July 3rd, 2009
Everyone already knows that if they want to ask us questions, they can find us in the Public Wolfire IRC channel or on our live chat widget. However, a couple of weeks ago we announced that we would host a Q and A using fan questions on the blog. Unfortunately people asked us so many good questions that we can't possibly fit them all into one post. But as promised, here are the answers to the top 10 most liked questions as well as a few bonus questions that grabbed our attention.
Question 1 (14 Likes)
Zacqary asks "How is Overgrowth different from other games out there today? Please answer in the form of interpretive dance." Jo-Shadow adds that "the interpretive dance must be performed by john... in his kilt."
You guys will be sorry you asked for this. Here it is: Watch it in HD at your own risk.
Question 2 (13 Likes)
Deor craftily submitted two questions. He asks "Do you plan to have cut-scenes in the game or will you go with the dialog system Lugaru had?" and "Are you planing on making it compatible with a gamepad?"
1. Lugaru technically had cut scenes but it sounds like you are talking about animated cut scenes. Looking at the big picture, we will probably focus first on actual gameplay elements like combat before worrying too much about cut scenes. However, we may be able to implement animated cut scenes as well.
2. We are designing Overgrowth using a keyboard and mouse but gamepad support probably won't be too problematic. The Phoenix Engine used to support game pads, thanks to some code by Henry Kropf (who is working on the netcode) and it will likely be coming back. We agree that the Overgrowth control scheme would mesh nicely with a gamepad and for this reason we may have to see if consoles are a possibility for Overgrowth later on.
Question 3 (13 Likes)
Mickyan asks "Will there be some kind of free-roaming between missions or will it be a linear series of fighting?"
Overgrowth will be fairly linear like Lugaru. We don't want the player to end up roaming the countryside without a clear purpose. The open-ended aspects of Overgrowth will occur during individual levels where the player will be presented with a set of objectives and have a lot of freedom to determine how best to complete those objectives (stealth vs. attacking from the front, brutality vs. non-lethal takedowns, etc.)
Question 4 (12 Likes)
Sargon asks "Do you think OG will turn out to be exactly as you planned/imagined/dreamed it will be or does its shape change as you build it?"
David and Aubrey have been thinking about Overgrowth (formerly Lugaru 2) since Lugaru came out. While we have a lot of ideas that we think will work really well, we've done our best not to declare concrete design decisions from a position of ignorance before we can actually playtest them in the engine. One of the nice things about being indie, is that we don't have to commit to a rigid plan way in advance in order to satisfy investors or coordinate a bureaucratic army of developers. We can adapt to what's working while cutting out and changing what isn't.
Question 5 (11 likes)
Merfnad asks "Will the story be linear like Lugaru or have multiple paths?"
The story will mainly be linear because we're just too small to be able to support an intricately branching decision tree. However we would like to include one or two decision nodes for key moments in the narrative if possible.
Also I don't see any reason why there couldn't be an awesome non-linear mod if fans get together and each link their mods together as different branches of one mega campaign.
Question 6 (10 likes)
Wouterken asks "Will Wolfire grow in the future, hire new staff etc. or are you guys happy with it as is?"
Figuring out how to grow will be a good problem to have because it is only something we'll have to think about if Overgrowth is really successful. If everything goes very well, I could see us looking to grab one or two more people.
Question 7 (9 likes)
George asks "What specific tech features will Overgrowth have that almost no other modern mainstream games have and why don't you think the mainstream games have them? What makes Overgrowth technologically unique? It would be nice to have a list even though some of these things would have inevitably been mentioned in blog posts."
That's a a very good question. We're not claiming to be able to win an arms race with the mainstream market. However, while a lot of games tend to focus on one or two features to do really well, Overgrowth will be unique in the way it combines many different high-end features in one, user-friendly, moddable bundle. We will definitely want to formalize a feature list later on but for now here are the major features we are likely to brag about:
- Brutal physics-based combat (procedural animations and ragdoll phsyics)
- Streamlined and intuitive, context-based combat controls
- Levels with multiple solutions
- User-friendly level editor
- Built-in physics editor and animation editor
- Awesomium GUI system
- OffTheGrid terrain system
- Realistic lighting (fast-updating direct lighting and ambient occlusion)
- Realistic blood effects
- Integrated sky-box-dependent cubemapping and atmospheric haze
Question 8 (9 likes)
Swordarm not one question but 3, perhaps he should be disqualified.
1. Game structure? We know it will be a mostly linear level progression but what about the levels themselves? Just arena fight after arena fight or will you go for a more cinematic exp, with levels taking place in towns and cities and levels without fights? Hopefully the later.
