Stuntman: Ignition Designer Diary #1 - Aftershock

Members of Paradigm Entertainment talk about the first of Stuntman: Ignition's movies.

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Stuntman: Ignition is a mission-based driving game that will task you with performing spectacular stunts for a number of different make-believe movies. We got to play through sequences from two of the game's six movies at the THQ Gamers' Day last month, and the first of them is the focus of today's designer diary.

Aftershock


By Paradigm Dev Team

Aftershock is a big-budget Hollywood disaster epic set in the Pacific Northwest. It focuses on an isolated small town perched high in the mountains, near the cone of a long-dormant volcano. Ominous rumblings quickly give way to outright disaster as the volcano erupts, dealing massive damage to the nearby town. Streams of lava flow through the streets, massive flaming boulders crash down from the sky, fissures open in the ground, and the town is torn apart. The movie doesn't focus on a single character, instead telling the story of a group of townsfolk who struggle to survive amid the chaos.

Aftershock is our shot at grabbing the player's attention from the beginning of the game, hitting you with something visually compelling and dramatic from the very start. Often in game development there is a tendency to save the good stuff for last--sometimes this is part of the plan, other times it occurs naturally as the team gets a better understanding of what, exactly, makes the game fun. In this case, we were determined to present the player with one of our more compelling environments right away, as well as demonstrate what makes Stuntman: Ignition different from the typical "driving game." Aftershock, with its extremely active environment and over-the-top stunts, was ideally suited to this purpose. Instead of driving around a relatively static track, Stuntman: Ignition provides the player with the unique opportunity to navigate through the ruins of the doomed town as the destruction is taking place. Players will dodge falling lava boulders, leap enormous chasms, and smash through burning buildings.

Flaming boulders and lava flows won't be the only hazards to look out for.
Flaming boulders and lava flows won't be the only hazards to look out for.

Aftershock's active environment also proved one of the tougher challenges for the project as a whole. The numerous particle effects, breakables, and complex environmental animations were a challenge to both construct and to fit into even the Xbox 360's considerable memory. We began with a "blue-box" phase that roughed out the basic gameplay of the levels with rudimentary geometry and a simplistic version of the environmental animations created by "lerping" objects from one position to another. This let us establish the timing of the animations and test out the gameplay before we expended the resources to build the animations. The levels actually changed significantly during this phase, as certain stunts proved more compelling than others. Once we were satisfied with the pacing and layout, the art team built over the "blue-box," creating the finished art, animation, and effects necessary to bring the doomed town to life.

Overall, we feel that Aftershock does an excellent job providing the player with an initial exposure to the spectacular environments and over-the-top stunts found in Stuntman: Ignition.

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