Arkane Studios – Half Life² Episode 4

Howdy!

I am fully aware that this is old news but I only recently found out that valve has outsourced the development of Half Life² Episode 4 to french dev-team Arkane Studios.

Half Life² is among my favourite FPS games and with Arx Fatalis, Dark Messiah and Dishonored under their belt, Arkane is also among my favorite developers….especially when it comes to creative vision. Now Dishonored 2 and the new Prey didn’t strike my fancy but thats another story.

Sadly, the project got cancelled but I’d still like to feature the little screenshots we have and later link to a video that also offers some early animations. I have compiled some screenshots from other sources, most notably “valve time”. However, as this is an unreleased project and you happen to read this, let me know if one of these is from another mod or game. I tried my best to make sure to assemble som impressions of what could have been:

Video by youtuber 32 megabytes showcasing some animations and other screenshots:

 

 

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Acythian – Horror Themed UrbEx level

It’s there in your eyes
Like diamonds ablaze
Sleepless we walk
Through the valley of dreams
We live life long enough
Like silent machines

Hello!

I’ve made some progress here and there and also started working on a new map. This will be an optional side mission but I promise that if you enjoy the game otherwise, you will not want to miss it

Here is the 10 mm SMG from the game. Its design is a Kriss Vector. Granada made the model, Errant AI the Hand Rig, Bugsy animated it and I textured it. A true community effort if you will.

Now I decided to add the optional side mission. I was inspired by games like the Thief series and Vampire: The Masquerade. These games all have one spooky horror themed adventure part and I want one in this game. So here it is: I will not reveal how its going to be spooky because I also want it out as a demo for halloween.

I had some problems at first with the engine refusing to render the models in “highest” but that somehow solved itself. Its nice when random evens in game guru actually go my way for a change.

I think its easy to see that the area is abandoned for decades. I designed these textures for the modelpack2 drink machines to go with that look.

While most of the gameplay takes place in those buildings I decided to have a convincing nature scape around it. There will also be a constant feverish buzzing of crickets here

Thank you for checking this out and feel free to let me know what you think. I am always happy to see feedback to my work

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Acythian – November Update

Hello!

Development has been slow once again so I can only leave you with a few changes to level 1. (previously in a different article. LINK )
Basically, in the first draft the complex was on an island and I changed that to a lush forest. I also changed the amount of decay the player will encounter in the complex.

But first, I am also remaking a lot of the media I have to work with this game. For example, I have retextured and edited the female peasant character from the “classics” media pack to go with the title. Sadly, the result is kind of awkward which is why I made here a sniper character. You know, you only see her from a distance
I also didn’t manage to get that blank facial expression out of the model so strapped on a gasmask.

Here you’ll see what the first level will look like in the final game (unless there are major changes in the rendering pipeline along the way.)

Thankfs for viewing! Feel free to drop me some feedback, its always appreciated 🙂

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Acythian – Ventshafts/Maintenance Area – Cyberpunk/Noir FPS Game

Start up from a solitary planet; again
but there’s a language that I never spoke
And it’s clogging up inside my throat
Electric connections
that were dormant now ingite
It’s like another part of sight
A second eyelid that was closed before
What did I say?
I never felt this way before
Is that what they say?
It’s a defect in my core

Developing a game is a very slow process but it speeds up as you go along. There is a certain groundwork that’ll really tie you down but once you’re over that hill you can really steam roll ahead. I’m not over that hill just yet but at least I can show you some screenshots from the air filtration area.
This is a string of very maintenance/industrial looking places connected through vent shafts. One of the beautiful things about Acythian is that this level is entirely skip-able. They way I see it only about 50% of the players will see it as the other half will likely use a different point of entry for the citadel. (An overgrown sewer level)

As this game requires a lot of custom models and media to really sell the rusty, gloomy cyberpunk atmosphere I’ll also make a lot of more simple stuff.
I’ve decided to give a set of fuse boxes away for free. You can download these here.

I’ve had a few set backs with this levels as a lot of my older, animated models use vertex animations and I didn’t get these to play in-game. This means that I’ll have to rig and animate a bunch of machinery. I suppose thats also interesting about this level, it has quite a lot of more dynamic, moving parts. This does of course require some more finesse when it comes to lighting the scene.

If you could give me feedback on what you like and dislike about this level I’d really appreciate it. Especially since its much easier to respond to criticism before I’ll do the 2nd detail make over. (Animated rats, bugs, dirt decals, the soundscape.)
This game has very little backtracking to hunt a key or activate a switch to progress, I’ll try to reduce tedious gameplay that is only there to artificially lengthen gameplay as much as possible. If you need an item or a key its always in a somewhat near and logical location for it to be.

I know that this is all looking similar to work I’ve shown before. I want the citadel to be consistent in look and tone and…as you know…making a game takes a lot longer than playing it

I’ve been settling on using the “stock” characters for this game and I’m pleasantly surprised that just by applying a little tinkering, they look enjoyably shady. They really fit the setting and I like the quality on them. I’ve just thrown a few into the map to test them. Face textures aren’t yet 100% aligned and you don’t actually meet these folks in these locations. I’m pretty sure fine tuning and texturing all the chars for this will be a long venture.

