Sat. Jan 28th, 2023
Destroy bots in the mines, just like before.
Enlarge / Destroy bots in the mines, just like before.

Origin-style “six degrees of freedom” tunneling guns are undergoing a mini-renaissance. First, some of the Austin-based Star burger team jumped aboard and started work Descent: underground, a multiplayer-focused prequel to the original game named “Descent” licensed from Interplay. Subsequently, British indie studio Sigtrap Games announced Sublevel Zero, another Origin-like tunnel shooter – this one with retro style blocky graphics and a single player focus.

We’ve played both, but just about Descent: underground and Sublevel zero become, they’re missing something: the original development crew at Parallax Studios working on the original Origin and its sequel. We’ve been wondering since last year if Mike Kulas, Matt Toschlog and the rest of the people are behind it Origin would throw their virtual hats into the ring – and as of this morning they have. They started a new company called Revival Productions LLC and launched a $300,000 crowdfunding campaign for a game called overload.

Kickstarter trailer for Revival Productions’ overload.

Defend materials

The overload Kickstarter, along with the game’s website, paints a pretty detailed picture of the kind of game Revival is developing. The game is not a sequel or prequel Origin—Eric Peterson and Descendent Studios have rights to the Origin name and do that with Descent: underground— but is instead a new game in a new universe (Revival told Ars that his own efforts to recreate the Origin name of Interplay were unsuccessful). However, overload will feature gameplay mechanics that are unmistakable Origin-y: Whiz through underground mines in a small spacecraft, find keys, open secret doors, fragment robots, rescue hostages and finally blow up a reactor and escape the level before it collapses around your ears.

The available images and videos are very similar to an updated version of the game I played in the mid-90s: a mix of narrow corridors and open spaces, colored bars and blobs shooting out of your ship, polygonal enemies exploding in showers of sparks. “overload has a classic inspiration, but that doesn’t mean it looks gritty or has an 8-bit soundtrack,” explains the Kickstarter page in a seemingly sly joke to Sublevel zero.

Pew-pew robots!
Enlarge / Pew-pew robots!

Sound design was just as important as the original Origin games like the visual style was where each enemy robot had a distinct set of sounds. The Kickstarter page preemptively addressed the concerns we had overload‘s soundscape, explaining that the audio design will be in the hands of a veteran Origin and Free space designers Dan Wentz and Allister Brimble.

But 2016 is not 1995, and there are a lot of things possible right now that aren’t Origin. “One thing that will be really cool overload is how lighting affects gameplay – it’s about more than just being pretty,” explains Revival’s co-founder and original Origin developer Matt Toschlog. “For example, in the Kickstarter video, there’s a shot where you see a robot’s shadow before you see the robot. And we can have completely dark levels, using only the player’s headlight (and the robots’ glow) for lighting takes care.”

Toschlog is also hopeful that Revival will be able to release a version of overload that supports VR, although it’s a goal rather than a regular part of the initial release at this point. Interestingly, this is the ground Origin series has entered before – the original game and its sequel had some limited support for the head-mounted displays available in the mid-’90s, such as the LCD shutter-based Simuleyes.

About how it actually goes feels, we do not know yet. The Descent: underground developers have put a lot of effort into making their game feel as close to the original as possible Origin possible, but Toschlog says so overload will not strive for total truthfulness. “We definitely want the game to feel familiar, but that doesn’t mean it has to overload will fly precisely Like it Originhe told us. However, he also said the game could include an optional “classic” mode “for people who don’t like the changes we’re making.”

All for one

The original OriginEight-person multiplayer was groundbreaking in 1995; although IPX-only, it was one of the first multiplayer games to allow players to join and exit mid-level without having to wait in a lobby for a round to complete. Origin Players from all over the world have been able to play an ever-changing series of multiplayer matches over the internet using IPX emulators like Kali, and I can attest to having personally spent hundreds – possibly thousands – of hours antagonizing my friends during that time .

Unfortunately, and despite its strong multiplayer heritage, overload will only be single player. According to Toschlog, the single-player decision was made to allow the Revival team to release the best game possible without having to divide its efforts between two very different development goals. “overload is single player (for now) because we want to get the gameplay right and finish the game before we move on to multiplayer,” he told Ars. “We definitely want to make a multiplayer version, but we’re working with a small team and a small budget , and we don’t want to achieve too much. In the event that overload doing well, we’ll be excited to work on a multiplayer version.”

People who can’t live without it Origin-style multiplayer is a must watch at least for the time being Descent: underground, which is currently in early access on Steam and is being designed to reflect the feel of old-school multiplayer Origin as close as possible.

Looks a lot like the starting area in the original <em>descent</em>!” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/KS_noFooter_04-640×360.jpg” width=”640″ height=”360″ srcset=”https://cdn. arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/KS_noFooter_04.jpg 2x”/><figcaption class=
Enlarge / Looks a lot like the starting area in the original Origin!

Who, what, when

According to the crowdfunding page overload is scheduled for a tentative release in March 2017 on Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One, with a Mac and Linux release as the first stretch target. The crowdfunding campaign has 29 days left and has until the morning of March 11 to reach the $300,000 goal; the minimum commitment to get a copy of the game is $25. (Disclosure: I supported the game. With so many hours sunk into the mines when I was younger, how could I not?)

We’ll be following up on Revival again after the Kickstarter ends – and rest assured we’ll do everything we can to get our hands on a playable build as soon as possible.

By akfire1

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