.: December 30, 2008

Season's Greetings to all. Things have been hectic here, of late. After all the traveling, just when I was settling down to a period of quiet and inactivity, the Holidays arrived. Food, family, fun - the works. But with it came all the labor associated with having fun (unless you are fabulously wealthy). Finally I have a few days of indolence, during which time I shall endeavor to make progress on Paranoid. I plan to continue work on Map02, which ties in quite nicely with the rest of the maps. Map02 is a hub that connects to Maps01, 03, and 05. Map03 is also a hub, as it connects to Maps01, 02, and 04. Map01 is a mini-hub that connects to Maps 02 and 03. The game design encompasses a single, large area (just like Half-Life, on which Paranoid is loosely based), and requires the player to return to maps that have been previously traversed. I'd have to say that this is the most ambitious project I've undertaken in terms of game design (not to mention other aspects as well, including the use of 3D architecture, models, and enemies with new behavior). What remains now for mapping is about 65% of Map02 and 100% of Map05.

Another idea that I have been mulling in my head is to put together a series of stand-alone maps in the Paranoid wad. They would not be part of the story being played out in Maps01-05, but they would allow me to create maps that don't necessarily make sense (which is what I need to do with Maps01-05). We'll see how that goes. I might get sick and tired of working on this project when it's finally done.

.: November 24, 2008

Quiet progress on Paranoid. Since I last wrote I have traveled half-way across the world to play guitar and sing with a rock & roll band at a concert, all the way across this country to celebrate a birthday with friends (and play music), and all points in between. Accordingly, I've had very little time to work on Paranoid. Still, I've managed to complete the High-Security Holding Facility. Now it's on to the caverns and canyons, and then it'll be a wrap for Map04. But it might not happen before the end of the year, because I'm going to be traveling during each of the next four weeks.

.: October 10, 2008

Some news that's unrelated to Paranoid for a change. My good buddy Nigel 'Enjay' Rowand just updated his incredible mod for GZDooM named BGPA Missions Liberation - Burghead for short. For a long while he did not upload it to the idgames archives because he wasn't certain the mp3 music would make it acceptable. However, Ty Halderman (the maintainer of the archives) recently told him that he'd checked the mod out and found nothing that violated the idgames upload policy. Also, because Enjay needed to fix something that had broken as a result of changes to ZDooM & GZDooM, he decided to upload an updated version. Thusly (sic!), after hosting the mod for him I am pleased to tell you both that it is now available on idgames and its mirrors.

What are you waiting for? Christmas? Go! Download!

Meanwhile, also check out his updated Thief wad, which turns DooM gameplay on its ear. It ought to be appearing in an idgames store near you this weekend.

And, of course, the two of you won't stop whining until I give you some news on Paranoid, so I'll just tell you that during my recent travels to Arizona I put in quite a bit more work into the project. It's coming along swimmingly. As for when it'll be done, your guess is as good as mine.

.: September 27, 2008

So I've finally completed the whole waste-water treatment area, and have started with the so-called High Security Holding Facility (a polite euphemism for the slammer). Whaaaat? You don't believe me? I am deeply saddened by this lack of faith on your part. Just for that I won't show you the screenshots that I took of the new areas. Hmpphh.

What's that you say? You're sorry for doubting me? Well, alright then. Here you go (if you find the pictures to be dark, just turn down the lights and shut your curtains or blinds):

.: August 31, 2008

The past month has offered both opportunities and impediments. Work-related travel has meant that I have had little energy for DooM mapping, but the many hours at airports and airplanes has given me the much-needed time for mapping. I have made considerable more progress on Paranoid, but the more I do the more I find I want to do. Map04 was originally designed to have a very small sewer area, leading to a prison complex, then canyons. The "small sewer area" has morphed into a gigantic water treatment complex, and thus I haven't yet gotten to the prison area (which I now will probably keep fairly small. I also got heavily into actual room-over-room mapping. Throughout my work on the project I have used 3D sectors to good effect, but I didn't venture into whole rooms over others. I am quite satisfied with my efforts, but it has meant quite a bit of work. Stay tuned for more screenshots, coming soon.

