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January 29th, 2012

TAGAP 3, GOTYs and more

TAGAP 3

Let's start with the big news first; TAGAP 3. It'll be huge, very possibly the biggest TAGAP yet. Definitely it'll be the biggest and most ambitious project of ours to date. Fully HD, featuring a proper script and flavoured with more action-adventure elements than ever before, it's something different, yet definitely familiar.

I've received a few inquiries about the future of Penguin DT since the announcement, TAGAP 3 being labelled as the last part of the TAGAP saga. Worry not; TAGAP 3 may be the last part of the ongoing trilogy, but most certainly it won't be our last project. Heck, I'm fairly sure it won't be the last TAGAP ever, just the last of the ongoing storyline.

If you have any TAGAP 3 questions you'd want us to answer – with exception of 'when it will be released' – just drop 'em via our comment box.

Next TAGAP 2 Update

First off, I was planning to create a couple of new features of TAGAP 2 for the next update, but since I discovered a mean bug, I'm pretty much forced to pump out a hotfix styled patch ASAP. The bug, layered deep within the ways TAGAP Engine calls for FMOD Sound System, was discovered when I started rewriting the sound engine for TAGAP 3. And it's a potentially nasty one; If you've been playing TAGAP 2 on a x64 laptop and had a random crash for no apparent reason, TAGAP 2 v1.5 patch should fix things.

The update should be up Tomorrow (Monday, January 30th), as long as my Internet connections keeps going. And the new features? Still coming, but not in this v1.5. Hopefully that one goes swell and v1.6 will bring forth some extra goodies!

What I'm working on right now?

A new feature I decided to infuse to the blog this year is 'What I'm working on right now'. In a nut-shell, it's a spoiler-free peek at what I'm working on TAGAP-wise right now.

Right now I'm working on jiggle simulation for TAGAP 3. You know, the kind that is usually reserved for silicon-infused females. Even though I'm not going for accurate simulation route but specific animation set, it's still darn tough thing to pull off. It's quite easy to animate a 3D mesh bobbing and jiggling, but trying to do so parametrically with 2D images something quite different. I won't reveal where this is used – as it would be spoilers – but it'll be there. I'm pretty sure this ends up being one of those things I spend days getting right and no one notices during the hectic action, but what the hell.

Penguin DT's Choices for 2011

Since I was requested one via eMail, here is my personal retrospective of gaming in 2011. Obviously, TAGAP 2 dominated the year for me, but what else have I been playing, I was asked. So, here are my personal favourites for 2011. You know, besides of TAGAP 2.

Franchise of 2011

In addition to TAGAP 2, the theme of 2011 for me was clearly Assassin's Creed. I hadn't played this franchise until last year, thanks to the enormous backlog and most of my free time going to TAGAP 2. But I gave the first one a spin in January, liked it and wanting to know where this pseudo-time-travel goes, gave the second one a spin. From there on out, I got hooked, to the point that when I witnessed the epic cliffhanger conclusion of Assassin's Creed II, I instantly went to my laptop and ordered AC: Brotherhood. AC: Revelations closing the story of Altair and Ezio, I'm looking forward to the next Assassin's Creed with huge curiosity.

I know quite a few folks who didn't pick up any of the Assassin's Creed sequels due to non-polished clunkiness of the first game ('hold A to blend', for crying out loud!), I'd say 'persevere'. The sequel perfects the formula and gets rid of all the clunky aspects while the follow-ups spice and vary the special sauce further. Experiencing these games in order will reward you with the best time-travel plot in game medium – with exception of Doctor Who Adventure Games, that is.

Biggest Positive Surprise of 2011

Actually I'd label the entire year as 'year of positive surprises'; Dead Island wasn't the hilarious co-cop zombie-maimer I expected, but the most atmospheric zombie title since Resident Evil 2, RAGE blew all my expectations by being a smart BioShock-esque first-person-romp and Duke Nukem Forever actually got released!

But the biggest of them all turned out to be... Bulletstorm. If I would have to pick one game that was pretty much killed by advertising, this is it. EA's super-aggressive campaign focused squarely on swearing, vulgarity and generally being so juvenile even Duke Nukem would blush of shame. Combine that with the fact that instead of a proper demo, the trial EA pushed out was one of the Echos – a trip so short the trailers capping the trial were longer than the gameplay!

Everyone kept saying things like 'it's the game Duke Nukem Forever wants to be' and just had to give it a change. And boy, am I glad I did! All the vulgar dialogue and juvenile deeds are actually darn entertaining when they are in context – but not so when edited as an annoying montage in a trailer. The whole package is genuinely unique, fun and entertaining, more so than any other action title of 2011.

Bottom line; If you were put off by the adverts and the trailers of the game – and/or disliked the short demo – but still would love to play an awesome shooter that doesn't involve modern military clichés, do consider giving the game itself a spin. Very likely you won't be disappointed. Heck, now that I picked it from a bargain bin I feel kind-of sad for not giving the full 60 EUR to People Can Fly earlier. It's that good.

The Head Penguin's GOTY 2011

And that's TAGAP 2! Oh wait, you mean besides it? This might surprise you, but it isn't Duke Nukem Forever nor RAGE, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Boy, have I missed Deus Ex franchise and it returned with a bang. The best way to sum it up might be 'a true freeform stealth-action-RPG', where action remains action, stealth actually works, choices flow well and you can jump between gameplay styles almost how you wish.

Many games boast with 'freedom' in their marketing, but the freedom offered by Deus Ex series was always the one for me; Freedom of gameplay. Not freedom to go bowling instead following a linear story, but the freedom to build your character, path and gameplay experience to suit the way you want to play. Human Revolution foes extra mile, letting you play it as a FPS, cover based shooter, stealth-game or a combination of the three. The best part? It works!

The Funk Penguin's GOTY 2011

I asked Petja for his pick and he went awful quiet; With TAGAP 2 and a brand new baby boy, he really didn't get to play blockbusters of 2011, as he still had plenty of 2010 backlog to go through. But there was one gem – one I totally would agree with but haven't had the time to test out proper; Rayman Origins.

Pure old-school 2D platforming at it's finest, Rayman Origins is an excellent reminder of how much potential there is in 2D gaming still. And while usually with platfomers you'd have to use phrases like 'it's all in the gameplay and the artwork is just a throwback', Rayman Origins is one of the most beautiful games I've seen in ages. And darn I'm envious of their engine!

I'm planning to pick Rayman Origins up as soon as I've cleared my backlog. I just completed Mass Effect 2 – which I played for almost a month, hour or two per day – so now the cue gets moving on again.

So, there you have it; A monster-of-an-update. Next one will be shorter, I promise :)

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin