June 2, 2006

Prey Weekly Update #21

Well, it's June 2nd, and we're twenty days away from the demo launch on the PC & Xbox 360. The game is closer to release, and as such, Chris Rhinehart has had to ask for backup for this week's weekly Prey update. This is again not Chris, this is Joe Siegler of 3D Realms. Chris asked me this in an email.. "Would YOU like to do the weekly update this week? Give 3DR's perspective on what you've been working on over the past couple of weeks or so?"

While my personal involvement outside the forums is mostly deathmatch testing, I said I'd take a stab at it. So without further ado, here goes the Prey Update for this week.

Recently at 3D Realms, we've spent a bunch of time on MultiPrey both in the full version as well as in the demo. It's a real hard job being forced to play deathmatch at work, but hey. Someone's got to do it. Because of the repetitive nature of testing games close to completion, you tend to know the source material pretty well. Since most of what I do in testing now is MultiPrey, I'll give a few of my own insights into that.

The MultiPrey Server Creation Screen

The "Prey stuff" that is in deathmatch definitely brings a whole new world to the concept. I started playing Deathmatch in videogames with most other people, back in 1993 with Doom. To most of us that were around back then, it's still held up as a great game with great deathmatch. Sure, there's been plenty others over the years (Dukematch and WangBang come to mind). Online play has expanded over the years into all kinds of various modes, but Prey Deathmatch is a really cool mix of old school deathmatch feel, as well as being more up to date with the gravity flipping and portals in the current technology.

It's all pretty darn cool. The first few times you play, if you play against someone else who knows the concepts introduced with Prey Deathmatch, they'll school your ass, as you're not used to looking in every direction for incoming fire generally. Back in the old days with Doom, ROTT, and the like you had just left and right to contend with. Quake introduced up and down to the mix, and it's pretty much stayed that way until now. While Quake allows for incoming fire to come from almost every direction, the base play remained the same, as you had to be "on" something - up and down were constants for the most part, despite the Z axis now being brought into play. Prey changes that with gravity flipping and wall walking. Quite frequently I play one of the levels with a bunch of wallwalks, and as I'm being shot, it's sometimes hard to tell where the shooting is coming from when the guy is above your head shooting straight up at you. It's quite interesting to be in a map looking straight up, and seeing another character doing the same thing to you - up and down are quite different concepts here, and seriously impact how you play deathmatch.

Portals also bring an interesting twist to the party. I was playing MultiPrey in one level, and kept shooting myself, but I didn't realize it at the time. You see, there was one bit where the level designer constructed the layout of the portals such that when you came out of one portal, you saw what you think is someone else going into another one. This being deathmatch, you shoot at everyting, so you fire at it - and it ends up being yourself! What's brilliant about this particular bit of level design is that you get to see just enough to let you know someone is there, but not enough to know who it is. So if you're heavy into deathmatch and aren't paying attention to what you're shooting at, you're likely to be shooting yourself. It's quite funny.

The maps that come in the Prey demo for deathmatch most definitely show off the cool wallwalking and gravity flipping aspects of Prey. There's a couple of screenshots below showing a few of these things from MultiPrey. Prepare for something new to the genre of good old fashioned deathmatch.

Some other things we've done at 3DR recently have been design issues like approving the box art. It might not seem like a lot - just put a picture up there, but there's a million small fiddly bits regarding box art, placement of logos, names, images, etc. I've been here a long time and have seen a lot of games come out, and box art design has always been an issue where the smallest most minute detail gets a lot of discussion.

The game manuals are also underway - there will be a print manual both with the PC & 360 versions. They all have to be read over many times for accuracy as well as other things again like placement of images, things of that nature.

One other section that has been tested a lot is the Triton delivery system. Sure, you can go to the store and buy a box, but you will also be able to buy the full game over Triton, and this needs testing. The last few beta builds we got at 3DR have come through Triton, which is kind of cool. What's nice about the Triton system is that you don't have to wait for the entire title to come down to play. After a certain percentage of the game has been downloaded, you are asked if you want to start playing right away. You can choose to start playing (depending on your download speed) after a short while, and the remainder of the game will be streamed to your computer in the background while you play.

We're also testing the Xbox 360 version, too. In previous updates, others have mentioned testing going on. At 3D Realms we get the builds from Venom in the UK - they get copied to the dev kit 360's, and away we go. While I personally haven't played it, I've watched others, and I have to say it looks as smooth as the PC games do - Venom has done a great job here. You can't really tell the difference, and the hitching that seems to plague Quake IV on the 360 is not in evidence here. It's a smooth title. Looks good and feels good on the 360.

Builds have been coming pretty frequently the last few weeks (in some instances multiples in one day), it ends up being a lot of work. Yeah, it is work at a game company. Yeah, it's fun, but when you're told "OK, you have to focus on such and such a level in this mode", and you want to play another level... Yeah - I know what you're thinking. Shut your whining, you work for a game company. You get to play games. :)

Venom has been crunching hardcore over the past few weeks to get the 360 version of Prey together. Some of the highlights they've done recently:

  • Tons and tons of bug fixes
  • Overall gameplay tweaks based upon feedback from HH and 3DR. Some creatures were designed for the fast movement of the mouse, so we had to rework some of the gameplay values for those creatures
  • Greatly improved texture resolution (there were some memory issues for a while, and as a test, Venom reduced the overall texture resolution on the game.) But, they found the memory issues, fixed them, and now have bumped the resolution back up higher.
  • Tweaks to the feel of the controls
  • A few tweaks to the default gamma/brightness
  • Tweaks to the autoaim system to make it fair and useful
  • Overall, they are kicking ass on the 360 version of Prey. Visually, it looks identical to the PC version.

Prey is close, my friends. You're gonna want to visit back in 20 days when the demo is released, and you can check out all this stuff on your own.

Until next week,
Joe Siegler - Webmaster
3D Realms (aka not Chris Rhinehart)

P.S. Just because he didn't think I'd actually post this, here's a picture of myself getting totally schooled by someone else up here. Check out this score. There, I did it Bryan - you happy now? :)

A couple of shots during loading from MultiPrey showing some of Wallwalks and gravity differences.

Click the screenshot to watch Prey in action on the videos page!

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Posted by Joe Siegler on June 2, 2006 at 5:20 PM | Permalink | Discuss this story on our forums
News Categories: Prey | Weekly Updates