1. In Lugaru there was only one mission structure: Kill Everyone. In Overgrowth we want to add a few more mission types. Things we are considering are: reconnaissance (obtain information/object x and bring it back), stealth (get from point A to point B without being seen), escape (get from point A to point B without getting captured/killed), race (get from point A to point B before the other guy or in a certain amount of time), assassination (kill a chosen few enemies on the map), survival (stay alive for X amount of time). Rather than try to commit to a concrete narrative this early, we'd prefer to design a story that smoothly connects the dots between the best gameplay opportunities.
2. How do you guys actually work together? How do you organize your day? Is David a benevolant dictator telling everybody what to do after breakfast or does he whip you into working before you even get the chance to have breakfast? :-)
2. We often start our day with a meeting. Once we check in to see what everyone is doing, we get to work. Our fearless leader David is indeed very benovelent. Regarding breakfast, some of us trade our morning meal for a midnight snack so that our eating habits match standard programmer waking hours which seem to be from roughly 10am to 2am.
3. First game, global recession and ridiculous high goals. How are you holding up? Do you feel the necessity to cut some of the intended features and streamline your planned game? For example the better-than-Assassin's-Creed-and-inFamous-FreeRunning part ?
3. We're doing fine. Thanks to Lugaru sales, preorders and personal savings we are able to make decisions based on what what we think will make Overgrowth the best game rather than worrying about what will generate the most cash the fastest. We have a prioritized list of features we want to add. We are still planning on adding the climbing system however it is lower on the list than, for instance, the fighting system.
Question 9 (9 likes)
Spinnacre asks "Do you plan to make the game free roaming? I noticed your article on non-linear gaming a while back, so will the world be bigger with the game more like an RPG or like the original Lugaru. Either way, we won't mind, because lugaru is one hell of a game and something similar will be excellent!"
This is similar to Question 3 from Mickyan. Overgrowth will not be free roaming but will present the player with mission objectives that can be fulfilled in multiple ways.
Question 10 (9 likes)
Sparrow15 asks "With respect to Lugaru, you've said that the modding community has produced better content than the original game. Are you expecting the same with Overgrowth, and how does that affect how you're building it?"
We think we're going to be able to make the core Overgrowth campaign pretty awesome. However, in the wake of Lugaru, it's been impossible to ignore how creative and talented the Wolfire community is. We're still amazed that so many cool mods were made for Lugaru despite the fact that there was almost no mod support at all. For Overgrowth we want to make building , browsing and playing mods as easy as we can. One of the benefits of our open development is that we've been able to show people our modding tools early and gather some good feedback on what's working and what's not. If fans can use our tools to make a campaign that is more fun than the one we build internally, we will definitely wear that as a badge of honor.
Lhorkan: Will they let you keep your beard, John?
No. When the fighting system gets linked to the animation editor so that combatants can transition seamlessly to flailing ragdolls when KOed, I promised David I would shave.
GirlFlash: how am I going to feel when playing overgrowth?
Like the hunter or the hunted.
Skofo: Will there be genitals?
Wath20: Why are you guys so awesome? When did you become awesome? How can I become as awesome as you?
That's a great question. We're not awesome -- you're awesome. But thanks for the question, that's definitely one of our favorites.
hymerman: When are you going to make it a game rather than an engine?
I'm not sure I like your tone Hymerman. Why can't you be more like Wath20? :) David has already put in some fighting prototyping and more will follow soon. Right now we need finish off our physics editor and animation editor and then we should have all the core tech we need to build the game.
skraeling: On a scale of 1.7 to "OMG you're a time traveling robot!" how awesome will Overgrowth be?
Somewhere between 42 and a whale man with a chainsaw.
Omar Balbuena: Will ninja rabbits ever wear ninja outfits?
Aubrey may design an outfit to look like something the stereo-typical ninja would wear. However, given that Overgrowth will be outdoors, it might be cool to play around with some camouflage ideas as well.
mightywarriorex : If I came to California (or happened to be there for w/e) could we go get Subway together and have a slumber party at your place?
Subway is a definite YES. Slumber party...eh...maybe not?
bobmanbob: What are your main influences for Overgrowth, any format whether it be other games, films or books?
Redwall, Watership Down, Kung Fu movies, Spaghetti Westerns, classic action films. Pretty much any game or bit of media we encounter tends to provoke a conversation about Overgrowth.
HaloFan: I'm happy to see you've decided to continue work on Overgrowth, but will you still be releasing Small Tank first? I'm looking forward to that one more.
We were shocked at how well the concept of Small Tank was received on April 1st. However, Overgrowth will remain our primary focus until we finish it.