Founder and Lead programmer at OldTimes Software. Currently working on OpenKatana, the Katana engine and the Prey Cooperative modification.
So yesterday I started getting Ictus ready for some work and I plan on hopefully doing some quick experiments either later today or tomorrow. Nobody knows what Ictus is at the moment other than me really, I've told other people such as Eukos some bits and bobs on it but nothing on really what I have noted down so this should hopefully be a somewhat interesting post in that regard.
Way back in 2009 I wanted to make a game that took place in a city in the sky, that then evolved into PlanetShift around late 2010 and PlanetShift has pratically been in planning stages ever since then. Ictus is pretty much part of PlanetShift, it gives some backstory on things you would probably not see in PlanetShift or things that may have happened before PlanetShift takes place... I won't go into it too much since I don't want to give a great deal away but overall there should be a lot of depth in terms of story here.
Anyway nobody really cares about things like that, why is ictus special and why would you even want to bother playing it? Ictus could probably be compared to games such as Electronic Art's Battlefield series or Quake Wars but there's a lot more to Ictus than those games, you don't just start and rush out into your tanks or other vehicles but instead you have to prepare yourself, working together and making sure that you're prepared to both attack and defend. Now this doesn't mean some daft "get ready" period when the game starts as that completely distracts from the game, what this means is that players will have to be aware of the resources their team can spare and will have to becareful in how they manage those resources. The issue I'm having with the sort of system I have planned is that there's a lot of potential for griefing so that's something I'm currently focusing on sorting out but other than that having this reliance on resources should certainly make battles more interesting. Do you focus on defence, offense or just collecting resources and saving those up? Now I should stress that this isn't like Natural Selection or one of its clones as there is no commander on the team to direct everything, everything is being left up to the individual players to handle and coordinate others. I'm not sure what more I can say about it at the moment other than just write about a few ideas I suppose, one thing that I've slowly stepped away from while writing my notes is the idea of resource repositories where players can store all their resources which are then added to the global resource pile. It may end up staying in there with only a few objects being buildable by using resources from the main respository while smaller objects being buildable just from local resources... That could work I suppose but there's still the issue of people buying something purposely too expensive just to annoy the rest of the team.
As you can tell resources are fairly important here but there are other things too, it would be possible for example to build a small outpost in another part of the map which may provide some opporutunity to attack the enemies base more quickly, imagine players having to build a generator and then some sort of teleport station, the amount of time to build those two things should actually make it fairly safe from abuse.
I'm still putting a lot of thought into the style of the game as well, what we have planned is a rather rough style for everything since it's all been reused over and over again during the course of the battle with quick little fixes or adjustments made. Other than that I'm still thinking about it but I like the idea of WWI meets Halo sort of style.
There's a lot that's already been thought out which I haven't spoken about yet mainly because I want to keep most of it secret for now but I'm sure you get the idea. I'll probably talk about this again in the future in an official post or something.
Thanks for reading.
So OpenKatana has been in development for a considerable number of months now and is likely to be in development for most of the year until it's in a presentable state. Over this long development I plan on documenting as many changes to the engine and game-logic as I can not only through the code itself but through a collection of documentation that should allow making any changes to the engine or game-logic more easy. The Katana engine itself isn't exactly too different from FitzQuake with most changes going into the game-logic due to the fact that we've made the switch over to C for that, this has given us a chance to go over a lot of the old QC code and rewrite a lot of it to our desire or needs, and this switch has also given us a lot more control over how the game works. Mod support will be dropped from the Katana engine but for those that still want to make small changes to the game there will be a plugin system to allow you to add mini changes to how your server runs which should make for some interesting results. All of this will be documented so that anyone can easily make changes quickly and easily, we've always felt the Quake engine provided a perfect platform to quickly prototype ideas and we want to try to encourage that. I will continue to update any documentation as we make progress on Katana so it keeps consistent with any future patches or improvements made to OpenKatana after release.
I guess this is a disclaimer but honestly this is more just me thinking about all this as I go along so there may be some conflicts with previous statements and such. I do hope overall it should really give you some ideas on the subject. Characters should not be disposable and this sadly is quite an issue in a lot of games, I'm not personally a fan of Call of Duty but quite honestly the characters in that are some of the most memorable I've seen due to the amount of personality each character displays in the series. Anyway...
When working on OpenKatana I've often found myself thinking about how we're going to reintroduce "Hiro Miyamoto"... It's an interesting thing quite honestly, you never think about it too much but comparing a character such as Hiro to someone like Shepard in Mass Effect or even Sly Boots from Anachronox you really notice a difference right away and you really feel it's satisfying to play as someone such as Shepard or Sly Boots but why exactly? Well I boil this down mainly to character, otherwise without it all you have is this lifeless body that you control and there's no real spirit to it, though some may say that could still work but I'm not talking just about what they might say or even do but I'm talking more along the lines of how they look and how the player thinks that character should act, if they would enjoy really being that person in real-life. Games are never about playing life but more about experiencing what we can't do in life almost like an escape from reality.
I think the best example of this is probably the character Gordon Freeman from Half-Life who despite never speaking or doing too many actions himself still gives off a personality but that personality is almost entirely developed by the player so in a sense they really are Gordon Freeman. This is really how I want it to be with Hiro, however at the same time he needs to give the player the feeling that they are really a bad ass and give the player a feeling of satisfaction, they need to enjoy being this person and most importantly remember that he's there. Quite honestly a character such as Hiro could not be taken to such an extreme that I would wish but it's still important to make sure that he's not some robot that the player is happy to dispose of, personality is really extremely important when the character is going to be memorable and it's important to make sure that the player isn't just going to forget about them.
So I'm currently sitting around with very little to do but a lot is on my mind (as usual) so I'll talk about it a little. Please be aware that I was awake all night so there may be some mistakes here and there...
I'm not sure how many people are actually aware of OpenKatana's existance, I've had a few emails but that's about it however I have heard of or even seen people often speaking to Eukos about it (and praising him for it) but personally I'm not really hearing anything from anyone so I'm basically under the assumption that currently very few people are aware of this project. Because of this I have considered quite a few times on starting up a page for it here on Moddb, however currently as hard as it is to admit, OpenKatana is not in a presentable state and there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. There's been a lot of pressure lately since I'm not used to working with someone else, and when I'm still working on something or I'm planning on adding it in and then that person I'm working with has to throw in a temporary alternative when I take too long... It's a little annoying to say the least since I then feel like I seriously need to get all this other rubbish done. Oh well I'm going to have to get used to it. That said while I'm at it, Eukos' experience with C is fairly poor and because of that a lot of code is messy or prone to clear issues which I then have to spend time going over and correcting, but then as soon as I know it there's more I need to clean up! It can't be helped but it's a real pain for me... Before we release I'll have to go over everything and make sure it's all fine.
In regards to content OpenKatana is alright I guess, the main issue right now is that we're in serious need of someone to work on levels. We had two people recently but to be quite honest one of them isn't bothering and from what I've seen of the others work, it's just poor to be quite honest. I am considering taking up mapping work myself if we can't find someone to help us out in with that but it would have to wait until work on both the engine and tools is finished.
I haven't said much about it but it's also worth mentioning that for now singleplayer in OpenKatana has been scrapped which is mainly due to the lack of a dedicated mapper. A lot of the monster related code will probably be removed from the final game however I may leave at least something in there if someone is interested in working on an addon that adds a singleplayer mode.
We have plans to start work on another project which we have planned as soon as OpenKatana is released though I will continue to bring out any necessary repairs as long as I can.
Thanks for reading...