My (admitedly poorly structured review of sorts:
Edit2: Sorry about the length.
Excuse the wording in some of these paragraphs, I just seem to be unable to english
Quote: " the AI is significantly better in EP than previous GG games purely by virtue of the fact it was built in 2018.09.23 and has the new AI. "
I disagree. While we previously had "great" moments like AI being stuck in the floor it functioned most
of the time. It was sub par but the new AI tended to simply kinda roam around. When it worked, it was pretty neat.
I gave it a second playthrough and here are my thoughts:
What is immediately striking about extraction point is the presentation. I've seen the word professional being thrown around here and I believe what they mean is that it mimicks the look of a studio release. This is very true. However, it has this B-movie effect where it resembles a bigger release just enough for the shortcomings to be even more glaring.
This is absolutely apparent in the intro sequence. As a game guru user and another hobbyist game maker, this was absolutely exciting. As a gamer I was not so sure if the approach "less is more" isn't better for this type of game. Allow me to explain: I've seen low budget and indie releases use simple introductory footage like a sequence of a forest or the car-ride in outlast. You however use a fully voice acted sequence of soldiers in a chinook. Its well made, the camera zooms into it, we have characters standing around having a conversation, we get glimpses of the shars army, the shar himself shooting down the helicopter which looks phenomenal when it goes down! However, you also notice these things like characters mouths not moving or them being perfectly still staring straight ahead when they are supposed to be speaking. I understand that this sequence must have been painstaking to make and it stands as the best GG cutscene to date.
The only sequence I dislike is when the Shars army is introduced (was it the "hand of god?
") and you see 2 blokes angled towards each other aiming down an AK. I think this looks slightly awkward.
Now the game starts and I really appreciate that I had to hold B to slowly get up rather than just start at the crash site. It kind of communicates the idea that I was in a severe crash and have probably been unconcious for a while. I hear a voice and have to climb into the crashed helicopter (It has full interiors) to communicate with a Major. (was it Major Thompson?)
Now I can say this because my Game Guru games have some cheesy voice acting as well but compared to the voices of the introduction, which where clearly also hobbyist performances but fitting, he just doesn't click for me. I guess that this is your voice but you sound remarkably detached, like a student reading a text in college. Now I in no way would want you to try some "battlehardened grunt" cringe fest as that rarely works but you just sound so... polite dinner conversation with the undertone of being amused by the situation.
Something which you can probably not modulate so much (perhaps slight pitch adjustment?) is that you also sound like you are in your mid or early 20s. Which a Major wouldn't be.
Now lets roll! As soon as I looked over the valley and saw the level I had to traverse before me I had to chuckle at your cinematic skills. The instant I see a little outpost with a satellite dish/antenna thingie I get the objective to find some way to boost my transmission. Really well done. I see it, I know what I have to do. Another thing that is quite well made is the terrain. I appreciate that you used to feature well and that this first overlook really screams middleeastern desert region. We are probably all tired of people creating GG terrain that looks like a mid 90s indie game.
The sequence with the wounded soldier was very well done and I understood you fine. However here I have the first glance of an issue I have throughout the game. Its a video game, A game that I see. I see the Beretta in the holster of my fallen comrade but can not pick it up.
Its there...I see it
(If you think this is a valid point, you can remedy this by importing him into fragmotion, remove the vertices of the gun, and then hit "delete". Reexport, done.) You can also have a throw away line appear when you press E on his corpse like "They stripped him of his gear and left him to die. Animals!"
No matter as I found a pistol near a corpse of one the enemy units.
Now, on my first playthrough I had the issue that I approached the game like a military shooter. I would attach the enemies with center of mass shots from afar and never expose myself which the AI didn not know how to react to, however, this also consumed too much ammo which made it a bit frustrating. On the second playthrough I adapted to the more laid back approach, would get closer to enemies and kind of play with how they react. Its interesting to say the least so let me open a whole can of worms on the topic.
The enemies and the AI
Now its been brought up that the characters all look the same and kind of "game guruy". Now I don't mind that personally because I can see a militia having some kind of standardized equipment nor do I see much point in "consealing" what software the game has been made in. Despite you relying heavily on stock content, I have never felt like playing a game guru game during my time with extraction point which is quite an achievment.
However the AI is... I think this is the easiest shooter I have ever played and that is an issue due to its minimalistic military theme. While I was first impressed by the AI moving around, crouching dynamically (this might be coincidence but I think 2 actually took cover behind sandbags) and doing flips I was later disappointed by their extremely low rate of fire. I only needed to leasurly strall in the distance or stand motionless behind waste high cover and they'd rarely hit me. In fact, I ran up to most enemies and took them down with the melee attack. This was surprisingly statisfying due to BSP's nifty punch animation. The sniper enemy was quite accurate and it was great hearing the bullet crack whenever he missed. I was also pleasantly surprised that I was able to take the rifle.
I understand that the ridicoulusly high rate of fire of past GG AI iterations was a problem for many but this is taking it into the other extreme. I noticed in your video that you expose yourself to the enemies all the time and they seem to react somewhat better to that but I just don't see that being the type of gameplay you want with this.
Ontop of the first outposts building I was sending the transmission (cool objective by the way) and was a bit disappointet to see the enemies spawn out of thin air. Again, one of them hit me once before I was able to take them all down.
I don't know if you know what "rabbit hunt" is at a fair but its a game where you shoot little metal rabbits with a bolt action BB gun. My lass and I always play this and its actually harder than it looks. I was reminded of this when I saw the enemies frequently run in small circles. Usually in pairs of 3. The first I encountered did this at the well area close to the first compound. I was first grabbing the pistols from the other enemies and as I returned to investigate this further I noticed that they where now not just still spinning in a circle but stopped the walking animation aswell. I took them out of their misery which brings me to my next point.
