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Gameguru reviews/specials archive << back to the main page
(hx) 12:27 PM CEST - May,11 2007
Needless to say the 2005's first person shooter Painkiller was a cult
favorite for fans of the genre. Last year, members of the game's development
team have created a new company called The Farm 51 and are using the Painkiller
engine for an all new title called NecroVisioN. We got a chance to chat with The
Farm 51's designers and artists Kamil Bilczynski and Wojciech Pazdur to find out
more about NecrovisioN.
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little
bit about what you do on NecroVisioN. Also, can you give us a little background
on the development team working on the game?
Kamil Bilczynski: My name is Kamil Bilczynski
and I'm the Lead Designer and Art Director of the NecroVisioN project. The team
is a combination of old professionals who have participated in the production of
many known games (e.g. "Painkiller"), and some fresh blood (who have created
"Time Ace", for example). We are working together, wanting to make NecroVisioN
as good as it is possible.
GGMania: To start off, can you give us a brief overview of NecroVisioN?
Kamil Bilczynski: NecroVisioN is a war-horror
shooter with fantasy elements, the main idea of which is a combination of
shooting & spells in brutal and intensive combat. The player is like Van
Helsing, meeting the undead during the Great War - an explosive journey leads
him into the Underground Kingdom of vampires and demons. Our goal is to create a
title with a huge fun factor coming from shooting and basic combat with the
addition of some unusual and unprecedented elements in such type of games like
spells or fatalities.
GGMania: What was the source of inspiration for the NecroVisioN concept?
Kamil Bilczynski: Looking at FPS market we've
been wondering about a game that would revitalize a genre we all love. The
experience we got while making Medal of Honor and Painkiller helped us realize
that mixing the best elements of those games and adding something extra would be
a very interesting alternative. That's why NecroVisioN is an action-horror game
that combines a classis wartime shooter with horror action games. The first
novelty is our Close Combat System, giving the player even more efficient and
spectacular ways of foe annihilation. Then you get the SpellSystem, allowing you
to use powerful spells you know from RPGs. To top it all, you get great duels
with the Bosses, gigantic opponents dazzle everyone, and you don't get too much
of them in other FPS games. The final element of the mix was the combination of
our ideas into a single, coherent plot, as good games are remembered for their
great gameplay and interesting storylines. Having seen such movies like
"Deathwatch" or "Young Indiana Jones' Chronicles" we decided that the WWI era
provides a great background for our project. So, we decided to tap the potential
of the Great War, avoiding the largely exploited WWII. NecroVisioN tells the
story of a man fighting with demons in the name of a vampiric race. The journey
takes the player from wartime macabre to the vampire underground, with a grand
finale poising him against the demons.
GGMania: What is the storyline of the game?
Kamil Bilczynski: The story presented in
NecroVisioN tells of a fight between vampires and demons, with the human race
being just a background to their eternal strife. Thousands of years ago, after
the cataclysm brought upon Earth by a huge meteorite, the whole planet was
shrouded in darkness, was taken over by vampires. Once the sun began to shine
through the black clouds, the vampires were forced underground. Taking advantage
of the huge resource pools, the Underground Civilization was blooming, both
technologically and magically. Vampires leave their mazes and dungeons quite
rarely, using some humans as their faithful servants on the surface. The turning
point was the time, when vampires came too close to the core of the planet while
digging new tunnels, breaking magical barriers and reaching the demon world
known to Man as Hell. While at the peak of their power, the vampires managed to
drive the demons away and strike a deal, but occasional borderline conflicts
were nothing unusual. The vampire empire lived in the shadowing menace of the
demonic underworld. The Great Sorcerers brought a superb group of fighters to
life using magic - they were called Shadow Warriors, those who stood between
life and death, matching the demons' destructive power. One of the vampires, a
great Necromancer, started to look for warriors to join his army among humans
occupying the surface. His search was quite risky, and due to negligence, demons
could reach the planet's surface, endangering both vampires and humans. Simon is
the protagonist of the story, who becomes a Shadow Warrior. He wanted to live a
great adventure during the Great War, only to find that it's a nightmare, a
horror coming to life... No human war can be compared to a war against the
GGMania: What can you tell us about the gameplay? Will it be mission based or
Kamil Bilczynski: The whole game is going to be
mission-based, but the path you are going to take is not totally linear. It's
full of bonuses, extra locations you can explore if you wish - very often you
need to solve some puzzles to get there. Thus, you can complete a mission in a
number of different ways, if you like it Rambo-style - no problem - you simply
head towards the goal and kill every opponent in your way. If you prefer a more
stealthy approach, you can find a suitable passage, climb a tower and snipe half
of the garrison :) That way, we increase the replayability of the game - you can
always start the mission again to find new bonus places.
