It's been a long, long time since the last blog update. Don't take this as 'there hasn't been any progress to report', as TAGAP 4 progresses at a nice pace. Heck, I think it is going faster than I anticipated at the moment!
However, due to both the current world situation and the way I do things, I've kind of, well, lost the sense of time. The days have the habit of bleeding together and whilst it doesn't bother me or affect my work – neither the dayjob or TAGAP – it does mean I have ended up not realising it's been several months since I posted a progress update.
On the plus side, with time looping in on itself, keeping up a good work-flow is super-easy 👍
Just last weekend I wrapped up a cut-scene – which wrapped up the production for yet another level. This one was a huge undertaking, not so much for complexity, but because roughly two thirds of it are the 'mandatory TAGAP vehicle section' of the game. Since this the first time making a player-controlled vehicle with the new engine, it required hefty dose of maintenance under the hood to get right.
For the simplest example, Cleaving – that is how we call the Glory Kills, got to avoid Hugo Martin sending lawyers to our HQ. That's a thing the player can do any time an opportunity arises... but for player-driven vehicles, I had to implement a way to prevent player from doing that. You can't perform a melee kill when sitting in a vehicle cockpit – and why would you, this bad boy has twin plasma-chainguns! Like I wrote, a simple problem requiring a simple solution, but these pile up quickly.
Now that all of THAT is out of the way, work has begun on the next level. This will be a lot faster one to produce overall. There is no vehicle mechanic to build and the majority of the unique level assets I actually produced in conjunction with stuff for the previous map. It wouldn't be a TAGAP 4 map without its unique ticks, of course, but this could be the fastest level to build in the entire game. In fact, the TAGAP Engine equivalent of 'greyboxing' is almost done already!
However, this level being easier to produce is calm before the storm – the one after this is something I've been both dreading and eagerly waiting for since before TAGAP 3 was even fully wrapped! 😬
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!
It's been so long since the last update that I had go back and check what was the last game I mentioned playing. Turns out it was Earth Defense Force 5. Since then, the list of games gone through is massive (in alphabetical order);
You likely won't have to guess which one is my favourite – obviously it is The Ancient Gods Part 2. It concludes the story that started in 1993, ending in a duel that is among my all time favourite boss fights of all time. I say duel, because that is how it feels like – it isn't a damage rush, a weak point puzzle or weakness exploit spiral. No, you and the Dark Lord circle each other, waiting for the moment to strike – and back away before the opponent can exploit your hubris and completely turning the tide. It's magnificent!
The story of DOOM concluding is, of course, bittersweet. It is a worthy conclusion for sure, but it is now over. There are ways to continue – either telling untold side stories from across the established lore or go for a 'God of War', pitting the Slayer against a new mythology (I'm looking at you, Quake) – but it will be different. Time will tell, but with Microsoft now in control, I am a bit weary on their direction. From the only time Phil Spencer spoke of id Software, all he was hyped for was id Tech and not their games, which was a real bummer.
The other games I played? They're all great, some even clear GOTY contenders. Gunvolt series is basically the 'new Megaman X' with its own unique and fun mechanics, The Little Nightmares is one of the best horror game series I've seen in years, Bite the Bullet has one of the most headbanging metal OSTs this side of Hulshult and DOOM 3 translates great for VR.
Right now I've starting to play Rebellion's Sniper Elite spin-off Zombie Army Trilogy. I went into it expecting a brain-dead tongue-in-cheek comedy romp – something along the lines of FarCry: Blood Dragon – but no, this is a proper horror title. The clunkiness of a realistic sniper rifle combined with actually scary occult Nazi zombies and the aesthetics oozing the atmosphere of Lucio Fulci's zombie-romps makes for a simple but thrilling time. I've been so wrong to write this off as a gag-spin-off all this time – this is really good stuff so far. Even in single player, mind you.
On TAGAP front, work on the new level continues. It may be faster to produce than the previous one, but isn't built overnight. I also need to start looking into the TAGAP Day shenanigans in July 🤔
In the playlist; Biomutant. After years of anticipation, this super-adorable apocalyptic kung-fu critter tale is almost upon us! What a way to end a console generation, huh?