Headstrong Dev Speaks Out about HOTD:O

A developer at Headstrong Games has been answering questions about House Of The Dead: Overkill at the Something Awful Forums

We’ve collected the questions and answers for your enjoyment. Bleees is the developer in question.

That’s awesome, I love these developers.

Bleees Posted:

Glad you’re enjoying the game abraxas! We had a great (but hard) time working on it, and it’s really exciting to finally see people playing it! I hope you all get your copies soon. I’ll endeavour to answer any of your questions, except where it may be under NDA, or could cause problems

PaletteSwappedNinja posted:

You’re from Headstrong? Well here’s a question that has nothing to do with Overkill and is probably under NDA, but, is it true that you lads tried for a Jet Set Radio game on Wii but were knocked back? If so, I hope Overkill changes someone at Sega’s minds about that.

Bleees Posted:

I am from Headstrong, but I believe the JSR stuff was before I joined, so I only know as much as has been in blogs/kotaku or whatever. And if I tried to find out more, I’d almost certainly not be allowed to comment.

Bubble-T posted:

Do you know anything about how the decision was made as to how far to try and push the Wii graphically? I’ve heard about slowdown when you get a lot of model swaps in the game, given the Wii’s weaker hardware how do you choose which graphical niceties you’re going to sacrifice to keep it playable?

Bleees Posted:

We already have significant experience on Wii from Battalion Wars 2, and knew roughly what we could get away with. From the start we wanted to make the game look good, porting our bloom code over, creating a blur filter from that, then I developed that into a depth of field effect. We wanted bump mapping, and specular on all our zombies, but in the end we had to restrict that to cutscenes and bosses only, since they’re more regulated. The hardware meant we had early limits on number of characters on screen, and things like number of blood decals, or density of particle effects.

We do seem to have occasional hitches, sometimes to do with loading, sometimes other things, and in busier areas, like when you use the minigun to chop up loads of zombies, we may have pushed a little too much stuff through. The trouble is, trying to maintain framerate during these sections by cutting effects globally, when the rest of the game is running comfortably is not something we’d like to do. Ultimately we pushed as far as we could, then optimised areas with problems.

Edit: Realise I didn’t entirely answer the last part of your question. We chose the effects that did more towards the feel of the game to keep in. Stuff like the full screen blur/bloom/colouration filters and particle effects add a lot more towards making the grindhouse feel than a bit of bump mapping on zombies you tend to blast apart very quickly. Blood sprays from wounds, splattering on ceilings and walls etc is far more important than shiny bumpy zombies. Of course, we would have liked it all, and with more interactive lighting on the static geometry, but that kind of per pixel stuff just isn’t likely to happen on the Wii.

abraxas Posted

What do I have to do to unlock Dual Wield? My best guess is that it has to do with Director’s Cut or one of the many achievements I do not have yet. The instruction booklet only tells me that I need 2 Wiimotes for Dual Wield. Duuh, really?

Also does it make a difference if I get a headshot combo thingie or a bodyshot one? I haven’t noticed any difference so far other than one being white and the other being red. Is it just for my ego when they’re all red or do I get some kinda bonus when I get myself to Goregasm with only headshots? Not that I’ll ever manage that probably but, y’know..

Other than that, as you might have noticed, I truly love every little inch about your game. From the packaging and the graphic novel to the story mode ending cutscene which, really, was that necessary? I’m loving it, don’t get me wrong, but oh boy did the Warden really have to go back into his mothers womb? . That was probably the last thing I expected to happen there. So gloriously over the top and awesome.

Oh yeah, one last question. Which one are you on the Headstrong picture with all the heads?

Bleees Posted:

Pretty sure you just have to complete Director’s Cut to unlock dual wield. You can just play 2 player on your own if you want the poor man’s version

Headshots count for double on most zombies. Also, a more effective way of taking them down quickly

The warden scene was entirely necessary, from an artistic point of view. The subtext of his inherent mother issues are a counterpoint to Washington’s own issues with his father. The way he returns in a way that Washington never can only goes to underline the…ah gently caress it. We thought it was an awesome and hilarious ending, and needed to be done

I am the third from the left, top row, upside down. I wish I wasn’t pulling such a face though. I am a programmer, and I mostly worked on the technical and graphics side of the project. I stuck my grubby fingers in other parts of the code too, and others fiddled with the graphics while I wasn’t looking. So don’t blame/credit me for everything

iastudent posted:

How adamant was Sega about going the grindhouse route with this game, if you can answer that? I know something you can answer for sure, though. How big of a HotD fan are you? Don’t feel embarrassed, you’re in good company here.

Bleees Posted:

I played HotD1 and 2 at the arcades as a kid and really enjoyed them, but never got very far because of a lack of 50ps Once we got the project, we got copies of 2 & 3 for PC and Sega gave us early versions of the Wii 2&3. Personally playing them again now, I found them to be purposefully harsh on the player, with repetitive bosses (especially in 2, you have to fight each boss twice, then the final boss does versions of all the previous bosses) and very very short. You can complete them in around 20-30 minutes. Obviously there’s replayability, but we knew we needed more content than that for overkill.

