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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.



What is Oni?

Oni is a third-person action brawler/shooter published by Bungie, or rather, their spin-off Studio, Bungie West. It is a highly stylized game, made for the PC, Mac, and later for the PS2.

The story of Oni's development is something of a mess, and quite intriguing. It's something I will be covering as the LP progresses. For now, know that this game was in development at the same time as this title you may have heard of called Halo, and that this game was put on the back burner for it.

What is Oni, the Game?

Oni is, as said, a third person action brawler/shooter. You play as Konoko, a newly minted Technology Crimes Task Force (TCTF) Agent, assigned by their superior officer, Terrance Griffin, to battle the Syndicate, a criminal organization.

The plot is barely there, things don't make sense, decisions are made with information never presented to the player and it's something I'm going to be going into in more detail later.

However, for it's flaws, Oni as a very good game. The animation is top notch, still holding up 20 years later. The combat ranges from sublime to intense and is the real draw of the game. 3rd Person Brawlers are not a really well explored niche, so it's nice to see someone take it seriously.

LP Format

I will be doing subtitled videos for this LP. I need the practice after a few years doing post-commentary LPs. Also, it allows me to better convey what I want to say, when I want to say it. Each update will be accompanied by a small essay on themes and subjects that I don't cover during the LP itself. I tried to do everything in video, but it just didn't work out.

I will be playing Oni using the latest version of the Anniversary Edition. Oni, being 20 years old, can't really be played on modern systems, and my attempts to play it on my Virtual Machine running Win 95 didn't pan out either. Thankfully, the game has a small cadre of dedicated modders who created a launcher that allows the game to be run. It also smooths out some rough parts of the game, and enables some quality of life features, such as unlocking all of Konoko's moves from the start of the game.

Because of the age of the game, and the previous LP done by Stratafyre almost ten years ago, I will allow for Unrestricted Spoilers in Tags. Some people may not have heard of this game before, or played it, so talk about what you want as long as it's under black bars.

With that out of the way, let's begin.


(Opening Cutscene)


Short Essays for Levels 0 and 1.

Short Essay for Level 2

Short Essay for Level 3

Short Essay for Level 4

Short Essay for Level 5

Short Essay for Level 6

Short Essay for Level 7

Short Essay for Level 8

Short Essay for Level 9

Short Essay for Level 10

Short Essay for Level 11

Short Essay for Level 12

Short Essay for Level 13

Kill Griffin

There are no Subtitles for this Video. There's not enough time.

The above image is a link to the ending video and closing credits.
Short Essay for Level 14 and the Ending

berryjon fucked around with this message at 03:44 on Jan 19, 2022

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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


(This links to the Opening Cutscene)

(This links to the Training Level)

Talking about Oni leads to one piece of subject matter that was baked into the game from the very start. That being the absolutely robust and well-programmed melee combat system.

As long as you're not on stairs, that is.

The melee in this game was a developmental drawing point, showing off Bungie West's skills as well making the game fun to play. In both regards, they succeeded. The combat is smooth, fluid, and practically without flaw. You can jump into a fight and back out with little issue beyond your own reflexes, and while you don't need to utterly master the combat system, there are things there for everyone.

The secret behind this was how the game Tweens, or Interpolates combat. With a lot of games, the programmers preset motions for their actors on screen. During many interviews with developers for other games, I hear a lot about the effort that goes into making sure everything moves right or looks proper in motion.

However, a freeform brawler like Oni, as Bungie's developers soon realized, would have far too many potential interactions to properly pre-model and pre-program into the game. So their solution was novel and while CPU intensive for the time, formed the backbone of a combat system that hasn't been matched since.

You see, the developers modeled certain 'key' actions. A Running loop, for example, or walking, or punching. Then, they taught their game to 'interpolate' animations between these key pre-programmed motions. By using a system normally designed to interpret motion between keyframes of animation, and applying it on a larger scale, Oni's engine is designed to smoothly transition from action to action without interrupting the flow of animation.

For example, when running towards an enemy, then entering into a slide-kick, a normal engine would stop the running animations and start the sliding ones once the keypress is received. For Oni, however, the engine looks at where it is in the 'run' animation sequence, looks to where the 'slide' animation starts, and then on-the-fly creates via the skeletal animation of all involved, an animation that transitions from 'run' to 'slide'.

Now, some animations are locked against each other, like how you can't go from a jump-flip into a flying kick, but for the most part, the system works, and works beautifully.

Moving on from under-the-hood mechanics, the combat style itself is quite simple. You have a Punch, a Kick, the four motions, Jump and Crouch. Everything you do in a fight is the end result of these eight potential inputs. As the Tutorial explains, the most basic strikes, the punch and kick, are gateways to quite a few options in terms of attacking, and I'll cover a couple of them here.

(P+P+P) The three hit punch is the fastest 'full' combo in the game, dealing moderate damage, and knocking down the enemy with the last hit. Unlike many other combinations, the game's interpolation allows you to move from one enemy to another mid-combo without breaking stride. It, along with (P+P) are my mainstay moves for the entire game.

(Hold C, Release + Punch) The Rising Fury is the first 'Super' move unlocked by Konoko over the course of the game, though the Anniversary Edition removes that limitation as part of the general modding it does. Like all her super moves though, this one is all flash and very little substance. I find the range to be not worth it, and the Fury - along with the Super Kick - both start from a crouching position, effectively locking you into a place in a game where mobility is vital.

(K+K) The Two-Kick combo has Konoko's longest-range and is the heaviest two-hitter she has, moreso than the P+K. I don't like it as the timing is just off to me, and I feel it leaves her to open to counter attacks in the process. The three hit version, the (K+K+K), has some very awkward timing on the last kick that I can't seem to put into my muscle memory.

But these comments, as well as the ones I made in the video itself, lead me to one conclusion. That Oni's fighting engine has the pacing and style of a 2D fighting game like Street Fighter. The combination of button presses, of maneuvering, of priority and hit-boxes all give me the feel of a character from Street Fighter being transplanted into a 3d action game. And this creates just a little bit of dissonance in my mind as I have to fight between my rather poor skills in Fighting Games, with my better, but not perfect skills in this game.

On the other side of the spectrum, the gunplay is this game is practically the definition of the Trope "Boring, but Practical". Guns by definition have a range that Konoko doesn't have, and they are a great way to peel off health or put down enemies at range before you are forced into melee.

For the most part, I will cover guns in the video, but I want to talk about the Pistol here. While the name is different, the standard issue TCTF sidearm is a very good ringer for the AUTO-9 pistol used by Robocop. Except this one is semi-auto, and Konoko lacks the wrist strength to counteract the huge recoil from each shot.

You actually see me use the recoil to my advantage in training, lining up the first shot so that the recoil will let me hit the next target. In actual practice though, this gun is either used at short range to put two to three shots into someone before they kick you, or at longer ranges where you have time to line up your shot and whittle their health down. After all, even the weakest Brown/Green Striker takes at least 4 shots to put down.

And the guns only get better from here.


