Diary of a Game
Alien Breed 2 Part 5
Martyn's ill in bed, Andreas has nearly finished all his work, Rico has been fiddling with a ray-tracing package and Allister is miffed because he didn't get his mug in last month's diary instalment. Yes, it's all par for the course in the crazy lives of the Alien Breed 2 team. You just never know exactly what they'll get up to next...
It's been a very productive month here at Team 17 with a lot of the Alien Breed 2 project coming together very quickly, which is always nice to hear. Here's what the lads and lasses have been up to...
Andreas Tadic (Programming)
After finally forgiving Martyn for letting The One boys get hold hold of that awful old photo of himself from about 1904, Andreas has started pulling together all the different aspects of Alien Breed 2 and the game is now approaching the final stages of development. He's also spent a lot of his time this month polishing all his routines to perfection.
The aliens now move a lot faster, are far more intelligent and are totally bug-free. In the process of programming he's totally rewritten the code from scratch, meaning that there isn't any of the old code from the first Alien Breed left in the game at all. [Suffice to say, Andreas is pretty proud of this.]
On top of that, a whole load of new aliens have also been programmed in, including irritable transparent blobs, shooting spaceturtles [don't ask] and some other very mean b*****ds. [At least that's what Andreas calls them - he's getting very heavily involved with the game now so we have to spend a tot of time trying to calm him down.]
Andreas doesn't want me to give too much away about the different aliens so that, in his own words, "you'll have to buy the game to see what they are all like... he-he-he!" [That's Andreas trying for a job in sales.] What is well worth mentioning is that the aliens will differ more from each other than the ones in the first Alien Breed.
As well as getting the aliens up and stalking, Andreas has been trying to goad the INTEX computer system into life. This will look much better than the first Alien Breed's, as we're using tons of stunning colours, some new copper effects and putting in loads of graphics. Instead of the text used before, we're using an icon control system which will make the menus much easier and faster to handle. This will also give the player an impression of perfection and generate a greater atmosphere. (Andreas is deeply concerned to get the atmosphere and the quality of the game just right - as are we all.)
One other thing Andreas has been furiously working on is the hand map. If you remember the hand map from Alien Breed you'll recall it was a bit limited. The one in AB2 is a lot more sophisticated, allowing you to zoom in and out to three magnifications. This is down to the fact it's drawn using real-time resized graphics rather than just blocks as before. It all gives the player much better control and - that word again - atmosphere.
Over the next few days the computer system should be finished, and after that all there's left to do (apart from a bit of tweaking here and there) is the putting in of the loading pictures, the menu graphics and effects. Almost there now!
Rico Holmes (Graphics)
This has been one of the most productive months for Rico, so much so that he's even managed to write his own bit of blurb about what he's been up to. Saves me a job, if nothing else. Over to you, Rico...
"I've spent most of the last few weeks building the level maps for the game. (Remember last month we told you how we'd finally got the map editor up and running?) Everything is going well as the editor is making this normally tedious job a little less painful.
"Although I've only had the editor for a relatively short period of time I've already managed to put together nine level maps - though there's no time for resting on my laurels as there's still a long way to go yet! The maps I've completed so far are the most complex ones in the game so the rest should be a little easier and faster to do.
"Also completed are all the alien graphics. In the original Alien Breed careful players may have noticed that there are really only two types of alien that differed only slightly from level to level. On AB2 I've spent a lot more time on the alien design and have finally arrived at nine different alien types ranging from squat, hard-shelled lobster-things to robots left by the colonists which can fire an assortment of weapons!
"As a side note I have to mention that Andreas has nearly completed the weapons for the game and BOY are they looking nice. [Rico is mega-impressed as you can tell from this over-the-top endorsement.] I've spent a while doing the graphics and with the new build-up system things are really smoking. You gonna love 'em!
I've spent a while ray-tracing turrets. These turrets look just like normal floor panels - until you walk over them. Then the panels suddenly split (sort of) and the central circular portion flips over to reveal a turret which tracks you and fires at you. They took some time to get exactly right (you can't just stick ray-traced images from Imagine2 or Real3D directly into the game - they have to be cropped, recoloured and centred first) but the end results usually turn out a damn sight better than if you attempted to draw them by hand.
"Also completed are the leisure centre level map and graphics. This is to be the 'find and rescue the scientist' level. Also finished (finally!) is the first level - this is the outdoor scene where the player must locate the entrance to the civilian building. I was quite concerned about getting the right graphic feel for AB2 after having looked back at the first Breed, which I now think looks quite weak graphically and too rushed. Breed 2 now has an opening level with graphics different to any other level in the game.
"Last but not least I've drawn some character pictures. As mentioned in earlier instalments of the diary we now have two additional player characters in the game, an alien (but friendly, all the same) and a war robot. We have the option in the menu of viewing all the characters individually, which gives you a full-screen picture of each along with their statistics (so you can see who's the strongest, whose backpack carries the most, who starts the game with the best weaponry, etc). All these graphics are drawn in super hi-res 24-bit (in case we do a possible CD version of the game) and then processed down to the best resolution on the A500.