.: July 24, 2008

Screenshots, you say? Screenshots? Well, okay you greedy bastards. Check out the nine new pictures at the bottom of the Paranoid page. The credit for much of the look and feel of those areas goes to the incredible models by J. Sitters and BlackRayne, many of which were adapted for me by my good buddy Nigel 'Enjay' Rowand. Also note the two relatively hi-res enemies - the infamous head crab and the annoying alien grunt. I painstakingly created the sprites from the original H-L models, and adapted the DECORATE definitions from Capt. Toenail's work.

.: July 22, 2008

More progress to report. I've incorporated some excellent (and very appropriate) models for Map04 of Paranoid, which begins in the Black Mesa Waste Processing Area. I've also done quite a bit of additional mapping for Map04, and I keep coming up with newer ideas to tweak the game progression that then need to be translated into actual work on the map. Last week I was in Atlanta, and managed to get some more mapping done but it's slow going as a result of properly implementing 3D spaces. One of the pitfalls of creating so-called "realistic environments" is that the architecture needs to make sense - no more arbitrary slime pits, stairs that go nowhere, and catwalks that dead-end. This makes it more challenging to create fun gameplay, and I take my hats off to Valve and other game developers that manage both.

Anyhoo, I have been meaning to take a few more screenshots, but have been either been too lazy or have wanted to finish up a few areas before taking the pics. Y'all's gonna have to wait a wee bit longer for more eye candy. Meanwhile check out these pics from Sega's upcoming game, Bayonetta - Pic 1, and Pic2.

.: June 30, 2008

The past few weeks have been dominated by real-life stuff such as family and work-related travel. On the plus side I did get to visit some cool places, including Portland, Oregon (which I had never been to before) and Seattle, Washington (which I've visited a couple of time before). Anyhoo, during my travels I did a bit of mapping for Paranoid. Y'know, GZDooM is wonderful and all, but creating 3D spaces takes a shit-load of work. Still, I managed to complete a decent amount of mapping for Map04. And now I'm all fired up to continue work on the project.

.: May 12, 2008

Since my last update I went ahead and created sprites from the Alient Grunt's model. Using Wally I managed to shrink the sprites without much loss in image resolution, and the enemy works wonderfully.

.: April 30, 2008

Despite my lack of updates since I announced the project, work on Paranoid has been progressing apace. I have all but completed Map03, and have some additional ideas for Map02 and Map04. Work on the enemy graphics has stalled since I got my new wide-screen monitor. For some reason the image resolution appears to increase, which increases the file size proportionately. I will need to hook up my old monitor and see how that makes a difference to image resolution and file size. As soon as I have a few more enemies completed I will put up some pictures of them.

I have a brutal travel schedule - I just got back from the Washington, DC area and am leaving for Portland, Oregon on Friday. The good thing is that the actual travel time allows me to do some DooM editing. The bad thing is that most evenings when I am traveling I am either adjusting to the time zone difference or am too tired to be creative. This summer isn't looking too good either, as I am scheduled for several trips. This, of course, messes up my production schedule for Paranoid. Ah, well, DooM editing doesn't pay the bills, so I shouldn't complain.

.: March 7, 2008

So. I've been promising screenshots of Paranoid for quite a while now, haven't I? Before I get to that let me summarize what this project is all about (particularly for those that haven't visited here in a while. Or at all.)

1. Paranoid is a 5-map Half-Life mod for GZDooM that features the textures, weapons, enemies, sounds, and other goodies from H-L.
2. The mapping for Map01 is 100% complete, Map02 is 20% done, and Map03 is 35% done. The maps are set up into a hub and the game is objective-driven, requiring returning to many areas that were initially impassable (i.e., highly non-linear).
3. I have created 3 custom actors - a scientist and a security guard (Barney), both of which are "friendly", and the infamous head crab. All of them are in hi-res. I have customized behavior for several other enemies, but they are not hi-res. I continue to work on other enemies, but I suspect that most of them will not be hi-res (because of the enormous amount of drudge work involved in creating sprites from models). I will, however, customize the enemy behavior via DECORATE definitions.
4. I am using excellent models for decorative purposes.

