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Monday, February 14, 2011

Development Timeline

(2008 logo - nostalgic much?)

I was looking through some of our old media, and I actually found one of the very first copies of Hypertension built all the way back to 2008. It was pretty interesting to play, but man things were different then - I was just learning how to seriously code and the engine wasn't as optimized as it is now. Also seems like it was a different stage of my life as well, as I've had far too much to deal with these days than I did at the time. Most importantly - it was the beginning of a very long journey in game development, as it started from scratch all the way to present time. I present to you a brief history into the development of Hyper!


So loading it up, it really got me thinking that the concept of the game (to redesign Blood) changed so dramatically over the course of 3 years (as it continues to, wish it'd stop). The basic story has been scrapped and rewritten a dozen times, and we had more than two dozen team members coming and going, each lending their artistic and creative influence, which is seen in all versions of this game. The screenshot media definitely goes back farther than the video I'm about to post - to see what I'm talking about, visit the blog archive near the bottom of this page and read through - you can see the first baby steps, back when this thing was dependent solely on DOOM.

Okay, you might have seen some of these videos before, but I'll go ahead and show them off now in chronological order. Almost all of these videos have been featured on YT, except the most recent one.

In late 2008, after a few months of development, I took a snapshot of the game to reveal to a community site. I didn't get to uploading this until 2009, but this version of the game is dependent on Doom's game logic and game data. It used a earlier version of EDGE and wasn't quite fine-tuned for the intensive operations it needed at the time. A combination of poor computer, rendering system, and video recording software left this video butchered, but around May of 2009, we saw various sites pick it up, which gave us our first glimpse of the homebrew scene. Mostly in the DC communities, but it's this video that established our roots. For more fun information about this version, visit TDGMods Forums - the post entitled "A Blast From the Past" lists the various oddities and errors in this version. The first wave of the story and my first ragtag team created this, along with me. You can tell the massive amounts of work I endured trying to get this thing looking good (but the tech quite wasn't up to it at the time), and I personally shy away from this video, but at the time people really enjoyed it, and we did too. An impressive feat at the time for less than 6 months of dev time with just myself (near the last month leading up to the creation of this trailer, Tyler had helped me code the mini-HUD).


Okay, so these were the next wave of videos. After posting a lot of screenshots detailing the new developments (as things changed again, most notably the introduction of the new Co-Designer [Fiend] signing on) the game was taking shape. It was an ever changing face, but it was really the 2009 trailer that lit the flame that still burns in us today.

In this trailer, we give the first real glimpse into our hard work - scripting engine, a more "matured" 3d rendering system, more enemies on screen without slowdown (except for a bad computer recording the action), and a specific emphasis on the Dreamcast development. Editing this thing took forever, as I worked on two or three different versions under the gun. Diehard Gamefan is really the one to credit for this, because in a few short months it broke up to 80K+ views worldwide and rose us to international acclaim. Seeing our game on foreign language sites and whatnot was really exciting and new to us - when Game Informer covered it on their online site was the tip of the iceberg. It was a true show stopper, not just for the thousands who saw and loved it, but also for us because it was our first reveal since the broken changes seen only a year before, when the project started. It came together incredibly fast and evolved a lot.

Most notable about this was our external video shooting prepared for the project. It's no secret we're using graphic novels to storytell, but we wanted to enumerate this into our trailer to show everyone that we're not just a "90's game" rehash - that we were willing to take our talents into new directions. Painstaking amounts of time and money were used to shoot over 45 minutes of footage, which only about 30 seconds actually made it into the trailer. We released a live action version soon after (but was sadly deleted, maybe one day I'll find it again) which included more of what we shot - but overall the message was quite clear: we were dedicated and having fun.

Sadly, behind the scenes, we were still dealing with much edrama that we tried avoiding like the plague. Dealing with threats and a small but earshot community wasn't pleasing, but we're not in the ass-kissing business, and that broke down really quick.

After the fame shock, we stayed low (at least I did, it got me anxious) and tried to keep focused on development rather than anything else. Which was VERY hard, mind you :)

Nobody saw new media of the game until 5 or so months later, when I felt we had enough to warrant another wave of views. These ones were released somewhat in secret as to not upset our current stream of exclusivity with Diehard. These ones are especially significant because we can see further changes - again, an updated 3d rendering system, more expanded color palette, and more overall ambience. These videos were for our forum audience only, but I'm posting them here for historical significance.

What was awesome about this year is that Fiend and myself really focused on fixing the things that were wrong with the 2009 builds, and making the experience genuinely fun. Private testing on my part with my friends revealed that they became addicted to it (creating a hundred saves, each little save getting corrupted almost hourly as I changed data - saves did not rollover, much to their disappointment). It also was our first time experimenting with DosDoom's Deathbots, which Fiend fixed up and popped them in the game. This is partially significant because it introduced multiplayer elements that we otherwise do not have, as EDGE does not have a networking component. It was a fun way to play Quake3-styled botmatches and really hearkened back to the late 90's era of multiplayer.

We were putting the blocks in place, but the later half of 2010 brought on a lot of stress that eased up on our fixated time, and we lost a few members near the end of that year. So, we can say the first half was fun and productive, while the second half saw a sulking slump of energies.

The third quarter of the year opened up a lot of renewed interest as, for the first time, hosted private beta servers for the first time - a lot of the followers got a chance to test and play it, to overly enthusiastic reviews. We created a bugtracker and really got me focused on wanting to crush these hugely over-sighted engine errors, which often led to crashes. The parent engine went through a slump which saw releases fixing things, but breaking a lot more in Hyper than we would have liked (for instance, saved games still do not work :/).

In the end, 2010 was a productive year to fix bugs, add major features (like expanding the color palette, etc) and get the game in a more playable and presentable state, having pushed the release date back again (a few people is a huge contrast to twenty or thirty actives).

(check out the awesome scripting of this video! I was really enthused about this, but was afraid to release at the time due to DGN's involvement in distribution).

(this is the botmatch portion of the game) <-- both of these videos were released in early 2010)

(this is from the later part of 2010)

-late 2010-
Appended, because I totally forgot - this video introduced, for the first time, our in progress Sega Genesis 32X port of Hypertension, some more behind the scenes footage of the game in action, and a significant reveal of the game in full HD, for the first time. This video was a great way to show people how far the game has traveled since 2008.


As the new year begins, so did my dedication to the game - my desire has returned, and we promise that we'll get a release out this year, no matter what we have to do. We want to thank our fans and followers again, because as I have stated numerous times before, if it wasn't for you NONE of this would be worth it. Take it from us, take it from the beta testers - believe the hype - it's really that fun, and it's coming!

Keep the blood flowing everyone! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it!

Yours forever,
TDGMods (Corbyn)

1 comment:

tannim said...

Keep up the good work. Progress is looking great.