A ventshaft entry point: There used to be a time where this kind of screenshot was quality material in indie fps developing. That seems so distant now.

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Acythian – Fun in the Sewers

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Heyho Hello!

A lot of progress on this project I have 2 maps halfway done and 2 more that are slowly getting to that point.
I’m far enough with this project to works towards finer gameplay elements such as items. I want this game to have a lot of adventure elements and gathering items is part of that. Plus, having loot that the player can find and use makes the levels more engaging and the game more attractive.
I don’t aim to make this an RPG hybrid akin to Deus Ex, the game will be too short to really benefit from that and I dont want it to have any clunky interfaces or micromanaging. If there’ll be an inventory in this game it’ll be very simplistic. I have a few ideas on how to approach this.

Neurotoxicity

An element I really want to have in this game are several cyberdrugs that enhance your character. There should be a variety of those with different effects. For example: Your health regenerates in this game due to the reconstructive nanites in your blood stream, however, I want you to be able to boost your health above 100% if you find power-up items. Here I’ll have to look into getting the health to only regenerate up to 100% again once you lose that boost. I’m not explaining it well, but I hope it makes sense!

However! All power-ups add to your characters neurotoxicity level. The higher this value, the more impaired your character. If it reaches a certain point you’ll die. There will of course be other collectables to decrease that value. If you spin the idea a little further you can also have contaminated areas or weapons that would increase that value. So many things you could do!

All of this is still in early stages. I did however model such a power up item: Check it out:

There has been a lot of sarcasm on the internet about how so many FPS games tend to send you into the sewers at some point. Me however, I’ve always enjoyed the sewer level … and I’m usually including it in my projects ever since.
The sewers are your second option to infiltrate the compound. This is a large, maze like level. While its pretty derelict and partially overgrown, you’ll still find operational maintenance areas. Plus it has a crossing where the level branches out in 2 different paths. Its designed in a way that you can either go left or right but not backtrack and go both.

When polishing this level I’ll add rats and bugs that crawl around in certain areas! I’m pretty happy with how this early version looks and plays.

I’ve been debating wether or not I should throw mutant rats into the mix as enemies. they could rush out of these overgrown areas. I’ll have to see if thats cool or silly during the beta test. Thats when you get a better picture of the general mood and atmosphere of a game.

The G36 here is the heavy weapon of the kyanic orders security forces. You won’t have it in this level though. Acythian won’t have too many weapons despite being a longer game. I aim for it to have less than 9, but those’d be rather diverse in how they play. I’m not dead set on this yet though.

Early version of the female lead.

A lot of this level are ghostly, dingy branching corridors.

I’m fond of the normal mapping on this floor.

This is all I got for you today! Next step will be spreading the game on the usual plattforms, let people know it exists (indiedb, itch.io and what not)
I think I’ve made enough progress to show it to a general audience.

But I’m as always way more interested in hearing what my fellow devs think about it! Please drop me a line and thanks for visiting!

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Acythian – A rocky coast/Outdoor level

all the lights came
down
long ways from machine towns,
high wire put me down
the sky is on fire
oh the oceans yet to cross
i’m so tired i’m so tired,so tired
of waiting wait for the bomb to drop

Hello all! I’m proud to say that I made quite a bit of headway in developing this game. If I can keep this up I’ll easily make the deadline (christmas day.)

My girlfriend enjoys making puzzles and I find making videogames to be simply an elaborate puzzle as well. The kind where you have to craft most pieces yourself. I was facing quite a few problems, lots of them performance related but I think its time to present some of the levels I have been working on:

This is a generator room in level 4. I’m quite happy with how it looks but its not quite there yet, the entire level is still lacking some spark and I’m still trying to add the gameplay a bit more smooth. Its a rather packed level. Lots of narration, a friendly NPC and a puzzle.
NPC’s are voiced, except for the multiple choice dialogue if you activate them, this is text similar to the dialogue system in Morrowind or S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
I think this is the best compromise between immersion, story and technical possibilities.

Rocky coast vista!
I have to say that this level was quite some work. Not only is it huge and very interactive, it also plagued me with performance problems and visual glitches. (Working with dynamic lighting is quite effective if you know how to handle it… I had to find out how to handle it first )

As this is the first level, it has to engage the player. While I clearly used a lot of work I’ve done for Shavra I did give most of it a strong make over to look more appealing an immersive.

Here you can see the Kyanic Citadel. That is the place you’ll have to infiltrate. While scouting the coast you’ll find 2 ways to do so. The sewers and the ventilation shafts. Depending on which way you’ll choose you will spawn in one of 2 entirely different following levels.

Not only is the citadel a gigantic complex, its also ancient. The grounds have been used by various groups throughout the centuries with the cult being only its most recent residents. This results in a maze like complex where old and new architecture and machinery collide.

The citadel island is surrounded by remnants of the sunken city. A nameless metropolis that is sunken after heavy bombardment in the third world war.