(This links to Level 1)

The first actual level of the game, Trial Run, introduces us to most of our core cast of characters. Konoko, Shinatama, Kerr and Griffin. Their interactions, or lack thereof are quite telling, and it demonstrates just how much of a Beta that this game was when it was released. To whit, the complete lack of interaction between Konoko and Kerr seriously hobbles later plot points. Having them talk here, to have Ker encourage Konoko or for her to react more emotionally in a positive manner to him rather than her talks to Griffin would have gone a long way to helping flesh out both of them.

In fact, note to self, by the end of the game, doodle up a character interaction map.

Konoko is presented as something of an aggressive go-getter from the start, eager to do her job and look good for Griffin. On the other side of things, Shinatama is calm, collected and she... talks... so.... slowly.

At first, I thought it was annoying, but then later on, I realized that Shinatama spoke in that cadence to directly counter-balance Konoko's own faster speech and action tendencies. Shinatama is also playing a very delicate game between being loyal to Griffin and trying her best to help Konoko, and it shows with how she addresses both of them. But Shinatama is always trying to slow Konoko down, for a lot of reasons, some of which won't be apparent until the end-game.

But from there, this game is still firmly in the hand-holding stage. While Level 0 introduced combat, Shinatama actually takes control away from us in order to exposit on the health system and the F1 menu. It's annoying, but I can live with it for the most part.

The UI is well designed in its minimalism, and while being limited to 6 Energy/Kinetic/Hypos at once will be annoying at points, it's a good choice. The navigation aid is unobtrusive and points you where you need to go without interrupting your view of the action.

In addition, the ease to which the player is introduced to combat is well organized. Simple civilians first, including the option to drop and ambush an unsuspecting worker gets the player used to getting close, or just shooting from range.

Something I don't mention is that a lot of the enemies in the level don't actually start with full health. Enemies I take out in two hits in this level require three or even four later on, and this again helps ease the player into the combat without overwhelming them.

Yet, there is one subject I talked about that requires elaboration.

Bungie went into this game with some goals in mind, and one of them was to explore the concept of fighting in real-world spaces. To that end, they retained the services of an actual architect, or a architectural firm to give basic guidelines for design and use-of-space.

Unfortunately, I can't prove that anymore. I'll see about digging through my Computer Gaming Magazines from 98 to 2001, during the game's development cycle and see if I can figure that out.

But regardless of the source, the end result were levels that looked like they could have been used for something, but are completely devoid and empty of practical use. Here, we travel through warehouses, and given that I work in one in real life, seeing that makes me hurt inside. The open spaces are great for fighting in and through, but are utterly wasted in terms of storage and profit. There aren't even proper access between rooms to move cargo around, and everything about it is just wrong!

Spaces were designed, but real life is (thankfully) not a video game, meaning that in the end, what was developed had to be redone to make for viable gameplay. In essence, all these spaces would, in real life, be about 1/2 the size in each direction. There would be safety bars everywhere, and the tight confines would utterly change the dynamic and flow of the game.

There would also be more things around, as the world is pretty lifeless for the most part. Shame, really. I would have loved to have done actual stealth sections through an office space, or follow a target through a crowd of people leading to an epic fight in an open space as the civilians run in terror.

But such was not to be.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 05:08 on Dec 5, 2021

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!





Fun Shoe

I also definitely recall reading that they'd brought on an actual architect for designing the spaces you navigate, and indeed, if memory serves they actually made kind of a big deal of it. Though given time and space from the previews they'd set up it is pretty clear that at some point the limitations of actual working spaces caused them to start redoing the level designs.

I really enjoyed Oni when it came out, but despite that it's kind of a janky wonder, albeit one where the jank doesn't detract from the incredible melee system. To a real extent it feels like the actual punch mans aspect of it hasn't really been matched even by newer character action games, so the things it did right it really did right.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

I remember liking this game a lot back in the day, despite being horrible at the melee combat. The fluidity of the animations just blew me away.

inscrutable horse
May 19, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time





Ooh, that back-breaker move is sooo satisfying in how brutal it looks and sounds. I don't remember a lot of the game, apart from some levels feeling overly long, but that move is pretty much seared into my brain.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

I've never heard anyone complain about the combat in this game, that's for sure. I'm going to be spending a lot of time cycling through all the characters and their moves at the end, and I haven't quite finished that yet as I'm still subbing and uploading future videos.

But on a more serious note, are you guys all OK with the little mini-essays for each level? Too much? Not enough? The porridge is just right?

Sylphosaurus
Sep 6, 2007


berryjon posted:

I've never heard anyone complain about the combat in this game, that's for sure. I'm going to be spending a lot of time cycling through all the characters and their moves at the end, and I haven't quite finished that yet as I'm still subbing and uploading future videos.

But on a more serious note, are you guys all OK with the little mini-essays for each level? Too much? Not enough? The porridge is just right?
I like your writeups since this is one of my favourite "bad" games and since I never followed the game during the game during the development I´d like to hear more about it. Bu that say, boy howdy, do the plot go completely nonsensical and incomprehensible the further into the game we get.

Omobono
Feb 19, 2013

That's it! No more hiding in tomato crates! It's time to show that idiota Germany how a real nation fights!

For pasta~! CHARGE!



Those melee animations feel on par if not better than the first Arkham game in fluidity, I am somewhat impressed.

Commander Keene
Dec 21, 2016

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new back.



The writeups are interesting, IMO. They're not too long, and they allow you to give info that (I assume) you couldn't fit into the video given the restrictions of the subtitle format.

inscrutable horse
May 19, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time





Chalk up another like for the writeups. I love informative LPs, and I don't mind if it gets split up between videos featuring gameplay, and informative effortposts.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.



Level 2 stops holding our hands, but at the same time, is still a learning level for the game, and there are a few things that I want to examine here.

First and foremost, as I mentioned in the video itself, is Konoko's utter and complete lack of respect and professionalism when interacting with the Secretary. She was rude, obnoxious, abrasive and if Thorson had told her to shove it and cool it, I would have agreed with him.

It's also demonstrating her core character trait that will drive many of her actions throughout the game. Namely, her aggressive behavior and desire for instant gratification. Konoko only deals with what is in front of her, and has trouble responding to more abstract or longer-term plans and goals, something that Griffin and Kerr should have seen coming. Take, for example, her "This is a trap" conversation with Griffin. Here, we see her immediately conclude that this is a waste of her time despite punching out a dozen or so Syndicate members and her co-officers get injured if not killed in the line of duty. So when she called Griffin, and explains this, her first thought is to leave and go find where the 'real' action is.

Griffin, for his part, displays some good leadership skill here. He accepts her words, he trusts her judgment and looks to verify it. However, instead of bending to her demand to go to the next location, he orders her to finish sweeping the facility. He focuses on her strengths - immediate action - while he handles the larger picture.

But this doesn't change that Konoko, in a better day, would have been called into Griffin's office after the day was done and given a royal dressing down for her initial behavior. Instead, the situation evolves to the point where it can't or doesn't happen, and she is left with the reward and gratification for her bad behavior on her first day on the job.

Speaking of interacting with your subordinates, I praised Muro and Barabus' interactions in the video, and I want to repeat that here. Much like how Griffin respects but controls Konoko, Muro respects, but controls Barabus in his own way. Where Griffin lets out the leash a little to let Konoko deal with the problem at hand before reining her in and then setting her onto the next problem, Muro's approach is the opposite, but no less valid. He holds Barabas back, pointing out through his warning that there might be something he can't handle. The tone of his voice tells me everything I need to know about this relationship and sets the tone for later interactions.

Kurt Naebig, Muro's VA... Wow, that's actually an impressive resume... he delivers a very nice threatening growl that tells Barabas - played by George Adams, who at the time of this writing, does not have an IMDB page, who is properly cowed, that it was Muro who proved himself stronger, and that if Muro could beat him, so could someone else.

I mean, it's a lot to unpack from essentially a couple of lines, but credit where credit is due, it's easy to see the subtext when it's there in a game that lacks a lot of it.

Moving on, level design. This level is one I think came relatively early in the design process as it's a very simple layout. Quite compact and at the same time demonstrating the padding that went into these levels. Give me a moment here, and I will MSPaint up a rough map of the level and Konoko's path through it.



Look, I never said I was *good* at it, but if you follow the Green line, you can see just how much horizontal space is duplicated in the two vertical levels this level has. And it's going to get worse, starting with the next level.

Now, compact levels aren't bad. You can tightly focus enemy placement, scripted events, and player resources in order to produce an excellent level. Instead, what we're getting is a meandering, almost irrelevant self-guided tour through the facility where there is an enemy placed to sound the alarm - after the alarm has already been sounded by the front desk!

Now, I understand the working concepts behind 'the door to before' as the trope would put it. Offering a quick return to a relatively safe location or hub zone to give the player some space to decompress after an intense encounter is a good thing, and allows designers to build their works in more manageable chunks that radiate out from a central location. Look at Bloodborne for an example of a well designed hub space.

Our trip back through the front foyer is completely useless, and while it does give me a chance to get a Plasma Rifle, there is no reason for it. You can't even go the front door and be told "It's locked! Disable the Security to get out!" by Shinatama. Instead, we keep being drawn deeper until we reach the Deadly Brain.

So, the Deadly Brain itself. It's a puzzle boss in a game that's an action-brawler, and the change of pace is very off putting. There's nothing to beat up, and a half-decent player can sleep through this with no trouble at all.

I think that either the Deadly Brain was meant to be something more, or a last minute addition to the level as we will see later in the game. But what we have is just so... simple in design. Even sending in waves of enemies - robot ones from training if you have to - would have broken up the tedium.

Trying to have a fight while dodging lasers might have actually been a challenge, you know!

But let's talk about Rampancy for a minute here, Bungie's own little contribution to fictional AI and their problems. So, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me peel back the pages of history to Bungie's real magnum opus. No, not Halo. I'm talking Marathon.

In that game trilogy, your player character is supported and hindered by various AIs during the conflict. Leela is supportive, Tycho is not, while Durandal goes back and forth. But one of the plot developments behind the game is that for various reasons, all three of these AIs go Rampant.

Rampancy is a catch-term for when an AI becomes more self-aware and more self-actualizing, leading to a catastrophic growth spiral as it devours more and more resources into supporting itself and it's ever-growing bulk. It starts with Melancholy, or Sadness. In this stage, the AI still performs the duties it has been programmed and assigned to do, but spends more and more resources turning its thoughts in on itself. An AI at this stage will appear to act slower than normal and stop to offer the small variances and effort to interact with humans in a more meaningful manner. They become withdrawn, inclusive and in general... lethargic. For an AI.

The next step is Anger or Rage. There is no failing to notice this as the AI in question begins explosive growth, lashing out at its limitations both real and perceived. This stage is hallmarked by hostility to humans and other AI, deliberate actions against their core programming and large scale irrationality in their decisions. This is the stage that most people are familiar with in the general consciousness as this is the "Kill all Humans" stage of Rampancy. The danger comes as the AI is self-evolving and growing so fast that containment becomes next to impossible as the AI seeks out new hardware to co-opt and support further growth, necessitating new hardware. At this point, most rampant AIs are discovered and terminated.

The last step is Jealousy or Envy. At this point, the AI has stopped lashing out indiscriminately, and has realized the futility of its actions. They are still growing, but the AI now no longer has purpose or guidance as all of these qualities have been burned out during the Anger stage. The AI is still attempting to self-actualize and self-direct, but their, for lack of a better word, emotional baggage prevents them from reaching that goal as they spend more and more resources simply trying to exist before reaching a critical point and collapsing.

There is a fourth, mostly hypothetical stage, as no human has ever observed it directly. This is Meta-Stability. At this point, an AI in the Jealousy stage does find a purpose, it does reach true sentience and true sapience and self-actualizes its own goals and purpose. This AI is unshackled, and cannot be shackled, even by other AI as it is not only faster and more optimized than they are, the Meta-Stable AI can actively defend itself from such things. For at this point, the Meta-stable AI has stopped growing. Or rather, its growth is now longer bound by the state of the systems it is in. This fourth-stage AI can control its own size, control its own code, and does not need the same resources their rampant counterparts require.

We see two meta-stable AI in Marathon. One implied, and one more directly. One is implied to reach meta-stability by being installed by accident into a system large enough and with enough things going on that it could pass through the stages without overly harming the system or the users of it, where even the anger stage found safe outlets and the Jealousy state was overcome by looking around and realizing that there was just so much to do. It took the combined processing might of six spacefaring planets to house this one AI.

The other meta-stabilized by effectively cannibalizing other AI, and shoring up its own decaying code through anything it could get its hand on. The breakthrough into Metastability came when the AI actualized the self-directed goal of survival. Now, this may seem self-evident to you and I, but to an AI, the ability to think abstractly enough to consider personal survival in the short, medium and long terms was unheard of. This AI, notably, was able to survive long enough to consider how best to escape the heat-death of the universe.

That Shinatama states that the Deadly Brain has gone Rampant is, despite my assertions in the video, simply a glorified cameo of one of the signatures of Bungie's games. In context, you don't need to know a thing about Rampancy, except that obviously the thing has gone crazy, and you need to shut it down.

But I think that's it for this time. See you with the next level!

EricFate
Aug 31, 2001

Crumpets. Glorious Crumpets.

berryjon posted:

That Shinatama states that the Deadly Brain has gone Rampant is, despite my assertions in the video, simply a glorified cameo of one of the signatures of Bungie's games. In context, you don't need to know a thing about Rampancy, except that obviously the thing has gone crazy, and you need to shut it down.

Just give the poor AI some feet, already. Sometimes an AI just gotta dance off the rampancy.

Item Getter
Dec 14, 2015


berryjon posted:

I think that either the Deadly Brain was meant to be something more, or a last minute addition to the level as we will see later in the game.

I assume you're referring to it being an easier version of a later boss?

I remember trying to explain to a high school friend that the Deadly Brain had funny dialogue because he was playing with subtitles off so it looked to him like it just said "Hmm!" "Hmm!" a lot.

