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Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in Far Alliance's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
10:47 pm
[robinbloke]
Website
www.faralliance.co.uk is now up; thanks Nick!

Initially you will only have general permission, but I will zap you with dev permissions as appropriate :)

Current Mood: cheerful
Monday, May 19th, 2008
9:56 am
[robinbloke]
World view
Alternative world views

I was thinking about a scenario over the weekend; the original JA2 is an excellent idea but it's probably sadly a bit too big in scope for us to realistically complete in a timeframe conducive with still being alive.

What I want to preserve is the spirit of the game and think of a smaller scenario whereby we can map the world on.

So two thoughts; First after some discussion about design of world scope; a "zone" area of approximately 16 sections is probably manageable for us; either partially randomly generated content or lovingly crafted.

These areas would be pretty big, so more towards the BF2 sort of size of area in order to give the world a decent feeling of size. Real barriers (rivers, mountains) should act as channelling points for the maps.

Asto the story? Here's my first idea...

"Drugs. Capital D. Drugs.
You are the leader of a crack squad of quasi-mercenaries hired to help a former warlord of a small country take over onec again. The warlord has begged for aid as his forces have been badly damaged and he's been forced up into the hillsides. The warlord has spoken to leaders of several countries in secrecy, he knows that change is needed if he is going to get aid. That the drugs his country manufactures must stop flowing and it will be a painful time for his country but the end result will be one where he supplies them for medicine legitimately instead.
Specialist forces from across the world, Spetznaz, the CAI, MI5, Interpol, have been been asked to forward their best for this top secret project, so top secret the people themselves do not even know what they are being sent for.
Of all the countries involved only China has refused to contribute funds to the mission, instead they will provide troops on "lease" to the warlord until he can train or take over the army on a area by area basis.
This is the first time a joint project like this has ever been attempted.
It must not fail. Or it must have never existed.
Money makes the world go around.
But plausible denyability is worth the most of all."

NPC recruits would be chosen from these specialist forces submissions, the old favourites from JA2 can have signed themselves up around the world after shining in JA2 :)

I see the first stage of the game as taking over the first city; this would centre on basically taking out the commanders or entire garrison of the nearby army base, establishing control and then doing in the local drugs barons whilst ensuring the authorities aren't alerted via the army. There is only state controlled media and no local reporters so blackout is possible for a limited period.

Current Mood: busy
Sunday, May 18th, 2008
11:42 pm
[suzerain]
Engine Options, putting the case for Clear Sky.
First off, the shinies.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Qxg9rK086SU

is the tech demo in progress.


http://youtube.com/watch?v=VdVDeS-G3f8
and
http://youtube.com/watch?v=7OIGWREEpp0

is a september 07 build gameplay preview.
the second gameplay preview demonstrates squad/team assaults in a map, with the player leading and following AI NPCs on their side.


Now onto why.
I've been thinking over this for a little while whist going steadily polygon-crazy this weekend.

Clear Sky is due for release in august. there is no hope of us having this project running and underway that fast that the 3 and a bit months till it's released wont be a serious delay in getting the project underway. It'll take that long to get documentation in place I expect.

now, what gameplay have we got in Stalker, and which should be logically be in CS, and what's already announced for CS?

Gunporn.
oh yes, we've got it allright. shotguns, sniper rifles, Anti-aircraft SAMs, SMGs, Pistols, Grenade launchers, every piece of gunporn you can wish for...
and every one potentially could be modded... Scopes - telescopic, reflex, whatever types we model - Underbarrel attachments, Picatinny rail mounts. laser sights, torches, more scopes, grenade launchers, etc. Suppressors, muzzle brakes, all possible.

Squad-based gameplay. yup, check, that's in there.

Open sandbox maps, node-based world.
Unlike HL2, you're not limited to a linear progression... so that means we can create areas players go through, base from, go out raiding into other towns, etc. Maps are up to about 4x4 KM square, which gets my vote for "sweet fucking Jesus-H-Christ-onna-stick" big.
Given the original game was open routes, and a 16x16 map, there's no way we can produce 256 maps for the setting. It'd kill us, and never be complete. however, with a node-based map system we can have loading between areas, with chokes to lead through, so players leave by designated points and can go from map A to B,C or E, etc.
This should allow us the ability to create the feeling and setting of the original gameplay in a plausible manner and not be utterly swamped... if we aim for perhaps 16 maps, several of which would be quite open, and some would be urban styles, we're sorted.

Economy, NPCs with dialogue - check.

pretty much the main areas we'd need.

now the downsides.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R was was buggy as fuck, and took a while for patches. this could be a bit of an arse if GSC dont up their QA in prerelease...
the SDK is originally a MP SKD that has been added to by the fans. the existing SDK is for S.T.A.L.K.E.R, and *should* be compatible with Clear Sky. this could be a sticking point if not addressed fast.
SDK is pretty tricky to use, does'nt help art or code sides.
GSC are Ukranian. we'd better not rely on clean source code with notes in english...

So. Comments, opinions?
Friday, May 16th, 2008
3:31 pm
[robinbloke]
Website
faralliance.co.uk has now been registered, forum stuff to be sorted soonish.

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, May 15th, 2008
1:32 pm
[razornet]
thoughts and questions
So I got some ideas down about this and thought I'd throw them out for discussion:

  • Fast weapon changes:

    Most FPS have very unrealistic switching between weapons. Those of us who airsoft know its nowhere near as easy to whip out a pistol while dropping you rifle to sling as COD4 would have you believe. Ironically in JA2 it doesn't cost action points to switch guns either. I it worth keeping this realistic?

  • Reloading

    As above, although JA2 takes this into account in AP cost. Though most FPS's are also more realistic on this.

