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Hypertension © TDGMods, 2008. Blood and Blood II are © Monolith Productions. All Rights Reserved.
zZaRDoZz: Hypertension appears to be the one project aiming to add content to the Blood universe in some time. With new characters, game-play and backstory, your EDGE based shooter promises to open up the world of Blood. Give your fellow Bloodites all you are willing to reveal about Hypertension.
Corbin: Well, first of all, Hypertension is, in itself, a remake of Blood. We wanted to take these ideas we felt were half-fleshed out in Blood II and combine them into one game - Hypertension. The differences from Blood itself are there - more modernized gameplay, more opportunity to scare the player with intense lighting, graphic novels...just to name a few things that we've done. We wanted to turn Blood's weak storyline into something that's worthy. The biggest gripe in games today is that there is no connection with two or more characters. Blood was never a romantic game but the romance will definitely be there, especially in Caleb's scenario. How would you feel if you lost a loved one that was murdered right in front of you? There are several emotions involved that the two characters will have to learn to deal with. And this game will be very scary. I felt that, while Blood did the job, it didn't scare gamers. Hypertension should change that. On top of a new atmosphere, it should really refresh people and hopefully show them what Blood could’ve been. Of course, you have the 3d models, dynamic music system, dynamic lighting, so it’s a different ballgame this time around. We have more room to play around in. Also, while we cherish Caleb’s original image, we might change it to fit our budget, since a lot of material is going to be scanned and digitized into the game. Since I will most likely play Caleb in the live-action shots, most of the dialogue will be changed around to fit my voice, as well as his image. Don’t worry – we’re still going for a grungy look but obviously, both Caleb and Ophelia will have to be slightly younger.
zZaRDoZz: I'll ask you to explore Aurelia as a topic some more and her story. Is she undead? Didn't you say she could raise the dog back to life at one point? Maybe she realizes what can be done for the dog can be done for people too (Herself? Caleb? Ophelia?)
Corbin: Well Aurelia was decided very early on in development because I wanted a sort of pseudo-love story. Aurelia is a quirky 21 year old girl who lives in the present time, and works at a magic shop. She moves out of her parent’s house into a house with her roommates, and it’s an old, formerly abandoned piece of crap…that’s across the street from the funeral parlor (remake of E1M1 from Blood). Since she picks up an old lock-necklace from her shop, spirits began tormenting her and her roommates. They soon use their knowledge to find out that it’s coming from the funeral parlor. Something’s trying to keep them away so they’re like “Well, why not, let’s go check it out.” In doing so, they open up Caleb’s old tomb, and in doing so, awaken him from the past. He feels Ophelia’s presence, but it’s not her (the lock piece was hers that Caleb gave her). Then both of their stories begin. The dog was added in later as a tribute to Sheik, who passed away some time ago. I just rewrote some old Boom/MBF code and stuck him in, and he’s pretty handy. I’m scripting some code that will enable the dog to “see” spirits and other abominations. Most of the time, she will be left defenseless so the dog will have to pick up the slack. You won’t do actual fighting until Blood II rolls around. So it’ll be an interesting change of pace, and since it’s unrealistic for Ophelia to just “come back to life”, Aurelia should provide enough interest to weigh the game as it goes on.
zZaRDoZz: What was your first experience with Blood?
Corbin: I was tracking Blood through 3dRealms Bulletin Board before it was released. My Dad took me to purchase the game in 96 and I've been addicted ever since. I coldly remember blazing through the first level. It was amazing. The BUILD engine, the atmosphere, the odes to 80's horror flicks - it was stylish and very fun. I've been playing it ever since. Ah, the days of IPX networking.
Vis: Honestly I never knew it existed until a member of the current team approached me with the inspired plot to recreate the game for a modern source port. Not very refreshing to hear, is it?
Pinapple: Played it awhile back on Corbin’s PC. It was fun.
zZaRDoZz: Are there any other computer or console games that you feel were instrumental in forming your desire to become game developers?
