Saturday, August 7, 2010

Droptank Oscar, re-release (beta 2)

In the process of writing about Brendon Chung's work, I've been playing through a bunch of his old Half-Life 1 mods that inspired me so greatly, six years ago... And one in particular stuck out in my mind, and it proved extremely difficult to find. But I found it.

Droptank Oscar, a mechwarrior-styled Half-Life 1 mod with multiplayer co-op support, originally released by Brendon Chung in December 2003.

Through clever map scaling tricks, you're now a 9-story tall walking behemoth armed with gauss cannons, missile launchers and jump jets. (i.e. you walk extra slow, you have the Gauss Gun and a weird hacked RPG launcher permanently selected, and you can jump extra high -- nothing especially new, but strapped together with duct tape through sheer force of will? A transcendent example of how to hack things together as a modder and avoid trapping yourself.)

When I liberated it from the dusty stacks of Fileplanet and started it up, it was kind of a mess and I realized it hadn't aged terribly well. The low-res HL1 graphics were even low-res-ier, the brown muddy tones of the city grid and skybox didn't really hold up, the menu graphics didn't work and the keyboard bindings were messed up... it was a mess.

So, without Brendon's permission, I spruced it up a bit, made a new map for it, and made it kinda functional for today's era of Steam games. It took the better part of 8 hours for texture creation, config file editing, file clean-up, map creation / testing / messing around... That's about the same timespan it's taken me to move the same 4 brushes, back and forth, in my current projects.

It was a fun exercise to actually make something, so refreshing to be incredibly sloppy and immediately release it. (If you play my map, you'll see misaligned textures everywhere. Who cares.)... Is this what it's like to be Brendon Chung?!

Of course, the core gameplay is still just a glorified tech demo than anything else: you run around a city and kill communists. (Damn, I should've re-colored the grunt's skins to make them communist-y. Oh well.) Endlessly, for as short as a minute or as long as an hour. Or you can create a server and deathmatch it out with a friend... while fighting communists.

I've left the source files for the map (and my textures in a .wad) if you feel like making maps for this and want to steal the entity work. (I decompiled Brendon's original map and reverse-engineered everything soy you wouldn't have to!)

Droptank Oscar uses only original entities from Half-Life 1, so hypothetically you could make a level with some real narrative / progression to it. That would be kind of cool. Though the grunt AI has been kind of lobotomized for the purposes of the tech demo. Oh well.

0) Install Half-Life 1 via Steam.
1) Download:
2) Unzip, with folder structure intact, to something like C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\[your_e-mail]\half-life\
3) Restart Steam.
4) Select "Droptank Oscar (beta 2)" from the menu and play!
5) Click "New Game" in the menu for single player training. "Training Room" loads Brendon's original map do_bangladesh_sp, while the other options will load my much larger / bluer map do_mumbai2.
6) When you're ready, grab a friend, create a server and duke it out. By default, the settings should enable monster spawning over multiplayer, leading to cool three-way firefights.

The original source files, for you coder types:

(don't worry, I got Brendon's permission and everything... in the end)