GGMania: Well, how many missions or levels are you looking to include in
NecroVisioN, and what sort of objectives can we expect to undertake in these?
Kamil Bilczynski: Of the vital issues while
working on locations is their variety and diversity. NecroVisioN is played out
in 3 big episodes: I - The Great War, II - Vampire Underground, III -
Underworld. They differ visually and gameplay-wise - each episode brings
specific enemies, weapons and bosses. The first episode takes place in the thick
of World War One, where you meet zombie hordes; pretty similar to classical
wartime shooters, but more brutal, with many close combat situations and fights
with the undead. Later on, you enter the underground world of vampires and
demons, where spells and powerful vampiric technology will be at your disposal.
As the story unfolds, the storyline becomes more of a horror one. You are also
going to find some boss-arenas on the way, as well as some vehicles for you to
use. The whole fun is that the first episode offers human opponents, but also
creatures that use magic, and later - you become a Necromancer yourself, using
magic in combat.
GGMania: Tell us about the enemies that we will be finding in the game as
well as to their AI.
Kamil Bilczynski: NecroVisioN's characteristic
trait is the large variety of elements, offered both by the world you explore
and the enemies that are going to face you. You shall fight against humans,
undead, the underworld creatures of the vamipiric world, and finally - the
demons. You are going to battle it out in epic scale with huge bosses. You can
also expect huge warmachines like Scorpion Tank and gigantic bosses straight
from Hell itself, like Azazel.
Because enemies in our game are very different, we had
a lot of hard work (and we still have) to customize their behavior - the WWI
German troop is not the same as flying demon or vampire warrior beast. It makes
us to look constantly for new mechanisms in gameplay and AI and to try dozens of
different algorithms before we can say that given enemy plays his role in the
whole story. To avoid technical buzzwords, we can say that almost every enemy
has different tactic during the fight and uses different weapons and forms of
attacks. Many times player immerses into battles between different races, so it
forces him to choose his targets carefully - and in this way he can become an
ally or an enemy for some characters.
GGMania: The weapons arsenal, always important in first person shooters. What
kind of weapons/items will we get to use in the game?
Kamil Bilczynski: NecroVisioN is a game
combining the realism of early 20th century with a fantasy underworld. As we all
know, a good FPS gives you great fun through shooting and exterminating your
enemies. The arsenal can be divided in two groups, the first one coming from the
real world. The WWI conflict brought about quite a lot of new designs and ideas,
developed during WWII, so you can expect: the HMG08/15, a shotgun - M97
Trenchgun, the Enfield No.1 Mk.III rifle or the world's first ever SMG - MP
18-I. You also have a group of environment weapons - when you run out of ammo,
you can always pick up a kerosene lamp and throw it at your enemies, or drag a
wooden board from the trench and flail your enemy to death with it.
When the protagonist moves down into the Underground,
he gets new toys to play with, powerful weapons made by vampires. The first find
is the Shadowhand - this ancient attribute of all demon-killers comes with claws
and a Spear... It also allows you to simple magic (e.g. fireballs), but also
more advanced spells like Skulls Chaser - remember „Doom 3" skulls? In
NecroVisioN those skulls are on your side! This spell creates a few angry flying
Skulls, which protect the player and attack his enemies. You are also going to
be using other vampiric inventions, like silverbullet machineguns or a Noisegun.
GGMania: Will there be an upgrade system or alternate firing modes?
Kamil Bilczynski: Alternate firing modes exist
in the most realistic weapons, just like in many other wartime shooters you can
use iron sights, each of the weapons also offers melee attacks, very useful in
close combat. You can also upgrade weapons, so you can attach a scope to an SMLE
rifle and snipe the enemies from afar. When you run out of ammo, you can attach
a bayonet to the very same rifle, increasing your close combat prowess. If you
find the right ammo, your rifle will become a grenade launcher.
Further on, you get the Spell System to play with - a
collection of popular spells straight out of RPGs and a whole arsenal of
vampiric weapons that are far more powerful than anything made by humans. The
whole shooting and spellcasting system is designed to be a coherent monolith -
"the more you kill shooting, the faster your MANA pool increases"... so you can
use spells more often. So, the award for the frequent use of firearms is
powered-up spellcasting, making the whole system work simply fine.
GGMania: Will there be vehicles in the game players can use?
Kamil Bilczynski: It's always nice to ride a
huge machine and slaughter helpless enemies :). Therefore, we want to add
vehicles to the game, but we want them to be original and suitable for the whole
concept. Right now I can only give you some names: Vampire Mech Warrior &
Dragon... More details very soon :).
GGMania: Could you describe the combat system?
Kamil Bilczynski: The combat system is one of
the most innovative and fresh ideas in NecroVisioN. Our goal is to give the
player more satisfaction from killing his opponents. We designed something what
we call Gun-Jitsu, a simple and attractive system combining hand-to-hand
techniques and guns into one deadly mix.