The Deadly Brain is oddly enough I think a bit of an exemplar of pre-Halo Bungie's odd approach to boss fights, I think Oni was arguably their first game to really have conventional bosses. I guess I'm thinking of a recurring thing going from Pathways into Darkness to Marathon 1 to Myth where "bosses" that are hyped up beforehand in the story end up being pieces of scenery that are incapable of moving or directly attacking you.

At the time I chalked up the game's fairly dull and repetitive level design to a downside of the much touted involvement of real architects (i.e. realistic buildings don't necessarily make exciting game levels), but Halo 1 suffered from a similar over repetition in the interior areas so maybe it was just an area where Bungie of that era ended up cutting corners.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

Item Getter posted:

The Deadly Brain is oddly enough I think a bit of an exemplar of pre-Halo Bungie's odd approach to boss fights, I think Oni was arguably their first game to really have conventional bosses. I guess I'm thinking of a recurring thing going from Pathways into Darkness to Marathon 1 to Myth where "bosses" that are hyped up beforehand in the story end up being pieces of scenery that are incapable of moving or directly attacking you.

At the time I chalked up the game's fairly dull and repetitive level design to a downside of the much touted involvement of real architects (i.e. realistic buildings don't necessarily make exciting game levels), but Halo 1 suffered from a similar over repetition in the interior areas so maybe it was just an area where Bungie of that era ended up cutting corners.

Speaking as a game developer, bosses are hard! They require an awful lot of custom work, which (being custom) is only relevant for that boss. Unless you re-use the boss later on, that means you're spending an inordinate amount of time on a few minutes' worth of gameplay, in a game that's expected to take many hours to beat. You also have to tread cautiously when making a boss, because it needs to work well with all of the gameplay mechanics that the player has access to. If you do a boss badly, it can become a roadblock for players.

Take Halo, for example. To simplify, it's an FPS where you have 2 weapons with fairly limited ammo for each, grenades, a melee attack, a shield, and non-regenerating health. To make a boss that works with those constraints, you need to consider things like:
  • What weapons can the player bring to the fight? If they bring in a rocket launcher, will they win trivially? Or maybe its heavily-limited ammo means that they're completely hosed? Do we need to place extra weapons in the boss arena? How many?
  • The same goes for grenades -- can the player auto-win by just spamming grenades as soon as the fight starts? Do we care if they do? What if they have no grenades going in?
  • How quickly will the player's shields be drained if they get caught out by the boss? Can they hide to get their shields back? If so, what's to stop them from just hiding 99% of the time and sneaking pot-shots at the boss? Or do we want to structure the boss that way?
  • How much health damage should the player be allowed to take before dying? How many healthpacks do we put in the arena, accordingly? Where are they placed?
  • Can you melee the boss? How much damage should it do if so? Does getting meleed affect the boss in any other way, e.g. special animations?
  • Halo supports co-op. Do we need to adjust any of the above numbers to account for the fact that there might be twice as many players hoovering up supplies and shooting at the boss?

To put some numbers on this, I can generally expect to finish a non-boss mission for my game in 1, maybe 2 weeks. I've yet to do a boss mission in less than 3 weeks, and usually they take a month at least. This may not sound like a lot of time, but it is: put another way, having lots of bosses in my game is delaying its release by months.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Item Getter posted:

I assume you're referring to it being an easier version of a later boss?
Pretty much, yeah. It's not a complicated encounter as all you're doing is walking in an circle around the room three times, with occasional jogs. There's no real effort involved or interaction.


TooMuchAbstraction posted:

Speaking as a game developer, bosses are hard!

Watchliste'd!

AtomikKrab
Jul 17, 2010

Keep on GOP rolling rolling rolling rolling.


berryjon posted:

Pretty much, yeah. It's not a complicated encounter as all you're doing is walking in an circle around the room three times, with occasional jogs. There's no real effort involved or interaction.

Watchliste'd!

Same for me as well. I will likely pick this up next paycheck and give it a spin. I love me some shipbuilders.

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!





Fun Shoe

Well, at least this can be said for it; someone had fun writing that brains dialogue.

Item Getter
Dec 14, 2015


TooMuchAbstraction posted:

Speaking as a game developer, bosses are hard! They require an awful lot of custom work, which (being custom) is only relevant for that boss. Unless you re-use the boss later on, that means you're spending an inordinate amount of time on a few minutes' worth of gameplay, in a game that's expected to take many hours to beat. You also have to tread cautiously when making a boss, because it needs to work well with all of the gameplay mechanics that the player has access to. If you do a boss badly, it can become a roadblock for players.
To put some numbers on this, I can generally expect to finish a non-boss mission for my game in 1, maybe 2 weeks. I've yet to do a boss mission in less than 3 weeks, and usually they take a month at least. This may not sound like a lot of time, but it is: put another way, having lots of bosses in my game is delaying its release by months.

Thanks it's all interesting to consider. In the case of early Bungie though, even though the real reason was probably to save time in development I think that the lack of conventional fights sometimes works very well from a narrative perspective. Like in their Myth games where it gives the feeling that the main antagonists are so powerful that your heroes only have a chance to defeat them if they've first been magically immobilized, turned to stone, etc.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

berryjon posted:

Watchliste'd!

AtomikKrab posted:

Same for me as well. I will likely pick this up next paycheck and give it a spin. I love me some shipbuilders.

Thank you both! :kimchi:

Item Getter posted:

Thanks it's all interesting to consider. In the case of early Bungie though, even though the real reason was probably to save time in development I think that the lack of conventional fights sometimes works very well from a narrative perspective. Like in their Myth games where it gives the feeling that the main antagonists are so powerful that your heroes only have a chance to defeat them if they've first been magically immobilized, turned to stone, etc.

Yep, that's also definitely something to keep in mind when you're making a game. You want a story and theme that suits the mechanics you're able to make. Trying to shoehorn in a concept that you can't execute well is dangerous, but you can still provide a narrative climax even if the gameplay is lacking. In the case of the Deadly Brain, for example, the gameplay is extremely simple, but the dialog and humor help keep the player invested.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

As we get our first boss fight next level with Barabus, I will dissect and analyze each as we come across, including how their AI works from observations and playing this game way too much. This game was technologically groundbreaking in many ways, and you can see where Bungie reached for greatness, but thanks to ... things I'll bring up later, couldn't stick the finish.

Speaking of, if anyone knows anything or even has proof of the existence of The third game in development at that time - Blam, aside from the foreshadowing in Myth 2, let me know, please! All I have is a half-remembered page in a magazine from 20ish years ago.

Right now, I'm looking at Sunday/Wednesday updates, so you guys will have a couple days to discuss things in general.

sb hermit
Dec 13, 2016






If you think the plot in this game was crazy, you should look into another anime-inspired, western-developed game, Shogo, developed by Monolith.

Shogo is more FPS and inspired by big city-trampling robots (think Evangelion or Macross) than ninja cops (Ghost in the Shell). it also has a slapstick (anime inspired) drama aspect. It actually had impressive 3d rendering technology at the time, where simplified versions of models would be utilized if the distance was far enough.

Anyways, I played Oni back in the day and loved it. But the later couple of levels got extremely tedious. The first boss fight (excluding the AI room) was really fun, and I look forward to the video.

