Sunday, December 3

Dynamic Infestation

Natural Selection was an extremely popular mod for the original Half-Life. The team behind the game, Unknown Worlds Entertainment, is currently working on a remake to NS with Half-Life 2's Source engine. However, Unkown Worlds is looking to add some incredible new features to spruce up Natural Selection's gameplay. One of these is what they're calling "dynamic infestion," an incredible feature that could really upend the tea table. Dynamic Infestation, as explained at the Unkown Worlds blog, works alot like creep from Starcraft. The bacteria in the original Natural Selection was a static piece of the maps texture. But in NS2, the bacteria will grow and spread procedurally as the game is being played. The bacteria spreads dynamically based off the aliens' occupation of the map. As the alien team takes control of a level, the bacteria will grow to cover the floor, walls and ceilings. But this effect is not just aesthetic, the bacteria actually infests the level. Here is an excerpt from above link:
For example, you could have a computer console that shuts down when overrun by infestation and causes the lights in the room to go out. If the marines clear out the room and fight back the infestation, the system comes back online and the lights flicker on to fill the room. What about abilities and technology which only function when players are on their home turf?
They haven't got it all in code yet, but the team hopes to have this working for the games' release. Their website contains a video of the infestation in effect, you should check it out, its sweet.

How does the bacteria contribute to the game? What does it contribute to gameplay?
Heres what I think. Firstly, if implemented well, this should be an awesome visual effect, while also being empowering to the aliens, and perhaps frightening to the marines as they see their entire level overrun by creep. Secondly, the concept of literally affecting gameplay, while done before, is brand new to the first-person-shooter genre, in so far as I know. It could hypothetically give the aliens an edge by not only enhancing their own abilities, but maybe by slowing the movement of the marines or handcapping their abilties, even if it cut off something as simple as flashlight use. Something else this could effect, then, is game balance. If overpowered, it could give the aliens a definite edge in battle. Even so, counter weapons could be added. What if the marines had a grenade that when thrown at a patch of bacteria, will shock all aliens touch it? Of course its a ways off before we know how this will all work out, but the concept itself is really quite awesome, and if it works, the implementation technically impressive. What does everyone else think this addition to Natural Selection? How about in other first-person-shooters? Also, try to look at it secluded from both of these entirely, the idea of territory and visual representation and the effects that such blatant occupation can have on a game. And thats the design aspect of the day. P.S. Today's letter is L.

Source: Unkown Worlds Entertainment Blog


1 comment:

  1. Awesome Article Finn. I have a request. Write a feature about creatures. RE4, Colossus, ect. Different types of cool creatures that have crossed the gaming worlds path over the last 30 years.