Saturday, 6 September 2014

Damocles is Mecenary

Oh boy ...

Seems that Just Add Water was working on a Damocles game!

"We've spent some time on pre-production, coming up with the overall direction, both visually, and as a story, as it's not a straight Damocles remake, it's using parts of the entire Mercenary story arc," JAW boss Stewart Gilray told VG247 today.

Despite the pre-production and close working relationship with original coder Paul Woakes, the project is currently on hold at JAW.

"We've had to shelve it for the moment unfortunately but it's something we are massively excited about coming back to," he confirmed.

Well I hope they don't shelve it for too long. Damocles was the only Amiga game I ever bought so it has a pretty bit spot in my heart.


I haven't been playing games much lately - hacking on code is more rewarding and satisfying and if i'm stuck or had enough or too tired I've been reading junk on the net, or watching a tiny bit of TV.

I like the new Doctor Who and i'm pleased they let him keep his "independent" accent. Although I'm sure i'm not alone in thinking of his character from The Thick of It. "Missy" is still the batshit-crazy HR chick from Green Wing too - which was a great character and it was a nice surprise to see she wasn't just a one-off for the first show (I think the whole 'heaven' and his intro as 'i'm over 2000 years old' may turn into some sort of connection with a particular fictional sandal-wearing character from that era; well probably not but it would be interesting if they did). The americanised torchwood OTOH is just not really very good ... but what can you do eh - the original wasn't really very good either if we're honest but the dumbed-down McGuyver-science stuff is a pretty shitful and unnecessary addition to the show. "Gwen" is a bit of a yummy mummy though ;-)

Back to games - since I haven't been playing much i'm kind of not sure why i'm terribly interested in these but there are some games coming up that are looking pretty sweet all the same.


Evolution make great car games and I was always a fan of the way they handled hills and long-range views adding a bit of flair from their origins in flight simulators (at least that's what i understand from reading it somewhere). The amount of processing power available now is just staggering and allowing for some really amazing graphics and world simulation.

It will be interesting to see how the social aspect works. People just seem to love that kinda shit for some reason and racing games seem like a good fit due to their competitive nature and accessibility and that repetitive play continually improves your times.

Hmmm ... I still have a copy of Motorstorm Apocalypse I haven't got around to opening yet, amongst half a dozen other games. I preferred the WRC games for the most part but the loading times were always shit - that's another big "next generation" thing they seem to have addressed in DRIVECLUB.

The Tomorrow Children

Visually stunning and aesthetically unique - something that simply wasn't possible just a few years ago because neither the hardware nor the mathematics existed. I just wish all that async compute stuff filtered down to the APUs (faster).

Like part of DRIVECLUB the multiplayer is not fully synchronous. Everyone occupies the same persistent world in real(ish?)-time but they don't have the scalability problem of trying to render 500 dolls at on screen at the same time by simply not showing other people unless they're interacting with the global state (e.g. they 'fade in' to pick up something, then fade out taking the something with them). This is a neat technological solution to the scalability issue but also addresses the confrontational aspect of most "traditional" multi-player games. Although player vs player games are quite popular a lot of people don't like them, me included, and this is one of many games adopting a different approach.

I'm not sure it will be the sort of game I would play because it looks like it will suck too much time and due to the multiplayer persistence force you to be constantly active and involved; but graphically and technically there is a lot of cool stuff going on there.

No Man's Sky. Or in Irish apparently "nomans-sky".

Technically very interesting again. This is probably something previously possible but nobody dared to try on quite this scale - or never managed to get the algorithms good enough to pull it off (assuming Hello Games can). Obviously i've been playing with noise lately which would be one of the underlying building blocks of making this work. There's absolutely no "random" in the noise algorithms although they are intended appear that way.

I think it's rather cool that although it is a persistent shared galaxy "the mathematical chances of ever meeting anyone else is approximately zero and therefore anyone you meet is simply a product of an over-active imagination" - to paraphrase a certain book.

Actually the imagination runs wild on this one with the potential scope of the game - whole galaxy which can never be fully explored, galaxy-wide civilisations, traders, pirates, conflicts, archaeological remains and relics, forgotten settlements or downtrodden settlers, whole planets to roam. Reality might not be quite so fantastical but i'm still interested to see what sort of game they come up and the universe they're algorithms will create and the potential is there for expansion toward loftier goals for years to come. I was interested to read that they have procedural room generation as well - will we be able to actually (finally) go inside every building we see? If you can do it for one there's nothing to stop you doing it for them all. That alone would be revolutionary.

I'm guessing that the main "impediment" to reaching the end-game will be the fuel required to travel from star to star and thus the main driving mechanism for the whole game will be acquiring that fuel. So my guess is the gameplay will revolve around performing tasks which earn the dough which can be used to buy the fuel to travel forward, but you're always limited in how far you can go. Although only 1 in 100 planes will have "advanced" life my guess is the barren ones will have rare/valuable minerals to be mined that will make them worth visiting too. If each solar system has one particular resource of interest and the livability of planets is based on the chemistry of the solar system it would make sense that resource abundance would also be correlated.

If they're smart they'll sell fuel canisters for real money - although I personally think it's pretty stupid to buy such "virtual goods" myself if people are dumb enough with their money then why not let them spend it? This would literally turn the game into a virtual tourism simulator which isn't such a despicable idea. Actually it will be interesting to see if they actually do this - although it could potentially imbalance most games of this type with so many planets in the galaxy it's effectively impossible to "wreck" this game that way.

Since you don't actually meet people my guess is the main 'multiplayer' aspect of the game will take place either IRL - via screenshots, blogs, faecebook, twatter, youtube, twitch and so on, or a similar in-game universal comms/atlas system. vidphones and "subspace" communications? That was definitely a mainstay in 30-60s sci-fi. Since they plan on some sort of multiplayer later on, and since you can't physically meet, my guess is it will be have to be some sort of tele-holo-deck type thing to fit in the game world.

TBH it's really hard to imagine that their geography/flora/fauna/architecture/spaceship/route algorithms will provide enough variety to satisfy punters but it's really hard to imagine the sort of big numbers they're playing with (actually it's impossible). Basing the models on the way the real world works - using an alternative but consistent chemistry and physics - at least has the potential to be just as wild and varied.

I think there were a couple of other interesting things coming up but they slip my mind for the moment.

If these more novel games get any success (or even if they don't) i'm sure more will try which will just further add to the breadth of the gameosphere.

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