The Word From Ohnhai: Industrial Injury (Part B)

Erm... Ok… So where was I?

Tanks’ For everything

Ah yes! Back in the last blog I pointed out that I hadn't quite figured out how to join those long pipes to the wall. Well I got that sorted.

I was of the mind that Industrial A was becoming industrial Park rather than industrial Plant. It needed something, something big and pipey, surrounded by big heavy frames and gave the impression of actually doing something without having any moving bits. So as you can see, that’s what I went for. Ok could have been cheaper in polys but it ties into the ‘reality’ of the level and heck! It looks damn good!

BTW. Please excuse the 0 MPH. I'm using the snip tool to grab these shots and it’s mighty hard to snip and drive at the same time…

Best thing is as there are only two units (the vertical tank and the horizontal tank) these can be broken out as accessories so they can have dynamic states.(damage :D ) Also, as they are probably containing highly noxious substances they can be brightly coloured, or at least have a profusion of brightly coloured stripes, signs and warning labels.

This is good. The original level had quite a bit of colour, and making sure the new version has a similar level of vibrancy is totally in keeping. But rather than the entire level only having 256 colours to play with, it’s going to be good to layout the colours and palette in such a way that is determined by the structure, narrative and gameplay requirements of the level as a whole. In the old game Yellow pretty much had to be the bright full on most yellowy-yellow you had seen simply because you didn't have the colour bandwidth to do things with more subtlety. As the colour palette in this modern era is, near as damn it, unlimited we can use colour in more crafty ways. So even if an object should have glaring band of colour (hazard stripes and all that) if it is just background art and not ‘important’ (read “can be interacted with”) then we can knock those colours back a little bit so that the important sign on the wall at the end of the row that may indicate a short cut (hint) stands out and lets the player see it quicker and easier. Another common practice is using lighting to help steer the player round the course subconsciously. When you come into a room with two exits (there’s actually three, you just walked in through other one ) if one is lit slightly brighter than the other you are more likely to head towards the lit door. Now when you have a game design that uses the same track for multiple routes this can become tricky as the lighting demands of each route will, naturally, conflict with that of the other routes. Fortunately in Carma we can have unique lighting and accessory set ups for reach ‘Race’ allowing us to balance the lighting for each route.

Down in the Underground

You’ll find something new!

Down in the underground, a new tunnel, a crystal moon!

Ah-ha…. What??

Damn those builders in front of my apartment this morning! They had David Bowie on their radio and now I’ll have that tune floating round my head all bloody day…

Anyway. What I've been spending the last few days on is the tunnel that leads right from what is now the cooling stacks (atmosphere Processor) to the corporate quarter.

This particular section has been a tricky little thorn in our side since I started in on this re-design. It was always just a simple link from one Section to the next with little or no narrative behind it being there. Nobby was adamant that we should do something more interesting with it. Although for a long time we couldn't for the life of us come up with a suitable direction.

Anyway. Having got the first half of the level all grey boxed out I had run into the problem head on and with no ideas forth coming I just set out to re-style the existing tunnel. When Sim and Nobby were giving this pass a once over, Sim suggested that it would be fun if we could have a second path that crossed this one setting up the possibility of major T-Boning. So to mock this up quickly I copied and flipped the tunnel and chopped it around so it could be driven (I really MUST remember to take renders of these intermediate stages…). It was as rough as the Giant’s Causeway but drivable, however it still lacked something. Sim and Nobby reckoned it was that the bends in the path were too sharp and not letting you get up to speed. If you are going to be slamming into the side your nemesis then you need speed, and lots of it! There is also the undeniable fact that rattling through narrow tunnels at break-neck speed is just plain fun. The guys felt that the system would benefit if straightened up to make either route a 50-50 choice rather than one path being at 90 degrees off the main route.

This led to a problem: the tunnel system was already too short for a good high-speed run, and if you straightened and lengthened it to facilitate a smoother, faster run then there was no way the new tunnel system was going to come out where the old one did. That and the new warehouse section was in the way!! (more on that in another blog). So it was decided to abandon the old exit in the area I'm calling ‘the front lot’ and bring the tunnel out in what was the rather odd overshoot/catchment area that you fall into when you fail to make the jump between the two buildings a little further on.

To avoid the new Warehouse section, the tunnel had to be dropped down under it. In the tarted-up version of the original I had added a cool aircon gag where you can drive into the aircon duct in the warehouse and fall into the tunnels below. With the new longer straighter tunnel system this suddenly went nowhere. Which was a shame cause it was a beautiful gag where you handbrake into it, fall -- doing a barrel roll in the process – land on your wheels and drive away. Also with the tunnel exit moved that meant the vast majority of ‘the front lot’ now had no reason to be there, and an iconic landmark of the old track (the exit with the large curved braces) should be lost. I felt that as that section is a memorable part of the old track it needed to remain. I also wanted to preserve the warehouse aircon gag as, heck it makes me laugh and it good fun to do. So I added a second tunnel that tied in these two elements. To make life interesting I also added a third smaller tunnel that drops under the two main ones and links them.

The Front Lot Tunnel Exit

Criss-Cross and the entrance to the connecting tunnel

All this left me with a tunnel that didn't go anywhere and that left me with a dead end!! One of the design stipulations for this game is that there shouldn’t be any dead ends unless there is a good gameplay reason for it. (think the BFG corridor in doom 2.) My problem with this tunnel was it simply went nowhere! One of the driving factors in this redesign is that, even if it’s just bullshit, there should be a sense of function to the overall structure that has a consistent narrative of its own. I could put a bulkhead door in the tunnel and just have it closed but to me that didn’t feel satisfying.

Fortunately during making the first half of the level, in an desperate hurry to tidy-up and finish off one of the interior corners behind the big tanks I had cloned some existing building structure to just ‘fill the gap’. This slap dash fix created a small alleyway in the corner that – I realised – would make a perfect home for the other end of this tunnel. Neat! We now had another route through the level.

And that is pretty much it for the new tunnel system. There is still to be work done. More shallow alcoves and pipes and switch boxes to tart the place up and the like, but we have gone from one ‘right-left’ tunnel to a cool new playground down in the underground…


Well. That’s all I got time for now. Will be back with more updates soon.


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