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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cobwebs?! It's been awhile!

So, it's been awhile guys! Just letting you all know -- Hypertension and SLaVE are _still_ on the table and have not been abandoned.

We've been hard at work on Hypertension especially -- getting new team members, finalizing the engine the team has worked hard on over the last two years, and hopefully all of our hard work will show soon. For now, here's some in development screenshots:

Rest assured, despite our silence, we are hard at work on our games and hope to finally complete both very soon!

As for myself, I've been under the radar lately (trying to get into an IT position at the hospital I work at here in town) -- but with my daughter starting school I've finally been able to have free time again to focus on game development. With us hiring another programmer, I feel I can take a small step back from coding the technology and re-insert myself into the game design process.

We sincerely thank you all for being patient and believing in us as we continue to work on nothing short of greatness!

-Cora (and the Isotope SoftWorks team)

Monday, June 5, 2017

SLaVE 2017 Dreamcast Footage

Before I get attacked over this -- yes, I know the video is terrible quality. I don't own a capture card, not any sort of device to accurately record video. So I figured...this is the next best thing ;)

Pre-Order SLaVE while you can!! It'll be out before you know it!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What REALLY happened with SLaVE on Sega Dreamcast

What REALLY happened to SLaVE ;)

DISCLAIMER: We love Dreamcast Today, they have always been hugely supportive of our titles in the past and we mean no ill will in this post. It is simply a response to an article they posted on their website. Keep the dream alive Today, guys! :-P

So, my response to that will be copied down, along with some additional thoughts in a later post:

     It was not so much the game, that part was finished. What mostly killed our ambitions of a quick port was KallistiOS and KallistiGL completely changing (as it happens with software evolution, nowhere near their fault), and our own engine changing over the past few years.

     If you remember, Chui and myself, many years ago, got EDGE running on the Dreamcast with no issues. SLaVE was developed with a newer version of my engine, but it wasn’t so new that we didn’t expect the time to take to port would be so long.Rather, it has evolved into us submitting patches to KOS, and several work-arounds to get the hardware and toolchain “talking” to an extent. There were many things that we had to reduce and completely refactor (it was not as easy as we had initially hoped) and, finally, we are on the last leg — flushing out Video RAM; which also changed with KOS 2.0.

     Combine that with an army of programmers, myself included, getting the thing to run without overflowing became a nightmare. We are finally at the point where we just need to handle VRAM auto-flushing, and the game will be ready.It was either that, or ship it in a very unreliable state. We are sorry to have stayed silent for so long, but with many of us encountering life-changing situations the last two years, it seemed we could only work on it here-and-there while real life took utmost priority. Luckily, things have became a bit more sane, and now we are hoping to get it done with the level of quality you would expect for a commercial release.

     We could have done this much sooner, sure, but we wanted to do what we could to prevent random (sometimes, it wouldn’t even happen) video RAM overflows and other potential issues our customers could have faced.So please, be patient — we are gearing up to get it done, and once it does our engine will surely become a viable platform for other DC developers, and SLaVE itself will be more than worth the wait.

So, we hope that clears up the confusion about SLaVE's prolonged porting time. It has indeed taken much longer than anticipated. I will be more forthcoming to issues that plague us in the future.

Hi-Res WIP shot of Feolina from HT!
The "army of programmers" I speak of was the regular 3DGE team (which permanently and prominently features Chilly Willy), but Josh "PH3NOM" Pearson, who was also part of the crew tasked to port it, before he left and started his great-looking project "In the Line of Fire". So, with people coming and going, especially since we relied so heavily on PH3NOM to help fix-up our KGL issues, things just naturally took much longer. But he's still our buddy, and I hope he brings that project to my team after SLaVE is finished and gone Gold so we can help him finish it up, without the hassles of a Kickstarter! ;)

For now, check out our Facebook here really soon for a collection of new Hypertension development shots, as well as an eventual video of SLaVE running on real hardware, on a VHS TV combo. I lost my AV cables and can't find my VGA one either (my daughter probably ran off with it), so just stay tuned!

