March 3, 2006

Prey Weekly Development Update #8

Hey all -- welcome to the latest Prey Weekly Update. Originally, Peter Johnson from Venom was going to update this week on the status and progress of the Xbox 360 version, but due to their crunch his update will have to wait until a future update (possibly next week).

Like Venom, we're in crunch here at Human Head as the game is in late beta. We're getting tons of feedback from 3D Realms, Take2 QA, and other beta testers. Every day the game improves pretty noticeably.

I'm going to update with little snippets of thoughts on various things that have happened around here. Like I said, we're incredibly busy, so there's way more than this happening, but here are just a few:

Last week I was in Dallas visiting 3D Realms. Tom Chick from CGM flew in for the first single-player hands-on demo of the game. We showed him the first two hours of Prey, and then jumped around and showed him a few cool areas later in the game.

The game pretty much shows itself off now. In the past, it was 80% talking and 20% showing -- as we discussed the story and what we planned to do in certain sections. But now, those numbers have flipped. Most of the demo was just seeing the game and experiencing the story -- the 20% was us talking about what we had yet to fix and tweak, and talking about the history of the game and its development.

Recently I speed-ran through the entire game, taking stock of the following items:

  • Action/Puzzles: Any long stretches of the game without any action or puzzles? (not many!)
  • Tommy comments: Making notes of additional comments needed and which current comments could use reworking.
  • Combat frequency: Is there not enough combat in areas, or too much? Do certain creatures show up too much?
  • Death frequency: Did I die too many times in a given area before I was able to get through?
  • Animation tweaks: Which animations could use reworking
  • Sound tweaks: Any sounds that could use tweaking, or any places where the volume mix is off.
  • General bugs: Just anything that seems wrong or is broken.

Michael Greyeyes (the voice of Tommy) will be visiting us in a couple of weeks to record new lines and re-record some previous lines that didn't work well, or had to change due to story tweaks. I'm compiling a (pretty large) list of comments culled from suggestions here and from suggestions from 3D Realms. I doubt we'll have the in-game Tommy say everything from that list, but we're going to record all these lines just in case.

More voice recording fun:

We brought in a local actress/singer named CJ Schellback to provide additional female voices and screams for the game. She did a fantastic job, with some excellent screams of pain and yelling such things as "Help me!", "Where am I?!", "What's going on?!"

Our recording booth is apparently not entirely soundproof as her AMAZINGLY LOUD screams of pain heard by one of the offices directly below us.

After several minutes of her screams -- someone from the office finally came up stairs and asked "Is someone being raped up here?"

Seriously. They didn't ask if someone was hurt or needed help. They go straight to raped.

In the future, we'll be sure to inform our neighbors of our voice recording sessions.

We're reworking the final sequence of the game. The previous version was a bit abrupt and didn't properly convey the story in the way we wanted to wrap things up -- the new version is longer, better explains things, and is damn swanky-looking, too.

Can't mention more of this, though -- as it would be spoilers. I will say, however, that the end sequence has the coolest Earth model I've seen in a game yet!

Music: We're incorporating the latest Jeremy Soule music into the game. Very nice stuff. It's amazing how the mood of an area changes radically when music is added. There's still quite a bit more music from him coming soon -- all in all, Prey will have about 2 hours of music from Jeremy.

We're also looking at getting more bands for the jukebox (which is in the Roadhouse near the start of the game, and also makes an appearance a few times on the alien ship). We already have some major label stuff in the jukebox and Ed is looking at some more indie-bands as well. Also, music related and interesting: Killer music from development materializes.

Later today, we're having a multiplayer stress test here at Human Head. We have weekly multiplayer tests to check for bugs and generally playtest the levels. Typically it ranges from 4-6 people playing (whomever is free at the moment to test). Today, we're focusing on all 8 players in the game, and are looking for bugs and any places in the maps where the flow chugs down.

Each week, 3D Realms receives a new build from us. Typically, I include a changelog of some of the more interesting things that changed (based up their feedback of what they wanted changed/fixed). George mentioned that it would be a cool thing to include in this update. So here it is:

  • New weapon selection menu
  • Multiple quick save slots
  • New wrench alt-fire raise animation
  • DeathWraiths now have a probability of 50% blue, 50% red
  • Many more mutilated humans working on stuff and shuffling around throughout the game
  • You have three seconds of invincibility when you return from death walk
  • New initial load screen
  • Beer bottles no longer float in Roadhouse
  • Jenny properly holds and throws the sponge now
  • JukeBox should always have a mouse cursor
  • Roadhouse: Timing is different on the dialog now, so you can play with the games all you want, going back down by the bar will continue the dialog scripting
  • Drunks have fight animations -- still need stagger around animations, though.
  • FTC: New Hider sighting -- dialog is temp, though
  • Art Bell radio sequences now start and end with music snippets. Recognize it? :-)
  • Hunters are toned down slightly -- bigger pauses between their shots. Maybe toned down too much right now, though?
  • Spirit Arrows are much more dangerous now. Also, more spirit power is given from enemies. This seems to be creating a positive feedback loop that we don't necessarily want, though.
  • Leech Gun: The tips are in, but we are going to add a picture of the leech gun itself to make it more clear.
  • Swipe animations are in for using things (especially in Roadhouse). Anims will be tweaked further.
  • Many more leech nodes added throughout the game. Pass isn't final, though...will still be more added.
  • You can shoot the robot vacuums (done especially for George)
  • Laser beam eye stalks can not longer be shot. You have to avoid the beams, trigger them, or spiritwalk through them now.
  • LOTA D: In progress, but new set-up for Grandfather. Play it to see where he's located now.
  • Cilia are triggered by spiritwalking players (so you can't walk through them)
  • Jetpacks rockets are slower
  • Four-legged Harvesters have been debuffed slightly
  • Head shots from the sniper rifle decapitate the mutilated humans
  • Poker/blackjack rules fixes in Roadhouse
  • Lots and lots of bugfixes

Well, that's all for this week. Next week (hopefully, if he can tear himself away from crunch time), Peter from Venom will update on the 360 version and anything he feels like talking about with that. In the meantime, stay out of trouble.

Chris Rhinehart - Prey Project Lead
Human Head Studios

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Posted by Joe Siegler on March 3, 2006 at 2:40 PM | Permalink
News Categories: Prey | Weekly Updates