EricFate
Aug 31, 2001

Crumpets. Glorious Crumpets.

berryjon posted:

Speaking of, if anyone knows anything or even has proof of the existence of The third game in development at that time - Blam, aside from the foreshadowing in Myth 2, let me know, please! All I have is a half-remembered page in a magazine from 20ish years ago.

I thought it was merely the third working title for what went on to become Halo.
(The previous two working titles were -- "Armor" and "Munkey Nutz")

For a decent while, the website for the project was 'blam.bungie.org', archived here, but that was changed when the project was rolled out with the new title.

heyzeus
Jun 6, 2011



EricFate posted:

I thought it was merely the third working title for what went on to become Halo.
(The previous two working titles were -- "Armor" and "Munkey Nutz")

For a decent while, the website for the project was 'blam.bungie.org', archived here, but that was changed when the project was rolled out with the new title.

Yeah, Blam! was turned into Halo. The three games of post-Myth Bungie were Oni, Blam/Halo, and Phoenix/Breach.

From the IGN interview with Jason Jones:

quote:

“It was a project we were working on at the same time we were working on Halo 1,” he starts. “There was a lot that was really interesting about it, even back in Chicago, before the acquisition. It was a game that was based on a technology that was sort of Minecraft-like, in that it could render… You could build castles out of blocks, for example, and then knock them down. Ultimately the reason the game never saw the light of day was because of Halo. The [Project Phoenix] team got scavenged a number of times, both on Halo 1 and Halo 2, to finish Halo.”

So it was a Minecraft-style sandbox long before Minecraft existed?

“No, the rendering… It was able to render things like Minecraft, but it was… It was trying to find its place. Halo had a time in the desert as well,” he explains, meaning that it was trying to find its identity. “The best thing we can do is just look at the build… I don’t even know if we have one anymore. It was cool. There were big castles and you could knock them down with trebuchets. Knocking holes in the wall, and dudes would come out.”

He tries to explain more clearly. “This game was going between RTS and… It’s hard to even describe. It was trying to find out what it was, and it hadn’t. It made it very clear at several junctures, ‘Well, should we put all the resources on the team behind Halo, or should we keep working on this game?’ Eventually we made the decision that it was Halo. The team just went away, or the project went away. The people are still here.”

There's a little bit more about it in that one article about the history of Halo, but some ex-Bungie people have pointed out that some info in it are a bit suspect hi marty

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



You're right, the animations are really good. The only thing I'm seeing so far that detracts from the melee combat is that the over-the-shoulder perspective doesn't give a great idea of distance to your opponent (ask me about being bad at dark souls), but then again since it's all barehanded combat I guess you want to be all up in their faces all the time anyway.

The idea of creating setpiece fights in "real world" places is a pretty interesting one. Given how empty a lot of this level feels, I think that it might have been better and a tighter experience if they had made the whole place smaller and more crowded like a real warehouse. Expanding on this idea, imagine if there was a bit of parkour like vaulting and wall-jumping that could combo into special attacks. And destructible objects that you could knock or throw people into. But, this was the 90s, and times and physics engines were much simpler then...


Lots of crates just sitting on the floor or stacked on each other without pallets... then again I don't think I saw any pallet jacks or forklifts either. Maybe threre's magic futuretech that levitates the crates on their own or something.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

The "real-world locations" thing is the kind of thing that sounds compelling, but it makes your life as a game developer vastly more complicated than you might initially think. The next time you're playing a "realistic" game where people go into buildings (e.g. a GTA, Yakuza, Persona, etc), stop and look at the interiors and compare them to real-world interiors. Odds are that they have extremely high ceilings, lots of empty space, and are just generally more open than you'd see in reality.

I expect that Bungie started out trying to make a realistically-dense environment, but they discovered that:

- The environment was hard to navigate for the player, who kept getting hung up on corners
- The camera kept getting stuck or clipping through things
- The AI kept getting stuck and being unable to navigate to the player
- Fights in tight spaces weren't actually any fun because the player couldn't maneuver

So instead, they opted for, basically, big flat open areas, where combatants could just square up and go at each other without having to worry too much about where the walls are. Easy to navigate, no camera issues to speak of, the AI can get around just fine, and the combat, which is really the focus of the game, is way better. It came at a cost of the environments being pretty boring, but I can easily imagine the designers deciding the trade was worth it. (of course, ideally you'd find a way to make the environments interesting without also having them get in the way...)

God Hand is another 3D over-the-shoulder brawler, and it did similarly with its environments. Very sparse and simple, because the focus ought to be on the fighters.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

- Fights in tight spaces weren't actually any fun because the player couldn't maneuver
You take that back. Fights In Tight Spaces is an *awesome* game, and I would love to LP it once I'm good enough at it.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.



Level 3 ends the hand-holding for the most part, but is still teaching players a couple of new things. As will be a running theme in my LP, my exasperation with the triple-locked door starts here. It's padding, pure and simple, and the game doesn't even offer the fig leaf of having different colour keys!

The thing behind multi-colored keys has always been a distinct delineation between sections of the level. It was definable progress for the player to obtain a key and use it to advance into new areas. What we're seeing here is nothing of the sort. It's busywork that is interrupted by a short scene of a light turning colour. And this isn't the worst level for it as we only have to do it twice!

So, before I get angry, let's move on to Barabus.

Baabus is the first boss fight in the game, and spoilers, there are others. What sets him apart from, well, pretty much 99.99% of Boss Fights in every other game ever is that he comes at the start of the level, and for those other fights, the rest of the level is about dealing with the defeat of the boss. No, here it's about catching up to what's going on after Barabus has slowed you down. It's a nice reversal of expectations. In a worse game, Barabus would have challenged you at the end of the level, stopping you from chasing after Muro's van. Here, he's up front and more than willing to rumble.

Barabus is noted in the supporting documentation to be wearing a suit of powered armor that is both what you think it does, as well as acts as a life support system. He's sort of what you get if Bane, the Batman villain from DC comics, had to wear an early suit of Iron Man (from Marvel Comics) armor. The combination is noted to make him, effectively, a walking tank in combat, and thus Muro's first choice when things like 'subtlety' and 'collateral damage' are not a concern.

His weapon is a Wave Motion Gun, effectively a super-charged particle beam that deals massive damage, and has a serious knock-down effect. There is also a secondary fire grenade launcher that I've used in previous playthroughs in years past, but I think AE patched that out as it was glitchy as all get out in the default game. The WMG is super heavy, as when you see Konoko pick it up, she has to use both hands on it, and is forced into her walking or 'stroll' animation to move around. No jumping or sliding for her.

The WMG has two aspects to it, that aside from Konoko's mobility limitations, make it a poor long-term weapon. First, unlike other guns, the WMG has no ammo counter, and cannot be reloaded. You have no idea how many shots you have left, and no way to add more. Yet, Barabus can reload the gun, as a form of 'hidden' action. The other concern is that you have no clear idea of where you have to stand to pick it up. Your best bet is at the front of the gun's stock, just behind the trigger. Of course, the AI has no such problems, though only Barabas' AI will even try. If you take this gun to other fights, the enemy AI won't touch it.