  • Map sizes.

    The terrains should be large-ish but without the huge numbers of enemies that normally populate such games to keep people from getting bored. Tempting as it would be to have run and gun to keep interest I think it will be better overall to use mirror JA2 in having sensibly sized patrols that you have to hunt down or be hunted by. which brings us to:

  • AI

    The enemy AI should be very cautious, things we could look to avoid are obvious tropes such as the enemies rushing towards the first gunshot, keeping grouped up, and standing in the open when there's adequate cover. We want the players to take this cautiously as well.

  • UI

    I'm not seeing much to change about the laptop/map screen except to make it a bit prettier. Really it was an integral part of what made the game so much fun. It didn't make the player feel limited while channeling their attention to whats need very well. How much of the original UI's code could we bodge into this do you think?

  • Weapon modeling for the FPS section

    This will be a *lot* of work considering the huge number of guns etc involved. We need realisti ideas about how we'll do this. Remember JA2 got around this by basically having one model for each type pistol, rifle, shotgun etc. Each gun need to be accurately modeled here.

  • Weapon/kit degredation

    To be frank this was an irritation for me in the original. That said it did provide an extra danger to consider which was undeniably part of the games charm. If we include it it means putting in means of causing weapon jams and complete failure in the FPS section, not difficult but it'll add to the amount of controls a player needs to be aware of.

  • Version.

    The last "official" version was 1.12 which had some minor tweaks and additions. There a 1.13 edition which is fan-made, a bit unstable and has a whole shedload of new gimmicks (look it up on The Bears Pit forums to get some idea. I'd like to see some of the more interesting bits to do with load bearing and weapon modding taken on (I can only imagine what the glue-tube-tape barrel mod from 1.12 would look like in FPS!) but this will add to the general FPS modeling work which is already considerable.Basically which are we looking to emulate?

  • Plot

    This is a big question for me. Are we going to be doing the original Arulco plot, one of the others or something entirely new? Personally going for emulating the original sits high in my book, however it is open for discussion.

  • New mercs
    Personal thing. Quite keep to stick member of team spleen and other notables in as options. Probably as low level mercs.


    Thats enough for now. Go.

    Current Mood: good
  • Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
    3:16 pm
    [robinbloke]
    Jagged Alliance 2
    For those of you who don't have a copy of JA2, you can get it on Amazon for 3 quid.

    As I mentioned the squad management section of the game will be based on this, but adapted for the target FPS environment.
    11:40 am
    [razornet]
    Choices, choices
    Can't really see that Stalker has much going for it, it doesn't really do much that Half-life and BF2 haven't already done. Big maps are good, but how big do we need 'em? In my mind the three likeliest are COD4, BF2 and HL2, far cry is a notable mention due to the Very Nice Graphics(Tm).

    Breaking it down:

    COD4:

    Pros: Excellent graphics, looks pretty modable, very good movement and combat system, good AI

    Cons: No built in command interface, quite new, unknown community support

    BF2:

    Pros: Very nice graphics, Big maps, extremely modable, wide community support, established SDK, command interface implemented in game could be used.

    Cons: GFX not *all* that good and pretty generic, Quite old hat in general, AI not very impressive, optimised for huge maps so may not translate so well to squad-based environment, command UI may not be of much use.

    HL2: Very nice graphics, about as moddable as you can get, biggest community support, very established SDK, pre-existing examples of suitable command level UI, AI not bad.

    Cons: Mod could be lost is the miasma of projects, HL2 mods are *so* last year, AI can be very daft

    The above isn't comprehensive but it is how I see things. Really I'm leaning towards COD for best gameplay and HL2 for ease of use in development. I guess the crunch for me is what COD4's SDK is like and how much community support can be gleaned.

    Current Mood: okay
    11:27 am
    [robinbloke]
    Which platform?
    Poll #1187611 System

    Which base engine do you think is a good one for the mods?

    Half Life 2 *
    1(20.0%)
    Battlefield 2 *
    0(0.0%)
    Far Cry *
    0(0.0%)
    Call of duty 4 *
    0(0.0%)
    Crysis *
    0(0.0%)
    Stalker
    0(0.0%)
    Other (please comment!)
    1(20.0%)


    Games with a * I have confirmed have an SDK kit available.
    Comment please on any desireable attributes of an FPS system

    Such as: Stability, Map support, Mod communities, Manueverability in game, etc.
    11:22 am
    [robinbloke]
    Overview
    The very basic idea is this; to create a tactical squad based game based on Jagged Alliance 2 style game management (I highly recommend you play this if you're interested in this mod community!) but the twist is all the combat system stuff will be done as an FPS.

    Key elements of the game will include

    Non-FPS map management, squad management through hiring and firing
    In game comms to command AI squad members of your team (formations, overwatch control etc)
    AI characters with stats and abilities that affect their performance (and the players) in the FPS section
    Large selection of highly customisable gear

    Advanced development could include

    Possible multiplayer so others can play too, either against or with you.

    I have a lot of scribbled notes I intend to transcribe when I have time with ideas for different sections, but in the mean time please suggest!

    Things/roles we will need
    FPS Level design (piecemeal, drop objects and otherwise) - razornet suzerain
    Concept/character design (note certain characters eg Gontarski from JA2 are a must ;) )
    AI design - wintrmute ?
    Art - suzerain
    Voice actors
    Skin modders - devalmont ?
    Community site - njd37 ?
    Equipment roster/planning - njd37 ?
    UI/Management designer ~ Tentatively robinbloke
    Project manager ~ robinbloke

    If you can think of other things that need doing, suggest/ask!

    EDIT: Roles updated!
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