So without further ado, proceed forthwith to the screenshots.

.: March 1, 2008

Almost exactly one year to the date since I wrote my tutorial on creating sprites from models I have put up another related tutorial. This time it's for resizing (specifically, shrinking) sprites without an appreciable loss in image quality. You can check it out here. Now you may ask why this interests me, and Goldarn it, what the phrick it has to do with Paranoid. Patience my young Padawan, I'm coming to that. I decided to create a hi-res version of Half-Life's Head Crab, instead of using the sprites currently available in the various Half-Life wads. Starting with the model I went through the steps to create the sprite frames, but found that each image was very large - both in its dimensions and in its file size. Hence the mind-numbingly tedious process of manually shrinking each frame to be smaller. Anyhoo, the bottom line is that I have a set of hi-res sprites for the Head Crab, and you get a tutorial to boot.

In other Paranoid-related news, I have been plugging away at the maps and have not only completed all the mapping for Map01, but have done a significant amount of work on Maps 02 and 03. I am loth to post screenshots just yet, as I haven't done the work that I intend for the new enemies, and I'd rather have pictures of both the 'scenery' (aka architecture) and the enemies. So for now be content in the fact that I am making progress and that each days brings me closer to a release. I do believe it will be worth the wait and you will not be disappointed.

.: February 20, 2008

I have updated Enjay's Burghead wad with the minor fix to make it 100% compatible with the latest versions of ZDooM and GZDooM. Now you don't need the zzfix.wad file any more. After you have downloaded the updated version of Burghead, simply run the file as follows: gzdoom -file njbgpabh.pk3 Of course, this new version of the game is only meant for those that have not yet downloaded the version that became available on January 31. I have replaced the old version with this new one, so that anyone doing a first-time download will have the most up-to-date version. I am still keeping zzfix.wad up on the site for those that have the original version and might not have downloaded the fix yet. Here are the links again: Burghead Missions v1.1 and zzfix.wad.

.: February 18, 2008

There's a new version of ZDooM, and, as a consequence, a new version of GZDooM. Now ordinarily I wouldn't be reporting this on DooM Nexus. But it has something to do with Enjay's Burghead Missions, which was based on a sub-version of GZDooM, and which doesn't work any more with the new versions. Information on this problem is on the ZDooM forums. To fix the problem Enjay has created a small wad file called zzfix.wad, which I have uploaded. Simply add the file name to your command line when starting the game, like so: gzdoom -file njbgpabh.pk3 zzfix and you'll be good to go.

.: January 31, 2008

It is a period of civil war.... Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire... Oh, wait. That's a different story line. Anyhoo, now that I've caught your attention, let me tell you about a terrific mod for GZDooM that my good buddy Nigel "Enjay" Rowand has just completed. Here are the particulars:

This is a 5 level GZdoom mini-conversion made to depict a genuine live action adventure game that took place in the Summer of 2006 near the Scottish towns of Elgin and Burghead. The sequence of events and feel of the level set are very much in keeping with that event but within the limitations of a video game with simple AI versus real-life people. The levels are effectively a mission pack for a much larger game that had already been played by the people who took part in the actual event and so weapon, ammo and health availability is tailored to that set of circumstances and preferences. It may not be the ideal setup for seasoned Doom players.

The level set follows (approximately) the time of day (and therefore lighting conditions) that the real event did. As a result, early sections are intentionally very dark. To combat this, every weapon gives you a flashlight on alt-fire, you have flare globes and rechargeable light-amp goggles right from the outset. To get the best experience, play with sector lighting mode set to "Doom". All other settings are too bright and will not give you the intended experience. As the game moves on, the levels get brighter as dawn approaches.

