Cold Fear Developer Diary #2 Feature - The Next Level

Cold Fear Developer Diary #2

Cold Fear's development staff Cyrille Combes, Arnaud Barros and Nicolas Castaing discuss programming, level design and more.

Article by External Source (Email)
January 12th 2005, 10:10PM

Critical Hit directing

My favorite feature is the critical hit. Hand-to-hand fighting in horror games can get quite repetitive and boring. We really wanted to develop something spectacular like a special move to get rid of the monsters grasp. We could have used the cross hit, but we wanted more.

First we worked on the camera movement. The grab, strangle and release of segments in a sequence includes special direction. The camera follows the enemy’s movements we creating the illusion of a real struggle. If you manage to press ‘action’ fast enough during a predefined amount of time, you are given the opportunity to blast the head of the mutant with a special, single shot in its mouth. The timing for this special move is quite short, offers the player a great payoff. The whole action takes place in slow-motion and ends with blood splattered screen.

The critical hit is a big reward for the player.

Weapons and enemies: Cyrille Combes, AI Programmer

The weapons: an essential in Cold Fear gameplay. In Cold Fear we really wanted to load the player up with firepower. We didn’t want him to be in a situation of weakness, so equipped him with powerful weapons like submachine guns, assault rifles and others that are typically found in war games. However, each weapon has a huge impact on gameplay, so the player has to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each.

AK47: The recoil for the AK47 is very strong and increases if you continue to fire. For this reason, it is better to fire with short bursts.

Shotgun: The shotgun is powerful but slow. It is best used at short range, especially when trying to blow an enemy away.

MP5: The MP5 is my favorite weapon. It is fast, precise and features a torchlight.

Flamethrower: The flamethrower is particularly deadly. It kills your enemies on the spot. It also allows you to destroy some objects on the ship, including crates. You must be cautious of the direction of the wind when using the flamethrower outdoors because of a back draft system. Back drafts can cause you to miss your target or, in a worst case, cause you to set yourself on fire. A gasoline magazine allows you to use the flamethrower for only 30 seconds, so you have to let your enemies approach you before you can use the flamethrower effectively. It is the ultimate weapon against the Exocels.

Grenade launcher: The grenade launcher is a short-range, very powerful weapon that can easily kill several enemies with one shot. The grenade’s bounce is monitored with physics, but due to the rocking ship it can be inaccurate and will roll back to you. Because it can be unpredictable, it should be used cautiously.

Speargun: The speargun is absolutely crucial. It works like a harpoon. The player can shoot arrows into walls or enemies. But its uniqueness lies in the substance contained in the arrows, which spreads a gas that will attract your enemies. So you can shoot an arrow in a dangerous area, then shoot a an explosive barrel for instance to kill all of your enemies with one bullet. This is the ultimate weapon for the player, although it will have very limited ammunition.

Balancing the weapons

Balancing a set of weapons requires a lot of tuning - damage, range of fire, rounds per second, accuracy. All the weapons in Cold Fear were designed to fit the ExoMutant. We did some additional tuning afterwards to fit with the other entities.

Once complete, we worked on balancing edge effects. The more you modify weapons to kill stronger monsters, the more likely it is that some weapons are too strong for basic enemies. You have to freeze the weapon settings and act more on the creature’s characteristics. The objective is to choose the appropriate weapon for each enemy, based on its various strengths and weaknesses.

The weapons of the enemies

Enemy weapons also require tuning. For example, the mercenaries use the AK47 and the handgun.

The handgun aims less accurately, but we tried to make the bullets fly close to the player to create the sensation of being in the middle of an intense gunfight. We have no friendly fire in the game. The enemies can hurt themselves in spite of the fact that their priority is still to protect themselves.

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