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Post feature RSS FAQ - Northern Ireland: 1983 & Crystal Wolf Studios

With the move to an Indie project, we've had quite a few questions directed our way about what we've been doing, and what our plans are. Rather than having to answer all of them time and time again, and also to provide a nice little article on what we've been doing, heres an FAQ on the development of Northern Ireland: 1983, and about Crystal Wolf Studios....

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Today, we're going through several questions, which are frequently asked by the public. Hence the title of Frequently Asked Questions. Fnar Fnar. *ahem*

This consists of questions about ourselves, the team as a whole, and the development of Northern Ireland: 1983. Read on for more information... And one or two bits of nifty concept art. Because I can.

Q1: What made you decide to change from Cryengine2 to Unreal3?

Primarily, we weighed up the pros, and cons, of both engines. In the case of CryEngine2, we had the stunning visuals, the engine based lighting, the AI, and the FlowGraph setup, along with access to the Game Logic Code, which is in C++. That said, we had massive problems in regards to animation in CE2, along with getting stuff in the first place. The animation/rigging was of prime concern, due to the fact its done in a way that is unusual when compared to either Unreal, or Source. Also, there were concerns about the FPS, and the stability of the engine when compared to Unreal3.

Meanwhile, the release of the Unreal Development Kit provided us with a lot of useful equipment - destructible environments, sound, ease of animations, new lighting set up (While not as good as CE2, it was still vastly improved compared to how it originally was in Unreal Tournament 3.), along with the key thing here - the stand alone ability of the product, meaning we could reach a much wider audience, along with the ability to have something that could possibly be published in the future.

Overall, each engine has its advantages over the other - Cryengine2 comes out on top in regards to Graphics, whereas Unreal3 seems to come out on top in regards to functionality, and the fact we can make a stand alone project. That final point was really the clincher in the deal.

Q2: What are you going to do about the multiplayer levels that you were developing on CE2?

The multiplayer levels are still going to be released - expect something around Christmas, early January. We may well have secured some assistance from the Online Modding Group, the developers of the Crysis Wars Extended modification, in getting these maps out to the community as well. As of yet, i'm unsure on that point however.

Q3: When are we going to see some ingame shots?

Answering honestly, expect something in approximately 1-4 months. Its a bit of a wide estimate, but its better than rushing to get it out by say... the end of December. We'll hopefully have in game shots before that, but its better to have them early rather than late. Simply put, they'll be ready when they're ready.

Q4: What kind of style are you going for in regards to the project?

In regards to the art style, we're aiming for primarily using a 1980's theme. This is everything from clothing, hair, weapons, architecture, and even music. Admittedly, music is much harder to sort out due to copyright, so we may have to do some covers, or hope that we're able to secure funding to allow us to use the music in the project.

Gameplay & plot wise, we're looking at a tactical shooter. You're supposed to be careful, and use the environment to your advantage. If you don't, expect to quickly become a 5.56mm kebab. The plot and story is meant to be quite dark, and oppressive - this is at the height of the cold war, after all.

Q5: What are you hoping to include in the game, assets wise?

In regards to NPCs, we're hoping to include several - Civilians, Police, Army, Special Forces, and numerous other organic works. In total, we're aiming to include a wide variation, using different heads, bodies, legs, arms, etc.

For weaponry, we're aiming to have several options open to the player for them to use, with different tactical advantages to using a particular weapon over another. In total, its about 30-35 weapons. It might seem like a lot, but theres a lot of difference between each weapon.

For vehicles, we're trying to get quite a few variants in - the vast majority of which will be drivable, except for aircraft. In total, its about 20-30 variants of vehicles, both land, sea, and air.

The final questions are continued over the page.

Questions from the community are continued below:

Q6: Will there be an IRA side to the story?

Its not planned to include one at present. Primary reason being the fact that we have to do more work on the plot, asset creation, and it would add several months to to do so.

On a more minor point, i don't really feel comfortable designing something from the point of view of terrorists, no matter how much I agree with what they were fighting for. It would also cause more harm than good to do it, to be quite frank, along with the fact that theres far less information available from the Republican side of the conflict available for us to use to develop with.

Q7: What are the main problems you've experienced during development?

The main problems we've had is the creation of environments, along with top end textures. If i'm honest, back when we started last year, I decided to focus the team on weapons over the environments - hence why we've got approximately 50% of the weapons done, and nowhere near that amount of the environment done. Luckily, the balance is starting to swing the other way, with the team's focus swapping to the environmental asset creation process. We've also had numerous problems creating AAA quality textures - lets face it, without good textures, even the best model in the world will be ruined by a shoddy texture. Unfortunately, we've had less luck in this area. Hopefully that'll change.

Q8: I hear that you're willing to collaborate on this project, are there any teams that you're working with, or may be working with in the future?

We've been putting out some feelers in regards to this, and had contact from one or two groups. At the present time, i'd rather keep that information quiet until its certain that we'll be working together.

Q9: Theres been talk of the story branching outside of Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Could you enlighten us on this?

Without revealing too much of the plot, approximately 70% of the game takes place in the UK and Ireland, with the other 30% taking place in Europe, Russia, and Northern Africa. This allows us to experiment with the appearance of different areas at that particularly point in time, in particular Northern Africa and Russia when compared to the UK.

Q10: Are you basing any of the areas on real life areas?

Where possible, yes we are. Unfortunately, for some areas, trying to get reference images of them pre-90's is fairly difficult. Fortunately, we've had a lot of assistance from the British Army Rumour Service, where a large proportion of the members are former soldiers, and have served in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. In other words, we try to secure as many reference images for areas as we can. Of course, some areas are fully falsified, or altered slightly from original to suit our needs better. This, however, is rather rare, as we're aiming for realism, and the areas also reflect that.

Q11: Will this be free?

We'd prefer to have something that we could sell. With the amount of work, and time that is put into this - so far quickly approaching a year - by the team, and with the possibility of creating a fully fledged title, along with the fact that its useful for resumes to have a shipped title (Look at most jobs now, they're asking for 2-4 shipped titles for some of the positions). The idea is to create a tech demo using this, which we'll then approach publishers with. Ideally, we'd also like to release this demo to the public.

So, in simple terms - No, we'd like to be able to sell the end product.

Well, thats the end of this months most frequently asked questions. If you've got any questions in regards to development, please contact us either via leaving a message on the front page, PMing myself, or sending us an e-mail at Crystalwolfstudios@hotmail.co.uk

Crystal Wolf Studios

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