Corbin: Well, we've always been developer-centric. TDGMods itself is something of a side-project of mine, making non-commercial games with a team of people. What we do is go to colleges, expos, anything we can and spread the word. Most of the kids we have on the team have never taken an interest in game design before: they were just regular artists, mathematicians, etc. It's when you can show them the possibility that you can craft something out of normal knowledge and really expand from there. I got really involved with it after seeing some of the stuff the Quake community was putting out, and from there I started. It’s been about…9 years now?
Vis: Personally, I never considered doing any modding myself until I was introduced to Tiberian Sun, shortly after its release. Although remembered usually as a mediocre and at times broken sequel with squandered potential, the user had a lot of freedom to modify the game. It was especially tempting to do so given the large amounts of unused art assets and unfinished code waiting for someone to find it and pick up where the developers left off. The plain english text-editing and simple graphical work made the game much more memorable than perhaps it deserved to be, but if you ask me, an open mind to the modding communities makes for an excellent selling feature of any game. Since then, I've been casually cracking open many different games, seeing how they work and slowly losing my eyesight to long nights in front of the computer screen. And after 8 years of honing my skills, I no longer have an excuse for writing bad code.
Pineapple: Halo and the gameplay it brought – it was just different and very fun.
zZaRDoZz: Personally I see no meaningful distinction between old and new Bloodites but the terms have been floating around of late. Do you consider yourselves "new" Bloodites, or "old" Bloodites?
Corbin: Well, I'm at least an old one, but I wasn't involved in the community until recently. A lot of the people on my team have personally never played the original game -- but sometimes that's a good thing. I’ll always consider myself one of the originals – I used to Bloodbath on Kali back in the day.
Vis: Never got too involved in the Blood fandom myself, but I find it easy enough to imagine two warring factions that have only separated each other into distinct camps because they had a website to collectively express their affection for something. To actually answer the question, I'd presume myself to be a new Bloodite, obviously given my wet-behind-the-ears status. The die-hards will probably not like some of the less-canon elements in Hypertension, regrettably, but that's just the way things go. Pineapple: Old. Been around as long as Corbin.
zZaRDoZz: The Hypertension group (TDGMods) is the first Blood project I know of that openly embraces anime as an influence behind their creative energies. Please tell us which anime(s) you find the most compelling and why.
Corbin: Anime is a very strong medium for us, and for me it was one of the best ways I can convey Caleb's loss. Since most Anime is based around love, and the loss of said love, you can really play with that. You can use emotions in art styles, in voice samples, because people expect that in an Anime. Very rarely is there an anime that exists without romance. A strong example would be Yu Yu Hakusho, one of my favorite. In that, you have a kid who struggles with right and wrong. He's bigheaded, but you see him evolve into a rather formidable fighter, and all the while, he's confused about his relationship with his girl. Anime's have a way of showing character development that I haven't seen in other genre's as of late. I figured, we can redraw Blood's style to include obvious Anime influences. I used to not be into anime, and I’m still not, but it’s a strong way of expressing something. And, of course, there's the graphic novel filming but we'll keep close-lipped about that until later. ;)
Vis: I never really got into Anime either! But that's okay, that just means I am less woman-repellant. I don't really pay much heed to most animes out there, with their giant-eyed ninja schoolgirls and copious cleavage despite Japan's persistence of flat-chestedness. At any rate, the anime that I have given more than a few minutes attention has uniformly been enjoyable. Like I said though, I don't watch many, but I've seen such titles as Evangelion, Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell, and like the product of anyone else's honest creative effort, they can do well to inspire the ambitious viewer.
Pinapple: Helsing because it has a lot of influence over the direction of Hypertension and they are sort of similar as far as the struggles go.
zZaRDoZz: You've mentioned (Corbin) the ability of Anime to explore character development in depth, Please extrapolate on this in regards to Hypertension. Why is she doing this? Did something happen to her during the investigation of the house or in her own past?