The conversion uses features from the most recent versions of GZdoom and, as such, will not work properly (or at all) with earlier versions. The release version of the mod is tailored to run with GZdoom 2.1.8 SVN r13 which is available here

What's that you say? You came here expecting to hear a story, and dammit you're not leaving until you hear one? Well then, how about this:

The year is 2389. You are in orbit around the colony world of Mons Grampius, an earth type planet, after terra-forming. Until recently, although technically under BGPA (British Galactic Police Association) control, Mons Grampius was effectively under the joint administration of the BGPA and the Inca Free Republic. The colony was largely settled by British citizens but there has always been a significant Incanese contingent. As with many remote colony worlds, the various peoples of the planet have coexisted quite happily, their remoteness making the politics of the home planet (Earth) seem less relevant than the day to day business of getting on with life and with your neighbours.

In the last ten years the BGPA has signed up to the liberal Galactic Framework Agreement On Colonies (GFAC). Under this, but two months ago, the people of Mons Grampius (Grampies) acceded from Britain and asked the Incanese Empire to intervene. Since then a small force of BGPA and Incanese ships have been in a stand off in neutral orbit. Incanese ground forces have been on the surface for a month. Since their arrival no neutral press agencies have been allowed on to the surface and a communications blackout has been enforced from the planet. You are part of the BGPA fleet travelling onboard the "Bright Hope". You will be briefed by BGPA Special OPís Maj Blatchford who will continue to act as your mission coordinator for the entire mission. You will then be dropped by Viper Stealth Shuttle onto Mons Grampius where the local resistance will meet and equip you.... Good Luck.

Oh, and I guess you'll want the link to the text file and the 33MB download too? Enjoy.

.: January 24, 2008

I just got done writing up a tutorial for newbies that answers some basic questions on using custom textures using XWE.

.: January 23, 2008

For the most part Return From Oblivion was well-received. There were, however, a number of nitpick comments, and some downright rude ones. Still, I think we got it all straight. There were a few minor issues that the team has resolved to address, and we are looking forward to the future. We have already begun selecting map slots, and are doing a low-key recruitment effort. More on that as it develops.

But the big news is the progress on Paranoid. For the past week I have been learning the basis of models and DECORATE definitions for ZDooM. My good buddy Nigel 'Enjay' Rowand put in a huge amount of work on customizing models for my project, as well as explaining the mechanics of using them. My game now features some excellent models that fit the Black Mesa theme beautifully. Also, I am almost done with Map01, after which I will put up some screenshots.

.: January 11, 2008

Return From Oblivion is done. I have uploaded the entire 42MB wad (15MB zipped) to the idgames archive incoming folder, and it ought to be appearing for download in your neighborhood ftp stores real soon. Happy New Year!

.: January 8, 2008

Well, my friends, I'm back from my sojourns to distant parts. In the past couple of weeks I must have logged close to 20,000 flight miles, but I had a blast along the way. But you're not here to listen to me gloat about my winter vacation, so I'll get right to the point. During my absence, no one at TeamTNT was willing to take over the reins of Return From Oblivion, and although we were done with all mapping and play-testing, the packaging of the wad was left to me to do upon my return (no pun intended). As a result, we did not have a Christmas 2007 release, nor a New Year's Day 2008 release. However, I am back in the saddle, and hope to have the goodies in your hot little hands real soon.

I have also been at work on Paranoid, which, for those of you that haven't heard about it, is a 5-map Half-Life mod for GZDooM. Because I'm learning many of the elements of GZDooM mapping (including the use of models), and because of the many distractions that a schlob in my position must endure, the going is slow. I am all but done with Map01, and have the schematics down for parts of Map02 and all of Maps 03 and 04. So you can expect to see some eye candy in a few weeks.

In December I also started a map for Episode 3, Map05. However, I am considering changing the map number to E2M8, as the map ending suits the Tower of Babel better. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, The Phobos Directive is still lurking in the wings, but it will probably be a while before I can get back to it.

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