April 7, 2006

Prey Weekly Development Update #13

Hello again -- welcome to the thirteenth installment of the Weekly Prey Update.

This week, we have the usual weekly status, an update on in-game dialog, some talk about the 360 version, and something a bit special: pictures of the Human Head visit to Art Bell's house to record his voice for the game.

We're in full-on crunch mode here at Human Head Studios. Many people are burning the midnight oil as they work to finish their tasks before our next major deadline.

I read the last few Weekly Updates, and it seems that my mantra lately has been "bug fixing and tweaking". Well, this week is no different -- there's been a ton of bug fixes and a lot of tweaks.

We're pretty much over the feature hump, as all of the major features we wanted are now implemented. From here to end, it will mainly be bug fixing, tweaking, and any remaining minor features as needed.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Michael Greyeyes was here recording new lines for Tommy. This week most of those lines have been processed and are being added to the game. Probably half of the new lines are now in the game with the rest planned to be implemented next week.

Today we're recording a few new lines for the epilogue of the game -- and probably getting a few more screams out of the voice actors. Can never have enough screams in a game.

Of course, this time we'll inform our neighbors of the voice recording session so they don't call the cops.

Speaking of voice recording: Several months ago, Ed Lima (Audio Director at Human Head) and Tim Gerritsen (Business Development Manager at Human Head) flew out to Las Vegas to meet with Art Bell to record specific dialog for Prey.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Art Bell, he's the infamous host of "Coast to Coast". "Coast to Coast" is a radio show where people call in with tales of the fantastic -- they cover things ranging from Bigfoot to werewolves to alien invasions. The show is regularly hosted by George Noory, but Art Bell still occasionally hosts on weekends.

Now how does this fit in with Prey? Well, when designing the game we realized we needed some way for Tommy to connect with Earth even though he's trapped on an alien ship orbiting many miles above the planet. What better way to get information about Earth than to have Tommy come across places where the aliens are intercepting Earth's transmissions?

When we discussed this idea, someone mentioned how awesome it would be to have those transmissions actually be Art Bell broadcasts. We contacted Art's people and he thought the idea was great and agreed to provide his voice for Prey.

After a few months of playing phone tag to set things up, we finally nailed down a date to record the lines. Ed and Tim visited Art at his home -- where he actually broadcasts his show. Since Art already had high quality recording equipment set-up in his studio, they literally recorded the Prey lines by having Tim call into Art's studio from a separate phone.

Art was a total professional. Without even looking at the script in advance, he nailed the whole thing in almost literally one take. There were only two times that he stopped to re-record a few lines. The whole process took about 45 minutes.

In the end, the new lines turned out great -- they convey at some information of what is happening back on Earth. Some of them even manage to inject a bit of humor into the game.

Art Bell and Ed Lima

Art Bell and Tim Gerritsen

A number of people here (and at 3DR) have been testing the Xbox360 version of Prey -- we both have several test kits throughout the office, so people can play when they have time. Ted Halsted, lead level designer on Prey, has been going through the 360 version looking for any really slow areas. I watched him play through a particularly complex level, and the 360 appeared to be handling it just fine.

Time for the weekly changelog:

  • Portaling is considerably smoother. It's pretty much impossible to detect when you go through a portal now.
  • Fixed some bugs with the functionality to retain the ammo type in dropped leechguns in MP.
  • Fixed Prey window sometimes getting resized when using the menu options to go to driver pages and possibly other things.
  • Now checking Creative driver version, and disabling on old versions so that we don't cause bluescreens.
  • Tracked down and fixed a crash bug in AI navigation
  • Cleaned up some client prediction misses with the acid sprayer.
  • Globalizing remainder of Tommy's v/o.
  • Extracting additional Tommy pickup v/o
  • Selecting more licensed music to round out in-game jukebox song selection
  • Writing/prepping epilogue dialog for recording
  • auto detection revamp texture quality setting and removed global video quality setting.
  • Changed proxdoors so they no longer snap shut when a monster dies inside one.
  • Fixed IK while crouching in players in multiplayer.
  • Some save / load fixes.
  • Added code to prevent Harvesters from getting stuck in passageways.
  • Fixed a rare crash bug related to reactions that would show up on save.
  • Fixed Gasbag death time.
  • made shuttles show crosshair even when no tractor target.
  • plaque under "Game Saved." messages
  • made normal projectiles hit spirit secrets
  • made spirit arrows pass through chaff
  • Misc art tweaks
  • Finalizing cinematic animation cleanup
  • Fixed a bug with the Spiritwalk overlay not working well with other overlays
  • Bug fix so Talon properly lands on moving targets
  • System in place for Tommy making comments to Talon
  • Removed redundant ammo types from the levels

Well, that's it for this week --

We decided to extend the Ask Prey submission time by another week. The original deadline was today, but if you still have any questions or anything you'd like to see covered in these weekly updates, feel free to email them to [email protected].

Until next time, stay out of trouble.

Chris Rhinehart - Prey Project Lead
Human Head Studios

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Posted by Joe Siegler on April 7, 2006 at 3:31 PM | Permalink | Discuss this story on our forums
News Categories: Prey | Weekly Updates