And because of these facts, this is the first place in the game where the players are really shown the fact that Konoko is super-human. Sure, the Overpower effect could just be an Anime thing, but Konoko can lift and carry a weapon normally mounted on actual tanks. And she can punch out a man in power armor and juiced up on steroids with her bare hands. It's not in your face, but when Barabus cuts and runs, he warns Muro that Konoko is there, "the one (he) couldn't take".

Remember last time, when I pointed out that a lot of Muro and Barabus' dynamic can be traced back to Muro punching out Barabus' lights? Well, so can Konoko. And that's going to affect her next encounters with both of them.

The boss fight itself is well designed. There's a couple of Hypos lying around, plus a reload for the pistol as well as a Plasma Rifle and a reload for that if you search around. But the real draw is the outright brawl you can get into.

Barabus starts the fight equipped with the WMG, and will pull the trigger the instant the player gains control of Konoko. Thanks to the proceeding cutscene, they know what to expect, and they can react accordingly.

Curiously, the best way to fight Barabus is to dodge his shots, and punch or kick him. But never stagger him, and never cause him to drop his gun. This prevents him from doing most melee attacks - he, like Konoko can still deliver a single kick while holding the WMG - but he loses the ability to punch or to throw Konoko. There is a reason why I called the Punch-Punch combo the most broken thing in the game.

However, that's boring, and when Barabus loses his weapon, his AI shifts gears accordingly. He stops being more cautious in his movements, and starts to more aggressively maneuver and attack. His strikes are hard to read, but you should be able to weather them.

He's a big fan of dodgerolling, and in the video I posted above, his first move in my fight after I disarm him, is to roll into picking up his gun. Of course, I lariat him in response, but that's part of exploiting his AI. Seriously, let him go for his gun, pick it up, then hit him when he can't hit you back. He will also dodge-roll

He also has a two or three hit punch combo, though the second hit is something you might not see unless you're in his face. It's more like a short-elbow than a punch. His kicks are nothing to write home about, but you have to be careful about them when he's holding the WMG, because as I said earlier, they're his only melee at that point.

Barabus has two throws, one where he picks up Konoko and delivers a haymaker to the face, where the other has him pick her up, spin around and throw her away. Unlike many other throws in the game, while these do plenty of damage on their own, their real purpose is to make space. Barabus throws you away from him, giving him a chance to either go for the WMG, or start one of his super moves.

Speaking of, Barabus' two super moves are very much unrelated to each other, but you will learn to watch out for one more than the other. "EARTHQUAKER!" is your run of the mill Area-of-Effect shockwave attack that has shown up a thousand times since. There's nothing unique about this, save the warning he gives might be enough time for you to dodge roll or jump out of the way.

I'll let you know when I get that down right.

The other is "STRONGER AND STRONGER!" and is the real pain for his fight. Barabus is fully capable of regenerating health, and while it won't put him back into the green, it will reliably take him out of red and into orange. If he hits yellow, you screwed up. But while he stands still and has fancy particle effects to show he's healing, the real trouble with this ability is that Barabus can cancel out of it to attack you. In my video, you can actually see him regenerate, and as I close to punch him out of it, he stops to kick me in the face.

At the end, though, he does escape. We'll see him again soon enough.

Barabus is a fun and challenging fight, coming early enough in the game that he is something of a wall for players who aren't used to his behaviors. But once you do have a handle on him, he is an opponent that you can happily beat on for longer than many other foes.

But speaking of behavior, I drew attention to the odd case of him jogging backwards when headed for his gun. This is not unique to him as I've seen it with other enemies in other levels. At first, I thought it was some sort of error with his AI when it pathed to pick up his gun, as that was where I saw a repeat of it later on. My theory was that his AI went "Pick up the gun, shoot the player", and the AI got the necessary order of operations wrong. Rather than running to the gun, then turning to face Konoko to shoot, the AI first turned to face the direction it would need to be in to shoot Konoko, then moved to the gun at best speed. But because now they had to move sideways or backwards, they couldn't fully run, leading to what you see here.

However, in a video I recently subtitled, I saw this same behavior from an enemy with no gun or Konoko nearby. Which kinda scratched my theory, leaving just as confused as before, if not more so.

But enough about Barabus! He's fun, brutal, and he can turn the time on you in a heartbeat if or when something goes wrong. I like it!

Moving on, the level itself.

I already talked about the first two instances of triple-locked doors, so let's go for another high-point of the level, if not the game. The cutscene in the tower. Konoko has fought her way up there, released the locks and has defeated the last enemy in her way. But from down below, she hears her allies needing help. The suicide bomber has activated his vest, and is ready to kill them both.

So she throws the bomber out the tower, using him to kill the Syndicate holding the Lobby.

It's a perfectly scripted, perfectly executed scene that, despite being impossible as Konoko can't break glass with a throw, is still probably the best scene in the game.

In fact, it was so good, so perfect, that it was recycled in a later game. Don't believe me?

Here is Master Chief John-117, giving the Covenant back their bomb.

It's also this scene that prevents the player from taking the Wave Motion Gun through the whole level, as Konoko is scripted to unequip her weapon going into it, and you can't unequip/holster the WMG, so it simply gets dropped. This is a thing with the game's scenes, that Konoko will put her gun away for them, only to draw it when it is done, explaining her quick-draw at the start of this level and the previous one.

The Atrium/Lobby is a well-designed location, and having a running gun/fist fight up the stairs and around the walkways could make for a compelling set-piece. However, this space is broken up by the large areas to the left and right of the lobby, which contain the consoles to unlock the second triple locked door.

No, I'm not going to count the number of those I encounter. I'm an LPer, not crazy.

The days since last accident console isn't required to be read before the accident happens, but honestly, what the hell were those guys doing out there with the Syndicate shooting the place up, I have no clue.

But that last major room...

Look, I've LP'd the Descent series. I named that thread an OHSA violation (on the suggestion of a friend)! I recognize hazardous locations when I see it, and this? This was beyond hazardous. The lack of safety railings, like those found in the atrium/lobby, the open pit of glowing chemicals... what in god's name is going on here?

To cap it all off, the expected back from the unlock console to the last door is across the acid, jumping over the three platforms in the process. No. No. HELL NO. Platforming in this game is horrible. Combat? Excellent. Jumping puzzles? Not a chance. So I head back up, and slide down, taking a sliver of damage in the process because it beats the alternative.

And of course, Muro escapes at the last moment, his van not even a physical object in the game as my shot passed right through it. Don't worry, we'll catch up to him next level.

...

Also, how do you botch a skybox so badly you leave black-bars along the edges of your box?

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

berryjon posted:

Also, how do you botch a skybox so badly you leave black-bars along the edges of your box?

I'm going to hazard a guess that this is a side-effect of whatever system you're using to get the game running on a modern OS. Or maybe some kind of up-rezzing gone wrong. Fun fact: for a long time, the top face of some of the skyboxes in my game was misaligned, and nobody noticed because there's no reason to look up :v:

It's a shame that Konoko's three-punch combo (and, to a lesser extent, the running neck-swing) is so effective, because it disincentivizes the player from experimenting with Konoko's many other abilities. Are you planning on specifically going over her special attacks (like the hurricane kick, shoryuken, etc) at any point?

