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26 April 2010 - He's a frakking TraitorAfter the release of the first episode of Human Error, we immediately got to work on Episode Two, eager to further the story and pick up where we left off. Whilst we have a fairly solid of how that episode is going to compose itself, we’re still not quite at the stage where we can weave it all together. Going into the second episode, we also started to develop a multiplayer code alongside it which, to be fair, has taken up much of our time in the last few months. Given the long development of the first instalment, it has been a refreshing change, and we’re hoping that you’re going to enjoy seeing what we’ve come up with in the beta.
So, we present to you: Human Error co-op. Now, HECP is not taking the place of Episode Two; it is simply an experiment on our part, to see how people respond to it, with the possibility of implementing it in the second episode itself.
HECP is an amalgamation of many different design ideas, kicking off with the creation of my own L4D-esque AI director created during HE1, with the possibility of applying it to some of the maps. Later on, I found a tutorial on how to easily enable AI in multiplayer, and I decided to try the Director in a multiplayer setting, with the HE NPCs. This quickly became a L4D style co-op, with four players, involving Anders, Larson, Noah, and Eloise as the characters. Just as in L4D, we’ve got dynamically spawning NPC’s, weapons and health, and emphasis on team play, with certain of our characters possessing particular attributes (for instance, Larson is a medic).
There's currently two modes, one map for each. The first is your normal L4D style co-op, in which players fight their way through a series of obstacles until they reach the climactic crescendo. Primary enemies here are 'The Hostiles’ – your usual band of rebels and xen folk, but now with the addition of boss characters in form of Alyx and Dog. The second mode is the Traitor mode, and it's by far a lot more interesting.
The idea of the Traitor Mode comes from the Battlestar Galactica board game, that I play obsessively. If you are familiar with the franchise then you know that in the tv show, the Cylons, the bad guys of the show, are man-made machines that have evolved to look like humans, and they have infiltrated the human fleet. In the board game every player gets a loyalty card which defines if one is a Cylon or not. The Cylon players are supposed to destroy the main ship, Galactica, whilst the humans players have to find out which players are the Cylons, and get the ship to safety.
Likewise in the beginning of every 12 minute round of HECP, one of the three or four players are randomized to be the Traitor. He or she will get a message saying that they are the traitor, and recieve the Emp Tool in the inventory. As a premise for the map, the Combine base is under attack, and it’s up to the team to defend the mainframe from the Hostiles. If the Civil Protection can defend the Main Frame through the whole 12 minutes, they win and the Traitor loses. If on the other hand the Main Frame's health goes to zero and it explodes, the Traitor and the Hostiles win.
Initially, the Traitor can’t do any damage to the actual mainframe – his job is to make it easier for the Hostiles to do that for him. There are a few ways to go about this, but the easiest is to hack the Combine terminals, thereby accessing the turrets and shields throughout the base. The CP team will then have to combat these in a similar manner to HE1.
The Traitor is encouraged to play a game of stealth; if others find out his identity he will then be attacked by both the Hostiles (who don't yet know he's working for them) and the Civil Protection. He can luckily see where the all of the Civil Protection are, so as to make hacking in secret easier. The Traitor can, however, Reveal himself with a special key. This will make the Hostiles know that he is their ally, but also has its disadvantages. After revealing, during respawn he will no longer get the Emp Tool and thus cannot hack anything. All unhacked Combine forces will now attack him, and four Combine Elite soldiers will be spawned to take him out. The CP team will become invisible to him.
While L4D has the Tank, in HE Co-op we have Dog and Alyx. Although during the finale of the normal co-op map you will be fighting both of them at the same time, in Traitor mode it's only one of them per round. Dog is mostly about brute force, and he will keep charging at the players trying to smash them, but he is relatively easy to dodge. He can also throw physics objects and pull player with his gravity gun. Alyx is more agile and will try to occasionally flank you. Both Alyx and Dog can hack Combine interfaces, causing trouble for the Civil Protection even if the Traitor doesn't have his Emp Tool anymore.
We don't currently have any release date set, but we are planning to "release soon and often", and hopefully the very first version will be out by summer.
1) Concept Artist. To create both creature concepts for Episode Two and menu backgrounds for Human Error co-op.
2) Video Editor. To help create future trailers and the This Is Human Error series.
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