because you can. You'll be viewed as a murderer and a psycho if you just keep going after them. My survivors fall under two categories, the originals which are people that haven't died, and the clones which have died and respawned but haven't mutated like the rest. I have a hero, an insane, and a VIP as well with a kind of swat team you'll be joining for the main part of the game.  I'll just keep the rest to myself for now though, I hope you find this informative and hope you never have to use it in RL.

February 01, 2012

Mental notes.

Message received, you don't want to know about my personal life. Moving on I'll direct your attention to the classic "mental note". I frequently jot down notes in my project logs mostly because I keep them open for just such an occasion. Today however I was thinking on a feature for one game that I'd already pretty much locked down all features I wanted in it. The simple idea was how the MW3 killstreaks even under "support" generally don't do much supporting, and the ballistic vests have to be applied by everyone every time etc. I was thinking on a scenario in which the better an individual does the better equipment the team gets. While the squad leader gets his main abilities he could get additionanl unlocks by having a high performing team. Other things like the ballistic vests could be set up to automatically be applied to everyone when they spawn, although I don't have such a thing in my game and it wouldn't fit, if it were however then that's how I'd have it set up. I have a feature already in the game that could take advantage of this....

But the whole idea of killstreaks just doesn't fit my game. If ever I do a game with killstreaks though I'd definitely remember this. Certain features like that would be early work to make sure they're in good. Vests, extended mags, hollow points, w/e point is that if it's reasonable for a team to have it then it'd be an option. Picking on MW3 specifically for a moment I'm fairly aggravated at the perk setups. In MW2 there was a system and it made sense as to why a given perk was classified as a type 1, 2, or 3, and that's no longer the case. Additionally I still wish I could have something like extreme conditioning or slight of hand with my scavenger perk without using the specialist strike package. Ideally slight of hand should be a weapon perk not a class perk, and things like the attachment perk should be levelable like attachments pro and allow you more attachments at once. Realistically the average soldier would probably have a scope and extended mags for starters if not a different kind of ammo and or a silencer and would carry more than 3 clips of ammo. Any movement towards that reality would make me very happy. There's all kinds of tweaks I'd make but I won't rant, instead my only serious complaint that I have beyond anything else in the game is the gun balancing and selection, rebalance the guns and give us a few new ones (or at least bring back some of the ones in previous games you took out) and I probably would be so happy I'd never even think to complain. Dual fmgs, too powerful, m4 too weak, handguns too weak, sub machine guns in general too powerful, juggernaut dies way too quickly. Which on a side note I might add that the juggernaut armor isn't meant for combat scenarios, they do have a suit of armor that is, why didn't they use that instead of E.O.D.? Why will we never be able to switch firing modes? (single shot, three round, full) Shotguns are a secondary why did you put them back to primary? What's being done about spawn camping? rant rant rant

Back to one of my games, the multiplayer (still heavily under work) is structured into squads, with one squad leader in 2 squads and the other two squads report to one of them. The squads with direct leaders are foot soldiers basically while the other two are specialist and vehicle based squads such as driver and gunners or pilot and co pilot etc (won't reveal other details). Similarities can be drawn to MAG in that manner but that's where it ends. A majority of the gun leveling system is like a hybrid of fallout 3 and FFXIII chrystarium. While I've made the majority of the system, certain aspects still need fine tuning which is why I'll refrain from specifics for now. Basically though you do have stats that generally level up though repetition. The more you reload the quicker you reload, the more you run the faster and further you can run, the more you get shot the less you flinch, etc. There are perks you buy, but they all stick with you and instead of picking classes you can pick characters that you level differently. You can change your weapon loadouts within a character as well however from early tests that generally wasn't a big wanted feature. Originally I had a stock system in mind for the game as a way of earning money which you would then spend on loadouts and you'd earn contracts etc but my testers didn't like it so I removed it. At various points after significant alterations and tweaks I've added it back in and out as the testers like the idea just not the execution. When it's out they say it feels like something is missing, and I've used that to add several features which have helped significantly diminish that demand for more however it still remains. There's no veterancy however there is something distantly similar, in which after you've reached your level cap by playing in a higher rank you can increase your level in the levels below. So a normal character cap of 55 or 65 if reached on every rank of MP might end up with a level 255 at the lowest rank.

The one thing that unfortunately will deter more players than anything else is the fact that I've implemented a mandatory campaign completion to play the highest level of multiplayer. You have to beat a section of the game to unlock a rank, sections are essentially acts and difficulties. The first act is easy and will unlock rank 1. Act 3 is hard and unlocks rank 3. The epilogue is nearly impossible and unlocks the final rank 4 and the persistent world mode but only the upper echelon of players will ever get that far. If you couldn't do mile high on the original modern warfare you'll never beat this. Persistent world I'm thinking about opening up early on like rank 1 instead though to draw a wider range of players. The whole idea of the ranks and campaign link was to weed out complete and total noobs for players looking for a challenge. Persistent world however is as it sounds, you start with the main location of the story and it's a never ending multiplayer deathmatch intended to have minor overarchs such as clan HQ's where a clan can claim territory, and factions which every clan would have to chose a side and they'd claim street sections as you play. Trying to get a significant number of players to make this interesting though has been proving difficult in terms of connectivity and bandwidth. Right now the average game has 32 players, while persistent mode has roughly up to 128 if nobody is doing anything, I wanted to increase this number to something more ambitious like 640. The entire persistent world is all destructible and so you start with a pristine city and over time you see how it gets destroyed and buildings collapse and how warfare evolves on the fly. Right now I'm thinking on isolating sections of the city and having roughly 64 players in a territory at a time and filter it that way so while the whole city is still being destroyed by other players you're only dealing with info relevant to your area.

These are just some of the small features in the game. I'm saving the really big ones for the "BIG" announcement. Suffice to say if your mind was blown by this, it'll likely be liquified and vaporized when you get the full details. And for those of you worrying about guns, so far I've put in a little over 60 working guns, and have plans to implement over 100. And they're not all "modern" weapons, I have plenty of sci-fi futuristic weapons as well I'll tell you in a later post. However I absolutely do not have any "ancient weapons" or old school classics. No thompson or ppsh or model 1887 and I also don't have any swords or crossbows or longbows. I have a couple items that might be considered a sword or bow in the right context however you'd probably call it a lightsaber before you call it a sword, and it's nothing like that either so don't freak out and start calling lucas or think it's a star wars thing because it's not, go play TOR if you want that sort of thing. The GOW torque bow was similar to a futuristic crossbow, and I may have something you could compare to that however I believe you'll find them distinctly different in several key areas. With that in mind I'll leave you to stew on the awesomeness.