Friday, 27 November 2009

A general idea for a Demake of Haze

I played a lot of Haze in my time working on it in QA. I think we calculated we'd spent around 2500 hours playing the game, so despite my dislike of the finished product, I probably know it better than any other game I've ever played.
I think Haze was pretty disappointing, it had an interesting concept and some original gameplay mechanics, but was executed, mismanaged, and tinkered with by a company who's name rhymes with Nooby Scoffed so much that it was a mere shadow of what it could have been. My proposal is to demake Haze, to simplify it and cut the crap to make a far more concise and compelling first person shooter story experience.
So here's what I came up with yesterday in terms of ideas for how to demake Haze. Note that it may not be well organised seeing as I just wrote down all the ideas I was having for it in Notepad, and can't really be bothered to make it into a full design document.

HAZE : Back to Basics
If I were to just demake the good bits, I'd take the Jungle, Quarry, some of Copperplant, Containership approach and Assault, Road Bridge, Mountain Ascent and the Observatory, cutting approximately half the levels out of the game, and turning all the crap cutscenes into text and image storyboards.
The basic gameplay would operate more like Doom than anything modern, with the player simply shooting their way through the levels, the Nectar abilities would increase defense and firepower, and Rebels would simply run faster and throw Nectar Grenades.

I'd also change the ending, removing Landcarrier altogether and giving Shane a final showdown with Duvall in the observatory, with Duvall operating operating a mounted gun and the player having to throw Nectar Grenades in order to get close enough to harm him. Essentially, the demade version should be a cleaner and much more concise version of the original, with greatly improved storytelling and flow, and all the crap bits removed.

The levels would be altered to make them clearer and less boring, chopping out the boring bits and replacing the excessive cutscenes with storyboard type scenes, or even just scrolling text and background images, and where possible avoiding interruption by having conversations over the radio. No need for any voice acting or animation, such things are unneeded to tell a story!

It'd still be an FPS, although to be fair perhaps if I can't manage the 3d bits I could just demake it into an overhead shooter, but to be honest this would be nowhere near as cool as a low res 3d demake.

Controls would be something like this-

WASD for movement
Mouse to aim
Left Click to shoot
Right click for Grenades
Space for context sensitive action (take cover, reload, open doors, taking weapons, press switches etc)
E for Nectar

Aiming up and down is done automatically, and isn't really needed with the simplified level design. Player carries only one weapon at a time, and can take an enemies weapon by standing over their body and pressing space. All weapons source their ammo from generic ammo pickups, but the main variance is in firing and reloading speeds.

Weapons cut-
Sniper Rifles
Chaingun
Mantel Shotgun
Rocket Launcher

Weapons Kept-
Assault Rifle- Both act the same but look different
Handgun- Extremelt low reload time for almost constant firing speed
Rebel Shotgun- Acts like Doom Shotgun
Flamethrower- Burns people to death.

There would be only two driving sections in the game, mainly to give some variety rather than just having lots of shooting. These would be the Quarry stage, which is entirely driving, listening to conversations, and running over rebels. Mountain Ascent is also partially driving, the first half is driving and then the second part is the shootouts at the Mantel Outpost and Vista Lejana rolled into one location, before the player goes through the cave to the observatory. The driving in Containership Approach is removed, to give just a jungle, castle and beach to fight through to reach the Containership.

With all cutscenes either happening in the background or as storyboards, there's no issue of the insanely long scenes as there was in the original allowing for a much faster and more urgent feel to the gameplay, it'll be much more running and gunning, like a sunny, real world Doom.

Graphics are simplistic, again, similar in style to those in Doom, with sprites for characters, moving around a 3d environment. However, environments are obviously styled like those in Haze, albeit far simplified, and unlike Doom we may be able to use some 3d objects for trees and things, but best to see how that would work out before really deciding.

Overdosing, which was a key mechanic in the original, would simply cause visual effects to the player meaning they are unable to tell friend from foe as everything looks the same, as well as causing weaponry to autofire, so it gives basically the same effect as before. Overdosing enemies causes them to enter berserk mode and just run around shooting in all directions before either snapping out of it or killing themselves.

With these cuts, remixed level design, rewritten plot, and some other gameplay modifications, I think that the Haze demake could be at least as enjoyable as the real thing, and probably much less irritating. It'd also be great for speedrunners due to its similarities to Doom!

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