Alien Arena: Warriors Of Mars

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Originally Released in August 2004, Alien Arena has undergone a number of transformations over the years, always seeking to improve the formula for fast paced arena-style deathmatch.  Originally an offshoot of CodeRED: Battle For Earth, a single player game that used the idtech2 engine as a base, the game eventually sought to bring a free deathmatch experience with a goofy retro sci-fi atmosphere, inspired by classic cheese such as Dr Who, Invasion Of The Saucermen, and Mars Attacks.

 

(Generation 3 Images)

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Initially, the game was inspired heavily by Quake 3 Arena, and many textures and shaders as well as level designs reflected that.  The game consisted of a number of reimagined/remade Q3 levels mixed in with a variety of originals.  Where the game deviated aside from the infused retro theme, was the weaponry.  Enter the weird, powerful, some times quirky world of Alien Arena weapons…weapons that ranged from “smart” grenades that would electrocute nearby players, to flamethrowers, to laser beam guns.  Though it retained the prequisite chainguns, rocket launchers, and railgun clone, the rest was a decided departure.

 

(Generation 3 Images)

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By 2006 Alien Arena had shed most of it’s CodeRED roots, and artistic remnants, and while still heavily influenced by Quake 3, the UT influences begin appearing in both gameplay and level design.  Alternate firing modes, level architecture, as well as some level ideas made their initial appearances.  The game progressed onward in that direction throughout 2007, and it was at that time that the playerbase expanded significantly.  By the end of 2007 however, plans were in place for the first “reboot” of the game, the second generation of Alien Arena.

 

All player models weapons were redesigned for the new generation in 2008.  I wasn’t kidding about the Ford Mustang being an inspiration, as I directly thought of that type of update with the new art – something retro, but also modernized at the same time.  The game’s overall look and theme took a darker, more realistic appearance, and while elements of the original remained such as a predominance of silver ribtube on players, weapons, levels, the fact that I was playing a lot of Unreal Tournament 2k4 and soon UT3 was shaping the vision of the game.  New game rules such as reward points, and new powerups found their way in, and level architecture had mostly by now shed it’s Q3 influences completely.  Generation 2 though, was more of a “soft” reboot, in that after the initial release, I slowly converted or added new content to make a more uniform game.  This was the game’s height of popularity, which fell off following the release of Quake Live, as it did for many similar projects.  By 2011, the newer content, now mostly inspired by post-apocalyptic zombie flicks and lore, was taking on a burned out urban environment.

 

(Generation 3 Images)

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As time wore on, the engine which now bore only a passing resemblance to idtech’s renderer, had given us a lot more capability.  There was no need for lower poly players and weapons, or levels.  The restrictions of an engine born in 1997 were removed, and new technology would allow for new, and re-imagined worlds.  In 2012 I had started increasing the polycount of the player models, but eventually didn’t feel satisfied with the results.  In late 2013, I made the decision to once again revamp the artwork from scratch.  As always, I started with the iconic Martian characters…this time going for something that actually had more of the First Generation feel to it in regards to it’s campy, maniacal look, but with a very hi-tech, modern look.  I eventually moved on to the humans, then the robots, then the weapons.  At that point, I made the decision to redo all of the levels, only selecting the best ones, and use the new tech we had created for them, fairly inspired by UT3’s Necris art mixed with a good bit of Tim Burtonesque creepiness.  I initially began re-creating a semi-faithful remake of UT3’s CTF-Coret(seemed like a great theme and idea for Martians to be running around in something like that), but scrapped it after a bit.  Some of the assets I made for it, remain sprinkled througout the game.  By 2016, nearly every piece of art, every level, every weapon, had been redone.  Alien Arena: Warriors Of Mars is being eyed for a 2016 release.

 

(Generation 3 Images)

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During Qexpo, I will show some of the levels, some raw art assets, and talk about the new CRX engine tech.  I will discuss how some of the levels originated, their influences in art and design.

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