Gunfights are monotone and silent (unless you sprint up to one and punch him in the face which doesnt get old
) The enemies never grunt or speak, there is no alert being sounded, just the "pew.. pew.. pew" of the low pistol-firerates.
I understand that almost all of this is outside of your control and have to praise what you did do. The rocket launcher mini boss was surprising and evading the missiles was refreshingly oldschool. The sniper sequence was interesting as well and I could tell that the enemy placment should have been good if they reacted accordingly.
Weapons are of course the other massively important aspect of a shooter game. In this title I got a handgun and a Dragunov rifle. Which is okay for a first level. However, every enemy using the same weapon made firefights sound very dull and seeing how engagments in a desert would be long range, so many militia members only having a handgun seems kind of silly to me. But I know, its a game, and you need to balance player progression. Now the guns are well modeled and the animations are quite fine. There are a few balancing issues to me.
First and foremost, you decided to have "disablemousehold" in the setup.ini set to inactive so I have to hold the mouse button to aim down the sights, I found that awkward and changed it. Now I click and my character aims.
Aiming down the sight for the pistol can be accelerated. Its very slow and plays this awkward "rustling" sound. I think it should be quick for the handgun and more methodical for the sniper rifle. If I see it correctly it takes the same amount of time for both. This alone would already improve the feel of the gunfights.
You probably remember me pointing out how I saw the handgun on my comrade in the intro but couldn't pick it up. These trucks you use with the shiny PBRness applied... I think most FPS game players immediately accept that one can't drive these....but there is a mounted machine gun on them. I can see the MG, I can see the ammunition even being present but I can not use it. That compared with the somewhat scarce ammunition can be seen as a jarring design choice. I just rolled with it, also being a GG user but an unbiased player would probably not look favourably to that.
Those trucks look cool by the way!
Less important and perhaps more nitpicky things are this: The guns are angled oddly. This has been brought up a few times about some of BSP's weapons that they don't aim center screen where the crosshair would be. They aim slightly upward. I think this can be remedied in the FPE. It also seemed off to me that I find ammo cashes everywhere that somehow don't hold any ammunitions the militia seems to be equipped with.
Despite the constant croaking of birds being slightly unfitting to me considering the mostly empty landscape I found the sound design and attention to detail here quite good. The crickets in the more lushy area, the fact that I could hear the AC and the wind... I just wish the actual firefights would pack more punch.
The music in the menue screen was already excellent and when the song kicks in when I enter the village I had to smile! That was quite well done.
This is the first game I played outside of WoI's desert demo that made the stock content look good and flow well together. I appreciate the thought and effort put into the level design. Even if it is very minimalistic it conveys its theme well.
I see why the invisible walls where necessary but maybe you could place them a bit further into the terrain in many places.
I tried to get up the hill at the first sniper compound to get a better shot at him but couldn't do so because I could not venture further than the greenline of these trees. The terrain looks good and I don't necessarily see why I couldn't venture in a bit further. But then again this is probably so the AI faces me head on at any given time...I mean we all know it has it hard as it is. The whole concept just disagrees a lot with the wide open spaces I see. Especially towards the end where I am supposed to wander into the terrain even though the game always communicated to me not to try that.
I understand that we all come from different backgrounds and skillsets and yours being film shows here. The ending cutscene was also really well done, especially how you concealed the lack of lipsynching. The voice acting did not sound like a cringey fake accent but accurate.
Him sounding both cultured but also firm came across even though what he said was very much what you would expect his archetype to say. This is in no way a bad thing, its just that so far everything was competent but also (and I mean this word in the best way possible) generic. The objectives, the setting, the progression. Now I don't know what you are building up to but as you mentioned this being story driven so often it seems odd to me that the story is really just in the backdrop.
I understand that you are still learning 3d modeling and texturing but the little world you created with very few custom content is really impressive to me. Most users I saw that tried doing this really didn't pull it off.
Now I like games like project IGI, the clear and minimalistic military shooters are far more fun to me than either an action shlockfest like CoD or micromanaging a whole battallion in Armed Assault but with the story being mentioned first whenever you described this game, so far it hasn't left an impression on me personally.
The new explosion decals are great! It immediately stunned me with how awkward the default ones are.
I don't know why you chose to lightmap an exterior area but due to this some models where not loaded in, just their shadows. Its likely that these would show if you built it in real time but I can of course not guarantee it.
I am aware that I seemed extremely critical of the game but I really liked extraction point. I think its a good solid project and I like minimalistic milshooters. I was even quite fond of operation flashpoint - red river
. You should check this out
. Your design approaches are similar and he uses the same weapons.
Despite it being game gurued in the kneecaps
in many aspects you made an entertaining and gripping first demo of something where I hope to be a lot more where it came from (what a clunky sentence!). I am impressed that you made it feel like its very own thing despite using content I know by heart. It has the amount of polish and dedication I love to see from this type of small project. To really win me over you'd have to overhaul the combat and perhaps add some detail to the at times rather minimalistic level design. I think that would add a lot to the atmosphere if there where some rocks here and there and a bit more content in the buildings rather than the bare minimum. I appreciated the little torture area and the garge but if I enter a room and all there is is a static table and some chairs its kind of "heh". Especially in a linear game.
One of the most promising game guru work in progresses so far simply because you seem to be able to actually release this!