We also have an interview coming soon that is more of a "Tell-All" -- you won't want to miss it, and we'll post it here first when it comes up! xD

Take care, love you all! <3 p="">
Isotope SoftWorks

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 2016 Minor Progress Update

Hi all, so we have been a bit silent lately on what we are up to, but
as for myself, I have been busy playtesting SLaVE and getting the kinks
worked out with Chilly -- it's nearly done guys! The game just "screams"
Dreamcast now! On top of that, we can verify that we have really cool
additions, like rumble-pack support!

As soon as I get a-hold of a decent camera, I'll have one of my team members
from Hypertension head over so we can record a live, in-game, on-hardware
presentation of SLaVE!

As for Hypertension, there is a giant announcement and even more amazing
material that we have to offer, just give us another month before we make
that update -- but I promise you all, we will not disappoint our hardcore
fans! The game is FAR from dead -- we have a very talented and dedicated
team that continues to believe in it, and I can't wait to show you all the
fruits of our labor! tl;dr: it's gonna knock your socks off!

Just remember, we aren't getting paid for any of our projects aside from
donations -- this gives us the advantage of taking as much time as we need
fine-tuning and polishing what matters most. Trust us when we say that we
will deliver -- just hang in there!

You are all invited to register at our forum boards to talk about the latest,
greatest, and even get a sneak-peek at what we are up to!

Thank you all for your wonderful support!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

12.2.2015 - Developer Diary

Well, here we are again. A month short of another year, of promises yet to be fulfilled.

I wanted to, I don't know, write a little bit here and let everyone know how we're doing, and what the status is on Hypertension. Don't worry - everything is in order, but I feel that I should explain myself a little here. Get ready for an ultimate ramble of incredible text! ;)

Normally, when working on something like a modification for a game, there's not much pressure there. You are doing it for yourself, for your own amusement and for nobody else's. The project gets a couple of "cools" and some fans. A few years later and its one of the most anticipated releases for the Dreamcast console.

Older screen showing 2 player!
That sort of fits my description of the last 6.5 years of Hypertension's development. But you all know the story - started in 2008, Atari pulled the plug in 2011, we retrofitted it in 2013, then underwent a rewrite in 2014. For those of you who actually got to beta-test (and still own) a copy of Hypertension 2008, I would love to hear your memories and coolest moments from that.

Okay, so what about 2015?

2015...just...what a year. Good, bad, it's all there. But this year was definitely our year - the game evolved greatly as the game was being built and visually, it shows.

But we did not set any release dates this year like we did the years prior. In fact, I would say that this year has been our quietest year on record so far. In light of the tragedies the world has faced, we just simply don't have much to say.

This, of course, does not mean development has halted by any means. It simply, to put it bluntly, is a result of our publisher. That modification I mentioned in the second paragraph is now a commercial project with investment.

Sure - could we have just simply re-skinned the 2008 version and made lots of money? Absolutely! You can see this effort in the Midwest Gaming Classic 2014 trailer and the reaction we got! Despite me growing unhappy with it, the fans really ate it up. Eugene Jarvis really liked that version of the game - fucking Eugene, man!

But something wasn't settling right. Even though we were converting into 3D and using a newer version of our 3DGE engine, it didn't feel like the game I wanted to make anymore. The decision to restart development came at a time when we were working on the other game, SCOURGE, in 2010-2011.

WIP with normal/bump maps
Scourge, however, faced lots of issues with both the creative team and the programmers, and we simply could not have gotten it done with those issues. Too many egos and a dysfunctional development schedule really hampered our efforts and got in the way of the process. Even though that game saw considerable effort for a year of development (and on a much newer engine), I ultimately approached GOAT again with the situation.

They suggested we retool Hypertension and release it - after being cleared of the Atari mess, they wanted us to go back to the game that started it all. So we did.

But there was a catch: we couldn't use any existing assets, so...ENTER THE THIRD DIMENSION! BECAUSE SCIENCE!! Unfortunately, that took much more effort than we originally estimated.