Corbin: Well originally we were going to have Aurelia move in with her boyfriend, and then he gets kidnapped by a new occult (CabalCo) and is sacrificed. So that would have consequently put her into the storyline. That would’ve been fine, but since I wanted to do the two character thing, it wasn’t going to work out. If I’m going to put two characters into a game, they are going to feel, look, and act completely different. So I redesigned her into a younger, punk mage in order to slide her into the universe. She will realize that an evil force is trying to kill her, and then kills her friends. It’s up to her and her Dog to exorcise the spirits. In doing so, she unlocks the barrier between her and Caleb, the rest is left to the player.
zZaRDoZz: Hypertension utilizes the EDGE version of the Doom engine. Tell us why you chose EDGE over other Doom wads, or over other game engines for that matter. Are there any features in ZDoom or JDoom that might have been useful?
Corbin: Well, EDGE is itself based upon the DOOM Source Code (nothing to do with Doomsday, which is a separate port). I've been using EDGE for years, and the last Doom modification my team put out (then we were called The Doom Gods) was a critical failure, and I exited the community for quite sometime. I sat back and learned everything I needed to know - modeling, artwork, music making, and I took all of those and applied it into my knowledge of the EDGE engine. I separate it from "DOOM port" because it's more than that, and once we're completed you will not need the Doom WAD to play it. Our community isn't big, and we're having slight problems, but I've been with it since the beginning. I'm really hoping Hypertension restarts interest in the port. Most projects, admittedly, are only there to expand the Doom universe (weapons or otherwise). Ours is restarting one and, as such, will not play or act like Doom at all. It's a very fine process of turning such an engine into a more advanced one. Zdoom has an amazing renderer -- which I wish was in EDGE, as well as PolyObj support and rotating sectors. Zdoom also has a slight upper-hand in scripting power, but I'm making up for that with EDGE's powerful modability. For instance, weapon mods for Doom for EDGE were available for years before Legacy or Zdoom caught up with it. Just because something is less flashy or slightly less powerful doesn't mean it can be more useful. That's where the creativity factor really comes into play. You have to use your brain, twist and tug, to get the results you want. It's quite stimulating at times.
Vis: EDGE is another engine that's incredibly easy to modify, with few limitations, most of which can be worked around with some clever problem solving and the liberal use of caffeine. As well, when tech support is desired, the EDGE community is very eager to help out, or maybe just bored and listless. In any event, the choice to use EDGE over anything else is largely due to sentimental value to a certain someone in the project team.
Pina: Edge runs better and a lot clearer on how to use things than Doom. You have to read up on things to even figure out how stuff works – Edge has good documentation.
zZaRDoZz: Blood 2 still stirs up quite a few mixed feelings to this day. What's your take on Blood 2 and the early Lithtech engine- Do you think Lithtech is the best way the community has to create future content?
Corbin: Well I also bought Blood II when it came out. I thought it was a pretty fun game but that's just because I was a fan. I recently started going back and playing it and I think Monolith should've waited another year to release the game. Clearly, Lithtech wasn't finished when they released it. It's in my retrospect to offer that 1.0 of that engine is really unrefined and probably should not be used. As a matter of fact, since they refined the engine in NOLF and FEAR it would make more sense to rebuild based on one of those platforms, where more features and bugfixes would be available. I know I'm using a really outdated technology but there's so much I can do with it that I'm not at all worried. Lithtech obviously has problems and it was one of the reasons Blood II wasn't received well. Either fix those bugs or move onto a more popular variant of the technology, where you can say, "Hey, rebuilding Blood II with NOLF . . . or even FEAR". That would get more attention because those games were great and there's a bigger community fixated on later versions of Lith.
Vis: Lithtech....like AVP2? I don't know enough on the subject - no comment!
Pina: No idea I’ve never played the second. First looked more bad-ass anyway.
zZaRDoZz: The Transfusion team is contemplating a move to the Quake3 engine after several years of developing content for Darkplaces. Do you think this would be a good choice?