More material from level 4! Nevermind the dead guy

A little playing around and planning and your In-Outdoor transitions using dynamic light will look more seemless and less forced

Once you leave the coast you’ll find yourself in a small yet lush forrested area.
This path will lead you to a hermit! He has a small shop set up where you can trade in valuables you might find on the island.
He is an elderly fellow and quite possibly insane. I hope y’all be entertained by this encounter (He and his quest are also entirely optional)

Being able to do levels like this is why I really don’t miss FPSC!

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Acythian – Futuristic Weapons

Well! Its october and Redacted² has long been released and I’m done with my vacation and am pouring some more of my time in my projects again. Also thanks to all of you who grabbed my store media during the discount

I was experimenting a lot with level design methods, trying to improve my work here and there but I must admit that all of them failed spectacularly.
I’m not giving up on them just yet, I’ll wait and see if I get better results from them once the DX11 update hits but it might still be a while until then.

In the mean time I just take it easy and make a bunch of models, test some gameplay ideas and rig stuff. Once the update hits I can then just build this game without much distraction.

So, this of course means that I don’t have that much to show now, so I’d like to drop a few weapons you’ll get to use in the game.
In this games setting there are impulse, plasma and traditional projectile weapons (also hybrids like plasma propulsed projectile weapons but I won’t have any of these in the first game.) Quite a bit of the setting has changed too but you’ll see a lot of the previously shown levels in this or the next game.

The railgun, its BSP’s scifi shotgun that I have modified slightly. The magazine is now a battery and its a heavy energy weapon

Special thanks to Bugsy for animating this bad boy for me.

The more compact counterpart to the rifle! BSP’s scifi pistol without the elongated barrel uses the same ammo as the rifle.

Its rigged to EAI’s GCS Desert Eagle animations.

I hope some of these mods strike your fancy The decision to take the game away from the masterfully done modern weapons and use more futuristic ones doesn’t make it easier but more consistent. I just hope these will hold up well in the final game and that people will find the different ammo types fun to play. I want to integrate a feature where projectile weapons don’t do as much damage to robots/machines as energy based ones. Lee was so kind to add this feature quite some time ago

So lemme know what ya think and have a good one. Here a few more impressions from the game:

The game isn’t a pure shooter. I try to have it more “immersive sim” elements like Ion Storms iconic games but thats rather hard to do. However, it will have 2 or 3 “simpler” maps where it turns into a straight up FPS game so Players can really use the equipment they gathered and experiment. I aim to have the best and smoothest shooting mechanics I can master in this game so I hope this will be enjoyable and interesting to you as players

The compound also feel more realistic if the protagonist has to traverse some office and maintenance areas once in a while to get to another more “setpiecy level”.

Note that this is an early rendition and that I did not have the reshade suit enabled:

If you happen to check out my project for the first time, there are some more accurate impressions of what this game will look like on previous pages.
For this map, I actually modded the “the warehouse” demo map to my needs. I ended up removing almost all of it and adding a lot but the spine structure still stands It was fun but as you can see, still very early…only 2 hallways are ready to be shown.

These cybergothic looking hallways I made out of modded versions of wizard of id’s top down shooter pack are areas I’m rather fond off! They also really show that this is Shavra’s scifi sister game.

A rather empty office area. The painting on the wall is an aquarelle I painted a few years back. Gameplay wise, you’ll find a few necessary items in the room way back

Some more shots of the hallway area. I took the few minutes it takes to make new cylinder tanks specifically for this maps rather than overuse the same ones in each and every level of this game.

I think its good practice to always make a clean and a worn version of any environmental prop you make Its quickly made and can really help you adding that extra notch of naturalism to your levels. If a pipe is clean in a dry and rusty in a wet area for example.

Additional polish added to the hallways area. there will be a linear shootout here where the enemies hold reinforced positions you have to blast through.

The door that leads to that more futuristic area. I like how the emerald green lighting gives it a mildly creepy look.

Thats it for now

**********************

Just a quick update. Nothing major, Currently working 9 to 6 and really not getting enough down time but I managed to get the starting room done for the simplified acythian prologue.

I also started designing a rather action intensive level with huge derelict architecture. (Picture) but its still in its inception.

Here the new starting room and a weapon I have been toying around with. Its from game banana and will likely not be in the final game.

The room has a few animated entities that make it seem a bit more alive. I’ll also add some moving screen decals later on

*************************************

Big news is that I escaped retail hell for now. Lets see what divine punishment life is sending my way next. Maybe on my next job a horse comes in every morning and kicks me in the keester.

I’ve continued working on this map before Game Guru decided to update and subsequently none of my, ooooh I don’t know, 4 years worth of map design (a lot of it can be seen on these pages) are loading anymore. Graphix is trying to help an old wolf out with it but I gotta admit. I’m torn between reverting to X9 and sticking with X11… I just don’t know yet.
Anyway: Here you have what I produced earlier y’all:

I have fixed a certain a-symmetry in this design.

This is an interesting advancment in my lighting! Actual light reflections. Check out how the purple is being reflected off the metal.


I’m fond of the simple design of this machine.

This level also had the power of purple.

And the infirmary. Adjusting all these X-rays and screens to the games look took me longer than I expected but I think they will end up serving me well.
Thank you for reading!

 

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