Fast forward (or, rewind) to the beginning of 2015...the game was coming together with a brand-new team (save for Jason, who's had much more patience than I can ever dream of mustering). However, my responsibilities were mounting.

Yo Dawg. . .
Being the sole coder (at the time) of both the game engine and game logic was starting to hamper my ability to use my own creative imagination. The game's design was a mess of ideas gathered from 2008, Scourge, and tons of rewrites in between. Not to mention Jay Townsend's excellent SLaVE which I became involved in, I decided to bite the bullet and hire a principal designer for Hypertension.

The first two guys that contracted with us did excellent work. They came up with elaborate designs based on a skeleton document I managed to cobble together. Pages and pages of stuff...and at least 5 revisions between them both. But, as the team was really fusing together and making this fun again, I started paying attention to the actual design.

Not having to be in charge of that stuff and lead the technical side is a dream come true! But it truthfully became a nightmare, because the design documents were nothing like I wanted. Out of frustration, one team member quit and another was re-assigned. Once again, it felt like things were falling apart.

Then Connor Linning came along, the guy that really changed everything. Here was a fine gentlemen who developed games (Overlooker: get it!), composed music, and was really into horror - something the last two contractors sorely lacked. He instantly clicked with our team and myself. We share much of the same twisted sense of humor and design goals, so it only became natural to eventually appoint him in charge of the story and design.

Sanity Meter...a new addition to the game.
And what a payoff that was! As soon as that happened, we hired another programmer - Damir. What a technical genius - he was able to pump out, and continues to, enhance our engine for a newer generation of gamer. Not only does it look prettier, but we now have support for bump maps, specular maps, and per-pixel dynamic lighting. It makes all the difference in the world!

So with both bases covered - design and engine - I was ultimately able to take back control of the development process. For the first time and ever since then, I feel like my game is coming together the way I want it. After all these years, things are finally moving into place. Add our amazing 3D and level designers to the mix and we have one hell of a game.

Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness is truly becoming one of the greatest achievements of my life. Seeing something that you cobbled together in 2008 stand on its own legs in innovative ways is really stunning. It went from being a remake to a copycat to a original piece of work. It's invigorating!

So now all of that circles back around to - well, when will the damn thing be finished?!

He just wants a kiss!
When, indeed! Things are going so great and coming together that we are really taking our time with it. We don't show as much media or videos as I did in the earlier days, but what an evolution. Every time I post a new video they get so much love and excitement.

But now we are in the phase where serious development is taking place, the point of game development that requires absolute concentration and coordination. Long hours, juggling jobs and children and projects has taken its toll on my team and myself. But it's not in vain - we are working extremely hard to deliver.

Sometimes that means sewing up your lips and cutting off communication with the world. A development process that I was never a fan of until recently. Quiet time is what gets us going, and for good reason.

What we have is not just a game, not just a Blood remake or a 90's first person shooter. A deep, personal and emotional plot lay the foundation for a game that employs stellar graphics and sound design. Something fun, enjoyable, and lasting.

So, are we waiting then? Yes. While our engine is irrevocably nearing the end of its major features, the game itself is wholly different from the previous version. It's not just a shooter. It's a psychological thriller played from first-person...gunplay, survival-horror, and classically emulated.

We hope we can show off something either this Christmas or New Years. The MGC 2016 is in the early part of that year as well.

But as I've said before, because I'm a broken record...we have no budget. No kickstarter. No funding to speak of. I save whatever pocket change I can muster and send it off to my team members - hardware, currency...whatever I can do to keep us motivated.

It's slowly becoming less about the fans and media attention. I'm truly connecting with my videogame again, and it's finally fun. After these last few years of doubts and hard work, I'm home.

Please don't lose faith in us. Know that we know we're making one of the most ambitious and highly anticipated games for the system, pushing it graphically and poetically beyond anyone's dreams, even my own.

I have rambled enough. I hope you guys have found this interesting. Even though it was a bunch of text with pretty pictures. Going on camera is fun and all, but sometimes they say the way way to get it out of your system is to write it down.