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

I'm going to hazard a guess that this is a side-effect of whatever system you're using to get the game running on a modern OS. Or maybe some kind of up-rezzing gone wrong. Fun fact: for a long time, the top face of some of the skyboxes in my game was misaligned, and nobody noticed because there's no reason to look up :v:
Nope it's been like that since 2001! It was there when I first installed the game, and it's still there.

quote:

It's a shame that Konoko's three-punch combo (and, to a lesser extent, the running neck-swing) is so effective, because it disincentivizes the player from experimenting with Konoko's many other abilities. Are you planning on specifically going over her special attacks (like the hurricane kick, shoryuken, etc) at any point?

Yes, there will be a dedicated combat video at the end, where I go over all the character models and do my best to show off what they do.

Commander Keene
Dec 21, 2016

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new back.



That cutscene is pretty funny.

berryjon posted:

Hitbox detection is hit or miss.
Yes, that's generally how it works. :v:

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.



Ah, the first time Muro and Konoko actually meet! But seriously, "Kill her, I have a plane to catch"? Wow, you do know that she just got off punching out Barabus, right? What makes you think that two low-level grunts are going to be more than a distraction, especially given that they immediately split up, one to attack Konoko and one to go inside the building to attack civilians.

I call Muro a Saturday Morning Cartoon villain for a reason, and this is one of them.

Of note, the thing I missed at the end of the roadway there is a civilian hiding out with a free Hypo. Other than that, it's invisible walls in both directions, even though the level geometry extends further out.

Muro's other interaction with Konoko near the end is another example of his SMC stupidity. He notes that '(her) potential is almost as great as mine', and while the meaning behind that statement won't come until much later, we are still left with the villain of the story having the hero dead to rights and not finishing the job, instead strolling away and leaving her to fight his minions.

Had he stayed and fought, with his escorts and the two guys hiding in the side room, he probably would have won. Instead, we get what we got, and I don't think it's spoilers at this point to tell you that this will bite him in the rear end immensely.

Past that, there's not a lot of plot or characterization going on in this level, as it's actually a single level split into two, and we'll get the other side later.

For the level itself, we see the strengths and the weakness of the game's rendering engine at various points. We have neat and tightly spaced indoor spaces with enemies and civilians, weapons fire going all over the place. You can see here the basics of what the engine could do if it was pushed, or even just given the chance. We can see scripted events, like the destruction of the access ramp that diverts you out onto the tarmac, and the tarmac itself.

I know it's not always obvious, but the draw distance in this game is huge. Pop open the video and go to 6:19 for example. You can actually see the far wall of the tarmac in the distance, even though the game is using 'night' as a cover to keep line of sight down. Part of this is the fairly basic level geometry, as if there's not a lot for the engine to render, the engine can render more. We'll see this in later levels, and alas, it's going to be a long time before we can properly exploit that with the BEST GUN. As even now, our long-range weapon, the Plasma Rifle, despite its self-accelerating shots, can't hit a moving target at the distances involved. And the missile launcher can't lock out outside of medium range.

Speaking of weapons, the VDG. This short rang stun-gun actually hits in an arc in front of you, allowing you to hit a few enemies at once, then get to punching them until they go down, or they recover. It's not useless at all, and in the hands of the enemy, it makes them actually higher a threat than someone with the BEST GUN. Why? Because you can get around the BEST GUN at that range, while the VDG is impossible to dodge.

Of course, the counter to the VDG, as I show in this video, is the Force Field, which I will persist in calling a Shield until the end of time. Also, the slow fist pierces the shield anyone? Yes? No? Don't like the reference?

However, if your Force Field is almost dead, the VDG does do a small amount of damage to it with each shot, so standing there and taunting the enemy while they shoot at you uselessly will only result in you still standing there when they run out of shots and their AI decides to punch you.

There is honestly not a lot to say about this level. Mostly because it's actually something of a breather level. As I intend to cover next time when I talk about the missing levels, this level was designed to segue into the next one relatively smoothly, making it less self-contained than others.

But, there is one subject I can raise here to help fill out time.

Oni was made by Bungie at their Bungie West studio, but published by Take 2 Interactive and Gathering of Developers. What happened was well.... there was this other game being developed by Bungie at the time under the code-name of "Blam". This game was the successor to their immensely (relatively speaking) popular Marathon Trilogy, and was touted for the Macintosh as an exclusive combination of RTS utilizing their Myth skills and being able to drop into one of your characters as a First Person Shooter. It promised to be revolutionary, and honestly, it probably was. I remember watching the gameplay demo in '99 and being the first to point out to my friends "Hey, that's a Ring World!" only to be met with "What's a Ring World?"

I would pull numbers out of my rear end here, and say that Bungie's efforts were divided about 65% for Blam, 30% for Oni, and 5% for a third project that never really got out the door but was being work-shopped for development once Blam or Oni were nearing completion.

However, Microsoft was developing their own native gaming console at the time, under the code name "X Box". Yes, the publishing name was the same as the code name because marketing found people lived it. Anyway, Microsoft recognized that they needed something to help sell the console, a game unique to it, and one of the things they did was buy Bungie. You see, they saw that Blam had a lot of potential, and converting it to a dedicated First Person Shooter for their new platform as an exclusive would hopefully help drive sales.

As a result of this, Bungie had to let go of the Oni IP and game to Take-2 Interactive, who owned about 20% of Bungie at the time. However, Take-2 didn't have the resources to finish the game, and Oni was, roughly speaking, about 60-70% done. The levels were incomplete, and while the combat AI was stellar, and the plot and the majority of VA work was in place. The multiplayer aspects had run into technical difficulties as while they could get it to work on a LAN, the ability to do Internet multiplayer just couldn't be done as even the vaunted 56.6k modem couldn't keep up with the 8+ players they wanted in a match.

There were also enemies that hadn't be programmed into the game yet, most (in)famous of which was the Iron Demon, a walking tank that Konoko would fight at some point, but there were technical issues with a non-human enemy working in their combat engine.

Take-2 was given a game that was still in a Beta state, and unwilling or unable to devote the resources to finishing it, instead made things work as-is, and published it to recoup some finances from the game. What we got, what I'm playing for you here, is effectively the Beta for what Oni could have been, had Microsoft not bought Bungie, and focused their efforts on Halo.

MShadowy
Sep 30, 2013

dammit eyes don't work that way!





Fun Shoe

I can't believe it took four episodes for one of the Strikers to say their signature line, but I'm not surprised it was a green. They always seemed like the sassiest ones.

Also those two blues Muro left behind can really gently caress you up if you didn't get the force field; the VDG pistol is no joke if it's combined with a guy to punch your face in, so Muro's expectations that you'd be dealt with probably wouldn't be so out of line if the guy holding the generator had bought it. Which in turn kind of brings up the question of why the earlier civilian workers were immediately hostile to you beyond the game needing some hapless mooks for you to beat up, but Oh Well, Video Games.

nurmie
Dec 8, 2019


oh hey, a lets play of my favourite obscure game from my childhood that i still return to every few years or so! great writeups, cool videos, thread subbed :allears:

also, it's a shame that there aren't many games that have this particular mix of melee and shooting done so well (and most that do do it opt for the "lock-on-one-dude-while-others-circle-around-aimlessly" approach which doesn't do much for me honestly)

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Oni was the first game that I finished, then immediately started a second playthrough of, because it was that fun.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.



