In my constant search for modding possibilities I have stumbled upon a technology that will completely transform the way 2D maps are built and look. I’ve been looking for this. Ever since Half-Life 2 got out I’ve seen that FPS games are no longer made for people to mod. Even John Carmack recently at the Quakecon stated that it is no longer possible for a small team to make a decent game by modding. An era for modded FPS games has ended. Welcome to a new era for 2D side-view games and mods.
The reason that FPS games are nearly impossible to mod now is the amount of work needed to complete a mod. Mod teams consist now of several or even dozens of artists. Maps and models are created in days. More polygons, higher resolution textures, more demand for realism. If you have money you can do this, but if you’re making games for fun, it is not fun anymore.
So where will all the talented and motivated people go now?
First let’s see why did the mod community focus on first person shooters?
It all started with Doom. Doom is the father of 3D, multiplayer and modding as we know it today. It started with a simple file format called .WAD. What it was, was simply a zip archive with all the game media in it. Graphics and sounds were trivial to mod. The map format, I believe was hacked and a dozen of map editors spawned. Later on we could even find EXE editors which hacked Doom network code and added jumping and new mouse look features. The ease of modifying things and quickly seeing the results was very attractive.
Then arrived Quake with an embedded scripting language called Quake C. This allowed for almost infinite creativity. These were the times were anyone could come in and make a decent mod. Even by himself. Models had 100-500 polygons, the animations didn’t matter. Textures had a size of 64×64 instead of 1024×1024. Maps were made out of simple sectors instead of being modelled and lightmapped for a week in expensive 3D software. It was a virgin territory, ideas flew in just like that. It was the golden era of modding which finally ended with Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat built on the Half-Life engine which was an improved version of Quake 2. Both mods went commercial and are making money now for Valve. Then it stopped, no big mod that everyone would know of after that.
Now I am here to bring those times back. All my efforts with the new game besides making it the best game ever made go into modding capabilities. I seek new technologies to accomplish this mighty task. I won’t say yet what it is but I will write briefly about how maps will look in my new game:
To state it as simply as possible. The maps will be 100% painted.
No more polygons (no more polybugs:p).
No more sceneries except for dynamic elements.
Collisions will be made out of pixels similarly to Liero or Worms, but much much better using a totally different approach.
What will be the map editor? Your favourite paint program (Photoshop, Paintshop Pro?).
The artist will simply paint the map, specify the layers, save them and then convert the map, add spawn points, dynamic elements etc. in the in-game editor (the beginning of the implementation can be seen in Crimson Glory).
This is a never seen before technology in a 2D game. It is not tilemaps and it is not polygons. As I said it looks similar to Worms or Cortex Command but all games using that technology are limited to the size of the maps because bitmaps get really big and stop fitting in system memory. The size will not be a big deal here. Also those games suffer from collision inaccuracy, here it will be perfect.
So goodbye PMS format. No more polycount and scenery counts.
Of course I will write more about this in the future, telling all the details, I’ll probably post some fairwell pictures to the PMS maps working in the new engine cause I have that working with a walking character. So stay tuned.