Wow...the last 24 hours have seen a massive increase in the amount of DoD-related screens and videos. Valve had a "preview" list of web masters, gaming magazines, and others that they sent unlocked copies of DoD:S so we're getting all the information we could possibly want save the actual game itself.
It's been an interesting week to say the least. Between the Christmas-like anticipation of the unveiling of DoD:Source on Monday Sep 26th, to the new demos for both Serious Sam 2 and BiA, to the new episode of Lost (damn control room looks like the bridge on the USS Seaview for gawds sake), to the hurricanes from hell, a new Supreme Court Chief Justice...and the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys. I have to say either the world has tilted on its axis or we're in a strange time indeed. It's been a wild and wacky week.
Ok DoD Fans: Question one: How many of you will take PTO from work on either the 26th or 27th? I will because I figure I'll sit down to play DoD:Source at 6pm EST on Monday and will only leave my seat for sustenance and bathroom breaks for the next 24 hours. My buds on the dev team all tell me they are hyper-excited about this release. It's breathed fresh air into a game that was becoming very out-of-date and, truth be told, getting boring for us who have played it for the last four years. I think most of you have seen the ign videos and still shots so we've had a lot of our questions answered. So far things are looking great. BiA Earned in Blood released their demo version today as well. One single player and one MP map were included. The game looks better than the original and runs about the same. It incorporates some HDR components and it looks pretty good. It has the same game play dynamics except this time you play as a Corporal Hartsock...it's sort of like Opposing Force when you see Gordon Freeman every now and then...in this case you see the main character from the original BiA occasionally as you cross paths.
BTW...Fileplanet finally posted my flyby video of my remake of dod_falaise and you can d/l it HERE
Valve's paying very close attention to pre-sales figures on DoD. Given that this is their first HDR release, it's the first DoD release where most of Valve was involved in (outside of the usual suspects), that internal play tests were, according to one insider a "blast" and that they had to put up two 24 person servers to deal w/how much people wanted to play...All signs point to Valve wanting DoD to move out of the niche market into the larger scheme of things. DoD is now more a flagship offering than the ugly step-sister it seemed to be. They priced it nicely ($20) and given that a vast majority of the reviews on the old DoD 1.X product all said "great game play, sucky gfx" you have to expect they kept the core game play and we all know how nice the gfx has become. That said, I think there's going to be *some* changes in game play. There have been Haiku and other hints coming from the core developers suggesting changes like being able to move between prone and crouching, that grenade priming is an alt-fire sequence, that some weapons have iron sights and others selectable firing rates. We even have one haiku announcing something cryptic about "prisoners".
Given the response to internal testing there's something very positive happening inside Valve that either makes the game much more fun to play or that "corporate" Valve, outside the original developers, finally realized what a solid title they have. DoD 1.3, in terms of players, outdraws HL2DM (a Source project) and almost all other Valve and outside mods (w/notable exception of the CounterStrike series) combined. In the old days the devs couldn't get anyone to play test releases from internal staff and had to go outside for testers...Those days are gone.
I suspect we'll see more player models and maps "soon". Valve appears to have taken the CS:Source distribution model (a good plan now is better than a perfect plan later) and applied it to DoD. We already know that the preloaded cache contains four maps. It's also a given that a solid MP game cannot survive on four maps alone so I expect a few ports and a few new ones in the coming months.
Gabe Newell has recently stated his respect of the WoW profit model (Game price + monthly subscription). I think he looks at that model as his competition. Given that Steam offers a continual touch-point to his customer base and Valves recent admission that episodic content is how they are approaching some of their projects I beleive this is the way he's going w/whatever HL3 or TF2 was going to be. Imagine ten (10) post-HL2 episodes over the next few years at $12 a pop...That's a lot more money than one $50 release. There's the future...Episodic (TV-and old Saturday matinee like) content. This could eventually make it's way into DoD: "Buy the Canadian add-on pack and get Five Canadian soldier classes and three maps dealing w/Canadian battles!!!" One can also imagine a post HL2 Valve where they take the WoW concept and apply it to either their HL2 environment or the old TFC environment...building skill levels into a semi MMPFPS concept. I think the next few years at Valve are going to be much more interesting than the last few years.
Game companies survive on either a very wealthy benefactor or through normal business practices...as such I don't see anything wrong w/Valve trying to make as much cash as they can on DoD considering they've sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars of salaries on it over the last few years. Reading all those "I shouldn't have to pay for a mod" posts makes me puke. People like that have zero understanding about how games are created and produced and paid for. Being upset over $20? I suspect most of those who are complaining are younger players w/o credit cards and w/o a steady means of income. I would gladly pay a few dollars every few months to get new maps or new player models as long as there was real value in those purchases.
Here's a flyby video I made using fraps last May. It's 28MB zipped and has my commentary as I fly around the map listed below. The quality is so-so and the map has significantly changed since then (added more detail). It's comparable to what the original beta test maps looked like but I have it on good authority that the maps they'll release in a few weeks w/DOD:Source will look much better.
I should have this map out by late October. It's based on my official map dod_falaise (but it's not a port) and I still need a good name to call it. My good friend Jed just wants me to use any name other than area's where Canadian and British forces moved through so I'm thinking about dod_crapola
(btw...dod_crapola is a pet name. I rename maps that don't have finished names and in no way construes anything negative about anything...the least of which is the grand respect I have for all the combatants in WW2 nor was it meant to be taken negatively by anyone living near Arstaviken. I would love to see the brits back in DoD. In this case I was thinking about a new name and I thought "Crap...I have no clue what to call it" And crapola it was. Crap is, in fact, one of my favorite cuss words).
The last pic is from Brooker (from the DoD forums), he put together a nice montage of these screens: Screen 3Screen 4Screen 5Screen 6Screen 7Screen 8Screen 9Screen 10 Skybox Views Although the 3d skybox in DoD (and CS) uses up some resources they give the mapper a unique way to fill in the edges of their map. In the old HL1 world most of our maps used huge flat tree lines as borders...now we can add in realistic detail. This page might take some time to load...but give it a shot...you'll be surprised how much a simple skybox can add to the overall sense you are in a place much larger than you are. Click here to see skybox pics