Corbin: I see no real problem with it. Darkplaces is based on idTech1 and Quake3 is based on idTech3. There's still ways they can carry things over, and if they use an engine like ioQuake3 or Xreal, they can carry many years of work over to Quake3 as well. It all lies in the execution. I’ve flipped through their code and most of their resources (we’re using some of it for Hypertension) and it can all be easily ported over with minimal effort.
Pinapple: No, all those years of working on one thing and they wanna switch? Nope!
zZaRDoZz: Hypertension plans on having a Dreamcast version. Tell this computer-only gamer about Dreamcast and it's community.
Corbin: The Dreamcast has always been a very strong console. It’s easily development tools and SDL platform really come into play when developing software for it. When it was released it had it all – 56K Modem, 128bit graphics, the works. It really set a standard and it’s a shame it couldn’t handle the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube at the time. Well now, new games are being made for the Dreamcast left and right, partly due to Microsoft’s inclusion of Windows CE. There’s tons of potential and it was only right to outsource a version for the Dreamcast. The DC community is very helpful and friendly – if you are to visit them, I suggest you try DCEmulation.org – it’s the best around.
Vis: Dreamcast...Dreamcast... I don't actively try to get myself involved in any console fandom. My clearest memory of my old dreamcast was the sight of it smoking and catching fire. Damn fire, killing my childhood pastimes...
zZaRDoZz: What's your best estimate of a delivery date for Hypertension?
Corbin: We're working as fast as we can but we also want to ensure that you get the same reaction you got when you first played Blood. I would say sometime in 2009, near the end, but that's hoping for the best. Anything can happen between now and then. We’re hoping to get our Demo out in January but things can often times get delayed.
Vis: When it's done.
Pinapple: 5 months before first demo, maybe.
zZaRDoZz: Will there be any future Blood projects for TDGMods?
Corbin: I'm already thinking about a sequel to Hypertension but it's not my focus. If we were to do one it would be on a more advanced engine, like Quake 2 or Doom 3. It also depends on the reception this game gets. If it’s bad then we won’t obviously worry about Blood anymore.
Vis: The project lead is unbelievably ambitious, and I doubt anything could stop these guys from making a sequel if they wanted, even if the project isn't as well-received as they hope for.
Pinapple: Maybe. We wanna move onto other stuff prolly.
zZaRDoZz: Oh, and now for a absolutely shameless plug. While the challenges would be immense and other engines have clear advantages, Blood 2 is packed with animation that was never used (crawling, limping, swimming). There was even a tentacle monster that never made it into the final game. It would make for the ultimate survival horror shooter. So here goes. Would you at least consider using Blood2 for a sequel to Hypertension?
Corbin: It’s interesting to hear this question because Blood2 is going to be handled within the first Hypertension. We have a second half of the game, called “2”. What this enables us to do is explore and rewrite Blood2 as well, thus eliminating plot holes, adding in characters and making it more immersive. Blood2 was very campy but Hypertension will change most of the second game into a living, scary world. So, now that we got Blood2 taken care of, the true sequel to Hypertension can be mostly original, and might or might not follow Caleb into the new century. We have a couple of ideas but nothing is certain right now. Hypertension 2 will most likely use a more mature tech, like Quake or even PsyTech. It just all depends on where this first game goes. If there was more documentation into Lithtech, we would use it. Like I said, it all depends.
zZaRDoZz: In closing, we'll rap up the interview with an open question. What are you hopes for Blood's long term future?
Corbin: I hope that our project inspires a new movement for Blood, not only in the game but in the universe. That’s why I chose the name Hypertension, because it’s starting a new line of games for a newer generation. I hope that Hypertension gets out there and people start modding for it – and it’ll in turn drive us to make future HT games. With the other 3 (Transfusion, Blood2R, and Cradle2Grave), I’m hoping we can knock out the slump of non-activity the community has seen lately and, overall, get Blood back into the glory it used to have.
Vis: Ack! An open question! Umm...no comment. Question closed.
Pinapple: That people remember what games like Blood helped create the new games everyone loves today.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, good luck with the project!.
For more information about Hypertension, check out:
Here's the HTML version with screen shots.