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  • Toon Doom: A Postmortem Essay

    [04.30.09]
    - Daniel Loane
  •  Toon Doom was an idea which I had while thinking about ideas for my game mod class while in Japan. It seemed like a perfect match for the requirements of the class. It was to be a total conversion mod to Unreal Tournament 3. We originally planned to make Toon Doom a three-quarters isometric view where players would cooperate in order to complete puzzles.

    My original idea included split screen multiplayer, not networked multiplayer, as well as cooperative, instead of versus play. We also wanted to have a cel shaded art style that gradually became more realistic and dark. With Toon Doom, our team was comprised of seven people, of which, four were familiar with the Unreal 3 Engine, and three of us were familiar only with Unreal 2.0. We wanted to make a non-violent game, something which would be rated E10+ or Teen by the ESRB.

    This being my first experience with the Unreal 3 Engine, I quickly found out that editing the camera would be too time consuming for the results. After receiving feedback from Professors Curry and Turkiewicz as well as the rest of the team, we decided to make a few gameplay switches early in the project.

    As a class requirement was networked play, we scrapped the split screen idea in favor of networked multiplayer. This proved to be the correct decision in my opinion as having the full screen is truly needed when playing a 3D platformer. We also scrapped the co-operative gameplay as we all agreed that it's just more fun to be had racing against other people. We decided that a third-person over the shoulder camera would be the right idea for Toon Doom.

    Our beginnings were a little rough, with our programming team inexperienced in UnrealScript; we had a lot of tasks on our plate and what seemed like a very short time to complete them. We first decided to tackle our custom weapons, which included originally a tri function Rock, Paper, Scissor gun. You were supposed to be able to fire the rock gun to place jumpable platforms, kind of like the mines in Deus Ex. The paper gun would break through rock obstacles, and the scissor gun would cut through paper obstacles. This again was quickly scrapped as we realized that the spider mines were not deployable via a gun. We realized that it would require far too much time to get a deployable object to fire out of a weapon.

    We decided instead to use two different weapons, one which would slow the other player down and the other which would act like a rocket, but not harm you. It would simply move the enemy character x distance from their original position. The idea was that in a platformer that required precise jumps, that a great weapon would be one that could move a player against their will. You could then blast an opponent off the platform they worked so hard to reach, sending them plummeting to their death, or at least to a lower position on the mountain.

    We also decided that this would be the primary weapon in the game, the one that we'd use to interact with puzzles. In retrospect, it might have been a better idea to increase the power of the blast, so that it launched the player further. The problem with doing this however was, it would have required much more testing of the level to make sure that players couldn't rocket jump out of our level.

    Our second gun was a modified version of the bio rifle that we called the Pen Gun. The idea was that it shot sticky ink, which would slow the enemy down. The idea of the gun was great, but we didn't realize until the final presentation, that people had a hard time aiming the weapon. The bio rifle is difficult to shoot in Unreal, and we didn't change anything about the trajectory of the projectile. We really should have either modified a different weapon, one that fired straight, or increased the size of the projectile.

    We also wanted to change the color of the bio goo from green, to blue. We didn't reach the point where we had time to worry about this detail until the very end of the project. As we had no idea how to modify particle effects, changing the bio goo was far too time consuming, and we were just too close to the end of the project to change that. Therefore the blue ink goo was cut from the project, and the green goo stayed.

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