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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Hit: Multiplayer FPS contract killing in a busy city
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aDFP
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« on: March 27, 2014, 08:06:34 AM »



The Hit

The Hit is a multiplayer stealth-shooter, set in an open-world city with tens of thousands of NPCs. Track down your target and kill them as quickly and cleanly as possible, before the other players can manage it. Try to stay incognito, or photograph other players and take out hits on them.



Hi guys!

I've been working on this on and off for over a year, but haven't been able to talk about it for complicated reasons involving a restrictive NDA and a dodgy backer/business partner (which I absolutely can't go into). As of this month though, I'm once again solo, totally broke, but able to talk freely about The Hit.

This is something I've been planning to make for over 20 years (ever since playing Bullfrog's Syndicate): an open, city-based multiplayer FPS game, with assassinations, espionage, co-op and PvP gameplay. It's only recently that technology has caught up to the point where everything I've wanted to do has become possible, so I left my job in simulations and training, and started work. I'm close to releasing a video and playable demo, so I wanted to test the waters, and see what you guys think.

The game takes place in an open, endlessly repeating city. I've got the city and NPCs working, and it's already possible to have hundreds of thousands of NPCs running in realtime, and synchronised across a network, though that's actually too many for the gameplay to work well, so there'll probably only be tens of thousands of NPCs in-game (I know, I can feel your disappointment from here).

I'm working solidly at the moment to get the video and demo together, but I can't afford to keep working on the game full-time for much longer, so I've started my own Kickstarter-type funding campaign here: www.thehitgame.co.uk/Development.html. It's a per-feature system, so you can actually influence the development by deciding what I spend my time on. If I can fund the game purely through donations, then I'll be releasing at least the single-player component for free. If I can figure out how to cover server costs, the entire game may end up being free. But if it doesn't work, I'll be doing a regular ol' Kickstarter soon.

Anyway, please check out the site, where I go into a lot more detail. I've also started writing a blog, where I've so far talked about the main gameplay loop, and some of my intentions behind the game. I'll gradually be expanding on that, because I have a hell of a lot of features planned (think in terms of Dwarf Fortress), and some long-term dynamic narrative stuff that I'll talk about much later. For now, my focus is solely on getting The Hit polished and released.

Hope you like what you see.

aDFP


UPDATE: MORE SCREENSHOTS!



« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 01:25:38 PM by aDFP » Logged
Christian
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2014, 04:13:53 PM »

Just saw this on Screenshot Saturday, love the art style
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aDFP
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2014, 04:21:42 PM »

Just saw this on Screenshot Saturday, love the art style

Thanks Christian. I'm still working on the art style, but it's not likely to change too much before release. If you're interested, I'll be posting a series of Unity builds of different visual tests I've done over the last couple of years. They'll be up on the site & Facebook page in the next few weeks.
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Connor
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2014, 08:46:17 PM »

looks great! will this be free or paid? lan support? controller support?

looking forward to seeing this game succeed!
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blitzkampfer:
https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=52009.msg1280646#msg1280646

too bad eggybooms ents are actually men in paper mache suits and they NEED to be agile
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 08:53:43 PM »

Man, this looks freaking awesome. Can't wait to give it a shot!
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aDFP
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2014, 04:27:50 AM »

looks great! will this be free or paid? lan support? controller support?

It will definitely support controllers, and I'll try to make sure it works over a LAN, but I can't promise that yet.
I would love to release the game for free, but it's looking like I'll have to do a Kickstarter soon. More on that on the website (http://www.thehit.co.uk.
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aDFP
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2014, 06:23:56 PM »

I was going to keep this one quiet until after the game was out, but some awesome industry friends have convinced me to share it now.

This is the real reason I've been developing The Hit. Everything above still stands, and for now I'm focusing purely on making the best online stealth-shooter I can, but The Hit came out of a need to create a playable framework which could serve as a testing ground for my ideas about dynamic narrative generation. I'm not planning on implementing most of this until after the core game is released, but I hope you find it interesting.

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanStubbs/20140402/214565/Dynamic_Narrative_in_The_Hit.php
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2014, 08:42:51 PM »

I'm glad I subscribed to this thread a few days ago. I found that blog post very interesting and I'm curious to see how things play out!

My big question is, "Would it be possible to more-quickly prototype your core idea?" It seems a shame to be aiming for the end of 2015. Could you implement your dynamic narrative in a text-only game? Or with top-down, simple graphics?

I'd be willing to do a 24/48-hour hack-session with you to try to put something together.

I'm not an amazing programmer but I think I should know enough to do something like this. You can see some things I've coded here:
http://www.nathanwailes.com/games/venn-diagram-teacher/
http://www.nathanwailes.com/games/zombie-infection-simulator/

In any case: awesome stuff. This kind of experimentation is what I love about videogames.
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aDFP
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2014, 06:24:24 AM »

Would it be possible to more-quickly prototype your core idea?