The combat is based on a two-hand system, so our combat prowess in close combat
situations is dramatically increased. For example, you can wield a Colt 1911 in
your right hand and a bayonet (which can be thrown at the enemies or used to
slice and dice them) in your left hand. Of course, you can use other techniques
in melee combat, e.g. a rifle-butt attack with the MG08/15 or a bayonet attached
to a SMLE rifle. The cherry on the top of our combat pie is the possibility of
performing a spectacular fatality on your enemy to finish him off - an element
frequently found in fighting games. Think Mortal Kombat fatalities here...
Here's an example:
1. Four enemies attack the player
2. The player throws a bayonet, killing the first enemy
3. Then he moves forward, killing the second enemy with a pistol
4. After that, the third enemy is brought down by a shotgun round
5. Finally, a kick for the last enemy - it stuns him, leaving him dazed
6. Fatality time - a pistol headshot, a kick in the chest, a hit with the
pistol's flask, a knife plunged into his heart (with the enemy kneeling), a kick
detaching the enemy's head... everything in bullet-time.
GGMania: One key to the horror genre of games is atmosphere. How does
NecroVisioN go about creating the horror-style atmosphere within the game?
Kamil Bilczynski: One of the sentences
describing a good horror is "try to survive", and we are creating the whole
gameplay experience around this concept. The story begins like a classical war
story, but when it starts to unfold, you simply have to survive in a world full
of undead soldiers. The protagonist tries to escape the nightmare, but the
farther he runs away, the nastier and more surprising it gets, with terrible
creatures getting in his way. We also make every effort to make the graphics
(and the locations) as dreary and atmospheric as possible... Abandoned
fortresses hidden in the mists, devastated bunkers, flooded catacombs and so on.
The horror of the game requires of course proper music and sounds, amplifying
the oneiric mood of the world we are creating. Thanks to all this, NecroVisioN
gives you a unique atmosphere, rarely found in shooters.
GGMania: The screenshots you released look already pretty good. What can you
tell us about the 3D engine that is being used for the game?
Wojciech Pazdur, Project Lead: We got the engine
that was most suitable for our project - the Pain Engine from People Can Fly.
Even if our game is going to be different from Painkiller, this technology
contained every basic features we needed for NecroVisioN: very detailed
environments, great use of special effects, support for huge and complex
characters and amazing physics capabilities. And because we wanted to compete
with other modern titles, we've rewritten its renderer completely, adding global
dynamic lights system, sophisticated surface shaders, enhanced skeletal
animation and many different eye-candy elements. Original Pain Engine was able
to render environments built with hundreds thousands of polygons and because we
maintain its philosophy, we're now able to use scenes with millions of polygons
with custom shaders for every single object.
GGMania: How interactive is the environment? What type of interactivity can
players expect? Will you eventually support the AGEIA PPU?
Wojciech Pazdur, Project Lead: There is a lot of
interaction with environment, because we use consistent real-time physics
simulation for every part of the game - player movement, combat, environment
collisions and special FXs - what allows us for almost every environment
interactions we want to implement. There is no place in the game without
destructible parts of environments, and not only player is interacting with it -
his enemies also destroys (with use of physics) a huge parts of architecture or
landscape. We're not planning to support AGEIA PPU now, but it's not final
GGMania: What forms of multiplayer will be available, and what can you say
about them at this time? Will there be co-op mod?
Kamil Bilczynski: At the moment, NecroVisioN is
planned only as single player game, with no co-op or multiplayer modes present
at this stage of its development.
GGMania: What, in your view, is the most exciting aspect of NecroVisioN? What
do you think gamers will enjoy in NecroVisioN over other games like it?
Kamil Bilczynski: The atmosphere in the game and
the fun of engaging in close combat powered with fatalities are what gets me
most excited about the game :). It fits in really well into the horror genre,
and it has been neglected in many other FPS games. We maintain a balance between
shooting and close combat, so if you want to shoot more than go hand-to-hand,
the choice is up to you. Also, Bosses and the game physics system (you can
devastate your enemies AND your environment) add up to the overall enjoyment
GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be
done? When will it be released?
Kamil Bilczynski: We finished the pre-production
stage in 2006, and right now we're in full production. The release is slated for
GGMania: Are there any plans for a beta test or demo of the game to be
release prior to the game's completion?
Kamil Bilczynski: This issue shall be addressed
in a detailed way next year.
GGMania: What is going to be the difference between the PC and XBox 360
Kamil Bilczynski: We have no information about a
version for the Xbox 360 at the moment.
GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is
there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Kamil Bilczynski: Thanks for the interview, and
I hope you're going to enjoy NecroVisioN.
|genre: first-person shooter|
platform: PC, Xbox 360
developer: The Farm 51