Regarding the grindhouse look, when we were first speccing out the game, it was much more traditional fayre. Ordinarily when you’re playing with someone else’s brand, you can’t really change the style too much. The basic plotline, characters and locations were the same as they are now. Then very early last year, before we’d kicked off on creating the game proper, SOE said they thought we should make it B-movie, and like Tarantino/Rodriguez’s grindhouse, and 70s horror. It took them about 7 seconds to convince us that it was the greatest idea ever. So we ran with it. We changed the script, rejigged the levels to be more over the top, experimented with effects to give us the movie drive-in feel. All the while Sega were doing more branding, doing trailers etc. Apparently took them a little while to convince SOJ it was a good idea though

The Merkinman posted:

I didn’t notice, but is there an option to decrease the sensitivity of the reload waggle? I seem to be constantly reloading when I don’t want to be.

Bleees Posted:

There is not, unfortunately. We must be more relaxed during a zombie apocalypse. It is a good point though, as is the brightness setting mentioned.

Edit: Seems I was wrong earlier, you get double points for headshots.

Vulcan posted:

Man these slowdowns really take away from the fun of the game when they happen every 20-30 seconds. Its not even low FPS its a quick chop where the framerate just grinds to a halt for a tenth of a second then resumes normal speed.

Bleees Posted:

I’m a little annoyed with the loading hitches, personally. It just never happened with the devkits, even with emulating seek times.

Dr. Sanchez posted:

We did encounter some relatively major glitches though. The first one encountered was during the Hospital level, where right before going through the doors to the Screamer fight, the screen simply went black. The game was still going though, and at first a few grey boxes appeared, then the skybox, and about a minute later the rest of the level popped back in. The game then bugged out during the cutscene and we had to reset the Wii.

Bleees Posted:

Hmm, we’ve never heard of/seen this one. Any more info you can give us? Had you been playing for a long time?

Dr. Sanchez posted:

The second glitch encountered was in Fetid Waters, where no zombies/mutants appeared at all. The track kept going, but nobody showed up. Then everything just stopped, and we couldn’t advance because there was nothing left to shoot. Restarting the Wii seemed to fix this as well.

Bleees Posted:

Yeah, this one seems to happen occasionally. I think it’s another disc loading timing issue, which we’re looking in to.

Dr. Sanchez posted:

Other than those two instances, and the relatively poor lighting in every other level, the game was enjoyable.

Bleees Posted:

How do you mean poor lighting? The quality of the lightmaps on the level, the dynamic lighting on the zombies, or the general way the lighting felt set up? It would be interesting to get opinions for future reference.

Toupee posted:

I’m not a fan of the grindhouse “experience”, but the gameplay is still pretty awesome. I feel like there should have been 10 levels, though. Even with Director’s Cut, it still seems short.

Bleees Posted:

I know I’m always going to sound like I’m arguing on the game’s side, but I think we do have a lot more unique content than probably all on rails shooters I’ve played. (Without walking in slow motion with empty sections like one of our competitors..) Most FPSs play times include players not knowing exactly where to go, investigating extras etc. We were always aware of the typical length of rail shooters during development, and as game players trying to give everyone what they would want. I guess you guys are the judges though, you’re the ones spending the cash.

Thievery posted:

Does anyone know if it’s possible to go through the main story/directors cut with 4 people? I unlocked Dual Wield earlier but only have 2 wiimotes (was playing as player 1+2 throughout DC anyway) so I don’t know if you can activate player two by having an additional 2 wiimotes.

Any info on that?

Bleees Posted:

Dual wield is for a single player to play with 2 wii remotes. The minigames offer up to 4 player control.

Anonymous Robot posted:

In my experience, the game is just too dark. I played with the contrast and brightness on my TV, but no matter what details are lost in shadow- and not just background details or visual things, but critical gameplay details, like where a monster is coming from or which model is the human I am supposed to be saving.

Bleees Posted:

Hmm, interesting. We’ve played it on a significant number TVs, including (but not limited to) 15″ Sony CRTs, 22″-32″ widescreen LCDs, and plasmas and we haven’t seen anything feeling particularly dark. Some video capture cards have given rather dark videos, so maybe it’s to do with the specific TV? We’ll certainly bear in mind brightness settings in future.

OneDeadlyBum posted:

I was playing through the first level, and when the Boss’s HP got fairly low, I shot him in the head for what I thought was a killshot. Instead, the game just locked up and made a horrible high pitched noise, until I turned the console off.

Unfortunately I don’t really have anything more specific than that. Seeing as how the game is on rails, it’s hard to say “I did this with that item” or “I went here and did this but not that” etc…

Bleees Posted:

Yeah, already caught this one. If he hits you with the last torso, when in a specific stage of the room, and then on the next round of projectiles you headshot him and he drops the final torso, it’ll crash. Eep. There’s a 1 that’s supposed to be a 0

OneDeadlyBum posted:

Whoever decided on the dual wield unlockable is a bloody genius. Something tells me i need to get dual mini guns..

Bleees Posted:

I was shouting to have dual wield from day 1

OneDeadlyBum posted:

I have a question though for you, bleees. When I first stuck the disk in and tried the mini games, an audio clip played that was something like “the prostitute wants to suck you dick” or something similar. Since then I have not been able to reproduce whatever I did to make it play, and as such can’t prove to my friend that it said that. Am I nuts?

Bleees Posted:

Sounds like a clip from the middle of the song “Critic’s Choice”, that can randomly play on the front end.

Source – Something Awful Forums