Nohra: It’s still a long journey

posted at December 14, 2012 in Half-Life Mods, Nohra's Concealment

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“What’s next with Nohra’s Concealment?”, maybe that’s the question that is being asked, when viewing the content that was released the past 3 years.

Nohra, or the “Project” Nohra, has gradually evolved to something, that one person alone can not accomplish anymore without being a highly disciplined workhorse – and that’s what I am certainly not. However you don’t see me looking for modelers, animators, coders and so on. With my lack of motivation I just dont believe I can coordinate additional people and still archieve the quality I wish for.

So at the moment it is probably up to me to convert the many ideas that have been collected so far, into something concrete.

A summary of the project

Technical aspects

In fact Nohra’s Concealment (the name isn’t final by the way, maybe I will start a poll about this issue later) will be just a modification of the vanilla Half-Life game and, with some minor freedoms, take advantage of its universe.

The base I will choose for the mod, for example Spirit of Half-Life, Paranoia oder Trinity (<- which I am tending to in the meantime), considerably depends from the support I can get for it. Spirit of Half-Life as an example isn’t being further developed since a long time. The same applies to other modkits/engines I mentioned, but for those there are still ongoing projects and persons that deal with them, which is a huge advantage.

Features that are important to me on choosing a base
  • a working 3D-Sky
  • high-res textures
  • a particle system
  • colored decals
  • bumpmaps

Story & Characters

Meanwhile there exists a more or less completed story with particular backgrounds and supporting characters. To get those across in a way that meets their sad and dramatic nature while using an engine that can not express emotions, will be not less than a mammoth task.

Introduction the the plot

In Nohra’s Concealment the player gains control over a member of a team of technichians, which are occupied at Black Mesa and have been there for a long time already. There are friendships but also rivalries and thus a certain amount of stress, that might get out of control in the later game. Most of these technichians are experts and used to work under extreme conditions.

The game begins shortly before a new mission. Furnished with special equipment it will be necessary to explore a distant, abandoned research facility and anaylize it for remaining chemical contamination. This contamination, which was the rusult of an accident that occured 20 years ago, made the complex inaccessible and claimed many casualties. The team will reach the area by helicopter. When arrived minor problems will have to be mastered first, e.g. establishing the electric power supply and finding acessible paths. Within the complex the atmosphere will be darker, the team can only move slowly and by wearing protective suits.

When the team splits up several levels below the earth’s suface to reach gauging stations that are spreaded over the complex, the resonance cascade is occuring in Black Mesa. After this the events are happening very fast and get more and more dramatic. When the military appears there is hope for rescue in the beginning. However it’s getting clear very fast that the soldiers are interested in something else.

How I want to tell the story

Source Film Maker

  • the history of the main character in the form of videos, which I want to release as trailers (maybe by using the Source Film Maker)
  • parts from the main characters history ingame (scripted sequences)
  • ingame events (scripted sequences)
Characters:
  • Nohra
  • Nohra’s family (does not appear ingame)
  • Nohra’s “pet”
  • the player
  • the players colleages
  • HECU soldiers

Gameplay

The gameplay of Nohra’s Concealment will mostly feature the usual Half-Life feeling, with the significant difference, that I don’t want to shower the player with many or even heavy weapons. You will rather have to find other ways to eliminate enemies. Often it will as well be mother nature, or lets say a coincidence, which will have “a word” with an apperently superior opponent.
The Xen are a natural enemy of all parties, some of them are yet even fighting their own kind, so why shouldn’t there be a Gargantua alien that encounters an armored vehicle. And there are even more entities I haven’t even talked about yet.

Therefore there will be enough support for a light-armed technician.

References, samples, realism and other barriers

A problem that is appearing a lot is my lack of knowledge about all kind of stuff that is needed to give a story the required depth and authenticity. Realism in games is relative indeed but I belief that logical conditions can create an atmosphere that cannot be beaten by next gen graphics/physics alone. Combined with the correct sound and graphical effects you can retrieve a highly atmospheric experience out of any engine, regardless how old or weak.

References

For this purpose I have collected a great many of reference pictures and other media, which are mostly relevant and will help me to create a whiff of realism.

How I want to create natural animations

I have to be honest. Besides “rigging” I don’t have a lot of experience with animation and thus wouldn’t be able to create natural animations by hand at the moment. But since I have a lot of other stuff on my to-do-list, I will try to fall back on another method for animations.

Blender Walk Cycle
from “Animation Fundamentals” by Beorn Leonard

For this I will take advantage of the possibility to paste previously taken photos of movements into the background of a Blender scene to use these as a reference for animation.

That’s it for the moment. I hope I have proven to some of you that the project is in progress after all. Whenever I have something new to tell you will read it here at first. If you have questions or notes feel free to write a comment.


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