Weekly Penguin
October 23rd, 2020

Update from the dungeons

It's been a while since the previous update, hasn't it? It hasn't been due to lack of progress, I can tell you that.

The biggest accomplished things include;

  • completing that monstrously complex level I mentioned in several previous posts
  • making the boss level for it
  • creating the first half of the intro cinematic
  • making the introduction segment for the first level

Whilst all that didn't feel that much as a slowly progressed through it, writing the list down made me realise that that's actually a lot of progress. Always glad to see positive surprises!

Looking back, this progress has been quite insane. Last December, we only had one level battle-ready and I made the gameplay reveal demo around that. And now I have almost half of the game ready. That is honestly the fastest I've ever progressed through our projects.

Why is this? If I had to guess, it comes down to two things; the extra-long pre-production phase and the pandemic. Partly by design, partly due to what happened in my personal life, instead of feeling creative and crafting gameplay segments, the first year and a half of TAGAP 4's development was all about creating assets. All the stuff I in the past created when I needed them, I designed in drew beforehand. This includes majority of the world stuff, from textures and interactive objects to even most of the normal enemies.

And yes, with the pandemic and the lessened social interactions, I've spent heck of a lot more time this year working on TAGAP – even if I did take a break because of DOOM Eternal.

What am I working on right now?

Right now I'm working two things at once – the fifth level and the latter half of the intro cinematic. Since the gameplay starts immediately as the intro cinematic ends, I had to have the introduction segment of the first level complete before I could complete the cinematic. And as with TAGAP 3, I intentionally left the intro segment for later, thus ensuring we can cover all the core mechanics in this super-fast tutorial-esque area. Don't worry, this 'tutorial' is super-short and apart from on-screen hints, should get you up to speed in about 15 seconds or so.

As for the fifth level, well, I already mentioned on Twitter that it was labelled in my to-do-list as 'Steel mill'. Original plan was just to use the setting as an excuse to have a lava level without doing yet another mine or a volcano map. However, I then got inspired by a piece of music again – this time by the aptly titled Iron Foundry – and the level changed in tone quite a bit.

Currently I have the level geometry mapped out pretty much completely, so next I'll need to script and set-up all the combat. Then I can start creating the visuals for it. There isn't that much new asset generation going to this one, but it will take the full advantage of our new effects engines – from red glow of the molten metal to heat distortions.


Playlist is a regular feature in our Penguin DT blog; A chance to highlight cool games both old and new that I've been playing. As always, I believe that in order to make games, you need to play them, preferably with a broad scope when it comes to genres, so each day I dedicate at least an hour to actually playing games. The rest of the free time? There is no such thing, it all belongs to TAGAP!

DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods, obviously. I won't say too much about, besides it being seriously awesome, pushing the combat mechanics to the brink of insanity. Also, unlike majority of DLC for games these days, narratively this isn't a throw-away side story. No; this is in fact the exact story I expected 'DOOM 2016 III' to tell, but no – it's The Ancient Gods. I'm not going into details what I mean by that, as there are some great twists and turns I don't want to spoil.

Go play it. Now. I mean, play DOOM Eternal first, but I kinda assumed you've done that already.

But that isn't the only thing I've been playing, mind. Though Halloween isn't much of a thing here in Finland, I always take any excuse I can get to play some horror games. I started with the top-notch remake of the satirical classic Destroy All Humans! - which should become the standard for remake releases. It keeps the game 100% intact as it was way-back-when, but gives it a proper sheen of current-gen polish.

I've also been play Daymare 1998. To sum it up simply, this project was basically going to be the fan-made spiritual remake of Resident Evil 2 that Capcom was seemingly unwilling to deliver at the time. However, the game's thunder was stolen pretty much completely when during its development, Capcom both announced and released the remake of Resident Evil 2.

There's a lot to like in Daymare, like how the intentional clunkiness of the ammo system forces you to make tactical decisions mid-combat – do I reload fast by discarding the clip and risk not finding it after... or do I take my time in swapping clips, risking getting my head bitten off? It sounds clunky, but in the slow and methodical gameplay framework Daymare is going for, it really works, amplifying the tension.

At first I was like; why isn't anyone talking about this? This is brilliant! However, sadly it isn't 100% that. The section near the end when the game decides it needs to have a Nemesis homage is so ill fit to the mechanics it really pains me to put to words. I actually left the game there because The Ancient Gods dropped, but I'm somewhat determined to grind through that wannabe-Nemesis bollocks just to see the PSN Trophy unlock rates – I'm almost certain half of the players reaching that point give up. 🤔

What's next?

On TAGAP front; Completing the Level 5 will likely take up the next month or so, not because it is more complex or asset-laden, but more because it quite big. After that, well, it is naturally time to make the boss fight for the level.

On playlist; well, it's finally out physically and with translations – Earth Defense Force 5! I've had EDF: Iron Rain as an Asian import from Hong Kong sitting here, too, but I wanted to play EDF 5 first. So, it is time to return to squashing those GIANT INSECTS!

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin