Habitat : Preview and Interview

Welcome to “Preview”, the new installment on my humble indiegame blog. Here I will present an interesting game from one of my fellow developers and provide a short interview!

This time we are taking a look at “HABITAT”…this is an Arcade-FPShooter with as many enemies per minute (epm) as possible developed by “MaHo”. This sounds like a lot of fun in itself but it is also a story driven game. How does that mix? Read below!

The game is about exploring a strange unreal world, searching for yourself and your name while you put yourself together piece for piece. Vision, legs, hands, 6th sense, a tool, upgrades …
You will see the development in Cutscenes and in appearing Huds, completing up to the final optic of the game one after another.

Meanwhile you get hunted by GLAS, the guy that brakes down a war with the TWINS ages ago. Some inhabitants like ONE and SENSE will help you, others try to kill you. Why all this happens and what is your part in this game?… well, we will see when the times come.

Sounds pretty surreal! I like it so far, personally.

Gameplay/Features:
This starts out very slow, all about introducing the enviroment, credits, some puzzles and jump&run.
But then it speeds up and the shooting starts.

Beside the cryptic story it is all about 1 simple thing: EPM = Enemies per Minute.

Trying to create a FPShooter with the feeling of the old 2d-arcade classics like R-Type, Gradius, Turrican a.o., so a simple & hard straight-shooter without that much of tactics that are actual used in modern FPS. Maho doesn’t like the games where a max of 3-4 enemies appear at a time wich you shoot down for 5 minutes. It has to be fast and brutal hard, with masses of quickly dying enemies and really big bossfights.

For example: Killcount (Refeeds) in the 3rd Chapter goes up to nearly 200 in about 5 minutes (speedrun), around 35 EPM, 1 enemy every 1 1/2 seconds. and this is only a half intro-level where the action starts.
It will rise the count up by inserting more bombs and bigger guns, so enemies die faster and it will respawn the next wave > more enemies > more speed > more action > more fun.

As with every good 2d-shooter, enemies enter in waves. when a wave is destroyed, a reward drops (weapon-upgrades, ammo, healthpacks, satelites, lots of different bombs, speedzones a.s.o.). the waves are triggered, so you can drive your own pace most of the time, but believe me: the faster and better you get, the more fun it is.
You only have 1 live for the whole game and NO player-activated saves, only an automatic save at the end of each sub-chapter to hold the tension and dont make it too easy. yes, its a feature.

Further Features for the moment (tested, means i can get it working):

– Multitool (Basic Weapon) with 10.000 rounds, more than 6 different Upgrades (additional weapons with limited ammo)
– Particle-Bombs: cluster, stream/linebombs, crossbombs, circlebombs …
– Healthpacks (Rehab) and healthzones/ healing characters
– A Compass with direction-HUDs, displayed enemy-warnings and ingame voiceover (6th Sense, its a female character that you carry through the game on your back)
– All different types of additional HUDS (bomb/rehab-markers, satelite-timers, a leveltimer in combination with a killcount (not a stupid killcount but storybased, you will see) a.s.o. )
– text-HUDS and npc-voiceovers for story (in progress, have done it before for a short-movie, so it should work)
– additional \”visions\”, means fast,animated huds appearing in the right places to drive the story
– cutscenes (storyboards are in progress)
– railshooter-levels

Additional Features with WASP-mod/v1.19 (tested):

– smooth animated compass
– player-speedzones
– forced cam/plr-movement
– body armor
– enemy-radar

Graphics:
The creator is a big fan of monochrome pictures and very rare color. its good for this because he can save performance with this style for more enemies.
As the character and following the story, also the world develops, getting more complex in forms and materials with each level.
the graphics-style is timeless, could be a game from ten years ago (remember games called FLASHBACK or ANOTHER WORLD?  ) or 100 in the future because i use absolute basic meshes most of the time, just getting more and more complex. we will see how far fpsc can follow.

This is something I personally concider another great way to work around FPSC’s limitations. Very creative.

Music & Sounds:
Electronic/Noise/Ambient, fits to the enviroment.
The soundscape is set up by the actions of the player, means there is a basic ambient theme as backgroundmusic, but beats and additional instruments are part of the enviroment, so when you enter triggerzones, pick up items or kill enemies, additional parts of the soundscape are triggered.
This results in generating a new composed soundscape with nearly each level-restart.

You remember me talking about an interview, don’t you? 🙂 Well, forget about it!

Or maybe not…

Maybe I just shove it in your face, how about that?

INTERVIEW WITH “MaHo” (creator of HABITAT and Brummbär)

 Or maybe not a bär… who knows?

* You are rather new to FPSCreator and you already have such a creative, visually appealing and well developed project at hands. How do ya do it? Do you have any modding, gamedeveloping past?
Don’t laugh. Commodore Amiga 3d-Construction Kit, 1989… no, nothing in gamedeveloping, but working as a design-artist helps a lot.
When I decided for the engine, I searched web and the forums for about a month. There are so much tutorials, free stuff like scripts and modells out there for this its amazing. So its pretty easy to learn and adapt in a short time. But mainly it was a talk about how to transport a classic shoot´em-up system into FPSC with Ched80 that sucked me in. He gives my the right hints in scripting with dimvars, was a real moment of clarity and the base for this project. Means really big credits, Chris.

* Why chosing FPSC in the first place?
Because I am a total loss in coding, love dreamweaver. I thought the “big” engines need more a programmer than a designer, maybe I am wrong, but too late. So I searched for an easy to use solution because my main interest was a framework for learning 3d-stuff. I need bigger projects to hold up motivation, don’t like small test after test without a big thing around it. Decided to do a game, found FPSC and it looked fast to go but good for custom … well, a week later I started learn scripting from scratch.

* While your game appears to be stylized, having a rather “overdesigned” (sorry for the term) look it still has a storyline. How do you get this working?
I like that term. Technically or storytelling? Technically using mainly cutscenes and talks, whispers in the head and dreams/visions as fast ingame-flashes. The game is very straight as a Shoot´em-Up should be, so it’s a shootout from one storypoint to the next.
When you think about how to integrate a story in general into a strange and reduced enviroment… I don’t think there are any problems when you can focus on believable characters and situations understandable from a human point of view. Look at the modern theatre where nearly no scenery is used, only some shapes and forms. A lovestory remains a lovestory, even if its historical, modern or scifi… or totally nuts.

* Will your game be free, or do you/ have you ever concidered selling them?
Story in my head is a minimum of 7, but i am creating chapter 1 and 2. That’s the first step wich will definitely be free. Its my first work in games, so mainly some stuff for my artbook. Whats next beyond this if people like it..  playing air-guitar.

* “- Particle-Bombs: cluster, stream/linebombs, crossbombs, circlebombs …” How do you plan to do this? If you dont want to give away your secrets, feel free to reply rather general.
You think of the dissability to trigger particles in FPSC? Setup a bomb-entity the player can activate wich triggers one or more bombzones with activatetarget=X and some propper setup particles appeared totally faded with a variable as a trigger so they fade-in again for 1-3 seconds before destroyed and finally edit all necessary character-mainscripts to get destroyed when activated=x. … That was a long sentence.
Don’t think of transportable particle-grenades or stuff like that. It’s a classic shoot´em-up bombsystem: trigger static bomb to clear the screen (partly or total) and move on, so easy to do.

* Does your videogame influence your professional career at any level?
In graphics-style of course yes, and also vice versa. As said, the main intention for this whole project was to learn 3d. Blender is really hard stuff but very cool now I (nearly not) know how to use. Cutscenes and modells will help to learn how to do animation-sequences… not that bad addition for a design artist.

* What holds the future for fpscreator and its community? What are your thoughts?
I am not long and deep enough inside this scene to give an answer to this. But looking through the indiewebs, I see 5 nonmod-first-person projects that look really interesting AND that may get finished (very rare), and 2 of them are done with FPSC, another one absolutely possible to do.
FPSC is limited in performance, physics,fx and more. But its cheap, easy to learn and gives you the ability to do some real amazing games. Simply the mass of stock-solutions (not only media but mainly given scripts and tutorials to customize a given frame) is the best solution for solo-developers to get things done in time to get bigger projects finished than in other engines more complex and custom where you need a team to get done without loosing yourself in update after update. But if the kids think a good game is blingbling graphics… better ask Lee or yourself about the future, you are the one that is experienced in gamedev and also other engines.

* If you would sum up your game in three sentences…?
Thats the question everyone should ask himself before starting a project, but …who the heck does? I do one because I am lazy:
“The fast and hard gameplay of a classic Shoot´em-Up in a 3d-enviroment, exploring a strange world beyond your imagination full of friends and foes, to walk the path of life and find your inner self.”
Sounds like Conan or Spiderman, didn’t it? Wait, then download and play. I don’t know exactly what I am doing here.

* Did you encounter problems while realising your rather unique design? If so, how did you overcome them?
I did this design to get rid of problems and whole departments. I cancelled nearly completely textures and lights to save time in dev, and shaders because they are not working in the fog. With this minimalizing you get a better focus on the main things, for me as developer to learn as for the player to concentrate on. So there is not much detail to hold you back, gameplay- and development-pace should be way higher.
In using only shapes and sounds I have to create a very unique design for each single main-character so the player reminds them. Strong shapes, music, sounds and voice should be enough to do this, wich is a very interesting task for me as a photoshopper. But now I have the basics done, the game will develop as I develop, so lets see how this ends, I don’t know. What I can do in design and propper technics is what the story ingame will go.

*your interest in videogames origins…?
Well, TRON was one of my first cinema-movies when i was a child, so … i was there, second generation, remember arcade-halls?
Interest in origins … not that much, but when you can still enjoy a simple game that uses a 20years old technics today, that’s great and very rare in todays productions. Yes, PONG-fanboy. Leftrightleftright for hours!

* Why is your avatar a bear?
I like bears, great animals. Not that small and assembling pounds on the hip for winter. Calm brumbling but it can get very loud without warning when you finally got through thick skin. Teddybear says the girl to the left.

I feel the need to personally thank MaHo for his time for the interview  and for the splendid material he delivered to illustrate it.
I personally concider this to be one of the most interesting FPSC titles since… ever. And I’m looking forward to get my hands on it. Concider this to be a prime example for good development in FPSCreator.

Visit this thread for more information.

Thanks for reading.

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About serygala

Who really has time to think about a summary of himself on the internet? I like art, women, gamedesign and I love coffee. Everything else is too much information.
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