Hi Nathan, thanks for your interest.

The short answer is yes, it would be possible, and I could probably develop some interesting content before the end of this year, but there's two main reasons why I said that:

1. I've spent everything I have, and run up some debts developing this, so unless I can secure some funding soon, I'm going to have to take on some freelance work, which will slow me down considerably. The Hit is just a more attractive proposition for an investor than a dry proof-of-concept.

2. I really do want to make The Hit as good a game as I can, and not just for my personal satisfaction. I might find a rough prototype interesting, but I', going to need a lot of feedback and player metrics. A game with purely academic appeal just won't get me those. I'm not interested in making something which just proves that this kind of system could work, I want to make it fun and at least reasonably successful, so that AAA publishers won't see it as a risk to assign large budgets to dynamic content, which is the case at the moment. That's my ultimate aim here, to make games more interesting. I'm a pretty demanding gamer, and I'm tired of AAA games where the story only develops in cutscenes.

Thanks also for the offer of help, and I'll definitely check out your site. It would be difficult to collaborate though, as some of my systems rely on purchased assets, which I wouldn't be able to share with you. However, I'm considering making some of The Hit open-source, and running a game jam to see what other people could do with the systems I'm developing, so please keep in touch.
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aDFP
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 05:22:38 PM »

Testing out the new crowd spawner. 1,000 NPCs in the first pic, 5,000 in the next two, and 10,000 in the rest.

http://imgur.com/a/eWZwn#0

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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2014, 06:01:28 PM »

This is excellent.

I strongly believe in a lot of the same things you're talking about and doing (and then some, the potential is so awesome). Working on this or something like this is one of my own personal ultimate goals in game development and just gaming in general. Countless emails, texts, prototypes, and whatnot about all this kind of stuff.

I'm a long time casual lurker here, but this made me realize I needed to register and post because honestly I'm insanely passionate about this kind of stuff in particular. This game, what you've been up to, the concepts, the forum/blog posts, the website, the different types of donations before the inevitable kickstarter or whatever, just all of it...really cool, for real. And it's nice to see it being done by someone who's clearly passionate about it as well.

I'm in a similar situation as you in terms of exhausted funds (somehow that phrase sounds more positive than just saying I'm broke), freelance work taking attention away from my main goals and all that, so I can't really donate money right now. However, I'd love to help in other ways if possible, whether collaborating or just talking about stuff. Right now some friends and I are focusing on making VR stuff in our free time, mainly just free demos but who knows if one could feel right to go further with on Steam Early Access or whatever.

At least one of those demos being worked on will have a lot of similar aspects to The Hit, so even just reading about your approach is inspiring. Pedestrians, NPCs, characters, traits, cloud, director...it's like reading some answers to my own questions and theories. I had completely forgotten about the L4D director AI until reading it in your stuff, so thanks for the reminder.

But speaking of L4D and its zombie AI...lately I like to reference that AI as a good example of how something like that could be used for essentially bringing a game world to life as much as possible. At my old company, we worked on this "bank heist prototype" (

) in the old Orange Box Source engine (before Payday and there's real drama about all that, but whatever). Then we were working on it briefly in the full Source engine before getting sidetracked with other projects and other shenanigans. But having the Portal 2 engine also gave us access to the L4D/L4D2 code...which gave us their NextBot code, which blew my mind at the time. With programming, I'm more general and wear a lot of hats as most indies do. I know things like AI and can do it but I'm not really an "expert" AI programmer until I need to write a bunch of AI, so in general I don't know about all the cool new stuff everyone else is doing in one area until it relates to what I'm doing. Not to say I don't research new stuff whenever, but you probably know what I mean.

Anywho, to me it was eye-opening and refreshing to see the NextBot code, specifically compared to the old Source AI we used to make basic civilians cops and robbers in the bank heist prototype. Really, its potential is what amazed me a bit because it was like a scalable AI system where you could have thousands of dumb NPCs which were essentially animated models with minimal physics and other simulations, but they could scale up to more complicated thinking and behaviors depending on what happened...which is what your pedestrian/NPC/character stuff sounds like, so that part really clicked with me.

What's really wild is when you go beyond characters with this stuff, thinking about how every single aspect of a game world could scale and be dynamic like that: simple yet believable with potential to be much deeper once interacted with or otherwise triggered. True for everything, and actually it's kind of obvious after the fact...basically LOD beyond rendering, used for everything. For me it was like an "oh well duh" hindsight kind of moment, like it was obviously right there just waiting to be discovered. I mean, of course we want things as cheap and deep as possible, everything should be like that. It's like, "Why wasn't I thinking and doing that before?" Who cares, thinking about and committing to it now is enough. And like you said, all of this couldn't really be done back in the day, but nowadays everything being scalable seems more doable, and really it'll be the only way to make such a detailed and believable world.