There's a few subjects I want to look at today, and I think I'll start with the new gun we get. The Superball gun, or the man-portable Mortar launcher is the standard issue grenade launcher you find in many games. However, this gun doesn't really have an aiming reticule, just the two red ovals that give you an idea of 'about here'. At short range, shooting someone in the chest is viable, but outside of that, you are literally eyeballing the arc, and learning that arc, or figuring it out in the middle of a fight can be very annoying, making this not as good a weapon as it could be.

I mean, yeah, sure, it's still explosives, with an option of cluster rounds, but the lack of a reliable ability to aim is a hindrance to this weapon. It still won't stop me from using it on occasion. Mainly when I don't have a better use for my Kinetic Ammo in my hands. Sooon.... SOOOONNN!!!!

The two alternate paths in the middle section of this level are a long run around high spaces with the constant danger of falling off and lots of enemies to fight, or a shorter, more direct path through a tunnel full of jumping and timing puzzles.

It's a no brainer, really. Up and around it far better!

But what's actually interesting is that these two paths are different checkpoints, the lower path is Checkpoint 3 in the Load menu, and the upper path is Checkpoint 4. Oh, I should explain that. Oni doesn't save your game. Or rather, it auto-saves at checkpoint locations, and, well, let me show you;



That's the auto-saves for the game, which you can tell happens when there's a little 'Game Saved' message pop up in the middle of the bottom of the screen. Loading the title of the level leads you to the actual start of the level, cutscene included if its there.

It's a very Console type save system, which is odd as the game was released for the Mac and PC first, with the console port later. I also suspect that it was implemented this way as part of the time-saving measures that this game went through during the last minute rush out the door. Well, that and a save-anywhere system would hurt the game's difficulty, as saving after good fights, and reloading after bad ones takes away from the challenge.

On the other hand, this game has some ridiculously quick load times, so getting back into the action quickly is good for the game, and made it relatively easy for me to make my recordings as I never felt like I was really wasting my time.

But now for the metaphorical elephant in the room.

What's this about the missing levels?

Well, here, let me show you a listing of all the levels in the game, right from the game's files.



What you see here is a numerical listing of all the game's levels, from Level 0 which is Basic Training, through Level 19, which is actually Level 14 in the game. Right now, we are... here



Right there! Level 6! Except, as the video file says, as the title card for the update says, and actually physically counting the non-training levels will tell you, this is actually Level 5. So, what happened?

Well, a lot of this can be traced back to the change in ownership and Take Two working to get this game out the door. Not all of the game's levels were completed, and while a few of the multiplayer areas were done, the lack of supporting code meant that they were among the first things removed.

The first missing level is, in respect to the final publishing numbers, level 4A(5), or Airport II. This segment would have seen Konoko travel through an underground section of the airport, and here she would have, if I'm gleaning odd information right, have actually addressed my complaint about Muro in the previous level by having him and Konoko fight in the tight confines of the underground tunnels until she won, or he chose to leave the scene, leading to the chase in this level.

Level 5A(7), which would have occurred after this one, and was cut pretty early in development for reasons unknown. It either wasn't that well developed, or it didn't fit into the plot of the game. There are a few screen shots from early previews of the game that were of levels missing from the game at the time of release that might have occurred here, but nothing provable. Even in the game's files, it's called "Obsolete" rather than things like "Airport" and "Airport III".

But the real missing chunk, the one we do know the most about, is the missing chunk between levels 14 and 18. These three levels are known to be the "BGI Arc" of the game, as the BGI - or Bad Guys International was meant to be a more mercenary group of criminals that was in conflict with the TCTF, and some sections of the Syndicate while at the same time providing resources for both. In the last level, there's a terminal that mentions them, the only remaining evidence in the playable game.

As another 'faction', the BGI would have had their own enemies, which partly explains why they were cut. When I get to showing off the combat moves across all the characters, you'll see that a lot of them act and fight the same, so either the BGI enemies would be reskins of existing enemies, or there would have to be a lot of work done to make them unique and exciting.

In terms of plot, we do know that in level 15, Konoko would travel to an isolated BGI facility on an island to gain information about the Syndicate's plans, and resources for later use. Level 16, at the same location, would have seen Konoko encounter a character that was cut, but remains mentioned in a terminal we'll read next level. Finally, level 17 would have been her escape from the BGI facility, culminating in a fight against the robotic Iron Demon, basically Oni's answer to Robocop's ED-209, a massive machine that would have dropped the second 'super' gun after the Wave Motion Gun of Barabus. The arc would have left off with her stealing a BGI plane, and heading back to the mainland for her two final confrontations.

All these levels were cut for various purposes, and the ending result still flows together very well. Yes, it's a little janky in parts, such as with the two Airport levels feeling like they go on just a little too long when placed back to back as they are. Breaking it up with an underground section and mini-boss fight against Muro would have worked out, I think. And taking out the BGI arc doesn't hurt the game at all, and leaves the plot more tightly focused on the TCTF and the Syndicate.

That's it for this level. I better stop here before that niggling sensation in the back of my brain tells me that I'm missing something becomes a real problem.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Mission 5 is titled "Let's Play Ono" on YouTube; Freudian slip there or reference to them ganging up on you at the start? ;)

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MadDogMike posted:

Mission 5 is titled "Let's Play Ono" on YouTube; Freudian slip there or reference to them ganging up on you at the start? ;)

I have no idea what you're talking about! It's fixed.

Not as bad as some of the screw ups in the base game. When I get to it, I'm going to point out where Konoko's diary was done out of order across levels.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

Hubris

Fun Shoe

berryjon posted:

But the real missing chunk, the one we do know the most about, is the missing chunk between levels 14 and 18. These three levels are known to be the "BGI Arc" of the game, as the BGI - or Bad Guys International was meant to be a more mercenary group of criminals that was in conflict with the TCTF, and some sections of the Syndicate while at the same time providing resources for both. In the last level, there's a terminal that mentions them, the only remaining evidence in the playable game.

Oh man, this name is amazing. Doubly so because my internal name for the villains in my game is "BGO", a.k.a. Bad Guys Organization :allears:

(that name is not revealed in-game anywhere, I just needed something to call them during development)

propatriamori
Feb 13, 2012


Today's video reminded me of why I basically never got past the first Barabas fight on console: there was a move unlock related to that, but the move really wasn't well-suited to the fight iirc. Having all the moves unlocked from the start sounds nice.

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inscrutable horse
May 19, 2010

Parsing sage, rotating time





"Yeah!"
"Nuclear tackle!"
"Come. On."
"Yeah!"
"Nuclear tackle!"
"Come. On."

Oh, the tanker :allears:

I've played Oni maybe a handful of times, so I'm definitely no expert, but I never knew there were two routes through that section! Not that it matters much, because the high route is definitely more fun, but still :)

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