Okay, I'm out. There's a game to finish! Remember - we love all of you! Positive vibes! Make sure to check our our Facebook page and get involved at our forums! <3 p="">

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Introducing Nick Gibson

Hey everyone, just wanted to give a shout-out to the newest member of our small team, Nick Gibson. He'll be doing 3D models alongside Jason to help balance the workload. So far, he's doing a real good job and he's definitely an asset to our team! Join us in welcoming him to our bloody world!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Poking my brain

Hey everyone, just letting you all know that if you've had your doubts about the new Wolfenstein, go ahead and trash all of it. It's the best game I've ever played, filled with emotion, awe, inspiration, and just about every mechanic I've seen in a shooter upped by a thousand percent. Such an amazing game.

One of the first logo Posters
I also want to take the time to let everyone know that the team here at Isotope is so grateful for your donations and support in getting Hypertension out the door. It's been a long time coming, and I know the wait probably pissed off a lot of people. It's the product of a lot of love, stress, tears, sweat, betrayal...lots of different things. When I play the game sometimes I get really into it, and sometimes I get really depressed. It's the kind of game that I turn to when I need to get my emotions squared away.

So much of my life was influenced by it and I feel a lot of it passed me by while this game was in idle. Now that I'm trying to get a team together to finish it, a lot of regret and depression fill me. I wish that I had focused harder and got it out quicker, and I wish that we found a publisher sooner. We faced a lot of hardships in our lives, every developer who's worked on this project as a matter of fact. I'm not sure they even read the blog or stop by, but if it wasn't for every single one of them, this project would not be here today, getting the support of the people that believe in it.

Old screen from 2008
I admit that I often struggle with my emotional state and seem erratic at times because of it, and lots of nights I cry because Hyper just wears me down. Having to go back and swap things out is sometimes a nightmare, and having to scrap tons of work that people did with love before Isotope makes my eyes swell, also. It's the reason TDGMods is represented with the game - every developer before made up TDGMods and since we re branded into Isotope to continue the title it didn't sit quite right with me. While this is very much an Isotope game, it's also equally a TDGMods game, and all the people who worked on it in the years passed.

Pineapple in 2009 filming
I try and not get down on myself for taking so long and letting so many things interfere with the game's development, but often times I feel like a failure because life sort of...swung me in its arms and I was barely holding on to what was important to me.

This game, Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness, is vastly important to me and everyone who currently works on it. Even though the past developers - wherever they might be and however they might think of the game (and myself) have moved on, we won't hesitate in the slightest to make your contributions known.

Dozens and dozens of people will be credited when it all comes to an end, I just really hope I'm there to see its completion off. Many times I've thought about quitting the project in frustration, in sadness, in shame. These demons I fight are becoming more overwhelming, admittedly, and it's nice to be reminded of what I'm fighting for. My daughter, my game, my sanity, it all needs to come back to me when I'm in my moments of complete frustration and despair. Your support and kind words help pieces of what I've lost back in, and make me remember.

Box-Art from 2010
Regardless of what people think of me personally, how I look, how I act, who I carry myself around is absolutely not reflective of this game at all. I'm simply a person with ideas, is all. I don't like becoming the face of this operation, because it's not ONE person, it's all of us as a collective. I can't speak for everyone, but I try my best.

I'm not sure why I've chosen this place, out of all, to write about these kinds of things. Maybe because this blog has always been something special for me to pour myself into, and when I had to restructure and go quiet for so many years, all of those things became twisted and choked me.

Isotope Softworks, LLC. 
Getting back to the programming and design that I've been away from for so long is nice. SCOURGE doesn't give me the freedom like this game does, being able to do so much with it.

I just hope it meets all of your expectations when we ship it. Until next time, readers.

-Corbin A.
Lead Designer, Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness
Isotope Softworks

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Harmony of Darkness - New Screen

He's back, in FULL 3D and hungrier than ever! How will you "feed" him? 

Hypertension: Harmony of Darkness is coming for PC and Sega Dreamcast Q4 2014!