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Interviews

The Ship

As Outerlight's The Ship steams into port, we catch up with the dev's MD to discuss murder and skulduggery on the high seas

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Originally The Ship was a Half-Life mod. What new features has moving over to the Source technology allowed you to introduce - how has it impacted the gameplay?

Chris Peck: I think almost every aspect of the game has improved. Taking the characters for example, they are now all our own, and have eight way move cycles, blended animations, attachments in the form of hair, hats and glasses, changeable clothes, eye and head tracking, body & head tilting, as well as facial blend shapes which can be used for either facial animations such as smiles, or lip synching for dialogue. In the mod when the player changed costume they effectively did a total body swap, so a player could go from being an elderly white man, to a young woman when they changed outfit. Now players have an inventory so they can carry spare costumes, glasses, and hats, and can go to the shops to buy more items and their character is consistent.

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The AI are also much improved on the mod, from their ability to path find and get out of the way of the player, to their imitation of players, and their use of the needs system, which means they take care of their needs just like players. Our hunter AI also find weapons and hunt down their quarry, just like a player.

What can we expect from each of the play modes you're including?

Chris Peck: So far we have added Hunt, Elimination, Deathmatch, Duel, Arcade, and Story Mode, the latter two being single player options.

Hunt is fast paced, and good for new players online. In Hunt everyone gets a quarry, and whenever someone successfully kills their quarry, the remaining hunters have a 90 second countdown in which to kill their quarry, before the round is over. There is a slight pause between rounds, and then a new round begins. In Hunt mode the action is pretty much constant, players won't find themselves out of the game for long. The winner is the player who reaches the target bank balance or who has the most money in the bank when the timer runs out.

Elimination is like a last man standing version of the Hunt. Again, all the players are assigned a quarry, except, whenever someone successfully kills their quarry, their victim is knocked out of the loop (becoming a passenger, rather than a spectator), and the successful killer inherits their victim's old quarry. The game goes on with an ever shrinking loop of killers until there is one player left, the Eliminator. The advantage of Elimination is that if you are good, you don't have any quarry changes, or time pressure, it's all about survival, and eventual victory. The disadvantage is that if you are out first, you may have some time to wait for the next round, however, as a passenger you can still pick up weapons, explore, and so on, so you aren't totally out of the game. Elimination can also be played to the death or for money like the hunt.

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Deathmatch is pretty much what you would expect, all the players can kill any of the other players, except we gave it the Ship Twist. As configurable options, security remains on, and the money for kills table (which determines how much cash you get for killing with each weapon) remains active. This means players must still avoid being spotted by cameras and guards, and still have to find new weapons if they want the best score. We added Deathmatch for a bit of fun, and maybe to cater for some people who are finding it hard to let go of twitch response gaming.

The Duel mode is designed to allow 2 players to decide who is the better hunter, without the interference of other players. We will be tweaking this to allow players to challenge each other to duels.

The Arcade Mode is a single player mode which uses the AI for killers, and allows players to play Hunt or Elimination against the AI. It is designed to be a way for players to practice, so they don't have to go online and get their butts kicked as their first experience.

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