"I'd like to do similar graphics for each alien in the game. These would appear in the form of holographic information displays accessed from the INTEX computer system. I think if the graphics of the aliens were incorporated into the game it would give the player much more of a feel for them and how they look, as it's sometimes a little difficult to picture them when you're only looking at a small sprite from above... [Rico is buzzing with ideas.]
"Anyway, enough of that - back to the real world. Work work work..."
Allister Brimble (Sound)
It's not been a good month for Allister. He's deeply upset after seeing that Andreas got a picture of himself and his car in last month's issue. I promised that next month we'd print a picture of him with his Porsche (paid for by sales of his CD - plug, plug).
Apart from getting all upset, Allister's been working on some nice squelching sounds for when the aliens get hit. I won't mention how he got these, due to possible complaints from the 'How could you possibly use poor defenseless black kittens!" brigade (regular readers will know what I'm on about). Believe me, Breed 2 is going to sound completely sick! Anyway, who better to tell you more about what Allister's up to than the man himself...
"This month I've been working out a way of improving the speech quality obtainable on the Amiga and I think I have come up with an absolutely unbeatable solution. First I sample the speech from Lynette Reade (remember the sexy voice in Breed 1?) into my Kurzwell K2000 synthesizer/sampler. From there I can use the onboard DSP chips to add special effects such as reverb and echo! Hope you like the results when you hear them.
"The really good news for all you Breed fans is that Andreas has just told me I can have an extra 200K for sound on the A1200 giving me twice as much memory for sonics as I had in the original Breed. This means I can record all my sounds at a much higher sample rate and also include reverb to add atmosphere.
"I've also been working on my sound/music routine to make life easier for Andreas when he comes to include my speech, music and effects into the game. Andreas usually has to muck about joining speech samples together to create whole sentences but my new routine will do this for him. [Andreas was quite pleased about this as it'll give him more time to concentrate on the game.]
"I've also nicked a rather good heartbeat sound from [CENSORED! - We don't want any lawsuits do we?] although I don't know where it can be used as yet - perhaps on an end-of-level alien?
The biggest problem this time around has been the music. With a title as big as Alien Breed 2 everything has to be just right so I have to come up with something new and different. Andreas wants something like Terminator 2-style music, but we'll see..."
Team 17 H.Q. (Marketing, packaging, all the other bits)
This month we finally got the artwork for the box and posters - and it's fantastic! It's based on the alien from the packaging of the first Breed, except this time he's grown up and looks a LOT meaner. Unfortunately this artwork is currently at our printers getting ready to go on the boxes so we can't show it to you at the moment - sorry!
August has been pretty crazy here at the HQ what with releasing Body Blows on the PC and also F17 Challenge which is currently No. 1 in the UK budget chart, followed by Project-X at No. 2 and, after almost ten months, Alien Breed '92 still at No. 3. We have also been getting Overdrive ready for release. I'll be glad when this game is released as a our hotline is non-stop with calls about it (hope you enjoyed the demo on last month's coverdisk by the way).
In addition we're getting our next budget release Qwak! ready. This is going to be one of Team 17's biggest surprises of the year - get ready for loads of sleepless nights! We've also decided to put all our budget titles onto the CD32 at a very low price - watch out for these around mid-to-late October.
Now the plugs are out of the way, back to AB2. On the marketing side you should by now have seen the teaser ads which are running all over the Christmas period. We are also starting the production of some demo disks for retailers to run in their shops. Competitions are also being set up with the press so get ready to win lots of Team 17 goodies.
And now... The Diary
Or not, as the case may be. Sadly the mighty voice of Team 17, Martyn Brown, has been silenced by a mystery bug all this month which laid him up in bed and meant that he wasn't able to write the day-by-day diary. We suspect that it could be the delayed effect of his ECTS beer binges but we may be wrong. Either way, hope you're feeling better soon, Martyn.
So, in Martyn's absence, special thanks this month go to Debbie and the rest of the gang at Team 17, without whom you wouldn't have had any text to read or nice pictures to look at.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
PIC: (Above) The black-and-white images you see scattered about are some of the rough box-art ideas Team 17 have had. Just thought you'd like to know...
You may enjoy these articles...
If you look inside many Amiga games, secret messages have been hidden by the programmers. Richard Aplin was the king of hiding messages in the startup-sequence file, and his Line of Fire and Final Fight startup-sequences have become legendary! The Sensible Software team were also prolific at hiding messages in their games.
A collection of technical interviews with Amiga programmers that worked on commercial software in the glory days of the Amiga (late 1980s to early 1990s!)
The Ultimate Amiga Graphics, Level and Map Ripper!
A random assortment of rants relating to the Amiga!
An explanation of how many famous Amiga games utilised sprites in weird and interesting ways