The dynamic narrative stuff is interesting too, and it's also like a scalable thing. A character started out as just cheaply walking on a loop, next thing you know you've stalked them to their kitchen to assassinate them. That kind of player-driven narrative is one thing that makes multiplayer games so great. You can play dust2 a million times in CS, it'll be different every time. I mean, the objectives are the same, but how it happens is different. But think about how even CS could change by switching up the objectives, basically scaling the gameplay. Then imagine CS with civilians all around...suddenly Ts blowing up the bomb is different, people might approach it differently. Do you hold people hostage and blow it up or do you force everyone out because you're going to blow it up? Slaughter a bunch of people or not? And if you don't blow it up, a de_ (bomb defusal) map just became a cs_ (hostage rescue) map or if the Ts run then it brings back the es_ (escape/jailbreak) mode. It's wild to think about the potential.

Anyways, I'm gonna babble on and on forever if I don't stop now. Just wanted to say I'm a fan and will be following The Hit's development closely, and if you want to work together or at least talk about stuff, that'd be cool.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 09:27:51 PM by trepid_jon » Logged

aDFP
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2014, 02:40:59 AM »

Wow. Thank you.

From around the end of last year, til the beginning of February this year, I had a complete loss of confidence in myself and this project. I never wanted to give it up, but it was a very difficult and depressing experience. For someone like me, working alone on something as ambitious as The Hit, feedback like yours is what keeps us going.

Side note: if anyone reading this is thinking about investing in an indie project, absolutely do not insist on a non-disclosure agreement. They're paralysing to indies, especially solo developers, who rely so much on feedback from the community.

I'll definitely be in touch. I was very impressed by the video of your bank heist prototype, and am already planning to support this kind of co-operative play in The Hit, so your input would be invaluable.
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 10:45:41 AM »

I'm hesitant to post this here, 'cause I know most of you guys just want a cool murder simulator, but here's what's on my mind at the moment. It's a bunch of reveals for future features, and... well, please don't be mad at me.

http://thehitgame.co.uk/wp/?p=28
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2014, 02:51:40 PM »

Looks interesting, don't stop. Wink
Show the video! ^_^
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2014, 07:45:15 AM »

Looks like a Dreamcast game. And I love the Dreamcast!

Will it be possible to drive vehicles?
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2014, 08:33:00 AM »

Looks like a Dreamcast game. And I love the Dreamcast!

I'd never even considered that, but I know exactly what you mean Smiley

I actually need to do a blog post soon about the visuals; I've been exploring variations on this style for the last five years or so, and I think it's a perfect fit for The Hit. I dislike videogaming's eternal obsession with photorealism, because it has nothing to do with gameplay. I could make the characters look a lot more realistic, and in fact I have all the assets I need to do so, but it would mean the player has to do more work to pick out the essential details, which would make the game feel more sluggish.

Will it be possible to drive vehicles?

Yes, but not yet. First, I need to get a few things finished, which I want to put into the first video trailer, then I'll be making the core game as fun as possible so I can demo it. After that, I'll be deciding what will add the most to the game, for the least amount of work, and pretty much continuing like that for the next few years, assuming it's making enough for me to live on.

I'm going to be as open as I can be about the development of The Hit, just because I believe it's a better way to work. There's actually a page on the website, which I'll try to keep up-to-date, where I list all the features, and where I'm at with developing them. 'Driveable vehicles' is on there, but a traffic system and taxis are first in line. I've put a donation button next to each one, in case anyone wants to buy me a coffee and prod me to do some work on a particular feature. Smiley
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aDFP
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2014, 06:38:16 AM »

I can't believe this. The Hit is currently ranked #5 on IndieDB.com. I'm totally in shock.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/the-hit
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 09:00:20 AM by aDFP » Logged
trepid_jon
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2014, 06:11:07 PM »

I'm hesitant to post this here, 'cause I know most of you guys just want a cool murder simulator, but here's what's on my mind at the moment. It's a bunch of reveals for future features, and... well, please don't be mad at me.

http://thehitgame.co.uk/wp/?p=28
Yeah, that's great, going deep with the concepts.

And that's cool about indiedb, I'll be tracking for sure.
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aDFP
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2014, 06:13:41 AM »

Just realised I hadn't shared this here. The first trailer!





Apologies for the lack of updates, I'm working hard on something which, if it works, is going to make the game a lot more interesting. If not, I don't want to promise something I can't deliver. Hopefully news soon.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 06:36:28 AM by aDFP » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2014, 08:41:59 AM »

I've been keeping quiet about this one, as there's a lot of systems which have to work together for this to work, but it's finally far enough along to share.



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